Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

The New Olympic Way; New Roads and Transport Links, a Legacy of the 2004 Athens Games, Says June Field

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

The New Olympic Way; New Roads and Transport Links, a Legacy of the 2004 Athens Games, Says June Field

Article excerpt


GREECE is offering new opportunities for house-hunters who have just returned from their holidays and have resolved to buy a holiday home in this country. Greece, like Spain (and Barcelona especially), has benefited from a legacy of Olympic Games money that enabled the country to build roads and regenerate virtually inaccessible areas.

An area that used to be a tortuous coach journey from Athens is the Peloponnese, a large fertile paw-shaped region situated on the south-western end of the mainland and holding historical treasures, such as Mycenae and the amphitheatre at Epidaurus among its ancient Olympian sites. Now, the roads are much improved and include a motorway.

This mountainous area has, until recently, suffered from poor access to the rest of the country and remained a tourist-free zone.

Even Greek farmers struggled to get their crops of juicy olives and oranges to the capital. That has all changed, thanks to the Olympic Games.

The new section of motorway from Athens has shaved the journey time to the Greek weekend-getaway beaches of Argolid and Nafplion, to around two hours.

And trains have not been forgotten, either. Along with a smart new metro service for Athens, a new line direct from the airport to Corinth means that retired tour operator Suzi Stembridge and her husband, Simon, both in their sixties, are able to commute to their bolt-hole near Leonidion in record time.

"The train ride from the airport to Corinth station takes just over an hour.

Next, we hop in a taxi. After a 90-minute journey we're at our farm. It used to take double that," says Stembridge. They are in the middle of building a home set in an olive grove and with sea views. They bought the one-acre plot of land for about [pounds sterling]43,000.

Property prices have risen about 20 per cent in the past year, according to local estate agent Jill Sutherland. She set up Property Shop 18 months ago with Greek husband, Giorgos. Last month, more than 20 British house-hunters came through her doors in Tolon. The resort of Tolon itself has little appeal to foreign buyers as it has become disfigured with too many concrete hotels.

They prefer the more traditional villages along this pretty coastline, which has unlimited potential for safe swimming on its clean, gently sloping beaches.

Local agent and developer Grigoris Ntaskas, who is based in Leonidion, has helped British clients to build their own homes in the area. The most popular villages are Tyros, Poulithra and Plaka as they are close to the beach, with a selection of simple fish tavernas, cafes and bars.

"Argolid just oozes history and the British are discovering that it is easy to get here. We are surrounded by so much culture, with much more to do than just laze on beaches. …

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