Just added: a link to Petite Planete photo album of the Mycenae region >> Album
I refuse to drive a car in foreign countries. If I can’t read the signs, I don’t drive. My phobia of driving is easily accommodated most places in Europe: a train ride, sandwiched on either end by a short taxi or bus ride, or a walk. Not in Greece, there is no real train system. Non-drivers in Greece either hire a taxi or take a bus, sometimes a boat. But the buses don’t go everywhere, and the bus from Athens doesn’t go all the way to Peloponnesian Mykines, the town adjacent to the Mycenaean ruins. Fortunately, I chose Hotel Petite Planete for our stay. Vassiliki Dassi, the daughter of the owner, picked us up at Fixtia and drove us the last two miles to the hotel. It was the start of a wonderful stay at the Petite Planete. [Note: Use the link above to visit their website and view photos of the hotel and countryside.]
You should know that our idea of a great hotel is a small comfortable family-run hotel with a relaxed atmosphere where we interact with the hosts, learning the local lore and getting tips on the area’s attractions. Combine that with a full breakfast array, a comfortable room where everything works, and places to walk, and we’re happy. At Petite Planete, you can add a pool by the olive grove, and a beautiful veranda for the breakfasts and the wonderful dinners, all within walking distance of the ruins. It’s a long walk, but we did it every night after dinner—as if we didn’t get enough exercise during the day.
Our first night we dined at the hotel. It was such a good experience we saw no reason to go anywhere else—the food was the best we had in Greece, and some of the best we’ve had anywhere. It’s all cooked by Momma Maria, using fresh local products, vegetables from their garden, and their own 100% pure olive oil. Full courses are served every night, including homemade deserts and the obligatory shot of grappa.
So, with no car, what do you do in Mycenae after you’ve seen the ruins and been through the local artists’ shops? There’s plenty to see in the surrounding area. Many sites aren’t reconstructed, therefore don’t attract tourists. You can hire taxis by the trip, by the half day, or for a full day. The cost is comparable to short term car rentals. Buses also go to most major locations, but you’re constrained by the schedules. Finally, if you give the Dassi’s sufficient notice they can arrange for a guide to take you to various sights.
The beautifully reconstructed theater at Epidaurus is a full day trip. Nafplio, considered the prettiest city in Greece, is worth two full days: strolling the streets in their kaleidoscope of flowers, the breath-taking boardwalk along the coast, the museums, and a climb to the fortress with its many picturesque views of the city and the sea.
For a lark, we spent one day off the beaten trail in Argos. We visited its theater, larger than Epidaurus, but unreconstructed, hiked a picturesque trail above it, and then took a taxi to the Frankish castle on the hill, also unreconstructed. The three of us alone on the wind blown hill amid the crumbling walls remains one of my most vivid memories. As I stood within the walls of the crusader castle I felt a surge in my soul; north, I could see Mycenae, the Bronze Age cradle of Greece; east was Nafplio, where the Greeks won independence from the Turks. Pulsing through my veins was Europe and the wind whispered words of my ancestors.