04 October 2019 | Porto Lagos - 8,263 NM
Lorraine Chapman | Thunder and Lightening
Our first night back in Kavala turned out to be very long! One of the big ferries arrived shortly after us which isn't normally a problem but it clearly wasn't going anywhere soon but kept his engine running all night. Added to that the whole fishing fleet must've returned for the weekend passing very close to Freya and our beds. The big ferry left in the early hours - phew! - except an equally big one arrived shortly after and seemed to be dropping his anchor on us! Not a lot of sleep was had! Saturday was market day in Kavala and we love a good market and so undeterred we had to go - it turned out to be right beside the harbour and so we didn't have far to go. It was an excellent market if very crowded with lots of locals in 'bubble' mode but we returned with bags full of fresh goodies to last us a while.
There was one more place we had to visit near Kavala and that was Fillipi, a Greco/Roman city built on the one built by Phillip of Macedon, Alexander the Great's father. We caught the bus for the half hour journey which was well worth it - we do like a good pile of old stones! The site was huge and will get bigger as more parts are being uncovered. There is so much history here - St Paul visited and created the first Christian church in Europe. He was also arrested and the cell he was held in is still standing - outside of which a group of American gospel singers worshipped! There were very impressive roads, with drainage, which are part of the Via Egnatia linking Constantinople to Rome plus a huge basilica and an octagonal church with mosaic floors as well as the usual streets, agora and houses. We spent a couple of hours exploring and imagining life there 2,000 years ago and followed it with a fish lunch in the taverna in the village.
We left in the morning and motored in zero wind 15 miles to Keramoti which was very pleasant but is primarily a holiday resort full of modern apartments and tavernas which were closing for the winter. It did have a spectacular wide sandy beach with shallow, turquoise, warm water though. This is another ferry port for Thassos and so another early morning as the ferries and fishing fleet started work! As there is no wind which makes journeys very boring we're doing short hops along the coast. Next was Advera another 15 miles away which has more ruins. This area is the delta for the Nesta river which spreads over a huge area making the sea very shallow. When we arrived we found we had to anchor almost a mile from shore and even then with only 1.5m of water under us and the depth alarm continually complaining! We could see the ruins on the hill and another village of modern apartments and decided a mile was too much effort and satisfied ourselves with a very nice lunch bobbing at anchor looking at the sparse ruins through the binoculars! We've been a little disappointed with this coast as we were expecting it to be less developed but apart from the cities we've found soulless modern developments. We then lifted the anchor and did another 10 miles to Porto Lagos.
Porto Lagos is a very sheltered lagoon entered via a long a narrow channel around a sand spit. Once in, we surveyed the big quay for somewhere to moor. There was a large area with tyre fenders clearly for something bigger than us, probably the boats collecting wheat, there was a large section with a few fishing boats with nets piled in between them and so probably not for us and then a few yachts and spaces with lines attached which also looked occupied. We opted for one of those not knowing whether we'd be moved on or not and moored stern-to. We set off to explore thinking that we'd be here for a few days as storms were coming. We thought we may hire a car and explore the wider area which included a huge lake which is again part of the river Nestos delta - not a chance! It felt like a ghost town! The streets were deserted. A third of properties were derelict, another third were for sale and empty and the rest didn't look very inviting. To complete the picture there were a number of (friendly) dogs roaming the streets, but did they like to "sing" in the evenings. There was one taverna, one bar, one betting shop (essential!) and a very small mini market. We asked in the shop and bar but neither had a clue about buses to the nearest town, Xanthi, and the bus stop didn't have a timetable only graffiti. We debated whether to move on quickly but really wanted to explore the lake and so after much debate we decided to stay although feeling a little trapped in zombie land.
As we were staying a few days, mains electricity would make life more comfortable so off Paul went to the Port Office for the electric card and to pay our mooring fees. Their card machine was broken and uniquely for Greece they wouldn't take cash. So no electric and come back later to pay for the mooring. On his next visit still no way to pay, but a chat with the boatyard saw us sorted for electric at no charge. The following day he tried again, no card machine and was told that as the office would be closed for the next 3 days, he must go the bank in the next village 20km away to pay. He reminded her we came by boat and had no car and with no more buses that wasn't possible. Ah she said, but you must pay today. Paul offered cash again. No, not possible she said. Stalemate. Then he was told the port police would be after us if we tried to leave without paying. Paul offered cash again. Not possible she said. After an hour of this a solution was found. Paul gave some cash to a passing local who he was assured would pay the money into a bank for us. The port office and the port police were happy so Paul left thinking "Only in Greece". That afternoon we got an email receipt for the payment so we needn't have worried.
In the morning we set off to find the lake not sure how far it was or if we needed bikes but we needn't have worried as after a 20 minute walk through the village and along a dust track we were on the shores with mountains towering on the far side and millions of birds of all sizes. We walked along the shore (passing all the rubbish!) and crossed a bridge over an outlet spotting large creatures swimming beside us. It took sometime for us to realise they were crabs with one hugely oversized claw and smaller blue ones which they were flapping wildly to swim. Amazing, we'd never seen anything like it. We found a beach completely made of shells and sat down to watch the birds. There were cormorants sitting on poles which they evicted terns and gulls from, several sorts of herons, greater and little egrets, grebes (I think) and lots of huge pelicans as well as millions of LBJs darting around the reeds. As we sat quietly they got closer and closer and so we sat for an hour or so sharing their world. It was very special. Walking back we followed the outlet to the sea where we could see the muddy waters of the delta mixing with the blue sea and found a bonus - lots of flamingos paddling on the beach!
The next day we were expecting the rain to start and so went for a walk in the morning around the lake in the other direction. We found ourselves on the main road which wasn't great but as it wasn't too busy we carried on and could see a monastery on two islands in the lake. It was a beautiful spot and again we enjoyed being twitchers for a while. After coffee in what was now our regular bar (the only bar!) we went back to the boat to have lunch and await the rain - but it never came. Later we did a smaller preamble around the spit of land separating the lagoon from the sea which is covered in pine trees. It was another lovely walk but so much rubbish everywhere! When we reached the beach the flamingos weren't there and so I guess we were lucky the day before. The day finished with a very nice dinner in the taverna but we were the only customers and come 8.30 they were clearly waiting to close and so we went to the bar where there were 2 old men watching the football. They left at about 9.30 and again, we felt we were outstaying out welcome. Home to bed then.......
The storm definitely arrived the next day with amazing thunder and lightening. A day of boat chores and blog catching up.