Wednesday, April 3, 2013

The Gift of Greece

If you’re a regular to these pages, you know that traveling to Greece is how I am choosing to celebrate the July arrival of my 60th year.

In planning -- I use that term loosely --our trip we've gathered a list; a kaleidoscope of old favorite places and new discoveries that we may or may not get to, but which at least have defined the perimeters of our itinerary. In the process, I’ve decided this trip isn’t so much a celebration as it is a gift. . .

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. . .because it will take us back to the Peloponnese (pel-o-pon-ih-sos), the mythical land of Greek gods where we had but an appetizer-sized visit two years ago  - enough to bring us back for a full serving this trip. The Peloponnese is the part of mainland Greece that looks somewhat like an open hand with three fingers extended. We'll be heading for the middle finger this time ~ The Mani ~ the land near and dear to the heart of 20th Century writer, Patrick Leigh Fermor.

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. . .it will take us back to not only a favorite island, Poros, but to the the Manessi Hotel where we've booked ‘our room’ (the one next to the Greek flag in the photo above). Poros, about an hour by fast ferry from Pireaus (Athen's port city) is a stone's throw across a small channel from the Peloponnese.

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. . .it will also give us the chance to ride Greek ferries, our preferred mode of travel in Greece.  While the more airplane-lile high speed ferry will take us to Poros, sometime along the way we’ll likely be perched at the top railing of a Greek ferry like this one, the size of a cruise ship, as we make our way south from the Peloponnese to Crete, Greece's southern-most island a few hundred miles north of the African coast.

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. . .it will take us back to Crete . . . that, in itself, is a gift.  One guidebook likens the island to Picasso in his prime, ". . .a dramatic quilt of big-shouldered mountains, stunning beaches and undulating hillsides blanketed in olive groves, vineyards and wildflowers." We'll be exploring new territory on our Cretan trip but will return to favorite places that draw us back with their own special magic. Places like Loutro, accessible only on foot or by boat;  is here we will celebrate Greek Easter. We will return to Maria's pensione where for 35-euro a night we have this view from our balcony each morning. . .

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. . .and we'll also visit the tiny blip on the map, Kastri, a bit further east on Crete's southern coast, where I will seek out my jeweler friend Georgios and then eat moussaka (pictured above) at this, one of our favorite restaurants on the island.

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. . .and no matter where we go we will be charmed by the photogenic Greek cats.  This fellow was relaxing in Loutro . . .

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. . . and this one was snoozing in Hydra during our last visit. . .their presence adds to what I consider a  simply purrr-fect gift!

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We've made room reservations for only six of the 35 nights we will be gone. . .that tells you we plan to go where the winds blow us and won't really know where we are going until we get there. Please come along and help us unwrap the Gift of Greece.  And today is Travel Photo Thursday so make sure to visit Budget Travelers Sandbox for more photos!

36 comments:

  1. What a fabulous way to spend your 60th birthday Jackie. The little village that you have chosen to stay in on Crete looks idyllic. I look forward to following you birthday travels.

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    1. Jenny, I'll look forward to having you along! And yes, there are some incredible little villages just waiting to be explored. . .

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  2. What a wonderful birthday present to yourself. You have painted the picture beautifully - can I come too :) (well I will be following)

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    1. Glad you'll 'be coming along' as we set out to explore Greece; well, at least explore a small section of it. . .we may have to keep it on the bucket list and expand our travels a bit each time we are lucky enough to return.

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  3. Oh Jackie, that sounds so wonderful. What a beautiful gift! Greece has a special place in my heart - it was where I got married. My husband and I looked forward to return someday to visit both new and old places. I'm so excited for you returning there and I can't wait to read your future posts about the trip.

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    1. Now that is so fantastic! What a fabulous place to be married -- anywhere is fabulous there. Hopefully we will bring back some great memories for you as we explore our favorite places.

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  4. You must be brimming with anticipation for this trip, Jackie. Reading your post, I can feel your excitement. Travel is such a wonderful gift and even better when you return to a favorite place, see friends and just drink in the place.
    A former co-worker gave herself the gift of a month-long holiday in Greece for her 50th birthday. It was also her first time traveling alone and she raved about it for weeks.
    I can't wait to read your posts when you get back. Happy Birthday when it comes!

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    1. The suitcases were packed (almost finished) a week ago and we are no where near take-off. Yes, there is something about celebrating a birthday in Greece (maybe it is because it is so much older than we are :-) ) that makes it extra special.

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  5. Your enthusiasm for your trip is infectious! I can't imagine a better way to spend your birthday than in a location you're so fond of. I'm looking forward to reading about your upcoming adventure.

