Saturday, April 21, 2018

Aphrodite’s birthplace and other Greek ‘ferry’ tales. . .

Aphrodite is the Greek goddess of love, sex, and beauty.
According to those on the island of Kythera, she was born there.

Their claim is based on the myth by Hesiod, a poet who lived about the same time as Homer. (Actually I checked and Hesiod claimed she was born of the sea (think of that image of her on that big clam shell) and she floated past Cytherea (Kythera) and emerged at Cyprus. 

Myth and reality. You get a dose of both when you travel in Greece.

We were reminded of that fact when we took a road trip last week to Kythera, a seasonally popular destination – and  possibly Aphrodite’s birthplace. Some travel writer’s have labeled it the perfect Greek island with just enough tourism to keep it prosperous and hopping 'in season' but not yet over-run.

Ferry to Kythera leaves from Neopoli

Road trips to Greek islands involve the ubiquitous Greek ferry experience; one that merges both myth and reality. The Greek ferry is a great mode of transport if you have a flexible schedule and itinerary. (We love the romance and adventure of Greek ferry travel and have tried every size and shape of ship. Remember when I debunked that myth of how dangerous they are in this post?)

The reality of ferry travel is: Schedules vary and can change at the slightest bit of inclement weather. Sometimes they operate and sometimes they don’t – with or without reason.  And they are not necessarily a cheap way to travel these days.

Kythira - a stone's throw from the Peloponnese

Take our trip, for example:   There’s a ferry to Kythera from Gythio, (right side middle finger on the map above) a town about an hour and a half from us. Or one from Neopoli (left side of right finger) a town three hours drive away. We’d preferred the Gythio departure but no one – including the travel agents who sell the ferry tickets – could tell us whether it would be running on the date we planned to travel. That's reality.

Upper car deck was empty on the ferry the week after Easter
We drove to Neopoli, where the ferry journey of an hour and a half, takes place every day, sometimes twice a day. The ticket from there was the same cost as for the longer Gythio sailing: 45-euro for our car and another 26-euro for two passengers ($87US) each way.

We were off. . .to an island similar in size to Malta and boasting a population of 4,500 residents living in or near some 64 small villages.  Its shores are washed by three seas: the Ionian, the Aegean and the Libyan. Mountains and valleys rise and fall in the island's center. Its coastline offers a host of beaches that attract sun and sea worshippers, many who take the 45-minute flight from Athens.

Kythera/Kythira island
Between travel writers singing its praises and various friends who’ve remarked about its wonders, we were eager to explore Kythera, (also Kythira), which seems a little orphan from the Ionian island group  to which it belongs – all the rest are to the northwest of the Peloponnese.  This little guy decked out with sugar-cube shaped buildings painted the famous white with blue trim looks a lot like he belongs in the Cyclades island group, further to the east of us.

But as the ferry approached this reputedly gorgeous destination, I started wondering if we were at the right place: two shipwrecks greeted us as did a scattering of buildings that constituted the harbor ‘town’ on the island.  Hmmm. . .an interesting introduction.

PicMonkey Collage
Introduction to Kythera

The island’s history, like so many places in Greece, dates back to the Minoans, through the Myceneans and Phoenicians. In more ‘recent’ history the Venetians dominated from the 13th to the 18th century and the British laid claim from 1815 until 1864.

The British built bridge dates back to the early 1800's
User reviews on Tripadvisor led us to a hotel located on the northeastern side of the island. Our drive from the ferry dock was through high plains type country that looked a lot like Arizona.

When we stopped for afternoon cappucinos in the town of Potamos the island’s enchantments began to emerge. It was quiet as we were there the week after Greek Easter and before the sun-seeking tourists arrived. But the warmth of welcome and the architectural charms were already winning us over.

Potamos town
The hotel we’d chosen – thanks to reviews by previous guests – couldn’t have been better. The Easter weekend tourist crush was over and we nearly had the family-owned Pelagia Aphrodite in the village of Agios Pelagia to ourselves.  From our room and its two balconies we had a view of the sea and the Peloponnese 'finger' from where we had sailed. The price was 85-euros a night which included a full breakfast, with eggs-made-to-order each morning. Honey and homemade jam from the family farm was our favorite!

