Several years ago a luxury resort complex called Costa Navarino opened in Messinia in the Peloponnese--the triumph of a man's dream to revive his native part of Greece. His name was Captain Vasilis Constantakopoulos and he lived long enough to see his 25 years of preparation come to fruition, providing jobs for thousands of his fellow Greeks and introducing something for every visitor, while maintaining strict ecological standards. The complex provides its own water and electricity, replaces every olive tree that has to be moved, and has a nature hall to introduce visitors to the flora and fauna of the region. Now his three sons continue his work.
There are two resorts in the complex--the Romanos and the Westin--and a third, the Banyan Tree, will open soon. It's a dream destination for families with children. Amalia, just under a year, was too young to be part of the "Sand Castle" crew, ages 4 to 12, kids who can be entertained, fed, and cared for every day by young counselors in the area that includes an Aqua Park, an American-style diner, and a "Sand Castle" full of crafts, movies, child-sized bathrooms, even facilities for sleeping overnight in the Castle on Fridays and Saturdays. (For grown-up fun there are swim-up bars and trendy restaurants and clubs and two world-class golf courses.)
A hamburger in the Diner comes with "Smiley Face" french fries.
Amalia loved playing in the Aqua Park with her Papou and her Mommy.
She watched while they slid down the large water slides.
She also enjoyed swimming in the private pool outside her room.
And collecting rocks on the beach.
As for dining--she tried it all. Here's just a corner of the bread selection at Breakfast.
She liked watching the sunset while listening to live music during happy hour.
Here is Mommy enjoying some "Mommy juice" at the Souvlaki restaurant in the Agora--a kind of central village gathering place in the center of the resorts. There, in additional to many kinds of restaurants, there are often programs demonstrating traditional Messanian cooking, dancing, and theatrical programs.
On August 15, the Virgin's holiday, Amalía and a lot of other children went with their parents to take communion in the small church in the Agora section of the resorts. The church got very crowded so Amalia and others listened from outside the church, where Amalia made friends, including this young man.
And after church was over, there was a program, spoken in Greek and English, about an old grandmother who made special breads for every holiday. Her bread-making was an almost religious ritual celebrating her culture and her family.
Then Greek dancers demonstrated their skills and taught everyone the Kalamatianos. It was Amalia's first theatrical production.
She loved it, doing a little dancing herself, and hoped she'd be able to come back to Costa Navarino again next year.
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