Log #27i Touring Epidavros & Delphi

November 6, 2002 in Log Series 20 - 29, Logs by Series, Series 27 Summer in Greece, The Logs

Kemer, Turkey
Nov. 6, 2002

Hi Folks,

Well, the Turkish elections are over and the AK Party got in with a majority, winning 35% of the popular vote and winning 363 seats of the 550 seats in parliament. The only other party with seats is the CHP, a labour party. There were 4 or 5 other major parties including that of the former Prime Minister which were shut out of parliament with no seats as they did not garner the minimum 10% of the popular vote needed to have representation. Erdogan, the leader of the AK Party cannot assume the mantle of Prime minister, as his earlier conviction on political/religious grounds. The party is trying to shed the image of an Islamist party, and is promising just good government, and will keep seeking membership in the EU, keep membership in NATO, and maintain Turkey as a moderate secular state. They got in as a reaction to some of the corruption and poor economic performance of the previous administration. The military will be very careful about any interference for such would reduce the prospect for EU admission. However, the military considers itself the protector of the secular state (possibly a constitutional duty?). Local moderate Turks like the party and say, with a smile, if it gets too chummy with Islam, that the army would step in again as it has done three times in recent history. Separation of mosque and state is a founding value since Ataturk and the modern Turkish state in the 1920’s.

The marina is as active as last year with many activities. So far this week we have had a symphony quartet from the Antalya Symphony Orchestra, a Sunday walk to an ancient Roman bridge, a Guy Fawkes pot luck supper on the beach, and a movie/shopping trip to Antalya. We have met many acquaintances we knew from  here last year as well as many other boats we met over the summer cruising who are wintering here. Two of our friends whom we are very thankful to see are ones who had to return last summer, to Canada and the US respectively for major cancer treatments. They are back here and look in good health.

Weather is still good, although we are expecting a bit of rain over the next few days.

Enjoy this log #27i of our touring ancient sites in Greece.

All the best,
Aubrey

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Log #27i Touring Epidavros & Delphi

Oct. 29, 2002
Karaloz, Kekova Adasi, Turkey

The channel between Poros town and Galatas on the Peloponnisos side (about 500 metres wide) is very busy with water taxis and small ferry boats between the two communities, plus larger ferries, fuel and water barges plying the length of the channel on the Hydra- Poros-Aigina-Piraeus run; and here we sat in the middle, on a mooring buoy with other local boats. Fortunately the main channel is along the Poros side and the boats go slowly enough that little wake is created, and we were not in the line taken by the water taxis between the two towns. Poros is the main tourist town, whereas Galatas is more laid back, and does not have the tourist development yet.

We were able to rent a car from Galatas (€40.00 per day), and started off at about 0730 up the Peloponnisos towards the Corinth Canal. The main roads were OK, paved two lane winding roads with hairpin turns up and down the mountains. The views over the bays and coastal areas were spectacular. Seeing a town or the water a mile below us to the right did not mean that the road was going in that direction. The map we had was poor, but we figured as long as we stayed on the main road, it would lead us to Corinth, the main city at the head of the Peloponnese. En route we saw the signs for Epidavros, and thought that would be a good mid morning stopping point after three hours in a small car on not the smoothest roads.

Epidavros is noted for two main aspects (to my understanding and interests). The first is that it was the site of the cult of Asklepios, the god of healing, originating about 1000 BC from the Mycenaean hero doctor Maleatas, and absorbed into an Apollonian cult of Apollo Maleatas. The resultant cult of Asklepios developed a major sanctuary of healing here at Epidavros in the 6th century BC, and expanded into a large prosperous classical Greek community (citystate?) with many temples, statuary, stoas, a gymnasium, stadium and theatre, and was later added to in the Roman period. However it was plundered by the Goths in 395 AD, and the cults were banned by the Christian Roman Emperor Theodosius II in 426 AD. The site was finally destroyed by two major earthquakes in 522 and 551 AD, and remained in obscurity until excavations between 1879 and 1928. There is still research going on at the site and there is a reconstruction program to completely restore some of the structures and monuments. There is a good museum on site that has some of the original statuary, pottery, jewellery and coins.

The second aspect of interest to us was the theatre, with its 12000 seats in classical Greek horseshoe shape tiered architecture, and “perfect” acoustics. Few people were around as it was only 0930, and it was a grey drizzling day. There is a stone pad in the centre of the stage circle. When a coin was dropped on it, the sound could readily be heard around the entire theatre. Talking in a normal voice was clear through the tiers. The acoustics were amazing!

Back on the road, we crossed the Corinth Canal which joins the Gulf of Corinth to the Saronic Gulf and the Aegean Sea. The highway bridge, a couple of small road bridges and a railway bridge are the only land links of the Peloponnese to the mainland of Greece. The canal, cut through solid limestone, was started by the French but finished by the Greeks in 1893. It is 7 km (3.2 miles) long, 25m (81 ft) wide, with maximum draft of 7 m (23 ft), and the limestone cliffs tower 76 m (250 ft) above this lock-less canal, a glorified but expensive-to-transit ditch. We did not check out the current costs to transit, but the Greek Waters Pilot (7th Edition 1998) suggested that for a yacht our size (10 m) it would be a total of about €110.00 or $165.00 Canadian, including fixed dues, LOA passage dues and 18% VAT. There is a surcharge of 30% on Sundays and holidays and 25% for night passages. It is rated as one of the most expensive canals per mile in the world, yet is just a long straight high-sided ditch with no locks. We will not be taking it.

