38:42.15N 20:42.73E Nidri, Levkas
Friday, 12th August, 2011.
During Thursday afternoon we moved down the quay wall to be nearer the restaurants in order to pick up some water. We decided to stay as we had free wifi and we could have an ice-cream or two. While Jim was sitting very still reading in the cockpit a turtle came up twice and went down not to be seen again. Later he spotted another one but smaller and I managed to see him as well taking his second gulp of air. I was not quick enough for a photograph but this morning another one came up within 20 yards of Ariel and took three gulps of air and I managed to get a photograph of sorts. Quite amazing creatures as they come out of the deep.
The small fishing boats arrived early near us and sold their small catches to the locals, really very small sardines. One boat had something which looked like chopped up skate but Jim could not be sure.
The wind started to blow so we were pinned on the wall so we decided to have a fresh coffee on board and wait a while until it dropped before we cast off. The wall unfortunately has in places underwater rocks which stick out and makes it difficult to move easily without doing damage in a blow. Around 11.30 a.m. we cast off as the wind dropped and we left Preveza for the canal at Levkas. It opens on the hour so we were there with 10 minutes to spare for the 1 o’clock opening. It is difficult to see the entrance in the bright sunshine and with the long sand spits both sides but as you near the land the Santa Maura fort built around 1300 and named after a small chapel within its walls on the east side and the long sand spit on the west side guides you in and you round the sand spit into the channel to await the bridge to open. As there were many boats each side the bridge opened fully to all north and south going boats to go on their way. Once past the bridge on either side are salt lakes with the road running along the west side. We were lucky to see a pelican as we went past the salt lakes which we were pleased to see as there must be lots of fish for him to eat. One two deck motor boat was late coming from Levkas going north and was exceeding the 4 mile an hour speed limit. The driver started hooting its horn at the bridge man to stop closing the bridge. We slowed down as the wash he was making was sending the water over both sides of the walls and people standing outside their cars watching the boats got wet. Shame he made the bridge!
The canal goes for several miles and we passed Levkas main town which is situated on the first bend of the canal. It had to be rebuilt after the 1953 earthquake although no plans were followed and is a jumble of corrugated iron and brick houses leaning over narrow streets. During August the town council sponsors music, dance and theatre and concerts are given. We are hoping we will manage to catch one while we are here. Levkas had a turbulent history, typical of the Ionian Islands as the Corinthians took control of the island from the Akarnanians in 640BC right up until the British left the island in 1864.
We followed the sticks planted in the water to keep everyone in the channel until we came out at LIgia. We are amazed how tall the mountains are and how the villas, apartments and hotels have been built nicely along the shore and here and there in the mountains. Not at all like Spain where millions and millions of houses cover every piece of coastline.
We motored onto Nidri where we had been recommended to. We anchored in Tranquil Bay opposite Nidri town. The slopes around the bay are heavily wooded mostly with olives and cypress. There are very few houses around the bay which makes it very peaceful. The Baroque villa on the island of Madhouri is in the approaches to Nidri belongs to the Vallaoritis family, descendents of Aristoteles Vallaoritish (1824-79) Greece’s national poet and composer of the national anthem.
Dorpfeldt, the archaeologist who challenged the orthodox theories about the homeland of Odysseus claiming Levkas to be the original Ithaca of Homer lived here. On the north side of the bay is an obelisk erected to his memory and just above his beautiful villa now administered by the Director of Antiquities in Athens. Many of his finds are exhibited in Levkas town museum.
We drank champagne to celebrate Lizzie’s 21st birthday and took the dinghy across to the town for a celebration ice-cream.
Everyone has said the more east you go the more beautiful it gets. We have been to some really amazing places over the last three years but I now know what they mean.