Category Archives: Greece

Sailing the Mediterranean

A few weeks ago Charles and I joined nine other friends on a sailing trip around the South Ionian Islands in Greece. We rented two 42′ sail boats and hired one captain. A few of our friends are certified as captains so we had six people on each boat including the hired captain named Harry. Harry was a very nice older Greek gentleman who introduced himself to all of us and then excused himself so he could change into his sailing attire. This is what he looked like when he came back. He wore this outfit every single day – no joke. I still can’t figure out what the weight belt was for.

Anyhow, after a somewhat rocky start to the trip, due to our hired captain failing to untie the boat completely from the dock, twice, which resulted in a rope wrapping around the prop causing enough damage to delay our departure until the next morning, where he, yet again, failed to untie us from the dock (umm, yeah), we finally set sail.

The scenery made up for the less than perfect skills of our captain. Warm to hot weather, calm seas for the most part and perfectly clear water (visibility of no less than 50′). The little bays that we stopped to swim in each day or to drop anchor in each night were beautiful. There was usually only about 5 other boats anchored in each cove.

Because there wasn’t a whole lot of wind we did a lot of motoring. On a few occasions we were able to convince out captain (who didn’t seem to want to actually sail) that we had rented a “sail boat” and not a motor boat and it would be really cool if he would tell us what to do so that we might actually be able pull out our sails and move through the water powered by the wind. Below is our team in action. I think we got up to 8 knots which is about 9 mph.

One of the things Harry had to let us do was drop the anchor because he couldn’t do that and steer the boat at the same time. Charles and I became anchor pros.

The little ports that we stayed at every other night were exactly what you think of when you imagine a Greek fishing village. All but the last place we stayed were very small and quiet. The food was always very, very good and relatively cheap. In the mornings we would stock up on supplies for the next day or two, usually cleaning out the little market of it’s supply of ice and beer.

We managed to cook a few really good meals on one of the boats on the nights we weren’t in port. All 12 of us managed to fit around the table of our boat. Quite cozy, but such a good time. A few of the people on the trip were very new friends so there was a lot of getting to know you moments, but over all the group was very easy going. We managed to delegate tasks evenly, vote on plans of action and get things done without any problems. We had a total of seven days at sea and although we had a lot of time to lounge and relax, we still felt like we needed a vacation when we got home. Holidaying with a big group doesn’t allow for much alone time.

A big thanks to all who went on the trip for making our first (and hopefully not our last) sailing trip unforgettable! A special thanks to Kip for planning the whole thing.

Greek Island Holiday

Seventeen days later and we are back in dreary old England. The Greek sun was much needed. We were really beginning to look pretty pasty and unhealthy, but now we are tan and relaxed. The trip was great! Very different than any holiday I’ve ever taken. We started our trip by flying into Athens late on Friday and then spent all of the next day doing the tourist thing. We even wore our trainers and socks just so that we would fit in with everybody else.

The Acropolis and all that it contains is pretty amazing. It’s hard to believe that some of the structures we saw have been standing for thousands of years.

The next morning we got up early and took a ferry to the first of three islands, Paros. Such a charming place with sweet little port towns,winding streets with all types of shops and really good food. I think we had a Greek salad for lunch everyday we were there.

Our hotel was pretty nice with a good pool and it’s own beach, but we wanted to see a little more of the island so we rented a scooter and found a new beach to hang out at each day.

We quickly adapted to the Greek way of living by waking up for breakfast at about 10:30am, off to the beach by 12:30pm, after a few hours in the sun and sea we would have lunch and play cards for an hour or two and then head back to our hotel for a siesta around 6:00pm. Then we’d get up, shower and go into town around 9 or 10:00pm and have dinner at about 11:00pm. By about 1:00am we were walking around town people watching or checking out the shops (which stayed open until 2:00am) with the rest of the hundreds of tourists. From there we would either have a drink at a cafe or find a bar or club to hang out in and get home by about 3:00am. Then we’d do it all over again the next day. One of the nights we were there was a Greek holiday and we got to watch the parade, a flotilla and a really good fireworks show.

The second island, Naxos, was an hour ferry ride away. This island is the biggest in the Cyclades (the group of islands we were in) and it was not nearly as quaint as Paros. It was, however, much more green and lush, at least as far as Greece is concerned. We rented another scooter and found our favorite beaches and did a little bit of exploring in the mountainous interior of the island.

Unlike Paros we found beaches with umbrellas and lounge chairs to rent because I got really bad heat rash and had to stay out of the sun for a few days. Not fun when the main activity of the island is sunbathing. A shot of chortisone to my arm cleared it up in a few days and I was able to continue perfecting my tan.

After four days on Naxos we took a free over to Mykonos where we spent seven days. Mykonos is a bit of a party island and is well known for its great nightlife. We bought an auction package and had five nights at a really nice hotel in a great location. The hotel is located in a little town called Ornos and we were up on a hill overlooking the bay. Each morning we would wake up to find a few new sail boats and yachts had anchored over night.

The pool and beach were incredible so we spent most of the first five days there spoiling ourselves.

We did venture out to Paradise Beach on one day, know for it’s great happy hour, gay clientle and early morning party scene. We had such a great time dancing and taking advantage of the happy hour(s) that we called it an early night and recovered by the pool the next day. On our fifth day there three of our friends from London arrived in Mykonos to celebrate our friend Fran’s 30th birthday. We had so much fun a Paradise Beach we booked a table there and had another early night after hours of dancing and drinking.

The next day we officially celebrated Fran’s b-day by lounging around our pool (a new hotel) and then heading into Mykonos Town for dinner and dancing.

The rest of the trip was pretty low-key and we took a ferry back to Athens on our last day and then flew back to London later that night. All in all a really amazing holiday. I’m so grateful to be able to travel right now and experience new cities, cultures, people and food. If you want to check out the rest of the photos click here.