Do you know that feeling as you run for a train or bus, only to have just missed it? This regretfully happened to me at Diakofto, but whilst I missed the Diakofto to Kalavrita train by 15 minutes, I had to wait 3 hours for the next one. Unfortunately, this only allowed me 20 minutes in Kalavrita, in order to catch the last train back. One of the destinations in Greece that I had most anticipated, was reduced to a stop and go.
The Diakofto / Kalavrita narrow gauge railway winds through the 14 miles of the Vouraikos Gorge. Built between 1889 and 1896, the train relies on a rack and pinion system to pull it up where the ascent becomes too steep. There is a stop halfway long at Mega Spilaio, which opens up access to what is believed to be the oldest monastery in Greece, Moni Mega Spilaio.
Kalavrita was the scene of war atrocities during the Second World War. German soldiers were captured by Greek resistance fighters and whilst initially most were treated as prisoners of war, most were later executed. Afterwards and as a reprisal, German soldiers entered Kalavrita and gathered all males older than 14 years old and machine-gunned them down, 696 were killed. Before they left, the German soldiers burned down the town.
Kalavrita, is a well worth a visit, the scenery through the Vouraikos Gorge is picturesque and the town seems lovely, although a 20 minute stay is never going to be enough. It also possible to walk the journey along the tracks, but this can take about 5 hours, something I would have also liked to have experienced. Nevermind, there is always next year, I just hope I plan my trip better.