Category Archives: Monemvasia

The walled city of Monemvasia, Greece

Travel Itch

I miss Europe. I love the mix of culture, cuisine, antiquity, and beauty that we have found in Italy.

We have excursions planned for this fall and next spring that will be novel and exciting. The Amazon will no doubt present its own set of adventures. Peru and Ecuador are mysteries to us. It will be amazing to visit South America and dust off a bit of Spanish. (can you feel the but…)

I miss Europe. I do. I had planned our last trip to Greece and Italy to continue for another two weeks. We cut short. I was told the weather in late June and into July and August gets oppressive. With some depressing grumbling, I changed plans and literally yanked our last two weeks of our Tuscany trip. In retrospect, I am glad I did. I flagged on some of our walks in Florence in late June. It was hot, still reasonable but hot. If July gets still hotter, I am so glad I came around and dropped the last two weeks.

Our plans for the next year: this fall, winter, and next spring are complete.

Next fall we are planning to return to Italy for a few months. I’ve started looking into villas for rent around Florence and Rome. We’ll use a villa as home base for our excursions into the Italian hillside and coastal towns. I can relax, content in the knowledge that we’ll be returning to Italy soon. Troubling though, I would also like to do some island hopping in Greece. On our cruise we found that there is an extensive ferry system throughout the Greek Islands. It’s not difficult to see Greece by ferry. Perhaps we’ll fly into Greece and wend our way back to Italy.

There is so much to do. We hope to visit Alaska by RV; tour China and Thailand; revisit Africa a few more times; visit friends in the south of Spain; visit family on Madeira Island; tour Ireland; drive through Eastern Europe, Hungary, Poland, Czechoslovakia, and into Germany; visit Paris and tour the south of France; go skiing in the French and Italian Alps; drive through the Old South, the South West, and North West; canoe in Ontario. That’s just for starters. I have a scrapbook of places we hope to visit tucked away. Every time I come across an amazingly beautiful location or an adventure that’s not life threatening, I paste it into the book. I’ve done enough wacky and dangerous things in the past that I’m no longer interested in pushing the safety envelope. “Moderate” danger is ok. A charging elephant, canoe on the Amazon, bare boat cruising, diving with hammerhead sharks without a safety net, those are all OK by me. Class IV white water kayaking, technical rock climbing, or base jumping are “right out”. All this would be possible but for Ellen whose sense of “safe adventure” is clearly a subset of mine.

I truly hate the word, “blessed”. It smacks of a religious sense of “blessed by God”. As an atheist, that drives me crazy. I would rather say that decades of hard work, some risk taking, and a bit of luck made travel and adventure possible for us. We have the opportunity to enjoy ourselves after retirement. We will.


Seabourn Day 9, Monemvasia

Monemvasia is a medieval town on an island connected to the mainland by a causeway build over an ancient bridge to the island. Monemvasia is a charming sleepy town. We skipped the bus tour inland to Mystras, a UNESCO site, and chose to visit the town before the temperature built. The bus ride to Myrna was over an hour one way.

With two of Seabourn’s busses off to Mystras, there were relatively few Seabourn guests touring the town. The Odyssey was the single cruise ship anchored in the harbor.

The approach to the island is dramatic with numerous other islands to starboard as a singular large chunk of land came into view with high steep cliffs all around. A v-shaped softening of the cliffs just behind and above the town marks the cobble stone path to the ruins at the top. The old city walls are intact and the city looks to be intact, though Monemvasia has been overrun by numerous invaders in its past.

Monemvasia means literally one entrance. There is a single gate through the walls and into the city. The walk to the old town from the port was pleasant. The water in the Greek Islands is clear with beautiful turquoise and blue shades above the shallows. The bottom is visible and the water inviting.

Ellen and I really enjoyed walking the streets and getting away from the main street with its tourist shops. Refreshingly, there were no barkers saying “here please”. This was very low key with extremely friendly people.

We made several attempts to find a way to the ruins up high on the plateau, but the path to the top was closed. The ruins are under renovation. We did find a path that led up to a small chapel in a cave about half way up the cliff face. The path was cobble stone that became gravel and sand, then steps carved in stone, then stone bricks placed as steps getting a bit more difficult to navigate the further up we went. Toward the end, the locals had built a stone wall against the cliff with a narrow walkway barely wide enough for one person. The drop-off was dramatic and not for the faint of heart. The reward was a view over the city to the ocean with gleaming blue sky, azure sea, and the Odyssey sitting on anchor in blazing white. A small wooden gate sat against the cliff face, be coning to us. Inside was a chapel setup in a cave with a make-shift alter and icons. We lingered a while both outside the chapel and within before starting down. A New Zealand fellow arrived ahead of us and another fellow arrived after. Most people stopped at the first rocky area, opting not to risk a fall. Ellen was a trooper going up and scrambling down “effortlessly”.

Speaking of troopers, We have met some wonderful people. We have grown quite fond of two couples: Rob and Roz and Jim and Tina; all from Australia. Tina had a hip reconstruction two months ago and has a hard time walking. She uses those short crutches with grips at hand level and an extension that wraps around your forearm. She walked the entire Ephesus site in Rhodes and the Acropolis and the Museum at Athens.

We had a conversation with the New Zealand fellow atop stone wall to the chapel about travel and how travel changes people. We all agreed that traveling and experiencing other cultures makes us more tolerant of others and more critical of ourselves. It breeds an understanding of “other”. We hope to spend more time with Tim and his wife over a drink or two one evening. He sailed Seabourn to Antarctica and I want to pick his brain. He said, “I hope we don’t bore you with our photos from that trip.” We have experiences to hang his photos on and that give us a reference point. We’ll “get it” and not be bored.

We needed to restore our supply of toothpaste and other mundane “stuff”. Returning from the old city, we spend half an hour or so walking the new city in search of a “super market” and any hidden gems. We were at the outskirts of the city and asked a local if he spoke English. “Not very well, but my wife she speaks very good English. How can I help you?” He directed us to a market back the way we had come then to our left. These people are genuinely friendly. After turning left we found a sign that read “Super Market” and it was very much a super market, but scaled for the size of the population and very Greek. It was air conditioned, an extra bonus.

While Ellen was shopping, I found a truly amazing Greek bakery that had all kinds of baked goods from bread to baklava. When Ellen finished we bought two sesame squares and two walnut baklava pastries. They are scrumptious.

We are underway now, headed to Katakolon and another adventure. Amazingly each stop on our cruise has been so different than the last that each experience is new. Consider taking a week of individual one day vacations each to a different exotic island and stacking them back to back for two weeks. That is exactly what this trip is. It is also exotic eye candy for the mind.

Monemvasia is another destination I would gladly revisit for four days along with Mykonos and Oia. Ellen is warming to the idea of staying away traveling for a few months! Two for now, but I’ll be working on two to three as a possibility.

We are very pleased with our adventure as it unfolds. Tonight is our second captain’s formal dinner. Time to get my suite and bowtie out!