Showing posts with label Americans in Greece. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Americans in Greece. Show all posts

Friday, April 15, 2022

Road to Residency ~ Land of Limbo

Here we are. . .back on the Road to Residency! And once again it is leading us through the Land of Limbo.

The Road to Residency always something new along the way

As our regular readers know, we are American expats who've now been living almost full-time in Greece for the better part of five years.  For that reason, our rural slice of the Greek Peloponnese feels like home. We have our routines and chores, we have our friends and social life. We  have our doctors and dentists. When you are recognized at regulars at a beauty shop, you know you've settled in. 

The Scout and The Scribe on an ancient kalderimi (road)

Our rhythm of life is so set that it now seems a jolt, a major disruption in our norm, to go through the motions of reapplying for permission to continue living here, but that is one of the rules of the game when you lead an expat life.  

This residency renewal comes at a time when just a couple countries away from us, people who had a rhythm of life and a norm, are fleeing their country to stay alive. It is a stark contrast and one that puts the hurdles of the renewal process in perspective, but yet, doesn't make the process any easier or less stressful.

Photo credit: Onet Wiadomosci

Road to Residency Route Changes

No trip on the Road to Residency has been the same. There has always been just a 'little something' that needs tweaking or clarification or additional information so we are embarking on this journey alert for possible road blocks and detours. 

Greek detour notice - Stoupa village

One of the first changes we've encountered was the length of time for which the permit is valid. When we initially applied back in 2017, it was offered in a two-year increment, with a three-year renewal option followed by a five year permit.  By the time we applied for our three-year permit, the five-year renewal had been discontinued. Now the three-year permit is also history and we are back to a two-year permit.

However, the application fee which was 300 euros ($324US) per person back in 2017 went up to a 1000 euros ($1,081US) per person three years ago and remains that now.

No need or desire to work in Greece

We know of a number of you who reading this are contemplating a move to Greece and without Greek heritage, which takes you down a different path, you will all be expected to travel a road to residency; each route slightly different depending on the type of residency you are seeking.  We have the retired-don't-want-or-need-to-work version, which is called the Financially Independent residency permit.

Road to Residency in Greece - always an adventure

While the cost of application can take your breath away, one major money- and time-saving change is that we no longer needed to travel back to Washington State to gather and then get documents apostilled. Apostilles are like notary stamps, but at the government level certifying the document. In recent years a number of agencies in the US have developed a process of obtaining apostilles for those who are overseas and find themselves in need of such documents. It is still costly at $150 per page, yet far less than a trip back to the States.

Apostilled documents are part of residency permit process

And while on the topic of technology, a huge change is that the residency permit process has all gone on-line in Greece. No more trips to the Immigration Office where we sat in a stark waiting room for our turn to present our packet of papers to an official.

What hasn't changed, is the requirement for each applicant to provide documentation showing: a monthly income of 2,000 euros ($2,163US), have proof of medical insurance (the amount is determined by the Greek government), proof of residency (house purchase contract or rental agreement) and copies of each page of our passports.

Land of Limbo - Lockdown

Bologna at Night

Once the application process starts, which happens when our documents are submitted, as ours has now, we are no longer able to leave the country (except back to the US).

Authorities construe any travel outside Greece as abandonment of our application and our permit renewal could be denied.  At least three US friends who have been summoned to the Immigration office to pick up their residency cards have had their passports scrutinized by officials there before being finally issued their new cards. That is one of the reasons for our whirlwind trip to Italy two weeks ago (which I will tell you more about in a future post) - it will be the last of such getaways for many months. 

No cruises anytime soon while application process is active

It appears the computerization of the application process hasn't made it any faster.  Several Americans in our area are still awaiting permanent permit cards now many months into the application process.  One was summoned for an interview before a panel of six. Others have been asked for additional documentation. Two finally received their cards last month only to realize they expire again this coming November!

Our world. Agios Nikolaos.

As I said in the opening it is not a journey to be taken lightly - there is no fast-lane, direct route.  But we all agree, the destination, Greece and the life we have created here makes it worth taking.

