Tuesday, October 18, 2016

The Greek Peloponnese ~

The Peloponnese or Peloponnesus is a peninsula and geographic region in southern Greece.
It is separated from the central part of the country by the Gulf of Corinth.

Peloponnese.  Say the word out loud and it seems like a jingle: ‘pell-oh-POE-naize’ or ‘pell-oh-poe-NEE-sos’, depending on your nationality and your pronunciation.

It is the place we’ve called our part-time home since buying our The Stone House on the Hill two years ago. And for as well-known as it seems to be among Northern Europeans who vacation and have homes here, the place seems relatively unknown to a vast majority of Americans.

“Which island?” is the question we are asked in the U.S. Pacific Northwest, by those who’ve learned of our new lifestyle. Their brows wrinkle, hmmmm, they ponder a moment, “No, not quite sure where that is.”

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The Stone House on the Hill to the right of the boat mast
My response is a bit of a show-and-tell. “Not an island” and hold my hand up, outstretched fingers pointing down and say, “It is the peninsula that looks like a hand. You cross the Corinth Canal to get there from Athens.”

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Peloponnese Peninsula looks like an outstretched hand


I suspect many of you - at least those in the U.S. - will be surprised to learn that Lonely Planet’s Travel Guides named it the number one tourist destination in 2016. That was huge news around here last spring. Since we've returned this fall we are hearing nothing but positive reports from those in the tourist industry (airports, restaurants, car rental agencies):

"Best year since 2007 (for home sales)" - local realtor
"Still have cars coming in and going out daily - best year in a long time" - car rental agency
Arrivals at Kalamata airport up 22% this year over last

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Scenes of the Peloponnese
                                                1. The Peloponnese, Greece
Travellers to Greece tend to flock to the myriad islands or marvel at the iconic Acropolis, but one of the country’s most diverse, vibrant regions is often forgotten: the Peloponnese. It remains an affordable enclave of magnificent ancient sights like Olympia, Mycenae and Mystras, which are scattered across a rich landscape of stone villages, teal seas and snow-capped mountains.


-- Lonely Planet Travel Guide  

You history buffs will find so many ancient sites that it will require either an extended stay or many visits to see them all. . .Achaia, the seaside gate to Western Europe, Ancient Messinia, Ancient Olympia (birthplace of the Olympics), Mycenae, and Corinth (you travel over the the Corinth Canal if you come here from Athens). And unless you visit in the height of the summer tourist season, you’ll find most are not over-run by tourists even though tourism is on the upswing. We had the tomb pictured below to ourselves the day we went exploring:

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History is there for the asking - usually for no entry fee
While not being history scholars or buffs, we’ve come to appreciate – even be awed by – the amount of history that surrounds us in every day life.  Villages scattered about the hillsides are treasure-troves of antiquity. With far too many to be listed in tourist guides, you simply happen upon them as you travel the narrow roadways that lace the peninsula. The chapel below was open on Easter Sunday at the restaurant where we celebrated the day with our neighbors.

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A small church up the road from our house
Churches that have served the faithful for centuries are still used for worship. Church bells still call the faithful to services and remind us all of the importance of the Greek Orthodox religion here.

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Through the ages. . .
Reminders of the conflicts that have marred the area’s history are also prevalent in the villages. The building architecture often tells the story of history’s conquerors. Take the Venetians who battled the Ottomans for control of the area. Evidence of their occupation carved into stone – their Winged Lion of St. Mark, a symbol of the Venetian empire spotted on buildings and entries throughout the area.'

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The Venetians were here. . .
Many visitors though are drawn to the area – much as we were – by its striking mountains and views of the sea.

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A walk along the Sea in The Mani
For others, it is the charm of the stone villages, some still requiring you to park your car and walk into their interiors because their ancient streets are so narrow.

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The Main Road in Monemvasia - be prepared to walk
The Peloponnese is divided into regions, much like you think of counties within states in the U.S. Arcadia, Achaia, Ilia, Korinthos, Laconia, Messinia, where our home is located. . .each has a little something different to offer and we have barely touched the surface.

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The Peloponnese
During our next few months here, we plan to do some exploring of this vast land and we’ll take you with us, virtually, anyway.  As always, we appreciate the time you spend with us and love reading the comments and emails our tales prompt.  We can’t thank you enough for re-posting and tweeting links to our blog for others to read.  Happy and safe travels to you!

Linking up this week with:

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

35 comments:

  1. Kalispera, Jackie,

    Such stunning scenery, as always, (is there any other kind in Greece?). You describe so well the low-key allure of this magical country, its land, its people, its history, its sea. I look forward to following you around on your present stay in the beautiful Peloponnese!

    Poppy

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    1. Oh Poppy and you know so well this place's allure for all the reasons you've mentioned above. I think of you when I write these posts and still feel like you are here in Greece enjoying the land, people, history and sea along with me. Hugs, Jackie

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  2. I never considered Greece until you moved there. I love all the quaint old villages of stone. So much history. What is the weather like in January?

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    1. Gaelyn, it can be wet and cold here in January - with breaks of sunshine. In the last week we've had a downpour that has taken out a bit more of our road and a day with 80-degrees - the weather has been unusual here like it has in most the world.

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  3. I know it's good for tourism, car rentals, restaurants, etc., but so many tourists can change a spot quickly. I hope it doesn't get overrun.

    Enjoy your next few months of exploration.

