our Journey

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Sailing down to SYVOTA and PREVEZA


Leaving the security and romance of Corfu is always a difficult decision but after 4 days we decided to make the break and head south to Syvota and Preveza. Lots of calm seas, no wind and an opportune chance to check the motor.


Port Syvota from above

Syvota is like an old friend. Once you settle in, all the good (and not so good) memories come flooding back. The great tavernas, ice-cream and pita shops and the occasional very uncomfortable mooring on the town quay. Still, we come back year after year!


Sailing to Preveza was a very different experience. Although we motored, the wind was good and we sat on about 7.5kts all the way. A great start to our sailing! 

Our previous experiences in Preveza give us reason not to tie up at the town wharf. The rolling swell that heads into the channel, lifts side-moored boats like matchsticks on a wave and that along with the pumped up music till the early hours of the morning make it pretty awful.


The main Syvota wharf, early afternoon.

We  headed for the more isolated Syvota Marina further in, paid our 15Euro and settled in for 4 very peaceful nights. 



The marina is in the process of being upgraded and improved, new offices and amenities blocks built.

From the condition of the Stamatis Yachting and Travel caravan, they certainly need upgrading!






As with much of the Ionian in May, streets are pretty quiet, tavernas are desperate for business and surprisingly the weather is perfect for just a little sailing and lots of relaxing.


Tables ready for customers

We found many posters all over Preveza reminding us of the the suffering of those caught up in the Syrian conflict.

This shook us both and gave us more reason to not understand our own nations response.









Nearby we found the opposite. Children and families together in the council playground, enjoying the beginning of holidays.









Everywhere you walk it seems that gardens are an important part of peoples lives. The nursery shops are to die for, most big plants selling for between 1 and 5Euros



Greek style Facebook




Monday, May 9, 2016

BACK IN THE IONIAN 2016

This year we decided to fly the quickest route possible to our boat in Corfu. Emirates took a total of 18 hours and then another 2 hours to Corfu with Aegean. No jetlag, just a little tired.
Our boat had been delivered and moored at Naok marina ready for us to settle in for a good nights sleep. For some reason the sails had not been put on which was a little disappointing. This was just one of the problems sent to test us!




Next morning we set about getting the sails on and busied ourselves with checking water, unpacking (of course we brought too much AGAIN!) and solving 'small' issues. First we discovered that the winch motor had jammed, then that the 3 year old battery was all but useless. Fun times and a lot of Euros later, everything was fixed.

Corfu is a delightful city to be in. We love coming back each year just to wander through the streets, to discover more quaint shops and tavernas.


We made a couple of forays to the local market to pick up fruit and vegetables and once again we were amazed at the prices and quality. Strawberries are to die for!!
Saskia would love it here! ($2.20 punnet)





So many olives 2E /500g

The plants were soooo cheap - wish they were at home


Mothers day was memorable as 100s of men, women and children marched through the town, carrying balloons and pushing prams. Should happen at home maybe?



We thought we were seasoned travellers but our one experience at an out of the way taverna showed how gullible we are. Next time we'll check the menu more closely!

All the children come out on Sundays


Friday, June 19, 2015

REVISITING THE INLAND SEA

We chose to head straight up to Nidri from Fiskhado next day in the hope that the wind might be in our favour, but this was not to be. We motor-sailed on and off to Nidri where we anchored safely at the old Nilson wharf, very happy to secure power and water once again.

The night wharf at Nidri

Our next time in Nidri will be on the Skorpios Wharf - looked great!
Children playing early evening in Nidri
Children in the towns seem to be far more happy to just play, especially as the evening begins and everyone goes out for a stroll along the boulevards. Children are everywhere, laughing, running and having fun while parents sit around the edges keeping a watchful eye open. Something we seldom see at home.


The next few days were basically spent exploring, both the town and the Island of Levkas. Our small rented car proved an excellent way to get around - a much safer choice than the usual motor scooter, and so off we went in search of places to see.

