Cruise Ships and Kalamata Olives
11 October 2017 | Pilos - 6,565 NM
Off to the Pelopennese! Our first stop was Katacolon which is the closest port to Olympia. As we rounded the final point we were greeted by a monster cruise ship dominating the bay - and as we went further in there was another! The little village which was probably a fishing village in its previous life was now nothing more than a cruise ship terminal full of shops and bars. At least some of the shops were a bit more up market than the usual tourist tat. The other strange thing was that we'd clearly left the Ionian yacht circuit as there were only a few yachts there. On the motor there we realised we hadn't seen another boat - first for quite a while. Our first evening was spent perusing the shops and wondering at the world of the cruise ship passenger.
Next day we were up early to catch the train to Olympia. It was fascinating, so much history which still forms the foundation of our modern day olympics. I have to say we weren't as blown away by it as some of the ruins we've visited but still amazing. We ran the track (part of it!) run by the olympians of history and imagined the ceremonies the stones had witnessed. That evening, after recovering from our excursion, we thought we'd visit the shops - but there was only 1 cruise ship that day and it had left. The village was closed and the whole place felt like a ghost town, completely deserted! We sat in one of a couple of bars that were open and contemplated what a weird place it was, to be bustling with life one evening and eerily quiet the next.
We were going to stay another day and walk around the headland but there was a storm heading our way and we realised if we didn't leave today we'd be stuck for a while. Off we went, motoring on an eerily flat sea to Kyparissias where we moored along side a wall in the fishing port. On route we were delighted to see a pod of dolphins following behind a local fishing boat. We have definitely left the yachty route behind as there was only one boat there in Kyparissias. The town isn't pretty but is in a lovely spot creeping up the side of a mountain and with beautiful beaches each side of the harbour but not at all touristy. It has an interesting and 'real' high street and a square with a few bars - we managed to arrange fuel to be delivered to the boat from a local garage which arrived in cans - the downside of not being in a yacht harbour with people to organise these things. We had a very nice meal in a small restaurant near the harbour. It had no menu and the waitress did her best to tell us what they had. She insisted on doing it in English and we didn't understand a word! We ordered what we thought we'd heard and ended up with a very strange combination - a bean stew, fried cheese and chicken in tomatoes with chips which all arrived together. It was delicious if a little odd and with wine only cost 20€!
On the second night a few more boats arrived looking to hide from the storm and this time it really did arrive with torrential rain and high winds. We were protected from the wind but not the surge coming into the harbour and Freya bounced and surged around all night. We put snubbers on the lines but she still surged around to the limit of her lines and jumped back with a huge jerk and creak all night - not a lot of sleep! In the morning the rain had gone and the winds died down but the surge continued to make things very uncomfortable. Freya was safe and so we escaped to explore the castle and old town of Kyparissia.
There isn't much left of the castle but it's in a striking position way above town (we got a taxi up!) with amazing views. We could clearly see the island of Zakinthos about 50 miles away and Katacolon, our last port, 30 miles away but what was particularly noticeable was a cruise ship still clearly visible in port! After exploring the castle we wandered down through the old and new towns to enjoy a lovely (and again cheap) lunch in what looked like a pretty taverna but once inside it seemed to be owned by the Adam's family! Our suspicions were confirmed when we spotted a family portrait on the wall that we sure was of Gomez.
We decided to stay another day as we desperately needed to do some washing. With our chores done we packed our lunch and walked along the coast - but very quickly ran out of road! There was a footpath heading inland with a blue arrow sprayed on the ground - we thought it must be going somewhere. We walked along lanes through beautiful old, gnarled olive groves and we soon became expert at differentiating between the Kalamata Olive trees and the standard ones - they have slightly larger and darker leaves. After an hour or so we were wondering whether we were actually going anywhere, as we were still following the blue arrows, but then we found a sign post to "Paraylia", the beach. On we went and we came out on the most lovely, completely deserted beach. Perfect for a rest and lunch. When we got too hot we explored the rocks and sat in the shade at the entrance to a cave before heading back to our roast chicken dinner.
The link to our map seems to be stopping people leaving comments on the blog, so I've removed it from these posts for now. I will be keeping it up to date so simply go to one of the special map only posts and click the link there to see it