That's it for this week. Our wishes for safe travels to you and yours. And good luck if you are among those of us in the Land of Limbo awaiting residency permits.  Welcome to our new readers, it is great to have you with us!

Linking soon:

Friday, March 10, 2017

Road to Greek Residency: Next stop – Olympia, WA

The last couple of weeks our travels on the U.S. stretch of the Road Trip to Greek Residency have felt a bit like we were contestants on some reality television show. We’ve raced to gather documents and then raced to destinations to have them reviewed. We’ve questioned ourselves – and our sanity – at each milepost along the way.

On the flip side, we’ve learned much. We’ll be armed with cocktail party conversation trivia for years to come. For example, we can now tell you about the 1961 Hague Convention. ‘The what?’ you are probably asking yourselves.

Well, let me tell you. . .

I was eight and The Scout 12, when the convention took place. We’d heard of it during our ensuing 60 years,but had no reason to care about what took place there. That is until this ‘road to residency’ brought us up close and personal with it.

Roadway in the Greek Peloponnese
It was the outcome of that convention that dictated our next stop on our somewhat twisting, turning ‘road to residency’ in Greece.

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The Stone House on the Hill - The Mani, Greece

Recap for those just tuning in: We’ve decided that with two years of full-time home ownership and part-time occupancy in the Greek Peloponnese under our belts, we’re ready to apply for residency permits. The permits, similar to the U.S. ‘green cards’ grant residency and eliminates the inflexible 90-day in and 90-day out rule that applies to tourists.

Obtaining the residency permit requires several steps involving strict vetting of documents and interviews both in the United States and again after arriving in Greece. The documents presented must be current, i.e. the most recent bank account statements and such. So that means getting them issued as close to your departure to Greece as possible, while giving yourself time to pass all the required mileposts on the U.S. segment of the road trip.

While I sorted documents, The Scout organized the travel.

P1030083With the issuance of an ‘entry visa’ by the Greek Consulate in San Francisco last week, the real time clock started ticking. We’ve got a year in which we can apply for and hopefully be granted residency permit in Greece.

Before setting out for Greece, we had one more required trip in the United States. 

And that brings us back to The Hague Convention. . .

That convention: resulted in the creation of apostilles – not to be mistaken for apostles!

What? Never heard of them? As I said, we hadn’t either. . .

Preparing our packets for vetting - our life spread out before us in other words

‘Apostille is the documentary device by which a government department authenticates a document as genuine, thereby legalizing it for use in another member country under the terms laid out in 1961. Once a document has been ‘Apostilled’, thereby providing official government authentication of the signatures and stamps appearing on it, it is automatically deemed legalized for use in another member country.’
-- Greek Consulate web site

Some 82 countries – from Albania to Zambia -- participated in that Convention in 1961, which was called "Abolishing the Requirement of Legalization for Foreign Public Documents" and later known as the "Hague Apostille Convention".

Next stop:  Olympia, Washington

Before immigration officials in Greece will review those same documents we presented in San Francisco we needed to get them apostilled. Each document must carry our government’s seal of approval before they will be considered legal documents in that country.

The Secretary of State issues apostilles – and only on documents that first have been notarized. Next stop on the road trip, our state capital, in search of the apostilles.

Interstate 5 - between Seattle and Tacoma - Washington State
This segment of the road trip was undertaken yesterday -  one of the wettest, nastiest days in recorded history in the Pacific Northwest. It was a bleak 120+-mile day trip to our state capital, Olympia, Washington and back.

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Olympia, Washington

Map pictureIn fairness though, on a sunny day Olympia is a beautiful city. From it you can see our state’s stunning Olympic Mountain Range. It was that mountain range on the region known as Olympic Peninsula for which the city was named. 

That mountain range got its name back in 1788 when a British mariner is said to have been so struck by them that he claimed they would be a perfect dwelling place for Greek gods. (Guess there is a tie-in to Greece after all.)

Subsequently, the state capital was named for them.

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Original Washington State capitol building built 1892
Olympia, a city of 40,000+, swells when our Legislature is in session. However the bad weather kept traffic to a minimum and we were able to get documents notarized and apostilled in a few hours time.

