Today we leave for the island of Kythira. As we walk through the large doorway in the castle wall to exit Monemvasia rock, we see a cruise ship has docked nearby. Small boats were ferrying groups of people to the causeway. I thought it had felt very busy as we walked the cobbled streets. It looks like we chose a good day to leave!
We caught a taxi from the taxi rank at the bottom of the causeway. The journey to Neapoli was 30 kilometres, took 40 minutes and cost 30 euros. The taxi driver took us to the ticket agency and waited for us whilst we purchased the tickets.
We had a couple of hours to kill before the ferry departed at 2pm so we had a little stroll around Neapoli town (with luggage in tow!) After we’d had enough of that, we had an ouzo and meze at Ouzeri Manolitsis next to the statue of the Sailor from Vatika in the port.
We called in at the KTEL bus station which is down a side street close to the port to find out the bus schedules for the following leg of our journey. To find the bus station, standing with your back to the statue of the Sailor from Vatika, walk across the road, turn right and take your second side street on your left and you will find it on your left.
At 1pm the Porfyrousa arrived in port. It took a long time to unload and included 6 coaches which were full of Greeks returning from the Easter holidays. We watched as the ouzo began to work!
Not many of us board so again, I think we’ve timed this very well.
Off we go to Kythira, an island that has been on my list for many years. The journey takes about 1 hour and 15 minutes. It is a little blustery today but this is a stable ship and I’m sure will make it on time.
Before we know it, we see the tip of the Laconian peninsula tumble into oblivion into the sea.
Despite the wind, we seem to be on time and the tannoy tells us to prepare for disembarkation. (not that I understood it verbatim but I got the gist!)
We are still offshore but we don’t seem to be moving. From the deck we can see the Ionis in port and we assume that our captain is waiting for it to set sail before we dock. I can see the famous shipwreck just off the coast from the port, looking ominous as we hang in limbo. The Nordland ran aground on the rocky islet of Fidonissi on 29 August 2000.
We drift around on an invisible axis for nearly an hour before we see the Ionis leaving the port. I do mention this some time later to someone who lives in Diakofti and they told me that because it was windy, the Ionis was too scared to leave the port. The Porfyrousa and the Ionis are the two main ferries that shuttle too and from Kythira so who knows if this is a usual occurrence or not – I was just intrigued to know as to why!
So Booking.com told us that our accommodation was 200 yards from the port. Even if this was up a 1 in 2 hill I would be able to make it up 200 yards. However, this wasn’t exactly the truth!
Diakofti is the new port and is built on a small promontory (or rather a small islet) and linked to the mainland by a causeway. When I say new, the construction of this port started in the 1980’s and inaugurated in 1996. The location was chosen because it provides good shelter from the wind and is a safe harbour. Once we had disembarked (just a handful of us) we could see that we were some way from Diakofti village itself. When you leave the port there is at least a 20 minute walk along a road and then a further 20 minutes walk across the causeway and into the village. A very kind couple stopped and asked us if we wanted a lift but we humbly declined as we were confident that our accommodation was close by. Everyone except for us has a car waiting for them and seem to be heading over the mountain to other parts of the island.
We had only booked the accommodation the day previously so we hadn’t had any communication from the accommodation to say if they would be meeting us or not.
The streets of Diakofti are laid out in a grid like pattern and takes us past newly built villa’s, tumble down small holdings and plots of land for sale. It looks very low key which is perfect for me. The first thing that struck me is the turquoise, green colour of the water near the beach – I couldn’t take my eyes off it!
Google maps took us up and down a few wrong turns but just as we approached Anemoni, a lady pulled up in a car and asked if I was Stephanie. It was Matina who owns Anemoni apartments. She had been looking for us but the timing of the ferry had been messed up – but here we are!
The apartments are fantastic. It has two terraces that lead off the kitchen, a large bedroom, nice modern bathroom and a spare set of bunk beds! Matina has provided everything we could possibly need including some crisp breads, honey, oil, butter, coffee ( and more). From the main terrace we have a clear view of the port and even the shipwreck. This location is fabulous!
Matina tells us that there is one taverna open and a small mini market and if we want to hire a car, Active car hire is next to the mini market – all a short walk away. Matina confirms that there is no bus service at all from Diakofti. I had read that during summer there is a bus service that goes from the North to the South of the island but being the eternal optimist I was hoping that there may have been some kind of service. We are now in a dilemma. I’ve waited a long time to visit Kythira and it looks like the only way I’m going to see it is by hiring a car.
It is well documented that I don’t (won’t) drive in Greece – the whole driving on the other side of the road and changing gears with my right hand just freaks me out.
Anyway, we go for a walk to the beach where we stumble across another small shipwreck. The rocky shores of Kythira seem to have taken their fair share of victims. I had read that Lord Elgin’s ship the Mentor sank off Kythira in 1802, carrying the treasures that he had plundered from the Parthenon, Acropolis and other Athens monuments. Lord Elgin procured the services of sponge divers from Kalymnos and Symi to help him retrieve the treasures. Small artifacts, mainly items belonging to passengers are still being found on dives today.
We head off to Manolis Taverna to mull things over. We are the only people eating in the taverna (and probably in Diakofti). It is still very windy and a bit chilly but we decide to eat at a table on the beach. After five minutes we beat a hasty retreat inside!
Tomorrow we need to make a decision!