Vasco da Gama
Wed 29 Apr 2009 14:32
We are in Gaios, the main port of Paxos, which is 7 miles south of Corfu. Paxos is very small, a long thin lizard shaped island stretching north to south for 8 miles, and east to west for 3 miles. We were last here 25 years ago and it does not seem to have changed at all. There are no high rise buildings, and the three main harbour towns look like miniature versions of Venice with two or three storey houses painted cream, pink or ochre, with shutters, balconies and tiled roofs - a legacy of the hundreds of years when many harbours in the Ionian Sea were outposts of the Venetian trading empire. Ian says that as we are unlikely to buy a palazzo in Venice we might as well buy one here instead. Inland, it's all olive trees, olive presses, wells, roosters and hens, goats and donkeys - in fact completely charming.
After leaving Corfu town we pulled into a fishing port of Petriti in the south of the island and tied up alongside three big fishing boats which went out at night, with their lights blazing, and returned at dawn. We were surprised to see one of the crew on the boat beside us smoking a hookah, and another man on shore bowing on a prayer mat, and Ian spoke to one of the men who said they were all from Cairo. I read in our guide book that most Greeks live in the cities on the mainland, especially Athens, and the islands only come to life in the summer when Greek or foreign holiday makers arrive, which would explain why the fishing crew had to be imported from Egypt. I watched the boats come in at dawn, which is at the fairly late time of 6 am, and they did not bring in a very big catch. The large fish were taken away in a couple of vans, then the fishermen sat in front of the boats hoping to sell some boxes of sardines. The happiest customers were dozens of cats who assembled on the quay as the boats came in.
We sailed into Lakka in the north of Paxos, just before a big storm. We dropped the anchor, but Ian did not have much sleep as he got up to check that the anchor wasn't dragging several times during the night. We spent three nights at anchor there. It's a most idyllic spot - a horseshoe shaped bay, surrounded by hills covered with olive and cypress trees. Everywhere is quiet as the holiday season has not yet started. The good news is that we have the place almost to ourselves, the bad news is that the weather can be stormy, wet and overcast, although we get a few hours of sunshine most days.
After two months on board and especially after four nights at anchor, I am looking more and more like a wild woman. A hot bath or a hairdresser would not go amiss, but on the other hand it's relaxing not to worry at all about keeping up appearances. There are a few expatriate English people dotted around these faraway places, and I have to say they look even more wild than we do!