Happy Birthday Lena…. We miss you.
Another travel day for us, and unfortunately the weather has changed. We are experiencing rain for the first time since leaving Athens. The destination was Southwest from Gythio and then due South after reaching Areopoli and then follow the coastline down to the very end of the peninsula. The “Mani” area has a story to it that has given us the inspiration to visiting it. It seems like the Maniots were a law unto themselves, renowned for their fierce independence and resentment of any attempt to govern them. We have heard the descriptions of the Maniots as hostile, wild, and hard people (now, fortunately they have mellowed). They were a feuding group, and most of the feuds were over land. The whole area of “Mani” runs from the top of the Taygetos Mountains to the sea. ALL of this land is on a slope and is the rockiest land I have ever seem. It seems that if anything was to grow on this land, that, was a reason for someone to try to take it from the family now on it. Before the feuding between themselves, there was a “fighting” spirit that they claim comes from being direct descendants of the Spartans. They liked to be left alone, but if they were called upon to defend their land, family, or country, they had what it took to get the job done. Their claim (some dispute this), that they are the only Greeks not to have succumbed to foreign invasions. Anyway, I started to tell you about the feuding and all that, well one of the “landmarks” of the area that comes from that period, is the “tower settlements”. These towers were constructed as refuges. As we traveled through all this rock laden land, we came across a single tower house to a complete village on top of the highest hills. The villages came complete with a fortification wall system. We even saw a tower house with 2 cannons mounted on top of the flat roof. Driving out into the Mani, was driving on some of the narrowest roads, with more hairpin curves than anywhere we have been yet. One major advantage they had in living there, is the rocks that litter every inch of the land…they have and do use it for constructing their tower homes, walls, and streets. Where the country has set the roads, they have paved them with blacktop, but if you get off of that, you will find either rock or dirt. We traveled all the way to the end and once we got there, we were on the narrowest of roads that were on sheer cliffs that plunge down hundreds of feet to the sea.
At the very end, we had to make a U-turn and head back the same way we had come. Once we had hit Areopoli again, we were on a new adventure and heading to Kalamata.
“Bumble Bee” needed an oil change and I had a small list of other things that I wanted checked on, so we went looking for a garage we had heard about in Kardamyli. Fortunately, the directions were perfect and we drove right into the drive on the first try. As you are heading north through town, cross over the bridge and the garage is on the right about 200 meters later. We did get the oil changed and all the “To Do” list of things checked. We agree, this is the best service and the best price we could have asked for. I would like to give you their name, but I can’t read their business card (it’s in Greek). Anyway, thanks for the great service !!! Our trip then continued to Kalamata and our new campground…. Tomorrow….haven’t made up our minds yet…