A Meltemi in Tinos

Friday’s forecast was for  a wicked southerly in the Aegean and so we did 40 miles in an attempt to make safe harbour at Tinos by Thursday afternoon.

It was warm and hazy, so after we got settled we spoke to a few taxi drivers and checked our reference books to determine which beach was the nicest.

Church at Stravros Beach
Church at Stravros Beach

We selected Stravros Beach imaging a beach with chaise lounges and cocktails. Actually, the beach is in the church yard and was full of families, with small children having a wonderful time. Singing and splashing Grandpa and uncles, swimming or bobbing depending upon ability. What a wonderful church yard. Across the bay is Poseidon’s sanctuary, we could see some ruins in the distance.

When we returned from our swim, we were rinsing off from the stern shower, when the water pump refused to work. Here are four of us, a salty bunch, trying to use the bucket to rinse off, so we could go below to look at the waterpump. The taxi drivers were wide eyed, they were unused to seeing such a sight in the middle of town.

Mercier, Tinos Town Quay
James waving from Mercier, Tinos Town Quay

Friday morning James fixed the water pump with Stephen’s expert advice. There were no fierce winds from the south but it was miserably hot and humid. We went to check in with the port police and on the way back we saw a pelican come dancing into the children’s playground. The little boy’s Mum is telling him to pet the bird for a photograph; the little boy was very hesitant. However, when the Pelican decided to visit Mum, she fled the scene.

Tinos Town Pelican
Tinos Town Pelican, he wanted the little boy to pet him

We had a nice traditional Greek lunch followed by a traditional Greek nap.

We went to the beautiful Symposion Restaurant for dinner, off the town quay and near a beautiful marble fountain for dinner. We talked about what beautiful Greek Islands we had visited and discussed our plans to visit Syros on Saturday morning.  Little did we know that at 5:00 am, we would all be waken by a meltemi and all our plans would change.

Up on the balcony, goodbye dinner for Rosemary and Stephen
Up on the balcony, goodbye dinner for Rosemary and Stephen

With gusts up to 50 knots and spin drift blowing off waves,  Mercier is fixed  to the quay. Rosemary and Stephen chose the wise course and boarded the ferry to Syros so that they could make their flight home on Monday. All the advice was that Sunday would be too windy even for the large ferries. We wished them Bon Voyage and safe passage, while we sit here in the swells of Tinos harbour. Tomorrow, we might go to church.

Happy Birthday Simon, aka Basil!

Nisos Kithnos

If you haven’t sailed in Greece, you may not have heard of this island not far from Kea. It is barren, seemingly with its largest crop being dry stone walls circling the countryside. As you sail into Loutra, a small but wonderful village with a small town quay. We are wedged between a handsome motor boat, with a Vespa on board and the famous yacht Felipa, sailed by Helmut, Peter, Peter and crew.  Just meters from the quay in two directions are beautiful swimming beaches, one with tavernas on the sand.

Tavernas, Loutra, Kithnos
Fishing from the Tavernas, Loutra, Kithnos

The crew from Yacht Felipa, were all Greek Gods, but currently reside in England and Austria. They were terribly good at having a party, teasing everyone and staying up for the World Cup Soccer into the wee hours. In winter, they are Norse gods because they spend their time skiing. Helmut was very generous in sharing some beautiful Austrian ham, sharing his precious photos of his new granddaughter, obviously a little goddess and conversation with us. We all met for dinner at separate tables at Sofrano Yachting Club, where many songs were sung about Alice.

The Greek Gods of MY Felipa
Rosemary photographing The Greek Gods of SY Felipa- we think their shirts is a reference to England or Germany winning, but we know the winner will be Forza Azzuri.

Wednesday morning found us in a car, going up to Chora, a lovely village. We wandered for an hour on a street running parallel to our parked car but you could never find an exit to the main street. We retraced our steps and came upon a wizened old woman in full black regalia, who gave me quite a lecture because we think I said ‘Kalispera’ too early. When I repeated ‘Yasus’, she gave me a pinch on the cheek and sent us on our way.

