Monday, 15 October 2012
Greece 2012 Part 10
Greece Part 10 - Limnos & Theofilos
Thursday 6th September 2012
My night’s sleep was momentarily disturbed by TAXIARCHIS calling somewhere at 4.30 a.m. but we arrived at our destination port of Myrina on the island of Lemnos (Limnos in Greek) on time at 6.30 a.m. Sailing into this harbour was another delight, with a church high up on the top of the mountain on our starboard side, and castle-like ramparts with a Greek flag on top of the mountain on the other side. We berthed under the church hillside and noticed a small blue bus waiting nearby. Lots of foot passengers made their way towards it, so we did the same and were driven to the little town on the far side of the castle. There we discovered we had travelled further than we wanted, so we walked back towards the castle side of the harbour. What had taken 20 minutes on the bus’s circuitous route, was about 10 minutes walking direct through a market square and smooth cobbled shopping streets. Interesting-looking shops boded well I thought….
The ship was due to sail within an hour and a half of arrival so we could watch her leaving, from the quayside under the castle ramparts.
As soon as the ramps were up, the engines were ready to go, and she started to move forward. Nothing then seemed to happen for a few minutes and we realised that the anchor chains were not coming up easily at the bow. There was some arm waving from the men at the winches, up to the Bridge, and then suddenly she was free and off she went.
With the sun finally over the top of the mountains on the east side of the bay, the local waterside cafes opened up and we could get coffee and something to eat and watch the events of the day start around us. The café was near the small fishing fleet harbour, and we watched the catch being unloaded and sold almost immediately as local inhabitants walked up to the boats to buy. Most people brought the ubiquitous plastic bag to put the wet fish in.
Over on the far side of the port a small elderly-looking ship arrived – AEOLIS – which unloaded cars and then settled down for the day. It seems she was built in 1968, at 242 gross tons, possibly for the Baltic, but now seems to run a regular local summer-time service here in Greece.
TAXIARCHIS is due back in the port again later today, and THEOFILOS will also call here tonight for passengers, including us.
This island is in the Northern Aegean group of islands, and the capital and port is Myrina. The big church above the port is dedicated to Agios Nikolaos and has a separate bell tower beside it, so it is rather eye-catching.
There is an archaeological museum here so we went to visit it, and spent an enjoyable time. There was a collection of bobbins – all sizes, some patterned, some of stone, and all local, and from the 4th Century. There was a note about the Sirens of Greek mythology and legend, who lured sailors to their death on their island with their music and singing. I remember the note said that their mother was said to be Terpsichore, one of the nine Muses. I loved seeing a bone pin, like a long hat pin, with a woman’s head carved at the top of it; the head was probably 1” long, and beautiful. That was found locally, from the 4th Century too. There were lots of coins, and many gold rings and pendants, as well as other things dug up locally.
Just across the lane was a narrow park and then the beach, so it seemed sensible to rest under the dense tamarisk trees lining the edge of the beach, and enjoy the gentle zephyr. I could hear tiny wave noises from the clear sea, as a background to some of Beethoven’s Piano Concertos playing in one ear. Some time later the gentle zephyr became a breeze, so it was time to return to the main street and find ice-cream and energy to climb up to see the castle.
The paths were very steep, leading up to the ramparts, but a challenge to be accepted. It was only when I went through a stone archway that I discovered the castle was in fact not a castle, but simply ramparts designed to look fortified, to anyone approaching from the sea. Ah well, the views were superb. The air was so still that I could hear the voices of a couple of youngsters swimming way down in one of the bays. There were deer droppings in some areas where I walked, but no animals to be seen.
After dinner in a local restaurant we returned to the ferry port side of the harbour, and THEOFILOS arrived. She was built in 1975 as the second NILS HOLGERSSON at 12,862 gross tons, and in 1985 sailed between Melbourne and Tasmania, before returning to Greece as Pollux for Ventouris Lines for a year in 1994. She is now with NEL Lines.
As soon as we were able to board I recognised that I had been on her in July 2007, sailing from Chios to Piraeus and she appeared to look much the same. The big sign over the Restaurant (still closed) had the middle ‘A’ still missing and the murals from her NILS HOLGERSSON days were there.
The cabins however were showing their age, with thin walls, no sound proofing, poor air conditioning, poor maintenance, worn and grubby carpets, and unusual en suite bathroom facilities: between the two wash basin taps there was just one water outlet and this had to be pulled out and the tubing stretched to be used in the curtained shower area of the bathroom.
We are on here for 12 hours, sailing at 11.30 p.m., overnight from Limnos back to Chios, so maybe things will look better in the morning.
Ships seen: Taxiarchis, Aeolis, Theofilos
To be continued....