Monemvasia sits towards the bottom of the gulf and the weather at this end is more extreme as it catches the side of the meltimi as it blows down through the Cyclades. We had put off a trip south before due to wind conditions but now saw a four day period that would make the journey possible. The anchor came up in Vivari around 06.20 as the first light gave us enough vision to see and avoid the 'pots' and we motored out into a completly calm morning.
The absence of wind for the whole day gave us eight hours of motoring to cover the 51 miles to Monemvasia. The old town is built on a massive granite outcrop now joined to the mainland by a causeway. As we rounded the rock around 14.00 we were looking hopefully at the harbour as there are only around 6 good mooring slots there. There was a space......but another boat was approaching it. We missed the slot by about 60 seconds and were left with the choice of mooring back to quays where we know from friends that the ground is foul (covered in old mooring stuff and likely to catch your anchor) or anchoring in the bay which is exposed. We chose the latter and suffered a bumpy few hours as the afternoon southerly gave us 12 knots of waves to enjoy, the Captain was not in a good mood.
The granite mount of Monemvasia from the anchorage, the town is on the seaward side, so is hidden here
Eventually the evening calm arrived and the bay was choppy but safe for the night, and we were able to walk up to the old town and enjoy a pleasant tapas style meal. Even so, Chris was not keen on the anchorage so the plan changed and we made an early start to walk up to the old town around 08.30hrs.
The 'main street' as you enter the old town
We had the place to ourselves and enjoyed exploring for a couple of hours in peace. The narrow medieval streets still have their cobble-stones and the houses are tiny with arched ceilings of the local stone. It is clear that the commercial potential of the place has been recognised and significant restoration is underway. It appears that much of this is small holiday lets and small hotels so it may manage to escape the worst of the mass tourism blight. We hope so as it's a very interesting town and the buildings are being treated with some sympathy so far. We had seen around the lower town by 11.00 hrs and decided against the climb to the high town as the heat was rising. We were walking out of the town as the first coaches arrived. As is our normal policy and advice for nice places - go there but go early!
Monemvasia town shot from a rock chapel we climbed to in the cliffs
Splice was underway north within the hour and avoided any more 'afternoon southerlies' in the anchorage. It's not unsafe there in moderate winds, but it's not fun.
Main Photo: The medieval town from the sea