Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Winter in Greece ~ Baby, it’s cold outside. . .sometimes!

So . . . you didn’t think it got cold in Greece, did you?

I’d planned to take you on a tropical tour of Hawaii today but your questions and responses to our last post like, “So what is winter like in Greece?” and “Snow – in Greece!?!” made me think we needed to show you a bit more of our Greek winter wonderland before heading to tropical beaches.

So here you go – the real story of winter in December and January and illustrated with photos not often seen in those tourist brochures. 

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Taygetos Mountains from The Mani
 Snow in Greece? you asked. The Mani, that ‘middle finger’ of the Peloponnese peninsula is blessed with beaches and mountains.  The mountains, part of the Taygetos Range, (named after the nymph Tayget, daughter of Atlas), have snow-covered peaks that soar to heights of 7,887 feet or 2,407 meters. They are snow-covered from late fall to late spring/early summer.

We are on that 'middle finger'
 
You can tell from this map that those mountains form the backbone of this peninsula. They are laced with trails that draw hikers to them in the spring and fall (summer is too hot for much hiking here except in the early morning and early evening hours). For those who’ve asked: sorry, no ski resorts.

What’s the weather like? you asked. The weather during our stay was a Jekyll and Hyde experience. While one day we’d wake to sunshine and warmth, other days the wind – a forceful and cold wind – howled and shrieked down the hillsides and over the valley. One storm hit with such intensity, that the fishing boats were taken out of the small protected harbor at Agios Dimetrios so that the crashing waves wouldn’t smash them against the cement walls meant to protect them.

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Fishing port - Ag. Dimitrios
 So powerful were the waves that they crashed over the waterfront road in the nearby tourist-town of Stoupa, leaving a trail of beach sand in their wake.

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Stoupa's beach is lined with summer sun-bathers - in July and August
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One day we sat ‘trapped’ (that means not crazy enough to get out until the storm subsided) in our car at the grocery store parking lot while hail pounded our car and everything else in sight. Yes, I entertained myself taking photos of it.

Not a good thing, I might add, for the Kalamata olive harvest that was underway.




It gets cold in Greece?, you asked. The temperatures dropped at night to freezing and once or twice a bit below freezing. It was – of course! - during that cold spell that we ran out of fuel for the furnace and had to rely on that fireplace!

We’d just ordered – and stacked -- a load of firewood so we kept the fireplace burning 24/7 until our new oil supply was delivered!  You’ll note in the photo below I am wearing a blue fleece jacket.

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Stacking the firewood - great exercise!
 We each bought fleece ‘work jackets’ on one of our shopping trips to Kalamata. The Scout paid 10-euro and mine was 12-euro. The plan was to wear them when working in the yard.  Turns out it was sooo cold and they were sooo warm that we wore them all the time (I did consider wearing mine to bed on a couple of occasions, if the truth were to be told!)

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Fleece coats saved the day
Even on the sunniest of days while enjoying our afternoon coffee and “Time with Tom” (one of our two visiting cats) – we wore our fleece.Next year we will take serious winter clothes along.

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Stoupa - sunset from Steki Cafe
 
Is it nice there in the winter? you asked. And the answer, is “Yes!” We had days of glorious sunshine and sunsets beautiful enough to give you chills (if the temperatures didn’t). Often times we sat in sidewalk cafes (enveloped in those fleece jackets, of course) sipping wine and watching the sunsets, like the one above as seen from the village of Stoupa.

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Scenes from a shopping trip
Some days the sun coming through the car’s windows required us to turn on the air conditioning as we traveled between the villages and Kalamata town. These photos were taken on a return trip from a shopping day in Kalamata.
 
We met quite a few northern Europeans who had rented places – or who own vacation homes -- in and near the villages of Stoupa, Kardamyli, or Ag. Nikolaos and head this way for their winter getaways much like those Canadian and the U.S. winter  ‘snow birds’ head south to Mexico, Florida and Arizona.  (This area is an inexpensive off-season getaway destination.)

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I am writing this post in Hawaii where the temperatures are in the low 80’s so I checked the weather back in the Mani the day I started writing this, Feb. 13 – it was 4:33 a.m. in Kardamyli and was still a bit chilly there.

Next post – I promise – we will head out to take a look at our current warm-sand neighborhood on the shores of Hawaii.  Thanks to all of you for the time you spent with us today.  Will see you soon, we hope. And until then, safe travels to you and yours!

We are linking up with some great bloggers this week – if you get a chance, drop by these sites as well:
Travel Photo Thursday – Budget Traveler’s Sandbox 
Travel Inspiration – Reflections En Route 
Mosaic Monday – Lavender Cottage Gardening

25 comments:

  1. Jackie! Your post can't be more timely; today it rained, snowed, with periods of hail and very high winds, here on the island, with temps diving down to 2(°C)!!!, at 2 pm, which is supposed to be the high for the day!

