Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Greece ~ Unexpected Joys Off-the-Beaten-Path

We did get back in the saddle again last month after our Greek house deal fell through and resumed our search for homes and/or property in The Mani.  And I have to tell you, searching for real estate in a place with the history and mystery of the Peloponnese is simply a task punctuated by unexpected joys.

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With our realtors, on our own and with friends our search continued

From olive groves to gorges, we spent our last few days in Greece exploring "possibilities' with our realtors and even with friends who were kind enough to escort us. We also set out on our own several times. The one thing that becomes very clear when searching for property is:

When you get off the beaten tourist path there is always a treasure to be discovered!
 
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The Gulf of Messina and Kardamyli
High above the small village of Kardamyli on the Messinian Gulf where we were staying, is an equally small – actually, smaller –  ancient village called Proastio.


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Proastio
Proastio is known for its many churches. You can find them in every size, shape and condition.

Our destination was an area just outside the village.  We set off on a rather bumpy dirt road because that is often where you find the most interesting of houses for sale.

It wasn’t long before we came upon a small brown directional sign that alerted us to a church somewhere ahead that obviously had some historical significance. 










By this point in our home search/purchase process we were easily swayed from our task. We decided to table our search to find and explore the church in this scantily populated area.

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We parked the car under the shade of this ancient olive tree and set out in the direction of distant, but distinct, goat bells; their dull clanking calling us to the old church where the animals grazed. . .























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As was the case in so many places we visited – wonderful, enchanting historic sites – we were the only ones there. In this case we had  two or three grazing goats who had greeted, then, ignored us.

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Signage explained the structure was the old Katholikon of Agio Theodoroi, (Saint Theordoroi) and dates back to the 13th Century.  At some time in history it was severely damaged by an earthquake and restoration measures have brought it back to its present condition.  Sadly, its door was locked as its interior is decorated with murals also dating as far back as the 13th Century.

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DSCF2460This newer church sits behind the old one but there were no signs to explain its more ‘modern’ history or age.

This carved stone basin just outside its door caught our attention.

What was it used for?

Holy water?

When had it last been used?


We peered and poked around – desires to look at real estate completely forgotten with this treasure to be explored. We didn’t touch the walls so fragile looking that it seemed the slightest touch could topple them, yet obviously strong enough to withstand centuries of wear and tear.

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Our curiosity satisfied we returned to our original task. . .but we’ll long remember this topsy-turvy treasure that we discovered off the beaten path:

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Katholikon of Agio Theodoroi
Have you had the courage to venture off-the-beaten tourist track? What was it you discovered?

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22 comments:

  1. Hello Jackie and Joel,

    We are great believers in leaving behind the well trodden paths in search of new adventures and we should have loved to have been with you off the beaten path in Greece. The tiny church was remarkable and to have it all to yourselves is so wonderful. Yes, well worth losing time on the house searching for this discovery.

    Such a pity that your sale has not hone through but we are great believers that things happen for a reason. The right house will come along when the time is right!

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    1. Hi Jane and Lance, Wish you could have been there with us. . .we would have had such fun. And we've also decided that things happen for a reason as with the house no-sale and just hope the reason is a positive one somewhere down the line.

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  2. LOVE to get off the beaten track, but it doesn't happen often, because I feel time pressing me to see the major things I went to see. I assume you've read The Mani by Patrick Leigh Fermor. Maybe his house is available? I saw a video of an interview with him in his house just a year or so before he died and it was fantastic.
    We were in the Mani more than 20 years ago and already wealthy Athenians were buying up the tower houses to make summer homes out of. How can you look for houses in the Mani and not look at a tower house?

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    1. You've given me an idea for a future post! The towers of the Mani and PLF's house. His house belongs to a literary/arts foundation that is working to open it for the use of writing workshops; its gates have been locked each time we've been there. However, his housekeeper, now quite elderly does still oversee the operation of a restaurant named after her, Lela's, in Kardamyli, which is next to Kalamitsi where his house is. There were no tower homes on the market when we were there and frankly with their lack of windows, probably wouldn't have held much appeal to us sun and outdoor seekers. Thanks for your visit today, Vera Marie!

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  3. Hi Jackie,

    I can hear the silence, except for the wind blowing the bells on those mountain hiking goats that seem to be guarding this treasure of ruins, and your footsteps on the rocky ground, crunching around, exploring yet another echo of this country's amazing history.

    xx
    Poppy

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    1. You've described our experience perfectly, Poppy! Thanks for your visit today. Have a great weekend~ Hugs, J.

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  4. Wow, 13th century history, count me in for sure. To be able to travel back in time to that carved stone basin and retrieve those answers you asked, huh?

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    1. I think one of Greece's selling points for us, Mike, is the incredible history there -- both the known and unknown. It is amazing to let your imaginations run and 'be there' back whenever. . . Thanks for your visit - it is always appreciated!

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  5. I am so glad that you resumed your house hunting in Greece. Better yet, I'm glad that you also made time to stop and get off-the-beaten path. This church looks so interesting, and you can invent any number of stories about what events must have happened within its walls.

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    1. Oh Michele, we've decided the best part of house-hunting in Greece are the directions it takes us that we would have otherwise, probably never traveled. I plan to show you soon some of the amazing little towns we visited on our 'search' that we likely wouldn't have traveled to had we just been on the tourist track. Thanks for your visit!

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  6. I like your off-the-beaten path discoveries. Proastio looks like precious find. I can't stop staring at the photo of the church with a goat. It looks so earthy, so beautiful. I felt I was stepping back in time. It musttruly have been enchanting seeing it in person.

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    1. It was a memorable Saturday afternoon, that's for sure. Love the sound of the distant goat bells and then when you come upon them, how nonchalant they are about sharing space with you. Thanks much for your visit - I am loving your tales from the South Pacific, btw.

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  7. Hello Joel and Jackie

    Off the beaten tract is always best we feel. Your discovery of this special church and the peace and quiet must have been very special.

    Continued joy as you comb the countryside in search of your home.

    Helen xx

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    1. Oh Helen, so nice to see your comment here. I am looking forward to more news of your new home and the adventures you are having. Thanks for taking the time to visit!

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  8. What a wonderful find. Love getting off the beaten path!

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    1. It is our favorite kind of travel, as you two can well understand. Hope all is well on Moondance! I'll be checking your blog for updates!

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  9. I love going off the beaten path, Jackie, and I enjoyed reading this post (as all your posts) and seeing your latest off-the-beaten path through your eyes. I'm so used to seeing the incredibly brilliant colors of Greece, it's lovely to see this side as well. What a beautiful find!

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  10. I missed the fact your house deal fell through. What a bummer but it sounds like rather a lot of fun looking for real estate and something else will come up. I love the look of that ancient olive tree - and I bet it has some stories to tell.

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  11. What a wonderful place to spend time! I would love to travel there....some day. We take back roads here in the US when we go on a trip. Enjoy!

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So happy to see you took the time to comment. We read them all - and each is much appreciated. We hope you will be a regular here and comment often!

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