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Poros 2007 -
Our September Fortnight in Greece

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Wot, No History ? -
14th September 2007

  • Wedding pictures.
  • Poros Naval Memorials.
  • Museum of Poros.
  • Politics, Politics....
  • The Poseidon.
  • The Cinema Cafe and the Bridge Cafe.

Cannon Overlooking Poros Harbour
Cannon Overlooking Poros Harbour

Possibly from ships sunk in the Battle of Poros

Wedding pictures at Breakfast - and a Mermaid Surprise :

Down late for breakfast at 10:30 am - standard breakfast, but no protein after last night's gourmandising. (Mem : must be careful to avoid last year's over-eating) The morning began with a very promising look at the wedding photographs of a couple who had married from the Saga Hotel in July 2007, actually tying the knot in the old church on Daskalio Island. Dennis and Frances had used Zefi's computer to access the 284 pictures online of the wedding, some shots being of the Saga Hotel roof terrace decorated in the same peach colour as the bride's dress. I later took a picture of one column that they left swathed for me. The bride, groom, family and guests, were uniformly either good looking or respectably dignified, the grandmother impressing me. Something of a 'Wow!' for Zefi, as they were delighted to let her use the photos on her websites. The couple had been married previously, so each had daughters - a total of five, functioning as highly-attractive bridesmaids. Zefi had organised the wedding, Greek wedding cake and all, with the able assistance of her staff and family. For pictures, go to the Saga Hotel page on Weddings at the Saga Hotel >>>>.

Out after breakfast to Poros, almost thought the TE Poros mermaid had been removed, but I was just looking in the wrong place. Onwards, then, to find the Poros Train still parked near the car ferry landing; I took a nice picture of Jenny there, but the Train was not running that month. The Mermaid of Poros of George Xenoulis, that had been such an early joy in Poros 2006, is suffering a change of outlook; a massive heap of sand and rubble to seaward and her fountain has been turned off! I was very depressed, but after a bit of probing realised that the Municipality are widening the seafront to increase the number of yacht moorings. Still, the aspect was rather dismaying.

Jenny & The Poros Train
Jenny & The Poros Train
The Mermaid of Poros - High and Dry
The Mermaid of Poros - High and Dry
Naval Memorial, Poros Harbour
Naval Memorial, Poros Harbour

Poros Naval Memorials...

There is an intriguing display of flagstaff and cannon between the High School and the Taverna Poseidon, with a smaller grouping of anchors of various periods. I could not translate the Greek, but the dates 1822 to 1830 indicate that this has something to do with the founding of the Greek Navy at Poros. The anchors are a more modern 'Stockless' design, such as one can see on ferries today, an old Admiralty pattern anchor like the kind on HMS Victory and a grapnel-type mediaeval anchor. All three appear to have seen time underwater and are badly corroded. Across the road there is a pediment with a man's head; this later turned out to be the head of Kapodistrias, first Governor of the nation of Greece, and has the date 1828. For more on these Memorials and others, go to my page on the Battle of Poros >>>>.

Poros was much the same, along with the tourist shops and their racks of goods out on the wide pavement. I bought a replacement sponge for Jenny for 1.10 Euro, then went to price the cost of a ferry trip to Spetses for Jenny and myself. I was taken aback to discover that it would have to be Saturday or Sunday, with very little time to look around before the return. The Flying Dolphins are more frequent, but 15 Euros per head one way, making 60 Euros at a crunch a bit tough. Nevertheless, we decided to go, but to consult Frances and Zefi first. I was really wanting to see the home of the great heroine of Spetses, Laskaria Boubolina, who during the Liberation led the Spetses fighters to liberate Nauplion and take a significant part in further fighting. A further shock came at the self-styled Saronic 'Tourist Office', where a blonde woman informed me that Poros had nothing historically interesting except the Temple of Poseidon (Naos Poseidon) and the Zoodochos Pighi Monastery. Vexed by this local short-sightedness and decided to do something about it.

The Museum of Poros ...

