Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Lefkada ~ Let the Greek island hop begin!

We must go and see for ourselves.
   -- Jacques Cousteau

As I wrote last week,when we set off on our Greek island-hopping road trip, we ‘knew better'. We knew we’d be part of the tourist masses swarming to the Greek islands in August. In our case we were heading north to Lefkada, (lef-KAH-dah) also known as Lefkas, in the Ionian Sea.

We did find ourselves among throngs of tourists but it wasn’t so bad at all. . .in fact the pulsating, vibrant Lefkada town was just the shot of city life I’d been seeking.

Havana Club - Lefkada town
But if you are in search of quaint Greek fishing boats and blue and white painted tavernas with octopus drying out front, this might not be the place for you.

In our case (as much as we love all-things-Greek) we are discovering that sometimes we need a break from all those Greek things. This town, with its distinctly Caribbean colors and a surprising number of bars offering a Mojito as the drink of the day, gave us that needed change of scenery.

The colors in Lefkada town were invigorating
The place also had a distinct Italian ambiance with a number of stores offering Italian made products – from Murano glass items and Italian leather goods to clothing.  (Its history, like so much of Greece, includes Italian occupation.) The bridge at the lagoon even looked like something right out of Venice – complete with selfie-taking tourists crowding onto it.

Bridge of Sighs - good sighs, that is - Lefkada town
“But, of course” (our favorite catch-phrase in Greece), there were plenty of tourist shops offering all sorts of Greek souvenirs, and plenty of Mediterranean cafes with menus that looked distinctly Greek.

Toe-tapping street musicians entertained nightly
Since most sun-seekers on Lefkada headed to the beach during the day, we had plenty of walking and shopping space in which to explore the town of some 9,000 residents. Then when evening rolled around the city’s pulse quickened as tourists and locals turned out in force and there was a street party feel everywhere we went.

(And we did stroll because most of the main streets in the historic center of town were closed to vehicular traffic in the evenings – a very nice and wise touch!)

PicMonkey Collage
Captivating carousel - Lefkada town
A musical group entertained near one plaza while a few blocks away, a merry-go-round that reminded us of one we’d seen in Florence, Italy enchanted kids of all ages.

Earthquake Memories!

Corrugated metal siding - Lefkada town
Lefkada island suffered damage back in the1953 Ionian Earthquake that leveled the capital city of nearby Zakynthos island and literally raised the island of Kefalonia 24 inches, according to accounts of the catastrophic event.

Sidewalls of metal to protect against earthquake damage - Lefkada town
So many of the wooden homes in the heart of – now, ‘historic’ – Lefkada town were damaged in the quake that as a safeguard against future seismic activity wood-sided homes and businesses now sport corrugated metal siding which only added to the Caribbean look and feel of the place.

But why Lefkada? A Room With a View

As the The Scout  was plotting out where our summer travels might take us, he happened upon a hotel in Lefkada, the Hotel Boschetto. The more we read about it, the more we wanted to stay there. And to stay there, we had to go to the island! (That is sometimes how easy our travel destination selection can be.)

Hotel Boschetto - Lefkada town
Boschetto, we were told by one of two Greek brothers who own the place, is Italian for ‘small garden’ and was once the name of the area in which the hotel is located. All that remains today is a small fenced the garden in front of the hotel, which is housed in a building that once sold oil from its street level and upper floors served as the home of Anthonis Tzevelekis, a well-liked civic leader and founder of the island’s popular summer folklore festival.

The International Folklore Festival of Lefkada has grown so large that if you plan to attend, reservations for hotels must be secured months in advance.

PicMonkey Collage
A room to remember at Hotel Boschetto - Lefkada town 
We booked the Junior Suite at the very top of the building for a rate of 145 euros a night. Each morning a waitress from the restaurant below brought coffee to our room and then we dined on a full  breakfast (included in the room rate) on the street level.

For those of you who like to compare prices, the rate is equivalent to $168US. To put the price in perspective a room with sitting area at the Fairfield Inn in my hometown of Yakima WA costs $204 a night in August – and offers a parking lot view, serve yourself continental breakfast and no room service.

Evening in August in Lefkada
The hotel which has been in operation for two decades really was the pull to get to get us to Lefkada. It is definitely a reason to return to the island that sits off the west coast of mainland Greece in the Ionian Sea.

And we will need to return as two full days didn’t give us enough time to visit the traditional Greek villages tucked away in the mountains nor to explore the many beaches that ring the island.

