Summer has come softly to our Greek village this year.
The heat is building slowly, not yet as intense as we know it will get.
|Agios Nikolaos - our village|
Uncut grass in the area's olive groves grows golden now, the hillsides so dry they are tinder for wildfires we hope won't happen.
|Summer day Agios Nikolaos|
The cicadas, those miniature mariachis of gardens and groves, seemed to announce summer's arrival in late June, in a softer, more quiet manner than previous years.
|Pantazi Beach between our home and Ag. Nik|
Even tourism here has softened this summer. With the lack of British tourists (Greece still remains on their amber list) traffic is lighter; the sunbeds are not full on the local beaches. Again, we anticipate this will intensify - we hope so, for the sake of businesses - by late summer, but for now it adds to the soft ambiance of summer in Greece.
Soft Summer Days
Our days get underway early this time of year in an effort to beat the temperatures which are slowly climbing, now in the 90F's/30CC's. We are out watering the gardens and grove at our Stone House on the Hill before the sun rises too high in the sky. Meeting friends is done earlier in the morning and later in the evening on these soft summer days.
Soft summer days in Greece's rural Peloponnese encourage us to balance the chores and errands with rest time and play time.
|Filling the water bottles a routine here|
Errands -- grocery shopping, and garbage or water runs -- are done early in the day as well. As our longtime readers know, we take our garbage to community bins and refill water bottles at community fountains. One bit of news in our world is that we now have a bona fide, volunteer-run recycling center, so it too has become an 'errand destination'.
Balancing those chores and play time, we take a break after our errands and indulge in 'having a coffee' in the village. Actually being able to sit at a table at a taverna or cafe is still pure delight after nearly a year of lockdown.
|Indulging in coffee breaks|
Coffee breaks here can by themselves fill up a morning or afternoon as you never know who you might see or what might happen in the course of sipping coffee in the village. We have our favorite coffee spots, all are clustered about our two intersections in town. You see, our village has only one main street that hugs the harbor and runs the length of the town. There is an intersection at each end of it and one stop sign that is often ignored. So coffee time at either end of town during the hectic days of summer usually guarantees a show.
|Intersection entertainment in the village|
You might even call it a theatre of the absurd as tourists behind the wheels of rental cars vie for the right of way with delivery vans, construction trucks, a tractor and boat, pedestrians and a stray cat or two.
Now before you start rolling your eyes at the thought of watching an intersection for entertainment, let me tell you it is one of the things that make village life special. Most of the cafes are along the main street so traffic does play a role in the eating and drinking experience - sometimes you are moving your chair so that a passing bus doesn't hit you.
|Dodging the bus is part of village dining experience|
With these soft summer days, though, we find the daytime rhythms to be relaxed and the routines to be reminiscent of the pre-covid days. The usual summer crush hasn't yet happened.
Why just the other day while sipping an Americano and cappuccino, The Scout and I saw Papas Paniotis, our local priest, who waved to us as he passed us in his distinctive pickup truck. Then Ilias, one of the village's three special brothers, greeted us with his customary grunt and hand wave as he loped past our table delivering a grocery order to the taverna where we sipped. George, our rather new village mailman, was the next to come past, nodding but probably still not sure of our names. We had a big wave from Stuart, a British expat friend who cares for a number of stray cats in the village went past on his morning feeding route. All are very routine and all make for magic moments.
'I should write about this on the blog,' I said to The Scout. 'We travel places in Greece and I write about those places and people. But I should be writing about our village life here as well. Some people travel great distances to have only a couple of vacation weeks here and it is our world every day.'
Our Greek Village
|Summer scenes in our village|
|Our Kalamata olive oil - 2020 harvest|
The year-round population is a few hundred and it balloons during the warm weather months as part-time expats and tourists return each year. The local industry is divided between fishing, tourism and olive growing and oil production - we are the heart of Kalamata olive country.
It was definitely a sleepy feeling village when we first 'discovered' it some eight years ago. Greece and its citizens back then were still struggling to emerge from their economic disaster. It has been during these morning coffees that we've really paid attention to the changes that have taken place here since we arrived. In recent months we've watched workers turn an empty waterfront business space into the new home of Rodi's a pasta/pizza restaurant. Rodi's has been a longtime favorite, operating in neighboring village Stoupa. Now we have our own Rodi's in 'Ag. Nik' as we call our village.
It has been good seeing all of the dozen bars and restaurants along our main street reopening after the covid lockdown and welcoming guests again.
Hades, our go-to 'Cheers' has undergone an extensive remodeling and upgrading project and will soon be having a grand reopening celebration. Pantazi Beach Cafe has also had a facelift for this season. Gregg's Plateia, the family-owned cafe that has us among its faithful fans has a new paint job that gives new life to this village favorite.
|Selinitsa Residences overlook the harbor|
A new tourist accommodation has opened, Selinitsa Residences, right in the heart of town, offering posh, modern rooms in a completely rehabilitated heritage building. Another building next door is being rehabilitated reportedly for the same purpose. Just outside of town, our old friend George, who operates Ilias and Asteria, has added an ultramodern high rise to his accommodations. Those returning guests (and others lucky enough to get a reservation) will be able to choose from his traditional waterfront apartments or his new studios just across the street. We've toured them and they are spectacular, as in 'move over Mykonos' spectacular!
|Everyday scenes in our Greek village|
Often times as I sip one of those coffees in the village I think about the time not so long ago that I wouldn't have imagined us living in a Greek village.
Nowadays, while sipping coffee, I can't imagine us not living in a Greek village, specifically, 'our' Greek village. . .especially on these soft summer days.
|Sunset Pantazi Beach|
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