Magical Day in Kastellorizo

Kas is a lovely place, with the shopkeepers and restaurateurs keeping their invitations low key. History just inserts itself into daily life seamlessly. It was Lesley’s last day with us yesterday, she is travelling to Rhodes via Kastellorizo. We have not used up our 90 day Euro allotment for times like these and we decide to take the ferry trip with her.

Lesley buying green almonds, which are packed with ice.
Lesley buying green almonds, which are packed with ice in Kas

In less time than a ferry trip would take from the Quay to Manly, we are back in Greece and on a picture postcard island of about 5 square miles. The island, also called Meis in Turkish and the older Greek name of Megristi, has a beautiful natural harbour facing Kas. The houses around the harbour and up the hill are either completely renovated, beautiful and colourful or in various states of ruin.

Queen of Ro Square
Queen of Ro Square

Many residents of Kastellorizo migrated to Australia, mainly Melbourne and Perth with only 500 residents on the island full time. Their descendants are coming back to enjoy the island and to renovate the family homes.

Megristi, Kastellorizo
Megristi, Kastellorizo

One of the joys of travelling is friends’ sharing their experiences so that we are sure to visit, because they have enjoyed the magic too. Dave and Leigh visited and really enjoyed their time on the island. Leigh mentioned the Aussie connection. Sharron and Graeme celebrated their 25th anniversary here, danced to a bit of Greek music and broke a few plates.

Everything happens on the water front, with the restaurant tables so close the edge of the harbour, you see everything in the water and it is very tempting to throw bread in for the fish. We saw at least three big turtles in the harbour and they would push each other around. We couldn’t tell if it was territorial or amorous in intent.

Loggerhead Turtle, asking how our lunch was.
Loggerhead Turtle, asking how our lunch was.

When our ferry arrived, within minutes we were walking round the waterfront. The chefs are clever, they fillet their fresh fish and throw the bones and bits to the Loggerheads, which keeps the turtles interested in the foreshore. You will also see how sleek and glossy the cats are, well behaved to ensure they get their share of the fish scraps.

tourist looking at the turtles, cats in elegant attention waiting politely for their morning tea.
Tourista looking at the turtles, cats in elegant attention waiting politely for their morning tea.

Before lunch we climbed up to the fortress castle, then around the back to other squares and churches, before our long and lovely lunch at Alexander’s. Finally a goodbye to Lesley, which brings to mind another joy of travel, travelling with friends so you can enjoy the experience and create memories.

Colourful houses
Colourful houses

We still have home firmly in our thoughts and it has been busy at the RSYS.  We send our warmest congratulations to Richard Chapman, who is now Commodore of the Squadron; we wish you smooth sailing. The same wishes go to Dave Edwards, our new club captain; David Ward, our new Vice Commodore; Christian Brook, our new rear Commodore.  Good luck to you all in the coming year.

James and I would like to thank Commodore Malcolm Levy for including us in Squadron life for the past four years. Great job, now you will have more time for leisurely lunches in McMahons Point.

Lyn and Rene, I hope they thanked both of you for all the work you have done too.

 

A trip to Rhodes

James and I decided to take a side trip to Rhodes. The islands of Kos, Symi and Rhodes are just off the south-western Turkish coast and they are close, a just short ferry trip away.

Rhodes was a completely different Greek island, even though the ancient Greeks and Romans had preceded us there and left ruins to be be seen.  What was different is that Rhodes is the oldest medieval city in western Europe. The medieval architecture and history of Rhodes Town and its citadel dominate the landscape and our imaginations.

Rhodes Town Bastion and Turrets
Rhodes Town Bastion and Turrets

We visited the Palace of the Grand Masters and learned that the exhibitions contained within were put together in 1993 as the 2,400th anniversary of the foundation of the city of Rhodes in 408 BC. Many Roman mosaics were collected from Kos and other Greek islands and built into the palace, looking like Turkish Rugs on the marble floors.

