Published: September 21st 2009September 21st 2009
We have seen it many times,but it is still great
Our trip to Kythira Island.
6th September. We leave from Nea Epivates , about a 15 minute walk away from Mama’s house at 6.30am and the bus carrying the group of 34 people heads towards Athens. After skirting Athens, we stopped at Corinth to see the Isthmus Canal- the canal near Corinthos allowing shipping to go from the Ionian to the Aegean Sea without having to go “the long way round”; we noticed there is now bungee jumping down the canal’s steep sides. We passed through Sparta, and eventually arrived in Neapolis, (a small town at the end of Peloponnesus) around 11pm, after the 850km traveled. We stay there overnight to catch the ferry boat in the morning over to the island of Kythira.
The ferry trip takes about one and a half hours to Kythira and the port town of Diacofti is not the main town of Kythira, so our tour bus heads off inland. This side of Kythira, where the port is situated, is very barren and looks rugged. There are a lot of gum trees and Cyprus trees once you had gone over the mountain ranges from the port town of Diacofti. There were water metres to measure
Corinth Canal 2
This shows the boat passing through
the water used and we did not see anyone wasting water. There were some old wells visible, but not sure if they were still being used. The individual plots were segregated with dry walls about one meter high made from rocks collected from their small plots. Near the port there was a sunken ship with the tail end still visible about 200 metres from Kythira Island. Apparently the ship’s captain was allegedly drunk and the ship shipwrecked on this nearby tiny island and the insurance would not pay, as the captain allegedly drunk. We also saw some windmills and photovoltaic mirrors to add to the electricity grid. I have included some information about Kythira from its own website:
While being an Ionian island, Kythira resembles more to the Cyclades islands from its architecture and landscape.
Kythira is known as the Isle of the Goddess of Love, Aphrodite.
The ancient myth is that when Cronus severed off his father Uranus’ genitals, he threw them into the sea. They turned into the two rocks rising out of the sea until today, on the eastern coast of the island. Aphrodite rose from the foam created by the genitals and re-emerged in Cyprus,
Bungy Jumping Corinth Canal
If you follow the white rope, that is the person who jumped
which is why both islands haggle over the goddess's birthplace.
Since the Second World War, most of Kythira's inhabitants have left their island for Athens or Australia, which explains why many of its villages are deserted.
Kythira was never a rich island but it used to have an economic and military power. Since tourism is still quite undeveloped, Kythira still looks like a calm refuge, with astonishing deserted beaches and an unharmed traditional life.
The island has 3000 permanent residents, divided into 13 communities that form many villages and settlements.
It belongs to the administration of the prefecture of Piraeus.
Tourism, even quite low, has brought today a little prosperity to the island.
Kithera was only under Turkish rule for 3 years as it has had many masters, including The Venetians, The English and Russia. During the English rule, they built schools and made it compulsory for the primary school children on Kythira to attend school.
Kythira produces its famous honey and has these little yellow everlasting daisies which only grow on Kythira. They are collected and arranged into little wreaths and sold to tourists as a souvenir of Kythira.
After we left the village, we went to beach
This is the town the ferry boat leaves from for Kythira
side town called Platia Ammos where some people had a swim. We didn’t swim, but marveled at the capers growing from the rock’s edge close to the sea. There were also these flowers called sand lilies which just grew up from the sand.
We had a coffee and cake and we bought a coffee and cake for the bus driver. But the taverna owner said the coffee for the driver was on him, so we only paid for the cake and our food.
Michael bought 1.5 litres of tsipouro that the taverna owner who makes it himself from the grape vines over the restaurant. He said he makes about 30 litres a year. After leaving this beach side town, we went to the Venardos Hotel in Agia Pelagia and they welcomed us there with afternoon tea of coffee, filtered Greek coffee, fruit and biscuits. It was a lovely hotel and very friendly and only about 200 metres from the beach. Later we went for a walk down the street and had a look at the tourist shops. There was one shop below another hotel and it was run by a woman from Australia who had married her Kythirian husband. They
The ferry took buses, trucks,cars as well as people
had lived in Kythira for 26 years and had previously lived in Brisbane about 7 years. Brisbane has a lot of migrants from Kythira I think
A tour guide came with us today, Monday 7th September and spoke about the island as we were driven around. We take the groups tour bus to a monastery called Agia Moni. We had to transfer to another little bus as our big bus would not go through a rock arch enroute to the monastery which is located near the sea. We got some blessed bread and some oil to take back to Mama. There is a story about a Turkish lady whose child did not get well until a Greek person prayed to God and the child did get well. So the Turkish lady gave her a necklace and a broach and two candles. These were over a metre in height and about 100 cm wide, but these were never lit, as the Greeks thought they may contain gun powder. Today they are still in the tiny church below the big church. When we got on the big bus, an old lady waved and came out with some chocolates for all the bus
Near the main port of Kythira
people. She had been a holiday in Australia and was about 95 years old. We then drive around to some other villages and then we drove to Hora which is the main capital of the island. We had a coffee and some galaktoboureko (Custard Pie) in a café with glorious views. Afterwards the group went for meal at a nearby taverna and another taverna owner was miffed that all the 33 people from the bus went to the other taverna. I agree that it is not right that one shop gets all the customers, when there was hardly anyone at the one where we had coffee. We get back on the bus and go to Mylopotamos- the mill on the river town which also has a waterfall. So some of the group sit at a café and have a coffee and Michael and I go with 13 others to walk down to the waterfall. Although in the middle of summer, it was still running and lovely and cool with all the platanous trees around and the stream running off it. It was getting dark when we returned to the bus and to the hotel. There were some pistachio trees growing
Gwen and Blue Door
Good contrast of colours!
