Gentle Leros and in Kalymnos – the meltemi strikes again

We visited the very unusual island of Leros, which was a Mussolini experiment in Art Deco, though he never visited here. We had a wonderful dinner here rack of lamb for the boys and moussaka for Sue and I. The chef came out to see who ordered their lamb cutlets rare and then joined us after dinner.  The hospitality in Greece is amazing and Chef Petrino’s moussaka with white aubergine was exquisite.

Discussing lamb with Chef at Petrino's on Leros.
Discussing lamb with Chef at Petrino’s on Leros.

When we were in Tinos, Rosemary and Stephen had to take a ferry to Syros to make their connections home. That was because we were surprised by a meltemi at 5 AM. Mercier had to wait it out for three and half days. Here in Kalymnos, we have had a similar scenario. First we weren’t able to get a berth a Kos marina, then our Finnish friends lay their anchor chain across ours and then the meltemi came in a big way. We are here for the duration. We decided on a tour of the island.

First Stop - Myrties. The taverna had hosted a wedding the night before and the decorations were still there. The beach was stunning.
First Stop – Myrties. The taverna had hosted a wedding the night before and the decorations were still there. The beach was stunning.

Sometimes, I think an island like Kalymnos decides that we have only seen its port, so it orders a meltemi so that we are forced to explore its beauty a bit more.

Arginonta
Donald, Sue, James and Gaila -Arginonta

So on Sunday, we hired a car and off we went around the island. We found lovely villages by the sea at every stop and rich and fertile farmland in the center of the island.

We had a magnificent lunch with Eleni at Dreamcatcher, the food was amazing. It was all prepared by her family and the provenance was all explained. Great to have a swim, beautiful food and continue on our way.

Emporios Beach with a few moorings for yachts
Emporios Beach with a few moorings for yachts

 

We also visited the fjords of Vathi, which is a small but very dramatic anchorage and marina.

Vathi
Vathi

We ended the tour with a visit to a beautiful monastery of Nuns.

Convent
The beautiful Monastery of Agioi Pantos

The Swannos put a ferry plan in place for Monday morning.  We decided to go with them have a last coffee and see them off to Kos. Luckily, they made the ferry because we were going early  for a coffee but it was a running dash.  Bon Voyage Swannos!

Dodecanese sunshine

The weather has been great, sunshine and a breeze during the day and cool sleeping weather at night.  Yesterday, after walking from the Chora to town, we relaxed with a swim and later ate our dinner on the same beach.

We had excitement on the dock with a large private ship, with a staff ratio of 38 staff to 18 guests. It looked like Las Vegas at midnight when we were walking back from dinner. [Rene – there was a veritable light show on the water.]

At twilight a beautiful blue yacht sailed in and anchored in Skala harbour for awhile. We much preferred this beauty and we think it may be the Murdochs’ boat.

Yacht Envy
Yacht Envy (Vertigo – Rupert’s boat)

We were up early this morning to leave our wonderful Patmos and go and explore Leros.

James, Sue and Swanno and I had the spinnaker up quickly.  She is a beautiful duck egg blue and it was a perfect day to try her out.  Sadly, when Davo was with us the meltemi was a bit fierce going to Mykonos for the spinnaker but we will rectify it next year.

Sue and Swanno  sailing to Leros
Sue and Swanno sailing to Leros

 

James keeping the spinnaker afloat
James keeping the spinnaker afloat
beautiful day for a spinnaker run
Squadron burgee and beautiful day for a spinnaker run

We stopped for a swim off the boat as we came into Lakki and the water was perfect. We are looking forward to enjoying all the treats Leros has to offer.

We would like to offer our thoughts and prayers to the family and friends of the people killed in Malaysian Airlines flight disaster.

 

A gallery of Finikas and Ano Syros

These are two of the suburbs on the island of Syros.  Finikas is a resort area and the marina is here.

Here is how our day started.  I went out early and took a few photos of Finikas Marina and some of the beautiful boats here.  One which is quite beautiful looks like it may be a canal boat.  Note the clear water under the tiller and the varnish.  It makes me think of Swanno and Richard Lawson, no one varnishes like those two.

Tiller of the canal boat, clear water
Tiller of the canal boat, clear water

The smallest fuel truck in the world came and brought us fuel. No going to the fuel wharf for us, they just drive right to us.

Small fuel truck
Small fuel truck

 

Our errands done, we wanted to  see if the bay in Hermoupolis was as quiet as Finikas.  The boats there were rolling side to side.  That was before the ferry came into the bay.  Finikas Marina is much calmer in the meltemi, although perhaps not in a southerly or westerly.  We continued on our way to the Old medieval town of Ano Syros, which was the Venetian fortress and remains the Catholic part of town.  It is above the city of Hermoupolis.  It is a town of winding streets and stairs, not only to foil pirates by battling them one at a time and also to offer protection from the wind.

