This is a (very!) informal piece of advice to the GrStoch participants about how to spend a few days in the region around Kalamata, should they wish to do so.

Kalamata is on the top of the Messinian bay, and both sides of the bay are well worth visiting. The city itself is nice to walk and replete with cultural activities. You'll probably explore a large part of it during the meeting.

The east side of the bay is called Mani Peninsula and is quite mountainous. It's worth spending at least a day there, visiting the spectacular Diros Caves and stopping by the beautiful town of Kardamili en route (or on the way back) for a coffee or a meal.
Alternatively, one could spend 1 more day and make a small circle, coming back through Gytheio (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gytheio) and maybe go swimming around there.
In that case you enter the Sparta territory (Laconia).
The modern city is nothing special but next to it is Mystras (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mystras) a unique example of Byzantine art and of special importance in the Byzantine times. If you do that you can get back to Kalamata through Mount Taygetus (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Taygetos), an impressive trip through to Kalamata, albeit on the twisty side.

West of Kalamata is where I spend time every summer so I'm a bit biased!
The region between Koroni (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Koroni for the location) and Finikounta (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Foinikounta) has several wonderful places to go swimming.
En route from Kalamata it's worth stopping by Polylimnio (crudely: multilake) for a walk among several tiny little waterfalls. Some photos of the complex may be found here

In addition, Koroni, Pylos and Methoni have nice castles to explore, perhaps in that order. Pylos is beautiful and certainly the most historic town of the region.
Close to Pylos is a pretty village called Gialova (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gialova), of great ecological importance as it's the last stop for several birds on their way to Africa.
If you opt for that, Voidokilia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Voidokilia) is a good choice for a swim

Finally, at http://www.costanavarino.com/ is an upmarket resort, ideally suited for those interested in golf.

All the places out of Kalamata are much easier to explore if one can rent a car, since public transport is reliable but scarse

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