Set off after a leisurely breakfast, down the hamster trail to the main road. Mable indignantly demanded U-Turns until we hit what she considered a road, then she relented enough to steer us to the nearby fortress of Methoni. Built by the Venetians, enlarged by the Ottomans, etc., the fortress is vast, obviously having once enclosed the entire town. Desolate now and slightly foreboding, it cowed us enough that we returned to the car and resumed our trip, leaving part of one tail-light near the moat.
Our Daughter-in-Law Maria's father John has an olive orchard growing the famed Kalamata olives in a hill town called Myrsinochori, so we headed north to track it down. Lunch found us in the pretty sea-front town of Pylos. Noting another Venetian fortress on a nearby hill, we struggled up some 500-year old stone steps to the nearest wall and followed it to what we thought was the entrance. Only on reaching the barred doorway did we realize that the entrance was in fact at the other end of the fortress. Exhausted, we returned to the harbour and settled into a taverna for some souvlaki and beer. So many fish swam in the crystal clear water next to our table that it was a bit like eating in an aquarium.
Refreshed, we wound our way up into the hills (quite a bit of 2nd gear work) and burst in upon the village during the daily lunch break. Not a soul stirred in the streets. Eventually, we found some men mixing concrete in the shade near the church and asked for directions. Not much progress was made until Reggie showed them a picture of John (Ianni). Then, smiles all around and the youngest of the trio set off down the street, refusing a ride because he was dusty, and led us to John's house. Immediately a neighbour lady came out and began asking us questions in rapid-fire Greek. Once again we waved the picture of John and all was made clear. She rushed away to find another neighbour who was vacationing there from her home in Perth Ontario. This lady kindly translated for us while the first lady again rushed off to find John's sister who still lives in the village. Pictures of Maria and the kids were now pulled out to the delight of all concerned and John's sister insisted on showing us through the lovely home, including the magnificent views to the sea over the intervening miles of olive trees.
Then we had to visit the sister's house. It turned out that she had been alerted to our visit and had been preparing food for us for days. By now, it was getting on in the afternoon, we'd just had lunch and I was itching to get away so as not to have to navigate the hamster trails in the dark with a sulking Mable. A compromise was reached when the sister packed an enormous meal for us to take with us, including fish, a Greek salad with a giant chunk of Feta, home-made wine and desert! Laden with her kind offering plus a bag of pomegranates, lemons and other fruit which we had somehow accumulated from the various houses, we staggered back to the car and drove slowly off, waving to the small crowd of well-wishers. John's sister was sorry that we didn't stay the night and eat ourselves into a coma, (food is love, after all) but it had only been our innocent intention to visit the town and show the pictures around. I hope she wasn't too disappointed. We later delivered her food containers to her brother in Montreal who promised to return them to her on his next visit. Well-travelled plastic!
Mabel, feeling her oats, led us back by tiny, cliff-hugging roads to a new route to the villa, but after a few false starts, we found one that we recognized and twisted her arm (figuratively) until she relented and got us home before sunset.
A great day with some great people.
Venetian fortress at Methoni
Lunch harbour-side at Pylos
Happy aunt with pictures of the grandkids
Reggie, Neighbour, Translator and John's sister in John's backyard
Our Peloponnese villa. We're in the added-on bit at the upper right. Yes, those are olive trees.