Spring is here and summer is around the corner. As many families are planning their summer vacation, I will be sharing some of my recommended family accommodation in the next couple of weeks. This post is about a humble non-pretentious holiday house in between the green.
Gialova Gardens was the base during our trip around the Peloponnese and more specifically, the Gialova area, with Family Goes Out in July of 2016. The girls and I spent a week in Bungalow Josefine, a 3 *holiday house in Gialova, Messinia. Gialova is a small tourist village on Navarino Bay in the municipality of Pylos-Nestor in the region Messenia.
Gialova Gardens is a compound on a plot of 8.000 m², consisting of three identical bungalows (Marijn, Suze and Josefine) plus two villas (Villa Hetty and Villa Andrea) on a green hill overlooking the sea. The Gialova Gardens property is privately owned by a Dutch family with young children who came to Gialova some years ago and fell in love with the villages and the property. On the hill are 50 olive trees, banana, fig, lemon and orange trees and many other (tropical) plants and flowers. The houses are located at about 300 meters from the beach and the main boulevard of Gialova village. The drive from Athens to Gialova was 3 hours. The first 2 hours was a straight drive on the recently opened new Kalamata highway. The total cost of the tolls from Athens to Gialova was about 20 Euro for one way. The last part of the trip was a slow ride on a rural, sometimes curvy road passing through some beautiful villages and mountains. Here you can fruit and veggie stands along the way. Oranges, enormous pumpkins, tomatoes and other fresh produce is here for sale and it is worth to make a stop. Gialova is 50 minutes away from Kalamata international airport. There is a public bus going to the Kalamata airport and from there is also a bus to Athens.
Bungalow Josefine is the most traditional of the three bungalows (the other two bungalows are called Marijn and Suze) at Gialova Gardens. The bungalow still has traditional wooden shutters and doors and original details inside the house. The bungalow is 80 m2 and can accommodate 4 – 5 persons. Because of the very high ceiling of the bungalow, it felt that it was much larger than 80m2. The fact that there is so much living space outside on the veranda makes this bungalow very suitable for a large family or even two families. For us, two mothers and 3 children, it was large enough and we felt that we had enough privacy. The veranda had a large table under the bougainvillea covered pergola where we sat in the evenings and there were lounge chairs too. Josefine is situated on a private plot of 700 square meters within a secluded garden.
Kitchen and living room
The open plan kitchen had everything that a family needs. I brought several items from home in case the supermarkets would be closed (such as dishwashingsoap and towels) but this was all there. A blender for baby food and smoothies, a filter coffee maker, a nespresso coffee machine, a toaster and more. For a detailed list of items available in the kitchens of the bungalows and villas of Gialova Gardens, please visit the website. I was happy to find 2 (!!) highchairs and colorful children’s plates, cups and cutlery. There were even straws and tupperware boxes (very helpful with kids at the beach). The kitchen was spacious and light.
The sitting area was spacious too and the many windows and veranda doors made us bring the nature inside. I found some nice books in the book cupboard, there was a dvd player, satellite tv and a sofa that could be turned into an extra bed.
The bedrooms in our bungalow were spacious and comfortable. There was enough cupboard space. All bedrooms have A/C but I did not use mine. Although it was hot in Gialova, the wooden shutters in front of the windows and the lavish garden outside kept my bedroom cool during the day. The mosquito nets in front of the bedroom windows allowed us to leave the windows open at night. The oxygen of the garden and the nearby sea breeze made us sleep like babies.
I slept with my daughter in the big double bed and there was still plenty of space for a second single bed next to it. This bed was brought in by Marion and her staff specifically for us. The beds have comfortable boxspring mattresses. We found that Gialova Gardens was very flexible and whatever we asked Marion was taken care off right away.
The bathroom of bungalow Josefine was basic but had everything that we needed. The bathroom will be fully renovated in October 2016 (the bathroom in the other bungalows and villas have already been renovated).
The overall feeling of Bungalow Josefine was natural, light and spacious. Safety is important to the owners too. There were clear instructions available in the house and items such as fire extinguishers and a first aid kit. The happy colors in the furniture and the details in and around the house made us feel special and at home. This was not the average holiday apartment, the love of the owners for the houses and the area is obvious in little details everywhere.
Kids & Parents Loved…
The garden and grounds. Waking up in the morning and hearing just the sounds of the crickets made me want to stay around the bungalow all day. My two girls were happily playing in the garden most of the day and relaxing in the (very sturdy and safe!) hammock. They also enjoyed discovering exotic plants, flowers, insects butterflies in the garden of the bungalow and the property. We went on discovery many times and found a banana tree and a mysterious arch with amazing views. The concierge offered to bring us a plastic swimming pool for our garden and she also had toys such as Lego. But we did not need any of this. The garden and its treasures offered days of entertainment. In the private back garden is a garden hose that offered more fun when rinsing off after swimming. During the hottest moments of the day, I enjoyed the shade in the many sitting corners of the house or the hammock under the palm trees. At night I enjoyed walking through the lit garden, sitting outside on the veranda reading or watching the stars and listening to the sounds of the night.
There are no playgrounds at Gialova Gardens, no entertainers, and no kids clubs. Yet I believe that Gialova Gardens has everything a child needs to have a wonderful safe holiday. It is ideal for families that are seeking rest and peace but that still want to be close to a friendly village with all the necessary tourist facilities. The views and grounds are incredible and the village and beach are great. Its a perfect place for for families with grandparents, family gathering, groups of friends etc. I am confident that we will one day return to Gialova Gardens and I can recommend Gialova Gardens to everyone looking for a down to earth, budget friendly family accommodation.
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**The featured photo on top of this post belongs to the website of Gialova Gardens. All the other photos are my own. We were guests of Gialova Gardens but all opinions expressed in this article are my own. This story was first featured on www.familygoesout.com **