We picked Vonitsa to wait for the weather to improve. You can moor your boat safely, side onto the quay, so you don’t need to drop your anchor …. and no one can inadvertently pull it up. It is a sleepy Greek town that does not appear to rely on tourism, so even at this time of year, there appears to be a pulse. Most of the café/bars on the town quay are open, as well as a couple of Tavernas within the main part of the town … all the amenities you could want … except for a nail shop as I was hoping to get a pedicure. Well a girl can’t have everything.Preveza is at the mouth of the landlocked Gulf of Amvrakia and Vonitsa is the first town you reach, an hour and a half (at 5 knots) inside the Gulf. The Pilot Book says that the Gulf is full of fish, there are certainly many fish farms lining much of the northern coast and these are supposed to attract pods of dolphins. Mark and I are still to be convinced, we saw very little fish life and nothing anywhere near the size of a dolphin.
It’s a quiet spot, with not many visiting yachts, certainly not at this time of year. All but four of those moored up seemed to be abandoned and empty for the winter. As the week progressed, we did have a few more boats join us, they appear to come here every year at the same time, to take advantage of the facilities whilst they finish prepping their boats and wait for the weather to improve. I think we will do We fell into a routine, with Hudson and I doing our daily walks and exploring the town (between rain showers), while Mark completed his last few tasks on the boat. We are enjoying being back and have automatically adjusted into boat mode, although I do have a few bruises on my legs and head to remind me to duck when I get out of bed. The weather has not been great, in fact for the first week, most days we had rain and cloud, with cold evenings, we will need long trousers and jackets for a while yet.
Next to the boat at the end of the quay is a car-park, it is hardly used but home to three little puppies who have been abandoned. We don’t usually get involved with the local stray dogs, as there seems so many, but these three touched our hearts. They are two brothers and a sister and look so cute, they are very wary of humans and bark in that non-threatening puppy sort of way, if you get too close. After all it is their territory. We noticed on the first day that they were constantly scratching and had terrible flees, the little pale bitch had red raw patches of hairless skin, due to all her scratching. We felt we had to try to do something, so we bought flee tablets from the local vets. The challenge was to to get them to eat the tablets when they don’t trust humans (who can blame them), so I wrapped the tablets in ham and threw the food towards each one, ensuring that they all got one tablets. Thirty minutes later the job was completed, I hope they will get some relief soon.
However, this was not the end of the puppy saga. On returning from one of my dog walks, I heard a faint whining and crying coming from the direction of the pontoons. I secured Hudson on our boat and went to look for the source of the noise. One of the puppies had fallen in the water, there was no way for him to get out as everything was too high. He was clinging for dear life to a pontoon chain. I held his head up so he didn’t drown till Mark arrived and lifted him out by the scruff of his neck, saving the puppy for sure.
Today was really our “be kind to animals” day. While driving out of the car park, Mark saw a small turtle (about 6 inches long) on the tarmac in the middle of the car park, 20 metres from water and grass and to stop him being run over, moved him to safety at the edge of the car park.
After a day, the puppies seemed to stop scratching, the tablets definitely helped, so we decided to repeat the dose again just before we left Vonitsa.
On a small hill above the town is the site of a large Venetian castle constructed in the 17th century. We decided to check it out. It was open but deserted, there was not a lot to see, although the walls were quite well preserved and there was a great view from the top and the profusion of wild flowers were very colourful and pretty.
We have been threatening for many years, to visit Meteora in the Peneas Valley northeast of the town of Kalambaka, a couple of hundred kilometres from Preveza. It is an amazing collection of monasteries built on top of inaccessible columns of granite, high up in the mountains. As the weather is cooler and we can leave Hudson in the car while we go inside … and as there was also the threat of some blue sky, we decided to hire a car for a few days to go visit.
We went inside the nunnery Roussanou Monastery first, it was quite small and not a lot was open to the public. Then onto the Great Meteoron Monastery, which is the biggest and oldest one. It is called Meteoro, the monastery that is “suspended in the air”, because of the formation of the gigantic rock on top of which it was built.
A bit of history – The Great Meteoron Monastery was founded by Saint Athanasios (born 1302). The main cathedral in the central courtyard is embellished with beautiful 16th century frescoes and the old kitchen is left as it was several hundred years ago, so it gives you an idea of how life was. They seemed to have a whole hall full of wine making facilities, so the monks had something to occupy themselves with. The outside viewing platform is perched high on top of a vertical cliff and providing you have no cloud cover, like we did most of the time, the view is stunning. You can see the other monasteries in the area and for miles around. When the clouds come in, you are literally in them, it gives the place an isolated and eerie feel.
Even though it rained … well down poured most of the day, it was worth the 3.5-hour drive to see such stunning structures perched on top of these rock formations.
The weather finally improved and at last we got days of sunshine, so we stocked up the boat, completed our domestic tasks (clothes washed as there is unlimited supply of free water) and moved north to a favourite place of ours, Gaios on the Island of Paxos, just south of Corfu, in time for Easter.