Interview Yiannis Avrameas
Each hairpin oﬀers views over glistening waters, and my nostrils ﬁll with the bouquet of sage and oregano.
Richard explained the road we were on was built to service the towns above it, and later another road was added along the coast to circumvent the need to wind through the mountainside to reach the peninsula’s lower regions. Our road became all but redundant, which made it superb for an ‘up and back before breakfast’ – something Richard had done every day of his holiday thus far.
‘And what brings you to Mani?’ he asked. I told him what I was doing, and that tomorrow I’ d be tackling this road plus a further 145km, then writing about it. ‘A h, so you must have heard of Patrick Leigh Fermor!’ Richard enthused. I confessed I hadn’t. ‘Well I’ m sure they’ll tell you tomorrow,’ he said cheerily, before hopping back on his folding green steed.
It’ s 7.37am when I meet Yiannis Avrameas at his shop 2047m Kardamili Mountain Activities, named after the highest peak in the area, Mount Taygetus. I know this is the time because Yiannis curtly points out I am seven minutes late, which is apparently most unlike the English. He then offers me moussaka before descending into guffaws of laughter, which I surmise is at the irony of a local being the one to bring up social stereotypes, and at the idea of me carrying moussaka in my jersey pocket.
A broad, genial man with a sometimes serious face, in Yiannis I soon recognise the archetypal Maniot character. Like most of Greece this is a community that traces its origins back several millennia, with modern Maniots proudly claiming the Spartans as their forefathers. Th e land is stunning yet harsh, and its remoteness has made it a destination for refugees from all over Europe for centuries. Th e result, it occurs to me, is a curious mix of stoicism and dry wit underpinned with a gregarious, hospitable nature.
As if to prove this point, Yiannis slaps me jovially on the back, tells me he’s sorry but today he has to lead a hiking trip up Mount Taygetus,
Source : Cyclist