Tuesday 9th June. Kotronas Bay 36.61842 22.49443
We are parked up this evening on the harbour at Kotronas Bay in the Mani. We drove here this morning after spending last night at Gythion Bay campsite and the previous two nights at Blue Dolphin campsite. If we could have caught the ferry from Rethymno to Gythio we would have been here three days ago but hey-ho, we are here now with hills and mountains on three sides and the sea in front of us. We stopped here last year but only for an hour or two but this time we've decided to stop overnight. When we arrived there was just one small van here with a German guy who we met at Gefyra on the harbour a couple of weeks ago. Now there are two Slovenian vans and a Belgian making five in total. I always feel when we are in an "unofficial" overnight stop that one or two vans are acceptable but get a bit worried when there are this many. Anyway we've put a few euros into the local economy - 2 melons, 2 coffees and a loaf of bread. And a euro in the box when we lit a candle in the tiny church in the village. The Mani has a harsh landscape, matched by the reputation of the folk who live here. It's not surprising that the words mania and maniac derive from this area which was ridden with blood feuds and only incorporated into Greece properly relatively recently. Many of the old style dwellings remain, tall square towers on hillsides, easy to defend and with a trap door before the exposed roof as a final refuge. But it's a stunningly beautiful landscape and the harbour here, with a small sandy beach,is especially beautiful. It's a working harbour for small fishing boats and the fishermen have been going out laying their nets for the last couple of hours.
When we were in northern Greece very few of the churches were open during the day but as we come further south we find more that are accessible. There are at least three churches in the town here, possibly more because we haven't explored the whole town yet but we went into a tiny church today, not much larger than our Motorhome and it must be hundreds of years old with a typical arched roof (the church that is, not the Motorhome). The frescos on the walls are faded but the glass enclosed icons are shining and bright. We've been to some magnificent cathedrals in Europe over the last couple of years but this tiny church was equal to them as a building to pay homage to Christ. The simplicity of this building, and others like it that we have seen in Greece, has a profound effect on me. When we visit the vast cathedrals in Seville, say, or Granada I always admire the architecture, the scale and the detail and the sheer magnificence of those buildings but I always think that they say more about the folk who built them then they do about the act of worship. Anyway, I'm a severely lapsed Catholic so what do I know eh?
The advantage of parking on a harbour is that I get to do a bit of fishing and catch supper. Well, that's the plan but the fish have been uncooperative again so it's kebabs and salad tonight. I hope the local fishermen have more success!
A couple of days ago at Old Corinth we were told to expect thunderstorms for a couple of days and then, by the middle of the week, the temperature was due to rise to 45deg. We haven't seen or heard any thunder but it absolutely hammered it down with rain last night about 1am and, of course, we had all the roof windows open. By the time I had closed them we were a little damp but I felt especially sorry for the folk on the site in tents, they must have been completely washed out. Today it's been warm and sunny but storm clouds have threatened and it looks like it's raining on the mountains all around. The forecasts I've looked at aren't showing any 45 deg temperatures fortunately.
Little fluffy clouds. (Big fluffy clouds actually)
Working boats at rest
Two's company, five's a crowd.
ps. A policeman in a shiny blue and white 4X4 just drove up and down the harbour and had a look around. I jumped out and gave him a cheery wave, a big smile and wished him kalispera. We're either ok for the night or he's gone off for reinforcements.