Showing posts with label buying a home in Greece. Show all posts
Showing posts with label buying a home in Greece. Show all posts

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Road Trip to Greek Residency ~ Journey’s End

Just like that it was over.

So quickly and easily that it didn’t seem possible our long and winding Road Trip to Greek Residency had come to an end with only a 10-minute stop at the Greek Immigration office in Kalamata on Friday.

That's all the time it took to pick up our permanent residency cards.

Road in the Peloponnese wine country

After more than six months on this ‘road trip to residency’ our journey's end was remarkably . . .unremarkable.

We even managed to end the journey on our own – we didn’t have our steadfast attorney at our side as we stood at the Immigration office counter. We handed over our paper ‘temporary’ permits, the official checked our files in the computer, double-checked our passports and issued us the small plastic cards that make us Greek residents.

Our Greek residency ID permit cards

These cards, similar in size to hotel keys, are the keys to our future travels in Europe and time spent in Greece. And that part really is quite remarkable!

As our long-time reader-friends know, we hadn’t envisioned this road trip back when we purchased our Stone House on the Hill two and a half years ago. The Schengen Treaty guidelines for tourists were going to accommodate us well we thought at the time: 90 days in Greece and 90 days out of all Schengen countries.

The Stone House on the Hill 2017
No way were we going through the bureaucratic hassle of getting a residency permit, we’d emphatically vowed back then. We’d had enough translations, costs, and legal fees in buying the house we proclaimed to anyone else who unwittingly asked about our part-time ex pat lifestyle.

Gare du  Nord - Paris, France
One thing we should have known even back then was that we – of all people – should never say never.  Sticking to a 90-day schedule is a rigid way to travel. There’s no flexibility for things that might happen during or outside that window of time  – health issues, special events, spur of the moment side trips - anything could cause a misstep while doing the Schengen Shuffle.

Schengen governs travel in so many countries on this side of the Atlantic that the travel time clock was constantly ticking. Penalties are severe for overstaying the Schengen welcome and don’t let anyone tell you that they don’t check arrival and departure date stamps in the passport. We’ve been checked every time we’ve arrived and left Greece and once even cautioned about the 90-day limit.

A look in the rearview mirror

A look in the rearview mirror

Looking back we realize we began pondering this road trip to residency more than a year ago. We researched while in Greece and in the U.S. We had numerous email conversations with our Greek attorney and phone conversations with the Greek consulate serving our region of the United States.

The journey really got underway last September when we met with our attorney and she outlined out the route we’d need to travel.  Our first stop in February was at the Greek Consulate in San Francisco. An initial interview with each of us and review of our application documents was completed there. We each left with an entry visa which gave us 12 months in which to start (and hopefully complete) the process in Greece.

An appointment with our attorney at a Kardamyli village coffee shop

With our documents approved by the consulate staff we proceeded to get them notarized and apostilled in the U.S. Then, immediately upon our arrival in Greece, they were turned over to our attorney for translation into Greek.  We made our offical application in early April at the Immigration office in Kalamata. Officials there would review documents, perhaps require more documents and/or an in-person interview before a panel of five persons before determining whether to grant the permanent residency permit.

Many forms were filled out, fees paid and office visits made
We hit a roadblock of sorts as the result of timing. Greece decided to comply with a decade-old European Union rule for immigration which changed the visa/permit process from one of a stamp in the passport to one of an ID card that conforms with all other EU immigration cards.  We applied as the change over was implemented so we needed fingerprints, photos and more fees had to be paid. Those little cards hold much information about us in them.

We finally -- in late May learned that we’d been approved. We didn't speak much about it because until the cards were in hand, nothing was guaranteed. We have friends who were ‘that close’ when laws or minds of officials changed, and it was back to the drawing board for them. We crossed our fingers and waited. . .

But getting the cards in hand proved to be quite a waiting game in itself as they are delivered to the Kalamata Immigration office on Thursdays. They come from the police department. However we had no indication of which Thursday.

