Saturday, January 19, 2013

Greece is Endless.

No, I’m not talking about its political drama, though that’s certainly true. I’m talking about the endless beauty that draws me to live there.  It is heaven on earth in so many ways, and not just on the islands that most seem to dream of when they think of Greece.

So, today I thought I’d take you to another dreamy part of Greece through photographs mostly brought to my attention by my friend, Poppy Psinakis Patterson.  She found them on the travel website of Matt Barrett, a fellow with an encyclopedic grasp of all places Greek. The others I picked up along he way, but all of them relate to one of the most storied regions of Greece: The Mani. 
The Mani

Mani is the mountain-spine, middle peninsula on the trident tip of Greece’s most southern mainland part (the Peloponnese), on the same latitude as Sicily and pointing across the Mediterranean at Libya.  It is where ancient Spartans are said to have settled, and if you ask Greeks what comes to mind when they hear “Mani,” the immediate response is generally, “tough, proud, enduring people.”  Greece’s war of independence against the Turks began there in 1821, and though the history of the Peloponnese (and Greece as a whole) is largely one of occupation by foreign powers, Maniots proudly say that their land was never occupied.

The photos are of Poppy’s mother’s hometown of Gythion (aka Gythio or Gytheio) on the northeast corner of Mani along the Laconian Gulf.  It is the largest town in Mani and the municipal seat of what is today East Mani.  In antiquity it was Sparta’s port and called Cranae (though more properly that name applies to a tiny island now connected to Gythion by a causeway).  When Paris abducted Helen from Sparta it was there the lovers spent their first night together before sailing off to Troy…and giving Homer the story line for one hell of a best seller.
Paris and Helen (Jacques Louis David, 1748-1825) 

Come to think of it, Gythion (and all of Mani for that matter) is filled with stories.  One of my favorites was told to me by Poppy, and it demonstrates the ferocious intensity of life amid Mani families.  But, I won’t tell you that one here (and hopefully Poppy won’t either) because I’m saving it for the new Andreas Kaldis book I’m writing.  That one will be #6, because #5 is finished and ready to come out in September, but I won’t say more about them either, except that I discuss MYKONOS MAGICK (Kaldis #5) in a post I put up today on the blogsite of my U.S. publisher, Poisoned Pen Press, titled, “How Did I Ever Get Myself Into This?” 

But enough subtle BSP, let’s get to the photographs of Gythion.

The Lighthouse
A ship that did not see it.



  1. Heart-stopping gourgeous, Jeff.
    Poppy, how your Mom must have missed it.
    It could only have been economics -- or a very attractive man -- that drove/lured her away.

  2. Jeff, thanks so much for these beautiful, sunny photos in the midst of gloomy winter days!

  3. Thanks, Leighton, and I'm sure Poppy's mom's downfall was a man. Always is in Greece:). And speaking of missing, Annamaria, I zigged in NYC when you zagged to Florence. We'll have to make-up for that--and soon! Always glad to bring you sunshine.

  4. So appreciative of your support of Greece at times like this. Your books and blog make people travel there and supports the locals. Hello to Stavro! Yianni Melas

  5. Thank you, my friend. Coming from someone who's "Indiana Jones" life could be an adventure series in itself, that's great praise indeed, Yianni!

  6. Euxaristo xilies fores! Thank you a thousand times, Jeffrey Siger! You HONOR me and you honor my Mother Alexandra’s memory by writing today’s blog about Gythion in The Mani of Greece! Speechless, I am without written or spoken words, at the thought that you will include part of my family’s history in your next 6th volume! You must promise me that you will give me advance notice so that I can join you for your 6th volume’s Debut. I will make every effort to be there.

    True, my Mother left Greece during WWII because of a man, her brother Panayotis, who suffered “shell-shock”, now called PTSD. She transported him to Vienna, Austria over Nazi-controlled railroads so that he could get psychiatric treatment. My mother was both his guardian and translator. In 1947, she was able to leave Vienna and immigrate to the U.S. thanks to another man, my Father George of Eternal Memory, who responded to my mother’s written appeals for assistance. My mother lived in and loved the United States, but left her heart in Gythion, Greece.

    Jeff, you validate my beliefs that we must be the oral story-tellers, like Homer, of our own family’s history. Under my birth name Calliope, I burst with pride that I am your Muse today as I was Homer’s Muse millennia ago. AXIOS! Worthy! You who are more Greek than The Greeks!

  7. Poppy mou, the pleasure was all mine. It's the very least I could do as thanks for sharing the photos and your family's story with me. And speaking of stories, your mother seems an endless source...her journey from occupied Greece into Nazism's heart to save her brother is simply WOW material. And, yes, I'll let you know when #6 is debuting but if you were reading it now on a Kindle the page reference would be "1%", maybe:)

  8. I am so glad that I read the comments to this lovely piece -- Poppy, your story after seeing these beautiful photos somehow completes it!

    Some day I will get to Greece...