PicMonkey Collage
Hotel Pelagia Aphrodite

P1070234One evening I was admiring the bouquets of fragrant cut roses that decorated the lobby – they were from the family's farm as well.

When we checked out, there was a rose bush from the farm - a gift -- so that I could  grow my own fragrant rose bouquets (and that was even better than hotel loyalty points!) For you flower buffs out there these roses have 100 petals per bloom, smell heavenly and are used in cooking.

We spent our island time exploring the villages; spending a full day driving from the north end to the south, stopping at uniquely charming places along the way.  We didn’t even start to explore the many beaches that border the island – that  adventure will be for a future trip.

One of our favorite spots was the village of Avlemonas where the rental suites and hotels were still shuttered and only a handful of visitors sipped and supped on the taverna’s terrace overlooking the sea.  It was the type of place that stirs the imagination and I could envision writing a book cloistered away in this place.

Picture-perfect Avlemonas
Speaking of cloistered, there are some 300 churches scattered about the island dating back to the Byzantine era.  Some of them are such architectural wonders that you can’t quite wrap your mind around them, such as the one built into the cliffside overlooking the beach village of Kapsali.

PicMonkey Collage
How does one get here?
If you are wondering – no, we didn’t go explore this one!

Kapsali village
This photo of Kapsali illustrates another myth/reality about travel in Greek islands.  While the tourist brochures always feature blue sky days and wine dark seas, the reality is that clouds and blowing sand from Africa can turn a seascape into a dull gray tone that isn’t as inviting as those postcard perfect scenes. We had one of 'those day's during our visit.

PicMonkey Collage
Hikers take note - this trail leads to water mills
If churches, beaches and exploring Greek villages isn’t your thing, you could always do some hiking on its many trails.  The island has some of the best signed and mapped trails we’ve found on our travels and the island’s tourist map also offers descriptions of them as well.

Agia Pelagia
Then again, it is a perfect place to sit and do absolutely nothing. . . but stare at the sea.

That’s it for this week from The Stone House on the Hill.  As always, we appreciate the time you’ve spent reading our latest ‘ferry’ tale. Hope to see you back here again next week for another dose of something Greek and until then, safe and happy travels to you and yours! 

Linking this week with these writers from around the world.  And most happy that we’ve been featured this week on Best of Weekend – a great collection of travel news, do-it-yourself-projects, home decorator ideas and some great recipes. Do check it and the others out by following the links below:

Monday, April 9, 2018

Life in Greece ~ Running Away from Home

Sometimes these short changes of scenery are called ‘getaways’. Other times ‘road trips’.

Sometimes it is simply an act of ‘running away from home’ adult-style.

Gerolimenas, Peloponnese Greece
Such was the 30-hour escape we had two weeks ago.

There was a break in the schedule of projects and chores at our Stone House on the Hill.  The weather continued to tease with spring then slap us back into winter with another storm. Seeds had been planted but not yet sprouted. We had a window of opportunity. . .

The Stone House on the Hill, The Mani, Greece
And we had been remarking – well, truthfully, I may have snarling --  that we’d moved here as a base for travel and the furthest we’d gotten it seemed in recent weeks was to the hardware store in the neighboring village.

So on a Sunday morning when the fickle weather offered brilliant blue sky to the left and storm clouds to the right, we gathered a change of clothes, our hiking shoes (‘just in case’) put out extra cat food, locked our doors and headed out.

"Our point" in the Peloponnese
The nice thing about the Peloponnese is that something of interest is never very far away. So an escape of 30 hours – as ours was – took us on a very satisfying getaway without much muss or fuss.

We first went south to Gerolimenas for an overnight stay (less than two hours drive time) then across the point and up the east coast next morning (leisurely drive took all morning). Lunch in Githio and back across the point and the trip was done by 3 p.m.

