987-992: Kalamata Based House Number 2

987 – Thursday 15th February 2018:  House Move

After 8 lovely days in Dimitros’ family home, we moved on to our second AirbNB – a total of 4 hours travelling (including comfort stops) in convoy, we drove through heavy mist, rain and sleet!  We had planned to visit Mystras on the way, but with the weather we aborted.  So a longish lunch it was near the marina in Kalamata … what else is one supposed to do in the rain?  
Our Southampton based AirBnB hostess had messaged that her father was in Athens hospital, who normally does the check in so, Lily, a family friend would meet us in Kalamata.   The designated spot was outside the bus station … no where for Jez to park there, so we had to tell Lily where to find us.  
Met Lily with her limited English and our non existent Greek.  She told K she would drive very slowly for us to follow.  And she did …  she guided us (me in Jez and K in Kitty) very slowly through Kalamata environs; so slowly that our 3 vehicle convoy was beeped – several times!  And thence via a narrow roads to our house.
Then the fun began…….  Our hosts (Lily and an uncle who has chickens on the property) wanted me to drive Jez into the driveway – narrow – no way at all!!!  But we were assured they were experience in getting vehicles in the tight turn.  K assured them that we were expert at knowing when our expensive motorhome would not fit!  Nothing daunted, our host hopped into the van and in fluent Greek and NVC said “there’s loads of other parking places”!  Off we went via narrower ‘boreens’ (Irish for little lanes) brushing past olive trees, muddy puddles – to a z bend with a steep ramp….. I paled and shook my head – but the neighbouring gent guided me down very slowly to a nice clear parking with room to manoeuvre. Sighs of relief all round and back to our new ‘kooky’ house – with huge deck and outside seating areas. Next – pre-prandial drinkies……. we had partaken of luncheon in Kalamata so no evening repast…… BBC TV news (a Bonus) and zzzzzzs quite early…..

988 – Friday 16th February:  Mystras 

A late start – we ran for quite short runs – great to be out though…….  departed at 11:00 for Mystras with me driving.  SatNav said 1 hour – actually 2 hours via mountain Z bends, gorges, rock tunnels, snow and stunning views…
Picnic in the car – Spanish Omelette using the fresh eggs we were given by the uncle.
The Mystras Byzantine site is amazing.  A whole town – we walked a lot and visited the monasteries (one still in use with 6 nuns and very fine frescoes) – Oscar stayed in the car in the shade.  We thought this would be one of Greece’s special places and it was.  Great photos too…
Rally driver K raced us back along the same mountain roads in just over 1 hour!!!  A Bulgarian Ford Transit in front wandered all over the road until we got past eventually…  Lidl shop and chill down evening – do we have any other kind?  No.
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Up over the hills to Mystras … snow ploughs had pushed the snow to the roadsides, thankfully.
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An even slower drive had we been in a motorhome!
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989 – Saturday 17th February:  The Mani – Stoupa and Ag Nikolaos

Katherine drive out to Stoupa and I back (K slept off a litre of wine (why not?). K:  I did share a little!   Stoupa we had missed on last drive down the Mani.  Stoupa as fellow motorhomer Dave is thinking, it may be an ‘investigate further place’ for a possible purchase … so it seemed worth looking at.  Bay with sand and lovely coffee spot.
Then onto Ag Nikolaos, which we had been to before (wild camped in the car park) … lunch in restaurant recommended by guide book … fish – nice enough but over priced for what we had and not the quality we had had in the fish restaurant near Napflio.
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Stoupa:  one of the best sandy beaches.
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 Crowing / Barking from the roof tops.
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Stoupa – a stunning bay.
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Despite holding the ladder that was rocking precariously and saving the restaurant staff member from certain death, we still felt lunch was over priced.
990 – Sunday 18th February:  Petalidi
We wanted an easy day … coffee (although some people had beer!) down the other coast … could just see the hills of the Mani with snow.
Back at house to use the washing machine, soup for lunch and Grumps found a black and white Western to watch in English with Greek subtitles.

IMG 0106 Petalidi:  quite ordinary but nice for all that.  And lovely to sit in the sun.