Bottom line:  Had we not extended our stay in Greece by a few weeks we would have returned to the States this spring without the permanent permits. They arrived on a Thursday a few weeks after being issued. The day we picked them up was day 93 of this stay.

Road to Kalamata

Immigration isn’t for the faint-of-heart

I’ve always admired those folks who moved to another country – immigrants, who for whatever reason wanted a life (or who were forced to make a life) in a new country.  Now that we’ve been through this process – and this is nothing compared to those seeking citizenship – I have only the highest regard for anyone who undertakes a road trip to residency or citizenship in another country.

It is tough. It is expensive. It is humbling. It is frustrating. And it is all beyond your control. You put your best self forward and present your life story to unknown officials who will determine whether you do or don’t qualify for that precious residency permit.  In our case, a permit that will make travel easier and allow us flexibility in our lifestyle. For some though it means freedom and security from a war-torn country or pursuit of a professional goal or educational endeavor.

Journey’s End. . .or Beginning?

We are set until April 2019 – we can stay as long as we want. Why, we could even move here and live full-time!  Should we seek a renewal we will go through a modified application process again in two years. The next permit under current law would be for three years.

It has definitely been an interesting process ~ one that generated tales we can share and laugh about with others who’ve traveled the same road to residency. We have several friends here from the US who’ve become residents in Greece. Our journeys to residency have each had their own twists, turns and roadblocks, but we all agree we are better for having completed the journey.

The Scribe and The Scout - Greek residents!
Our little key-card sized permit stands ready to unlock doors to new adventures for us.  While waiting for the permits to arrive, we’ve dared to discuss some possibilities. . .some that sound downright improbable right now. But five years ago who’d have thought we’d buy a house in Greece? Two years ago who’ve have thought we’d be Greek residents? 

As I said earlier, we, of all people, should never say never. . .

Thanks to so many of you who’ve served as our cheerleaders along the way.  Your words of encouragement and enthusiasm for our efforts have meant more than you'll ever know! We have appreciated both your interest in our lives and your continued time spent reading our tales.  Hope to see you back here next week – and I promise this is the last you’ll hear of this road trip – it’s been a long one!

Safe and healthy 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

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Kali Mina ~ It is December Again in Greece ~

  “Kali Mina!” is the greeting called out to friends at the start of each new month in Greece. It means basically, “Have a good month”. It is just one of the many things we do in this new-to-us culture that we didn’t do ‘back home’ in the United States.

Agios Nikolaos, village, December 2015
This month, even though we enthusiastically used the greeting, we ask ourselves, 'How could it be December already?'  Way back in September when we shifted from our suburban Seattle life to our rural setting tucked away in an olive grove, it seemed we would have such a long stretch of time to experience ex pat life in Greece.

“We’ll be here until December,” we announced with finality to friends both near and far.

December display at a grocery store in Kardamyli village, 2015
This is our third December at our Stone House on the Hill; a hill that overlooks the small villages that dot this small section of the Messinian Bay coastline that rests in the shadow of the Taygetos Mountains. This month marks our second full year of home ownership in Greece's Peloponnese and our 'part-time ex pats' life.

The Stone House on the Hill, far right
Those of you who’ve been with us since that first December recall that at the time we said we’d caught our daydream but we'd give it 'five years' to become reality. We’d give ourselves five years here and if it didn’t measure up to that daydream, we’d put it up for sale. We don't talk of selling or five years these days. Just as we’ve changed our little stone home, we’ve changed our attitude about time.

The Stone House on the Hill, December 2014
And much has changed at the rather bland little house we purchased and occupied during that rather bleak first December. Our time spent here has been dictated by doing the ‘Schengen Shuffle’, 90-days here and 90-days out dance step set forth in our tourist visa. The Schengen Treaty covers more than 20 countries on this side of the Atlantic and dictates the length of stay in them, either individually or as a whole.

The Stone House on the Hill, December 2016
With each stay, siga, siga, or slowly, slowly, the house has been changing, as have we. Living life in 90-day segments has given us a new appreciation for time and its passage. 

