Got around to it back home, and generally enjoyed it. However, this involved many more digressions and reminiscences than I would prefer. As a travel memoir as I anticipated , this does roughly follow his journey into the rugged terrain and its isolated populace, but the author delves academically into Greek myth, other regions, reveries that go on far too long. Even with a grasp of Greek history and culture, and fully appreciating his guile, I felt his writing to be too undisciplined and in need of editing, The guy was a font of knowledge, and I may read through his trilogy that starts with "A Time For Gifts", and see how that goes. This is not really a review but some notes which I wanted to make so that I could return to them.
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Shelves: non-fiction , foreign-culture , places , exploration , review-liked , books-withtoratings , author-male , y The front cover photograph on this edition, a photographers arrangement of pixels, depicts a Shangri-La of hot, baked serenity. Scrubby vegetation, hazy azure seas stretching into the distance, and rock.
Lots of rock. Ankle-snapping rock. Rock, which from a distance imitates the gnarled above-ground roots of a venerable aged English Oak, Quercus robur. The blurb on the back cover promises a glorious fusion Atomic? Thankfully not. More of the ilk of the golden orb of the noon-day raising the literary temperature at the turn of every page?
Just what the travel agent ordered. Overloaded, muddling one Greek God with another, I was losing sight of the wood for the trees; let alone the rocks for the water … and the entrance to Hades beckoned pp.
That infuriated me. Whole villages, towers, and landscapes came and went like Brigadoon. What border there may have been between Mani and the Deep Mani degenerated into a game of discerned guessing. Too frequently such cartographic reduction in excellence left me disorientated and adrift; not knowing what compass bearing I was on; let alone quite how far or near the next village was, and the contour lines to be climbed, with or without rope. What then would he have made of my reading in a British broadsheet last weekend, of the published itinerary of a cruise ship calling in at Mani.
Smooth tarmac? I shuddered. Such is the nature of bargains struck in hope and calculated expectation of reducing the brittleness of once a slender thread of life. Loved it. Ideally both would be bound in the same volume.
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The terrain is mountainous and inaccessible. Until recent years many Mani villages could be reached only by sea. Today a narrow and winding road extends along the west coast from Kalamata to Areopoli , then south to Akrotainaro the pointed cape, which is the southernmost point of continental Greece before it turns north toward Gytheio. Another road, that is used by the public buses of the Piraeus - Mani line, which has existed for several decades, comes from Tripoli through Sparta , Gytheio , Areopoli and ends in the Gerolimenas port near Cape Matapan. Vardounia served as a buffer between the Ottoman-Turkish controlled Evrotas plains and Mani.
Mani: Travels in the Southern Peloponnese