Andreas dancing the Rembetica in Paleochora, Crete
Jim and Rachel deciphering the Phaestos Disc of Linear B. Minoan Period
Jaane and Katerina in the Venice outfit ready for the beach
Stavros just caught a baby octopus (only for show, we released off to the wilds again)
Our ferry to Gythion was a rust bucket called Pegasus. Built to hold at least a thousand passengers, it looked like the Marie Celeste when we boarded. It seems that nobody but us had managed to buy tickets in advance. Slowly a few more dozen people got on, and then we left Crete's beautfiful shores at 8am.
There are two islands, AntiCythera and Cythera, on route, floating between the western tip of Crete and the Southern tip of mainland greece. Odysseus, like us, has travelled down the Aegean from Troy and then through these staights, the passage between the Aegean and the Ionian seas , and known for their treacherous currents and weather. According to Homer, Odysseus' ships were caught by storms and the strong Northerly wind and blown off course, 'across the teeming ocean' for nine days and nights, and finally landing off the Tunisian coast, on an island called Djerba. This was the land of the lotus eaters (hashish perhaps?); the land of forgetfulness.
We decided not to be blown off course (just too expensive) Instead we planned to reach Ithaka by crossing the Peloppese by bus, but first to Gythion. The sea was as smooth as silk for our Pegasus. We arrived at Gythion mid afternoon and waited for Jane to pick us up. Jane is the daughter of our old friend and neigbour Liz Webber.
Jane lives with her partner Stavros and baby daughter Katerina in deepest countryside close to Gythion. We were installed in a lovely apartment on the hillside behind the family farm. Here we learned alot about how people make a living in these parts. This farm was not the monoculture factory that we still grace with the name of 'farm'. Here everything was grown (olives, grapes, vegetables) and marketed locally; chickens, goats and a pig kept close by, and the income topped up with beekeeping, fishing, and, in the summer, a taverna and rental from apartments . Built up by Stavros' parents, who worked in Germany for ten years in their youth, and now continue to work seven days a week.
We had lunch one day with Liz's brother John and his partner Noni. Noni's house sits alone at the top of a hill with the most magnificent views of the Camares bay below. One of the advantages of being old is that a lot of water has run under your bridge, and sometimes other people have been swimming in the same waters, and there is much to talk about. So it was that we spent good time with Noni and John, and learned of local politics -the hotspots being rubbish collection and forest fires. Last year this part of Greece was devastated by fires, and we could see the blackened hill, perilously close to the farm and other homes in the area.
This tip of the Peleponnese is fertile, green and beautiful, and has wonderful beaches. Amazingly, it is almost untouched by tourism. Andrew, Rita, Mikis and Monique and their tribe of kids will be coming here for their holidays in August. It couldn't be bettered, and we are delighted for them. Local legend has it that Odysseas and his crew moored in Skoutari bay but were seen off after making advances to the local maidens. It seems as if it only happened yesterday! This is now an annual celebration to mark the occasion.
Jane has lived here for three years now and she speaks and understands Greek well. She and Stavros have just moved into their new house. We were impressed by how she has made a life for herself here, with many friends. It's the sort of dream that we had when we were her age, but stayed instead in london.
June 1st marked six weeks 'on the road' for us, a half way point both in time and the place we had reached. We do miss family and friends a lot (the blog is a way of keeping in touch)...but we're in no hurry to come home yet. Travelling is compulsive, and this particular journey is one that we have wanted to take for a long time. So on June 2nd Jane took us early to the bus station in Ariopoli, and we were on our way to Ithaka.