If you missed the part about how we got here; here’s last week’s post: Island hopping road trip

Our next stop is the island of Zakynthos, or by its Italian name, Zante, to the south. Hope you’ll join us next week when we tell you how we made lemonade out of a lemon of a stop there.

Thanks as always for the time you spent with us today and until we are together again, safe travels to you and yours ~

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

Sunday, August 12, 2018

Island-hopping ~ A Road Trip in Greece

The journey, not the arrival, matters.
     -- T.S. Eliot

On the road in the Peloponnese

We’ll I just might disagree with Mr. Eliot on that statement after taking a rather posterior-numbing road trip to a Greek island last week.  The arrival was joyous, as after 6.5 hours in the car, it had seemed a long time coming. Especially when the travel time was estimated to be much less.

But the unknowns such as real travel time are what make road trips around here fun and interesting!

Despite the fact that ‘all of Europe travels in August’ (or so we’ve been told) we chose to set out on August 1st. We were living in Europe now and as the old saying goes, ‘when in Rome do as the Romans do. . .’

See the source image
We headed north from the Peloponnese
We live south of Kalamata in the dark green region shown on the map above. The Scout had selected the island of Lefkada, (the dark turquoise island to the left of the Peloponnese) as our first stop.

While I usually just tell you about where we’ve ended up, I thought today you might like to join us on the journey itself. So hop in and buckle up: you are supposed to wear seatbelts in Greece.

Hi Ho Silver and Away. . .

Lefkada is part of the Ionian island group (named for the sea in which they are located). The better known island of Corfu – thanks to cruise ships stops – is further north. While Americans it seems have yet to discover the wonders of the other islands in the group, I can assure you they are magnets for European and Asian visitors.

Each is distinguished by its stunning beaches, charming towns are alive with shops, restaurants, tavernas and lounges and more remote villages still provide a touch of old-time Greece.

Onions anyone?
Just beyond Kalamata we headed west to follow the coastline north. Our route cut through agricultural country. It is harvest time in this area of Greece so passing trucks laden with onions or watermelons and fruit stands lining the road were not uncommon sights.

PicMonkey Collage
Pumpkins and gourds for sale
We were heading to Patras, the largest city in the Peloponnese, located on its very northern tip. There we would cross the Patraikos Gulf/Gulf of Corinth and continue north for another 2.5 hours, our route hugging coastlines, cutting through hills.

Always travel with a 'map in the lap'
To reach the mainland of Greece on this route, you cross the Rio–Antirrio Bridge. At 1.8 miles long it is the world’s longest multi-span cable-stayed bridge. It links the town of Rio on the Peloponnese to Antirrio on mainland Greece.

Approaching the bridge from Patras
It is absolutely stunning as you approach it, and it is simply breath-taking as you drive across it.

Crossing the bridge is a treat
For those who want to know more about the bridge’s construction, click this link.It is a toll bridge, the cost to cross each way is just under 14-euro.

Then on to experience another feat of construction in this area a few kilometers to the northwest: a tunnel that is nearly 3-kilometers long and that cuts through an entire hill. It is so long they offer a customer service stop and list radio stations on which to get emergency information should something happen in the tunnel. (Not my favorite part of the trip!)

PicMonkey Collage
Will there be a light at the end of the tunnel?
Our journey north took us past a massive lake, through pine forests, past barren, craggy hillsides and through delightful towns – the kind that you make a note, saying you’d like to know more about – and for many miles/kilometers we hugged the Ionian Sea.

Along the sea our route took us

Driving in Greece

A number of you’ve indicated you plan to visit Greece and many have asked or commented on driving.  So here’s just a bit of information for you folks:

The roads vary dramatically.  For some distance you might find yourself on a two-lane road, the type shown in the first photo.  The mainland and Peloponnese are also laced with an increasing network of divided, four-lane highways – these are toll roads and you’ll pay amounts ranging from 1 - 3+ euros at regular intervals to drive on them.

Not for the faint of heart or timid drivers
One of the more interesting road types – we first encountered this in Crete – is what we call 'that other kind of road’ which is still two lanes of traffic but also wide shoulders so you simply drive over the outside line and let others pass as they care to chance it.

A Word to the Wise:  This year the Greek government passed a law requiring International Driver’s licenses (permits) in order to rent a car. Travel chat sites and FB have been filled with debate on whether they are really needed or not – some companies yes, others no.