 

Ano Syros
Ano Syros

 

This area is famous for being the birthplace of Greek Blues and there is a monument to Vamvarkis, a celebrated ‘rebetiko’ or blues singer.  He is known in Greece as the Patriarch of the Blues Singers.

Colorful monument to Markos Vamvarkis, the reknown Greek Blues singer from Ano Syros.
Colorful monument to Markos Vamvarkis, the renown Greek Blues singer, from Ano Syros.

The views are always at the top, aren’t they?

Hermoupolis
Hermoupolis – looking down onto St Nicholas Church

 

 

The Bay of Hermoupolis
The Bay of Hermoupolis

 

HAPPY FOURTH OF JULY, Y’ALL!!!

Sunday on Tinos – Panagia Evangelistria

Tinos is most famous for a blessed icon of the Virgin Mary, which is second to Lourdes in granting miracles. Hundreds of Orthodox crawl the kilometer from Port to the Church of Panagia Evangelista up the stairs to the church to kiss the icon. Miracles are proclaimed and the benefactors give gold or silver offerings representing their miracle.

Panagia Evangelistria
Panagia Evangelistria

The interior of the church is beautiful with icons and many silver representations of the miracles. One miracle was of a ship which had been sinking, the crew all prayed to the Virgin Mary. Suddenly the ship stopped taking on water, when they looked at the hole, a big tuna sized fish had been sucked into the whole, staunching the flow of water, allowing them enough time to reach shore. To thank the Virgin for this miracle, a large silver sailing ship hung with 2/3 of a tuna hanging from the hole. There is a beautiful silver icon of the Virgin and a line of people waiting to say their prayers in front of her. There are silver babies, houses and other ships. We lit candles and were humbled by the faith you could feel in the church.

Here are a few photos of the church and the grounds of Panagria Evangelistria .

a pilgrim crawling to give thanks
a pilgrim crawling to give thanks
From the courtyard looking towards the Port
From the courtyard looking towards the Port
The Priest
A Priest

The meltemi is consistently blowing, gusts up to 50+ knots.  To look outside you would think it is a perfect day, you step outside and you feel like Mary Poppins about to take off.  It literally sweeps you off your feet.  We have had to reef the bimini or we would have been flying with Mercier instead of sailing. The meltemi teaches patience.

We are happy to hear that Rosemary and Stephen made it to Syros and will fly back to Sydney on schedule.  We wish them a safe trip.

Hydra

At times we have to work harder for the better things in life. Hydra is certainly worth the extra effort. The effort was in the finding the entrance, which you can’t see until you are immediately upon it. We went over early and luckily a yacht left just as we arrived. That was the only berth available on the dock. We jumped off the boat and went exploring.

Fishing Boats and Hydra Town Quay
Fishing Boats and Hydra Town Quay

Hydra was a privateers’s den for quite awhile, so small and distant from mainland Greece’s bureaucracy, that it was able to ‘trade’ under the radar. In the mid-19th century, the bureaucracy caught up with Hydra and the population declined. By the 1960’s, tourism became a very lucrative money maker for the island. There are no cars, scooters or motorcycles allowed, boats or ferries bring in supplies and small carts fueled by man power. Burros and donkeys also cart materials, often so laden down with supplies you don’t see the donkey.

No mosquito like drone noises on Hydra, no motorcycles allowed.
No mosquito like drone noises on Hydra, no motorcycles allowed.

It is hard to break away from the waterfront and watching boats arrive- four super yachts and a few sailing boats and many fishing boats.The super yachts obviously have a number to call, as they approach the Harbourmaster arrives with his crew and they receive the mooring lines as big as a fender and tie the stern lines.

We watched groceries being delivered on the quay, first the veggies and then Hen’s night’s brides, bridesmaids and friends, as well as day trippers.

Hydra Style Delivery
Hydra Style Delivery

We walked to the west of Hydratown and saw the Spilla swimming hole with jumpers throwing themselves into the Aegean.

Jump!
Jump!

We went to a wonderful restaurant for the sunset views and lamb cutlets, it was out of the hubbub and fresh breezes in Hydratown. We saw a restaurant full of people dressed in white having a big party on the way back.

Hydra Town Cafe
Hydra Town Cafe

The dock was incredibly busy with six super yachts and their staff running up and down boats and polishing the steel and serving drinks. One of the motor boats across from us had a huge wide screen TV, so we could watch the World Cup soccer.

