Wednesday, 21 September 2011

Exploring Paliocastro Kastellorizo

Wednesday 21st September, 2011. Today Frank and I will walk to the island high point and ancient fort of Palaiokastro. I have my reference book by Norman Ashton, Ancient Megisti. I will be looking for a 2nd century inscription carved in the rock face below the Kastro:

"This is a monument to Timon. Let no-one do it harm or erase it. But if this is not so, let him be sinful in the eyes of Daimon and to the Gods of the Underworld."

Greek playwrights invented tragedy. I have no wish to tempt the Gods of the Underworld. We will just look and remember Timon.

The Roman chronicler, Titus Livius of Patavium (Padua) compiled a massive history of Rome in 142 books, Ad Urbe Condita. In the few books that survive there are three references to Megisti, all in the context of the events of 190 BC~during the Syrian War.

We have wonderfully evocative fragments from it such as:

".....the Rhodians sent Chariclitis with twenty beaked ships to Patara and Megiste harbor."


"....Polyxenidas, on hearing of the battle had left Ephesus, and after having sailed with his fleet all the way to Patara in Lycia, being in fear of the posting of Rhodian ships which were at Megiste, After disembarking onto dry land with a few men he made the journey to Syria on foot."

From such scraps we know that the Romans and ancient Greeks utilised the strategic positioning of Megiste and it's safe harbour from the 4th to the 1st century BC. A Lycian Tomb, high on the rock face tells its story of occupation. In such fragments are this ancient rock's importance recorded.

On the way back Frank and I call in to visit Bernte for a glass of cold water. He has had a house on the island since the the 80s and visits as many as three times a year. His house is delightful, a small garden overlooking the tall pines. A large top floor room is set out with beloved pieces of inherited furniture, a grand gilt mirror and an exceptional bureau of inlaid wood, reading chairs and family photos. A bolt hole.

We three agree to lunch at my house. I offer them the remainder of the tomatoes yemistes. Yes! They bring Retsina and we have a delightful time eating and drinking- again! I sleep deeply and awake at 8.00pm, dress for drinks on the limani with Voula and friends. It is a warm night. A puff of air fans the bay. There is a murmur of diners sampling the restaurant's fare as I walk towards the Kastellorizo Hotel. Voula is there with Wendy, Charles and Richard, Kastellorizo regulars from the UK. The Ouzo is deliciously refreshing at this time of the day. We chat and I take my leave to meet with Triandafilia Kalafatas, my Athenian neighbour. Together we stroll the limani till we reach Vassilis cafe for coffee and iced water.

A clap of thunder, lightening, then rain. We beat a retreat inside. The rain is dramatic and cleansing. It will clear tomorrow.

Thursday 22rd September, 2011. I awake to sunny skies. Frank and I will go to Aios Giorgos for swim, a small swimming island with what passes as a beach. The water here is clear and blue. For three Euros we hire beach lounges and for a few hours chat and swim. Frank is good company, a retired journalist and translator, he has a vast knowledge of music and literature spanning English and German. He lived in England for four years, writing for papers there. We never run out of things to discuss. He is interested in the performances I have seen recently in Vienna and New York.

Tonight a group have been invited to Costa's birthday sweets at 10.00pm. Anna and Emanuel, Chrissie and John, Amy, son ...Conahan and partner, Matthew, a Greek singer, Fandouri, Nick and Helene P and Basilis and Nick B.

Anna P has cooked baclava, orange cake and a flan. It is served with hot black tea.
We leave around 1.00pm.

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