Courtyard of Palace of the Grand Master
Courtyard of Palace of the Grand Master –  the final point of defense

The Knights of Rhodes were founded in the 11th Century by merchants from Amalfi. As a group knights were made of Roman Catholic men usually of noble birth from Italy, France, England, Provence, Spain, Auvergne (France) and Germany.  The Knights were also famous for their hospitals, so if you were ill or wounded you would be brought to the nearby hospital for care.

Turrets
Turrets

There is also a street called the Street of the Knights, where the knights lived and met. Each country had their own building on the street.

Turks lived in Rhodes during the reign of the Knights and after Suleiman finally conquered Rhodes . Minarets, fountains and gardens imprinted the Turkish presence on Rhodes Town.

Turkish Garden in the Street of the Knights
Turkish Garden in the Street of the Knights

The hospital of the Knights of St. John was a very evocative building, It was all too easy to imagine the injured and ill, so far from home and looking up at the stone ceilings, listening to screams and moans, wondering if you would ever see your home again. To add to the sinister feeling of this old colonnade, the area contains tombstones of the knights, confirming that many never did see their homes again.

Ceiling of the Knights' hospital
Ceiling of the Knights’ hospital

The Colossus of Rhodes was not to be seen but Mandraki Harbour is still beautiful and you can almost imagine sailing underneath the Colossus into Mandraki Harbour.

Mandraki harbour
Mandraki harbour

 

 

Asklepieion, Odeon and the Agora, Kos then Farewell to Greece

The range of antiquities in Kos Town and on Kos makes me want a virtual game, so I can just wander round and meet the players: Apollo, Asklepeion, Hippocrates, Hadrian, the Venetian Knights of the Crusades and Sulemain, the Magnificent. What a cast of characters, over centuries of occupation by gods and man, Kos casts a spell of inspiration.

In prime of place, is the Plane tree of Hippocrates, before the Asklepeion was built, Hippocrates taught his students “first do no harm” under the giant plane tree, near the waterfront.

Hippocrates' Plane Tree
Hippocrates’ Plane Tree

Hippocrates was a descendant of the god Asklepios, the god of healing. After Hippocrates death, the Asklepieion was built as a temple and hospital on a hill overlooking the sea and the coast of Turkey.

Perhaps there was a sanctuary to Apollo on the site but by the 4th Century BC, there was a temple built to honour Asklepieion. There patients would bath in springs, priests would listen to their dreams and feed them nutritious food in the middle of a pine grove with beautiful views..  Just the cleanliness and food may have solved many problems, but listening to dreams while taking in splendid views sounds like early psychotherapy.

Asklepieion of Kos
Asklepieion of Kos

 

Asklepieion - Corinthian Temple
Asklepieion – Corinthian Temple

This is all still here but the Asklepieion was ransacked by the Knights to build their fortress, so it will never be fully restored.

The view from the Asklepieion
The view from the Asklepieion

Antiquities abound in Kos, the Romans were here in 2nd and 3rd centuries BC.  Greeka.com offers quite a good history, recalling the Casa Romana and the Odeon all within walking distance of the marina and Kos Town.

Roman Odeon, Kos Town
Roman Odeon, Kos Town

 

Apartment for sale, Views of Roman Agora
Apartment for sale, Views of Roman Agora

So finally, it is time to say farewell to Greece.  We have to leave after such a short time due to the Schengen Agreement.

We are off to Turkey and Bodrum. I hear there is a temple to Apollo there too.

Happy Birthday to cousin Ed De Angelo, hope it was great.

Kos and the Castle of Neratzia

On Tuesday, we left Kalymnos and motored right over to Kos.  You could see the island from our spot on the Town Quay and as soon as we sailed out of the harbour we saw several islands and Turkey.  There is a small barren island just a stones’ throw from Turkey and both Greece and Turkey have their large flags facing each other.

a Greek island
a Greek island

We wandered the streets of Kos Town less than a kilometer from Kos Marina, which we think is one of the best marinas in Greece.  Certainly it has the nicest showers, which is a very important criteria.

