Monday, 3 March 2014

It's all about the bridge

The Rio-Antirio bridge crosses the narrowest span of water east of the island of Kefalonia. It's named after the villages on each side of the Gulf of Corinth, Rio on the south, and its opposite, Antirio, on our side of the water. It is visible from almost every angle, all along the coast and from the road too, from Nafpaktos, about 10 kilometers away.  I just need to walk a few metres from the house to the water, to see it. It is the way to Patras, and to the ferries that leave from there, to the Italian ports of Bari and Brindisi, and the Ionian islands of Corfu and Kefalonia. It's also the way to Athens and Piraeus and the ferries to Crete and Cyprus and who knows how many other places. It is the gateway to all of Greece south of the Gulf of Corinth.

It's not the only way. Just beside the bridge there is a ferry for  pedestrians and cars, that will take you across the water of the gulf, from Antirio to Rio, beside Patras.  But most of the traffic, -  cars, vans, buses and trucks, speeds over the bridge, looking down on the diminutive, slow-moving ferry.

It is possible to cross the bridge on foot. The other day, we walked a few kilometers along the stony beach, stopping every so often to empty our boots of the tiny stones that somehow manage to slip inside. 

For the last part we had to leave the beach and follow a narrow slip road that emerges near the beginning of the bridge, climb the metal staircase over the toll booths at the bridge entrance and down on the other side, to the  pedestrian lane. The traffic thundered and thumped on the other side of the protective metal barrier. There was no-one else walking on this immense structure. It was windy, perched high up above the water, on these curving, steel grey and sturdy wings.  And it was raining.


Today I walk along the beach in the other direction, towards Nafpaktos, to where a narrow channel of water goes into the sea. But it is now a brown river, way too wide to cross. On this side, a figure stands, dressed in a bright yellow oilskin cape. He's fishing. He smiles at me and agrees that I can't get across. I go back to the path edged with the tall bamboo grasses, that leads out onto the road. Just before the bakers, it begins to rain. And by the time I come out, it is heavy, so I stand under the awning, for shelter.

The bridge is still in sunlight. Its 4 uprights are like the spindles of the Fates. They hold the bridge between upper air and water, each with their flares of wire, fine as spider webs, thrown out as if caught in mid-spin, each filigree with its own thin shaft of reflected light.

The mountains that the bridge leads to, are also in sunlight. The long red boat that has been in the gulf mouth since yesterday, sits under the dividing line between blue sky and handfuls of bunched greyish-purple fabric, that sometimes billows, a pulse runs through it, and its tendrils hang down over the mountain slope, over the sea, folded curtains.

When the rain eases off, I continue walking. Cafés and small shops are open in Nafpaktos, and the sun comes out.

I walk back along the beach, and clouds gather over the bridge and the mountains. They spread out, like fingers opening wide.

The sun is still just beyond the pall of this fabric, like a cover thrown too carelessly across the sky, a net that fails to catch the sun, but tugs at the light around it, thickening it like a muddy paste. This weather closes its fingers slightly, and rubs out the mountains. The turquoise of the sea is striped with mud-coloured water.

The rain could so easily slip over the bay. I take the narrow track, Agios Kyriakis, lined with lemon trees on one side, and olive groves on the other, back to the main road.


three sea horses said...

Ah! A lovely journal entry from you away over there in the land of The Fates, The Moira ..
So very descriptive and great photos.
Thinking of you both :-)
Love Txx

three sea horses said...

I had left you a comment, but I see it has not worked, a shame! so i was saying - a lovely journal entry from you and great pics! i can't remember what else i said but - love Txx

Forest Dream Weaver said...

Beautiful colours....different!
I notice an interesting assortment of sticks on the beach. Hope you found a good cafe!

Ruby xx

dritanje said...

thanks 3 sea horses and actually your first comment did work it's just that it has to wait for approval from me and, internet access being as rare as it is here, that has taken until now! Yes the fates, the Moira feel very close here but then everything of that nature or any other nature feels close here as this is the home of the gods and civilisations. More of that later if I am lucky... xx

And thanks forest dream weaver, there are plenty of good cafes here actually every other shop is one and I probably won't have time to try them all.. xx

three sea horses said...

oh! good :-) also glad there are lots of cafes, always a good sign. shall look out for more in case you are able to get online again xx