While the rental car companies may not ask for them, believe us (first hand experience) if the police pull you over for a random check of your car’s paperwork – they will want to see the permit.
In addition to the car's registration and insurance papers, the police wanted to see the driver's international permit. For Americans, they are easily obtained from the AAA auto club office near you in most large cities.

Island ahead. . .
As the afternoon was coming to a close we found ourselves on the causeway that links Lefkada island to the mainland. And next week I’ll show you some of the surprises we found here. Hope you’ll be back and until then, safe travels to you and yours! Thanks for joining us today~

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

Monday, July 30, 2018

Moving from ‘The Morgue’ to Manson

‘Change is the only constant in life.’
-- Heraclitus

Was it only last July that we turned our lives upside down by deciding to sell our U.S. home and live full-time in Greece?

Was it only last year that I showed you photos of our ‘summer of slogging’ and made jokes about living out of that corrugated metal storage unit we’d rented in the Seattle suburb?

Filling up the Storage Unit - July 2017

One Year Later. . .

The Stone House on the Hill - far right
Settled in to our Stone House on the Hill in Greece’s Peloponnese, we are comfortably adjusting to and enjoying expat life. That is, with the one exception I told you about last week:
being homeless’ in America.

Having no address to call our own, coupled with ‘living out of the storage’ unit (as I had quipped last summer) wasn’t working. That fact became real clear after our visit in the Northwest last January.

We got rid of one temporary address during that visit. Our friend's graciously loaned us another. Our visits to the storage unit were bleak. Seeing our life’s accumulations – the stuff special enough to have kept -- stuffed into stack and piles, boxes and bags was nothing short of depressing.  We began calling it ‘the morgue’. It made us feel dead. We knew it was time to regroup.

Time for change -

‘And suddenly you know;
It’s time to start something new
and trust in the magic of beginnings.
  -- Meister Eckhart

So for the past few months, while I’ve been telling you of the wonders of Greece, we have been conducting a long distance search for a ‘seasonal home’ back in the States. (We would have once called it a ‘second home’ or ‘vacation home’ but the industry jargon has changed over the years.)

With no immediate plans to give up full-time residency in Greece, we needed a place for our belongings and a place to stay when we go back to visit. Someday perhaps it would serve as a full-time home when health, age, or immigration rules (or a combination of them) prompts us to leave Greece.

In keeping with our downsizing philosophy, we set out to buy a condo in the same Seattle suburb we’d left last year. Unfortunately for us, it is the suburb that continues to make headlines as being one of the hottest (high prices and selling quickly) housing markets in the nation.

With condo’s selling within five days of listing, we picked up our pace. If a ‘possible place’ came across the screen, we’d contact good friends back there, asking them to drop what they were doing to race out and see it. They’d report back and with the time differences, we’d have about 48 hours in which to make an offer. We went for two and lost out. The market was limited and the list prices the baseline for a bidding war.

The process got real tedious. It was time to expand the search:

Our old home was Kirkland, just north of Bellevue, a Seattle suburb
We opted to stay within Washington State boundaries. And in a quirky turn of events we came across a place we’d looked at and liked last summer. Back then the owner wasn’t ready to sell and we weren’t ready to buy.

Now she wanted to sell. We were ready to buy.

New adventures. . .of sorts!

We're heading to Manson, Washington, an unincorporated town in Central Washington nestled on the shores of Lake Chelan.

Manson and Wapato Point on Washington's Lake Chelan
The 55-mile long, glacier-fed lake has long been a popular tourist destination and the photo above shows the portion of Lake Chelan where Manson is located. For those who know the area, that is Wapato Point jutting down (towards the bottom of the photo).

A portion of Lake Chelan from the town of Chelan - Cascade Mountain range
The house will be new beginning for The Scribe and a return to his roots for The Scout (after a many-decades absence), as Manson is eight miles from Chelan where he was born and raised.

A portion of Lake Chelan from The Butte
The hillsides surrounding the lake were once carpeted with apple orchards, however, as the Washington State wine industry has exploded, many of those orchards have been replaced with vineyards – acres and acres of vineyards.

PicMonkey Collage
Manson Washington - apple orchards and vineyards

The vineyards have given rise to wineries, and the wineries have opened tasting rooms. New seasonal festivals related to the wine industry now fill tourism event calendars for this part of Central Washington.

Benson Vineyards - Chelan Washington
Our new U.S. base will be about four hours drive from our former home in the Seattle suburbs.