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    1. Hmmmm. . .you could tell I am excited??? Yes! I am and glad that came through in this post.

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  6. OOOH to say I am green would be an understatement - what a fabulous birthday gift - one that I am going to do for my 60th next year too! Greek Easter in Crete - can't wait for the stories and photos. Take my love with you and travel safe F xx

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    1. Oh Francesca, I think you might be the only other person I know who loves Crete as much as I do. I was thinking of you when I wrote this post and will certainly toast you with a glass of Cretan raki while there. (And next year, I will follow your Big Birthday travels and adventures!)

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  7. What a treat! Enjoy the brilliant blues and whites!

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    1. Thanks for stopping by Jessica. Hope you'll 'come along' on this adventure!

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  8. What a wonderfully long trip - sounds like heaven. I would also love to revisit the Peloponnese Peninsula as I only saw it from a bus and it deserves a lot more time. When do you head there - before your birthday arrives? Great gift.

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    1. We are using frequent flier mile for our trip from Seattle (via Portland) to Amsterdam so will be heading out this spring -- that's when the seats were available. Ended up buying the seats from Amsterdam to Athens because the flight was there but the quota of ff seats were gone. . .oh well, it could have been worse: no seats at all!

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  9. What a fabulous birthday gift! I can't wait to read about your adventures and this is a great preview with great photos. I love the cat lounging in Loutro. I have yet to visit Greece but would love do one of these cruises or island hopping one day.

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    1. Mary, I hope you make it to Greece one day. We've fallen under its spell since our first visit there and can't seem to keep from wanting to go back and explore just a bit more of it. . .

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  10. Dear Jackie, thank you so much for stopping by my blog. It is truly lovely to meet you. :-) I so enjoyed your gorgeous photos of Greece. I've only been there once (Corfu), but I loved it so much and cannot wait to return. :-) I look forward to getting to know you better through your blog. :-)

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    1. Thanks for returning the visit! I do look forward to getting to know you in this amazing blogosphere world. Come along with us as we head out -- I'll report on whether Greece lived up to or exceeded (as I expect) my hopes for adventure on this outing.

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  11. Beautiful photos! Your post took me back to my days of studying International Relations with a professor who loved to talk about the Peloponnesian War - it was an ongoing joke among his students that he could bring up the Peloponnesian conflict no matter the topic of discussion (and we had only a vague idea of where it was)! I'm sure you'll have an amazing birthday trip to Greece!

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    1. Oh Lisa, this comment made me laugh! Didn't we all have professors like that? The kind who could find a topic and make it fit whatever lecture he/she was giving? Have a great week ahead and stay tuned for tales from the Peloponnese.

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  12. Beautiful photos. I have never been to Greece but have always daydreamed about visiting one day.

    Looking forward to hearing more about your plans and then the actual trip!!! 35 days. WOW!

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    1. Oh Cheryl, do hope you follow our travels there during the next few weeks and that we manage to inspire you to book a trip there. Since we start in Seattle and it will take basically two days to get there, we decided to spend some significant time on this trip as the return takes almost as long.

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  13. That is just awesome!!! I can't wait to hear (and see) more about your trip!!

    Thanks for linking up this week!

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    1. Thanks much for hosting your Friday Daydreamin' - it's a pleasure to be a part of it! Hope you'll stick with us as we head to Greece next week!

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  14. Greek cats have a very though life!

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    1. Yes Denise those cats I photographed did seem to have a 'tough life'! Thanks for your visit today!

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  15. Have a fantastic time in Greece and a wonderful birthday. We only saw a little of Greece but we loved it, particularly Crete. It was so stunningly beautiful and friendly.

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    1. Thanks much for your visit today, Tracy, and good wishes for the trip and the birthday. Hope you'll come along with us during the next few weeks and that you will add comments as we spark memories for you!

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  16. Beautiful pictures, and I love the cats! Greece is definitely on our wish list as trips go one day, thanks for letting me dream a little through yours!

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    1. Thanks for your visit Michelle - hope you'll 'come along' with us the next few weeks as I unwrap the gift!

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  17. I love that nearly every picture I see of Greece has blue colors, much like Spain seems to have reds. Have fun!

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    1. Thanks for stopping by Evan. I recall the first time we went to Greece I made a similar observation. It really is blue and white - just as the books and magazines have portrayed it all the years I spent pouring over them daydreaming about a trip to check it out for myself.

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  18. This sounds like a wonderful trip -- a little bit planned but with plenty of room to explore; a little bit of a favorite, familiar thing but chances for discovery as well. I've never been to Greece, but this post makes me understand why you want to return.

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  19. What a fabulous trip Jackie! Your photo tour is so inspiring. What I wouldn't do to eat moussaka on a Greek island!

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