Saturday, 13 October 2012
Greece 2012 Part 9
Greece Part 9
Lavrio & 'Taxiarchis'
Wednesday 5th September 2012
This morning I woke up at sea, on the AQUA MARIA, under bedding that included an authentic Japanese blanket – unexpected proof of the Japanese origins of this ship. Last night we left Mesta port in darkness, which wasn’t helped by the clouds of black smoke coming out of the funnels, but the engines sounded all right, and we will soon be arriving at the Greek mainland port of Lavrio, which is about 55 kms south-east of Athens. The sun still hadn’t risen when we docked at 6.15 a.m. but we could see that this small port was very quiet. Ferries could berth in one part of the harbour, and private yachts and fishing craft were in the other parts, with the town behind. Apparently the population is only about 5,000 people.
There was no port bus for the half dozen of us ‘footies’ so we all had to shoulder our luggage and walk towards the port gates and then the town. Everything seemed very quiet, with the occasional dog walker (dog on a lead) and the more frequent unsavoury-looking dogs lying around the paths and quayside, and still asleep.
I think many of us have read over the last few years about the number of people coming to this port illegally, by road or sea, and quite often from Turkey; one can feel sympathy for those who feel they must leave their own country and hazard their lives to get here, hoping for a better and/or safer life. Of course this is quite a simplistic view; I had read about refugee camps being set up outside the town and the local authorities (and citizens) finding it extremely hard to cope with such a big influx of people, often with no proof of identity, and who would not qualify for refugee or asylum status.
After walking around the town in the heat, we located the local Archaeological Museum and enjoyed its exhibits. Just south of here is Mount Sounion which is now an important site for discovering remains of previous civilisations, many of them now on display here. I liked seeing the acanthus leaves on pillars and other artefacts from the Hellenistic period in Greece (about the 4th Century B.C.). The acanthus was one of the plants that the Romans brought to Britain and I grow it very easily in my own garden in England. We saw some obsidian tools, which are made of volcanic material. We also saw pictures of some wonderful silver jewellery which had been dug up in this area, and was so fine that the Lavrio people had been asked/instructed to give it to the Athens Museum for display there. The old argentiferous ore (silver) found in the 10th Century B.C. in Lavrion had been mined and then abandoned, but the mines had been re-opened in the 1800s by a mining engineer called Andreas Kordelias but are no longer working.
I loved several of the small pieces of statuary, especially one little piece from the 4th Century B.C. which named the three people standing and then said “and adorants”, which I think is a charming description of those sitting at their feet.
Back at the harbour side, near one of the quays, we could see a white-painted lifeboat just floating, apparently abandoned. We could see lettering and a number on it, but it was almost impossible to guess its origins. It seems to be made of fibre-glass, possibly from a 1960s or 1970s passenger ship, so again we will need identification help when we get home.
It was soon time to get back to the ferry port and embark on our ship for the overnight sail from Lavrio to Limnos: it is yet another 1970s built ship, this time the saintly TAXIARCHIS of NEL Lines. She was built in Norway in 1976 at 10,749 gross tons and sailed in New Zealand waters until 1994 when she came to Greece, so has had many owners, routes and names over the years. She is classified as a ro-ro/passenger ship. My cabin key was made in Norway, so now I know why.
AQUA MARIA was berthed on our port side, and we noticed a dent in the metal above her bridge. MACEDON was on our starboard side and we could see her funnel and logo more closely from our deck.
We sailed in a cloud of black smoke, so I suppose cheap fuel is being used with old engines, but hey, this is becoming the norm on this trip….
Ships seen: Aqua Maria, Macedon of Goutos Lines, Issham Al Baher the private yacht, Taxiarchis, Alios of Salamis, the unidentified lifeboat, Marmari Express
To be continued….