Our Destination: The Hotel Owned by the ‘People from Seattle’

Kyrimi Bed and Breakfast, Gerolimenas, Greece
Yes, while many ‘back there’ think we’ve moved to the ends of the earth, there are a remarkable number of us “Puget Sound folks” in this area of the world.  Among them are Kostas and Linda Kyrimis of West Seattle, owners of the Kyrimi Bed and Breakfast, a small hotel overlooking the harbor in Geroliminas.

PicMonkey Collage
We could have lived in this spacious room at Kyrimi

Our Kirkland, Washington friends who moved to Greece and live down the road from us, tipped us off to the hotel as they have have friends back in Kirkland, who are also friends of Kostas and Linda.

The old phrase ‘timing is everything’ came into play as we arrived as they were packing up and heading out for a flight to Seattle. We had a brief ‘small-world-isn’t-it visit’ and promised to reconnect either here or there later in the year.

We didn’t unpack the hiking shoes – instead, we settled in to storm-watch.

Our deck at Kyrimi Bed and Breakfast, Gerolimenas
It was far too cold and blustery to enjoy our spacious deck so we huddled up inside, venturing out to have dinner next door at the Kyrimai Hotel, that is owned by a relative Alexandros Kyrimis. Both places offer spectacular views of the harbor and the sea.

Kyrimai Hotel, Gerolimenas, Greece
The weather reminded us of winter storm watching on the Pacific Northwest coasts in Washington and Canada’s British Columbia.

Across the Point

The storm had heralded in a blanket of African sand that dimmed the horizon the next morning and our sightseeing was through a hazy sepia colored atmospheric lens.

Off from Gerolimenas, heading south
Along the west coast a bit further south then over the southern end of the Taygetos Mountains to the east coast of ‘our’ point.

Wild flowers brighten a wild-fire sticken area on the east coast 
Through small villages and past an area that had recently been ravaged by a wild fire. . .our blue sky obliterated by the sand.

Gythio, on the east coast of our point
By the time we reached Gythio and our favorite restaurant, 90 Moires, the sand was beginning to drift so the day brightened considerable.  Following a quick stroll on the waterfront, we headed home – we had some chores to do, but by then were ready to do them!

But first we went to the car wash – Hi Ho Silver had gotten a bit dusted!

African dust
We are off again this week on an island getaway. Our chores and projects again in hiatus.  We've never been to the island that seems a stone’s throw from the Peloponnese coast. We’ve been saying we needed to go – now it is time. Next week I’ll tell you about it. Our thanks for being with us and wishes for safe and happy travels!

For those who might be heading this way and want to know more about the hotel run by ‘those people from Seattle’, I am adding this photo: You can reach them in the U.S. by calling 206 938 3348.

Contact information 

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

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

O’ahu, Hawaii ~ Hunting HIdden Gems

Even moving to Greece wasn’t going to change our annual winter migration to our timeshare life on O’ahu, Hawaii. While increasing our commute sizably, it remains an annual journey that is worth the time and effort it now requires.

View from our Ko Olina home
Somehow, in the blink of an eye, ten years have passed since we took the plunge into timeshare life. And it happened right there at the Marriott Vacation Club in the Ko Olina planned development on this island’s west coast.

We’d been among those whose mantra was, “Not us! We aren’t timeshare people!” We’d simply taken the sales pitch offer for a good deal on a few nights stay and to prove to ourselves that we’d never buy a place there. Famous last words. 
It has become our ‘home resort’ – a place where we are guaranteed three weeks of Aloha Life each year.

And ‘home’ has taken on a new meaning since that initial timeshare purchase.

PicMonkey Collage
Our Ko Olina home
Now that we are technically homeless in America, this interval ownership provided as much a U.S. home base as we have these days. I have to admit we looked forward to ‘the familiar’ it promised: shopping at our ‘local’ grocery stores, eating at our favorite restaurants and spending time with our same-time-next-year friends who return to this tropical  ‘neighborhood’ at roughly the same time each year..

Doing it Differently

As nice as that bit of familiar was, our goal this year was to do the island differently. We seldom venture into the big city of Honolulu; gateway to the iconic Diamond Head (which really is quite magical) and Waikiki (which really is over-run with tourists and we avoid it like the plague).

