We continue to make breakneck progress down the west Peloponnese coast, doing 11km today and 8km yesterday. At this rate we’ll be taking out Greek citizenship before we leave. And why would that be a bad thing?
We are still in the vicinity of Navarino Bay, site of an important victory for the Greeks in their War of Independence against the Turks in 1827. The battle itself must surely count as one of the most lop-sided in history, with the combined Allied fleet suffering 700 dead and wounded, 0 ships lost; Turko-Egyptian, 4,000 dead and wounded, 60 ships destroyed. It was the last great engagement of wooden ships of war.
The area is redolent with history. We spent the better part of the day at the fortress in Methoni. This was an unexpected WOW! We were up early this morning and on our bicycles by 9:00am, really enjoying the 11km ride from Pylos to Methoni. A pre-intellectual cup of coffee was enjoyed along the town’s main road, offering us plenty of oohaaah moments as we watched traffic negotiate, in both directions, a single lane road with cars parked on both sides. From the comfort of my coffee table I still generated nervous sweat rings!
The castle is huge at around 93 acres, and I’d much rather use the term fortress. It encompassed some 800 buildings at its peak, but the purpose was always as a defensive fortification against the Turks, with defensive walls 11 metres high and 4m thick. Built in 1209 it retains the sense of magnitude and power it must have projected in the region. It fell in 1500AD, just 50 years after the fall of Constantinople. The site itself has been fortified since the 7thC BC, and was a very important trading area for the Byzantine empire, until taken over by the Venetians (1209)), lost to the Turks (1500), Venetians (1685), Turks (1715), and eventually Greeks (well, French actually, but nevertheless) in 1828.
We were so impressed with Methoni that we decided to move from our perfectly OK spot on the wharf at Pylos. This was made easier by Methoni having a very accessible beach, and our discovery of Modon Restaurant, where Niki’s new best friend served us the absolutely best Tzatziki and Taramasalata (fish roe salad) we’ve ever had. For €12 we had a homemade lemonade, homemade Tarama and Tzatziki, loads of great bread and a large beer – we left full.
So, a great day in Pylos, which is just stunningly beautiful, followed by a stunning day (and great swim) in Methoni.
If the weather plays along we might spend two nights here, catch up with some beach bats and suntan – tough, tough life! Greece is really turning out to be just as everyone said: Beautiful scenery, amazingly friendly and generous people … and some challenging roads. Oh – and to think that we are currently less than 1° from being at the furtherest point south of the entire mainland Europe!!