Showing posts with label Greek wildflowers. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Greek wildflowers. Show all posts

Friday, March 16, 2018

Greece: On the Road Less traveled ~

I took the road less traveled by, and that has made all the difference.

                                      - Robert Frost, The Road Not Taken

The Kalderimi less traveled
We set off one morning this week to explore a road less traveled. . .less traveled these days, anyway. Once upon a time this kalderimi. was the main thoroughfare linking two ancient villages in Greece’s Mani. Now, one of the area’s many hiking routes, it is carpeted with spring's wild flowers; the blooms soon to be replaced with summer’s sun-burned sepia soil and gray stones that make up its underlying surface.
‘In the former Ottoman countries, a kaldırım (Turkish) or kalderimi (Greek καλντερίμι or καλντιρίμι; plural kalderimia) is a cobblestone-paved road built for hoofed traffic. Kalderimia are sometimes described as cobbled or paved mule tracks or trails.’
                                                  -- Wikipedia

Lagkada's narrow road becomes the kalderimi
While many we know think we took the road less traveled just by moving to Greece, we‘ve but touched the surface of the Mani’s magic and mystery. It is outings such as this that will keep us entertained here for many years.

Lagkada village - Mani - Greek Peloponnese
This kalderimia was the original path between the villages of Thalames and Lagkada. The two are about a 20 minute drive south of our home. We began our walking ‘road trip’ at the village furthest from us, Lagkada, which is built amphitheatrically on the slopes of a hill.

Its history, according to some, dates back to the reign of Marcus Aurelius; a time when the Romans conquered the neighboring Thalames, which was on the major route between Sparta and the Messinian coast. The two villages are about two kilometers apart.

Lagkada, like many of the villages here, is populated with stone homes and Byzantine churches and punctuated with a few towers, for which the Mani is known.  The Kalamata – Areopolis ‘Highway’, a narrow two-lane paved road that replaced the kalderimi, bisects the sleepy village. The only signs of life on the day we visited were a few locals sipping coffee at the taverna across the highway from the Church of the Metamorfosi of the Soter; a church with murals said to date back one thousand years..

Scaffolding has recently gone up - restoration is underway at the ancient church
The kalderimi is now one of the many walking paths that draw hikers and out-door vacationers to the area in the summer months.  (Shhh. . .don’t tell them of its springtime beauty.)   We didn’t encounter anyone making for a much more pleasant experience than our memories of walking the paths between villages in Italy’s over-run Cinque Terre.

Cobblestones and wildflowers of the kalderimi
The stone surface is uneven and we could have used some hiking poles for a bit of balance, but did the walk in a half an hour with plenty of stops to 'ooh and ahh' at the flower bedecked olive groves we passed. We did wear shoes with sturdy treads although we could have used those with the no-slip soles.

Olive groves carpeted in wildflowers
There are organized hikes offered by companies in Kardamyli and our village of Agios Nikolaos but walks that follow the old kalderimia are quite simple and easy to accomplish on your own.

On the road less traveled
One of the best sources for Greek hiking opportunities we’ve found is the on-line Walkopedia. (By clicking on that link you’ll be taken to a list of hikes throughout Greece.)

Springtime in the Mani
Today marks a month since our return to The Stone House on the Hill, following our six-week sojourn to the U.S. We’ve spent the last four weeks ticking projects off our house and garden ‘to do’ list. As that list shortens our upcoming travel list is lengthening.When not welding a shovel or pitchfork,  The Scout’s been at work planning some new adventures. . .so hope you’ll be with us as we set out to explore Greece. . .

Mani wildflower
Where ever  the road leads you and yours this week we wish you a safe, happy, healthy journey. As always, thanks for the time you’ve spent with us ~

Linking this week with:

Through My Lens
Our World Tuesday
Wordless Wednesday
Communal Global
Travel Photo Thursday – 
Photo Friday
Weekend Travel Inspiration
Best of Weekend

Thursday, March 8, 2018

Greece: Sun, Sand, Sirocco ~ Must be Spring

‘All we are is dust in the wind
Dust in the wind
Everything is dust in the wind. . .’
                 -- Kerry Livgren, Kansas (group), 1977

That song was playing in a taverna last night in the village. No other song could have been more fitting this week. 

Sunset during Sirocco wind in the Mani
The famed Sirocco wind carrying the warmth and sand of Africa’s Sahara desert into Mediterranean countries to its north, made its annual appearance this week.  While we are told Greece doesn’t have a word of its own for the wind, we are coming to call it the Winds of March or the Wind of Martios, as the month is called here. It always seems to visit this time of year.

Maybe it should be the Winds of Spring, because it seems to bring the new season along with it as well."
'Springtime is the land awakening.
The March winds are the morning yawn.'
     -- Lewis Grizzard

The Mani became 'dust in the wind'
By whatever the name, it mutes our normally vibrant-colored Peloponnese and turns our world gray for a few days. It makes everything dust in the wind. Then as quickly as it comes, it goes.
The ‘bright side’ to the Sirocco, is that it’s a sure sign that spring is almost here. And not a minute too soon, I might add!

'I enjoy the spring more than the autumn now,
one does, I think as one gets older.'
         -- Virginia Woolf

Wild iris border the roadways
Actually it has felt spring-like since we returned to Greece in mid-February from our six-week sojourn to the United States. This is the first time we’ve been here that early in the year and we were surprised at the many wildflowers already in bloom.The first troubadours of spring, the tiny wild Iris, have lined the roadsides and bordered the groves it seems for most of the winter.