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    1. We've already noticed that there are more tourists here for longer this year but they are the kind who come for 'Greece' not the beaches and bars like some of the islands. With olive harvest gearing up, it is becoming more like our first months spent here. . .siga, siga, slowly, slowly

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  4. I've always thought Greece would be a great place to visit. When I win the lottery, I'm coming to see you, eat your wonderful foods there, watch the olive harvest, walk those narrow streets and stay with you in your fairy tale Stone House on the Hill. What a beautiful life you lead...xoxo

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    1. When you come BJ, the welcome mat will be out and I'll have a lemon cake baking in the oven and a tea pot at the ready!

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  5. Great to learn more about this part of Greece. Many years ago I spent a day in Patras (since we crossed the Adriatic from Italy). I remember a big, white bridge was being built (the country was getting prepared for the 2004 Olympics). I have to return one day.

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    1. We've traveled over that big, white bridge which is one of the most beautiful I have seen anywhere in the world. Your really must come back and visit one day!

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  6. Greece has been on our travel bucket list for a long time, so I'm sure we'll go at some point, but without local knowledge, it's so easy to miss the best hidden sights. Thank you for the tips! When I travel, I generally try to avoid being at the places that everyone wants to go, at the times they want to go there. It's so much more fun to see a place as 'it really is.'

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    1. CT, make sure you have a trip to the Peloponnese on your travel plans when you come. You sound like the type who would love this area. Hope you are a regular here and I can tempt you with other reports as well!

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  7. Thanks for linking up and as usual I'm excited to her about your Greek adventures. I love the water shots and the thought of exploring a stone village where only human and donkey feet venture.

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    1. We've got quite a few villages that require human feet to travel through them as they were built long, long before roads were even imagined here. Some of the locals still tell us about walking from the hill villages (several kilometers) to get to the ferry dock that took them to Kalamata - a trip we now make by car in an hour's time.

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  8. I can't wait to see more of your beautiful "island". We've been as far as Corinth and love what we saw then. There's something about a stone village with donkeys clattering through the narrow passages that just gets my travel blood flowing!

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    1. I understand that urge to travel when looking at some of these villages - we have so many to explore and it seems so little time to do it! Thanks for stopping by, Corinne.

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  9. Narrow indeed. Barely wide enough to travel by horse. Great snapshots.

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    1. And that was the Main Street, they get smaller on some of the side streets! Thanks for the visit, Sharon. Hope to see you here often.

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  10. Thanks for the pronunciation lesson Jackie and I loved learning more about the history of your area. I too am blown away by the amount of history (going back over 2000 years)that surrounds us here in Lagos and I love to explore the other villages/cities in the area. I have to agree with you that (most ?) Americans seem to lack an understanding of European (and world)geography that often surprises me. Nor does there seem to be any curiosity to learn more which just astounds me! However, I for one am looking forward to visiting your area one of these days and I loved your virtual tour. We'll have to see how 2017 works out on your calendar and mine!

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    1. 2017 sounds like a plan to me, Anita! Let's keep in touch and do some coordinating. Who knows? By then we might have our resident permits and be here even longer!

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  11. Thanks for the pronunciation lesson Jackie and I loved learning more about the history of your area. I too am blown away by the amount of history (going back over 2000 years)that surrounds us here in Lagos and I love to explore the other villages/cities in the area. I have to agree with you that (most ?) Americans seem to lack an understanding of European (and world)geography that often surprises me. Nor does there seem to be any curiosity to learn more which just astounds me! However, I for one am looking forward to visiting your area one of these days and I loved your virtual tour. We'll have to see how 2017 works out on your calendar and mine!

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  12. The Peloponnese Looks like an area I'd love to visit - great scenery, history and charming villages. I look forward to finding out about its different regions.

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    1. It has so much going for it Donna, that you could spend an entire trip to Greece in its many regions and still not have seen it all! Every village has a story. . .thanks much for stopping by today!

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  13. I love Greece, but have n to yet made it to the Poloponnese Peninsula. I've now added it to my Bucket List!

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    1. Keep it high on that Bucket List, Doreen, I don't think you'll be disappointed (we've even found some great chocolate here!)

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  14. The Peloponnese is indeed a beautiful part of Greece, and very much unknown as you say.
    BA did direct flights to Kalamata this summer...and I never thought to look properly, but it does indeed look lovely he a hand!

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    1. We managed to take one of the season's last flights to Kalamata on BA and it was fantastic! Small airport, quick entry process and stunning, simply stunning scenery on the airplane's approach. They are returning next year as the route was so popular this year - YAY!

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  15. Thanks for telling us about you area in Greece and for your beautiful photos which also paint a picture for us armchair travelers. I look forward to your exploration of the peninsula and thanks for taking us along. That tiny "street" is quite amazing. I am following you from VA, USA.

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    1. Oh hello to you in VA, USA! So glad you are enjoying our blog. . .we are so pleased to hear that you'll be coming along with us as our explorations of country and culture continue! Please do comment often!!!

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  16. What a beautiful place, and how lucky you are to live there. Your blog is wonderful...I'm now a follower.

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    1. Oh thanks for becoming a follower, Victoria. Your comment led me back to your blog and I will also be a regular visitor to yours!

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  17. Great post, great photos!
    Thanks for sharing at https://image-in-ing.blogspot.com/2016/10/along-way.html

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  18. It is a long held dream of mine to own a little home in Greece. I often day dream about it and much of what you have described here fits into the dream. One day.... I hope one day

    Mollyxxx

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  19. Looks like those stone villages will be wonderful to explore. I love the "hand" image because it shows how much wonder surrounds the land. How lucky to be living in a beautiful part of the world~

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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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