Our morning started with a walk along Pamfylon, the street where our hotel was sited. We were curious to see whether we could reach the northern coast that way. It meandered past another hotel complex, apparently unoccupied, a few other isolated roadside buildings, and ended rather disappointingly in what seemed a combination of builder’s yard and lorry park.
Back the way we came and to the hotel, to ask Billy, the manager, if he had any maps of the island showing walks we might do. He didn’t, but suggested we visit the Municipal Information Office, which we’d apparently find just off the harbour.
So, we set off for the town centre and began to search for said office. There was a sign for it, pointing in the general direction of a set of buildings. We moved that way and wandered around for a while with no further guidance. Just as we were about to give up, I noticed what looked like an ‘official’ building. We approached eagerly, only to discover a hotel. Now resigned to the fact the information office was evading us, we continued on our way. We almost passed the place we sought, as the small identifying sign on the wall was obscured by vegetation. Undeterred, we donned masks and entered. A rather grumpy, uncommunicative man sat staring at a monitor within a screened area, ignoring us. To one side, a set of leaflets was displayed on a small stand. These turned out to be maps and promotional information in different languages. The English version was a marginally better version of the map I’d copied online before leaving England. A polite inquiry of the man in the glass box elicited a reluctant response that informed us that was it. No other maps, and we wouldn’t find a map of local walks anywhere. So there!
Dismissed, we returned to the sunshine and what had seemed a promising entrance to a historical site we’d passed while searching for the office. This turned out to be a way into the Ancient Agora. Fantastic!
We’ve often visited archaeological sites on Greek islands and generally found them well organised and supplied with instructive and informative signs. This one had the air of a place in need of attention.
Lack of funding was evident, and we felt sorry for the archaeologists who’d clearly made significant efforts to uncover the remains. Another sign of the current state of the delicate Greek economy.
No matter, were able to wander freely in the sense we were unrestricted and no one asked us for an entry fee. The site is extensive and fascinating.
There are information boards, but the whole area has the feel of abandonment. Fortunately, it’s fenced and locked at night, so vandals are largely deterred, though there were a few signs of the ubiquitous graffiti that plagues everywhere these days.
We were often alone during our extensive wander, though others did appear from time to time. There are some well-preserved mosaics and a long row of 17 pillars had been raised to show the line of one of the major structures. Unfortunately, the 2017 earthquake had toppled all but four of those.
We toured the whole site with feelings of admiration for the efforts of the archaeologists, the original craftsmen, and sadness at the more recent neglect. It would be wonderful if the EU, once the Covid crisis is over, could find it in its heart to fund the necessary work needed to bring this whole site up to the usual Greek standards.
Not my intention here to provide a guide to the site, merely to give a flavour, so potential visitors can see what to expect.
We left the ancient behind and returned to the hotel for lunch at the bar before taking a dip and indulging in a little more sunbathing before our night at Rustico Italiano. There, I ate a rather marvellous Linguini del Mare. And we shared a good bottle of Prosecco. What, we wondered as we wandered back to the hotel in the balmy evening air, would the morning bring?