An Apostille is required for documents in the immigration process

As we handed our stack of notarized documents to the staff member at the Secretary of State’s office, explaining they were for a Greek residency permit, she flipped through them and said, “Boy, they want to know everything don’t they?”

Ready for the next segment in Greece
‘Yes, they do!,”  we replied, feeling a bit better at the thought someone else had noticed the quantity of information we’d gathered.

A short while later 18 documents had been apostilled at a cost of $15 per document, plus $50 for in-person service. Notarizing those documents had cost $125.

Our application packets are now official and ready to be presented to Greek authorities. We have the required entry visa pasted in our passports. If this were a reality show, we’d have made it past the first two rounds and are ready to enter the finalist challenge in Greece this spring.

While we are off doing that, you might want to keep Olympia in mind as a summer travel destination.

There are guided tours of the Capital Campus, and other guided tours of the town and campus offered by Oly WAlks; there's the Olympic Flight Museum, the State Capital Museum and the Hands-on Children's Museum. And a stop at their Farmer’s Market is a must!

Thanks much for being with us – you continue to be a great cheer and rally squad. Your words of encouragement have given us confidence. And the welcome messages from our Greek friends have made the effort even more worthwhile.  As always we appreciate the time you spend with us. 

We all need a break from this road trip so next week I'll give you a laugh or two as I tel
l you about these two city slickers and their DIY projects in Greece. Hope you’ll be back with us!
Wishes for safe travels to you and yours ~

Linking up this week with:
Through My Lens
Our World Tuesday
Wordless Wednesday
Travel Photo Thursday
Photo Friday
Weekend Travel Inspiration

Thursday, February 23, 2017

'Road trip to Residency': The Next Great Greek Adventure

We’ve been two-stepping to the ‘Schengen Shuffle’ long enough. It’s time to put a year’s worth of research and planning into action. It’s time for our next Great Greek Adventure:

Inner Mani, Peloponnese, Greece
We are setting off on the ‘road to residency’ ~ our destination:  Greek residency permits.

Our Stone House on the Hill - The Mani, Greece
Those of you who’ve been with us since we bought our Stone House on the Hill in the Greek Peloponnese two years ago are probably shaking your heads, thinking, “Wasn’t that enough of a 'great adventure'?!?!”

Road sign in the Peloponnese - It's all Greek to me
Admittedly the house purchase was an adventure – and in the beginning, a misadventure as well. After its closing we needed a lengthy ‘breather from bureaucracy’. But during our last two years we’ve pondered the pros and cons of continuing to do the ‘Schengen Shuffle’ or seeking residency status which would give us more flexibility in travel as well as the option to spend more time there. It would give us the option to live there fulltime if we chose to do so. And it would provide some lifestyle options, like owning a car, instead of renting as we currently must do as tourists.

We didn’t need to be ‘residents’ to buy a home in Greece; we could do so as tourists. We had some requirements, like getting a tax identification number and opening a bank account. But we could stay up to 90 days every six months because of. . .

The Schengen Treaty

Schengen Area Member States Map
The Schengen Treaty (aka Schengen Border Agreement) established criteria for travel for those living within the ‘Schengen Zone’  and for those of us those entering from other countries.

The agreement, while making borders hassle- and visa- free for residents of the 26 European Treaty countries, puts a time limit on visa-free travel for Americans, like us. Basically, 90-days-in and 90-days-out.  To stay longer, you need a visa.

So strict is the rule, that it can impact you even if you are transiting through an airport within the Schengen area. If you've hit your 90-day limit in one country and are heading home via an airport in another Schengen country, the authorities can deny you entry into that country for the few hours you planned to spend at the airport waiting for your next flight if your schedule has you exceeding the limit.

Penalties for over-staying the 90 days in Greece range from 500 – 1200 euros ($530 -$1,272) and violators are denied entry back into the Schengen Zone for at least three months, sometimes longer.  Don’t let people tell you ‘not to worry’  - they do check passport entry and exit stamps, closely! We know from first-hand experience.    
Schengen Countries (shown on the map):
    • All European Union countries, except Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Ireland, Romania and the United Kingdom, are members of the Schengen Borders Agreement.
    • In addition, Iceland, Norway, Switzerland, and Liechtenstein are also members of the Schengen Borders Agreement (but they are not European Union members).

