Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Koroni (11-13-12)

Breakfast spot on Koroni wharf
Sitting in the sun on the waterfront waiting for my coffee and splurging on a sweet -- dhipless, always a favorite when my grandmother was baking sweets (also melomakarona dry without the honey, which my yiayia couldn't fully understand -- but she made them anyway, even sending me a shoe box full when I was at Drew for a semester). The dhipla did not live up to my expectations (stale?), but it was the thought that counted. Enjoying the view and saltwater air -- even though some men near me are arguing about who knows what..

Koroni, I must say, is much more vibrant and interesting than Kiparissi -- even now in the off-season. Not as out-of-the-way and with more TV channels. The Greeks love to watch TV. 

On the bus I met a couple from England who had gotten a job via a website (either workaway.com or helpx.com) picking olives. They will stay for a month in nearby Charakopio working for their room-and-board. This morning I am wondering why in a country with 25 percent unemployment people are being brought from outside to pick olives..

My 5-bus 23 EU trip to Koroni still looks pretty good when you see how much gas costs -- can you say 1.70 a litre or about 7.65 a gallon? Don't think I could have made it here on 3 gallons of gas!

Took off by foot to begin revisiting my grandmother's old haunts. Have been here several times, so it was w/some familiarity that I proceeded:

Where my Yiayia was born!
1) Gate to Venetian ramparts, my grandmother was born in a homestead just inside that gate. You can see the outlines of the house against the wall. Apparently my relatives raise chickens on the property; they can't build anything because it is against a historical monument. I picked a few olive branches to bring home...

 2) Convent founded by a priest who was my grandmother's cousin. The abbess I had met (and who knew my grandmother), Christodhoulou, is long gone, and 6 nuns from Kalamata live there now. Beautifully kept-up with own gardens and sheep. Lit a candle in the church -- after putting on black apron to cover my jeans! -- and then bought some incense in their well-stocked gift shop..Should mention that my very religious, studious grandmother wanted to be a nun, but her brother wouldn't let her. Maybe this is why she was the one chosen by her father's brother Kosta to come to the States.

Convent gift shop
3) Cemetery, also up in the ramparts, where I ended up by accident -- but then came across the grave of mother's cousin Thanassis, who had been merchant marine and visited Stockton more than once.

View of Evangelistra from the beach

4) Church of Evangelistra with its miraculous icon containing a figure of Jesus' mother found nearby -- I wrote my request and dropped it in the box. In 1962 I swam with Cousin Thanassis by the rocks below the church property and near his father's house,  where we got fresh sea urchins long before there were apartments, public beach, etc.

Eleftheria Sayiakou
5) Found my mother's cousin Eleftheria at her home and we chatted for a couple of hours, which included a dish of quince/almond sweet she had recently made. Her husband is ill and made a 3-second cameo appearance. (We met again later under a tree near her paternal home at the gate leading to the church grounds. Her father had a little cafe place right there on the road to the church in the good old days. I showed her an old picture of him from one of my early visits 1969-ish. And, yes, Skeep, I am wearing a pea coat!)

Panayiotis Stamatopoulos
6) Spoke to an Old Geezer relative, Panayiotis Stamatopoulos, who has a little store near the hotel --newspapers arranged very neatly outside, inside it looks like Hurricane Sandy came by. But he did know my mother's godfather, Panayiotis Polytopoulos.

7) Lunch at a great restaurant near the school where I had youvarlakia and, yes, more horta! Have I turned green yet?

Just another  delicious stop on my horta hunt!
Phew! Quite a lot done today -- happy, and not willing to get back on a bus tomorrow. Called my cousin in Athens to tell her I am staying an extra day in Koroni. The Diana Hotel has served me well right down in the center of town -- yes, I think Koroni is now a town, not a village!

Tomorrow I am taking the day off -- more horta, more ouzo (at the kafeneion across the street which provides great mezedhes!), postcards to send, and perhaps a little shopping. And, to be on the safe side, a fresh Herald Tribune. Life is good! 

Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry

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