The Greek Islands and Athens
Spetses is a small pine forested island that has proved to be popular with English tourists for many years. It can be reached via daily ferries from the Athenian port of Piraeus, or by taking a water taxi from the nearby village of Kosta on the Greek mainland. There is at present a limited ban on the use of private cars on the island.
Spetses town, sometimes called Dapia after the name of its port, is the only substantial settlement on the island. With the lack of private motor cars, the town exudes a more relaxed atmosphere than can be found on many other islands. The horse and traps that run back and forth along the water front only adds to the feeling that this could be a good place to simply lay back and relax.
Apart from the main square, it is, in many ways not the prettiest of Greek towns, but it still houses many fine old mansions. Around the old harbour can be found the usual mix of tavernas and bars, but as the resort is also very popular with some of the more well to do Athenians who own villas on the island, prices can be higher than you would normally expect to pay on the average Greek island.
Some of the best beaches can be reached via the boats that leave the harbour each morning during the holiday season. The best beach on the island is usually considered to be Agia Anargiri on the opposite side of the island from the main town, here there are a couple of good tavernas, and watersports in the high season. If you prefer something a little quieter, then not far from Agia Anargiri is the beach at Agia Paraskevi.
An important time in the history of Spetses was during the war of Independence against the Turks, which began in 1821. A Greek heroine called Laskarina Bouboulina was from the island of Hydra but was actually born in the prison of Constantinople, where her mother was visiting her dying father. After her father's death she moved to Hydra for fours years and then to Spetses. Bouboulina grew up with a love of the sea, marrying two sea captains who both died, leaving her a lot of money. she used this money to buy several ships, including the Agamemnon, the largest warship in the 1821 revolution against the Turks. Twelve days before the official beginning of the War of Independence, the first revolutionary flag was raised on the island of Spetses by Laskarina Bouboulina. On April 3rd Spetses revolted. Bouboulina and her fleet of 8 ships sailed to Nafplion and took part in the siege of the impregnable fortress there. Her later attack on Monemvasia managed to capture that fortress. She took part in the blockade of Pylos and brought supplies to the revolutionaries. She was treated an equal by the rest of the generals when planning strategy. In the first two years of the war she spent almost all of her fortune paying the crew of her ships and supplying a small army with food, weapons and ammunition. Following the war she lived in Nafplion, the capital of the new Greek state until the Greeks broke into factions and began to fight each other. She was arrested twice and finally expelled back to Spetses. Her fortune all but gone, Bouboulina died on 22nd May 1825, shot in a dispute with the Koutsis family after her son had eloped with one of their daughters. Bouboulina became a national hero, as one of the first women to play a major role in the revolution. Without her and her ships the Greeks might not have gained their independence.