nearby where the bus was parked, and Michael took some photos.
We said we would be in the group that evening to go to a restaurant which also had some live music. There was our group in side and also another group just as large from an Athens University. So there was a bouzouki and the guy also played the violin. A guy played the guitar and also the traditional stringed instrument called an oudi. It has the shape of a mandolin, but had a short neck and was traditionally plucked with a shaft of a feather. Then there was a bongo drum player who also played clarinet. They played some of the old Rebetika (Greek Blues Music) songs and then mostly Kythirian songs and some which had a Cretan influence. We stayed till about 12.30pm. The people danced and it was good to see the young university students knowing how to do the various dances and joining in
Wed 9th Sept.
In the morning we had to have our bags packed and ready for the bus by 8.20am, as we had to drive to the ferry to catch it for its return at 11.30am. Then the bus drove straight
out of Neapolis and headed for Athens and Evia. We stopped at an island called Monemvasia. and you can catch a bus from the mainland and go along the isthmus out to the island. It has old castle ruins and there are lots of little shops in the narrow streets. We thought it was only a tourist island, but people do live on it. The weather was still hot. We walked around and some of our group ate lunch there, but we caught the bus back to the mainland and had some lunch close to the waters edge. We continued on our way to Evia, a large island running down the East Cost of Greece. Evia Island is joined to the mainland with a bridge that opens to allow large vessels to pass. We arrive around 11pm at its major city called Halkitha. Michael had been in Evia for 9 months doing his national service there. He was given the job of purchasing the food for the army unit stationed there, so had to go over the bridge to the mainland each day to get the food in an army jeep. The bridge is able to be opened like a
Dancing was the order of the day at the restaurant
gate for the large yachts to go through. A curious thing happens as the tide ebbs and flows. For six hours the waters run like a river, 6 hours this way and 6 hours the opposite direction. When the bridge is opened to allow big boats to pass, the traffic builds up each side. It is difficult at any time for pedestrians to cross the road, as no traffic lights. So the police are on duty in the afternoons when the shops close for the siesta time to help the traffic flow. We were to go with the tour group around Evia before then leaving them and heading to Athens to visit Ermina and Andreas, Michael’s cousins. However they were heading north and going on a boat trip, so we will head in different directions
Thursday 10th September
The Hotel in Halkitha minds our luggage whilst we wave the group goodbye around 9am. We do a lot of walking around Halkitha, catching a bus to an outer suburb and finally catching the train- to Larissa Station in Athens. Like the Melbourne trains at present, the train to Athens was really crowded and I don’t think the conductor could move through
to check people’s tickets towards Athens
Friday 11th September
Michael’s cousins go off to work in the morning and we travel on the Metro to see the new Acropolis Museum. You could go there many times and still see different things. It started to rain when we exited the Museum and so caught the metro to Piraeus, which is from where most of the ferry boats leave for the Greek Islands. It is about a 20 minute metro trip from central Athens. We had only passed through Piraeus to go to Samos Island which we visited with my sister Janice and her husband Bill. I love the old Piraeus Railway Station with the built in arched ceiling. We walk around Piraeus for a bit and unsuccessfully try to find the shop which is 100 years old and still making Halva, a Greek sweet. We had seen it on the Greek TV show around 6 months ago.
Sat 12th Sept
The rain has set in and not conducive for sigh seeing, so decide to head to Salonika. Michael’s cousins had plenty of work to do with an upcoming wedding and also their central heating water pipe had leaked and they took
Little Church Agia Pelagia
With its blue and white paint, it looked pristine
the opportunity to paint and basically renovate their apartment, so it looked like new.
We catch the intercity express train from Athens to Salonika and then bus out to Mama’s.
Would we class Kythira as one of our favourite islands? Although we enjoyed it,we feel there are others such as Rhodes, Santorini and Samos to which we would return.
There are more photos below