Our lemon tree frames Agios Dimitrios and Agios Nikolaos villages in the distance

We are just beginning to let go of that American approach of timelines and deadlines (something we both lived by in our professional lives and therefore struggle with giving it up). Things here get done when they get done.  Days may pass while we wait for that promised mason, electrician, plumber or delivery of materials. . ..then as if they were falling dominos, one thing trips another and within an hour or two, suddenly everything is done.

PicMonkey Collage
We've added color to The Stone House on The Hill
Loving life is easy when you are abroad. Where no one knows you and you hold your life in your hands, all alone, you are more master of yourself than at any other time.
                       -- Hannah Arendt

Petro's and Irini's tavern in Trahilia - one of our favorite spots on earth
It is an unhurried lifestyle that slowly wraps you up in its embrace.  A dinner out at any of the small nearby tavernas could take hours. You begin by visiting awhile – often with others at nearby tables whom you may or may not know or the owners - you soak up the atmosphere, enjoy a sunset, some wine, and then the food begins arriving.  Even running over to the neighbors ‘for a minute’ could result in staying for a cup of coffee or a glass of wine and a bit of visit time which could easily fill an hour.

Time isn't segmented with the hourly precision that dictates American life. We seldom make ‘plans’ in advance of a few hours here; a quick phone call or text suggesting an evening out together or alerting someone of a visit is the norm. No calendars or 'day-timers' needed.

PicMonkey Collage
October far left, November, and December
Back in the States it's the retail stores that contribute to the feeling of seasons rushing past us; giving the sense of urgency with their October Halloween merchandise displays going up in August and Christmas in October. Here it is Mother Nature who alerts us to the seasons. They are clearly and unhurriedly defined by the olive and citrus groves, the gardens, the produce sold in the public markets.

Olive harvest at The Stone House on the Hill marks season's end
“When abroad, boredom, routine and ‘normal’ cease to exist. And all that is left is the thrill and the challenge of uncertainty.”
                                                             -- Reannan Muth

The normal way to buy vegetables in the village is from the traveling produce seller
The one thing about time that we’ve learned is that 90-day segments of life are simply too rigid.  If the devastating September storm that hit this area had damaged our Stone House on the Hill and required us to return sooner than we had scheduled, we’d have thrown our ‘Schengen Shuffle’ out of sequence and wouldn’t be able to still be here right now. Ninety days within each 180 days is cumulative. Hit the mark and you are out until another 90 days pass. Miss it and you face hefty fines and you can be barred from entering the country for up to five years. If we stayed our full 90 days in Greece, they could deny us entry into another Schengen country even if our only purpose there is to transit the airport as part of our return to the U.S.

Doing the Schengen Shuffle at London Heathrow's airport
The only way to add flexibility is to obtain a 'residency permit' which would create a resident status, allowing us the flexibility of date-free travel in Schengen-governed Europe. We could come and go as we wanted. Obtaining such a permit isn’t simple nor inexpensive.  Yet, it can be done as other Americans here have proven.

So on this third December at The Stone House on the Hill, we’ve just started the journey through the permit bureaucracy. . .it is a journey that will take us to Olympia, our Washington State capitol, then to San Francisco to meet with ‘our’ West Coast Greek consulate. If he grants us an 'entry permit' we can pursue a resident visa the next time we are here. . .90 days from now!

As you’ve probably gathered by now, we are packing up and closing this chapter at The Stone House on the Hill. The Scout found us a great airfare back to Seattle from Cairo. So we are off to Egypt (not a Schengen Country) this coming weekend.  We appreciate the time you spend with us and so enjoy hearing from you!  Until our next get-together, safe travels to you and yours ~
The loneliness of the expatriate is of an odd and complicated kind, for it is inseparable from the feeling of being free, of having escaped.
                              -- Adam Gopnik

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

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Greece ~ Getting “Stoned” at The Stone House on the Hill

If you set out to explore Greece it won’t take long before you realize the country isn’t all  whitewashed walls and blue accents as the tourist brochures might like you to believe.

