Monday, August 24, 2015

An Update on Greece ~ Because you’ve asked. . .

We are interrupting our tales of sailing from Asia to Istanbul this week because so many of you’ve asked about our stay at The Stone House on the Hill following the cruise and how we are faring in light of ‘the situation’ in Greece.  I’ve had so many things to tell you about Greece that I thought of starting a second blog, but since that hasn’t happened, here’s a recap and I’ll be back to cruise posts next week . . .

I’ll begin at the end. It was very difficult to leave The Stone House on the Hill after our stay this spring. Four weeks simply weren’t long enough. Since purchasing our home in The Mani area of the Greek Peloponnese last December we’ve spent nearly two months in it; three weeks last winter and our most recent spring stay.

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"Our" Mani Agios Nikolaos in the foreground and Stoupa in the background

“The Situation?” you asked . . .

Our departure for the U.S. from Greece turned out to be only days before the banks there closed and their economic world turned upside down. Had we been there, we would also have been under the same withdrawal limitations on our Greek bank account as were the Greeks. The banks have reopened as has their stock exchange, however, we are still unable to wire funds from the United States to that Greek bank account of ours.

Unlike the reports you’ve seen on headline news around the world, our friends and neighbors there assure us via emails and Skype conversations that the cash machines in our area of Greece have funds, the grocery store shelves are stocked and medicines are readily available.

Tourists, according to Ekathimerini, the English-language newspaper published in Athens, reported yesterday that tourism is going to hit record numbers in 2015 if the upcoming Greek elections result in a stable government. Estimates are that more than 25 million foreign tourists will visit. Arrivals during the first six months of this year show U.S. visitors increased by 41.6%, Germans by 23.5% and British by 21.2%.

The Stone House on the Hill . . . what did we do there?

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The Stone House on the Hill - Sunset, June 2015
Certain areas of The Stone House on the Hill or its gardens and grove were torn up during our stay, put back together and then another spot torn up and put back together as work progressed to make it ‘our home’ – one that reflected our colors, tastes and designs.

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After out with the old comes in with the new
There were several days during our stay that we made shopping trips to the big city and then a few days later The Scout would drive down the hill to meet delivery trucks from Kalamata and lead them back up to the house as you might recall, we don’t have an address so deliveries can be a bit of a challenge. Then there was the matter of getting items to the house – a good workout!

Many of those items required assembly and we discovered we were able to read directions and ‘build’ things, as well as paint walls – all of which was admittedly work, but also labors of love.

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Small bedroom on its way to becoming a den with bookshelf put together by us
Several major projects were completed while we were 'in residence' including replacing the buckled and water-soaked Formica gold-swirled kitchen counter and marble window sill with black granite. These projects we turned over to professional craftsmen who worked wonders with not only the counter top but also the window sill (which was a gift – no charge). An electrician hooked up the new stove and exhaust fan we purchased to replace the ones that weren’t working:

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Kitchen re-do Spring 2015
Many of the projects had been completed between our winter stay and our return this spring and only needed some decorative touches, like the stairway linking the upper and side garden. The previous owner had used a ladder to get between the two. Made a great place to start my potted herb garden!

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New stairway and herb container garden
One area that really took shape this spring – perhaps my pride and joy -- was my Lemon Tree Wine Patio. When we’d first seen it last year it was so overgrown I had thought it a small patio maybe large enough for a small table and a chair. We rolled up our sleeves, put on the work gloves and were reminded of what a bit of cleaning and clearing can do!

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Lemon Tree Wine Patio debuts
The house came with a small olive grove – 15 trees – and it was so overgrown that we’d never been able to walk through it.  Prior to our arrival, the orchard grass was cut and we had stairs constructed between the terraces . . .the idea being that guests might like to stroll through the grove and someday there will be table and chairs down there so we can entertain a la Under the Tuscan Sun style with long afternoon meals with visiting friends. . .

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The Grove at The Stone House on the Hill
Our days were busy and happy at The Stone House on the Hill.  We continue to be glad we chased and then caught that daydream in Greece. And how we are looking forward to our return this fall! To those who’ve asked about ‘the situation’  - your interest and concern are most appreciated. I'll tell you more about the house and 'hood in future posts. The photo below was taken from our main deck - sunsets like this made every evening spectacular.

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A Messinian Sunset
We’ll resume our tales next week of our time in India and then we’ll head west to the Middle East in subsequent reports.  Happy and safe travels to you and yours ~

Linking this week with:
Travel Photo Thursday – Budget Traveler’s Sandbox 
Our World Tuesday
Travel Inspiration – Reflections En Route
Mosaic Monday – Lavender Cottage Gardening
Mersad's Through My Lens
Photo Friday - Pierced Wonderings
Wordless Wednesday

53 comments:

  1. Wow, you place in Greece looks beautiful inside and outside. I love the kitchen and the cute wine patio. The sunset shot is gorgeous. I hope Greece and their economy recover quickly. Have a happy week!