In 2006 I was unsure whether it was worth paying 2 Euros for the doubtful privilege of entering the Museum, but this time I did so, although Jenny decided to stay outside and refresh herself with a pressed orange from an adjacent Taverna. History in mind, cash in hand, I went into the Museum, paid for my ticket and had a pleasant surprise. The museum is on two floors, the ground floor being chiefly Classical Greek, with the most significant items coming from the Naos Poseidon (Temple of Poseidon) on Kalavria, ancient Methana, and the site of the ancient town of Troezene (Troizen, Trizina), birthplace of Theseus, the Athenian King who in legend slew the Minotaur. The best item was the Stela of Troizen, a copy in stone of the Athenian Decree of Themistocles about the evacuation of Athens to Troizen, at the time of the Persian Invasion. The 300 Spartans at Thermopylae held back Xerxes long enough for the Greeks to assemble an army, evacuate Athens and move their fleet into position. The battle at Thermopylae and the sea-battle at Salamis together forced Xerxes to abandon his invasion and return to Asia Minor (modern Turkey), so the Athenians and Triozenians never forgot it. The Stela was apparently found whilst acting as a step at the school of modern Trizina. The other ground-floor exhibits are a mixture of funerary inscriptions, statues of various Gods and worthies, a plinth of a statue to the third century Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius and a case of terracotta pottery from Troizen and Methana.

The upper floor was a collection of other historical delights, particularly a case of little votive bulls of Mycenaean date from Troizen and Methana and a collection of tiny votive lamps from the shrine of Demeter, the mother goddess of life, from Troizen. I was most impressed by the bulls (one had a rider, another a bull-leaper) and by a little 'pottery woman' that was actually a figurine of the Great Mother. The votive lamps looked like dolls' shoes. Jewellery was confined to the fragments of a gilt necklace from Troizen and a collection of base-metal Byzantine items. The most interesting items that had the sea connection were an amphora covered in shells from a shipwreck in the Saronic Gulf and a stone block pierced in the top for a cable, the kind of anchor used for many centuries, almost to the modern day. Bearing in mind that there were items from the earliest times, up to more modern artefacts (well, about 600 years ago), the writer thinks that Poros and its surrounding area can illustrate most of Greek history over thousands of years. A mixture of domestic items (loom weights, spit rests, strigils and domestic pottery) and funerary and commemorative stones, well worth the visiting. For more on the Museum, go to my page on the Poros Museum >>>>.

The buildings of Poros in themselves are evidence of its history; the Hotel Dionysos is in an Italianate design of building from 1826. It would have been finished after the War of Independence but before the events of 1831, a key year in the history of Poros and of Greece, as I was later to realise.

The Museum of Poros
The Museum of Poros
Olive Press Base (?)
Olive Press Base (?)
1826 Dionysos Hotel
1826 Dionysos Hotel

Politics, Politics... :

Returning towards the hotel, I was increasingly struck by the fervour with which Greeks embrace poltics, for the trees and lamp standards had poltical poster-holders attached to them, the largest number (as in Athens) being of Karamanlis. It was noticeable that Karamanlis's picture was defaced on several posters, with Hitler moustaches, swastikas and even vampire fangs. I felt that Nazi depictions were rather unfair - the reality of Naziism, its gas-chambers and 'ubermensch' is thankfully absent from modern Greece. However, the poster with fangs also had a large lipstick kiss on the left cheek, so somebody likes Karamanlis. Nobody had defaced the posters of the two main opposition parties, Pasok (Papandreou) and KKE (Communists), but I was interested to see the KKE had a young woman on their posters. When I looked into it, the KKE was indeed led by a woman - Aleka Papariga - but considerably older than the face on the KKE poster. The fourth party - LAOS, (New Orthodox) only was seen on one poster. At least politics is a better outlet for rivalry than the vicious inter-village bloodletting feuding that was the general rule before good roads came to the Peloponnese. According to Dennis, there was no real rule of government in the heart of the Peloponnese until the 1950s, with some areas effectively lawless. There is a fifth party, with more votes in 2007 than LAOS, that being SYRIZA, the Coalition of the Radical Left, but there were no posters of Aleka Alavanlos visible on our walks around Poros. For more on Greek political parties, go to Wikipedia : Greek Legislative Election 2007 >>>.

