38:26.87N 20:41.45E Ithaca Island
Thursday, 18th August, 2011.
We had a super BBQ with new English friends and today we left for Ithaca and motored sailed just over 16 miles. We enjoyed the sail down Meganisi island and across to Ithaca and made for Kioni on the east coast. Just before entering Port Atheni the other day we saw one dolphin but today although very calm and quite still there were none. We did see five lazy birds sitting waiting for fish to appear. This is another island which was affected by the earthquake of 1953 when the capital Vathy was destroyed and was reconstructed and declared a traditional settlement, which requires all new buildings to match existing styles.
Kioni is a bay with a small village at the head with taverna’s around the small quay. The cliffs of the village are very high and the huge day tripper boats moor on the quay for an hour or so while their clients enjoy time ashore. There are three ruined windmills on the southern point as you enter the bay. There are attractive whitewashed houses around the slopes which appear to be mostly closed up. On reading about the island it appears a lot of the population have emigrated to Australia and the United States and the houses are still owned by these people. In twenty years the school roll has fallen from 600 to just 20 children. Very popular with Sunsail charter boats and Sailing Holidays flotillas all practising their sailing skills.
The legend of Odysseus, the king of Ithaca states that he was unwilling to leave his wife Penelope and their baby son Telemachos and join Agamemnon’s expedition against Troy. But once there his skills as a warrior and speaker and his cunning, ensured he played a vital role. However, his journey home was fraught with such perils as the monstrous one-eyed Cyclops, the witch Circe, and the seductive Calypso. His blinding of Cyclops angered the god Poseidon who ensured despite the goddess Athena’s support, Odysseus lost all his companions before the kindly Phaeacians brought him home ten years after he left Troy. He had been washed ashore on Corfu where King Alkinoos took pity and ferried him back to Ithaca. On Ithaca Odysseus found Penelope besieged by suitors. One of the suitors was Odysseus’s father Laertes and she wore a shroud and refused to marry until the shroud was finished so each night she would unpick the day’s weaving. Odysseus disguised himself as a beggar and aided by his loyal swineherd Eurnaios and his son he killed them all and returned to his beloved wife and to power. Telemarchos had challenged Penelope’s suitors to string Odysseus’s bow and thereby win his mother’s hand in marriage. The suitors all failed the test. Odysseus locked them in the palace hall, strung the bow and revealed his identity before slaughtering them. His dog recognised his master without prompting but died immediately after their meeting. It is stated the only person to recognise him was his old nurse Eurykleia.
The local museum has among its finds a terracotta mask from Polis cave bearing the inscription “Dedicated to Odysseus”. Polis Bay is thought to been old port of ancient Ithaca and the site of an important cave sanctuary to the Nymphs. The Odysseus Palace is believed to have stood above Stavros on the hill known as Pilikata just a short distance from Kioni.