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Thursday, 30 December 2010

Monemvasia – The Gibraltar of Greece - Page 2

Written by Sally Dixon
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Our enterprising fisherman turned tour guide, certainly goes fast. And true to his word, he stops so we can take photos of Monemvasia from all its impressive angles. It turns out the fortress isn’t the only attraction. Our guide stops to introduce us to a fisherman on another boat. His unshaven friend, cigarette dangling from his lips, proudly poses with his catch of the day while we capture him on film.


Later we drive over the causeway to Monemevasia, park the car and walk through the dark, narrow entrance.  We emerge into hot, bright sunshine.  Temporarily blinded, the streets slowly reveal shops filled with jewellery, spices and souvenirs as we steadily climb the sloping cobbles of the lower town. Stray kittens playfully tumble under cafe chairs and curiously sniff at our foreign skin.





Monemvasia3Sturdy footwear is necessary for exploring Monemvasia. It is an uphill hike to reach the top, but we revel in the walk. Fragrant jasmine and vibrant pink bougainvillea trail out from crevices of stone and terracotta buildings, paths zigzag up the hill and lead through a tunnel still retaining its original ironbound gates. At the pinnacle of upper Monemvasia and among ruins of houses and cisterns, stands St Sophia (Hagia Sophia) Church. Built by the Bzantines in 1150AD, the church crowns this enormous rock. With a backdrop of blue sky meeting brilliant blue water I scan the ground for a fragment of broken pottery to take home.


Later that week, we venture off to Patriko Restaurant situated close to the tiny village of Agios Ioannis. We arrive and choose a table overlooking the still, sapphire Mediterranean. As our waiter approaches, we whisper to each other, “I bet his name is Nick, every man in Greece is called Nick.” That’s our theory anyway. With an engaging smile, the waiter greets us, “Good evening my name is... Nikos.” We snigger softly.


It’s a quiet evening and just two other tables are occupied with customers. Nikos circulates, takes a seat at each table and engages in friendly chatter. We find this charming and return a few nights later. Instead of ordering one meal each, we order two of every item listed on the entree menu to share: creamy tzatziki, lightly battered calamari, spinach filled spanakopita and so much more. After stuffing ourselves to bursting point, Nikos comes to chat.

 “Tomorrow,” he announces, “Is my wedding day!”


A group of single girls on holiday, our desires are dashed as we realise this gregarious man is not eligible. Our disappointment turns to enchantment when he says, “You are welcome to my wedding!”  


We squeal with delight at the thought of experiencing a genuine big, fat Greek wedding, but suddenly remember- tomorrow we return to Athens to fly home. Despite our disappointment, we decide it’s delightful even to be asked.


We begin our drive north at an incredibly early hour the next morning. Saddened to leave Monemvasia and wishing we could stay at least one more week, we watch our holiday disappear as we round the corner. The memories of lazy hours by the beach, fascinating historical sites, colorful characters and fabulous food are still forefront in our thoughts. And as we arrive at the airport, we realize that we have absorbed a bit of Greek tradition. Even with a herd of unruly goats blocking the road, we reach Athens in only four hours.



©Sally Dixon

Photos by Rosalinde Joosten and Fiona Wardle



For further information:

Monemvasia Travel Information:


Gialos Beach Apartments and Goulas Hotel :





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Last modified on Sunday, 16 December 2012

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