991 – Monday 19th February:  Kalamata Lunch
Wet wet wet!  We’d wanted to visit a supermarket, but they were shut … despite checking online and not seeing anything, it was clearly a Bank Holiday with kids off school.  We looked at Kalamata church.  Nothing remarkable.  The advertised (brown tourist signs) old town lacks any charm.  Many of the old town restaurants were shut … back to the front by Marina, where we’ve already eaten twice.  James and Mum watched a Greek Dancing display … Mum then ‘fessed up.  For some unknown reason, her girls’ school made the inmates do Greek dancing, robed in short dresses made from yellow parachute material and matching died yellow bigus knickers.  Lunch in same restaurant; the waiter recognised us from a few days ago and found us a table as everywhere was reserved.
Another b&w western back at the house.  And another evening of card games … won’t say who won!
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Outside Kalamata Cathedral … bust of previous Bishops, but there are gaps in years … were the missing Bishops not revered?  What had they done?
992 – Tuesday 20th February:  Final Day
Packed up and cleaned the house.  Jez had been residing unmoving at a neighbour’s house … down a semi dirt, semi tarmac track.  It had rained all day yesterday and over night.  We were mildly concerned that we would fail to get Jez back up.  With Traction Control ON, James gunned and slithered Jez up the slope, having also scattered gravel everywhere outside the house!
We used the motorway to Athens, as the sat nav wanted 9+ hours if we did not use them, instead of 3.5!  Rafina is a small port town, just west of  the airport so handy for a final lunch.  The waiter gave us a gift of garlic, chickpea and semolina sauce; tasty on J’s meatballs and chips with no sauce.  He also confirmed how they cook the beans with spinach that Mum and I had become rather partial to.
Airport drop off and then we overnighted in Porto Rafti, which we’d investigated when we’d had the hire car.
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Beach front parking at Porto Rafti.
Oscar’s Diary
Still in Grease folks – I think – but it’s all GrekoPaloma to me…  new doggy food – which my kind owners didn’t check out properly… it doesn’t fit in my daily planet eatery – the biscuits are too big. K: a plastic toy Oscar has to work with his snout to get biscuits to fall out of.  Never mind eh – that’s wot Katherine says (a lot).  Now then, I’ve discovered a new toy – it’s small and furry and squeaks a lot – very odd – but nicer than chickens (I was in awful bother when I inadvertently sort of deceased one some time ago).  Deceased chickens turn up for lunch but this one didn’t….  Anyway this new furry toy is called a cat, I believe – jolly little things – see photos below.  I have gotten as far as a quick sniff up the old ‘youknowwhat’ – more to come, eh? Some say they can scratch and cause K9 nose bleeds – me? I don’t believe it – I can hold my own with any furrier or catterie. Diane and Grahame came to stay – odd – Grahame runs away from me – but he’s getting braver – now he stays in the same room at least…bet I could do him in a carpet playfight… Diane gives me treats – I pretend to be a roof – sorry, aloof – hoping she’ll find more food… They’re ok really – the Raged Ts.  K says they are always on holiday – like us I suppose….  We’re off to Greete soon – a place for people called Greetians.  I wonder if that’s where they make Gretian 2000?  But I don’t use hair dye – K does – and J pretends not to – yeah, right….. (Lumme, I sound like a teenager).  Anyway, after that we will travel to Sandemonia and Gulfairia (K: Macedonia and Bulgaria!  Really Oscar!)  where I will meet Daisy and Pepper (doggy friends) – and San with Boxershorts – lovely people whom we came across in Elea wild camping spot – their uncle Bulgaria comes from Wimbledon (I wonder if he plays tennis?).
All for now – must go – Grahame needs some more training – happy to oblige, old son…..
Jaysus – oops, Jassus (Greek, you know).

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961-964: Mani Peninsular

962 – Sunday 21st January 2018:  A Splendid but Solitary Walk
Late arising at our Kalamata bivouac…so no run or showers – it’s only been 3 weeks – oops – 3 days since our last shower! Hands up those motorhomers who shower every day – OK, no hands show?  Good!  The nice marina security man helped us to fill with water.  To Kardamili – I was still nursing the ‘boycold’ so I reclined and K+O walked to the castle, museum and gorge – see the wonderful views….
Overnight at Ag Nikolaos – on the beach (again) – lovely picturesque harbour.  Would have been a good dinner out spot, but not much point when poorly.  The dry day became a wine day – purely medicinal!  A kooky bar with lots of good chat and OscarSociety admirers….. 
Kardamyli:  The lair of the Troupakis family.  The Tower house hamlet turned museum.  Info in English explained how the Maniot families were loyal to blood rather than community.  Feuds would last years.  Local prisons has to keep them apart in separate wings. Feuding was generally over the inadequate land – the mountain range down the spine of the peninsular falls to a narrow strip before the sea cliffs.
Relief stone of the family from the tower 1787.

The Towers were built and maintained by the extended families.  Towers grew in height so the feuding families could catapult the neighbouring ones. Cease fires during crop harvesting and women were not targetted.  As a result of these battles the peninsula was never completely subjugated under foreign rule.

The Mani hamlets had their own olive presses (this was the main income generator of the area until tourism) and this one had a forge.
The Tomb Of Dioskourroi:  2-3BC.  A twin tomb carved into the rock.
Fab views of a fab coastline.
The hamlets’ roof tiles were made of local clay.

