“If we tip over, no one is going to be able to save you but you.” Brian’s blunt but empowering words, torn from his mouth by the wind buffeting our kayak-for-two, renewed my focus on the panic-inducing task at hand: trying not to drown, while also admiring the view. Seated in the front of the kayak, I stared head-on at the ominous black waves, feverishly wielding my paddle to properly position the kayak, while Brian wielded the camera.
As we walked through Rome, searching for the Trattoria Der Pallaro, anticipation began to build. After exiting the Campo de Fiori, a modest piazza by Rome standards whose hallmarks are a daytime market and a statue of an excommunicated Dominican monk burnt at the stake centuries ago in that very spot, we took a wrong turn. The often warren-like streets can be challenging even with a GPS for guidance.
But if we had to search every side street in the area and spend hours doing it, we weren’t giving up the quest. This wasn’t just any restaurant we sought. This was a restaurant I had waited to return to for fourteen years. After all this time, I vividly recalled arriving at the trattoria, a haven on a chilly, rainy March night. We sat in a cozy, wood-paneled dining room with friends, one of whom had come across the listing for Trattoria Der Pallaro in a Frommer’s guidebook as the “Best Value” eats option in Rome (it’s still their pick). The wine began to flow and, with barely a word exchanged between diners and servers, platters of food began arriving at the table.
“Buona sera. Come in, sit down.”
After two nights in the walled medieval stronghold of Monemvasia, we walked along its roughhewn stone streets for the last time and exited the tiny town through the sole entryway: an opening just wide enough for a loaded donkey to fit through. After reclaiming our rental car, which went unused during our stay in pedestrian-only Monemvasia, we continued on our way through the Peloponnesian Peninsula.
On the road again, our odyssey through Greece’s Peloponnesian Peninsula brought us from the grandiose ancient ruins of Olympia to Kardamyli, a tiny town that made a big impression on us.
After a long, winding drive, we finally looked down from a lofty mountain road onto Kardamyli, picturesquely nestled between hillside and sea. Not easy to reach and with nary a cruise ship or tour bus in sight, this pretty village is a place you could spend an uneventful two hours or a delightfully relaxing two weeks. We spent three glorious days there and wished we had allocated more time.
After ferrying around the Greek islands and seeing the classic sites in Athens, we set out to explore more of the mainland on a twelve-day road trip. Beginning and ending in the capital city, a looped route brought us to mountainous Delphi and then through the Peloponnese, a gorgeous, historic peninsula in the southern part of the country.