Even the word Peloponnese is beautiful. The fingers of mainland Greece stretch deep into the sea. Voluptuous mountains of red rock and vibrant succulent plants erupt with olive trees and fall off into the deepest of blue waters. From atop her cliffs, you can see loggerheads feeding in shallow water just alongside of a 500 foot bay. You can see the palest of blue water lapping at white sand. From the coastal cruise, you can look back at land and make out the faintest of trails connecting cliff side monasteries with the smallest of chapels seemingly only accessible by goat. Steps etched into the rock where waves crashed once and again and again until no life could make root.
We traveled down along the lands’ edge from Katakolou to Methoni. A most coveted port, Methoni has had her share of dominating suitors. Homer wrote that Methoni was offered to Achilles by Agamemnon in hopes of pacifying his rage. Methoni was taken by Spartans, Crusaders, pirates, Venetians, and Turks. In many cases, she was taken and retaken. We explored the old town and fort with the tunnels and towers, churches and prisons.
The views were simply stunning from our anchorages. After Methoni, we set hook just outside of the fort at Koroni. Lit up at night, the old fortress now houses an active convent. Koroni too had its share of conquerors. Both towns were very quiet with very few tourists. We shared tavernas with only a couple of other tables. The heat of the land radiated in the still air and the kids largely preferred to stay on the boat after our exploration in Methoni.
We sailed around to Porto Kagio. The bay is tucked in behind tall cliffs which magnify the winds. Fortunately those died down in the evening. A large cave with pale water at its mouth lay along the edge of the opening. Small rickety docks offered a place to tie our dinghy, while we lunched at one of the tavernas. Che and I split a whole fish, which was perfectly grilled and washed with oil and lemon. In the restaurant, they were spinning honey from combs.
After provisioning in Neapoli, we came upon the prettiest spots in Laconia. Three bays barely disconnected by the most slender of spits. We climbed up the hot sand and jutting rock overlooking the turquoise water. Gherty forgot her shoes so Justin went shoeless in solidarity. Not sure how they managed but they did. Chairs and umbrellas were set up along the shore so we spent the day slipping in and out of the water. The wind picked up that day and while our anchor was firmly set, we decided to escape the persistent roll by switching bays. The wind was the same but the waves from the south did not enter this northeast facing anchorage.
Monemvasia was magical. We initially anchored in the south bay but found with the climbing wind, we were more at ease in the north bay. The south gave us a view of the old town. The north gave us piece of mind that should our anchor drag (which it needn’t) we’d have a lot of sea to work it out versus a quick assent to the rocky causeway that separated the two. We spent much of that day on the boat feeling the katabatics. The wind was fast, hot and dry, as it came off the 3000 foot mountain.
The next day, we did something remarkable. We woke the kids up early. We dinghied under the causeway to the old town quay, a perfect landing spot with ancient bollards and a ladder! Justin then had the brilliant idea of releasing the kids in the walled city with 10 euros each. Justin and I climbed the well worn stoned path up to Upper Town. The beauty of Lower Town and its narrow roads, brightly flowered courtyards, and carefully maintained structures fell below us as we wound our way up to the ruins of Upper Town.
Our early start meant we could spend that night in a fjord. We set sail with the kite and flew up the coast. We dug into a patch of sand in an otherwise weedy area. The water was “packed” with only six boats at anchor. Justin rowed me over to the quay and we had a lovely linner under the shade at a wonderful taverna. We chatted with some Serbians who were on their way to Monemvasia and all had a complimentary shot of some unidentifiable liquor.
The kindness and natural humor of the Greeks is so welcoming. We are constantly reminded that life is good and if it isn’t, you should probably do your best to enjoy it anyway. As a vendor told me yesterday, “There is today and there is tomorrow. Why not enjoy today and worry about tomorrow tomorrow.”
Much love and stay tuned.