A ghost shipwreck and a fortified island – we love Greece!

Dave the motorhome is sunning himself on a Greek Island, sort of (N36.68717 E23.04267). He’s parked just over the causeway to the fortified city of Monemvasia which was separated from the mainland by an earthquake in 375 AD. There are four Italian motorhomes here, all locked up, so we suspect they are sightseeing and will be off before bedtime, but the chap at the taverna across the road said we should be OK stopping here for the night so we can attack Monemvasia at first light tomorrow.

Charlie decided at 5am this morning that he had tummy ache and needed to go and find some grass to eat, of course being Greece there isn’t that much of it about. He wandered around the campsite for a good 15 minutes before I was able to drag him back inside and return to the land of nod while the poor little chap’s stomach made the loudest of noises. After this it was no surprise that we woke late this morning and while Jay showered I headed over to reception to pick up our reserved loaf of bread. We sat out in the morning sunshine and ate half the loaf for breakfast smothered in honey and jam – we really must pick up some of the local honey while we’re here, everyone says it’s expensive but really good. Hopefully it will be better than the bottle of local pink wine I picked up the other day which is, erm how to say it politely, a tad rough.

After showers, we packed everything away in Dave – it’s amazing how small he gets when we stop on a campsite for a couple of days – and with everything smelling much fresher and cleaner than it did when we arrived (apart from Charlie) we hit the road. We didn’t get very far though as we needed a top up for our 3G internet SIM. Back in Gythio we thought we’d be able to pull up next to the phone shop and leap out and buy one, but the little waterside town was packed. Cars were parked and double parked along the water front, even the little car park we slept in was so full it was touch and go if we could get around it.

Finding a sort of space on the edge of town Jay waited in Dave while I wandered over to the phone shop. The cafes and tavernas were packed full with families eating and laughing, old fellas smoking and chatting and the teenagers ‘hanging out’. I reached the shop to find the shutters down, I knew we were cutting it fine for getting there before 1pm lunch so I checked to see what time it reopened. Today it shouldn’t have shut until 2pm and reopen at 5pm – so I looked around, most of the other shops were shut too; there was only one thing for it, the baklava shop.

hmmmm baklava - in a mirrored box so you think you have loads :)

hmmmm baklava – in a mirrored box so you think you have loads :)

We loved the baklava we bought from the beautiful little shop on Sunday, and it was once again the only thing open on the street so I nipped in, procured more baklava and asked where I might get a phone top up. The assistant told me that today was a holiday (ah Easter Tuesday, forgot about that one) so the phone shops would be closed, I might be able to get a top up at a mini market, not a supermarket, but a mini market and she pointed across the square. As I got outside I followed the line of her finger to a supermarket, which was shut, but between me and it was a little kiosk selling magazines, sweets and cigarettes. I plucked up the courage to ask there doubting they would speak English – I was right, but I got my message across. No internet ‘carte’ only phone was the answer. Encouraged I tried another kiosk, no internet carte today, bank closed. It wasn’t going my way so I headed back to Dave before Jay got moved on (as if!).

On my way back I saw an old lady sat outside a tiny shop, above it a sign declared it to be a mini market. Between us we bumbled through and I managed to buy a €30 and €10 top up vouchers to get enough for another month of internet. I thanked her and wished her a Happy Easter, she smiled and wished me a Happy Easter before going back to her chair in the sunshine.

The essentials bought (we’ll get the loo roll and dog food we need another time!) we headed for Valtaki beach, home of the Dimitrios shipwreck.

Arty black and white pic of the wreck

Arty black and white pic of the wreck

The 67 metre freight ship was built in 1950, and had a cargo capacity of 965 tons, I say ‘had’ because since it was stranded on the beach on 23 December 1981 the sea has eaten away at it and now its sides have rotted. We’d read all the rumours as to how it became stranded, most talk of how it was used to smuggle cigarettes between Turkey and Italy and was seized by the port authorities of Gythio and then deliberately released from the port and left to be dragged by the sea to the beach of Valtaki, about 5 kilometres from Gythio. It was then supposedly set on fire to hide the evidence of cigarette smuggling. Other rumours said it was a ghost ship of unknown origins. In reality the rumour we believe is that the company who owned it ran out of money and abandoned it at Gythio port, after a year or so the ropes holding it to the quayside wore and snapped during a storm. However it ended up there, it is certainly a sight to see, almost like a strangely beautiful piece of art.

Jay admiring the shipwreck

Jay admiring the shipwreck

Not your usual beach shot

Not your usual beach shot

Jay throwing stones at the Dimitrios - he hit it a couple of times, but then it is quite big!

Jay throwing stones at the Dimitrios – he hit it a couple of times, but then it is quite big!

We spent a good hour or so staring at a huge hunk of rusting metal, and taking way too many photographs, before we agreed it was time to move on.

This ship won't be here much longer by the look of it

This ship won’t be here much longer by the look of it

Charlie will do anything to get in a photo - including being flung into the water!

Charlie will do anything to get in a photo – including being flung into the water!

That's what happens when you dry your face in the sand

That’s what happens when you dry your face in the sand

Back in Dave we tucked into some baklava to fuel us on and headed off in search of another beach for the night that we’d been told about. However we never saw a sign for it and when a sign appeared saying we were only 30 kilometres from Monemvasia, which was highlighted on our map as a place we want to visit, we carried on. To be fair we’d hardly moved for the last four days so Dave was more than happy to have a bit of a run.

We cut our way through mountainous looking hills, clad with olive and orange trees, before bursting out on the other side of the Peloponnese. We drove through the little town on the mainland and headed for a group of motorhomes parked on the causeway – the Italian ones who in the last five minutes have driven off!

Monemvasia from Dave's window as we crossed the causeway

Monemvasia from Dave’s window as we crossed the causeway

When we arrived it was just after 4pm, some things (which aren’t closed for Easter) were starting to open up again. Feeling hungry we walked all of 20 metres to the taverna and plonked ourselves down on a table with a spectacular view across the bay, worryingly views like this are the norm for us, how will we ever go back to an office desk again? Jay ordered Country Sausage and a beer, I went for a hamburger and lemonade (which over here is a Fanta lemon, not a sprite!).

Dave parked up for the night

Dave parked up for the night

Feeling refreshed by our very early tea or lateish lunch, we’re off out to explore in a bit before the sun sets behind the peaky hills. Tomorrow we hit Monemvasia and see what top tat we can spot.

Jay made ice cream yesterday from a packet we bought in Tunisia, it's well tasty - will have to search eBay to see if we can get some more.

Jay made ice cream yesterday from a packet of powder we bought in Tunisia; it’s well tasty – will have to search eBay to see if we can get some more.

Ju x

Monemvasia (Μονεμβασία)
A Wall of Washing on Mavrovouni Beach, Near Gythio, Peloponnese
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2 Comments on A ghost shipwreck and a fortified island – we love Greece!

  1. Peter Highe // May 7, 2013 at 6:51 pm // Reply

    Hi Guys
    When you leave Monemvasia try “Limin Leraka” (that is what Google maps call it) just North up the coast on a minor road to the right – you will need to be stocked up but the place is quite beautiful. We stayed for days on the parking area just before the village on a shallow sea inlet

    • Top tip, thanks Peter, we’ve found it on Google Maps and will get ourselves up there after here, thanks very much for taking the time to tell us about it – any more hints and tips gratefully received! Cheers, Jay

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