Sep 19, 2017 - Sea Cloud
The sun rose by 5:30 over Kythira and the air was fresh and the seas gentle. Today we planned to sail around the great “island” of mainland Greece named after the mythical hero Pelops, the Peloponnesian peninsula. Once the Corinth canal was completed it was possible to sail completely around Peloponnesia and hence my expression “island.” Shortly after 9 a.m. on our starboard side we came abeam of the great rock outcrop with its famous medieval village Monemvasia, meaning “one way in.” The ancient village sits atop a small rise from the sea and then gradually rises up the cliff face and at its top sits a church. Beautiful defensive walls fully encircle and protect the village and go entirely up to the church. Truly there was only one way in. It is a stunningly beautiful place and when one considers it was built a millennium and a half ago in the late 6th century, it takes your breath away. The Byzantines were being besieged in mainland and island Greece by invading Slavic and other tribes from northeastern Europe, and thus the Greek people fled here to this remote place to escape the pillaging invaders who were looking not only for gold and silver but for slaves. This small village grew in prosperity during the Middle Ages and achieved real economic wealth later in the late 16th century when it became the center of the Malmsey wine industry. They traded great amounts of Malmsey particularly with England and the local merchants made considerable fortunes.
At 10:30 the sailors went aloft and sails were reefed. Our knowledgeable Greek guides Kriton and Eleni gave an introduction to the Greek language and taught all of us that our pronunciation of fraternity and sorority abbreviations is likely wrong! Who knew that the sounds of ancient and Modern Greek were so different? Erika completed her composition of the group slide show for all to see.
Next we had our Captain’s farewell dinner, which is always festive and slightly melancholy because the trip is ending. Eventually we all retired for the evening, and the Sea Cloud continued its voyage around the bottom of the Peloponnesian peninsula on our way to Athens.
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