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Poros 2007 -
Our September Fortnight in Greece

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Zoodochos Pighi, Love Bay and Greek Relatives -
23rd September 2007


  • Zoodochos Pighi and the Icon.
  • Taverna Nicholas.
  • A Sticky Situation.
  • Love Bay and Sofianna.
  • Frances's Relatives in Poros Old Town.
  • At the Rota Taverna.

 Zoodochos Pighi Icon, Monastery Church
Zoodochos Pighi Icon, Monastery Church

Zoodochos Pighi :

It being Sunday and the mood being on us, we decided to go to Zoodochos Pighi again, for Jen likes to go to Church on a Sunday. The blue-stripe bus duly dropped us off and we went in. This time I wore long sleeved shirt and long trousers, so only Jenny had to cover up this time. There was a young priest behind the counter of the shop, so when Jenny was well out of the way, I went to ask him two things - first, the location of the 'Sacred Source', since it was not obvious, the second, whether he had a copy of the sacred icon for sale. With a gentle smile he selected one from the shelf above our heads and wrapped it for me, charging no more than 3 Euros, although I left a little donation as a tribute to his kindness and the monastery. The Sacred Source is about a hundred metres up the hill above the road, but is piped down to a lion's-head spout in the wall by the little chapel of Aghia Anastasia.

Byzantine Double-Headed Eagle,Zoodochos Pighi Church
Byzantine Double-Headed Eagle
Sacred Source Fountain
Sacred Source Fountain
The Fountain and the Aghia Anastasia
The Fountain and the Aghia Anastasia

I had been aware of various interesting tombstones at the portico of the monastery chapel. One is that of the Miaoulis family of Hydra, whose most famous/infamous member was the Admiral who scuttled the ships in the Battle of Poros. Another tombstone belongs to M. Tombazi, Admiral of Hydra and the predecessor of Miaoulis, the third impressive stone being to N. Apostoli, the Admiral of Psara. Tombazi was the senior Hydran Admiral during the War of Liberation, responsible for the counter-attack after the Turks massacred most of the population of Chios and sold the rest as slaves. Tombazi on one occasion took his twenty-gun brig up against a Turkish frigate, damaging its masts, but was unable to board it because other Turkish ships forced him off. Miaoulis distinguished himself by taking in a fire-ship and grappling it to the Capudan Pasha's ship, the resultant fire and explosion destroying both vessels. Miaoulis distinguished himself in other actions, before the events of the Battle of Poros, when half the Hellenic Navy was destroyed by explosions and fires. Admiral Nikolis Apostoli (1770 - 1827) of Psara, survived the brutal Turkish massacre in the 1824 sack of the island of Psara; he was more cautious a seaman than his headstrong Hydriote colleagues Tombazi and Miaoulis, so was on occasion accused of not supporting them closely enough.

Miaouli Family Grave
Miaouli Family Grave
Admiral M. Tombazi Grave
Admiral M. Tombazi Grave
Admiral N. Apostoli Grave
Admiral N. Apostoli Grave

Another sad memorial recorded the death of Brudnell J. Bruce 'of the British Foot Guards' who escorted the British Ambassador to a meeting and died from a fever at Poros. There were also two stones I could not decipher (I must learn at least to read Greek !) but without mention of Demosthenes. Tradition has it that the philosopher's bones were disinterred from the Naos Poseidon and re-buried at Zoodochos Pighi, but their location has been lost. The monastery Chapel itself has some lovely icons, a remarkable altar screen and a fine Bishop's Chair, but for me the abiding image was of the Byzantine Imperial Double-Headed Eagle set in the floor. That Eagle was adopted by the Orthodox Church, but it was also the symbol that kept alive the 'Great Idea' of a restored Greek-speaking empire. Go to my Zoodochos Pighi Monastery page for More details >>>.

From the Chapel we went to the terrace outside the front, where I took a nice picture of Jenny overlooking Monastery Bay, with Lanzareta Island in the distance and the Taverna Nicholas down by the shore. We then made our way down to the Taverna Nicholas, in hopes of repeating the sunlit experiences of the previous Sunday (16th) but it was too cold. Reluctantly, we returned to the Taverna, where we sat out of the sun but in some shelter from the cool winds, deciding to have a snack lunch. I made the mistake of ordering meatballs for my snack, thinking that Greece could do better with this humble fare, but I should have stuck to the meat or fish dishes. A pity, because Frances said later that the Nicholas did a decent meal. However, I have to say that their toilets were badly maintained (gents seat broken, compartment dirty, no toilet paper and no paper towels) and unpleasant to use for both myself and Jenny - despite the attractions of their injured pet gull and a mermaid with a boat, I would not go there again unless they improved the toilet facilities.

Brudnell J. Bruce Grave
Brudnell J. Bruce Grave
Bishop's Chair, Zoodochos Pighi
Bishop's Chair, Zoodochos Pighi
Jenny on Monastery terrace
Jenny on Monastery terrace

A Sticky Situation...

