Monday, 25 August 2008

A lovely walled town

Hi from Clare, Monday 25/8

Photo 1 - Upper defense walls
Photo 2 - Hagia Sophia
Photo 3 - Overhead view of walled town
Photo 4 - Restored buildings on original town street
Photo 5 - Candy in town square

We left Milos at 4.30 am on Friday to travel the 65 miles to Monemvasia on the east coast of the Peloponnisos peninsular. We had a great sail at 60 degrees with two reefs and small genoa right up to full rig. We averaged 6 knots and arrived at 3.30pm anchoring in a lovely quite bay for swimming and relaxation. Out American friends headed north from Milos experiencing heavy sailing into strong winds and lumpy seas, so glad we headed west.

Before daylight we spotted a brand new plastimo inflatable dinghy riding the waves ahead of us. It was heading for Africa and we half expected a person to sit up as we approached. Fortunately the only thing in the dinghy was a set of oars and so we did a sea rescue and towed it to Monemvasia. It has no identification marks and it so new that its ropes are still a brilliant white. We could sell it, but so far it has been deflated and squirreled away under the forward bunk. My guess is it will be there for some time!

We took the bus to the old town of Monemvasia which is situated on an tall island (a huge lump of rock) off the coast connected by a causeway. The bus driver (Fotis) lived in Sydney, moved to Darwin, was wiped out by cyclone Tracey (no insurance) and returned Monemvasia. We arrived at the bus stop ten minutes early but Fotis wasn't too concerned about the timetable and took us immediately to the walled town yelling and gesticulating at every driver that got in his way.

The old town of Monemvasia started in 6th century (Byzantine)and has the familiar embattled history ruled by Turks, Venitians, Turks, Venetians. It is an archaeological site with an upper town with Citadel and Hagia Sofia (byzantine church) still standing inside the upper defensive walls. There are many ruined buildings but the cisterns are still intact. The cliffs are so sheer that defensive walls are built on only part of the top perimeter.

The lower walled town down near the sea is being rebuilt in character as accommodation, restaurants and craft shops along the original stone streets. The 12th century churches still stand and some are in use today. The restoration of the town is beautifully done and with its red clay tiled roves looks very much like Dubrovnic.

Monemvasia doesn't seem to be on the normal cruising route. Most of the boats in the marina are Greek owned and when in town the shops and restaurants are frequented by the Greek community. Our Greek neighbour has been cruising for twenty years and hasn't left Greece yet. He is convinced that he hasn't enough time in life to see all the wonderful bays and anchorages in Greece, so for him venturing any further is out of the question!

We will probably leave tomorrow for Elafonisos which is 35 miles south, then west. Our Greek neighbour ensures us that Elafonisos is a very beautiful place - guess he should know!

love CANDY