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    1. Thanks Eileen. We've got a long way to go to make it 'cute' with decorations but it is now clean and functional -- brighter colors have put some soul back into the place. I kept saying that the house simply felt 'happier' with some TLC and attention. Thanks for the visit today!

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  2. Oh, Jackie, my heart is aching for our beloved Greece, its people, and their predicament. I also speak with my fellow villagers every week, and although the supermarket shelves are stocked, and the pharmacies house medicine, they tell me that so many, many people are having a difficult time paying for their children's daily needs, bills and mortgages. I just heard on the morning news that the European markets are up, which is hopeful. Let's pray that our gorgeous Greece is on the mend, my friend.

    Your stone house on the hill is stunning from every angle! I especially like the steps that you built in the olive orchard and of course, your little lemon tree adorned wine patio is a petite and pretty paradise for the eyes, as well as the taste buds! I love reading about your Mani gem; it truly is precious!

    xo
    Poppy

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    1. Poppy, I am worried as well about the impact of all this on oh so many dear, sweet -- and hard-working -- people. We've met so many good people that I do hope their (our adopted) country is on the mend. Let us hope the election only strengthens the healing process. I do hope that one day you and I will stroll the grove and the garden at The Stone House on the Hill together and then sip wine and share stories and laughter in the Lemon Tree Patio. Perhaps we could get Olympia to join us. xo Jackie

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    2. Now THAT, would definitely be the stuff of dreams.

      xx

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    3. If you dream it, you can do it, Poppy! xx

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  3. Hello Jackie and Joel,
    Your Stone House on the Hill is taking on your personality. I love the olive grove and the patio too.
    This is all very exciting and I am sure you are looking forward to spending long periods of time here.
    Helen x

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    1. We are most definitely Helen. This fall we will get two months here so that will be double our previous stays and I suspect when the time comes to leave I will still think it has been too short a stay! Hugs, Jackie

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  4. My goodness! You and your workers have accomplished so much already!! What a beautiful haven your home is becoming :-)

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    1. Oh it is 'getting there' Krista, but there's still plenty of projects awaiting. . .labors of love though so can hardly wait to tackle them!

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  5. I'm impressed that you (and The Scout) have the vision and energy for these projects---in rural Greece, no less. It's coming along beautifully. I wish you both many years of peace and enjoyment there.

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  6. We agreed we needed one more 'fling' before we got too old to have them and this is certainly a perfect place to have that adventure. Hopefully we will inspire others to toss caution to the wind and try something new and daring before they find themselves in the old folks home in the rocking chairs. (Hey, we have a guest room - hope to see you and Dr. Excitement there one day!)

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  7. Looks like a wonderful place!
    Thanks for sharing at http://image-in-ing.blogspot.com/2015/08/bennett-place-bit-of-history.html

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    1. Love being a part of the linkup. . .some of my most interesting journeys are taken within the linkup community and from my easy chair/computer!

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  8. What a lovely spot to have a second home! That sunset photo is just so beautiful, it must be very special to see it just off your deck. It's such a contrast , to the terrible scenes of Greece shown on the TV when the banks closed, it's good to hear that things are more positive than what is reported.

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    1. We'd considered any number of locations Stephanie and told the realtor we would know 'it' when we saw it. No question in our minds that this was it. Guess we will know more about 'the situation' when we head back this fall - I'll keep everyone posted!

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  9. Wow - I'd be happy to have a holiday home like this. It looks like you're doing a fair bit of work to make it your own - with lovely results. Such a pretty part of the world. Enjoy!

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    1. Labors of love in our 'playhouse' is how I think of this place. With most of the grunt work done, we are looking forward to life in The Mani at a normal pace with normal projects. Thanks for the visit today. . .

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  10. This is all great. You house and the surrounding areas look amazing! Thanks for giving us your two cents on the Greek situation. The media seems to take things out of proportion.

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    1. I suspect the media looks at the big city perspective, Athens, because that is where they are and don't spend the time getting into the many outlying areas of the region to see the impacts there. And as Poppy noted above just because there is a supply of euros, food and medicine doesn't mean that families aren't having a hard time paying bills. Thanks for the visit Ruth.

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  11. What a gorgeous place you have! I am terribly jealous of your Stone House on the Hill, You are creating a lovely place. Thank you for joining us for Photo Friday again this week!

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    1. Thank you for the lovely comments. If you ever get to our part of Greece, you'll have to come and visit and experience the Stone House on the Hill yourself! Happy weekend!

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  12. What you've done so far are absolutely wonderful. You are making this house a home. With a view to die for.

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    1. When the frustrated realtor snapped, "What ARE you looking for??" and I snapped back, "I don't know. But I will KNOW when I see it!!!" I was simply waiting to find this place with this view -- Thanks for the visit Gaelyn, happy travels!