We were doing a treasure hunt of our own design – a search for the island’s Hidden Gems . . .those special lesser-known places and those often frequented by locals but overlooked by visitors such as ourselves.

Our treasure hunt map
I’d promised the Seattle Times travel editor that I could find them and he was expecting an article and photos from me in February featuring them.  The challenge was on:

Research began in December while we were still in Greece.  I contacted friends who’ve lived on the island and asked for their recommendations. I began reading up on the places they suggested. Then, as we traveled about the island and met locals, I told them of my quest and they also had more suggestions of ‘not to miss’ places.

received_10216745011564600_resizedSince I know many of you didn’t see my article I decided that I’d share a few of our finds in today’s blog post.

I can tell you this was one of our best trips to Hawaii – made so by these special places. I know we plan to return to them in future visits..

I don’t have space to write about them all, but among those places we ‘discovered’ were a naval air museum, a centuries hold Hawaiian temple, an eatery and a rum factory.

The Naval Air Museum at Barber’s Point

(91-1299A Midway Street, Bldg. 1792, Kalaeloa Airport, 808-682-3982,

The Scout with Brad Hayes

Signage is limited and they keep the security fences locked so you don’t just drop by the Museum at Kalealoa Airport, formerly the Naval Air Station, on Barbers Point, near Kapeolei on O’ahu’s west coast. You have to schedule your tour in advance.

We chose a weekday morning and ended up having a private tour led by Brad Sekigawa, historian and Brad Hayes, executive director.

It was an amazing, simply, amazing two hours.

Brad Sekigawa, Museum historian
We were able to get up close and personal with airplanes and helicopters, going into some, standing under others, touching, photographing and asking questions. Trucks, tanks and fire trucks as well as helmets and flight gear are on display. Vehicles, aircraft and equipment that saw war duty. Some have been used in movies.

In leiu of an entrance fee donations are: $15 for adults, $10 seniors/military, $8 under 18.. To avoid the intense mid-day sun on the tarmac, booking early morning or late afternoon tours are recommended.

Pu,u O Mahuka Heiau – Hawaiian Temple

(Pu,u O Mahuka Heiau Road, off Pupukea Road [Highway 835], Pupukea, 808-587-0300,

Views from the open air temple
Frankly we were both skeptical as we set out for the Hawaiian temple. 'Ancient', several articles called it. Not ancient compared to Greece, we thought. But, oh my! What it may have lacked in centuries, it made up for in magic. The view of Waimea Bay and the channel between O’ahu and Kaua’i from high atop the hill where the temple was located was breathtaking.

And on the day we visited, we had the island’s largest heiau, ancient Hawaiian temple, to ourselves.

The old temple, several centuries old as a matter of fact, is believed to have been dedicated as a luakini, or sacrificial temple, where ceremonies involving animal or human sacrifices were conducted.

Offerings at the temple
A slight tropical breeze -  maybe the the breath of long-lost rulers - caused goose pimples as we stood on this sacred site.  Entry is free; limited on-site parking.

Manulele Distillers – the Rum makers

(92-1770 Kunia Road, #227, Kunia, 808-649-0830,

Manulele tasting room

So tucked away amidst the sugar cane fields was this small distillery that we drove past it on our first try. Ready to give up, we backtracked our route and were certainly glad we’d persevered. This farm-to-bottle rum distillery is making a name for itself with its production of Ko Hana Hawaiian agricole rum; made from sugar cane, not molasses.

The distillery is surrounded by cane fields that are still hand-harvested. It is housed in what was once the Del Monte (cannery) company store. Several tours are offered daily; adults, 21 and older ($25 per person) and children ($15 for ages 6 – 20, under 6 free). At the tour’s end adults taste rum and youngsters are served gelato.

Tiffany Tubon, assistant manager, explains the types of rum
The distillery’s display garden near the tasting room entry showcases the varieties of heritage cane plants – it was amazing to walk among the varieties of cane that go into the making of this rum.

