Cycladian Circle

Birthday donkeys!

At Rema beach on Kimolos the land curves around the sea and offshore, a scatter of small rocky islets, give a little protection from the open sea to the east.  76 nautical miles to the south is Crete!!! – The temptation!

Rema beach and Selkie Dancer
Looking out from Rema

What a jewel of a place.  We are the only yacht in the bay, a bay, surrounded by cliffs.  In those cliffs I see millennia.  There are expanses of copper green; chalk, white, brilliant in the sun; seams of harder grey stone; dark, pock marked volcanic rock and the remains of rust coloured dry stone walls that resemble cobblestones, very regular in construction but precarious now in their position.  I don’t understand them.  At sea level, gauged into the cliff face are caves that have become fishermen’s huts.  The doors are varying shades of blue, green and grey, some freshly painted others faded to distress.  Only a couple of old men of the sea are busy in their caves today, they move slowly, purposefully.  Outside there is a washing line, an old T-shirt hanging on it, cats scamper around, a red, red life ring adds a splash of colour.  Seagulls wheel overhead and a small  upturned verdigris boat is this morning being slowly covered in brilliant orange, an anti fouling, keeping the barnacles from his bottom for another year.

The rock arch and the fishermen’s huts
Note the orange hull
Rema village

Most of the white blocks of houses are rooms or apartments to let during the summer, the windows shuttered for now.  Hardly anyone stirs but the appearance of four or five workers suddenly makes the little place seem busy as they ply their way up and down the white steps, shouldering buckets, carrying materials, wheeling barrows like a line of busy ants.

Busy builders

We walked up to the Xora and found a mini market and an overpriced tavern (so it was back to the boat for beans and egg!) It is so quiet, we are not in the season yet.  There was a nice church and some remains of the Kastro. 

The church in the Chora
Details of church

It was lovely being here and I was able to swim every morning.

Swimming every morning

And so to Milos which is impressive as you enter the bay and take in the sweep of the caldera.  There is a church, as usual, at the highest point and the cubic white houses hold the ridge as they descend to the bay below.  The anchorage, off the town of Adamas, is wide and shallow and there were only a couple of other boats at anchor.

Milos anchorage – zoom in and find the triangular anchor sail
Around Milos
shadows in Milos – a study in grey

 On our first visit ashore we failed to find a decent chandlery or an open laundry and couldn’t find any camping Gaz however the skipper reassures me that we have enough to last until Poros which is familiar.

I had a wonderful birthday and was thoroughly spoiled.  A lovely postcard of two donkeys nuzzling, that was the birthday card – he is soppy!  I got fridge magnets and postcards to colour in when I get stressed, a very pretty ring and a children’s book in Greek.  At first I was dismayed and discouraged by the font but with glasses on and brain switched in I amazed myself by reading AND understanding the first paragraph.  OK, I know it’s only a paragraph but it’s a start.  It is a beautifully produced publication with lovely illustrations.  We went out for breakfast and the most precious of presents, calls from all three of my sons wishing me happy birthday.  That means the world to me.

Birthday me

 Andy took himself to the Milos Mining Museum, I declined the kind offer to accompany him and instead mooched around the town, bought some earrings and a cheap and cheerful dress before finally settling down with an ice cream and my new book whilst waiting for Andy’s return.  We had coffee on the boat and generally relaxed.  In the evening we went ashore to O! Hamos!  This taverna had been recommended by Andy’s brother Tom and it was a good one and everything was very tasty.

Birthday us
sunsetting on a lovely day

From Milos we returned to Siphnos’ east coast and an anchorage off the beach of Apokofto looking across at the monastery of Panaghia Chrysopigi.  We have had some idyllic anchorages this year and this was yet another.   McGilchrist has much to say about this monastery but best, I love the story about how there came to be  a cleft in the rocks making a gap of about two metres between two pieces of land, now joined by an arched bridge.  Apparently The Virgin Mary, horrified by the plight of some pious women who were being chased with lusty intent by pirates sundered the land thus maintaining their chastity, for a while anyway.

Selkie Dancer and the Monastery of the Chrysopigi
Looking into the sundered rock that saved the virgins
Looking out into the bay from the sundered land

Inside the monastery work is going on to the restore the iconostasis.  It is extremely picturesque. 

Monastery of the Panaghia Chrysopigi
Detail of the door
Peaceful and cool interior

We walked around into the next bay and here there is exactly the kind of settlement that comes to mind when you think Greece – fishing village, turquoise sea, sand, slow life, off the beaten track- perfect and not overcrowded. We had lunch in a restaurant shaded by tamarisks, looking out at the boat. 

Our lunch spot with a view of Selkie Dancer

Extraordinarily as we made our way to recover the kayak from underneath a tree someone said ‘Hello Guys’.  We stopped in our tracks.  Who could we possibly know here on Siphnos?  We know no one.  It was Gianni and Despina, whom we had talked with exactly a week ago in Kamares.  Quite bizarre.  What are the chances? And what an intriguing character he is.  We asked about the funding of the renovations in the monastery.  Last week he had described Greece as the Africa of Europe now he tells us that Greece is like Iran in respect to religion.  The state funds all these things and the church pays nothing!

After much hand wringing and discussion about possible strong winds – Should We? Shouldn’t we? Today we have dared to venture further east and are in Paros.  Nick and Lachie will be with us in 13 days time and we want to be well situated to meet them in Aegina so don’t want to get trapped by a strong, Cycladain, Meltemi. 

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