Friday, May 10, 2019

Meeting Those Who Enjoy Living Abroad

'Do you know her? 'I think you two have a lot in common. You would enjoy meeting each other.' wrote the editor of an on-line magazine for whom I am writing an article on our expat life in Greece.

She was referring to Seville-based travel writer Karen McCann, who with her husband, Rich, decided to have a year's adventure abroad and now 14 years later still reside in Spain.

Karen and I explore the interior of a Mani Tower

I responded that indeed we do know each other; at least as people know each other in this blogosphere world in which we live, write and travel.  We might even know each other better than some of our IRL (in real life) family and friends know us.

In fact her 2012 book, Dancing in the Fountain, about their move to Seville was on my Pacific Northwest nightstand many years ago, along with Peter Mayle's A Year in Provence and Frances Mayes's Under the Tuscan Sun, tempting me with the idea of living somewhere in the Mediterranean 'someday'.  Back then the idea of living in Greece hadn't occurred to either of us.  

For several years  Karen and I have followed each other's adventures. As we got to 'know' each other through blog comments, we vowed that one day we would meet somewhere on this side 'of the pond'. Her blog is aptly titled, Enjoy Living Abroad.

Mediterranean Comfort Food Tour

Karen and Rich have embarked on a Mediterranean Comfort Food Tour, using public transportation to travel around the Mediterranean rim with stops in North Macedonia, Bosnia, Slovenia, Italy and France before they return to Seville in mid-August.

Karen definition of comfort food is straight from the dictionary:  
             food prepared in a traditional style having a usually nostalgic or sentimental appeal.

Ferry, bus, train and other public transportation is the McCann plan

'We are Coming to Greece'

A few weeks before their departure she wrote saying they were starting the tour in Crete and would be taking the ferry to Gythio, the port town on the 'other side' of the point on which we live in the Greek Peloponnese. Would we be free to join them for dinner?

I responded that their food tour really should include a stop in The Mani, 'our side' of the point and home to the world-famous Kalamata olive.  I mean how could one write about Greek food and not have an up-close and personal encounter with this luscious Greek ambassador?

She agreed. Arrangements were made and we were off last week to pick them up in Gythio for what would be a three-day visit. As we drove to Gythio we discussed all the things we had in common and knew we would hit it off. (We just didn't realize how well we would hit it off!)

What concerned us though was how we would show them all the culinary wonders of our area in such a short time. The Mani, stretching from the shores of the Messinian Bay to the top of the Taygetos Mountains, has such a variety of culinary delights.

Eating our Way Through The Mani

Limeni, The Mani, Peloponnese

LIMENI: We began eating about an hour after getting past the introductions. We wanted them to experience Limeni, a strikingly beautiful harbor about 40 minutes south of our home.  Two small enclaves of tourist accommodations hug the shore here. One called Limeni (for the 'harbor)) and one New OityloOitylo, the original village sits high above the harbor on a bluff and is one of the oldest in the area. Homer wrote about it, to give you an idea of its age.

We chose a taverna at water's edge and ordered a 'small' mixed meat meze plate to share.  We were pacing ourselves, we agreed, after we'd outlined where we would like to take them during their stay.

KARDAMYLI: That evening we headed to Kardamyli, a village also dating back to Homer's time. (Agamemnon, king of Mycenae offered it to Achilles, for you history buffs). This ancient setting is home to some of the most modern Greek cuisine to be found. Tikla Restaurant and Wine Bar was our destination for 'nuevo Greek'. The newly-reopened restaurant  offered some new twists to old favorites: pumpkin risotto, pita wraps, and rooster with pasta were among the items we sampled.

Pumpkin risotto, pita wraps with Mani ham and chees and rooster were among our selections

TRAHILIO/TRACHILLA: By whatever name, the little village 'at the end of the road' was our destination the second evening together.  Akrogiali, the restaurant operated seasonally by Petro and his wife, had opened earlier last week for its summer run.  His tables, flanked by the sea on one side and the main road through town on the other, are usually packed in the summer.

The meze plate is complimentary with our wine
The setting, the hospitality and the food always combine to knock it out of the ballpark when dining here. We take all visitors here for a taste of 'real Greece'.

