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.

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!!!

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.

Nisos Kithnos

If you haven’t sailed in Greece, you may not have heard of this island not far from Kea. It is barren, seemingly with its largest crop being dry stone walls circling the countryside. As you sail into Loutra, a small but wonderful village with a small town quay. We are wedged between a handsome motor boat, with a Vespa on board and the famous yacht Felipa, sailed by Helmut, Peter, Peter and crew.  Just meters from the quay in two directions are beautiful swimming beaches, one with tavernas on the sand.

Tavernas, Loutra, Kithnos
Fishing from the Tavernas, Loutra, Kithnos

The crew from Yacht Felipa, were all Greek Gods, but currently reside in England and Austria. They were terribly good at having a party, teasing everyone and staying up for the World Cup Soccer into the wee hours. In winter, they are Norse gods because they spend their time skiing. Helmut was very generous in sharing some beautiful Austrian ham, sharing his precious photos of his new granddaughter, obviously a little goddess and conversation with us. We all met for dinner at separate tables at Sofrano Yachting Club, where many songs were sung about Alice.

The Greek Gods of MY Felipa
Rosemary photographing The Greek Gods of SY Felipa- we think their shirts is a reference to England or Germany winning, but we know the winner will be Forza Azzuri.

Wednesday morning found us in a car, going up to Chora, a lovely village. We wandered for an hour on a street running parallel to our parked car but you could never find an exit to the main street. We retraced our steps and came upon a wizened old woman in full black regalia, who gave me quite a lecture because we think I said ‘Kalispera’ too early. When I repeated ‘Yasus’, she gave me a pinch on the cheek and sent us on our way.

Kithnos windmill
Kithnos windmill

 

We visited Merikha and then wandered up to Driopis, which according to Heikell is like time travelling to the 1950’s. We made our way towards Kolona, the road was amazing and we made it to O. Apokriosis only because Stephen has thousands of miles of Aussie bush bashing under his belt. We could see the sand bar at Kolona.

Ormos Kolona
Ormos Kolona

When Heikell called the island barren,we can confirm its browness, but it is known for its cheeses, honey and figs.  What amazed me is all the dry creek ravines are full of wild oleander, which normally would like dry feet but prosper in the creeks, which see so little moisture. Come for the beaches or the food but nothing beats the Greek hospitality.

Wild Oleander
Wild Oleander

Hydra

At times we have to work harder for the better things in life. Hydra is certainly worth the extra effort. The effort was in the finding the entrance, which you can’t see until you are immediately upon it. We went over early and luckily a yacht left just as we arrived. That was the only berth available on the dock. We jumped off the boat and went exploring.

Fishing Boats and Hydra Town Quay
Fishing Boats and Hydra Town Quay

Hydra was a privateers’s den for quite awhile, so small and distant from mainland Greece’s bureaucracy, that it was able to ‘trade’ under the radar. In the mid-19th century, the bureaucracy caught up with Hydra and the population declined. By the 1960’s, tourism became a very lucrative money maker for the island. There are no cars, scooters or motorcycles allowed, boats or ferries bring in supplies and small carts fueled by man power. Burros and donkeys also cart materials, often so laden down with supplies you don’t see the donkey.

No mosquito like drone noises on Hydra, no motorcycles allowed.
No mosquito like drone noises on Hydra, no motorcycles allowed.

It is hard to break away from the waterfront and watching boats arrive- four super yachts and a few sailing boats and many fishing boats.The super yachts obviously have a number to call, as they approach the Harbourmaster arrives with his crew and they receive the mooring lines as big as a fender and tie the stern lines.

We watched groceries being delivered on the quay, first the veggies and then Hen’s night’s brides, bridesmaids and friends, as well as day trippers.

Hydra Style Delivery
Hydra Style Delivery

We walked to the west of Hydratown and saw the Spilla swimming hole with jumpers throwing themselves into the Aegean.

Jump!
Jump!

We went to a wonderful restaurant for the sunset views and lamb cutlets, it was out of the hubbub and fresh breezes in Hydratown. We saw a restaurant full of people dressed in white having a big party on the way back.

Hydra Town Cafe
Hydra Town Cafe

The dock was incredibly busy with six super yachts and their staff running up and down boats and polishing the steel and serving drinks. One of the motor boats across from us had a huge wide screen TV, so we could watch the World Cup soccer.

Hydra
Hydra home

Delphi

There is so much antiquity here in Greece, at times it is hard to comprehend that Delphi was first settled in the Bronze Age and it became an important sanctuary or shrine to Apollo around 800 years BC.

Delphi, looking into the valley which was once the sea
Delphi, looking into the valley which was once the sea

Delphi was considered the centre of the world, with an Oracle who would speak in tongues and priests that would ‘interpret’ after gathering all the gossip and chat from all corners of the world and then repeat it back as the message from the Oracle. It seemed all the city-states of Greece had treasuries here, so much wealth poured in as offerings to Apollo.

The Athens Treasury, Delphi
The Athens Treasury, Delphi

This was our first warm day in Greece, walking up the side of Mt Parnassus in 35 C degree heat (95F). Our idea was to stop in the shade and then finally get up to the Stadium where we were high enough to capture the breezes.

Stadium at Delphi
Stadium at Delphi

There must have been six tour buses, including ours so the idea was to stay just behind one crowd and just in front of the next. There is also a museum at Delphi, which we didn’t have time for as we had to make our way to Meteora.

Amphitheater at Delphi, musical competitions were also held here
Amphitheater at Delphi, musical competitions were also held here

Earthquakes changed the area and the Gulf of Corinth which once lapped the base of Mt Parnassus, is not as close and there is a fertile valley floor full of olives and pines.

Luck in the Corinth Canal

Planning your journey through the Corinth Canal can induce a fair amount of anxiety. If you are assigned behind a large ship, the Canal controllers are very demanding that your yacht get as close as possible to the ship’s whirlpool wake. In fact, they often give the command “full power” and “close the gap” and many different types of hurry ups. There is quite a bit of current in the canal to deal with and shallows on both sides.

Corinth Canal
Corinth Canal

 

We were keen to make Monday’s crossing early to ensure the lightest breezes,Tuesdays are usually closed for repairs in the canal.  We all smiled in relief when we saw we were the first boat waiting. No ships in sight, so that meant we would be first in the canal. As we waited, another yacht approached under spinnaker in the distance.

James, Leanne and Cam
James steering , Leanne and Cam

 

The Canal Controller was very happy that Mercier was there, “standing by”, sails stowed and ready to proceed. Yachts were in the canal coming from the east, so they proceed through and we enter the canal. Nautico*, the yacht behind us was not up to the Controller’s standards and several barks came over the radio to hurry up. As we passed, we could see the auto traffic waiting for the bridge to be raised so they could get across.

The canal’s first spade of dirt was dug by Nero, but even an excess of slave labour could not manage to dig the canal. It took gunpowder to manage that. Wikipedia has the story, so I won’t repeat it here. Interesting reading not only for the history but because of the curses that seem to befall anyone who wanted to build the canal.

*name changed

Cam and Leanne enjoying the view
Cam and Leanne enjoying the view