On Wednesday morning, Kate and Mike Rider, friends from Noosa, came into Kos on a cruise ship and visited us on Mercier.  We were able to sit and chat, in a beautifully cool breeze and sip our coffees.  Mike is always a useful font of Beneteau knowledge and we appreciate his advice.

Gaila and Kate at the Fortress of St John, Kos
Gaila and Kate at the Agora, Kos

We stopped for lunch at H20 on the way to visit Hippocrates’ Plane Tree, the Agora and the Castle of Neratzia, which is full of ruins from the Knights of St John, as well as Turks, on the foundations of an ancient city. The castle is mirrored on the Turkish Coast by the Halikarnassos Castle, so the Knights of St John could control the Straits between Greece and Turkey.

Mike and James exploring the exterior of the Keep.
Mike and James exploring the exterior of the Keep. Looking at the Port of Mandraki

We scrambled over and through both keeps and into tunnels, looking at antiquities, Turkish writing carved into plinths and many heralds over the tops of arches and upper walls.

Kate and James watching Mike disappear into a tunnel
Kate and James watching Mike disappear into a tunnel

Neratzia is the Greek word for ‘Bitter Orange” according to one website but we only saw capers and pomegranates growing and of course the beautiful views.

Pomegranates
Pomegranates, not quite ripe

Gentle Leros and in Kalymnos – the meltemi strikes again

We visited the very unusual island of Leros, which was a Mussolini experiment in Art Deco, though he never visited here. We had a wonderful dinner here rack of lamb for the boys and moussaka for Sue and I. The chef came out to see who ordered their lamb cutlets rare and then joined us after dinner.  The hospitality in Greece is amazing and Chef Petrino’s moussaka with white aubergine was exquisite.

Discussing lamb with Chef at Petrino's on Leros.
Discussing lamb with Chef at Petrino’s on Leros.

When we were in Tinos, Rosemary and Stephen had to take a ferry to Syros to make their connections home. That was because we were surprised by a meltemi at 5 AM. Mercier had to wait it out for three and half days. Here in Kalymnos, we have had a similar scenario. First we weren’t able to get a berth a Kos marina, then our Finnish friends lay their anchor chain across ours and then the meltemi came in a big way. We are here for the duration. We decided on a tour of the island.

First Stop - Myrties. The taverna had hosted a wedding the night before and the decorations were still there. The beach was stunning.
First Stop – Myrties. The taverna had hosted a wedding the night before and the decorations were still there. The beach was stunning.

Sometimes, I think an island like Kalymnos decides that we have only seen its port, so it orders a meltemi so that we are forced to explore its beauty a bit more.

Arginonta
Donald, Sue, James and Gaila -Arginonta

So on Sunday, we hired a car and off we went around the island. We found lovely villages by the sea at every stop and rich and fertile farmland in the center of the island.

We had a magnificent lunch with Eleni at Dreamcatcher, the food was amazing. It was all prepared by her family and the provenance was all explained. Great to have a swim, beautiful food and continue on our way.

Emporios Beach with a few moorings for yachts
Emporios Beach with a few moorings for yachts

 

We also visited the fjords of Vathi, which is a small but very dramatic anchorage and marina.

Vathi
Vathi

We ended the tour with a visit to a beautiful monastery of Nuns.

Convent
The beautiful Monastery of Agioi Pantos

The Swannos put a ferry plan in place for Monday morning.  We decided to go with them have a last coffee and see them off to Kos. Luckily, they made the ferry because we were going early  for a coffee but it was a running dash.  Bon Voyage Swannos!

Dodecanese sunshine

The weather has been great, sunshine and a breeze during the day and cool sleeping weather at night.  Yesterday, after walking from the Chora to town, we relaxed with a swim and later ate our dinner on the same beach.

We had excitement on the dock with a large private ship, with a staff ratio of 38 staff to 18 guests. It looked like Las Vegas at midnight when we were walking back from dinner. [Rene – there was a veritable light show on the water.]

At twilight a beautiful blue yacht sailed in and anchored in Skala harbour for awhile. We much preferred this beauty and we think it may be the Murdochs’ boat.

