Reflections on No.28

A new year began yesterday!

At least, arbitrarily anyway – I turned 28.

For the first time, this year I’m feeling a bit….strange. A bit more ambivalent and unsure, a bit less excited about entering a new year. Part of this has to do with that number – 28 feels a lot more solidly ‘adult’ than even 27 or 26. The other part of this is life in Greece.. It’s becoming harder and harder to be excited about the future (This seems like it may be an increasingly global trend, but that’s a topic for another time).

In an effort to refocus on the positives, I challenged myself to gather 27 of the best moments from the past year.

 

Kythera
Wedding tourism to the island of Kythera

13690855_10206907108062907_7597681142399982592_nWatching my oldest friend get married in New York

image-uploaded-from-ios-1My tiny (but growing!) garden of succulents and herbs

Writing for theTravelPorter, and challenging myself creatively

image-uploaded-from-ios-5Athens Half Marathon

image-uploaded-from-ios3First Thanksgiving in the US in ten years

P3263551Treasure hunts, literal and metaphorical

Pelio
Greek Easter in the mountains of Pylio

image-uploaded-from-ios-2Athens Eating – discoveries are never ending!

Finding (& loving) a new Athens neighbourhood – from Kolonaki to Mets

image-uploaded-from-ios6Adventures in the kitchen, facilitated by various new kitchen gadgets

image-uploaded-from-ios5Diving into family archives

More reading – always more reading!

Palia Fava Finding our real ‘spot’ – a local taverna where they know our order and throw in lots of extra lemons because we’re ‘such good kids’

5Becoming a local – making friends with the butcher, becoming first-name friends with the proprietors of the neighbourhood ‘whole foods’/organic shop

Discovering Sherlock

Making things. Not as much as I’d like, but the creative gene has come out to play a little bit this year

image-uploaded-from-ios4
Bookshelves; my books have a home!

Instagram – I’m embarrassed to admit how fun I find it..

Writing for theTravelPorter taught me a lot, including how to use SEOs. Life skills!

Pelio
Prioritising good shoes – super sturdy hiking boots, etc, to prioritise adventures

Ancient Delphi (Re)visiting ancient Delphi

image-uploaded-from-ios1A visit from my best friend from university, and explorations on the island of Aegina

image-uploaded-from-ios-4Wedding tourism on the island of Kea/Tzia

Attaliotika Easter Baking
Family time – not enough (never enough), but good family time. In this picture, pre-Easter baking.

image-uploaded-from-ios2This view (morning or night) is a daily dose of perspective (spot the sea on the far left!)

Kythera
That person

 

Ready for 28 – let’s do this!Kythera

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Travelogue: Monastery, Koroni Castle

Koroni Castle

It’s been a while, but I’m continuing the series recounting a roadtrip in the Greek Peleponnese, around Easter. This was my first time exploring this part of the country, and after the trip I’m totally convinced it’s one of the best places to visit in Greece. To catch up, the roadtrip started at Ancient Olympia, with the archaeological site in all its spring glory and the fantastic Olympia Archaeological Museum. The next stop was Voidokilia, Messinia, an incredible lagoon, great for nature (and bird watching!). Nearby, the city of Pylos (formerly known as Navarino!) beckoned with castles and fantastic views. The western Greek coast was occupied, at various stages, by both the Venetians and the Ottoman Turks – so the next stop on the road trip was the Castle of Methoni, followed by Koroni Castle.

The castle of Koroni covered a massive area, and was too gorgeous for me to restrain my picture-taking impulses.. After exploring the ruined church and neighbouring cemetery, and then taking in the view from the walls, we entered the monastery of the Panagia of Koroni. Koroni CastleKoroni CastleKoroni CastleInside the low walls of this monastery we found only a handful of nuns, and almost as many churches. This church pictured above, dedicated to St Sophia, is so far below the current ground level you can imagine how old it must be. There has been a monastery of the site since the twelfth century. Koroni Castle

Koroni Castle

Koroni Castle

Koroni Castle

Koroni Castle

Koroni Castle

Koroni CastleVisiting this place in the spring was magical – the nuns keep an incredible garden – but it was also right after Easter so the church was decorated with red and white, proclaiming that Christ has Risen.Koroni CastleKoroni CastleKoroni CastleKoroni CastleKoroni CastleA vantage point on the interior wall of the monastery gave a better sense of the scale of the castle, as well as how strategic that location must have been. Koroni CastleKoroni CastleKoroni CastleKoroni CastleKoroni CastleKoroni CastleKoroni CastleKoroni CastleWe explored the gardens, and little churches, and soaked in the view, leaving just as the sun was setting. Next stop – the Byzantine ruins of Mystras! Koroni Castle

Koroni Castle Koroni Castle

Travelogue: More of Koroni Castle, Messinia

Koroni CastleMaking our way to the edge of the cemetery, that we explored in my previous post about Koroni Castle, we found a path that led to the castle walls, where we finally realised the massive scale of this place. Koroni CastleKoroni CastleKoroni CastleKoroni CastleNot to mention magical views..! Koroni CastleKoroni CastleKoroni CastleKoroni CastleIt was almost deserted, so we could take our time soaking it all in. There isn’t much left of the massive fortification that dominated this area, or the life that used to dwell within, but there is still a little monastery with a few nuns left.. coming in the next post! Koroni Castle