The similarities are many between our Greek and new U.S. home. In many ways it will be village life, as it is village life here. The main thoroughfares are two-lane roads. Agriculture and tourism blend to keep the areas vibrant. Much like our Agios Nikolaos, Manson village has a few restaurants, a grocery store, and bars. It does have a post office.

Wenatchee, like Kalamata is here, will be the hub for major shopping, health care and each city has a regional airport. Both are about an hour's drive away.

Our new U.S. home, is walking distance to the village and to the lake. We’ll be surrounded by vineyards and wineries.How much better a location could we have found?!

Surrounded by wineries - a perfect location
Thanks to the internet and Skype, the purchase process, completed during the month of July, was carried out quite easily despite being 8,000 miles and 10-hours time difference away.

Our airline tickets back have been purchased, a moving company has been hired, we are synchronized to move ourselves out of ‘the morgue’ and to Manson this fall.  It took three months last summer to get us moved out of our old life and we’ve scheduled three weeks this fall to get us moved into the new.  I’m certain with all the offers of help we’ve received from friends and with a bit of that Chelan area wine – we’ll be able to pull it off.

Oh. . .did you want to see the house? Well, here it is:
Our new home in Manson
It’s one level (like they recommend for boomers) and its in a gated community – so will be a secure place to leave our belongings. Unlike our Stone House on the Hill in Greece, we have no water views, but we will be able to see a portion of the Washington Cascade Mountain range from our front deck:

Our front porch
So with the purchase ‘done and dusted’ last Wednesday evening (as our British friends would say), we toasted the fact that we have a US address again and that we can now get back to the business of enjoying Greece.

A toast to a new address
The Scout has been busy planning a Greek road trip for us, that involves some more Greek island hopping!  And they might be some islands that many of you’ve never heard of. . . I’ll tell you about them soon!

Thanks for being with us as we travel this ex pat world! Safe travels to you and yours ~

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

Thursday, July 26, 2018

Expats in Greece: Among America’s Homeless

‘There is nothing like staying at home for real comfort.’
                   - Jane Austin

Looking back - Kardamyli Harbor

Looking back I am not sure when the realization hit, but there’s certainly no doubt about it: by choosing to become full-time ex pats of the sort we are, we’d become part of America’s homeless population. We’d chosen to severe all traditional ties to the Mother Ship.

Now before you start sputtering, but that’s not real homelessness, the kind of which headlines shout . . .let me tell you that it very much is homelessness – just of a different kind. Headlines aren’t interested in this kind of homelessness even though thousands of ex pats -- not just American ex pats -- experience some version of it.

A homeless boat out of water - Kitries, Greece
This kind of homelessness is brought about by choice. And with its pleasures comes its problems as well. And I have to admit that when we ex pats get together we often entertain ourselves with tales of the latest challenges and how similar they are no matter from which country we hail. Today I thought I’d tell you a few of those tales. . .

‘Just for the record darling,
not all positive change feels positive in the beginning.’
-- S. C. Lourie

How difficult could it be?

That was what we asked ourselves last summer as we put our Pacific Northwest home of 30-years up for sale. We’d spent a lot of effort to obtain our Greek residency permits. We’d also spent a lot of time here over the last few years before deciding to live full-time under the Mediterranean sun.

How difficult could it be to pull up stakes and try something new for a full-time while?

Step One: pack up old life
So having squished our belongings  into a metal storage unit on an upper floor of a factory-sized building in a Seattle suburb last October, we headed to Greece.
No U.S. home. No U.S. residential address. No U.S. phone.

‘Be brave. Take risks. Nothing can substitute for experience.’
-- Paolo Coelho

Your Address Please?

For those of you reading this in the U.S. let’s begin with a question:

Kardamyli kiosk: the village business center

How many times in the last week have you contacted some firm, service provider, health care provider, financial institution, store or other-keeper-of-your-information and been asked to ’verify the home address associated with this account’ in order to get any closer to reaching the person or information you were seeking?

While we no longer have a residential address, we certainly do have need to stay in touch with many of the agencies and firms listed above. And therein lies a problem. . .at times.

Our address is Agios Dimitrios, mail comes to Agios Nikolaos

Ahh, but being the wily sorts we are, we’d rented one of those private mailboxes that offered a choice of ‘box’, ‘apartment’ or ‘suite’ numbers before we left the country. We cleverly picked apartment and thought we’d mastered the ‘game of address’. The first call to a credit card company to register the new address dashed that hope – in a nano-second they knew it wasn’t a residence!

