Sleeping and Dining in Monemvasia, Greece

Drive from Kardamyli to Monemvasia

The two and half hour drive crosses the mountains and the tops of two peninsulas with occasional sections of attractive coastline and a long flat section of working orange groves. They looked just about ripe and I’m hoping we get to eat some of these gems in Monemvasia.

As we travel east the landscape gets drier and rockier, becoming more typically Mediterranean as you would expect in the Peloponnese.

Lunch at Taverna Botsalo

Located in Gefyra, on the mainland across the causeway from Monemvasia,

A cute little place with blue and white checkered table cloths, a few paces down the coastline from the crowd of restaurants behind the town parking lot. The elderly couple that run the place don’t speak much English but they serve fresh hot classics. The spinach pies were so hot I had to let them cool for a few minutes before eating them.

Traditional Greek salad with off-the-vine fresh tomatoes and cumbers served with good bread. The chicken souvlaki was also fresh hot and nicely cooked.

Dinner at Matoula

With only two real dining options in town, one right next door to the other, it should have made the decision on where to dine easier than it was. We chose Matoula because it had more going on at 8:30 on a Monday evening. The outdoor terraces were filling up but not so full that you couldn’t get a table with sea views. The restaurant continued to fill with both international and Greek patrons. On a cool evening, with long sleeves, it was still comfortable to dine outside.

We started with the small fish in vinegar – good but more intensely fishy than the anchovies we’re used to – followed by a portion of the mullet and the stuffed tomatoes.

The four little fish were well cooked, but not very satisfying if you are hungry. The flavorful rice stuffed tomatoes were a more generous portion and a nice complement to the fish. Servers are efficient but don’t linger for many niceties or chitchat on a busy evening.

The complementary dessert was a delightful orange cake doused in a fruity simple syrup.

We dined at Matoula a second time the following evening. On a Tuesday the terrace was much quieter, albeit windier – still pleasant with long sleeve. The cats, however, were more aggressive.

We started with the spinach pie – a large rectangle of a thin pizza like crust rather than a true pastry – filled with a thick layer of yummy spinach. For mains we ordered the lamb chops served with fries – flavorful but gristly – and the whole fish. A tray of fresh fish is brought to the table and you point to your choice.

It is then cooked and brought to you filleted. We would have preferred it whole and for the first time since we have been in Greece, it was bit over cooked.

The cats were more aggressive this evening. We had about four eagerly patrolling the table. One took a swipe at Don’s fish, almost catching the head except Don was quicker.

Lunch at To Kanoni

The other restaurant, To Kanoni, also has a couple of pleasant terraces, one covered and one not. Business was a little slower at lunch and the waiter a little chattier. The food is good but prices are a tad higher than at Matoula.

We split a selection of fish soup, dako  – dried bread topped with tomatoes, feta and olives and taramosalata – a fish roe dip and one of our favorites. Everything was well prepared and tasty.

Hotel Kellia

Located at the east end of town off of a quiet, pretty square with great sunrise views. As cars are banned from the town and parking is along the road outside the west gate, it’s a longer walk up and down the narrow lanes of Monemvasia to reach the east end of town. You, therefore, may want to think about what you want to carry into town for the night.

Romantic room with a high beamed ceiling and a stone wall. An extra low doorway leads to a small European bathroom. Room amenities include a fridge, hairdryer and complementary local fortified wine. No safe. The wifi signal in the room was very weak but OK in the breakfast area.

The sea views were partially blocked by a handsome white church. Bed was firm but comfortable and the room super quiet at night. Slept like a rock.

In good weather breakfast is served in the picturesque square in front of the building and inside in the cozy breakfast room at other times.

They serve an assortment of delicacies, dakos – bread topped with tomatoes and feta, hardboiled eggs, soft rolls, cake, cheese with honey, fresh orange juice and weak coffee. All quite good except for the coffee which is OK but too weak.

May 23-25, 2016

For links to all the posts in this series see the Greece page.