Mykonos blue and white church
03332_mani_&pelo_inset_encartaIn Greece’s Peloponnese, where we’ve chosen to make our home a portion of each year, the architectural style of buildings and homes are rather stark in comparison; built of gray or tan stone and brightened only with colorful shutters and doors and garden blooms.

Admittedly there are some villages in the Peloponnese where you’ll find a mix of the two styles, such as in Kyparissi, the village we visited a few weeks ago. (If you missed that post, you can find it here)

PicMonkey Collage
Kyparissi - a mix of two architectural styles
But in our area on the west coast of the region’s ‘middle finger’ we are definitely cast in stone.  So much stone, that you could almost start taking its stately beauty for granted. Whether old or new construction, stone is the predominant building material. 

PicMonkey Collage
Old and new stonework - Trahilia
Cast in Stone

Tracing the origins of the use of stone in Greek architecture leads back to Egypt (the place considered ‘home of stone architecture’ by some historical accounts) and dates from 650 BCE onwards as that was the time of renewed contacts and trade links between Greece, the Middle East and Egypt. Greek designers and masons became familiar with Egypt’s buildings and construction techniques, and the rest, as they say, is history.

PicMonkey Collage
Hidden art in the stone
Getting “Stoned” at The Stone House on the Hill

We had the opportunity two weeks ago to watch stone masons – they are artisans really – at work when they tackled a couple of projects for us at The Stone House on the Hill. It gave us an opportunity to renew our awe of anything constructed of stone. The projects, so small in comparison to constructing homes or buildings, still required so much hard labor that we were in awe of what our two craftsmen accomplished in our gardens in a period of three days.

P1000397We needed to raise the wall behind our house where the sloping garden’s dirt was being washed away by the rain and watering.


We wanted, for cosmetic purposes, to resurface our entryway wall and the wall that borders our side yard.

It took a small crane to unload the materials which included concrete and stones:

The materials are delivered in heavy duty delivery truck
Then materials needed to be hauled down our ‘StairMaster-eat-your-heart-out’ stairway and put into place. That’s The Scout helping haul stones while the masons went to work:

The stonework begins
And when the work began, there was no stopping them. . .

PicMonkey Collage
Stonework is a precise art of cutting and measurement
For hours each day it continued with hammers pounding, saws buzzing, the sun blazing overhead. . .

PicMonkey Collage
Measuring, cutting, fitting and filling in - all part of the stonemason's skills
Three days later it was done. . .the before and after photos below illustrate that Greece’s timeless artistry in stone continues thanks to present-day masons.

PicMonkey Collage
Before on left - unfinished surface; finished project on the right
PicMonkey Collage
Before on left, funished on the right

“It’s beyond me. Everything seems to have a soul – wood, stones, the wine we drink and the earth we tread on. Everything, boss, yes, everything.”

-- Alexis Zorba, Zorba the Greek

Stones with soul
That’s our report this week from The Stone House on the Hill. Thanks for being with us and hope you enjoyed watching our artisans at work.

A warm welcome to our new readers! And what a surprise it has been to learn that several of you reading the blog are fellow ex pats living not far from us here in The Mani.  Thank you for writing and letting us know. We’ve look forward to meeting you. 

And to all of you out there, safe travels and please come back again and join us for more Greek tales next week.

We are linking up this week with our fellow bloggers at:
Mosaic Monday – 
Through My Lens
Our World Tuesday
Wordless Wednesday
Travel Photo Thursday – 
Photo Friday
Weekend Travel Inspiration

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Greece: Chasing the Dream ~ Catching a Nightmare?

