Kalamata

Yesterday, we noticed that on the mountain tops in the distance there was snow, yet we had a lovely warm day. Today we expected Kalamata to be cold and cloudy as forecast, yet we woke again to clear blue skies and it was warm (20 degrees by lunchtime).

We had a full day in this fairly large mainland town, not leaving until 7.30pm, so again we had a lazy start. A first look at the town from the heights of Deck 11 were much more favourable than Heraklion of the previous day. We were berthed right next to the main road along the seafront, towering mountains extended on three sides and along the shore to the right of the harbour was  one long and pretty beach.

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We knew nothing of this Greek town so on disembarking Sue acquired a town map from the kiosk situated on the pavement alongside the port side of the ship. Helpfully, the lady circled the castle, museum and old town.

Most passengers opted for the town, but we headed along the promenade and the beach, on the premise that perhaps this sun would not last all day. Being Easter Saturday there were many families out for a walk, we couldn’t help notice how wrapped up in thick coats and gloves the locals were. How crazy we must have seemed to them in our t-shirts, shorts and sandals and how soft they appeared to us on such a lovely day.

We did discover several hardy Greeks taking a morning dip in the sea, but they could have been from Newcastle here on holiday. We didn’t bother to ask as both languages are beyond our comprehension.

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The beach is fringed with lots of picturesque bars and restaurants that we thought would be delightful to dally awhile in during the heat of the summer and watch the fishermen in their little boats going about their business.

With our beach combing completed we headed into the town in search of the the circles on our map. The areas of interest were located on the other side of the municipality, at the end of a very long and straight road that ran right through the centre and conveniently started at the exit of the ship. How considerate of the town planners.

With so much time to play with today we took our time and popped in and out of any shops that took our interest. As we passed through the centre it was noticeable that here was a meeting point for its inhabitants as the crowds increased considerably. Groups of families greeting each other in a convoluted way; hugging and much kissing of cheeks. Particularly among the men, I feel confident in predicting that this will NEVER catch on in Yorkshire.

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We found the town market. A very busy affair full of the usual produce, remarkable not only for the vibrant colours but the large variety of fruity and vegetables available at this time of year. We could see the castle located on a hill above the market and set off to find its entrance.

We did this via the discovery of a tiny church in a grotto underneath the castle walls. Scarily there was an open and thankfully empty grave in the earthen floor. Before the occupant returned from his shopping trip to the market we moved on. At the ticket kiosk 1 Euro secured our entrance and we made our way up to the ramparts. Much of the castle is in poor condition but it did provide excellent views over the town, perfect for a bit of camera work.

Back down the hill in the old quarter, we stopped and watched some masons involved in intricate carvings alongside the Medieval church in readiness for an exhibition to be presented inside, later in the month. Taking advantage of the sun we chose a nearby restaurant to sit and have refreshments. We had a nice chat with Charlotte on Skype and found out that it was raining and cold back home.

As we made our way back to the ship it began to get cloudy and there was chill in the air. After depositing rucksacks in the cabin (for once devoid of any packages), we attacked the Grill and again had a late lunch.

Disappointingly we learned that due to ‘operational’ reasons we won’t be stopping at Civitavecchia on the 29th, but at Livorno instead. We had an excursion booked and will now have to accept a refund or chose another from the new port. We shall see what is on offer.

Venturing out  later in the afternoon, it was quite evident that it had got cold and shorts and T-shirt were exchanged for trousers and a fleece. We ambled further up the beach road for half an hour before hot drinks and returning to the warmth of our cabin.

We watched the departure of the ship through our window, only noticing that we were moving when I caught sight of the end of the harbour wall sliding by. It was now too cold ‘up top’ for us reptilian travellers, which was a shame as through our peep hole we could see the sun setting orange and pink over the mountains scattering streams of rays heavenward through dark, silver lined clouds. Another great photo missed!

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We sat down very late for dinner and there were not many others choosing to join us. We took in the 9.45pm performance of Latin dancing. So colourful and fast.

For some strange reason we have to set our clocks forward 1 hour tonight and then tomorrow night set them 1 hour back. I hope my constitution doesn’t get upset by all this time warping. I just hope that Scotty has the Lithium core on line.

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