Monday, July 9, 2018

Greece ~ Summertime and the livin’ is easy. . .

“Everything good, everything magical happens between the months of June and August.”
                                                                           -- Jenny Han

A summer's eve at The Stone House on the Hill
The cicadas, those miniature merrymakers of summer sambas, have filled our Greek world with their song since late May. They are the troubadours who herald in the summer season known here as kalokairi, summer.  On this Monday afternoon, their sizzling melody seems as intense as the Mediterranean sun’s rays.

My garden is wilting, the olive grove dry. . .
They aren’t the only ones singing. In recent days while doing my morning chores at The Stone House on the Hill I’ve been humming a customized version of that Porgy and Bess tune, ‘Summertime and the livin’ is easy. . .’, substituting ‘my garden is wilting, the olive grove's dry. . .’ for 'the fish are jumpin’ and the cotton is high'.

Summer - the Messinian Bay looking toward Kalamata
Summer, kalokairi, arrived bringing temperatures in the high 80’s and low 90’s (30C and up), sunshine and blue skies. It is a season that has beckoned us for three years to stay longer. This will be our first summer spent entirely in Greece.

And so far we are finding it to be as postcard pretty as it appears in those tourist promotion photos!

PELOPONNESE MAP BEST OF GREECE HOLIDAYS[1]In the past month or so, we have had houseguests with whom we’ve toured our area. Other times we’ve headed out on own. Sometimes we go no further than our village or our deck to remind us just how spectacular summer can be in Greece!.

(For those new to the blog and our story: we live just south of Kalamata – near Stoupa on the map to the left - in the Greek Peloponnese. We moved here full-time last October.)

So on this sweltering summer afternoon while I am enjoying our recently installed air conditioning, I decided to give you a quick look at summer in our Slice of Greece.

South to Limeni:

Limeni, Peloponnese
Less than an hour south of us, Limeni is the name of a traditional settlement, a settlement of the family Mavromichali.  Petros Mavromichali is a famous leader of the Maniot people back in the first half of the 19th Century, particularly noted for leading revolts against the Ottomans. The settlement is built along the shore of one of the prettiest bays in our area.

Tourist accommodations are dotting the hillsides at Limeni
P1070715Today the area is a tourist draw as new ‘small settlements’ – rentals and vacation accommodations -- are springing up on the hillsides overlooking this horseshoe shaped harbor.

Because Limeni and its neighboring New Oitylo village at the harbor (old Oitylo sits high on a hill above the two) are so close to us, it is an easy destination for a long lunch at one of the many tavernas or restaurants that line its long stretch of beach.

This area plays prominently in the area’s pirate history, but that’s a story for another day. . .for now we are now off to another seaside destination, just outside Kalamata. . .

North to Kitries

Whether you  follow the beach road from Kalamata, or head to it from an inland route, Kitries will literally be where the two roads intersect and end. We’d lived here for some time before we got around to following the recommendations of friends and finally visited the place. But once we saw it, we knew we’d be regulars to this picturesque spot on the Messinian Bay.

Fishing boats at Kitries
Kitries was our Sunday drive destination a couple weeks ago. Much like Limeni, it takes less than an hour to reach this small protected boat harbor, filled with an array of fishing craft. Once upon a time, the place was an important anchorage, home to five of the Beys (Turkish title for‘chieftain’) of the Mani with large fortified walls. Any signs of walls are long gone, replaced by tavernas and restaurants.

Tavernas at Kitries 

Those tavernas were coming to life during our morning stop and preparing for a summer Sunday onslaught of sun-seekers.

Speaking of onslaughts. We are often asked by somewhat incredulous first-time visitors: "How did you find this place?!”  Difficult as it is for our American friends to comprehend, the Mani, is a popular tourist destination and quite well known on this side of the Atlantic.  Let me show you a section of that beach road to Kitries:

Sun and beach seekers filled the road along the bay
For miles (kilometers) cars were parked bumper-to-bumper on the beach road. The only other place that has looked like this in our travels has been the North Shore of Hawai’i’s O’ahu island during surfing season!

East into the Mountains – Milea

Milea aka Milia village
We never miss a chance to take our guests up into the Taygetos Mountain range, the backbone of the Peloponesse. One of our favorite stops, less than 30 minutes away is Milea (aka Milia) village. The village, actually is located on three levels, but our favorite stop is the section in which the main road cuts through. You can’t drive this route without literally cutting through town (but that could be said of a number of places in this part of the world as well).

Can you spot the Pappas?
When visiting, we pull off the road and park to the side of the church, near the one taverna in this part of town and the nearby small bus stop.  We seldom see signs of residents, although on Easter we finally spotted the Papas in the church talking with another set of tourists.

