Wednesday, 15 July 2015

A Day in Kalamata and The End of The Cruise

Thursday 18 June 2015. It's the last day of the cruise - I tend not to count the day we spend getting off and standing around the airport before coming home!

Again we are not booked for any excursions but just get off the boat to see what the world looks like from Kalamata. We are in a fenced security area surrounding the ship and just across the road literally is the town.

It looks sunny at any rate. The old town is quite a way up the hill and we pile into a taxi after checking the price. One advantage of there being four of us is that taxis can be a cheaper way of getting about than buses!

A member of the local wildlife poses on the front of a car for us. Someone warns us that gypsies are begging up in front of the large church that we have to go past, but we can cope with that and they don't try all that hard.

At the side of the church are signs for a castle. Of course the path to it is up... Up these steps, round those buildings, up that slope, up that tree-covered hill...

Looking back from the top of the steps. The graffiti is almost everywhere. Slogans, political messages mostly are seen. Very seldom will you get art or tags - the yob's way of trying to justify their vandalism as art.

At the bottom of the tree-covered hill is a steep set of steps. I decide my toe has had enough climbing for a bit - the red area is shrinking but the toe, through several days of limping on it, has now blistered and is therefore as sore as ever to walk on! I'm a true Pisces - a martyr to my feet... This view looks back down towards the path we have taken - all the way back to the ship in fact!

So we wait here whilst David and Jeannie climb up the steps...and climb back down saying they don't go to the castle but to some sort of church or monastery...

We walk round the hill and find the castle. David goes in alone. The entrance fee is just two Euros, but when he returns he says there is not much to the castle apart from some good views over the city and mountains.

We head back down the hill, following a slightly different route and come back out on the other side of the large church. Walking back down into the old town we come across this attractive smaller church.

The old town has the narrow streets of shops and cafes of an "old town" but the buildings are not quite as old as we may have been expecting.

This large courtyard is ringed by cafes and bars and we are all ready for a drink, by now having been walking up and down hills for getting on for two hours.

It's cooling tall drinks we are wanting rather than wine just yet and having got them we realise that the hidden controllers are sending out the child beggers round the tables.

"No! Go away!" says David to a boy wanting a Euro for a single packet of pocket tissues. This though is taken as an invitation to prolonged deep conversation. On his side the conversation sinks as deep as just a repeated "Money, money, money!"...

Luckily for us the people at the table on the right, with whom he is sharing his attention, buy a packet off him in the hope that this will satisfy him and he will go away. On the contrary he immediately comes past us to the edge of the tables, signals success to his controller and peers and that table are beset by a quick succession of others whilst the original child-begger appeals to the other members of their party. The only way to get rid of them is to totally ignore them as though they were not there.

We grab a taxi back to the port, meeting what I think was either our first and only spot of resentment against what is happening financially to Greece or just a grumpy sod of a taxi driver who wanted to natter to his mates. I can't believe that any taxi driver would not understand the words "ship" and "port".

Anyway he just shrugs at us until I take out a map and point to where we want to go and with bad grace he waves us into the taxi and then drives at a ridiculous speed through the narrow streets, missing buses and other cars by inches. "Efcharisto..." I said mildly as we paid and escaped.

Thomson Majesty sits waiting for us at the dock, but before we board her we decide on one last time for this holiday sitting in an open air cafe with a glass of wine.

Wow, look at that! There are such cafes right opposite the ship along the dockside! What a happy coincidence!

We are brought a complimentary bottle of water along with the wine. Miss Franny appears to have picked up the bill - cheers, my dear!

It has been fun having David and Miss Jeannie along with us and despite his best efforts at lurching backwards every now and then, no one has been hurt during the week. (I didn't mention those three Segway riders that had to swerve and/or jump off their machines in Chania yesterday did I...?)

We finish our wine, raising the glasses to what has been a brilliant holiday. Mykonos and Chania seem to be the outstanding days for all of us - and these were both days where we didn't pay to go on a guided excursion, but just followed our own noses for the day. Stupid phrase... when do I ever not follow my nose...?

We head back into the security controlled area around the ship. "Just stop and turn round..." comes a voice...

We spend the afternoon relaxing, reading and (David) topping up tans, catching some rays... He's easily the most tanned person on the ship... People who have spent the entire week doing nothing but frying and broiling themselves on sun loungers stare at him with loathing... Darker members of the crew have started to call him "Bro..." After nine years in the Navy, all those months in hot parts of the world have left him permanently tanned. A little sun is all it takes to achieve what others spend a month or a fortune to achieve.

It's sail-away time. We are all up on Deck 11, looking out over the town of Kalamata, waiting for the crew to finalise their preparations and for the dock workers to cast off our mooring ropes from the side.

With a tiny splash, the ropes are lifted off the mooring points and dropped into the sea and the ship, ever so slowly, inches sideways away from the dock.

As the gap between us and the dock widens, we start to move forward. It seems as though the land is gliding slowly past us, there is hardly any sensation of movement. Buildings move towards the rear of the ship, then there is a few moments view straight up the road, from the port security hut on the dock, to what looks like a block of flats or office building at the end. Beyond that and to the right is the old town in the distance and further again the tree-covered hill that we climbed earlier, with the tower and silver dome of the large church just visible to its left.

Second from the left is the bar where we had our final open air bottle of wine just before boarding the Thomson Majesty for the last time for this holiday.

The docks give way to a marina for small boats and then to beaches, mostly deserted now though it is only 3:00pm. We have to head up the eastern side of the Adriatic sea tonight to return to Corfu for our flight home tomorrow.

It's our last meal in the Four Seasons restaurant tonight. Gede, Yankee and Marwill, as always, do their best to make it a great evening.

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