Hitting the 'Road to Residency'

Obtaining an ‘entry visa’ is the first of a two-step process required to apply for a Greek residency permit, which if granted, will be good for two years. This first step takes place before leaving the United States. We must meet with the Greek consulate serving our region (in our case, that is San Francisco). If he determines we meet the thresholds set by the Greek government, he will grant us the ‘entry visa’.

That visa, good for a year, allows us to start (and hopefully complete) while in Greece the process for obtaining a residency permit. There, we will need to have our documents first translated into Greek. Then we will be interviewed by Greek immigration officials and our documents reviewed. They will determine whether or not to grant the residency permits.

The Peloponnese Greece
Conversations began with our Greek attorney (yes, you need one) a year ago. We’ve had two telephone conversations with the Greek consulate in the US (basically, the ‘gatekeeper’ who determines whether or not you can begin the application process in Greece). They were in agreement, that we should set off on the road to an ‘Economically Independent Individual Visa’. ( There are any number of visas from which to choose including for those who want to work in the country or for students, just as there are for people coming to the U.S.)

Peloponnese, Greece
During the year we’ve been actively preparing for this ‘road trip to residency’ the requirements for the permit have changed, new requirements have been added and thresholds raised. We respect the fact that Greece, like many countries is grappling with immigration issues, but it has made the document gathering a bit of a task.

Preparing our application packets - Sunday morning sorting
We are applying as individuals, so each of us must present an application packet. Our packets include information which is required at this point in time. . .they are always subject to change:
1. Completed Application form plus two color passport size photos

2. A copy of our property contract showing we own a home there (those who are renting must provide a rental agreement with address)

3. Itinerary for the flight to Greece 

4. A clearance letter from the FBI based on a fingerprint background check (this review in the U.S. takes 12 –15 weeks, so we sent finger prints for review back in August 2016 and received letters from the FBI in October 2016.)

5. Health form completed by our U.S. doctor after an exam which says we are in good mental  health, with no contagious diseases, specifically tuberculosis and syphilis. The form must be signed and stamped by the physician.

6. Proof of medical insurance coverage in Greece. The threshold on insurance is strict and includes coverage for illness and accident, hospitalization and guarantees a level of our co-pay. (Our U.S. insurance company has written a letter detailing the coverage we have. We’ve also included a list of physicians and hospitals in Kalamata and Athens who fall within the coverage ‘network’)

7. Proof of medical evacuation/repatriation insurance back to the United States. I’ve underlined a part of this requirement, because many companies we found will only evacuate to the nearest facility that can treat you. Greek authorities require that it be back to the country of residence. (This is a new requirement. We have purchased membership with Air Ambulance Card, a company based in the United States that offers both medical evacuation and repatriation of ‘mortal remains’’ for both travelers and ex pats.This company serves US and Canadian citizens. Their representatives have been a breath of fresh air in a bureaucratic world – hope we never need their services, but if their care is anything like their customer service we’ll be in good hands.)

8. Copies of W2 or 1040 income tax filings for the last two years.

9. Proof of income which presently is 2,300 – 2,400 euros ($2,438 – $2,544) a month, for each of us. (The income threshold has increased from 2,000 per person, per month to the amounts I listed. We are presenting information on our Social Security payments, pension payments, letters verifying accounts we hold at financial institutions as well as monthly bank statements).

10. Passport, plus a photo copy of the first page – the one with info and photo.

11. Any additional documents that prove you have the means to stay in Greece. (We’ve included our Greek tax identification numbers, receipts showing we’ve paid our taxes there, and information about our Greek bank account.) 

The road trip to residency - Peloponnese, Greece
Next week we make our first stop on ‘the road trip to residency’: San Francisco, California. We are set to meet with the Greek Consulate and he’ll review our application packets and determine whether we continue on the ‘road to residency’ or not.

