Thassos has been one of our ‘destinations’ since we bought Windependent, not from an overwhelming desire to visit the island itself, rather to visit an ex colleague who was due to retire here a short while after I retired. Just over 2 years ago as I left work I said to Dave “See you in Thassos!”, and here we are.
After dropping Zeynep and Steve off in Prinos we waited a short while for Dave and Jane to join us for a trip round to Liminari, the new marina 1 mile from their new home. Although the Pilot Book description of Liminari referred only to the small inner fishing harbour Dave assured me that bigger boats were using the newly built outer harbour.
Dave was correct on both accounts; the marina is very new, in fact a building site, but you can tie up to the brand new quayside. It is so new in fact that there is no water, electricity, diesel or anything other than construction plant! But as there is nothing here it is free to berth and we do have a generator and watermaker!
We arrived on Saturday afternoon and, for the first time in ages we have no specific plans for our next voyage, other than ‘sailing south’. We’d come all this way to meet up with the newest residents of Thassos and, having not seen Dave in 2 years we had no intention of rushing!
Right from the off we were made so welcome. Dinner with the ex pats on Sunday, use of Jane’s washing machine to save our water, being taken to the supermarket for a big supply run, meals both at their house and a selection of their many local restaurants. Having been visiting here for so long they know all the right people as well; for instance a local hotelier who arranged a delivery of 200 litres of diesel for us within 5 minutes of being asked! And his cousin owned a hotel close to the marina who was happy to let us fill our 10 litre ‘water bags’ a few times giving us an extra 60 litres of water. It is always who you know!
We hired a car on Wednesday and took a tour of the island. The scenery is more dramatic on the eastern, more mountainous, side whereas the west side is relatively flat.
We briefly visited a Greek Orthodox monastery but our main destination was ‘Old Thassos’, Nea Limani or Limenas depending on who you spoke to or what you read. This was the location of the archaeological museum and some unexpected ruins. Archaeological sites here are mostly unimpressive, but this was a surprise. We found our way in by accident by the back gate and turning a corner in the field of rocks we found monumental pillars and foundations. Quite impressive.
But the museum was even better. Thassos has been of strategic importance for millennia. In antiquity when sea trade operated almost exclusively along the coast a large island on the coast between Greece and the Levant controlled those trade routes and prospered. The island became a trading centre, had its own navy and established trading posts as far afield as what is now southern Bulgaria. I could have spent all day there! Really very unexpected.
On Thursday Dave and Jane drove us up into the mountains to visit the old village of Kastri. The village has been occupied since antiquity as a safe haven from pirates and raids on the coast; common with all the places we have visited recently. It is a collection of stone built houses, standing and collapsed, with magnificent views. It has benefitted from an EU funded new road, being a tourist site, and has also acquired some new houses, holiday home it would appear, but it is still very isolated.
The village also has an Ossuary next to its church; we’ve never seen one of these before. Probably because soil is so valuable fro crop growing, you don’t want to pollute it with dead bodies, so after 5 years the graves are opened, the bones removed, placed in the Ossuary and the grave site reused. Families can maintain a box in the Ossuary but many don’t and the building is filling with loose bones. Ironic that on an island with so much marble, there are no graves for head stones!
We also visited a small restaurant, way off the beaten track in an old mill near to Theologis. A lovely spot for lunch. On our way we had a look in a folk museum, all wooden farm tools and looms, but I did learn that until Greek Independent in 1821 the island was ruled by Egypt!
On Friday Dave and Jane came to join us for the day and we went for a motor around to Aliki. Aliki itself was full with day trip boats so we anchored in a bay next door and spent the afternoon swimming, having a BBQ and sunbathing before returning for a couple of beers in another of their haunts close to the marina.
Saturday was supposed to be our day of departure but thunderstorms were forecast so we decided to stay one extra day. Although we were in no hurry to move, the construction crews had had enough of us ……. on Saturday they put up “Construction Site -No Mooring’ signs beside the boat and on Sunday the red and white tape appeared! No rush until Monday, but it looked like it was time to go.
The thunderstorms never materialised but we did spend a very entertaining last night with Dave and Jane, playing a rather complex board game called Tic Tac, I think, and sampling some of Dave’s port; a great end to a brilliant week. So a big thanks to Dave and Jane for making us so welcome. Thassos is a lovely island and we can see how it would be very easy to retire here.