Dandelions in a meadow outside Thunder Bay, ON

Dandelions in a meadow outside Thunder Bay, ON

Monday, May 16, 2016

Show and Tell: Pelion, and a Cat's-Eye View of England

Whoever said a picture is worth a thousand words must have had some seriously chatty friends not keen on taking photos. But there is truth behind every exaggeration. In this post I'm letting pictures of our recent trip to Pelion (Greece) and London do most of the talking. At the above rate of conversion, it's probably one of the longest blog posts out there.

Unlike much of Greece, the Pelion peninsula is lush and green from the many creeks and waterfalls carrying melting snow from Mount Pelion. We visited this area during the off season and before most of the hotels and guesthouses had opened, and although this left the village of Agios Ioannis looking somewhat like a ghost town, it was eerily pleasant to have the beaches to ourselves.

The water off the Aegean coast of Pelion is very clear, but strangely enough there is no algae in the sea, and none washed up on the shore. The colour variations in the rock of this grotto are quite something. The black horizontal streaks are dried oil from a spill (several, actually) that happened some twenty years ago.
"Networking" has a different meaning on Pelion. The entire peninsula is crisscrossed with stone paths built some five hundred years ago for donkey transport. No cement was used to hold the stones in place; they were simply driven into the ground. Ridges of taller stones make a sort of ladder for the donkeys' hooves. The animals have been replaced with trucks, but the paths will last at least another five hundred years, and are great for hiking from anywhere to just about anywhere else on the peninsula. The piles of manure (not shown) on the paths around larger towns are not from donkeys but from horses who get hired out to tourists. For some reason it is assumed that tourists do not care for donkey rides, although I would have loved to go on one.

This donkey living in a meadow outside Volos is one of the few that remain on Pelion. She is kept more as a pet than for practical purposes, has plenty to eat, and, being a highly intelligent animal, is easily bored. After the first introduction she would greet our approach with loud braying.

The forests of Pelion are cool and shady, especially along the banks of streams. This bridge outside the village of Tsagarada is a couple of hundred years old. The Roman arch technique is amazing in its reliability: the vertically-placed stones outlining the arch are wedged tightly against each other under the weight of the bridge. There is no way this structure can crumble, since there is nowhere for the stones to fall.

Sweet cold water flows from a spring into the basin of a waterhouse. Everywhere along Pelion’s roads there are small stone grottos with a faucet. Even the lion has been recruited. 

Now that’s a giant peacock moth to end all moths. We were very glad to find resting on the grass in an olive orchard. It was there early in the morning and it was still there seven hours later as we returned from our hike, a welcome and a farewell to a day in the hills.

This fellow was barked up the pole by two rather impolite dogs (who fortunately followed us and left him alone). Like any cat caught in great embarrassment, he desperately wished we’d go away.

A fog bank rolls toward land in the early morning. On hot days moisture evaporates from the sea and condenses overnight into fog that reaches the hills and seeps along gorges. The mist usually clears by midday if the sun is working well. There were no ghosts inside it, but I can see why the Greeks pictured Hades as souls of the dead poking around in a fog. It is a place of coldness and confusion.


This very pregnant lady came to the door of our condo and appointed us as her providers, but remained independent between meals. Unlike many stray animals in Greece, she approached us without hesitation or fear. We don’t know what awaits her and her kittens, but we’re glad our journeys crossed and we could give her affection, if only for a short time.

Seven years ago my husband came to Pelion for the first time with the assumption that it is arid and has no trees. As a German who can't stop working on holiday and who will not be stranded without material for his carvings, he brought with him from Canada a large bag of wood pieces. Then he met a few centuries-old platans in the village of Tsagarada. If trees could laugh...

I don’t know the name of this tree, but it seems to live in two seasons, with last fall’s berries right next to this spring’s blossoms.

Sunrise on the Aegean sea happens very fast, as if the sun is making a running start before slowing down for its daily traverse.

Peter and a tomcat share a moment of male bonding. But not without some disagreement over who has the sexier moustache.

The lovely turquoise waters off Damouchari beach.

Pelion's little narrow gauge-train that could, and did.

On this visit to London I met Benjamin the cat who was drawn to church by the holy spirit - a very warm and comforting holy spirit. No wonder Benjamin raised a howl when I interrupted his devotions. It made for rather interesting acoustics.