15 November 2018

Argostoli to Athens - Two Weeks with Friends

On our way from Argostoli, Kefalonia, our safe harbour during the medicane, "Zorbas".  Seas were a little confused but it was good to be moving.
286 NM
2 pods of dolphins
9 night stops
2 UNESCO sites
1 medicane
1 birthday
1 canal

It's always rejuvenating to have friends aboard.  Comments from new eyes on holiday allow us to revamp our appreciation for the lifestyle we have chosen.  And this was an extra special visit for me:  Two of my oldest and dearest childhood friends - one since age four and the other from grade three.  I missed their walks but they kept my ailing ankle in repose, carrying tea, washing every dish, making meals,  doing almost daily grocery shopping and taking us out to a sumptuous birthday dinner.  They even hauled dock lines under the duress of high winds.  Some holiday!
Lee suffered from an eye irritation for a few days and became our own pirate,  Paula had a stomach upset for a night or two and I with my ankle gave Peter a good dose of medicine.  Our smiles never wavered and all were successfully treated.

Working in the galley always more fun with a crew.
They worked but also played and relaxed.  This time during a swim and lunch stop en route.

Second stop on the mainland at the village of  Astakos left no time for pictures.  A tight spot between boats on the town wall and a strong wind on the beam made med mooring a touch and go process.  I gave the helm to Peter and hopped to the bow to manage the anchor and Paula and Lee were on each sugar scoop to toss the lines ashore with the hope that someone would be there to catch them.  With a few tense moments, each of us managed our jobs and Milly was safely squeezed in place.  Shortly afterwards, a charter boat attempted the same but without similar results.  They dropped their anchor out of line with their berth, weren't prepared with their lines and couldn't manage to reach the dock without lying across the top of our neighbour's bow - much yelling!  On trying to retrieve their anchor, they hooked our chain and proceeded to pull it up, not knowing how to get it off their anchor.  Our neighbour, while shaking his head in dismay and wonderment, shouted directions in German.  At a snail's pace and with the aid of boat hook and line they were able to drop our chain.  Over the long time that it took - or so it seemed - they cruised back and forth in front of our bows - granted the wind made sitting still difficult.  More shouting - much of it from me, I have to admit.  Finally, after our chain was dropped, we realized without surprise that our anchor was no longer holding and we were drifting onto our other very patient neighbour's boat.  And so we had to repeat our whole docking process, releasing lines, weighing anchor, dropping anchor reversing into tight spot, throwing lines, etc.   Through it all, Lee and Paula, working under duress, were calm - or seemed so - and managed their jobs magnificently!  Never a dull or predictable moment on a boat!

Completely different than the last many months of mountainous coastline, Mesolongion in the Gulf of Patras, offered something completely different.  Situated in a huge salt marsh, the small, round harbour and anchorage was reached by a dredged canal over two miles long and edged by small fishermen cottages on stilts.

Unfortunately, the weather did not cooperate for our view of this majestic bridge dividing the Gulfs of Patras and Corinth.   A beautiful feat of engineering.
The entrance to Navpaktos' medieval, walled and tiny harbour was dominated by the Venetian castle on high.

Minute harbour was charming surrounded by trees and a square.

From charming and protected Galaxidhi on the Gulf of Corinth, we rented a car for a day trip.  From the rise of the coastal mountains we saw beneath us a sea of olive trees.

Magical Delphi, an incredible site in a magnificent setting, was considered to be the centre of the earth by ancients. Besides the setting with a backdrop of soaring peaks and lush deep valleys which was awe-inspiring enough for religious inspiration, there was also a chasm that apparently emitted trance inducing vapours.  A prophetess, over 50 year old woman, sat over the chasm on a tripod and uttered prophetic mutterings which were in turn interpreted by a priest.  The priests were better informed then others at the time, being able to gather political, economic and social information from their web of connections throughout the ancient world.  And answers were most often ambiguous so that no matter what happened in actuality, the answer was correct.  At it's peak, in the 6th century BC, the oracle was perceived as the most truthful in the known world and brought people with questions and offerings from far and wide. 

The Treasury of the Athenians (490 BC) was an offering to Apollo after  the battle of Marathon was won and then housed dedications made by their citizens.

The serpent column.  The original, taken to Constantinople in 324 AD, stood 8 m high and was topped by the heads of three snakes now broken off, a golden tripod and a bowl.  Stunning work of art.

 The Temple of Apollo from the 4th century BC. Originally the site was dedicated to Gaia or Mother Earth and Poseidon.  A serpent and son of Gaia lived in a cave nearby and communicated through the Pythian priestess.  Apollo, who arrived in the shape of a dolphin - hence the name, Delphi - killed the python.  In commemoration, the Pythian Games were held afterward.

A hike/crutch up a steep path paved with stones polished by a few thousand years of human footsteps brought us to the stadium where teams raced from one set of markers to another while those on the stone benches cheered them on.  I came here in 1982 on a backpacking tour.  Then we could enter the stadium and sprint to the finish line.  Now entry is forbidden.  A guard sits to oversee.  Great that they're protecting antiquity but sad that they have to.

Milly's crew

Who wouldn't enjoy a play in this setting?

Byzantine Osios Lukas monastery in another inspiring and  remote setting.  

It sat on a terrace of a mountain slope with a wide looking over a wide lush valley.

Not one of our more scenic stops.

First sight of the Corinth Canal.

We had to wait almost three hours for our turn as this lame freighter was tugged and pushed through the canal ahead of us.

Freighters get the privilege of going first followed by a procession of sailboats called by the parade master one-by-one to get in line.  Even though we were second, the wash from the freighter in the narrow passage kept Peter busy at the helm and swept the boat in front of us from side to side.

The parade was watched by walkers who congregated on the final bridge at the end.

A tight squeeze. 
We could see the Acropolis as we crossed Saronikos Kolpos toward Athens.  The little arrow is Milly, safe in a snug, free anchorage in Glifadha, just south of Athens.  Lee and Paula caught a taxi from here to the airport and Peter and I stayed for about ten days with visits from Tom and his training partners and into the city.
Thanks for coming, Lee and Paula!  Your beds are waiting for a return visit soon, we hope!

The crew!  Sad to see you go but excited to welcome you back

Sept 27- Oct 10, 2018.
Argostoli, Kefalonia - abandoned marina
Katelios, Kefalonia - at anchor
Astakos - town wall
Mesolongion - at anchor
Navpaktos - at anchor
Galaxidhi - town wall
Kiato - harbour wall
Kanakia, Nisos Salamis - at anchor
Glifadha - at anchor

4 November 2018

Kythnos - Quick Stop for a Cure

After a exploratory crutch/walk around the village, we stopped for a thermal plunge in therapeutic waters - espoused to cure arthritis and "gynaecological problems".  We had neither but it was worth steeping for awhile for a pain in the ankle.  Did it work?  Well, it sure didn't hurt!
Church at the site of the thermal spring was all dressed up to celebrate something or other.  The scalding waters ran about 500m from the spring to the seaside where it mixed with the now chilly Aegean.  The aqueduct through which the water ran was lined with all kinds of colourful growth that flourished in the heat.  

Toronto 8,172 km away, rated a mention...
...as did this!  The owner of the restaurant had lived in Toronto and was clearly a fan.  Signs of home.

26 October 2018
Loutra town wall,
Nisos Kythnos
N37.23' E24.53'