“What a dream, living in Greece! (But I have to wonder, with all the ‘news in the news’ about the economy are you concerned about the future of your investment/life there?)
This comment was made by a reader of our blog in response to our post about this spring’s stay at The Stone House on the Hill. I suspect that question, or similar ones, have crossed the minds of many of you who’ve been following this adventure of ours in Greece. 
Perhaps it is time I quit writing about chasing daydreams and talk a bit about catching reality. 
For those newcomers to TravelnWrite, we bought a house in Greece last December; less than a month before the country’s election resulted in new leadership and new approach to its debt agreements. It wasn’t long after the election that Greece and its European lenders entered into a boxing match of words – the type of which can send world markets on a roller coaster ride as result of a single remark by either side. The verbal sparring continues nearly six months later.
The Stone House on the Hill
But as one American media recently reminded the world: The ‘day of reckoning’ for Greece is fast approaching. June 30th is the day of reckoning. . .so it seems by the headlines.
Will the two sides work out a solution to the debt repayment that leaves both claiming a win? Or will the talks have a final breakdown? Will Greece leave the European Union? Will it return to the drachma? Will banks Greek banks close for a time? Will currency controls be put into place? (Meaning limits on how much of your money you can withdraw from your bank account, like what happened in Cyprus a few years ago). Do Greece and its lenders have a ‘Plan B’ for carrying on after June 30th – no matter the direction it goes?
So many questions; so few answers. Our guess is as good as yours.
Yet the scope of speculation seems to grow each day. Recently we’ve learned a new acronym: PIGS, (Portugal, Italy, Greece and Spain). It is used when contemplating the possible domino effect if Greece were to leave the euro-based world. After Greece, those other three could be the next to go. . .and that could produce some rockin’ and rollin’ in the world markets. . .
As much as we love Greece, we are ‘outsiders’ – we see a small slice of its whole as we go about our rather carefree life here in The Mani. We are aware of the vast number of scenarios that could play out because we do follow a number of media reports.
In the meantime, here we are, “The Americans” who own a home in a country that could be on the verge of economic collapse.
We’ve not spent our days fretting about what could happen as we’ve been too busy working on the house and garden. When not working, we are usually spending time with friends – other ex pat types – and then we are too busy sharing tales of our experiences in our adopted country to wring our hands and break out in a sweat over the future.
What we know is that we’ve already booked our return for this fall. We are talking about olive harvest. We know of two sets of friends planning to visit then.
That is not to say we haven’t given thought to ‘the situation’. So while I don’t have any answers for you, I do have some thoughts to share, so come, let’s take a stroll through our olive grove and chat:
* The truth is that had the sale not finalized in December, we would not have purchased our ‘daydream home’ here until later. We’d have taken a wait-and-see approach (and from what we see, we’d likely still be waiting).
* The reason is the uncertainty:  You need to pay in full the price of the home at the time of purchase. In our case, our money was converted to euros and wired from the United States and sat in our Greek bank account for several days before the scheduled closing. With the present uncertainty we wouldn’t have risked our funds having been converted to euros, arriving at the bank, and while sitting there facing the possibility of currency controls being implemented (as described above) or or risked devaluation on the off chance Greece did switch to the drachma during that short window of time.
*You’ve probably read of ex pats and Greek depositors who are withdrawing money from banks in large amounts – thus adding to the economic problems.  I can assure you that we have been among them, leaving only an amount in our account which will cover automatic utility withdrawals while we are not here. But unlike those who’ve moved their funds out of the country, we’ve spent ours here on purchases and improvements to the house.
* We didn’t ‘bet the farm’ on this purchase. If forced to walk away from this investment, you wouldn’t find us singing for donations on a street corner at Seattle’s Pike Place Market (or counting on this blog for income).
* In reality, if we weren’t following the economic reports in the world media about Greece, we’d never know that anything was amiss based on the amount of tourists who are filling the villages around us.That street in our Agios Nikolaos village (Wine and Watching) I showed you two weeks ago has been made a one-way street during the day and closes completely each evening – after that big bus I photographed lumbers through on its last trip of the day– so that cafes can fill the street with tables to accommodate the many tourists.
* On the flip side, Greek media is reporting that privately-owned tourist rentals are down 50 percent this summer because of the economic uncertainty.
* Construction cranes dot The Mani landscape with new home and hotel construction. Whether those building feel their property is safer than other investments or if they are optimistic about economy recovery is difficult to speculate.
* Greeks sipping coffee fill the tables at the hip, modern sidewalk cafes lining the pedestrian plazas in Kalamata. There is no appearance of hardship among them. However, there are a number of old and young who approach with hands outstretched asking for money (this isn’t new, they were doing so last winter).
*We’ve watched a soccer field here get a new surface and a basketball court be added. Yet,we are told that children have passed out at schools in the area because of hunger and that some families are leaving their children at churches in Athens as they are no longer able to feed them.
All are slice-of-the-pie observations or hearsay – as an old newspaper reporter, I know neither is a reliable source from which to make conclusions about Greece’s economic situation.

