Interview Patrick Leigh Fermor
Paradise found – The tale of Mani’s most famous resident
Born in London in 1915, Patrick Leigh Fermor was 18 when he set out to walk from the Hook of Holland to Istanbul. He arrived two years later, and proceeded to travel around Greece and the Balkans, where he shacked up with a Romanian princess until war broke out in 1939. A man known for his charm and wit, Leigh Fermor joined up with the Irish Guards but was quickly moved to Special Operations Executive in 1941, in part due to his extensive knowledge of European lands. He soon found himself working undercover as a goatherd in Crete, relaying intelligence and helping coordinate the resistance. Even then he was famously well turned out (for a goatherd). In 1944, Leigh Fermor and Captain Stanley Moss hatched a plot to kidnap Crete’s German commander, General Heinrich Kreipe. Disguised as German military police, the two stopped the general’s car, killed the chauffeur, Leigh Fermor donned the general’s hat and they set off across Crete with the real general stowed under the back seat. They eventually managed to get the general on a boat to Cairo and into the hands of the Allies. Post-war, Leigh Fermor went on to travel extensively but it was Mani that he fell in love with and adopted as his new home, moving here in 1964 and building a house in Kardamili with his wife Joan. He travelled extensively, wrote furiously – all handwritten – and became a great of the travel writing genre, winning numerous prizes and plaudits, then a knighthood in 2004. Locals in Kardamili will tell you he was often to be found swimming in the sea, well into winter and well into his nineties, despite allegedly smoking 80-100 cigarettes a day. Leigh Fermor died in 2011 aged 96, but should you so wish, his house in Kardamili survives him (and can be visited), as does his cook, who runs Lela’s Taverna in Kardamili town.
Source : Cyclist