Dave the motorhome is surrounded by the sea as he sits on the quayside that juts out into the clear blue sea at Kotronas on the east coast of the Mani (N36.61839 E22.49446). Parked up in front of him are Mike and Jacqui who we met at Porto Kayio yesterday. Well, strictly speaking we met Mike at the car park at the end of the Mani, as we waited for the day to cool off enough for us to walk out to the lighthouse at Cape Tenaro, on our return from the lighthouse we joined them and their motorhome in Porto Kayio for the night. Hopefully that goes some way towards explaining Jay’s blog post from yesterday – it was written at 1am when he could barely make out the screen let alone the keyboard – beers, wine and a bottle of Ouzo had been devoured with our new friends.
After such a night Jay uttered to me this morning ‘I’m partied out, I think we should stay here today’ followed by ‘I think won’t drink any more beers for a month’. However, we were all running low on water and the water in Porto Kayio was from a well, so they wouldn’t be keen on topping up a couple of 100l tanks. A lie in, a full English breakfast (Dave style), a paddle, a few hours sitting on the beach and an ice cream and by 2.30pm we were OK to go. We swapped phone numbers with Mike and Jacqui and set off, having arranged to meet them at the next stop up the east coast.
We wound our way up the steep lane that leads down to Porto Kayio and by more luck than judgement (as our map only has one road on it for around here) I spotted a sign on the road for Layia – the direction we needed to go. The hill got progressively steeper as Dave was ushered into ’emergency’ first gear. Crawling to the top we were rewarded with a view back down over the end of the Mani; the Messenian Gulf on the right and the Laconian Gulf on the left of the narrow, undulating mass of land.
Layia interested me, the multi-towered village perfectly exemplifies the feudal ways of the Mani in years gone by. Four families lived here, each in their own independent settlement, each with its own church. You could clearly see where each of the settlements were and the space between them despite them all being the same village. As we drove through – hangovers and hot sunshine don’t make for sightseeing – I searched for the tallest tower, our guidebook says the locals claim it was built overnight by four hundred from one clan hoping to gain an advantage at sunrise, I can only assume their neighbours had hearing problems!
The road hugged the steep hillsides, cutting into them and narrowing as it edged its way through the tiny villages. The green folds of earth dropped away into the blue sea on our right, while tower and stone houses dotted over the hills blended as if they have been camouflaged. The scenery was beautiful, a fitting farewell to the Mesa Mani.
Reaching Kotronas we pulled in and filled up with water from one of the communal taps (a red top indicates that it’s drinking water – always handy to know). A man wandered past and said it was OK to fill up down on the quayside, the water tasted good there, we hoped what we’d just put in our tanks would be OK too! He then went on to tell us that it was OK to sleep there too – in fact a motorhome was already in place on the end of the quay. I always sleep so much better when a random stranger, who I’ll probably never see again, says it’s OK to sleep somewhere!
Jacqui and Mike pulled in as we were just topping up our water bottles and led the way down onto the quayside. Once in place Jay and I wandered up into the town and sought out a mini market – we were in need of a few supplies. Mike had suggested a BBQ which gave Jay a chance to practise his Greek. Phrase book in hand he was undeterred that the locals didn’t understand what he was saying and acquired us a nice big lump of lamb for €4.
Jacqui, Mike and I sat in the shade of the vans while Jay went for a snorkel, then the BBQ was lit. A feast was consumed and as the sun set the lights lit up like stars on the hills around us. We’re all a bit partied out, so we called it a night just after 9pm without a drop of alcohol being touched.
PS -I’ve just seen on the news about the general strike in Greece today, everything was the same here today as it was yesterday.