‘Tis beauty truly blent


l Morning Glory at Kyparissia Castle

Tamsorella on the beach at Kalo Nero

’tis beauty truly blent
An intense shimmer has been my overwhelming view of  recent days. Yesterday’s sunset  glowed  with  apricot and violet and the shifting  sea glistened  with  turquoise, amber and liquid silver. We camped under the stars right on the edge of the beach and felt the pull of the deep waves and  the chill of the dark night, watching the intense and shining galaxy above our heads. The milky way stretched out before us in infinite and flowing  whorls , blinking constellations of mighty wonder, and we felt the  humiliity of our existence before such  vast chasms of time and space. Now the sun casts a heavy golden stream, a passage, from  horizon to shore while the sea laps tongues of  midnight blue and opalescent green. The glinting greens  of tree tops are  burnished with a bronze and  copper warmth and the horizon reflects the summer  haze in a  gentle and iridescent ivory grey.The colours of the water, nature  and light here are so vividly intense and challenging and our panoramic view so encompassing that I am grateful to return to the unbroken white of painted walls and sheets of our room . In fact we have spent several hours abed today resting our eyes and recovering from  our exertions

Sunset view from our balcony

We visited  the sanctuary of Olympia, home of the Games ,which flourished from  the 10th century BC to AD426  and imagined the excitement of the oiled competitors  practising their skills in the gymnasium, wrestling in the Palaestra in punishing heat, then  thronging the entrance to the stadium past the sixteen bases of zanes, pediments paid for  by atheletes who had been previously fined for cheating at the games. At that  time  the river Alpheios flowed fully up to the site and bubbling streams filled  an arrangement of massive and ornate  troughs and bowls  dedicated to The Gods by Herodes Atticus for use by competitors, spectators and worshippers.

The most compelling  monument of Olympia for me was   the enormous temple of Zeus, built by Libon between 470 and 456 BC. The huge Doric columns now lie in atmospheric tumbled piles, weathered wheels of granite, felled by a huge earthquake in the 5th  century AD. Inside the cella  was the gigantic  statue to Zeus, created by the mastercraftsman  Pheidias, a chryselephantine monument of gold and ivory, looted and dismembered centuries ago. Pheidias’ workshop remains with his tools in the museum, together with lumps and fragments of most beautiful green and pearlised glass that he had made. Over the remains of the workshop, now stands the remains of a  5th century AD Byzantine basilica. The  site is shaded  with majestic leafy trees including sacred oaks, the trees of Zeus, towering  olives , for the winners’ headgear, giant maples and sweet cypress. It is  an altogether magical place and strongly resonates  the intensity of its social and cultural significance for the ancient Greeks and Romans.

Cypress trees lining Kyparissia Castle stone walk

 

A trip to the Neda waterfalls was equally intense but very much colder, the  icy temperature of the milky green waters coursing down the mountainside is an excellent tonic to  revive the spirits of the weary traveller.  The journey both up and down to the waterfall is  not one that  your mother would enjoy, as the vertical mountainside sheers so frighteningly to a deathly drop that you are obliged to grab hold of the  treacherously wobbly wooden handrails offering entirely unstable support. Huge and unhelpful  nails protrude from the wooden steps to scrape at your flip flops and scour the undersides of your cork wedgies. Undeterred,  you climb up and up the limstone crags and then down and down the slippery stones until you are faced with an uncompromising choice, either jump into  the deep green and  icy pool or.. turn back.. we jumped in.. Brilliant !  Freezing!   Temple throbbingly fantastic. The teens jumped in again, I sculled  the water  gently, marvelling at the elements around me, the rushing white water, the implacable crags, the verdant foliage,the glassy pools , reducing the temperature of my ears to well below zero. Then we climbed up another leeringly vertiginous chasm, a mere footfall from  certain death up to a tiny chapel nestled in the limestone, complete with  tabernacle, icons, candles  to light and Madonna and babe. Incredible. Further along was a hermit’s cave, its entrance, an ill-advised  two feet from the edge of the sheer drop-off. Quickly, I took in the experience and returned to the relatively safe embrace  of the freezing-cold  pool and icy waterfall.

View from the boat at Oropos

 

After recovering from the drive home and having many large meals and long sleeps, we decided to take the speedboat out to the Island of Proti, about 20 miles away from the harbour. When it was my turn to take the wheeI, I began to hugely enjoy the  un-encumbered  road way of the ocean and learnt to skim and skirt the billowing waves, weaving in and out of the swell with increasing confidence  and speed. We saw two huge  loggerhead  turtles on that trip, one in the harbour and another on the ocean wave.

After motoring along in a jaunty and zig zag fashion for about an hour, we arrived at a beautiful bay and  were able to see with absolute clarity the shoals of tiny shining fish, waving sea fans and reeds, anemones and urchins and a looming wreck inhabited with all manner of sea growth and a perfect home  for the shyly glittering larger fish.  We dropped anchor and swam ashore. It  proved  much further to swim that we had imagined,  by the time I arrived, so had two boatfuls of sunworshippers  with their excitable children ,  then a large boat load of divers also turned up  and delightedly dove and bubbled all over the shipwreck.

Tonight we bid farewell to friends with a last  supper  and begin the long process of packing away and transporting ourselves and some delicious home produced extra virgin olive oil, Kalamon olives, marmalades and liqueurs, via ferry and landcruiser through  Italy, Switzerland and France, homeward bound to England.

Cheerio from Kyparissia!

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