That same private mail service failed us within the first two months of using it by losing dated material, haphazardly forwarding items and as a grand finale forwarding  mail to us addressed to someone else.  Thankfully last January friends stepped in letting us use their home address and forwarding our mail regularly.

So while we have no ‘real’ address we are up to three ‘maybe’ addresses: our old home, the ‘fake home’ mailing service or our friend’s address? Which one did we put on which account? Did we change it. . . if so to what?  It has resulted in some convoluted conversations on this end. If  it involves an automated answering machine, we kiss the conversation goodbye at the start.

We get our mail in Agios Nikolaos but technically our home is in Platsa, another village

Sometimes we have simply given our Greek address which really puts things in a tale spin as we don’t have a house number or road name, but a very long address all the same. Bottom line, as many of you know, we pick up mail at the village café.

In a couple of cases that Greek address has done nothing more than to label us as ‘a foreign address’ and let me tell you red flags fly high when you are labeled with that!

As an example, we sold some investments in one of our accounts and wondered why the proceeds were kept in a holding account and not deposited to our cash account. All transactions were within the same firm we've used for nearly 40 years.  When we called and asked why it was still in a ‘holding’ account we were informed that it couldn’t be deposited as they don’t deposit money from 'foreign' sources. (The money was earned in the US, saved in the US and never left the US. . .Ah ha. . . but "we"  did!
A fork in the road - which one to use?

Phone number – but which one!

We went from no phone to more phone numbers than we know what to do with. And most of  them don’t help at all when dealing with American financial or health institutions or retail outlets.
We’ve got a mobile phone number that we pay for month-to-month and activate when we are in the U.S.

A few weeks ago we purchased a Skype number with our old US area code that we give to businesses/agencies in the U.S. in case they need to reach us. . .but we quickly add, 'it's a local number for you, but we are 10 hours ahead of you, so keep that in mind if you call’.

For several years, we've had a Greek mobile phone that we use in Greece.  (And that Greek number doesn’t fit on any US forms.)

Even the simple things. . .

Google Gods know where I live and when my birthday is. . .
Let me tell you – I love and Book Depository, an on-line book vendor also located in the United Kingdom. They don’t balk at our crazy-long Greek address that isn’t really an address and our Greek phone number fits perfectly in their forms.

However, if I try to shop on line stores back in the States (I do that in advance of our return trips back to the U.S)  the Google Gods know where I am now when I am ordering and retail sites like Macy’s and Chico’s come up with my Greek zip code and all items show up in euro, not dollar, prices. A pop up on each site offers deals on shipping and customs charges to Greece from the U.S. (I go in and manually change location and currency).

Village home in Kardamyli

While the pleasures of being homeless in America – by choice - still outweigh the problems, the reality is that while the acclimating to Greece has been great, the American homeless part has been a challenge.  Not insurmountable, but often-times not for the thin-skinned or faint-of-heart either.  It is something to keep in mind if seriously considering a stab at being an ex pat.

Our type of chosen ‘homelessness’ has made us much more empathetic to the real homelessness that exists in the world.  Just as our experiences with the immigration processes has made us far more sympathetic towards those seeking residency in other countries – not by choice as we did, but by circumstances beyond their control.

P1040949 (2)
A storage unit that feels like a morgue back in the States
And it hasn’t been our intention to be homeless in America forever.  Living out of that storage unit and a hotel room on our trip through the Northwest last winter didn’t cut it. We are taking steps to change that. . .and if you want to know where those steps are leading, you’ll just have to join us here next week to find out!

Thanks for the time you’ve spent with us today as we looked at ex pat life from a slightly different perspective.  Safe travels to you and yours ~

Linking this week with:

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

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Expat Life: My Big Fat Greek Birthday!

The longer I live, the more beautiful life becomes.
--Frank Lloyd Wright

Sunset - The Stone House on the Hill
Some birthdays are bigger than others. And some birthdays are better than others.

My 65th birthday, celebrated in Greece on Monday, was one that will be remembered as being both bigger and better. Let me tell you why. . .

Why Bigger?

Age is a bad traveling companion.
-- Proverb

Hundred year old olive trees
There’s no denying it, 65 sounds old.  By most measures in today’s world, it IS old. Well, maybe not compared to olive trees here in the Peloponnese or Greece itself, but still. . .