The village taverna
Philip, a retired-from-New-York-business-owner, has returned to his village and runs the only taverna in this part of town out of the home in which he was raised. He regales us with tales of growing up in the village – back then he walked the old trails and cobblestoned kalderimi to get to the harbor to catch a ferry to Kalamata. The roads we consider tiny are still relatively new in this part of the country. Summertime is a good time to head out on those roads, slow our pace, and sit and listen to stories of yesteryear.

Unexpected finds on the mountain roads include this mural on a shed
“Rest is not idleness and to lie sometimes on the grass under trees on a summer’s day, listening to the murmur of the water, or watching the clouds float across the sky, is by no means a waste of time.”
                                             -- Anna Godbersen

Kitries, Greece
“Summertime is always the best of what might be.”
             -- Charles Bowden

We hope that whatever the season you are experiencing, that you have the time to get out and experience its sights and sounds! We’ll be back next week and hope to see you here! Thanks for you time today and safe travels to you and yours.

Linking up this week with:
Through My Lens
Our World Tuesday
Wordless Wednesday
Communal Global
Travel Photo Thursday – 
Best of Weekend


  1. It's so enviable to hear if every sight and sound you are experiencing in Greece. I can't wait to be as observant when we start our 3-month stay in Mazatlan in January!

    1. Oh and be sure to take in the smells of Mexico -- nothing I liked better than the early morning when there was a hint of smoke in the air and the day smelled tropical (for lack of a better word)! Look forward to your reports.

  2. Super pictures! Love the idea of spending May in a stone house on a hill in Greece :) It's one part of the Med I always seem to miss. Clearly, time to rectify that!

    1. Yes, it is time you took a look at this part of the Mediterranean - think you'd love it!

  3. Lovely as always to visit your neck of the woods. I was surprised to see all the cars parked bumper to bumper! Thanks for showing that too.

    1. I've been blown away by the numbers of people here. I think the economic crisis -- at least as far as the tourist industry is concerned -- is a thing of the past!

  4. Looks like there is something to see no matter which direction you choose! Love your setting and the way you describe it.

    1. Thanks for stopping by - you are correct, no matter what direction you go, there will always be something to see around here!

  5. What a feast for the senses living in Greece on the Peloponnese peninsula sounds to be! I loved my stay in Greece and it's long been a dream to return one day. Great to hear how wonderful your experience has been

    1. It is a sensory-filled summer and we are glad to finally get a chance to see, smell and hear the new world in which we are living.

  6. I love the quotes you intersperse with your lovely photos and text! Summertime is my favorite season and to spend it in Greece would be a slice of heaven!

  7. Replies
    1. It really is lovely. You should put it on your bucket list! Thanks for stopping by - hope you'll be back often!

  8. Wonderful! Your little corner of Greece looks idyllic - I can imagine not wanting to travel anywhere else if I was spending the summer there...

    1. It really is easy to get very lazy here. . .it never gets old.

  9. Thank you for this little insight into the area around your haven. I've enjoyed visiting. But I think I would be wanting to escape the tourist rush and visit at another, perhaps cooler, time of year! Enjoy summer! And thank you for joing us at Wednesday Around the World!

    1. I think you have the right idea Jill. We still tell friends that spring and fall seasons are by far the best (and most economical times for travel). Thanks for hosting Wednesday Around the World.

  10. I love reading about your home and your adventures in Greece. I haven't been to Greece yet, but it has gotten higher on my bucket list since I started reading your posts. It looks so beautiful and ideal for a visit any time of year!

    1. Marilyn, I suspect you would love Greece no matter what time of year you visited! Hope it shoots to the top of that bucket list.

  11. I agree with Ms. Han - and it looks like summer in Greece is quite wonderful. It's the number one spot on my travel wish list. Hoping to make it there soon!

    1. I'll keep my fingers crossed that you are able to cross it off as completed one day!! Thanks much for stopping by and taking time to comment!

  12. How lucky you are to live where the views are so beautiful. I was in Greece last year and really enjoyed it.

  13. Jackie, it's what l long suspected.. I can only leave comments from the desktop, not from phone or laptop as they never seem to get to you. (I never get the I am not a robot check) and even on the desktop, I have to "preview" the comment to see it, and then it publishes..can you have them look into it?..thanks :-))Kemkem

  14. Loved taking a tour of your area with you Jackie and learning a little bit more of its history. Milia Village is especially picturesque with its stunning church and lovely stonework but I have the feeling that you can capture a beautiful picture wherever you point your camera. So glad to hear that you've enjoyed your first Greek summer!


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