I chose our olive grove for this reality post for several reasons. It is a happy place for us; one of our favorite places on the property. It represents the daydream; both chased and caught. And it represents permanence – some of the trees are nearly a century old. They were here long before the house and us, The Americans. The olive tree endures through the centuries – much like we suspect Greece has and will.


You just can’t predict the future. And that’s one reason we chased the daydream.  That plane that shuttles us between Seattle and Greece could go down. . .One of us could have a health crisis that would cut this adventure short. . .Greece could leave the European Union. . .Oh so many things out there in the uncertain future. . . It is simply another good reason to enjoy today!

“Every man has his folly, but the greatest folly of all … is not to have one.”
Nikos Kazantzakis, Zorba the Greek
That’s it for this week from The Stone House on the Hill.  Thanks for being with us and the interest you’ve shown in our adventure here. I know a number of ex pat and Greek friends read TravelnWrite so I am hoping they will share their thoughts and observations in the comment section below (on the blog’s homepage for you who subscribe and receive just the post).
Our time here is again too soon drawing to a close.  We’ll be heading back to the United States and I promise then I will start writing of our Far and Middle East travels and show you the changes we made to our place in Greece.
A big hello to our new followers and subscribers!  And happy travels to you all. Thanks so much for recommending us to your friends and for sharing our posts with others. Can’t tell you how nice it has been to read your comments and emails while we’ve been gone!
Linking this week with:
Travel Photo Thursday – Budget Traveler’s Sandbox 
Our World Tuesday
Travel Inspiration – Reflections En Route

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Greece: Trash Talk and Socrates

“All I know is that I know nothing.”
-- Socrates
Truer words were never spoken, than those of Socrates, the ancient philosopher, I’ve concluded after being in Greece for three weeks. Our time here has spanned both an old and new year – the time it seems that people get introspective and think deeper, philosophical thoughts. I have been thinking with such introspection it seemed the best way to tell you about them was with some ‘trash talk’:  garbage collection, quite literally.
DSCF1168 Maybe it is the atmosphere or something in the water, but we’ve become a bit philosophical after spending time in Greece.
On this visit, we’ve cut ourselves off from television and have significantly reduced computer time, mainly because the house doesn’t have either. We’ve tapped into another’s w-ifi (with his permission) and sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t.
We’ve spent a lot of time outdoors – working with our hands and thinking with our heads; not relying on a Google search for a definition to answer questions. Our time and our ‘being’ has allowed for pondering. A gift of time in a manner of thinking. (When’s the last time you gave yourself unlimited time to just ‘pondered’ something?)
Back in the Northwest I’ve been involved with an organization that is focused on developing cultural competencies. I’ve thought a great deal about that concept as I have thought about our garbage and yes garbage and cultural competencies do go hand-in-hand for the purpose of this writing: 
 During one of our first visits to this area - the southern Peloponnese region of Greece - I had exclaimed in what I call ‘ignorant tourist’ disgust, “OMG! Those people are throwing their garbage in the public bins!” 
Two years later we bought a house here:
The Scout on a garbage run
And quickly learned that is the way garbage is collected!

We have become “those people” who at first impression left me so aghast. In fact, I chuckled at my change in this particular activity when on New Year’s Day The Scout asked, “Shall we take a garbage run and check out what’s happening in the village?” Would this be trash talkin’ or trash travel? It certainly is a step towards making me a bit more culturally competent and less quick to judge.