KASTANIA: Our 'real Greece' theme continued on Saturday when we headed up into the mountains for a visit to this village named for chestnuts. I've written before about their October Chestnut Festival.  We toured a renovated Mani Tower and a restored church here working up a thirst, which we quenched at the local taverna. . .we were the only customers.
Sipping and chatting in Kastania

While we were there 'the fruit lady' from whom we buy our fruit and veggies showed up in the village square.  We'd missed her in the morning in Stoupa, so we simply went out and made our purchases and then returned to the taverna to finish our beverages. 

Sipping and shopping in Kastania

KARYOVOUNI: Joanna's olive press restaurant, officially called Archova, after the village's original name, was our final stop on the culinary tour. It was a few miles down the narrow mountain road from Kastania. Sitting inside an old olive press, eating some of the best comfort food created in the Mani seemed the perfect way to end our time together. 

After several meze plates we shared appetizers

But a trip to our part of the Mani isn't complete without a stop at Gregg's Platea in the heart of Agios Nikolaos. Some here say Gregg, his mom Freda, and his wife Kathy ARE the heart of Agios Nikolaos.  Freda saved the morning by figuring out how to make us coffee and toast while in the midst of a Sirocco wind and sand storm and power outage!  A perfect send-off for our friends who enjoy living abroad!

Those who Enjoy Living Abroad

Thanks for being with us this week ~ check out Karen and Rich's travels on her blog and we'll see you back here next week. Safe travels to you!

Linking this week with:
Through My Lens
Our World Tuesday
Wordless Wednesday


  1. Jackie, it's pretty clear that you and Joel have picked up the legendary Greek tradition of hospitality, because you could not have shown us a better time in your delightful corner of the world. You two are terrific guides and knew all the best places to eat, from the simple neighborhood charm of that little café in Kastania to Petro's place by the sea at sunset to Joanna's cozy restaurant in the old olive press on a rainy evening. Such good fun, great food, and best of all, the opportunity to meet you and Joel. We hope to return the hospitality some day soon in Seville! In the meantime, safe travels and thanks again for all the great memories!

  2. I just love the idea of Mediterranean comfort food! All of these delicious dishes make me want to book a trip right now!

    1. It will be fun to follow along as they travel from country to country finding the best. . .and they are both SO skinny!!

  3. What a great article! The fact that you read her book, commented on each other's blogs and then to meet is so cool. I really enjoyed your article!!

    1. Another blogger said it best when writing of a similar experience and she said she had met up 'with old friends for the first time' and I thought it a perfect description of the friendships forged in the blogosphere and how great it is to meet IRL! Glad you enjoyed this Marilyn - hope to meet you one of these days!!

  4. Lovely inspiring read. Sure is fun to meet people for real after long virtual interaction.

    1. And to be able to pick up the conversation within minutes of that face-to-face meeting. It is a joy of technology.

  5. Enjoyed your post. In the boating environment, we run into people in different places all the time. I've been blogging for ten years, and haven't really met any bloggers yet. Hope to in the not-too-distant future.

    1. We think people as much as the places are what calls out to us about travel and living the expat life. We love making new friends and then keeping in touch via the internet and blogosphere. . .it is even better when you meet for the first time long time friends as another blogger described the experience.

  6. There is nothing better than meeting online friends who go on to become good friends offline. We have been fortunate to meet some great people. It sounds like you guys had an awesome time together. Someday, our paths will cross and hopefully we can both say the same thing someday :-)

  7. We need to make that happen! I suspect we would also launch into conversation 'coming up for air' occasionally as Joel likes to say and having a lot of laughs as well. Look forward to meeting you two fellow expats someday somewhere. . .

  8. It sounds like you had a fantastic time with your friends.
    Yes, my blogging has slowed waaay down. I can post a picture on IG and not have to type a much easier and faster...I am trying to post at least once a week..or twice a month...or......

  9. How fun to meet up with Karen and discover all that you have in common! Introducing her and her husband to your regional comfort food and eating your "way through the Mani" sounds like the perfect way to get to know an online friend IRL! (I'm looking forward to our paths crossing one of these days soon myself.😊) I read Karen's books years ago while living in Nicaragua and never thought that I'd eventually live only 2 hours from Seville. Life is funny that way!

  10. It's so much fun meeting blog friends! Sounds like a lovely visit, and in my opinion, I can't think of anything more heavenly than exploring a region through its food! Yum - it all looks delish!


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