Travel to Greece post-lockdown: A guest's experience
As soon as the reopening of Greece was announced I contacted Sunvil for advice on whether it was going to be possible to travel to Kardamili in the southern Peloponnese.
It also occurred that this might be a good opportunity to stay at Elies, we've been travelling to Greece for nearly ten years with Sunvil and every year Elies has been on our wish list. This year we felt we'd earned the extra treat of this amazing hotel, set in olive groves on the beach .
Sunvil have gone to an enormous amount of travel to make post lock down travel to Greece as easy and stress free as possible. They've done the research so that you don't have to.
The only real difference is masks throughout the journey and filling out Passenger Locator Forms, one for the Greek government when you leave and one for the UK government when you return. Sunvil provide links to both forms and you can fill them out online on your phone and the travel authorisation is sent to your phone; no printing required.
We flew with British Airways from London Heathrow to Kalamata at a very civilised hour and were met by a taxi driver at the airport for the wonderful drive over the Taygetus mountains to Kardamili. Both the taxi driver and I went to shake hands, as you naturally do in Greece, and then jumped apart laughing.
We wore face masks in the taxi and in all the shops. All the waiters and waitresses wear face masks, even in outside bars and tavernas but apart from that everything was normal.
Elies was full, most of the guests were staycationing from Athens or Sparta where a very strict lockdown was imposed.
Kalamata has had very few cases of COVID; our taxi driver said none but he's a local boy and very proud of his town. The Mani peninsula where we were had had no cases; it's cut off by the Taygetus and sparsely populated. It's lot safer in Greece than it is in the UK, that's why we were very careful to keep our distance from people and use the beautiful Korres antibacterial hand wash provided.
I've never been anywhere in Greece to match the accommodation at Elies. Square stone built blocks are set amidst ancient olive trees, the blocks are cleverly arranged so all the accommodation feels private and special with features like hammocks slung in the trees, huge stone terraces overlooking luxuriant vegetable patches - ours was build around a beautiful old olive tree,
Everything is kept spotlessly clean by two maids who whizz in when you're at the beach. They also leave a fridge full of oranges for squeezing, olive oil from the grove, yogurt and homemade preserve - the fig jam is wonderful.
For breakfast you go to the kitchen and collect bread, fresh fruit and eggs. Ask for the figs!
Elies also has a great taverna fronting onto the beach; good, simple Greek food, well priced and always busy. Try the chips fried in their own olive oil.
As a guest of the hotel you have your own sun lounger and parasol. The sea is aqua blue and crystal clear
Marloes, the Sunvil rep, came to see us on the first morning. It was lovely to catch up with her and meet her gorgeous baby. She gave us her WhatsApp number in case we needed to message her and offered to help with the passenger locator form for the journey home. We didn't need to contact her but it was good to know she was there because I know, from a previous visit to the area, how resourceful and well connected she is.
Travel to Greece, you'll get a very warm welcome and a reminder of how wonderful our world is and how we need to relax!
Ms Rowan Joyce, Sunvil guest