    Your pics are beautiful and your fleece jackets, precious!;))

    Happy Wednesday!

    Hugs,
    Poppy

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    1. Oh Poppy, I almost feel guilty sitting here in Hawaii where the sun is shining and temperatures are to be in the 80's today! Stay warm~

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  2. I just saw a friend from Ios post a pic on FB - it's snowing there!!!!

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    1. I also just saw on FB photos of Santorini covered in snow and Istanbul blanketed in snow. Guess Old Man Winter hasn't finished his visit there yet!

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  3. Awesome post and thank you for following up on the snow/weather near your place, Jackie! So, what is the actual daily highs and lows in the winter there? And how much snow is in the mountains...inches...feet? Jealous of you being Hawaii...you were supposed to invite me this year! :)

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    1. I can only answer for our month there this year and it was a light governing of snow in the lower elevations and probably in the 50's most days and low's in the 30's. Felt like early spring in Seattle. Hey, forget Hawaii, we need to get you to Greece!

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    2. That put a HUGE smile on my face, Jackie! :)

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  4. A Greek winter sounds very similar to a Queensland winter, minus the occasional snow. :-) People find it hard to believe that it gets cold here, but it really does!

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    1. The one thing I forgot to mention was the twirling, swirling menacing water spout that erupted and headed toward the shore. I didn't think of it until I read about your cyclones!

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  5. I love the sound of winter in your neck of the Greek Woods. Your photos really show what it was like.

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    1. It really was -- aside from those couple of doozie days - like early spring in Seattle. In fact, what my friends are posting about Seattle in these Feb. Days, it sounds like winter in Seattle!

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  6. I love the sound of winter too...

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    1. Winter does have its own special sounds doesn't it? I was surprised at the number of birds singing. . .

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  7. Sounds perfect to us for winter. W don't mind having to wear a jacket but we don't like bundling up for the winter like people have to do in Canada. It sounds like it would be a great off season type of place.

    We get questioned a lot in Mexico when we say that they can get snow and around freezing temperatures. It all depends what part of the country you are in. We prefer the higher altitudes rather than beach to be honest.

    www.travelwithkevinandruth.com

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    1. It is amazing how you get an image of a place in your mind and then think it must be like that 'all' the time, isn't it?

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  8. I guess the marketing gurus do a pretty good job on defining our perceptions and expectations of a place with the image of Greece and the Greek Islands always being a warm, sunny destination!
    But once one gets over the fact a fleece is required - The landscape without the crowds I can see is wonderful!

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    1. It is amazing how our image of places and how they 'should be' are formed through photos and images found in magazines, and these days, the internet. Always fun to discover things aren't quite as they are portrayed to be!

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  9. Living on bord in Paloi, Nisyros island ,with 10 BF from NNW wasn't esay... Big waves coming over the quay and cold wind didn't allow us to go out: four days inside our sailing boat. We are three boats here: we survived with no damages ! Today quiet and sunny again!! Thath's winter in Greece...

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    1. When I read your blog post, I did notice some days that didn't look quite like tourist brochure days - glad the sun has returned and that things are again quiet. Take care and come back soon!

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  10. Jackie, It's hard to believe that Greece can get cold, but at least you have that cozy fireplace to snuggle up in front of!

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  11. Beautiful place. I would love to be there.

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  12. I enjoyed this post, your scenic views of the mountains and the coast are just beautiful. I would even put up with snow to live in such a lovely place.. Have a happy week!

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  13. Goodness Jackie, I see the roller coaster weather is even in Greece. This is the name we've given to our up and down temperatures in Ontario. It's been the same in Florida this month, cold in the low 50s one day and 75-80F the next. We've had to put the furnace on several mornings. But, the scenery is great!
    Thanks for linking to Mosaic Monday.

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  14. Those waves at the fishing port are intense. I remember being surprised in an earlier post of yours that you mentioned it being cold in Greece. I'm glad you went into more detail. If I ever head there in the winter, I need to remember to pack something more substantial than shorts and sandals. You sound like you are living the high life -- second home in Greece and a time share in Hawaii.

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  15. Hi Jackie! Weather is a curious thing, isn't it? People are always surprised when i tell them that winter in Korea can be as cold as some parts of Canada (think same latitude as Russia). Thankfully, not as much snow. Even Chiang Mai has its share of weird weather. Right up until the day I left I had to wear my jacket in the morning when I was in my room, and I never turned the AC on once during my two month stay. When I was in Chiang Rai we had a huge rain storm (lasted over a day), and I slept under two comforters...in Thailand...lol. Anyway, I am writing a book here. Thanks for the great photos and insights on Greek weather! And thanks for linking up this week. #TPThursday

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