Peloponessos Katakolon The first time I had ever heard of Katakolon was in an email from a tourist. She was doing one of those cruises to the Greek islands on one of those massive cruise ships that hold thousands of people that can only go to ports large enough to handle them. She was asking about tours and things to do and she listed the places the ship was stopping: Venice, Crete, Santorini, Rhodes, Mykonos, Patmos, Ephesus, and Istanbul, all places you would expect a Mediterranean cruise ship to go to. I assumed it was some place in Turkey, maybe having something to do with Galipoli or maybe a city on the Black Sea. I asked her if they told her anything about Katakolon, was there anything in the cruise brochure or on the cruise website, but she knew as much about Katakolon as she did about the other stops, which was pretty much nothing. Lots of cruise people are like this.
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Peloponessos Katakolon The first time I had ever heard of Katakolon was in an email from a tourist. She was doing one of those cruises to the Greek islands on one of those massive cruise ships that hold thousands of people that can only go to ports large enough to handle them.
She was asking about tours and things to do and she listed the places the ship was stopping: Venice, Crete, Santorini, Rhodes, Mykonos, Patmos, Ephesus, and Istanbul, all places you would expect a Mediterranean cruise ship to go to.
I assumed it was some place in Turkey, maybe having something to do with Galipoli or maybe a city on the Black Sea. I asked her if they told her anything about Katakolon, was there anything in the cruise brochure or on the cruise website, but she knew as much about Katakolon as she did about the other stops, which was pretty much nothing. Lots of cruise people are like this. Not to imply that they are ignorant.
Maybe they just like surprises. So I googled Katakolon but all it said was that it was a small port and beach town near the city of Pyrgos in the northwest Peloponessos.
I looked on the map and it dawned on me that Katakolon was the nearest port to Ancient Olympia. Now it all made sense. Except for one little problem. How could this little hole-in-the-wall port be a stop for these floating cities? I had to go and see it for myself.
There are not many reasons for a tourist to go to Pyrgos. But Pyrgos is known as the clothes shopping capital of the Peloponessos. Apparently people come from all over to shop in the boutiques, shoe stores and haberdasheries of Pyrgos where they can find the latest styles from Paris and Rome and wherever styles come from.
Unfortunately we arrived on a Sunday during a garbage strike that had been going on for a month so our time in Pyrgos was limited to however long it takes to race through the town with the windows rolled up and the AC on to keep the smell out. Thankfully the strike did not extend to Katakolon and we drove into the small seaside town and found a parking lot the size of the one at your local mall, filled with cars, buses, taxis, horse drawn carriages, and even a vehicle that looked something like a tourist train though it had a row of seats on either side of a bar and there was a keg of beer in the front next to the driver.
It was called the Beer Bike and sure enough each seat had pedals. What it did not have was customers so I could not see if it was actually powered by the pedals or it was just a sophisticated exercise machine that enabled tourists to not put on weight while drinking beer.
They were doing the things people generally do in this situation, buying worry-beads and other gifts for friends back home, eating Mousska, and drinking.
Mostly drinking. There in the harbor, dwarfing everything around it, was the biggest cruise ship I had seen up close. Imagine the Empire State Building laying on its side in the middle of the Plaka and you have some idea of what the effect was on me.
But being a guy I like stuff like this and I wished I was there when there were two or three of these docked. What is it like when thousands of tourists descend on this little port all at once looking for souvlakia or taxis to Olympia? They must have thought they had died and gone to heaven when that first ship pulled into the harbor and the passengers emerged and devoured everything in sight like multicolored locusts.
You have to smile about that. It is not often that a Greek millionaire gives back to the community in such dramatic fashion. Not to imply that Katakolon is a terrible place and you should not go there.
For what it is Katakolon is great. If you are on a cruise ship and it is on the itinerary and you have no interest in seeing Ancient Olympia it is a wonderful place to sit, eat, drink and people watch. Unfortunately most of the people you will be watching are the same people you see on the ship. But sometimes that can be a good thing.
I looked up all this stuff on Google, I did not actually see them. What is not so great is that it needs to be a quick one because it goes back to Olympia less than an hour later and does not come back. So hypothetically you have two groups of people at each end of the train line but no train that would enable them to exchange places. However the train does continue to go back and forth between Olympia and Pyrgos until around 2 pm when it stops going anywhere.
Yes it is confusing but you can phone and perhaps someone can help you make sense of it. You can get a taxi for about ten euros though most taxis in Katakolon would rather take you somewhere they can make a lot more than ten euros. You may want to ask how much it will cost to go round trip if he waits for you. The winery is actually on the Mercouri Estate, one of the oldest family estates in Greece, and they also produce currants Katapolon was known as the center for the export of currants and their own high quality olive oil.
To arrange a visit to the Mercouri Estate, which also features an array of plants and animals, email them at Mercouri otenet. It was founded by Kostas Kotsanas and holds about operating reconstructions of mechanisms and inventions of the ancient Greeks covering the period from BC to AD. This museum comes highly recommended by those who have visited it, especially those people who love machines.
The ancient Greeks invented a number of surprising technical devices, many of which laid the foundation for the machines that make up our modern technological nightmare world.
The hours are sporadic but it is usually open when the big ships come in. In the same building you can also visit the Museum of Ancient Greek Instruments. Well, not really.
Unless you love seeing large cruise ships and feel like getting a bite to eat and going for a swim and you happened to be in the neighborhood. There are a lot better ways of spending your time in the Peloponessos then going to Katakalon. Even the allure of the Mercouri Winery is not enough to merit the trip since you can go to Nemea and have your choice of dozens of wineries. But if you have a night or two in Olympia then Katakolon and the surrounding area is worth a visit, especially if you have not had your fill of beach time.
But if you are on a large international cruise ship and Katakolon is on your itinerary then it is nice to know that it is more than just a place to get off the boat and find a way to Olympia.
Elena Aggeli: Olympia Tour guide If you are looking for a professional licensed tour-guide to show you Olympia, Katakolon and the surrounding area you will find yourself in good hands with Elena Aggeli.
Born in Athens, Elena soon realized that there were far more stimulating challenges outside the capital. Visit her website.
The cruise port of Katakolon Cruise ship pier location in Katakolon The cruise port of Katakolon is very small. Larger cruise ships will anchor and you come ashore by tender boat at the docking pier in the harbor. Smaller cruise ships can dock at the pier Ayos Andreas at walking distance from the center. Most cruise ships dock here with the main purpose of a trip to Olympia.
Katakolon Travel Guide
The cruise port of Katakolon
Visit Katakolon Private Tours, Katakolo: Hours, Address, Visit Katakolon Private Tours Reviews: 5/5
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