Kithnos windmill
Kithnos windmill

 

We visited Merikha and then wandered up to Driopis, which according to Heikell is like time travelling to the 1950’s. We made our way towards Kolona, the road was amazing and we made it to O. Apokriosis only because Stephen has thousands of miles of Aussie bush bashing under his belt. We could see the sand bar at Kolona.

Ormos Kolona
Ormos Kolona

When Heikell called the island barren,we can confirm its browness, but it is known for its cheeses, honey and figs.  What amazed me is all the dry creek ravines are full of wild oleander, which normally would like dry feet but prosper in the creeks, which see so little moisture. Come for the beaches or the food but nothing beats the Greek hospitality.

Wild Oleander
Wild Oleander

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

Olympia – a Sanctuary

As you leave Pyrgos and wind up the hill to Olympia, it is easy to understand why this is thought  to be the playground of the gods. From ten kilometres out, the air gets clearer and all the vegetation seems more lush and fragrant. There is a zephyr breeze and the temperature is perfect.

A clear day at Olympia
A clear day at Olympia

We first visited the Olympia Archaeological Museum. It covers the history of the site beginning with prehistoric artifacts until the Sanctuary’s demise under Theodosius ll.

One of two beautiful pediments recovered from Zeus' temple.
One of two beautiful pediments recovered from Zeus’ temple.

James and I watched many videos of Greece recently and now we wonder why we had never seen an aerial of the site as a whole. Olympia is remarkable. Imagine kicking a goal in your city’s biggest stadium and then imagine winning a race under the gaze of the gods and your country’s stadium. The games were “a pole of attraction for Hellenism”*

Meanwhile, it was a men’s only event. Women, particularly married women could not view the athletes compete. Not gods, kings nor husbands want to suffer by comparison with the strapping young nude athletes.

The Phillippeion, a monument to Alexander the Great and his father, Phillip ll
The Phillippeion, a monument to Alexander the Great and his father, Phillip ll

There are 23 separate monuments, including temples on the site.  We wished we could see more and next time we would consider finding a guide.  To this day, we are inspired by the passion and commitment it takes to take part in the Olympics.

 

 

 

 

*Olympic site brochure

Patras to Olympia

Patras is a very commercial port and we have had heard mixed reports.  We feel that although it isn’t a garden spot, the city is re-beautifying itself and there are some beautiful spots, but not close to the marina. There is a great ship chandler though and a few good restaurants nearby, there are plenty of cafe bars right at the marina.

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There were two delightful spaces near the marina, a small green dog park with some great dogs visiting every day and a small amphitheater,  which features dance classes in the evening with a view out to the mainland.

Patras dance class
Patras dance class

After much research, we decided to take a Ktel Bus from Patras to Pyrgos, a deluxe coach, for a circuitous trip of 1.5- 2 hours.  You get to see other sites on the way, but it isn’t a tourist bus.  You alight at a great bus terminal in Pyrgos and switch to a city bus to Olympia, the express bus goes in a slightly straighter line but takes almost as long as it seems to stop more often for passengers. Really cost effective, as a taxi would have cost about Euro125-150. The train does not seem to go into Olympia any longer and if you are going from Athens, it would be worthwhile to join a tour.  It is about four hours from Athens to Olympia.  It is beautiful and a worthwhile trip, with many rewards for those who visit. Next time I visit, I would like to spend the night

James at the Archaeological Museum, Olympia. A must see
James at the Archaeological Museum, Olympia. A must see

 

My expectations for Olympia were quite different.  It was a Sanctuary and there were many resplendent buildings.  Here are some photos and we have more for tomorrow.

Temple of Zeus
Temple of Zeus
Hermes holding baby
Hermes holding baby
James at the Stadium
James at the Stadium

 

From Zeus and Hera and all the gods and goddesses we visited at Olympia, we have birthday wishes to my sister, Linda Doubek.  James and I hope your day is wonderful.

More to come.

