Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Greece: Takin' the High Road

Just so you don't think we've taken leave of our vagabond senses here in Greece with all the home and gardening projects at our Stone House on the Hill, I'm putting those tales aside this week -  and telling you about our travels. 

On the road in Laconia Peloponnese

As I've said in earlier posts, one of the reasons we wanted a home base on this side of the Atlantic Ocean was to give us a jumping off point to European destinations; trips that didn't start with a nine or ten-hour trip from the Pacific Northwest just to reach Europe. 



I took the photo of the map while our flight to Cairo three weeks ago was passing over Greece. It shows the 'hand-shaped' Peloponnese.  Our home is just south of Kalamata (on the left side of the middle 'finger' and Kalamai on the map) - putting us in an excellent spot for explorations anywhere in the region.

From here we can take no-muss, no-fuss Greek road trips throughout the Peloponnese and all of Greece for that matter. Pronounced pe-lo-po-nih-sos, this chunk of land lies to the southwest of Athens and was a part of the mainland until the Corinth Canal was opened to ship traffic - now a short bridge connects the two massive land parcels.

Our Greek road trips are a lot more spontaneous, inexpensive and simple when we aren't hauling a carload of suitcases packed in the U.S. Pacific Northwest for a month-long stay (and it doesn't take many to fill the tiny cars here).

"Poppy" our bright red rental car waits patiently while we gaze at the views
Our rental car is bright red, so we've named her "Poppy" - she matches the poppies that are currently in bloom all over the countryside. And with road trip temptations calling out from every direction: mountains, gorges, villages and cities, the most difficult part of a road trip is choosing which directions to take off on in Poppy.


Just up the road from The Stone House on the Hill

Last week we hit a lull in projects and while we await stonemasons, plumbers and other professionals, we decided to set out and explore.  An overnight bag stashed in the backend we headed up the hill on which our home is located to connect with the main road four kilometers away. We hadn't gone but two kilometers when we slowed for the first of many animals we were to encounter. These are the kinds of traffic slow-downs we enjoy.

Shipwreck near Gythio
Our destination was the eastern coast of the 'finger' to our right. It takes only 45 minutes to cross 'our' middle finger and from there we headed northeast along the coast.  Just outside Gythio town, on Glyfada beach there sits a wrecked boat, the Dimitrios. While the real story may never be known its tales come in two versions: first, it was carrying drugs to Europe when it was impounded and then abandoned and the other version was it hit poor weather and the crew abandoned the ship. Take your pick. Or make up a new one - it probably will work.




From there we left the coast line and headed inland through groves so laden with oranges and blossoms that we rolled down the car windows for the aromatherapy treatment - the air was heavy with the scent of blossoms.



Just as our 'middle finger' has the Taygetos Mountain range for its backbone, this finger, the Laconia prefecture, has the Parnonas Mountain range running its length. Our destination was the other side of that range, where we'd be in the shadow of Mt. Pardon, 1,839 meters, 6,033 ft. As the road began ascending the range in a ribbon of switchback turns, we couldn't help but wonder who had braved the sheer drops and craggy cliffs to build it.




Traffic was light  - we met very few cars - which is good as the road continued to narrow and climb the cliff face.  Every once in awhile the narrow ribbon led us to and through small villages tucked away in the hillsides. Sometimes, like in the photo below, it wasn't animals, but delivery trucks that caused us to pause. We couldn't get past on the tiny roadway. (When he finished, he backed up for us to pass.)



While we'd read about this route not being for the faint of heart, I have to admit that it really isn't one the faint of heart or those with a fear of heights should travel. . .




The heights made for some spectacular views as we climbed higher and higher, then began our descent. . .


. . .on a hair-raising 10 kilometer stretch of road leading us to a place where George Bush and Princess Diana have been, but likely not many mainstream tourists to Greece. Where were we heading? Well, that is the tale I will tell you in our next post.

Hope to see you back with us again and until then safe and happy travels to you and yours~
Welcome to our new subscribers and followers - hope you'll come back often.

This week we are linking with:

Through My Lens
Our World Tuesday
Wordless Wednesday
Travel Photo Thursday – 
Photo Friday
Weekend Travel Inspiration


38 comments:

  1. Hello, wonderful photos from your road trip! I would love to visit Greece. Thanks for sharing. Happy Tuesday, enjoy your day!

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    1. Hello Eileen, thanks so much for coming along on the road trip. Next week, I'll show you where we went. See you soon at your blog -

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  2. I was just thinking today how much I would love to just get in the car and drive. The trouble is I have a husband who likes to travel, but also loves to just enjoy daily life at home. And, our sweet Lulu doesn't travel well. I think we need to train her to ride in the car for longer distances.

    Thanks for giving me a bit of a travel fix.

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    1. We are torn here between puttering at home, which we love, or keeping ourselves out exploring. We decided to blend the two as best we can. Thanks for stopping by!

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  3. I love those kinds of mountain roads with stunning views. Nice road trip.

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    1. Gaelyn, you'd be crazed with the many road trips you could take here. Reminds us of Arizona. . . thanks for stopping by!

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  4. Marvelous photos!
    Thank you for linking up at http://image-in-ing.blogspot.com/2016/04/the-many-faces-of-louie.html

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  5. The roads remind me of the Amalfi coast. It's got to be exhilarating to get in the car and explore the countryside!