Hydra
Hydra home

Athens Back Streets

Athens is vibrant bordering on frenetic. There are so many people wandering the streets, but if you stay away from Cruise ship tours, travel the intricate back streets, you will enjoy it.

Anafiotika is near the north side of Acropolis hill and looks like it was pinched from the Cycladic island of Anafi and perched there on a steep site. There were workers who came to Athens in the early 19th century, they became homesick, so built there minute houses to remind them of Anafi.

Anafiotikan church
Anafiotikan church
Anafiotika
Anafiotika – see the Acropolis at the top

You often see small children and grandparents on the Happy Train, as we were walking out of Anafiotika, you can see that a badly parked car meant the happy train couldn’t turn the corner. We came upon them pulling the happy train apart car by car and taking each car around the corner. Does the happy train blow its whistle and helpers come running?

Athens Happy Train
Athens’ Happy Train had to be pulled apart and manhandled to get around this corner

We wandered past the Tower of the Winds, which was a water clock on the inside and a sun dial on the outside. It has carvings of the eight winds on each of its eight sides.

Hellenistic Tower of the Winds in the Roman Agora
Hellenistic Tower of the Winds in the Roman Agora

We visited the wonderful National Archaeological Museum with Leanne and Cam, but on Sunday we visited the Acropolis Archaeological museum. This captivating museum is just five years old and definitely a must see. The architecture is light and open with use made of the subterranean spaces. You walk over glass and view three stories of excavations or a minuscule fragment of tea cups or amphora.

Wikipedia says: The design by Bernard Tschumi was selected as the winning project in the fourth competition. Tschumi’s design revolves around three concepts: light, movement, and a tectonic and programmatic element. Together these characteristics “turn the constraints of the site into an architectural opportunity, offering a simple and precise museum” with the mathematical and conceptual clarity of ancient Greekbuildings.

James at the Acropolis Archaeological Museum
James at the Acropolis Archaeological Museum

Happy Happy Birthday, darling Rene. Hope you are spoiled all happy day long.

Acropolis, Agora and a fond farewell to Leanne and Cam

“Across the distance, the Acropolis museum cradled within its protective walls its legendary treasures, lulling them to a peaceful sleep under the eerie light from the heavens. Yet, through the large window, the five Caryatids stood alert on their strong platform. The ageless maidens with the long braided hair down their backs remained awake even at this hour gazing across to the Acropolis, full of nostalgia for their sacred home. Inside their marble chests, they nurtured as always, precious hope for the return of their long lost sister.” 
 Effrosyni MoschoudiThe Necklace of Goddess Athena

We have been crossing items off our bucket list.  We were so happy to have company for Lepanto, Zante, the Corinth Canal, Meteora and Delphi.  We made the Corinth Canal a day early, so we were able to have a splendid day at the Acropolis. We thought we would share the photos.

Climbing up to the Acropolis
Climbing up to the Acropolis
James, Cameron and Leanne
James, Cameron and Leanne
Theatre of Dionysus
Theatre of Dionysus
Leanne and Gaila in front of the Caryatids, it was exceptionally windy
Leanne and Gaila in front of the Caryatids, it was exceptionally windy
The Parthenon
The Parthenon
The Agora
The Agora

 

 

Meteora – the pinnacles of belief

As we pulled into Kalambaka, Joy, our affable and passionate tour guide, was effusive in describing the Meteora to us. The was a collective gasp at our first site of these amazing pinnacles hovering above the village.

Meteora - suspended in air
Meteora – suspended in air

Meteora means ‘suspended in air’. Her arms created an arc to explain they were named Meteora because like shooting stars and meteorites they are between heaven and earth.The sound track of Close Encounters of the Third Kind leapt into my brain. There was an eerily sci-fi – religious feeling at the site of them.

Meteora monastery
Meteora monastery

 

The next morning we were up early to visit Megalou Meteoron, the oldest monastery. There were 23 monasteries at one time and now there are six as well as a beautiful, thriving nunnery with gardeners of many talents.

Megalou Meoteron
Megalou Meoteron

 

The remoteness of the pinnacles in Northwest Thessaly and the difficulty of access, meant that monks could continue to practice the Greek Orthodox religion and maintain its traditions, when the Ottomans were forcing conversion on Greeks in more accessible villages.  If you visited in the 1960’s or before, you would have been pulled up in a large net, much like a catch of fish. This would not have been for the faint of heart, today a funicular takes materials, monks and workers across to the monasteries. Great painters of Greece would come and spend time there and create wonderful art and icons of the saints.

My remaining question is how did the first monk make it up the cliff?

Happy Birthday to Frosty and belated wishes to Chris.

 

 

 

Majestic formations of sandstone and congomerlate
Majestic formations of sandstone and congomerlate