While I’ve tried to provide a ‘just the facts’ review  of our timetable, the we’ve steps taken and the current requirements, I wouldn’t be honest if I didn’t tell you the process of gathering ‘proof’ has been at times stressful and mentally taxing. “Just” getting a notarized letter or a verification of insurance coverage has introduced us to new levels of bureaucracy within U.S. corporations.

It has also been a humbling experience. We’d liken it to our young adult years when we suffered nervous ‘am-I-good-enough’ jitters and doubts when applying to colleges or for those first jobs. Now comfortably settled into our 60-something-lives it has seemed strange to be gathering proof of our very being – health, wealth, and law-abidingness.

But it is an adventure, no doubt about it. It has certainly shaken up the rhythms of our normal preparation for a return to The Stone House on the Hill.

Road to Residency - where will it lead?
We will be off next week to California's rain-drenched  'City by the Bay'.  After that whirlwind trip and meeting with the Greek Consulate I’ll let you know where this ‘road trip’ takes us next. Hope to see you back for part two of our Great Greek Adventure. Kudos to you for hanging in to the end on this post.  It’s  rather long but I know some of you reading it are contemplating residency visas and we wanted to provide as much information as possible.

For those new to TravelnWrite, and who want to see what lead us to this post, click here: The Stone House on the Hill.

Safe travels to you and yours~

Linking this week:
Through My Lens
Our World Tuesday
Wordless Wednesday
Travel Photo Thursday
Photo Friday
Weekend Travel Inspiration .

Monday, November 23, 2015

Autumn In Greece ~ Days of Thanks-giving

The days are shorter now and the air softer in The Mani, the part of the Greek Peloponnese that we call home a part of the year. Jeans and long-sleeved shirts are the gear for watching the sun quietly slip away shortly after 5 p.m. – a much different sunset than those of the spring when at 9:30 p.m. it was boldly and blindingly still taking aim at the horizon.

Sunset from the village of Stoupa
Even the morning sun’s arrival over the hill on which our house sits seems slow and timid compared to even a few weeks ago, in early October, when we came for our autumn stay. But even with a kinder sun, daytime temperatures are still reaching the 70F-degree level at times. We’ve been experiencing an Indian Summer, or Little St. Dimetrios summer, as they say around here.

The Stone House and the Hill on which it sits

Stateside social media friends are reporting their hectic pace of preparations for Thanksgiving Day. It is curious to read their reports from afar where Thursday will be just other weekday – no marathon football on television, no stuffed turkey, no pumpkin pie. We do send holiday greetings to all who will be celebrating the day.

Instead of just one, here, you might say, our autumn has been filled with many  ‘thanks-giving’ days, including:

Oxi Day October 28th, celebrated annually in Greece since back in World War II when the Greek Prime Minister said “Oxi!” to Mussolini’s plan to bring Italian troops into the country. Oxi, pronounced, ohh-hee, means ‘no’. The nearby village of Kardamyli was decked out for the day and hosted a parade and presentations by students from schools throughout the area. That is the major autumn holiday in this part of the world.

Students wearing school uniforms and traditional dress dance on Oxi Day
The Chestnut Festival – A small village, Kastania, tucked away in the hills behind us hosts an annual Chestnut Festival of singing, dancing and eating which draws hundreds from as far away as Athens (a four hour drive). We didn’t let a rain-storm keep us away – nor did others who made the trek to celebrate.

Roasting chestnuts at Katania's Fourth Annual Chestnut Festival

Olive Harvest: The hills are alive with the sound of chainsaws and tree shakers. The pace of the harvest has intensified with the olive presses running into the late night hours. (Glad we beat the crowds and can now sit back and literally enjoy the fruits of our labors).

Waiting their turn in the press - bags of olives 

Days spent with friends ~ We had two sets of ‘courageous couples’ who made the trip from Washington State to spend a few days with us this fall. They were adventuresome enough to get off the well-trod Greek tourist track and explore the beauty of this peninsula. There is nothing better than sharing a morning’s cup of coffee or an evening’s glass of wine with friends and doing a lot of exploring in between!

