On Wednesday, August 29th, we left Kalamakis and headed south to the Island of Petalas. We had read that there was a nice, sheltered anchorage here and we were keen to ensure there would be room. We needn’t have worried. You could have fitted 50-100 boats in there and there were only 8 when we arrived! It is all very shallow, no more than 5m deep and really good holding. Nothing there but turquoise water, more goats and tranquility. It was so nice we spent two days there just chilling.
We were running low on fresh produce so we decided to move onto Messolonghi in the Gulf of Patras. This is the same Gulf that takes you to the Corinth Canal but that’s some 80nm further on! The harbour up to Messolonghi is navigated by traversing 3nm up a shallow, narrow channel. It’s dredged to 6m but less than 1m either side so no room for error.
Messolonghi is situated in the largest lagoon in Greece, some 220,000 sq kilometres of marsh and wetland. Home to numerous wading birds, we saw herons and flamingoes today in Klisova Lagoon. The town is best known as the place where Lord Byron died in 1824 during the Greek War of Independence. There is a Garden of Heroes in the town that commemorates those involved in the struggle including a statue of Byron. Allegedly, his heart is buried there.
We got our folding bikes out as we had moved from being at anchor on Friday evening to being alongside on the town quay. We thought it would be a good idea to save money and cycle to the Lidl outside of town. Unfortunately, it was also very hot. Well over 40 degrees in the sun. Still we managed it and stocked up on some essentials, including gin. We decided to stay another day and explore the lagoon in more detail so we used the bikes to go the 3 miles down to the bottom of the lagoon along a cycle way to a small hamlet called Tourlidha. It is there where you see the fishermen’s huts, pellades, on stilts that are now holiday homes.
On the way, we saw many locals swimming in the lagoon, covering themselves with mud and generally enjoying the natural beauty of the place. We had lunch overlooking the lagoon and Liz decided to have a local delicacy, Havidra which is grey mullet roe. Safe to say, neither of us will be ordering that again!
The guide books aren’t very kind to Messolonghi but we really liked it. It feels authentic with the locals filling the cafes and bars rather than tourists. The only downside is that the bars play really loud music and last night, Saturday, it didn’t stop until 5am. Let’s hope tonight isn’t as late!