Speeding towards Hydra island a few weeks ago

It is an age that comes with constant reminders of how fast one is speeding towards ‘the ultimate finish line’. About six months ago the first 'red flags'; the paperwork and forms began arriving to apply for retirement. In other words, I took the first steps towards becoming. . .ahem. . .a ‘pensioner’.  How can that be?!?! (The good news is that next month my first 'pension' payment will be deposited into my bank account.)

Our last forwarded mail packet included a letter from the U.S. government. Inside was my Medicare card. . .the U.S. government’s mandatory health-care program for senior citizens. The directions said to put it in my wallet and never leave home without it. Thus,I am now a card-carrying old person as the card I carry identifies me as a Medicare recipient! (BTW, it doesn’t cover U.S. citizens outside the country.)

A contemplative moment on Kefalonia island
With all those red flags of advancing age, a vagabond like me starts thinking differently about travel. I found myself one day last week calculating how few years I/we likely have left for travel and how many trips could reasonably be fit into those years. ( I didn’t like those numbers, so quickly quit thinking about it.)

Bottom line: No longer is the world at my/our feet, just waiting to be explored on future travels, someday.  Now, I am thinking of travel planning as a race against time:

 'Let’s go (or do) while we are still able.'
'We can’t keep putting off (certain activity or outing); we need to do it while we still have hips and knees that work.'
'Let’s save that for when we are really old gummers.'

Travel and change of place impart new vigor to the mind.
-- Seneca, 4 BC Cordoba, Spain – 65 AD Rome, Italy

In recent years we’ve forgone those wrapped birthday gifts choosing instead a ‘birthday trip’ (what would you expect from travelers like us, right?)  A mid-July birthday falls in the height of travel season and the height of high temperatures, so we’ve learned to delay my trips to a more tolerable time of year. On the other hand, why put off travel even for a month or so? Perhaps we should go somewhere soon. . .

Gerolimeneas harbor - Peloponesse

Why Better?

'Aging is an extraordinary process where you become the person you always should have been.'
-- David Bowie

The Stone House on the Hill - July 16th, 2018
So here I am, now living as an expat in Greece, thousands of miles from the world in which I’ve always celebrated my birthdays.  What to do?

Well, I decided to celebrate as I had planned to do a few years back.

[Back story for those of you new to the blog: We came to Greece to purchase our home in July 2014. Closing was set for the day before my birthday. I’d planned to celebrate the new home and the birthday at some Greek taverna, flinging my napkin and shouting, 'Opa!'. The deal fell through. We spend the birthday bouncing between the bank and hotel room, wiring our funds back to the U.S. Not the celebration I'd envisioned. Fast forward. . .]

So . . .I finally had that party at a Greek taverna. . .at the edge of the sea. . .within walking distance of our home.

Voulimeneas taverna overlooks this beach
And how glad I am that fate had forced me to wait because. . .

Let the party begin
. . .by now we know the tavernas in our area and I could pick one that holds a special spot in our hearts.  The family that runs the place have taken us (and every other expat they know here) under their wings and made us welcome, have helped us in times of need and who simply make us feel like part of their family.

The setting was perfect. . .Elena made sure everything else was as well
“Tell me how many people. Tell me what food you want. Do not worry.”  Elena said to me. It was that simple.

PicMonkey Collage
Bouquets came from my own Greek garden
. . .and now I have a garden so I could make my own table decorations using olive branches, sage, mint, geranium and rosemary cuttings mixed with bougainvillea and lantana blooms.

The Scout picked the lemons from our tree and I made the cake
. . .we could harvest lemons from our tree and I could make myself a lemon birthday cake.

PicMonkey Collage
Friends and neighbors helped ease me into 65
. . .and I could surround myself with friends and neighbors who make up my new world. Some who are new to our ex pat world and others who've helped us over the hurdles we've encountered along the way - some who've known us since before the house purchase. All who've enriched our expat experience.

Sunset from Voulimeneas taverna
And I concluded as the day came to an end:

Age is irrelevant. Ask me how many sunsets I’ve seen, hearts I’ve loved, trips I’ve taken,
or concerts I’ve been t. That’s how old I am.”
-- Joelle

That’s it for this week. Wish I could have invited you all to join us – what a party that would have been!  But we do hope that where ever your travels – in real life or armchair – take you this week that you will find a reason to celebrate something.  Fling a napkin into the air and shout, ‘Opa!’ – you’ll feel 10 years younger, I guarantee it!

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


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