Today we left Agia Pelagia and relocated to Kapsali in the south.
We arose a little earlier as we had a plan to meet Sydney friends K2& V in Mylopotamos where they had offered to show us around. Great idea as they come every year and know the island backwards ( this causes some problems when driving!)
We farewelled the 2 maids and got some photos. Then farewelled Telis - always a friendly smiling face which makes all the difference. J promised him a good review!
First hurdle - both cars started!
Then we hit the road intending to get fuel at Cyclon near Potamos ( where a relative works). But J realised the time was getting on so decided to keep going and get fuel later.
Only about 20 minutes and we reached Mylopotamos driving through areas that had been badly burnt a few years ago. Many blackened trees but the small bushes and shrubs had returned.
Parking in the car park, we strolled into the centre, and there in the Platanos restaurant we spied K2&V under the shade of the huge Plane trees (hence the name).
K2 needed coffee, and it was decided that we could walk to a restored water mill where there was a cafe still operating. Good idea, so we took 2 cars and drove firstly to the waterfall close to the town. Very cool and green and lovely inviting water pools below the waterfall. The water is derived from springs that are everywhere around this area.
The water mills in this area originally numbered 25, all powered by water from springs, and for grinding of wheat and other grains. Raw materials were carried in by donkey, and the flour and other products were carried out the same way. The area was an industrial area with a large population. The micro climate - heat, water, protection from wind, plus good soil, resulted in a strong agricultural focus - fruit and vegetables including tomatoes, cucumbers, bananas, figs, and many others.
The walk to the restored mill(the only one) was steep so everyone walked down, and J and V brought the cars down as close as possible. Then they walked down, but took the wrong direction which led to steep stone steps culminating in a 1 1/2 m drop to a stone path with a water race.
You guessed it - J landed in the water and squelched his way to the mill. All the ladies came the other way which was much easier.
The bad news - cafe closed as staff had left.
The good news - the owner was there and offered to open up the mill for us. It was a “simple” process - water channeled from water falls and springs down through a stone pipe to a horizontal turbine which turned a grinding stone. Grain was fed into a hopper, and flour came out at the side and into a sack. It was great that one of these mills was now in operating condition.
By now we were thirsty so we returned to Platanos for coffee and cold drinks before driving down to Kato Chora ( meaning Lower Town). Some of us had been before, but it was great to have guides to explain what we were seeing. Plus K2’s mother had grown up there and with 7 siblings, they all shared one bed. The town was built inside a 15th C Venetian Kastro ( Castle) for protection. So it was like an ancient apartment complex with about 100 families living cheek by jowl. Within the complex a number of small churches, some perched on the edge of sheer “cliffs of death”. There were many areas with no wall, no fence, no sign - just sheer drops. With one small church, a left turn on exit took you home, and a right turn took you to eternity!
In some houses there were large rectangular troughs, with a small hole in the bottom leading via a small channel in the rock to a hollowed out basin. V pointed out the steel beams above the troughs - these were to lower large rectangular rocks onto a trough full of grapes - the juice then running out into the basin where it was collected. More ingenuity!
One Byzantine church with most of its roof missing has many frescoes on the walls. No money for restoration or protection which is a real shame as they will disappear in time.
At the entrance to the complex, the British built a school in 1825 - we all had our photo taken on the bench outside with hands on knees.
Continuing on down a hair raising narrow road with no guard rails we arrived at the Agia Sofia cave about 200 m down a path and steps on the side of the steep rocky “cliffs of almost death”.
We did a guided tour - a 200m truck into the cave system past a tiny church, and some ancient frescoes. It was quite slippery and steep in places - J and C didn’t go all the way to concerns about breaking necks and/or camera!
By now it was 3 and we were actually starving (really!). Back to Platanos and we shared a great meal with many Greek staples - stuffed peppers, lamb and potatoes, moussaka, pastitsio, vlita, meatballs, Greek salad and bread. No tea needed tonight!
We farewelled K2 and V and thanked them for a wonderful day.
On the way to Kapsali, J stopped at a servo to fill up. No one about , except a car drove up and the driver asked (in Greek ) where he could park for the wedding which was nearby. J said “park anywhere” which is the Greek way. Then, while J looked for someone to turn the pump on, a volley of shots rang out, then a second. J was on his way in seconds, leaving S and K parked over the road wondering who was letting off crackers!!
We arrived in Kapsali shortly after and parked outside Hotel Aphrodite where we were greeted by owner Yianni and his mother. We had not seen then since 2015 - Yianni looked a bit older, but his mother didn’t!
A break for a while to settle into our rooms before a quiet walk around the bay ( where a large sea turtle put in a short appearance) followed by some drinks, some cake and a small bowl of popcorn. K and C had Kytherian rose, J and S had ginger lemonade of the home made variety. A little while later as darkness descended, the castle lights came on, and then it was time to buy a few bit and pieces for breakfasts, and retired for the night.
As we walked back, J heard the others talking about a shop they had seen called “Follow your art”. He unfortunately misheard what they said...........