It’s absurd to write, and it must seem silly to read, but we can’t quite wrap our heads around how quickly 10 weeks have passed. Two and a half months should be long enough to make one feel as if it’s been a complete trip. Not quite sure why we’re so surprised to find ourselves trying to figure out what to bring back.
On October 24, we celebrated the 10th anniversary of the day we moved in. Again, it seems as if it could only have been half that long. Time collapse aside, it’s been a wonderful decade of getting to know this place and these people. And like most decades, it was a mix of the memorable and the forgettable; the happy and the sad; forward steps, backward steps, sideways steps, and even a few dance steps. But what keeps us yearning to come back even before we’ve left remains undisturbed and pulls at us just as urgently today as it did in 2007. Our family, our friends, the sea, the mountains on the other side, the sky like a dome over all, the dry crystalline air, local ingredients in season at even the simplest eateries, wines like magic, orange blossoms in the spring air, scent of dried thyme wafting up underfoot in the summer, spring wildflowers along the roads, seas of cobalt turquoise and cerulean, mountains marching to the horizon, islands floating on the sea like boats, boats floating as if on air, the chance to walk in the footsteps of Plato, Aristotle, Pericles and Paul, the stones and towers of Mani, the piercing light. Those things and many more we will miss until next year when we once again catch our first glimpse of this very special place.
The port of Piraeus, August 30, 2017
It was a great time to be here. The water was warm, the air temp was pleasant…
…the water was clear…
and the crowds were gone.
We took lots of walks in the pefkias.
It seemed to be a good year for pomegranates.
The wind can really get up in the Fall…
but it only makes the place more beautiful.
Of course, we went to Mani.
Ag. Kyprianos at moonrise.
Antares hotel, in the traditional settlement of Omales, at sunset.
The mountaintop village of Profitis Ilias. From ancient times until the 1970’s, the quarries of this village provided the red marble for elaborate decoration in places such as St. Peter’s basilica and the palace at Versailles. Some of that marble is visible in the church and the tower behind it.
The ruins of an oven in the same village.
A threshing circle in Profitis Ilias.
Looking down at the villages of Dimiristika (left) and Spira.
Abelos, near Ag. Kyprianos. A beach, a church, three houses.
The village of Nifi, looking up at Ag. Dimitrios church.
Katronas. Suffered a bad fire this summer.
Katronas. The fire came down the mountain so quickly that the villagers had to be evacuated by sea.
The village of old Kardamyli.
Same view but from a window of the just-restored war tower.
A very nice restoration.
St. Spiridon in old Kardamyli. I’ve never caught it open.
Ruins of a monastery and its church (Panagia Vreti) at Limeni. I’ve climbed into that church in years past, and there are still faint frescoes on the dome. The complex is now surrounded by a fence.
We visited several churches in Mani.
This church, Ag. Nicholaos, between Lagia and Dimiristika, is said to be the oldest church in Mani. 10th c. The Maniates were late converts.
This one, in Ochia, consisted of two separate churches, Ag. Petros and Panagitsa, presumably built at different times.
Inside the smaller, older of the two churches. The frescoes awed and humbled us.
The larger church. The columns and cut stones were obviously mined from an ancient or Byzantine structure, possibly at Tigani.
These walls look like terraces but they’re the remains of an ancient city, Kenipolis. We were there looking for the ruins of a church.
I don’t think this is the church we were looking for but we were happy to find it.
The exterior of the church at Kenipolis. It was a scramble getting inside.
Clouds collecting in the mountains near Areopolis.
Back to Sykia. The beach stones will be scrubbed and tumbled until next Spring when folks begin to venture out on them again but the skies will not be lovelier than they were this Fall.