And so into the Aegean, around Ak Maleas, infamous for unpredictable strong winds and heavy seas. It was dead calm as we went round it, waving to the monastery above which keeps a caring eye on passing ships, they say:-
After 6 hours of motoring in the hot still air, we finally got to Monemvasia, which like a miniature Gibraltar rears sheer out of the sea, only connected to the mainland by a narrow causeway. The name means “single entry” as there is only one way into the medieval town through a tunnel in the surrounding walls. We were privileged to have our first glimpse of the town from seawards as that gives you the best idea of the overall layout, with the chief church looking down on the lower town and the citadel right on the crest.
The town used to be an important port, responsible for naming and shipping Malmsey wine, famed for its ability to travel well. All we saw in the now tiny harbour was a pair of large turtles flolloping about as we anchored.
We explored the old town a little in the relative cool of the evening and returned in the heat of the following morning to climb up to the top of the rock. The largest church there still has some good 13th century frescoes and we also looked at the remains of some of the public cisterns that collected rainwater to supply the citizens. In addition, every householder also had a cistern. It seemed like a very sensible and green answer to water supply to the community. The rooftops of the lower town and the colour and clarity of the sea beyond them was a view worth the sweaty exercise! Those houses that have been renovated or reconstructed are mostly holiday homes these days, particularly for Athenians. The climb is currently front runner in the competition for “the hottest thing we’ve ever done”. Never has a beer in the shade been more welcome.