Travelogue: Koroni Castle, Messinia

Koroni CastleThe Venetian castles of Methoni and Koroni are only about 30km apart, on the southwestern tip of the Peleponnese, so after a spectacular visit to Methoni, we knew we had to make a stop at Koroni as well.Koroni CastleKoroni CastleWe arrived here towards the end of the afternoon (after starting our day in Kyparissia, with stops in Voidokilia, Pylos and Methoni) so the castle was fairly empty and the light was perfect. Late afternoon is my favourite time of day in Greece – seriously, that light is unreal. Look at it!  Koroni CastleKoroni CastleThe approach to the castle was interesting – it’s at the end of a peninsula past the town of Koroni, which is traversed by a single road – in theory two-ways, but barely wide enough for one direction of traffic. At the end of the town, we found a castle-like gate, but no indication that this was indeed car-friendly or the actual way in. We drove through anyway, hoping for the best..Koroni CastleKoroni CastleKoroni CastleKoroni CastleWe weren’t disappointed. Once through the gate, we happened upon a central area of the castle that was almost deserted – just a few guys hanging out in the churchyard. There was also this strange half-ruined church, which I loved taking pictures of but was left feeling very curious about its story. Even online searching after the fact didn’t reveal anything, so the mystery remains.Koroni CastleKoroni CastleKoroni CastleKoroni CastleKoroni CastleWe wandered a little through the cemetery and churchyard, enjoyed the peace and quiet. This battered bench and resting place next to the church could have been almost anywhere in Greece. It was easy to  forget we were inside a 13th century castle, but once we headed toward the perimeter… cliff views! Stay tuned..Koroni Castle

Travelogue: Methoni, Messinia

Methoni CastleThe second day of my family’s Easter roadtrip around the Peloponnese continued on from a stop at Voidokilia, with a stop for cheese pies at the castle of Pylos, south to the fortress of Methoni, located at the southwest tip of the Peloponnese.Methoni CastleMethoni CastlePictures do not do this place justice at all – it looks like it should have been the site for a scene of Game of Thrones. Its strategic location meant that this area was both heavily contested and fortified – the site of struggles between pirates and Venetians in the 12th century, and then a stopping point on the European crusader route to the Holy Land.Methoni CastleThe area inside the walls itself is also huge – the entire cape is enclosed, and would have housed basically an entire town within its walls, like many medieval castles. Now there’s not much left, except the ruins of a church, it is perhaps even more dramatic. Methoni CastleMethoni CastleMethoni CastleNothing beats that view of the sea though. What have those walls witnessed? I love wonder such things in a place like this.. So atmospheric for wandering and historical daydreaming! Methoni CastleMethoni CastleMethoni Castle

 

Around Athens in October

Although a week of this month was spent adventuring around the Peloponnese with my dad, and then the rest of the month mostly spent at my aunt’s house where my dad recuperated from the fall that cut our adventures short (he will be fine!), the changing seasons here in Athens have made for some glorious skies and scenery. Also, staying home and keeping dad company has been a good excuse for some cooking, so there are a few more food photos than usually, I apologise. Still can’t quite believe October has come and gone already, but Happy November everyone! 

 

 

 

P.S. Previous Around Athens posts from June, July, August, & September!

 

Travelogue: Pylos, Messinia

After a bird-watching and toe-dipping break at the lagoon of Voidokilia, our Easter roadtrip continued along the Western coast of the Peloponnese to the town of Pylos, previously known as Navarino. Though I knew that Navarino was the site of an important naval battle during the Greek War of Independence, but I don’t think I had ever connected that dots to realise that Navarino and Pylos are the same place. I now know better! We didn’t spend much time in the town itself, but did pass through the central square, where we stopped for cheese pies. With provisions for lunch, we drove on and up to the castle that dominates the whole area, and provides a wonderful vantage point over the bay where the battle took place – between the Ottoman navy and an alliance of British, French and Russian vessels, who had by then intervened on the side of Greece in their struggle for independence from the Ottoman Empire.

Probably the most appropriate word to describe the castle is impressive. Though not the first castle in the town, or on the specific site, the structure that we visited was built  by the Ottoman Turks in the 1500s, and then later improved upon by the French during the War. The view from the castle is commanding, as you can see, and it dominates the entrance to the bay. Inside the castle, there was also a great short film about the Battle itself, housed in one of the rooms that were used as prison cells in the 18th and 19th centuries. Fairly foreboding. We also learned that the name ‘Navarino’ likely derives from a Venetian corruption of ‘Ton Avarinon’ – Castle of the Avars, pointing to the diverse history of the Peloponnese, especially the Western and Southern coast, which saw not only Byzantine and Ottoman periods but also Venetian and Frankish.

IMG_0943.JPG

Pylos

Pylos, Greece

PylosLook at that sea!

Pylos

PylosAfter our short visit here, where we enjoyed the tiropitas and took in the history and the views, we continued southwards, to find some more evidence of Venetian and Frankish rule. To be continued…!

Pylos