Unruffled and unspoiled, Costa Navarino is emerging as a new travel destination in Greece, says Anuj Kumar Anuj Kumar

There is nip in the air but the sea is balmy. It is this cool combination that defines Costa Navarino in October. An atmosphere you don’t find on the beaches in India. Far from the protesting crowd swelling in Athens, here is hope for the future of Greek tourism. The four-hour drive (270 km) from the capital is nothing but scenic — with sea, mountains and greenery providing everything that a picture postcard demands.

In between a landmark shows Tripoli. A fellow journalist gets excited. But her anticipation is cut short as Tripoli turns out to be a sleepy Greek town fit to have a cup of coffee at the stairs of its medieval church.

An eco-friendly and sustainable destination in the Mediterranean, Costa Navarino is located in the southern Greek region of Messinia in the southwest Peloponnese. Said to be one of the most unspoilt territories, it lives up to the promise. We are based at The Westin Resort, an ideal base to indulge in a variety of activities and explore the local culture. Embracing luxury without letting it show off, this is a place where every seasoned traveller would like to be in. A place where you can walk down to the private beach and spend hours listening to the Ionian Sea. And if you can afford it, there are options where you can have the sea greet you at your gate.

There is pool by my room but who wants to play in the smaller arena. There are options like snorkelling and deep-sea diving, but who wants to be under the sea during a junket. I prefer to explore the region on a guided tour on mountain bikes. It proves to be a great choice for the verdant countryside is full of surprises at very turn. The sight of a tiny memorial crowned with a cross, however, calms the nerves. The guide tells us that Greeks are rash drivers and whenever there is an accident, they build a small symbolic church on the roadside. I slow down. I don’t want a memorial built at my expense.

The adventure doesn’t end here. Golf is Greek to me but the destination’s two signature courses are an irresistible invitation to tee off. Well, time for tea, but the Westin offers an option to learn making Greek coffee. The barista gives lot of gyan but the only thing I could hold on to is that it is brewed over sand and quite a task to prevent the foam from spilling over. It is strong and supposed to be sipped with a sound, something which comes naturally to us. The homely feeling was short lived as the elaborate food spread has nothing that reminds you of home except for the pineapple, which the Greeks also call annanas (or it should be the other way round?) The host, however, is gracious enough to offer vegetarian options but the problem is she considers octopus as vegetarian. For once the ‘V’ tag given to me reminded me of “V for Vendetta”, that I watched in the Turkish Airlines flight from New Delhi. But the chefs’ dexterity with vegetables proved me wrong. The greenery never blended but they kept my buds in good humour. The best were the stuffed tomatoes and peppers with rice. And who can forget the rocket salad.

Will the emerging Indian traveller take to this rich experience? The in charge of public relations already has a picture of Shah Rukh Khan on her phone. She clearly knows the way forward.

(The journalist was in Greece on a trip sponsored by Turkish Airlines)