The road to our house - a road that connects two villages

And as I’ve had time to ponder the concept, it does make perfect sense.  The roads here –like this one in the photo that leads to our house – in many cases are small.  Not so very long ago they were dirt tracks through olive groves. Ours, a bumpy little asphalted ribbon up the hill connects two villages, but certainly is not a road that could accommodate a garbage truck!

DSCF1178 Trash bins – and they include recycle bins as well – are located throughout the towns, on larger roads and along the highway, which in this area is a two-lane road.

My list of logical but distinctly different cultural nuances doesn’t stop with garbage collection, it continues to grow with each passing day.

For example: collecting used toilet paper in a trash can aside the toilet and not the throne itself with its small plumbing pipes, makes perfect sense as it would plug them and fill the septic tanks); or heating water as needed when the solar power isn’t enough to do so. It is a matter of flipping a switch to heat water and then turning it off after a period of time to cut the electric use and bill. . .

Different countries, different cultures, and different ways of doing things. When it comes to travel it is good to remember the words of Socrates – All I know is that I know nothing -- before making those quick cultural judgments. 

How about you? What have you concluded about people and places before knowing their full story. . .the one that explains actions and behaviors?

We do wish you a Happy New Year and hope that you’ll spend time exploring the world with us in 2015! See you soon~

Hopefully I am linking up today with Nancie’s Travel Photo Thursday at Budget Travelers Sandbox.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Decking the Halls ~ In Greece

Rosemary Clooney was dreaming of a “White Christmas” right after Elvis had predicted a “Blue Christmas” and somewhere between the plastic goods and kitchen accessories, Bing Crosby had swept us off to Hawaii with his rendition of Mele Kalikimaka. The store’s background music had shoppers pumped by the time they reached the enormous Christmas decorations area.

Kambos Town en route to Kalamata
I need not have worried about ‘missing’ Christmas because we are in Greece. The spirit – both Holy and Shopping – is alive and well in this part of the world.

Christmas Bazaar fund-raiser - Stoupa town
The store I described above called, “Jumbo” is in the city of Kalamata, the shopping Mecca of this region. Those of us in the surrounding villages make pilgrimages there sometimes once or twice a week. In this ‘stone house on the hill’ we are about an hour’s drive away.

Our House day three

Our shopping has been focused this week on more practical things: coffee pot, microwave, rugs, furniture, bedding. . .so I am afraid if you were hoping to see this perfectly decorated new holiday home of ours, you are out of luck!  In fact, I am writing this post sitting on a folding chair hunched over a small end table in our nearly empty living room.

We bought the car as part of the house deal

 I must thank all of you who wrote comments or sent emails containing good wishes about our finally catching the daydream, and purchasing the stone house on the hill. They all meant alot to us and I would normally respond to each, but because we are limited to cafe internet time this trip, a bulk thank you will have to do until I get back to Wi-Fi land.

DSCF1228Some of you said you were eagerly awaiting more about Christmas and others wanted more about the house. . .so today you are getting a mish-mash report with a little about both.

We purchased the house ‘furnished’ just because that is the way it was sold. The well-used furniture was not to our taste so in addition to buying furniture, we have been selling furniture this week.The heavy, and far-too-big-for-this-house furniture (see last post) was sold Friday

And for another few days we are ‘camping out’ in our home. The new stuff is scheduled for delivery December 24th! And what a present that will be!  (Our good-sport English friends, Sue and Don, pictured in the photo were our first guests yesterday, proving again that good times can be had in the barest of surroundings.)

DSCF1207 The painters arrive tomorrow to start the process of ‘warming up’ this hospital-white-from-ceiling-to- floor house.  The color chips have been selected and by the time the furniture arrives it should have a warm, colorful setting in which to reside.

For those of you wondering whether we are enjoying this or whether we are having second thoughts, I can assure you we’d have missed one of life’s great experiences had we not thrown caution to the wind and chased the daydream.

Waterfront in Stoupa Town Saturday night
Merry Christmas!


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