Peninsulas on Peninsulas

30 Jan

Listen folks, no matter where in the world you are, whether it be Mexico City or the Mani Peninsula in Greece, when you travel with a coffee drinker, you’ve got to splurge every now and again and get some coffee. And when you do… it will be a magical thing and you’ll have so much energy, won’t be able to sleep for days, and I have to switch to Caps Lock because caffeine is SO GOOD AND I LOVE COFFEE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

 

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A heart in the coffee to represent my undying love for this caffeinated beverage that I so rarely get to indulge with because of it’s long lasting effects.

 

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So anyways, now that that’s literally out of my system (I’m not kidding; I ‘d love some more coffee right now) let me calmly tell you a little bit about my lovely trip to the Mani peninsula. The Mani peninsula is down down down on the Peloponnese peninsula. Since we were in Greece and therefore automatically legitimate philosophers, we spent the drive engaging in some Aristotelian discussion.  For example, we were on our way to a peninsula on a peninsula. Are peninsulas fractals? Do you remember the first time you learned about fractals?  What is a fractal? So as we contemplated the meaning peninsulas, we kept driving onwards towards a town called Kardamyli.

 

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A blue dot to mark our place on the peninsula’s peninsula.

 

We finally arrived on Mani peninsula, which is pretty remote and has a very rocky and mountainous terrain. A little interesting fact about this place (because you know I like 5-second history lessons in these blogs): It’s the only part of Greece that wasn’t taken over by the Ottoman Empire. And when you get here and look at the landscape, it’s easy to see why. It’s very rough, and I imagine it was incredibly easy to defend and hard to attack. That is… if anyone were trying to attack it — it was considered undesirable land, so the Ottomans were probably like “yeah, no thanks; keep it.”
But that doesn’t mean there wasn’t any conflict. No, not at all. In fact, those things that look like castles in the picture down below are actually remnants of the watchtowers, watchtowers that were built any time there was a conflict. And there are so many of them. So the 60,000 people living on this land were fighting over useable land since farming was so hard to do in this area.

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Watchtowers on top of watchtowers on a peninsula on top of a peninsula…does your brain hurt yet?

 

Now that only 5,000 people inhabit this peninsula, there’s way less drama; however, a couple of days into our trip here, we saw a really bad car accident. Luckily, no one got hurt BUT the entire town did come to gather around the scene to see what happened (…there’s not much to do in January). It got us thinking: will this be cause for a new watchtower?  

Anyways, we continued on our adventures using a guidebook by Rick Steves; in this particular book, he says that Kardamyli is a stun gun to momentum, and he was totally right. As soon as we got into town, we looked for a place where we could sleep. The first place we went was too pricey even though it wasn’t even tourist season. What the heck?!  The next place only charged us 30 euros, came with an incredible view and a kickass balcony.  “Yes!”

 

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Stun gun to momentum, aka staring at this view for hours and not wanting to do anything else.

 

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Wandering the backstreets of Kardamyli and somehow ending up in Mama Mia!

 

Kardamyli is small, so we spent our time walking up/down the main street and backstreets. On our dozenth time doing this, we noticed that a new shop was open! Oh, interesting! Something new to explore!! They were selling olive oils and kitchenware made of trees so we popped inside.  The woman who owned the place was in the middle of a business meeting, and was surprised to see tourists.  She laughed and let us know that the store wasn’t actually open so walked back out onto the main street for the 13th time.

 

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Stun gun! More like sun gun….who wouldn’t stop to watch this?

 

After watching an amazing sunset, we turned in.  There was happily nothing to do after dark around here. The next morning, we walked into town and bought a breakfast of apples, bread, oranges (to squeeze into our own fresh orange juice!) and feta cheese. The breakfast was so good we bought it every single day after that, too. 

 

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Room with a view and a breakfast of champions.

 

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Same breakfast different day, still absolutely delicious.

 

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Swimmin’ in the cold on our “private” beach.

 

We found a “private” beach right outside of our hotel.  And by private I mean that it’s January so no other tourists were there, and it was cold so no one else was there in general.  It was luxurious to lay out on and soak up all of the beauty on this rocky beach. I could’ve stayed there forever.

One day we wanted to hike past the old town in Kardamyli but we planned it so that we could make it back for the sunset. Rick Steves had said that we would end up planning our days around the sunset, and while we didn’t believe him at first, he was totally right.  The hike was gorgeous, and we picked some fresh oranges off a tree — MUCH better than my prickly pear experience as we ate oranges on the hike back completly unscathed.

Then, in time for the sunset, we went to a neighboring town for dinner. We thought we’d try something different since we had already explored everything Kardamyli had to offer — well, okay, everything that was open. We had our first seafood of the trip, watched the gorgeous sunset, and Ben even offered to drive us home in the dark so I wouldn’t have to. Perfect night; dare I say “stun gun”?

 

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Sunset spreading out over the sea, does it get any better?!

 

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What!!! It can get better. Hello, Greek salad.

 

One day we decided to take a long drive all the way up and down the entire Mani coast.  

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Breathtaking views from the top.

 

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Views on views on views.

It only took us an hour to drive the girth of this peninsula but longer to drive up and down its coast line. Especially because we stopped so much. We saw as much of Mani as we could as I didn’t want to miss anything. 

When we got to the southernmost tip of the peninsula, we went on a hike to explore the lighthouse.  

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Makes more sense for you to see the lighthouse from the sea than from the road because, well..duh

 

The guidebook told us it was a 30 minute hike one way, but it took us a little bit longer (Rick Steves is not a prophet).  It was such a great hike offering good exercise and dramatic views the entire way.  Once again, I wish we had more time to spend there!!!  Is Greece my new favorite country??

 

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In order to get the picture above, we had to walk through a prickly bush *cue flashbacks from my prickly pear incident in Nafplio*.  Luckily, this bush wasn’t nearly as bad as the prickles from that fruit so I didn’t have to spend two hours removing needles from body.

 

That evening, we ate a dinner similar to our breakfast — bread, cheese, sticky honey, and a piece of fruit (breakfast for dinner is fun). We sat next to a rusty boat by an old pirate cove and watched the sunset.

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Pirate cove! 

 

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In Kardamyli, I gave Ben his first private laughter yoga session. It was a blast!!!!!!  I made us wear baseball caps so we were forced to looked look deeply into each others’ eyes while pronouncing all of the laughter syllables with gusto. I ended up laughing so hard, I started crying. By this point in the session we had been lying on the ground, and my tears were literally falling onto his face. That, mixed with my onion breath from the Greek salad I had at lunch, probably kept Ben from having the time of his life. But I was a ball of joy.

I had such a spectacular time in this part of the world. In fact, this was the first place Ben and I said we’d come back to, you know, whenever we felt like life was just moving too fast and we needed a stun gun to slow us down.

Sunset vibes,
‘mi

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