A long (50nm) day to get us to the next place of interest down this coast. Unfortunately we had the first almost completely windless day for quite a while – we tried sailing for less than and hour, but it was hardly worth it. This is a great spot though – modern Pylos stands at the mouth of Navarino Bay protected from the Ionian Sea by two islands which look spectacular against the setting sun. The smaller of the islands (Nisos Pylos) has a huge natural arch piercing it. We motored over in the dinghy to climb it and the different rocks forming the island are amazing. The larger island is where, in ancient times, the Spartans actually surrendered to the Athenians and therefore destroyed the myth that they always fought to the death!
Looking out to Nisos Pylos from the Turkish fort:
The bay itself is famous for being the birthplace of Greek independence, in that an allied fleet trounced the Turks in 1827 at the famous Battle of Navarino, marking the end of Turkish rule. The sea battle is intriguing, as the Turks thought they had enticed the Brits, French and Russians into a trap, outnumbering them 3:1, but somehow “we” blasted them to bits with hardly any allied losses. The French, who were part of the allied fleet, managed to win influence here and were responsible for rebuilding the town. They say it has a French feel to it, but we find it more like Cadiz, especially the large central square which buzzes all evening with extended families taking their various pleasures; adults eating & drinking, children playing noisily.
Views from Nestor’s Cave:
The area is littered with historical remains: from the recent past we’ve explored the nearby Turkish castle which protects Pylos itself (pop. 2,500) plus the Frankish ruins on the other side of the bay (a hard climb in the heat). >From the Mycenean period we’ve seen a couple of Tholos tombs, “Nestor’s Cave” (supposedly the one referred to in the Odyssey), and Nestor’s Palace. This is Greece’s best preserved Mycenean remains (from around 1200-1500 BC) and although the walls are only 1m high now, it is very evocative. You can still see the painted floors in places and there is a wonderful highly decorated terracotta bath still in place.
A Tholos tomb & the bath in Nestor’s Palace:
We hired a car yesterday to be able to do most of this and it turned out expensive! We hit a pot-hole en-route to the beach and discovered a flat tyre on driving off. That would have been OK, but the spare was also flat, so the hire company sent out a taxi to take them both to be fixed. When we returned the car this morning they tried to charge us for both tyres and the taxi. A tense argument (with both sides threatening to call the police!) resulted in us “only” paying an extra €50, which would have been a rip-off for re-inflating a tyre in the UK, but maybe it’s fair game in Greece – who knows. Still, we did get to see some really great stuff.