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  13. Not only have you chased the dream but you've caught it, too! Your home is lovely and it doesn't look like anyone has to ask what you do to keep busy!

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    1. Just like they say about owning boats, there is always something to buy, change, fix, or improve when you have a 'playhouse'. Thanks much for the visit and comment Anita. Happy week ahead!

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  14. You must have read my mind. I've been wondering how you two and your house were doing with "the situation." It still all sounds wonderful. I like what you've done with your garden and patio, and your kitchen looks lovely.

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    1. Well there will likely be future updates Michele as 'the situation' seems to continue with the upcoming election and there will be new projects at the house come October when we return. Hope you'll come visit one day!!

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  15. I love all the work that you are doing with the house and indeed the sstone you are using is really lovely. Now that snsetis to die for. I am sure we will see many more of those from you when you return.

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    1. Thanks Margaret! I plan to enjoy those sunsets when we return, that is for sure! It is interesting that everything is made of stone in this area and wood is scarce - therefore, very expensive. Happy week ahead!

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  16. Wow, what a find! How did you make the decision to settle on a property (general location, specific neighborhood, value)? Did it take long to make the decision? Do you think it was the right decision, given what is happening now?

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    1. Carol, I wrote extensively about the search and the decision making that went into the purchase as well as the agony of having the sale fall through within days of closing the first time around and our madcap dash in December to close - all those can be found on The Stone House on the Hill link on the homepage. Yes, it was definitely the right decision! Thanks for the comment and questions~

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  17. Your home and yard look wonderful, Jackie. I know you will enjoy it greatly for years to come. What a beautiful country! I hope to visit someday. :)

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    1. Here's hoping we have years ahead to enjoy the house. If you head to Greece let me know - we'd love to have you visit and give you a tour of the villages that make up 'our' area.

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  18. What a charming house and wonderful location! I love that region of Greece. Like so many others I hope for the best for the lovely people of Greece. It's painfully obvious that there isn't going to be any sort of miracle cure for their woes but maybe tourism and investors such as you can help. Enjoy - I wouldn't have been able to leave!

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    1. Kay, it was difficult to leave - in fact, it get more difficult each time we are there and stay 'a bit' longer each time. We may have to consider residency visas sometime. Thanks much for stopping by!

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  19. I was so excited to see the progress you've made and be treated to your gorgeous surroundings. Everything you've done has enhanced your environment and the house just perfectly. Hoping things improve in that part of the world.

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  20. Thanks so much for linking in with "Through My Lens".

    Mersad
    Mersad Donko Photography

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    1. And thanks for hosting such a great linkup, Mersad.

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  21. Your place in Greece looks beautiful. I love the work you are doing to it. It must feel good to see how well your labours turned out. I am also very interested in reading about how the Greek crisis is affecting daily life. Thanks for sharing.

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    1. Stay tuned Donna, I'll tell you more about that daily life next month when we head back! Thanks much for your visit~ Jackie

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  22. Such a quaint stone house and you've modernized it with a nice kitchen and other upgrades. A lunch out on the patio would be wonderful, I hope you do this and share photos some time. Very sad about the situation in Greece and I hope the economy gets back to normal soon.
    Thanks for linking to Mosaic Monday Jackie.

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    1. Judith, thanks for having Mosaic Monday as I have gotten any number of ideas and inspiration from the linkup for both house and garden! Have a great week~

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  23. Your Stone House on the Hill looks absolutely gorgeous. What a lovely spot and what an interesting project. So admire you for following your dreams. Glad that the situation in Greece wasn't too upsetting ... yes a question that would have been at the back of my mind too. Hope things continue to go swimmingly for you and look forward to updates.

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    1. Thanks for the visit Jo. I will keep you updated on the various projects and do hope we find Greece to be calm as we will be arriving just after the election in September - we might have a roller-coaster ride ahead of us yet!

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  24. What a dream! The wine patio, the olive grove, the stone steps...and that sunset view! Wishing you many happy times in your stone house!

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    1. Now if I could just find some ceramic dishes like you did in Italy . . .sigh!

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  25. What a lovely home you're creating. Lots of work but I'm sure you'll be reap the benefits tenfold. We're hoping to visit Greece next year.

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    1. Well let us know if you get to our area Sue, it would be fun to give an insider's tour (as limited as we are as 'insiders')! Thanks for the visit!

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  26. What amazing progress you have made with your gorgeous stone house. It's looking fabulous. I'm sure the locals appreciate the work you have employed them to do. Interesting that greek tourism is on the increase. I only hope that local Greeks can benefit from this.

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    1. European tourists have been flocking to 'our' area of Greece for years and tourism appeared to not be affected at all by 'the situation'. I can't for the life of me understand why more Americans haven't 'discovered' this part of the country as well! Thanks for the visit Jenny!

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  27. I was very interested to read this update. So often things are different in real life to what we hear on the news. You have done lots of wonderful things in the house and garden. I love your Tuscan Sun idea. :)

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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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