Friday, April 14, 2017

Greek Signs of Spring ~ Awakening from Winter

Those signs of spring began slowly, slowly. Siga, Siga, as we say in Greece. Those sly indicators that means ‘the season’ is nearly here. ‘The season’ is the catchall term for ‘tourist season/spring/summer/the good times’ here.

Like the proverbial bear, the villages are stretching and yawning; awakening from their winter’s hibernation. The pace of life in The Mani is picking up momentum as it welcomes spring and 'the season'.

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Wild poppies are in full bloom
The wildflowers may have been the first signs of winter’s passing – the olive groves and road sides have been carpeted with them since we arrived in our Peloponnese paradise in mid-March. (Pssst -- I whisper this secret --  those tourists who come to Greece during its blistering hot summers and see only barren scorched landscapes have no idea of the lush countryside they are missing by not visiting in the spring.)

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Our olive grove mid-March
Maybe we were so focused on those wild wonders that we didn’t pay attention to the budding blooms in our tended gardens that also are signs of the new season. All of a sudden it seems the geraniums have burst forth, the lilacs are a purple profusion, roses are budding rainbow colors. Wisteria, the poster child of Mediterranean gardens, drapes fences and buildings throughout the area.

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Wisteria, the Mediterranean poster child
Of course, they all go by Greek names here (which we are trying to learn, siga, siga.)  But as Shakespeare would say, “A rose by any other name would smell as sweet,” and bottom line: they all mean winter has headed into the history books!

Signs of spring aren’t limited to the blooms in this part of Greece, there’s been an accompanying frenzy of activity the last couple of weeks as owners prepare their restaurants, tavernas, retail stores and beaches for what is hoped to be an onslaught of tourists.

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Grooming Pantazi Beach
The area’s popular Pantazi Beach, – which we refer to as ‘ours’ because it is just below our hillside home - was getting a grooming this week– removing the accumulation of rocks dumped by winter storms so that beach goers will have even a better time here (pssst, another secret: it isn’t bad even with the rocks as locals will attest!).

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Restaurant beach cabana in Kalamata readies for the season
Kalamata, (the big city an hour north of us) was sprucing up its long beachfront as well the last couple weeks. Upscale restaurants and coffee shops which line the beach road were already serving customers when we drove past early in the week. The Scout tap danced with our car’s brake pedal to avoid hitting a few of ‘the season’s’ waitstaff who dash back and forth across the two-lane road to serve the sun-and-sand seeking patrons seated on the beach. 

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With the new freeway bypass you can avoid Kalamata's beach road completely - but why?
The real tip off to ‘the season’ is the crescendo of activity that comes with Easter Week.  This year the full moon puts all Christendom's Easter celebrations on the same Sunday; this coming Sunday.  Greek Easter, as long time readers here know, is one of the most magical time to be in this country.  It is celebrated over the course of several days beginning in earnest Friday morning, Good Friday, and ending Monday evening, Easter Monday.

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Window display at the Shell Service Station - Kalamata
P1000539Even non-believers can’t help but be moved by the sound of church bells tolling out the call to worship and the sights of processionals through towns and villages during this holiest of weeks here.

We’ve seen an increase in the commercial side of the holiday this year with Easter baskets, bunnies and candies available to purchase from every type of store imaginable.

Even with bunnies and baskets, the traditional long decorated candles are still prominently displayed – in fact, there were some for sale at the neighboring village’s post office.

Those candles are lit during Saturday’s late night service as the Pappas, the priest announces to the gathered crowd in the squares near churches,“Cristos Anesti!” or Christ is Risen!

For more photos of that celebration, click here for a look at last year’s Easter in the village.

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Seasonal Easter kiosks in the pedestrian square of Kalamata sell candles and jewelry
We had a glitch with the internet service in our area this week so I am a bit tardy in getting this seasonal update posted. But Good Friday seems as good a day as any to do so. It has begun with blue sky, sunshine and the promise of a beautiful weekend ahead.

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Good Friday, our village church, 2016
Whether you are celebrating Easter, Passover,  the weekend or the arrival of a new season, we hope you are surrounded by the things that make you happy – we certainly are!  Next week I will give you that long promised update on the 'Road to Greek Residency'. I can tell you that our journey has come to a standstill for the most interesting of reasons – and one over which we have no control. We hope it doesn’t bring our journey to an end before we reach our destination. . .but that’s the story for next week. Hope you'll be back then!

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The Stone House on the Hill
We thank you for the time you’ve spent with us and wish you and yours happy and safe travels. We are linking this week (internet permitting) with a number of other most interesting bloggers from around the world. Check them out, by clicking on the links below:

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

16 comments:

  1. Oh, everything looks lovely.

    Happy Easter weekend!

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    1. Oh thank you and a belated greeting back to you. We've been in the fast lane since Easter and I just haven't gotten any blog reading/writing done. Happy almost weekend ahead!

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  2. How absolutely gorgeous!! I love the light and profusion of flowers. :-)

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  3. Jackie when I lived in the states, Easter was one of the big holidays but not the biggest. It is only since moving here that I have come to experience the full glory of Easter. There is nothing like it. The atmosphere just sweeps you away. And I too agree that Spring is the best time of the year before the earth gets scorched. Also when you walk down the street there is the fragrance of flowers everywhere. Now that cannot be beat!

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    1. Oh I so agree Mary. It is by far my now most favorite holiday as the atmosphere, the family gatherings, the holiness, does sweep you away! May we always have orange blossom therapy as part of our lives.

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  4. Ah the wisteria - glorious! We too are enjoying Spring's bounty of lovely wildflowers (this year I've vowed to learn the names) in the countryside and the warmer temps. But, at the risk of sounding stingy, don't you hate to surrender your quiet little town to the onslaught of tourists? 🙁 Your last photo of the flowers in the pot and that endless view is beautiful and makes me think that, yes, all's right in your world, Jackie. Hopefully, whatever glitch you've run into is just temporary. Fingers crossed!

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    1. Oh yes, I do start getting possessive of our little village and am torn when the tourists arrive - good for the businesses but it does change the flavor of the village. We've encountered two -- two! -- Rick Steves tour groups in the last two weeks! Yikes!!

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  5. Your home looks more beautiful than ever in the budding spring! Hope you had a blessed Easter. xo

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    1. Hope you also had a warm and wonderful holiday at your home as well Irene xoxo and happy spring!

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  6. I love the wisteria. Seeing that just has to make you feel good. Spring looks like a good time to visit Greece. Although the snow is gone now, we are still a few weeks away from seeing any kind of spring blossoms in Manitoba.

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    1. Wisteria does make you think spring, doesn't it, Donna? Sounds like spring is still very slow in coming back in the Northwest as well, Donna.

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  7. Loved those lilacs! Its true what you say about summer, I've only ever visited Greece in August so have only seen the parched, barren landscapes you mention. Next time I'll aim for spring!

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    1. Definitely a good time to be here - springtime is magnificent!

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  8. Loved your story about spring coming to The Mani.

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    1. Thanks much Carole! Happy spring to you as well.

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