From the Beach to Taygetus

We started our first day at the farm with a visit to one of our favorite beaches, Mavrovouni. We love this beach for its brollies (umbrellas, for those of you who don’t speak British), its easy entry into the water (a lot of the beaches here are rocky), its sandy bottom), and the long vistas.IMG_1719.jpg

These are our favorite brollies …


… and these are the ones we go to for my preferred Marovouni beach taverna, E Ammos…


… but my view is much more often this one:


We also made a stop in Gyhteio, a wonderful port town about half an hour from the farm.


They have a beautiful sweet shop (but the owner is mean, so we may not return).


I love the jams and “spoon sweets” here.IMG_1257.jpg

Our new favorite shop in Gytheio is this one:


They serve baked goods, but they also offer a wide range of other products:


Jocelyn and I are on a mission to eat one tiny Greek popsicle a day.


In the evening, we took the long, winding roads up to the mountain village of Arna. This now-tiny place, population 150, was once an important stop in the trek from Sparta to sites on the other side of the Taygetus mountains. The trip up is amazing, with views like these:



IMG_1279.jpgThe mountain has a surprising number of flowers for someplace this dry:


Arna itself is a remarkably sweet village, with a town plaza centered around two giant plane trees (also note the men playing backgammon and the pickup truck filled with sacks of potatoes).


While we sat and had a drink in the square, one of the locals came and offered us koliva, Greek memorial service cake. It’s made of wheat berries, cinnamon and sugar, pomegranate seeds, almonds, golden raisins, ground up crackers, silver balls, and a powdered sugar frosting — and it’s remarkably good.


Arna boasts the requisite church …


… a range of houses (there’s obviously some money from Greek emigres coming back into town here) …



… small forms of wildlife …



… and amazing collections of oleander.


J and I went for a walk behind town and found cherry trees!


Our dinner included the creamiest feta we’ve had yet — delicious!


We really loved Arna — add it to the list of places where J will spend her time in the witness protection program!




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