Olive groves are carpeted in gold
Then, as if those iris were the warm up act, a few weeks ago the countryside threw off winter’s coat showing all its springtime colors.

Our olive grove – that drought-stricken, barren area we arrived to last fall – has become an almost magical place – home to hobbits, elves and  fairies - if you let your imagination roam.

A tree in our olive grove
Red, yellow, white and blue are the colors woven together in this year’s spring carpet.

Blooms are everywhere
PicMonkey Collage
The Garden in the Grove at The Stone House on the Hill

Going Wild in the Peloponnese

It is the perfect time to explore the Mani countryside. The old limestone trails that once served as the only link between communities have become popular with hikers and outdoor enthusiasts. Ribbons of hiking trails curl and wind deep into gorges and wrap around hillsides.  Any number of walking tours can be booked or follow the trail signs with guidebooks and maps in hand and explore on your own.

A few days ago we hiked out beyond the end of the road, just beyond Trahilia village near us on a day that was ‘just right’ as Goldilocks might say. . .

Looking back at Trahilia

Another day we parked in the village of Platsa, just above us and set out to visit a spring nestled into the hillside some 1.2 kilometers away. As we walked through the village we passed its long-ago school-house-once-turned tavern, now abandoned, and admired the wildflowers growing as high as its once crowded tables.

The old schoolhouse-turned-tavern in Platsa
'There are always flowers for those who want to see them.'
                                 -- Henri Matisse

The path to the springs near Platsa
Whatever season you are welcoming in your part of the world, we hope it is as beautiful as springtime in Greece.  That’s it from The Stone House on the Hill this week.  As always we are grateful for the time you spend ‘with us’ and look forward to your comments. Hope to see you again next week and bring some friends with you. . .

‘Like wildflowers;
you must allow yourself to
grow in all the places people
thought you never would.'

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

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Say “Poppy” ~ Think “Peloponnese Springtime”

Regulars here know I lust for the lemons.
I’ve burbled about the orange groves that in full bloom make the air heady with their seductive scent.  But each spring my greatest delight is seeing the wild poppies that along with other wildflowers carpet Greece’s Peloponnese.

It has been a long, chilly, wet winter but signs of spring on this peninsula to the south of Athens are appearing in olive and orange groves, along highways and empty lots. Mother Nature has again sprinkled her fairy dust to create floral scenes fit for Monet’s brush.

Peloponnese wildflowers
The wildflowers are blooming in The Mani -- in great profusion -- according to our neighbors and friends there. The wildflower season usually begins in March and continues through mid-May, depending on weather conditions. It is well underway and wouldn’t you know it? This year we won’t be there until late May, so will likely miss these sprawling bouquets!

I’ll have to resign myself to looking at photos that I have taken on previous visits (and time next year’s return a bit better).  But I’ve also devised a way to keep those poppies blooming year round – I’ll show you later in this post! But first, here’s a look at some of those flowers. . .

Fokianos Beach - Peloponnese Greece
On our first visit, two years ago, to the Peloponnese we were tipped off to the beach pictured above by our hotel keeper. ( Finding Fokianos ) He’d said it would be memorable and well worth our trip to find this place and as with most of his recommendations, he was absolutely correct.  What he hadn’t prepared us for were the poppy carpets that framed the views at every turn on the winding road to the beach.


This delicate flower commonly known as “The Red Poppy,”  is an annual that grows about 12- to 14-inches high and has blooms from 2- to 3-inches wide. It is sometimes called "Shirley Poppy" (after an English vicar named Shirley who studied the species), "Flanders Poppy," "American Legion Poppy", and in England, "Corn Poppy." It is native to most all of Eurasia and North Africa.

DSCF1730 (2)The name “American Legion Poppy” brings to mind those of small paper fundraising remembrance poppies that are patterned after these flowers.

And the “Flanders Field” refers to the place in western Belgium, where during World War I battles raged for four years. Flanders Field, before the war, was covered with the red poppies each spring and summer. Following the war the blooms returned and grow among the soldiers graves there.

Despite their rather somber associations, I simply think of sunshine and springtime in Greece when I see them.


So how do I plan to keep the poppies blooming all year long? Well. . .

PicMonkey Collage
. . .those of you who follow our stories on Facebook know that while we were in Hawaii I found dishware that would be perfect for our Greek house and I ordered sets of six plates and salad plates, a serving platter and two small bowls. Shipping costs are staggering, so we'll take them over as space in our suitcases allows.

We got a good laugh last week when the items were delivered to our Pacific Northwest home in two boxes so large the delivery man had to make two trips to the door . . .so it may be awhile before we get them over there. But they are the key to how my poppies will keep blooming:

PicMonkey Collage
Dinner plate on the left; salad plate on the right
That’s it for this week. Thanks for being with us and as always we appreciate your sharing our blog with those you know by word-of-mouth or by 'sharing' on Facebook. Hope to see you again soon and safe travels until we do!

Of note:

Map picture
Wildflower tours: A number of tours can be found by Googling ‘wild flower tours in the Peloponnese’ – we aren’t recommending any particular tour.  In fact, it might be more fun to rent a car and do it on-your-own. (If you need tips on a route, just let us know.)

The dishes:  Are found at Pier 1, a popular import store in the United States.  They can be ordered on-line if you don’t have a store near you.  (For those who like lemon or olive motifs, they are also available -- and tempting!)

Linking Up this week with. . .
Travel Photo Thursday – Budget Traveler’s Sandbox 
Travel Inspiration – Reflections En Route 
Mosaic Monday – Lavender Cottage Gardening


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