Yacht Envy
Yacht Envy (Vertigo – Rupert’s boat)

We were up early this morning to leave our wonderful Patmos and go and explore Leros.

James, Sue and Swanno and I had the spinnaker up quickly.  She is a beautiful duck egg blue and it was a perfect day to try her out.  Sadly, when Davo was with us the meltemi was a bit fierce going to Mykonos for the spinnaker but we will rectify it next year.

Sue and Swanno  sailing to Leros
Sue and Swanno sailing to Leros

 

James keeping the spinnaker afloat
James keeping the spinnaker afloat
beautiful day for a spinnaker run
Squadron burgee and beautiful day for a spinnaker run

We stopped for a swim off the boat as we came into Lakki and the water was perfect. We are looking forward to enjoying all the treats Leros has to offer.

We would like to offer our thoughts and prayers to the family and friends of the people killed in Malaysian Airlines flight disaster.

 

Naxos Soujourn

Naxos Port has a hands on harbour master, Nikos.  We knew we could leave Mercier at Naxos and take a ferry over to Santorini.  We departed Mykonos on Tuesday with a diminishing meltemi in three and a half hours sailing we were in front of the Portara Gateway from the unfinished Temple of Apollo and sailing into Naxos Town.

We made it to Naxos
We made it to Naxos

We walked up to the Venetian Castle and then wandered through the winding alleys of the medieval quarter called the Bourg. It was before the end of siesta, so you could easily imagine that the pirates had come and taken everyone away.  The only residents we saw were some very sleepy cats.

Wednesday evening  found us at the Potara Gateway on the islet of Palatia, looking at the sunset with the other tourists, but when the sun went down, they departed.  Merro pulled out of his trusty Squadie bag, a bottle of Mercier Champage and we sat on the ruins and toasted absent friends.

Geoff and James at the unfinished Temple of Apollo
Geoff and James at the unfinished Temple of Apollo

On Thursday we toured the island of Naxos in a little rent a car.  First north to the sleepy beach village of Apollon, through very windy roads in a verdant landscape of olive groves and fruit trees.

You wouldn’t think Davo was a sentimental bloke, but he gets almost misty eyed at the sight of the gum trees he is seeing on these Greek islands.  The dry barren islands of the Cyclades really are a perfect second home for these gum trees.We had a wonderful lunch under the shade trees in the hilltop village of Apeiranthos with cool breezes and wonderful food.

Naxos countryside
Naxos countryside

We ended the day without cameras at the beautiful Plaka beach south of Naxos town and had outdoor showers and cocktails at a resort there.  Naxos is a beautiful island, maybe we will all get to return.

Potara Gateway
Potara Gateway

 

A gallery of Finikas and Ano Syros

These are two of the suburbs on the island of Syros.  Finikas is a resort area and the marina is here.

Here is how our day started.  I went out early and took a few photos of Finikas Marina and some of the beautiful boats here.  One which is quite beautiful looks like it may be a canal boat.  Note the clear water under the tiller and the varnish.  It makes me think of Swanno and Richard Lawson, no one varnishes like those two.

Tiller of the canal boat, clear water
Tiller of the canal boat, clear water

The smallest fuel truck in the world came and brought us fuel. No going to the fuel wharf for us, they just drive right to us.

Small fuel truck
Small fuel truck

 

Our errands done, we wanted to  see if the bay in Hermoupolis was as quiet as Finikas.  The boats there were rolling side to side.  That was before the ferry came into the bay.  Finikas Marina is much calmer in the meltemi, although perhaps not in a southerly or westerly.  We continued on our way to the Old medieval town of Ano Syros, which was the Venetian fortress and remains the Catholic part of town.  It is above the city of Hermoupolis.  It is a town of winding streets and stairs, not only to foil pirates by battling them one at a time and also to offer protection from the wind.

 

Ano Syros
Ano Syros

 

This area is famous for being the birthplace of Greek Blues and there is a monument to Vamvarkis, a celebrated ‘rebetiko’ or blues singer.  He is known in Greece as the Patriarch of the Blues Singers.

