Argostoli -Zakynthos –Katakolon- Olympia
On Tuesday morning (29th May) I took a quick trip ashore to buy milk and bread and after a light breakfast aboard we hauled our mud filled anchor to the surface and spent twenty minutes poking and hosing off the sticky mud that makes Argostoli such a good anchorage, before gently motoring out past the pretty Doric lighthouse into the open sea.
The north westerlies still gently blowing and they were to remain light all the way to the island of Zakynthos so motoring or motor sailing was the order of the day. Zakynthos is a comparatively lush island with a beautiful coastline which we enjoyed as we motored south to Port Zakynthos (sometimes known as Port Zante a remnant from the French occupation) once an important Venetian territory and staging post. It was the Venetians who established the currant industry here and the island is still planted with many vines for their production. Entering the large, shallow natural harbour one could see hints of the port’s elegant past largely destroyed by the earthquake of 1953, concrete structures replacing much of the carved stone.
There are relatively few berths for visiting yachts and even fewer with access to power and water. We were lucky and squeezed into the last spot where Denis (Dionisos) and his side kick Alex took our lines and once the passerelle was rigged I stepped ashore to complete the usual paperwork with them.
We ate that evening at Komi’s a restaurant recommended by Rod Heikell in his pilot book. A charming little restaurant that seemed to be trying too hard and still failing. The food was mediocre and expensive. We breakfasted in town next morning and Lynn and Liliane set off to explore and shop in the cool arcaded streets. Rob and I walked with them for a while but soon tired of the window shopping. Rob retired to a shady square to read newspapers whilst I returned to Pamarzi and gave her a good wash down. We dined on board that evening on tuna steaks lightly sautéed in butter and they were delicious.
The following morning (31st May) after Liliane’s birthday had been honoured with gifts we set off south for the Peloponnesian mainland and the village of Katakolon. The light north westerlies persisted and it was motoring all the way. What a strange place! A tiny fishing village with three berths for cruise ships, a beautifully renovated fishing boat harbour and a charming waterfront adjacent to a derelict marina. As we cautiously entered a large sign demanded that we contact the marina office on VHF channel 12. We did five times but received no reply. There were no yachts in the marina and no one to take our lines so we deployed the tender and sent Rob ashore to take the lines. Choosing our spot we dropped the hook and reversed paying a close eye to the depth but as we closed on the quayside we still had three metres under our keel. Lines secured and passerelle down we were comfortable with our berth although none of the electricity pedestals worked.
The late afternoon silence hung over this seemingly deserted village like a blanket, broken only occasionally by the barking of some irritated canines as they sought to intimidate each other. Then our isolation was broken by the arrival of two small camper vans which parked in the empty car park behind us. The two elderly German couples quickly pulled out awnings from their vans erected deck chairs in the shade and appeared to observe the crew of Pamarzi with critical eyes.
It being Liliane’s birthday we had hoped for a chic and interesting harbour but this did not at first sight to be either chic or interesting except perhaps to the German caravanners. Lynn and Liliane went ashore and returned beaming and bearing smart carrier bags. They had found shops (again!) and were keen to show off their purchases and talked of more to come!
Coaches pulled up in the carpark and disgorged their cruise ship passengers after their trip to Olympia and for a short while all was hustle and bustle as they were herded back to their ships. Peace returned and by the time we strolled into the village seeking dinner the ships were preparing to leave and we and the other yacht crews (for three boats had followed our lead and docked) and a few locals had the village to ourselves. We took dinner at Konosos largely because of the three restaurants it was the only one with customers and because Panos all smiling, chirpy four foot ten inches of him insisted that his was the best place in town as he picked flowers and presented them to the ladies. He had already picked up that we were from “the beeg sailing boat”; he must have spies on the waterfront! He made an even bigger fuss of us when he learned that it was Liliane’s birthday. We shared a delicious large flat fish (Rombo in Italian but I didn’t get the Greek name for it) and were plied with ice and cream, baklava and liqueurs as it was a birthday. All in all a fun evening thanks to Panos and his team.
Panos had organised a taxi for us to take us to Olympia and the large black Mercedes limousine with smoked glass windows arrived on the dock behind Pamarzi just as our neighbouring boat’s white and dusty little Fiat Ugly arrived for them, it made all of us giggle like school kids as our uniformed driver opened the doors for us.
Olympia was worth the visit, the site itself lying in a wooded valley at the conference of two rivers overlooked by the pine clad slopes of mount Kronos. The Christians and an earthquake in the 6th century AD reduced much of the colonnaded magnificence of the complex to a jumble of massive and beautifully carved stone and ended the games which remarkably were held here from the 11th century BC to393 AD. The museum held a wonderful treasure trove of Greek and Roman artefacts, weaponry and statuary as well as finds dating back to Neolithic times.
Our next stop will be the ancient port of Kiparissia and who knows what delights we might find there.