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Ag. Nikolaos:  Our overnight carpark … think Jez is having an identity crisis and wants to float on water.
Ag Nikolaos is described as Outer Mani’s most photogenic harbour … we’d agree.

963 – Monday 22nd January:  Going Under and South

Am – K ran and I walked Oscardog….onto Aereopoli for a walk and coffee – a chill and bracing wind – hot coffee and cake.  Former stronghold of one of the feuding Mani families, but here that the Maniot uprising against the Turks was declared.  
Pyrgos Dirou Caves. One of largest and most colourful in Greece.  Boat ride – how low can we go?  No hard hats – we were bobbing up and down all the time, folded in half – but it rivals the Potsdjayna Caves in Slovenia – of 2+ years ago…the colours are quite stunning. Oscar waited patiently (?) in Jez…..
Fabulous drive down the coast to the most southerly point of mainland Greece – remote and – yes – very quiet….hunkered down for the evening.  No light pollution so again amazing stars.
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Areopoli: Another feuding family stronghold, but was renamed after the war of independence as this is where the Maniots united and declared war on the Turks.

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The bell tower of the Taxiarchon is the highest in the Mani.
IMG 9637The wind was seriously biting, so we sheltered for coffee and a shared orange cake.
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Dirou Caves … wow as soon as you enter.  A 20 min boat ride followed by a walk.  We had the caves to ourselves.  If only the chap punting us had broken into “Just one cornetto!”
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The caves were known about from 1900, but not systematically explored until 1949.  Now routes of 14,700 metres have been charted.  The tourist route is 1500m, the first 1200 being by boat.  The grand opening of the caves was in 1967 after 6 years of work, including linking the natural caverns with tunnels.
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P1150735Vatheia on our route south:  dramatic location with deserted and restored Tower Houses.

Cape Tenaro: as far south as you can go.  This is the chapel of Asomati constructed from the stones of an ancient temple of Poseidon.
Our spot … our bottom to the wind with seaward views.
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As the eldest of 3, I had to share this with my parents and sibblings … my sister’s answer is unprintable!!   She said something that rymes with “Rollox”!!! 

 964 – Tuesday 23rd January:  The Furthest Point

How long can I drag out this ‘boyschilly’ thing?  In boarding school, I would have been turfed out of Matron’s bedrest room…the boys loved to be ‘turfed’ by Matron….make of that what you will!  Her bedside manner was – appealing – nothing to do with her big b**b**s, at all…  Back to the script before I get smacked around the gillies for being ‘off-topic’…   K did her pilates early while Oscar watched from a tethered position – he does like to join in – especially for the ‘horizontal round-the-tummy’ position – (so do I).  The views from our overnight are quite something, again…  We broke bread and walked to the most southerly point in the mainland – lighthouse – where we had the obligatory ‘selfie’.   A cave nearby is another mouth to Hades, not sure where exactly and not about to risk life and limb to clamber around the rocks. 
The wild flowers are rather beautiful here – spring is just around the corner…
As K will fly from Athens to see her daughter, we must quite reluctantly now travel north – but we will certainly return to this area – probably in late February/early March.  We really like the Maniot architeture … cuboid stone and flat grooves … some are modern but still really attractive.  Great walking area and coast … 
In recent years, we’ve had a dream – well several, actually…. To sell one of our modest properties in Brizzle – and buy in Euroland. (K’parents – Diane and Grahame think we’re mad – well we are). First it was going to be Scotland – then Portugal – then France. Now – Greece – of course!  If this is madness – we quite like it. Much more ‘bangs’ for our bucks in Greece – it might happen… watch this space!  
North to Gythio – well, a beach nearby – for a wilding.  A famous shipwreck beached and now for the tourists….  this demands another poetical quote…
“And now the storm blast came and he
was tyrannous and strong
he struck with his o’er taking wings
and drove us south along
the ship drove fast, loud roared the blast
and southward aye we fled”
Coleridge, again – the poor Mariner should not have shot the albatross – but that’s another tale….just watch out for mariners with crossbows!
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Cape Tenaro.
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Looking back to the car park and Jez.

IMG 9713The lighthouse at the point.  We’ve been watching numerous ferries and freighters sail by.

IMG 9719We woz ‘ere.

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We’ve seen wild orchids for a few days now, but today’s sunshine brought our small red and pink poppy look alikes along the road.  We’ve been told the Spring flowers here are quite a sight.

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As well as Hades Cave, the church with the stolen temple stones, there are Roman remains with mosaics.  A local museum was shut.

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Just 5 km N of Gythio is our overnight spot.  The Dimitrios accidentally ‘docked’ here in 1981 and has become a bit of a tourist attraction.  Our overnight is a car park just below the pic.

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And Gythio in the background, which we may come back to, as we did not have time to wander here.

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Chilled!  Both of us.