PicMonkey Collage
Memories made in The Mani

The Days the Cats Returned – All of our previously reported upon stray cats are now present and enjoying life – with plenty of food and beverages – at The Stone House on the Hill. That would include Princess and Tom who we introduced you to last winter and Mom and the two kittens, now teenagers, who you met last spring.

Tom, left, and Princess have returned
And hen there have been those ordinary-but-very-extraordinary kind of days . . .

The Mani

‘It was one of the loveliest days in early autumn,
the general atmosphere had a tendency to subdue everything of the heart
and threw me into a thoughtful mood.’
    -- Charles Lanman, 1840

The sea - The Mani

‘Autumn is the perfect time to take account of what we’ve done,
what we didn’t do,
and what we’d like to do next year.’
    -- Author Unknown

A walk beyond Trahila

‘Autumn is the hush before winter.’ – French Proverb

And as always we are thankful for all of you who take a break from your busy lives to spend time with us!  We hope you are having a lovely autumn and that whatever the holiday is you are celebrating, it will be filled with happiness.  Hope to see you back again soon ~ in our next post I’ll tell you our off-the-grid plans for Christmas!

Linking up this week:
Travel Photo Thursday
Our World Tuesday
Travel Inspiration
Mosaic MondayThrough My Lens
Photo Friday Wordless Wednesday

Friday, May 29, 2015

Greetings from Greece: Where We are Making a House a Home

The sun at 6 pm is far from setting over the mountains of Greece's Messina Mani.  It doesn't happen this time of year until 8:30 p.m. or so. We know, because watching it set is one of the treats we give ourselves each day.

We've been back in The Stone House on the Hill  for ten days now. It was our destination after an incredible month-long magic carpet ride through exotic places with wonderful new friends in our floating community aboard Oceania's Nautica. Already it is serving its purpose as a great European home-base for travel as our flight from Rhodes to Athens was only 40 minutes long - much better than that long haul back to Seattle!

Nautica in Alanya Turkey
As I wrote earlier, it was difficult to say goodbye to so many new friends and to close the chapter on that marvelous cruising adventure through the Far and Middle East. (Because the blogging programs are still not cooperating, I'll save the photos and tales of those Arabian Nights for future posts.)

The Stone House (far right top row)
For now we are settling into life in our Greek daydream-turned-reality. Much like I reported last winter, within hours of our arrival, the two 'neighborhood cats' greeted us.  One seems to be well cared for and has been scarce but "Tom"who is appearing regularly, is showing a bit of wear and tear. We've started doctoring his wounds and bug bites (and feeding him to fatten him up). Yes, such is life on 'the hill'.

Lemon tree wine patio taking shape

We are focused for the next few weeks on more projects -- those smaller dreams of 'what could be', now that the daydream of owning a home in Greece has been realized. It hasn't all been smooth sailing, but with each new challenge there has been a sense of accomplishment as well.  One big accomplishment was installing internet at the house - it took only about 40 minutes after an internet provider was found. I am writing this without angling myself and computer to hook into someone else's signal -- a major milestone!

This year's olive crop is making an appearance
On this Friday morning the skies are blue and butterflies of rainbow hues flitter between the blooms in the garden.  We've spent our time in the garden today while waiting for electricians, plumbers, and contractors - and an appliance delivery van from Kalamata. Projects, projects, projects - making a list and checking it more than twice. Our 'to do' list seems to shrink by one item and then grow by two items each time we look at it.

This rose is outside the guestroom entryway
We are taking time to smell the roses - literally and figuratively. Tonight we are joining our neighbors for dinner at a café in a neighboring village - our welcome has been warm in this small 'hood on the hill.'

I'll try to touch base a bit more regularly without becoming a nuisance for those of you who are kind enough to receive our writings in your inbox. (if you haven't signed up; just follow that link and do so on our homepage - it is free and not a subscription.  As always thanks for the time you've spent with us ~ happy and safe travels to you~

Linking with:
Travel Photo Thursday
Weekend Travel Inspirations

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Greece ~ Come along. Visit our ‘hood’

Our criteria for a Greek home was quite simple.
We wanted a stone house with a water view and a garden or olive grove.
We ultimately got them all.