Warned by the last Sunday's experiences, we walked back up to the Monastery and round to the bus stop, taking the blue-striped bus all the way into Poros Town. I had need of an Elastoplast so got some from our friendly lady chemist. We waited on a slightly windy seat for the next bus to Love Bay, and I decided to apply the Elastoplast. The next thing was that Jen's mobile rang and she passed it to me to speak to Frances whilst I had an open Elastoplast in one hand. We had begun to talk when Costas and his wife Pat arrived with their grand-child ! A slightly disjointed conversation ensued, with invites from Dennis and Costas for a visit tonight to friends in old Poros and then a visit to Costas's house in the hills above Galatas. Our friends moved on, I dumped the tangled and mangled Elastoplast, then finally put on a replacement over an awkward mosquito bite on my left heel. After a 20-minute wait overlooking the water-buses, we went on the 3 p.m. white bus to Love Bay, hoping for sun and quiet before the evening's activities.

Love Bay and Sofianna ...

This time whenwe got to Love Bay, Sofianna was there; I told her I was going to build her a page and asked her if she'd mind my taking a picture of her. Out came the hairbrush, she tidied herself up, then stood in front of her snack bar. All well so far, but then she went in, put on a rather cheeky apron and I couldn't use that picture. Sofianna has a mischievous sense of humour, so must have known she had embarrassed this Englishman. Alas, she and Takis are currently out of friendship, because of some kitchen problem, so I felt bad about that. Paid 6.50 for the sunbeds and parasol (rental lasts till 6:30 p.m.) then went and sunned beside Jen. She is becoming more confident in the water, wading out and ducking down a bit, but she still isn't swimming just yet. Got some nice pictures of her in the afternoon sun - she likes Love Bay because it's so sheltered and warm. We got the 5 p.m. bus back to the Saga Hotel, to freshen up for the evening ahead.

Frances's Relatives in Poros Old Town :

Frances and Dennis took us up on a walk through the old town, pointing out the Tavernas the locals tend to use, in the small and sheltered squares of the Old Town. We went beyond Aghios Georgios Church to a terrace overlooking the Paralia and the narrow strait with Galatas. I took rather a good shot, but it had a power cable across it, unfortunately. The relatives of Frances are a cousin Panayottis and his wife Athina, who live in a three-room house little larger than my three-berth caravan. We were too many to crowd into the house, so to my surprise they brought the household chairs out onto the terrace. Also, some wine for Dennis and rather good lemonade for Jenny, Frances and myself. Frances told me that she had stayed for holidays when younger in an adjacent building that was the size of my caravan. Then the tales came out, of the old water-cart that used to stop on the Paralia, and how the children used to take containers down a breakneck track down the cliff to the alleyway below before getting the water. Apparently, the house now has mains water, thanks to polypropylene pipes buried in the terrace, and electricity from the aforementioned cable. Sewage disposal is through an earth toilet set on a grass bank. It was a reminder that Greece is still largely catered for by septic tanks, and Poros Old Town will be very difficult to retrofit with mains drainage. I was not sure whether it would be polite to take pictures of Frances's cousin, so that chance passed me by.

The cousins had just completed 40 days of mourning for a dead relative, so were able to leave the house and to receive guests; Athina was wearing a dark skirt, but was not in full black like the mourners following the hearse. I had not realised the scale of mourning in Greece; certainly, this explained the tendency for the elderly to be dressed in black most of the time, as friends and relatives passed away. I am wondering whether this level of mourning is still the rule in places like Athens, and recalled later that the huge losses of life on the 'Titanic' and in the First World War had triggered the end of heavy mourning in Britain. All the same, it's worth remembering that the last significant massacres the Greeks faced were those 200,000 killed by the Turks at Smyrna in 1922 and possibly as many murdered by the Germans and Communists during and after the Second World War. Violent death has been the price of Greek freedom.

Sofianna at her Love Bay Snack Bar
Sofianna at her Love Bay Snack Bar
Galatas from the Terrace
Galatas from the Terrace
Cats at the Taverna Rota
Cats at the Taverna Rota

After leaving Frances's relatives, with many thanks for their kindness, Jenny and myself descended the alleyways, to be astonished and a little worried by the washing-up water that went down the middle of one narrow passageway as we passed a junction by a Taverna. Frances misinterpreted my dismayed face, saying that the water had to be disposed of somehow, but I explained it was just that I was worried about slipping. Frosts are fortunately almost absent in Poros, but a dark and slippery wet alleyway in a winter wind must be very treacherous. We got down safely near the Library and down onto the Paralia (harbour front) after this slightly mediaeval experience.

At the Rota Taverna...

The rest of the evening was spent very pleasantly for myself and Jenny at the Rota Taverna, where I had lamb cooked in a pot and Jenny tried a moussaka. I had decided to try something other than fish, but whilst it was very pleasant, I think the Poseidon might have the edge on the Rota this year. However I did manage one small ambition, taking a picture of the Rota's friendly feral cats. They turned up too late for scraps from us, but someone else made sure that the felines did not starve. I'm not sure whether we went to the Cinema Cafe that night as I left those notes incomplete, but Rota gave us a good meal for 21 Euros.

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© 2007 and 2008 Richard Edkins, Dalbeattie Internet.