Kahumana Organic Farm, Café and Retreat Center 

(86-660 Lualualei Homestead Road, Waianae, 808-696-8844,

Kahumana Retreat Center
By far the biggest surprise we had was the meal we ate on our last evening on the island at the cafe in this retreat center.

A late afternoon rain caused us to eat inside the covered patio
It serves as an on-the-job training program and revenue generator for Alternative Structures International, the non-profit organization that operates the retreat center and provides social services for the disadvantaged.

‘Kahumana’ is interpreted as, “Guardian of the Life Forces”, derived from the Hawaiian words ‘kahu’ a spiritual leader, healer, or priest and ‘mana’ life force.

PicMonkey Collage
Our meals were 'broke da mouth' good!
Our entrées, each less than $20, included Macadamia Nut Pesto topped pasta and veggies crowned with grilled Mahi Mahi and a Coconut Dahl lentil chicken curry with rice and fresh vegetables. The Lilikoi (passion fruit) Cheesecake was so good, I forgot to take a photo!

Alcohol is not served but BYOB for adults is fine. Dining reservations recommended.

This one was a perfect dining spot for those staying out on the west coast.  It would be a rather long drive for dinner from Honolulu but they do serve lunch as well.

Kite surfer on the North Shore
Kite surfing beaches, cliff top hikes, coffee and chocolate factories were among the other gems we found.  I’ve already gone far beyond the recommended number of words for blog posts, so will add a link to my article that appeared in The Times for those who’d like to read more.  Thanks, as always, for the time you’ve spent with us on this treasure hunt on O’ahu. The Times travel article.

It is Holy Week, the week before Easter in Greece. Next week, I’ll tell you about how we celebrated it in this village.  Until then, safe travels to you and yours ~

Linking this week with some or all these fine bloggers:

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

Friday, March 23, 2018

In Greece: ‘Come, tell me how you live. . .’*

“It is okay. . .do not worry,” she said her smile reflected in the mirror before us. “It is okay.”

I mustered up a grimace of a smile and squirmed a bit in my chair saying, “Signome (sorry). . . but it is the first time for me.”

“Do not worry. . .” she repeated as she bent over my head, paintbrush in hand and went to work.

Sunset in the village of Kardamyli 
She was correct – I needn’t have worried. My first visit to a beauty salon in Greece turned out to be perfectly fine.  Although for the rest of the day I sported a 'do' that I likened to US newscaster Diane Sawyer's 'do' in the 1980's, the procedures used on me were the same as those of my long-time friend and hairdresser in the States. 

20180313_153655Voula, the hairdresser’s English was limited and my Greek simply a whisper of necessary phrases. A Greek friend had written in my notebook new phrases I might need, like, “I want to look at the colors. . . Mix the colors. . .Highlights.’

I’d pointed to them as Voula offered a reassuring smile and repeated the English phrase, “Do not worry.”

Then it was done. Check. Another ‘first’ in this ex pat life behind me.

Sometimes that little notebook seems to be our cheat sheet to living. It holds phrases, words, names, notes on things like how to order a loaf of bread at the bakery (using Greek words and not pointing) and an oft-used chart of the Greek alphabet and its translation to letters in English.

We've found at times the approach to completing a task is so vastly different from what we knew that we don’t think we’ll ever get the hang of ‘it’ -  whatever ‘it’ happens to be at that particular moment. Other times they are so remarkably similar that we sail through with the greatest of ease and then chuckle at the similarities; much like the hair appointment.

So, how do you live?

During our six-week sojourn back on U.S. soil we were often asked about living in a foreign country –  not deep soul-searching questions like, “How’s your view of the world changed?” or “How have you changed?” but more questions about day-to-day living here in the rural countryside of the Greek Peloponnese. There is a certain curiosity about living differently. So today I'm answering a few of those questions again . . .

* You have a washer and dryer don’t you?

Clothes are hung on the line to dry

Yes, we have a washer: brand new with a multi-page handbook – all in Greek – that undoubtedly tells us all the settings and special things it can do. We don't read Greek so we've pushed the button that makes it run and each load is washed for the same length of time in whatever the temperature the machine was set at when we purchased it. (No longer do I have to worry about delicates vs. normal settings, hot vs. warm water.)