Our Stone House on the Hill in Greece
What we hadn’t given that much thought was: the neighborhood. Who would live next door? Would there even be a ‘next door’? Would we be in a village? If not, how far away would a village be? We hadn’t focused on those questions because we simply didn’t think of them, so focused were we on 'the house'.

As you know from my recent posts about our recently-purchased Stone House on the Hill, our criteria for the house was met and exceeded. As for the neighborhood – we couldn’t have picked better had we given it any thought.

Come along. . . let me introduce you to our Greek ‘hood. . .

We are furthest right in this photo - hidden by the tree

Our house is the one on the far-right, tucked away behind our big tree at the end of the grove. We have a British couple (part-timers, like us) immediately to our left. Next to them, full-timers Christina and Dimetrios, the Greek couple who built the five homes at the top of the photo. The third house from us is owned by another couple from Britain who live here full-time (when they are not traveling, that is).

We have yet to meet our neighbors in the homes to the far left and below us. Although our Cat Who Came for Christmas, AKA  “Princess” is said to live in that house down below when the owner is home.

PicMonkey Collage
The road that links two villages
Our row of stone houses is at the edge of a century-old olive grove. To reach them, one follows a narrow, paved road that connects the villages of Ag. Dimitrio below us to Platsa, about three kilometers above us.

You’ve probably guessed, we have very little traffic on this tiny road – and when a car or bike passes, it generates waves, nods of the head or a call of greeting. We are walking distance – via a smaller rutted dirt road through an olive grove – to the port of Ag. Dimitrios and just a bit further is the part-sand, part-rock beach.

The beach is a walk away

Many of you who have traveled in Italy’s Tuscany region will notice the striking similarities between this countryside and that one, particularly the Mediterranean Cypress trees that dot the landscape. (What is nice about here is we get all that Tuscan-type beauty for far-less-the-cost!)

The countryside rivals Tuscany in beauty - but the price is better here!

DSCF2998This driveway, just around the corner and above us, leads down to one of the many charming stone homes tucked away amid the olive groves – we have yet to meet that neighbor.
So many ‘new’ people and places just footsteps away waiting to be discovered just like. . .

. . .the villages! So picturesque, they often times don’t seem real. The one in the photo below is Kotroni, (the cluster of buildings at the top of the photo) as seen from just above our home. We drove there once and it, like so many villages, has such narrow roadways that you park your car outside the village and enter it on foot.We’ve yet to do that exploration, but we will!

Village of Kotroni

The views from the ‘hood are sweeping and stretch from out over the Gulf of Messinia to the Taygetos Mountains. The photo below is taken from just above our house:

The Mani Greece
The ‘hood was full of tiny roadside wonders as well on this early January Saturday stroll:
PicMonkey Collage
January blooms
We are eager to return this spring and see the profusion of color that the spring wildflowers offer. Yet, these hardy blooms were amazing. It was winter. The surrounding hills were covered with snow!

Don't you love the mountain that looms above our home?
View from our deck
It is definitely a contrast to our current ‘home base’ in Hawaii with its sandy beaches and 80-degree temperatures - where we are enjoying our ‘interval life’, that I told you about earlier this week. We’ll take you on a tour of this tropical neighborhood in our next post so hope you’ll join us here again soon. 

We’ve noticed we have some new subscriber/friends and followers: Welcome! We look forward to getting to know you ~ so hope you will join in the conversation by commenting or emailing.

And to all of  you, we just read that 7.4 new travel blogs appear every second – makes us even more grateful for the time you spend with us!!

Speaking of friends, I need to thank our friend Maria Korma who lives in the village of Stoupa, Greece for keeping us updated on activities there via her Facebook page. She gave me permission to use two of her photos in this post!

This week’s link ups are with:

Travel Photo Thursday – Budget Traveler’s Sandbox 
Travel Inspiration – Reflections En Route 
Mosaic Monday – Lavender Cottage Gardening


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