Zante – Shipwreck Bay, Navagio and the Venetian Fortress at Bohali

Shipwreck Bay, Zakynthos
Shipwreck Bay, Zakynthos

We all have our bucket list and one item on ours was to visit Shipwreck Bay, officially Navagio Beach. We were not expecting the right weather to sail to Shipwreck Bay and it is too deep for most yachts to anchor. It has been blowing Norwesters (30 knots) every afternoon, much like a Sydney Southerly Buster and we didn’t want to join the wreck. We tried to book onto a catamaran tour for the morning, but we could never raise the charter company. In the end, we spoke to Yannis and took a car up to the viewing point to get an aerial view of the bay and a tour of Zante Island. We weren’t disappointed with our aerial viewing, we had it on good authority “le water is colder than zee witch’s breast”.

one Bay North of Navagio Beach
one Bay North of Navagio Beach

The blue milkiness of the bay is from Limestone ‘pearls’ creating a swirl of aqua water, so the water is more translucent than clear. The colour is certainly one we think of when we think of sailing azure seas.

For future reference, if it was warmer and you wanted a swim, our mate John from Zante suggested we drive to Porto Vromi and take a small boat to nearby Shipwreck Bay. If you are 21-30 take a party boat, but take sunscreen and a hat because it’s a long day.

Heikell says the Shipwreck was a cigarette boat, a smuggler’s boat to bring in tax-free cigarettes, which wrecked while evading the Coast Guard in a storm. John, Greece’s biggest Cat’s fan, says it might have been set-up to glamorise the most beautiful bay in Greece for tourism. It is so stunningly beautiful, it is hard to imagine they needed to improve the story line.

We came back past olive trees, that were almost 200 years old, rustic villages and pine forests. We stopped for coffee at the top of another wonderful bay. The view and colour of the water were remarkably brilliant.

Another beautiful bay
Another beautiful bay at Kambl

We finished the day at the Venetian Fortress at Bohali. We expected the Fortress/castle to be a small hill-top ruin but it is extensive and both the British and the Nazi’s had taken the Venetian’s work and reused it. We saw evidence of a British football pitch and the Venetian’s garrison prison and many wells. There was a large bastion overlooking Zakthynos Town but from every side of the formidable fortress walls, the views were extensive. It is well worth a trip.

Bastion of the Venetian Fortress
Bastion of the Venetian Fortress

We went for a walk after dinner and said goodbye to our friend, John. He asked us to let the Cats know he was barracking for them. So for John, ‘Go the Cats’.

Let’s talk about the Geelong Cat’s in Zante

First, I will explain we are in Zakynthos, which is called Zante in Italian. It is a captivating island with a small marina on the Town Quay, beautiful coastline and an animated nightlife.

The View from the
Zakynthos Harbour

Cameron, Leeanne, James and I decided an authentic gyro would be the go for lunch. The night before Leeanne and I had walked past a cafe on our walk and the aromas were enticing, enough to convince us for lunch.

The Lavocca (spelling is in Greek letters) gyro cafe is on Maiou St, Zakthynos about three blocks away from the harbour in an area where locals and Athenians eat in delightful cafes, restaurants and bars. There are interesting, arty shops in these streets too.

The owner comes out to take our order, we ask where do you come from in Australia. He laughs and says Melbourne. Then he asks if we saw Friday’s Cats-tastrophe game. We said no but we had read that the Geelong Cats had a bad night. For the next hour, we ate delectable, flavoursome gyros, with John talking to us about The Cats, Australia and His Cats. We were amazed at his passion for the AFL, but I have a few friends- David, Jo and Melissa, who I would like John to meet. They should definitely put the island of Zakynthos on their bucket lists. This island is a splendid mix of natural beauty and magnificent coastline.

The Crew with John & Denise from Zakynthos
The Crew with John & Denise from Zakynthos

John told us we should venture up to the Venetian Fortress (aka Venetian Castle), so we walked up to Bohali – quite a steep walk. Still the views were incredible across the island, indeed across the bay to Kefalonia to the North and Pelaponese to the east.

We visited a fascinating church, the church of Agios Georgios Filikon, icons and murals filled the church.

We walked up to the Venetian Fortress and found it was closed and went down to Diethones, a magical place with porch swings and views over Zante. They have enticing gardens and comfortable chairs and couches with views of the harbour, so you are never bored as you watch ships, ferries, yachts and party boats come into the harbour. Have a look at the photos and tell me if you think Zakynthos should be on your bucket list?

The outlook from Diethones
The outlook from Diethones

Big Happy Birthday to Richard (YB), hope you had a great day! We miss you.