No dryer. Clothes, bedding and towels are hung outside to dry but for a few weeks in deepest, darkest December and early January, when storms and cooler temperatures prevent drying. Summer’s drying time is a couple of hours and other season’s could take a couple of days.

Wash day is determined by the weather – not the amount of dirty clothes. (When necessary, we hang things on the foldup/fold out clothes racks inside.)

*Do you still go to a gym to work out? Are there places near you to walk or jog?

PicMonkey Collage
'Stairmasters' at The Stone House on the Hill

There are exercise facilities in Kalamata, the big city an hour to our north, which makes it too far to go to on a daily basis.  We do get a workout in the yard and olive grove. Numerous articles have been written about exercising in your garden so we think of ours as our garden gym – and being on a hillside provides a natural ‘StairMaster’ workout.

We could ride bikes along the village roads if we were so inclined – we aren’t. And so many paths and walks to be taken in the nearby countryside that we will never get to them all.

*Do you cook at home? Is there a supermarket nearby?

From my kitchen cupboard
Some, we think, believe that every night we eat roasted goat and Greek salads at a seafront taverna. Au contraire!  Since settling in we eat at home most of the time with one or two dinners out a week. 

As evidenced by the items pictured above – all of which I purchased at supermarkets here – we can get a taste of the old life quite easily.(BTW, we prefer the oregano-flavored potato chips sold in Greece.)

What is nice about shopping here is that we can get items like Italian cheeses for a fraction of the cost we’d have paid in the United States. We also have some great fresh Greek cheeses. On the other hand, I paid nearly 7 euros (about $8.50US) for a small jar of Skippy peanut butter. but when you miss peanut butter, you pay the price – and eat it sparingly.

A vegetable garden in the making 
We are testing out our green thumbs this year by expanding our vegetable garden. It isn’t really necessary (thank goodness) as we have municipal markets (think Farmer’s Market) that operate year round in the two cities on either side of us, Kalamata and Areopoli and also have visiting fruit/veggie and fish vendors who sell from their pick ups or vans  and who regularly come through the villages. Sometimes we get lucky and the flower vendor comes through town as well, although we have several nurseries nearby.

PicMonkey Collage
Flower vendor in Platsa

*So do you have water, sewer, garbage like in the States?

We do have ‘city water’ at our house; just not quite sure which village provides the municipal water.  However its high mineral content makes it undrinkable from the tap (just like our timeshare in Scottsdale, AZ) so drinking water comes from the fountains scattered about the villages. We have a septic tank.

We take our garbage to municipal bins located throughout the villages and on the roads between them. From those regular garbage trucks pick up the refuse and deliver it to waste sites. We do have recycling efforts here and bins to separate plastics, paper, metal and glass.

PicMonkey Collage
Getting drinking water and hauling garbage

But ‘making a water or garbage run’ usually is tied into having a cappuccino or a glass of wine so those 'chores' end up being a treat.

Cappuccinos after a garbage run - what a treat!
As the weeks have become months, we find ourselves acclimating to our new routines and ways of doing things.  Like anyone who’s moved to a new home in a new area, we must think a bit more, be a bit more flexible in our approach to doing thing and celebrate each new ‘first’ that is successfully accomplished in our new surroundings.

We’ll be back next week with travel tales and stories of life in Greece.  As always, we appreciate the time you spend with us here and love reading your comments and emails.  Safe travels to you and yours ~

*The title  for today’s post is borrowed from one of my favorite reads: an autobiography written by Agatha Christie Mallowan (the Grand Dame of mystery books) that chronicles her life back in the 1930’s when she and her archaeologist husband, Max, lived at ‘dig sites’ in the Middle East.
It is a small book but a fun read for those who want to live differently or just want to take an armchair getaway to another place and time.

Linking up this week with some or all of these fine folks:
Through My Lens
Our World Tuesday
Wordless Wednesday
Communal Global
Travel Photo Thursday – 
Photo Friday
Weekend Travel Inspiration
Best of Weekend

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


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