Kostas Karamanlis (ND - New Democracy)
Kostas Karamanlis
(ND - New Democracy)
George Papandreou (PASOK - Panhellenic Socialists)
George Papandreou(PASOK
- Panhellenic Socialists)
Poster of KKE (Communist Party of Greece)
Poster of KKE
(Communist Party of Greece)
Georgios Karatzaferis (LAOS - Popular Orthodox)
Georgios Karatzaferis
(LAOS - Popular Orthodox)

Tiring of politics, we returned along the sea-front towards Kanali, to have two surprises. The Apagio Taverna has now moved to the Pounda area of Poros, along beyond the fishing area at the south end of the town, according to a notice on a telegraph pole. The other surprise was that the poor Mermaid of TE Poros, a gorgeously-painted piece of concrete, was as dry as our bronze friend and looking more dilapidated. I was grieved that two attractive attractions were being so little cared for.

We went to Askeli beach so Jen could wade in the sea and sun a little. Jen had bought a copy of the 'Daily Mail' to keep herself informed about the sad search for Madeline McCann and her parents' treatment by the Portuguese Police. Whilst Jenny waded I sat in the shade and read the paper, which did not offer very much hope, then went back to the Hotel with Jenny. On return to the Saga Hotel, we sat out on the balcony; Jenny had a read and a nap, I wrote up the blog. After showering and changing for the evening (no, no tux or tails - informal) I popped down the the Poolside Bar and finished my notes sitting beside that rascal Freddy the Parrot. Needing a stapler, I discovered, alas, that Zefi's had succumbed to Yorgi's youthful curiosity; for some reason, all young boys (myself included) find them fascinating and generally wreck them.

I was still troubled by the need to prove the 'Tourist Office' blonde wrong about the visible history of Poros, so discussed the problem with the young barman, alas, Albanian by extraction. He told me that he had moved with his parents to Poros when still young, working as an electrician and at the Saga Hotel. Still, the discussion settled my decision - to describe the visit in the blog, with cross-links to a historical timeline and to pages on the historic sites. The Museum would come in useful to plug holes in the visible history, and Poros is a superb location for touring the sites in Argolis and Athens that cover the rest of thousands of years of history. I had not realised the scale of the task or the time that it was going to need to do a reasonable job.

Evening : The Poseidon, The Cinema Cafe and the Bridge Cafe :

Dennis and Frances met up with us outside the Saga Hotel and we enjoyed an evening stroll into Poros together to the Poseidon Taverna, where the smells from a strategically-located charcoal grill outside drew us in, to find a man grilling octopi, an unlikely but delicious local delicacy, done right. Impressed. Ordered a mixed fish grill and a half-litre of wine for Jenny, bottled water for myself, for the grand sum of 27 Euros. Jenny was very happy with her meal, but left the octopus and squid to me, preferring the fish, some green-lip mussels, the good side salad and garlic bread. We left in good humour, to walk up beyond the Museum and encounter the barker for the Oasis Taverna; I told him that we had eaten but would consider him in future - words I was later to regret. Then we returned, intending to go to the Cinema Cafe. Frances and Dennis had left us at the Poseidon, but on our way back, I was literally pulled to a stop by Dennis, outside the Corner (Y Ghonia) restaurant. A take-out and pavement cafe, the Corner is a rather good little place. Dennis had ordered beef (beeftiki) wraps for himself and Frances, offering us a piece. The beef was very good, a bit like a costa. I was given a drink of Coke (passable) whilst Jen and our friends had wine. That made Jen's fourth glass of the night, as I teased her, but she had had a good bit of food.

Off later to the Cinema Cafe, where the genial Marcus made us three hot chocolates and Dennis a Greek/Turkish coffee. According to Jenny, it was very strong and has coffee grounds at the bottom. Marcus wants to change the name, as he is forever being mistaken for the booking office of the rooftop Cinema; I offered to think up a replacement name, but Frances reckoned that the Cinema Cafe name will be hard to change. We finished up going to the new Bridge Cafe, run by two British women, for cups of refreshing tea.

We got to bed and to sleep near 1 am, to have slightly broken nights (I had a bad dream) but none of last year's discomfort. If we had succumbed to the lure of a meze at Poseidon, things would have been different.

The TE Poros Mermaid
The TE Poros Mermaid
Cinema Cafe Gilda Poster
Cinema Cafe Gilda Poster
The Bridge Cafe in Daylight
The Bridge Cafe in Daylight


© 2007 and 2008 Richard Edkins, Dalbeattie Internet.