37:01.197N 22:07.262E

Chris and Alison
Wed 5 Jun 2024 19:00
29/5/24 - 4/6/24

We left Limeni in promising wind but this soon disappeared to leave us having to motor all the way to Kalamata:( We had decided to try to get a berth alongside in the commercial port (€11 per day, compared to €60 per day in the marina). We called up the Port Police on our arrival and they quickly and politely invited us in alongside the west arm. There were only two other boats in the port and one of those left as soon as we had tied up. The port has long ago had its hey day and now is very quiet and deserted except for a few fishing boats and some, not so old, wrecks. As we had told the Port Police (PP) in Ermioni that are next stop was Kalamata, we thought we had better try to get a stamp in our Unlimited Transit Log (UTL). This now, as of a week ago, is not needed because the Cruising Association has finally managed to persuade the Greek shipping authority that boats with an UTL have the right to free movement within the EU, this means we do not need to be stamped in and out of every port. As this ruling was so new, we thought it best to approach the PP and see what they said. They were extremely polite and pleasant, but insisted that we needed a stamp, and that we also had to return on the day of departure to get an exit stamp. We didn’t argue, the message has obviously not got through yet.

Now we were alongside it was time to arrange a visit to Ancient Messene about 30 miles inland, so a bus was needed. We researched what we could find and found out the only bus that went to Messene, or anywhere near it, was on Friday at 1600!! It was now Wednesday. Plan B. A hire car. With the experience of renting a scooter in Leros still fresh in my mind, a car was the only option. I have only driven in the continent a few times and all of those were in right hand drive vehicles but this was the only way we were going to get to see Messene, so a hire car was booked very easily from Gary, a Canadian living in Greece. 

The next day the car arrived, a lovely bright red Peugeot 208, just the ticket. After a solo drive around the empty port, I was ready to face the Greek drivers on the roads. After climbing up, down and up the Taygetus mountain, round hair pin bends (I certainly got used to changing gear with my right hand) we made it safely to Messene, with the help of Chris the navigator. We had a good 3-4 hours looking around this magnificent site in the burning heat of a greek summer day, there was hardly any shade. 

Ancient Messene

Ancient Messese was founded by the general Epameinondas in 369 BC. Who ended the long-term Spartan occupation in Messenia. The city was developed at the foot of Mount Ithomi, a natural fortress with the sanctuaries of Zeus Ithomatas on the summit and of Artemis Limnatis and Eileithyia on the south slope. It was built according to the Hippodamian town planning system and was protected by strong fortifications of a total length of 9.5km. The city was a prosperous political, religious and artistic center during the Hellenistic and Early Imperial times (3rd century BC - 1st century AD).

The center of the public life was the building complex of the Asclepieion along with the nearby Agora. Among the various secular buildings are the Theater, the stadium-Gymnasium, the Arsinoe Fountain, as well as bath complexes and urban Roman villas. Sacred buildings and shrines were dedicated to the worship of Artemis, Messana, Demeter and Dioscuri, Zeus Souter, Poseidon, Aphrodite, Cybele, Serapis and Isis, but also to the worship of heroes and settlers, such as Aristomenes and Epameinondas and of the Venerable Roman Emperors. Impressive grave monuments were erected in honour of benefactors of their city but also of men, who were honoured as heroes after their death. The Asclepieion and other buildings were full of remarkable works of art, such as the sculptures of the Messenian sculptor Damophon. Numerous inscribed pedestals used for votive offerings witness the social political and religious life of Messene. The city was in decline from the 3rd century AD onwards and was abandoned in AD. 360/370. The area was re-inhabited in Early Byzantine times (5th-7th centuries AD) until 1500 AD.

We drove back down the mountain to Muskie, had lunch and then decided to visit Kardamyli. This should have been an anchorage stop, but the weather and the anchorage were not compatible when we passed, so we sailed on by hoping that we might be able to visit from Kalamata. So back up and down the Taygetus mountain again, this time in the other direction, and stopped off at Kardamyli. This place has a myth attached to it so I will let Jefferson narrate the story.

Here lie the tombs of Kasto and Polydeuces, also known as Castor and Pollux the heavenly twins.

 Kastor and Poludeuces were brothers who were inseparable. This was ironic because despite being twins, they had differnent fathers thanks to the fact that Zeus somehow managed to have his way with their mother Leda on the same night that her husband also made love to her. Interestingly this wasn’t the last time Leda and Zeus mated, for she later fell pregnant by Zeus a second time when he was disguised as a swan. On this occasion, Leda gave birth to a daughter - Helen, yes that same Helen of Troy.

Back to the twins. Polydeuces was the son of Zeus, while Kastor was just a mere mortal. Despite this the two got on famously and both grew up to be accomplished horsemen and even joined Jason in his hunt for the Golden Fleece. Later they gained further fame for rescuing their sister Helen (yes Helen of Troy) from Theseus who had abducted her with the plan of making her is wife. So the brothers headed to Athens to claim back their sister and overthrew Theseus sons who were caretaking the throne while their old man was chilling out in hell and installed a rival, Menesthius whose wife was Helen, on the Athenian throne. To add to Theseus woes, they abducted his mother and forced her to be Helen’s slave in Sparta until Paris intervened.


All was going swimmingly until Polydeuces and kastor began feuding with their cousins, the upshot of this was that Kastor, being a mere mortal, was fatally wounded by the cousins while his brother Polydeuces survived due to him being the son of a god. Polydeuces, being quite upset at his brothers demise, then killed one of the of the cousins, his father Zeus then intervened and killed the other cousin with a thunderbolt. Polydeuces then seeing his brother dying, begged Zeus if he could save Kastor. Zeus suggested a compromise whereby the twins spent alternate days in Hades and on Mount Olympus. This meant that while things weren’t ideal, the pair would not be separated. Polydeuces was happy to accept this and the pair shuffled off this mortal coil together to spend a confusing time between heaven and hell.

Eventually Zeus set the pair in the sky and they are now the constellation Gemini.
Jefferson S (2022) In the Wake of the Gods. A Cruising companion to The World of The Greek Myths

After a long day we drove back to the port where the car was safely collected by Gary.

Ancient Messene

One the many mosaics at Messene

Roman toilets at Messene

A Meni Tower house at kardamyli

The tombs of Castor and Pollux at kardamyli