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  6. Being an expat in Europe is awesome, isn't it? :D Love those jaunts where the beautiful vistas await around each road curve and the journey is as important as the destination. But, oh that winding climb up the mountain would have my heart in my throat! I have trouble sometimes appreciating those "scenic overlooks" but I keep trying!

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  7. We also think sometimes a hub in Europe would be nice to be able to combine a home and trips around Europe. As George is South African we struggle a bit with the visa. We'd love to stay also somewhere warmer in the winter. Greece is a beautiful place.

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    1. Well stay tuned as we have just started the inquiry into obtaining a resident visa - and it isn't easy for Americans either. It is such a great life, this ex pat life, that we are finding we want to extend our stays just a bit longer each time we come.

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  8. I love coming upon animals on the road so your first photo is my favourite. I'm just a simple kind of girl lol. Keep your Greece posts coming. Loved the orange tree photo too!

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    1. Oh Jan we used to ask ourselves why did Greeks always seem to be driving down the middle of the road instead of on their side and we've learned it is probably to avoid the 1)cows 2)goats 3)horses 4)sheep or 5)cats that are always somewhere around the next bend! Thanks for the visit -

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  9. I guess you got out of the car for that 'faint of heart' photo, Jackie. Do you know how deep that drop is? Still, I'm sure yours and Joel's were white by the time you got home. The cow in the road reminds me of home.
    Can't remember if I mentioned that my current boss is of Greek descent though he hasn't visited since he was at university. I keep telling him about your blog. He says if he takes his wife to Greece, she'd not want to return.

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    1. Several thousand feet of sheer drop, Marcia. It isn't bad until you meet a car -- or worse, a truck -- and have to ease past each other (usually when we are on the outside lane). Tell your boss, he's right - she will want to stay. . . I do!

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  10. Love your photos from the road trip in Greece. The one of the cow/bull is gorgeous. Such a lovely place to visit :-)

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    1. It is full of sites and sights, that's for sure Lyondell and makes me wonder why Santorini and Mykonos are the only places that seem to get noticed by travelers. This is equally as stunning and far fewer tourists.

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  11. I love seeing your photos. And I love road trips! Winding mountain roads make me nervous, but they're so worth it! I love that feeling of getting a new surprise around every curve.

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    1. Thanks for stopping by Rachel - I agree with you on the mountain roads but after I've traveled them I am always glad I did.

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  12. It all looks so delightfully laid back, pretty and rural. A wonderful place for a road trip. Enjoy! Looking forward to 'what happened next!'

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    1. I'll be telling you soon Jo and stopping by your blog! Thanks for the visit.

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  13. I love getting to know your new environs, not just the house but the "neighborhood" as well! Beautiful. Love the cow, too!

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    1. Betsy, that is what I love about your blog as well: I get to know what you two are up to in your daily life, but learn about your surroundings as well. Thanks much for the visit!

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  14. Oh, the sights you so generously share with us....just stunning. Such beautiful places to visit....you are blessed.
    Thanks for stopping by and leaving a sweet comment.
    Ya'll keep having fun and keep that camera busy...xoxo

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    1. Oh BJ it is such fun to set off and explore these places and there isn't a day goes by that I don't think about how blessed we are to be able to have this experience. Thanks for the visit.

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  15. What a lovely job you've done in showcasing this beautiful and often unknown region of Greece (at least unknown outside of Europe). I have lived here for 7 years and have yet to fully explore the region...thanks for tempting me.

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    1. You are so correct about unknown, especially in the United States where friends are still asking, "Now where are you???" and when we tell them there is a blank look on their face. I had a travel editor respond the same way, sheepishly admitting that he knew little about Greece!

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  16. I thought how cool was that to take a road trip through Greece and then I found out you have a Stone on the Hill there, too! I am so envious of those two things! And to smell the orange blossoms, find a shipwreck and be where Diana was!

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    1. Thanks for stopping by Carol. Yes, our house here is a perfect launching ground for Greece and Europe - with such ease as compared to flying in from the Northwestern US!

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  17. Lucky you, I would LOVE to own a home in Greece, I think it is the most beautiful country, both the people and the landscape, I have ever visited

    Mollyxxx

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    1. I agree with you totally: Greece has the most beautiful people and landscape of any place we've ever visited!

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  18. What a wonderful place to explore, and after driving that road... how fitting to end the post with a cliffhanger! ;)

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    1. Oh you made me laugh! Wish I had thought of 'cliffhanger' when I was writing it. Thanks for the visit!!

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  19. Oh, I would not want to be the driver on that road. I get too distracted by the view. I really like the image of you rolling down your car windows to let in the scent of the orange groves. Sounds like an idyllic excursion. I suppose I'll have to stay tuned for where you're headed.

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  20. I had the opportunity to travel in Greece in college. it's surprising once you leave Athens how scrubby and rugged the terrain is, but quite beautiful. it looks like a worthwhile trip! thanks for joining #wkendtravelinspiration

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  21. OMG....that route looks like a real cliffhanger:-)
    So nice to explore a new place in a car.

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  22. Hopefully by the time we get ready to explore some of Greece (and you make it sound so enticing that the time is sure to be sooner versus later) the "new" road will be done so we don't have to drive the stomach-clutching, foot-on-the-imaginary-brake road that you braved! The village is an absolute gem and I love the fact that its difficult to get to which gives it an off-the-beaten path charm!

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