Colorful monument to Markos Vamvarkis, the reknown Greek Blues singer from Ano Syros.
Colorful monument to Markos Vamvarkis, the renown Greek Blues singer, from Ano Syros.

The views are always at the top, aren’t they?

Hermoupolis
Hermoupolis – looking down onto St Nicholas Church

 

 

The Bay of Hermoupolis
The Bay of Hermoupolis

 

HAPPY FOURTH OF JULY, Y’ALL!!!

Tinos Villages to Syros

What to do in a meltemi?  Swimming in the churned up water is not an option nor is a nice quiet sail.  We decided to take the city bus all around the hill top villages of Steni, Monastiria, Komi, Krokos to see all of the dovecotes and gardens we had read about.

 Dovecote, Tinos

Dovecote, Tinos

 

The Venetians were part of the history of Tinos creating a safe haven on the great rock, Exompourgo. The Venetians found creating dovecotes meant they would have meat and eggs but they would also garden with the collected droppings.  Over the centuries in these barren islands Tinos with it dovecotes is one of the lushest. The dovecotes or peristeriones were highly decorated with some houses looking rather romantically, just like a dovecote.

Dovecote house, Tinos
Dovecote house, Tinos

On Tuesday morning, we slipped away from Tinos town early and headed over to the island of Syros.  After days of 50 knot winds, we would have been lucky to have 5 knots for our journey.

We motored into the sleepy harbour of Finikas, with it’s lovely marina, beautiful bay and beaches and only a short bus trip to Hermoupolis.  Hermoupolis is sacred to Hermes the god of commerce, this is the largest city in the Cyclades. Also known as Ermoupoli, it has a beautiful natural bay and gorgeous buildings rising up to Ano Syros.  It has a beautiful town square, Plateia Miaouli, paved in marble lined in palm trees and cafes.

Plateia Miaouli
Plateia Miaouli
Ciity of Hermes, Syros
City of Hermes, Syros
Shadows
Shadows

There will be more on Ermoupolis, we hope you come back to take a look. Friday and Saturday we expect another meltemi but we are snug at Finikas, waiting for Debbie and Geoff Davidson to join us.  We hope Stephen and Rosemary made it home safely.

 

Sunday on Tinos – Panagia Evangelistria

Tinos is most famous for a blessed icon of the Virgin Mary, which is second to Lourdes in granting miracles. Hundreds of Orthodox crawl the kilometer from Port to the Church of Panagia Evangelista up the stairs to the church to kiss the icon. Miracles are proclaimed and the benefactors give gold or silver offerings representing their miracle.

Panagia Evangelistria
Panagia Evangelistria

The interior of the church is beautiful with icons and many silver representations of the miracles. One miracle was of a ship which had been sinking, the crew all prayed to the Virgin Mary. Suddenly the ship stopped taking on water, when they looked at the hole, a big tuna sized fish had been sucked into the whole, staunching the flow of water, allowing them enough time to reach shore. To thank the Virgin for this miracle, a large silver sailing ship hung with 2/3 of a tuna hanging from the hole. There is a beautiful silver icon of the Virgin and a line of people waiting to say their prayers in front of her. There are silver babies, houses and other ships. We lit candles and were humbled by the faith you could feel in the church.

Here are a few photos of the church and the grounds of Panagria Evangelistria .

a pilgrim crawling to give thanks
a pilgrim crawling to give thanks
From the courtyard looking towards the Port
From the courtyard looking towards the Port
The Priest
A Priest

The meltemi is consistently blowing, gusts up to 50+ knots.  To look outside you would think it is a perfect day, you step outside and you feel like Mary Poppins about to take off.  It literally sweeps you off your feet.  We have had to reef the bimini or we would have been flying with Mercier instead of sailing. The meltemi teaches patience.

We are happy to hear that Rosemary and Stephen made it to Syros and will fly back to Sydney on schedule.  We wish them a safe trip.