Elliniko: Pure Peloponessean Charm
Right in the middle of the Arcadian countryside, somewhere lost in the mists of time and mountain, lies the oddly named village of Elliniko, or Greek as it translates to. The Peloponnese is home to a string of beautiful traditional villages that have stood the test of time and stand proud and stoically against the tides of change. Elliniko is one of these time warp places that feels and looks as if everything stood still. Much like its neighboring villages, Stemnitsa and the more famous Dimitsana, Elliniko is a stone mason’s village with cobble stone streets and rolling vistas, curtesy of its 700 meter elevation.
To be certain, Elliniko offers nothing by way of amenities or any other wise time worthy landmarks save for the obligatory church tower. One is likelier to spend an evening or two sipping grappa at the village square with the octogenarian residents. And that is an experience that is as important as any other. Getting to know and chat to the old timers is always interesting. If nothing else the old folk are the best way to get one’s bearings straight and get some intel on what’s what. And one’s never too far away from a good tale or two,.
Elliniko’s charm is certainly felt outside village limits. For it’s the great countryside that beckons. The activities and things to see are extensive. Numerous hiking trails exist. One could do far worse than getting out into the great outdoors and attempt the monumental feat of shedding the excess Christmas fat. The river Lousios affords one the perfect opportunity to do so, with some magnificent walking to be had, past stone bridges and the occasional waterfall. Kayaking and canoeing are probably off the table for the winter months but one can see how that would go. One should expect to see a plethora of fauna, too, with several types of boar, foxes, deer, jackals and amphibians such as lizards, snakes and salamanders.
There’s a few archaeological sites scattered around the general periphery. One would be well advised to head for ancient Gortyn where legend has it that Zeus and even Alexander the Great bathed in its natural spa. Its 335 BC Asklepion is still partly standing and the few adjacent dwellings are worth the time. Further along at Bassae, one finds a bona fide Unesco heritage site that was a sanctuary to Apollo Epikouros, dating back to the 5th century BC.
Elliniko is small compared to Dimitsana, but it feels even quainter and rustic-ier than seemingly possible. It does provide for a cozy springboard from which to explore the surrounding area and feast on the local delicacies, heir abundance and quality all but assured.