Saturday 18 November 2017

Daniel Howden and Tony Patterson: What it really means when friends and rivals meet on a football pitch in Gdansk

Greece's fans celebrate after their team scored a goal against Russia. Photo: Reuters
Greece's fans celebrate after their team scored a goal against Russia. Photo: Reuters

ROLAND Mueller needed a holiday. He was working 14-hour days running two businesses in his hometown of Ulm in southern Germany. A friend of his had an uncle living in the hills near Mani on the stunning western shore of the Peloponnese so he went there. One week later he had decided to go home, sell up and move to Greece. "I told myself I will never do this again and work like an idiot," he says.



The "basic and beautiful" life the electrician found in the stone villages that dot the side of the Taygetos Mountain was completely removed from the grind of home. Germans have been settling around Mani since the end of the Second World War when soldiers who served there during the occupation drifted back to the place they had come to love.



More than half a century later the sign for the Mani museum is in German and shops with names like Wunder Travel abound. Fourteen years on from his holiday, Mr Mueller says that going home to Germany is like entering "another dimension". The gardens in the village outside Ulm where his family lives are almost fake in their perfection, he says.

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