After the canal, the highway turned into a four to six lane expressway, going over to Athens and beyond. However, we had to find the turnoff to go north up to Delphi. We found the right turnoff, but with the construction underway we had to wander around a few dead ends before getting onto the highway towards our destination. After several miles of poor road under construction, the two lane highway cleared up and took us up a fertile valley past Theva (ancient Thebes) before climbing towards Mount Parnassos.

Delphi is a tourist “Mecca”, but October is off season, and there were no crowds. The excavated remains were scattered up the mountainside, giving a spectacular view down the adjacent valley. Newly cobblestoned paths above the road linked the sites and the museum. It would have been nice to spend a couple of days in the area doing lovely mountain walks, but it was midafternoon by the time we got there, and so we spent the time in the main areas and the museum. It was nice, similar to a couple of other mountainside Greek ruins we have seen in Turkey with a variety of temples lower on the hillside, administrative buildings and baths next level, stoas, agoras and theatres next, and the stadium at the uppermost levels. A stoa is a colonnaded covered mall with small shops, not unlike some of our shopping malls today. The agora is the market place and commercial centre which may or may not have a stoa. Theatres were usually at the upper levels in order to gain a panoramic view over the valleys and mountain sides.

The Delphic oracle was thought to have originated in Mycenaean times when the earth goddess Gaea was worshipped here, giving way in the 6th century BC when it became the Sanctuary of Apollo. The resident oracle was usually an elderly peasant woman. Supplicants would sacrifice a sheep or goat, then put a question to the oracle. The oracle inhaling some noxious gases from the earth of a nearby chasm, gasping and writhing in divine possession, would mumble an incoherent response which was then interpreted in an enigmatic way by the presiding priest. Wars were fought, voyages embarked upon, and business transactions undertaken, on the strength of these prophecies. (Lonely Planet guide)

Veleda, after whom our boat is named, was a Germanic priestess herself, who prophesied, predicted and encouraged the Germanic tribes of the first century AD to resist and defeat the Romans. Prophesies, especially if believed, have a way of becoming self fulfilling. Therefore priests and prophets (Ministers, Mullahs, Imams, and Rabbis) can exert considerable influence on their believers.

Before we left, small world, we met up with Dot from Neliandrah, an Australian boat, whom we met at Fikiadha on Kithnos in the Aegean a couple of weeks earlier. Their boat was now in Itea in the Gulf of Corinth, having transited the Corinth Canal, and they took a local bus up to Delphi. I promised Judy and Alvin a meatball and spaghetti supper, and predicted we would be back by 2030. We were making far better time on our return trip, and we could have been back by 1930, except we took a few wrong turns once we were on the Peloponnese and wandered for miles around the black treacherous mountain roads of the eastern Peloponnese, totally disoriented, as our map was of minimal use and we had no visual references to our location or direction of travel. However we still made my 2030 prophecy. We wound up approaching Galatas from the same direction we had left in the morning, although I was positive we had made a full circuit of its peninsula and should have been approaching the town from the opposite direction. However, we made it back safely and I fulfilled my prophesy by making a delicious meatball and spaghetti late supper for us.

The town of Poros was well equipped and friendly. The dockside is in constant use by water taxis, tripper boats, cruise boats and ferries. We were particularly impressed by the chandlery in one of the main squares. The manager not only spoke English (as well as German and Greek), but knew what a whisker pole was. He faxed a supplier in Germany to get us a quote for the specific size we needed, and came up with a quote delivered for less than the equivalent West Marine product. Great! – except it would be two weeks for delivery. The prospect of waiting around or having it delivered to some other place in Greece was too complicated, as we were heading back for Turkey shortly after Alvin left us, and so we didn’t get it. However, we have the name of the German supplier and will see if the chandlery at Kemer can get it for us.

Next day, Sept. 26, we toyed with the idea of sailing up to Epidavros and getting a taxi or local bus to Mycenae, the capital of that ancient civilization parallel to the Minoans about 3300 years ago. However it would be a day up, a day there, and another day to get back out into the Aegean, so we slipped our mooring and just circumnavigated Poros with the idea of going back to the first bay we anchored in a few days ago. We were able to motor sail part of the way, and wanted to keep the engine on to charge the batteries. It was interesting to explore some of the coves not mentioned in the pilot. One that looked interesting on the north side of Poros was a deep cove, steep to, and even though there were no houses or buildings in the cove, the water seemed foul with sewage. We found the reason in the adjacent cove where there was a fish farm and several buildings which seemed to divert their sewage and other effluent across the peninsula to the cove we found fouled. Around the lighthouse we considered the bay we first anchored in, but looking at the weather patterns we though a blow may be in the offing and so went back to our mooring buoy off Poros town. However the batteries were charged up.

In the morning we left just before sun up for the 45 mile trip back into the Aegean to Nisos Kea and the idyllic beach at Fikiadha.