Kythira – birthplace of Aphrodite

The journey across to Kythira early on Friday morning, September 21st, was uneventful. After the windy conditions of the previous 4 days, it was devoid of wind although the sea still had some swell. Part of the sailing directions include the unmistakable shipwreck of the cargo ship, Nordland, which landed on the nearby island of Fidonisi in 2000. It looks as if the captain was trying to beach it!

We arrived into the port of Diakofti to find ourselves the only ones there so we tied up alongside next to the ferry quay. The quay was high so it was challenging for Liz to get off but with benign conditions, all went well. Whilst Diakofti isn’t the most interesting of places, it was free and it does have a car rental place by the port so we were able to hire a car for 24 hours to tour the island.

Kythira is part of the Ionian Islands despite the fact that it is only 12 miles south of the Peloponnese. Whilst it is about the size of Zakynthos, it only has 3,354 residents spread over 66 villages and is a sleepy sort of place. It was first inhabited by the Minoans in 3,000BC. In 2017 there was a major fire that destroyed a quarter of the land bringing havoc to the economy as tourists then stayed away. The fire started with a carelessly discarded cigarette butt but impacted many livelihoods. We saw the remnants of the blackened vegetation for miles during our tour, which was such a shame as the selling points of the island are the fauna, flora and walking tours.

We stopped for lunch at Mylopotamos (mill on the river) where there was a lovely square with a river (dry at the moment), ducks, geese and a fab taverna. The place had a lovely feel to it with everywhere well looked after. A real sense of civic pride. We walked to the site of their waterfall which alas was dry given the hot summer. I suspect this would be a lovely place to visit in the spring.

Lunch time!

We then went on an expedition to find the Green Pool (never found it) and the Temple of Aphrodite. The temple was supposed to be at Paliokastro. We found the signpost off the road and started hiking up the track. We then saw that it was fenced off but undaunted, we clambered over and continued. Another 20 mins on, we could see we were getting closer only to be met with a billy goat and a ram who both were protecting their respective herds. There was no way either of them were going to let us pass!

Oh well, onto Kapsali on the south coast. A lovely harbour with a Venetian fort overlooking the bay. Had a really good feel to the place. There was a recently unveiled plague to the men of HMS Gloucester who were killed when the ship sank in Kythiran waters in May 1941.

Kapsali, Kithera

On the way back, we went to the Bridge at Katouni, which was built by the British in 1823 – no idea why!

Katouni Bridge

Back to the boat for supper and to watch the ferry come in. Amazing to see articulated lorries coming off the ferry with inches to spare above them. The next morning we left to make the 30nm journey north to Monemvasia on the mainland.

That’s how close to the ferry we were!
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