From Nidri we headed for the western side of the island, passing through small villages and incredibly narrow roads until we reached Vassiliki on the south coast. Vassiliki is well known for it's reliable strong wind and is often the site for kite and windsurfing competions. We decided to check it out by car before travelling there in our boat as we'd read some information about the often massive winds in the area. That information seemed pretty  accurate while we were there and so we crossed it off our 'future visit' list. Still, a pretty, peaceful little town.
The main Vassiliki wharf

Vassiliki fishing boats
We then decided to head north to the main city of Levkas to look for the usual 'extras' the boat always seemed to need, such as a venetian blind, rugs, pieces of wood and of course good food and coffee.
There are often huge, low-end department stores, selling everything from carpets to nails and baby clothes, so we were happy. Parking and driving small cars in most of these Ionian towns is similar to being in a dodgem car at 10 pm Saturday night at the local fairground, crazy!! Still, we quite enjoy our visits even if it's just to change the scenery from peaceful boat living to the crowds of the city.
Our drive back to Nidri was a challenge. A couple of missed turnoffs, narrow rough tracks for roads and mountain edges with no guard rails gave us a trip to remember. How people still live and work in these areas is incredible.

The scene coming into Nidri just takes your breath away.

The view approaching Nidri

While in Levkas we had noticed the rain approaching the island and by chance we checked our emails to find one from the pontoon managers telling us to get back to the boat ASAP. The rain and gusts had passed by the time we arrived back but our anchor had moved and needed to be reset. Apparently someone had motored across it, caught it on their anchor, lifted it and just dropped it back in the water. Our solution was to move the boat to the opposite side of the pontoon which gave us a better hold once the wind changed direction.



From Nidri we decided to head back to Port Spilios and Spartakhori on Meganisi Island to enjoy the peace and tranquility of the tiny marina. It never fails to please us.


The view from above Port Spilios

Half way up to Spartakhori from Port Spilios


Walking down from Spartakhori

Bougainvilla, of course!

Friday, June 5, 2015

CEPHALONIA ISLAND

EUFIMIA

After our rather disappointing stay on Nisis Ithaki, we decided to sail around the southern tip and head for Eufimia on the larger Nisis Cephalonia (Island). As luck would have it we motored much of the way with the wind in our face hoping that our return journey through the channel separating the two islands would be easier. It wasn't.
Eufimia was delightful, large enough to satisfy our shopping and food supply needs and with good tavernas and more importantly power and water (11E).

The square with the HUGE olive tree root!
The houses are beautifully maintained and as usual there are bougainvillas everywhere. It appears to be a very 'twee' sort of marina port, with streets very clean and tidy. Although costs were about the same as everywhere else, it seems the locals are very conscious about impressing the tourists!

Our boat moored right next to the promenade wharf which made the whole experience fairly pleasant.
Night time along the promenade

Austral sitting very comfortably
Some greek communities really know how to keep the visitors happy - this city even has an official sign indicating where to buy Gyros! Amazing!

FISKHADO

From Eufimia we tried to sail up the island to Fiskhado but had to settle for motoring once again.




Here we found a very up-market kind of marina and port but without the pleasantness of Eufimia with costs much higher and more touristy.










We moored up against the promenade and discovered that no power or water was available and that the power bollards were taped up and out of order. Pity, we might have stayed longer!




Perhaps the many fishing boats had greater priority.











As with every place we visit, cats are ever present, in shop windows, on streets, seated in restaurants and generally tolerated as part of everyday life.


 From Fiskhado we left next morning for Nidri on Nisis Levkas.

Sunday, May 24, 2015

VATHI (ITHACA)

We'd heard many stories about the island of Ithaca and how Homer's Odyssey attributed many of Odysseus' voyages to this area. There are many references to both Homer and Odysseus (Ulysses) around the island although it's hard to know exactly which are authentic or just myths. We decided to hire a car and travel up the narrow mountain roads past Stavros at Exogi to visit Homer's school (or the crumbling remains of it).

a well in the ruins
Part of the ancient site (although these looked like they were more recent add-ons)



The ruins of Homer's school
The ruins were just that, although some areas where the huge stones remain appear to have withstood some 3000 yrs of neglect and looked very believable. Behind the School's ruins was the beginning of a stone path that headed up the mountain. We followed it up and
 felt fairly impressed with our efforts to climb a 700 ft rocky path to nearly the top.

The ancient rocky steps




From the top of the mountain steps you could see across the bay and beyond. It's a pity that Greek tourism has not made more of these sites. They seem to just be forgotten.

We did not really enjoy our time in Vathi marina. It is a large port that services the island and does not appear to concentrate on tourism. No water or power made our choice of just a couple of days easy.

Vathi

Looking across to Cephalonia

The main street of Stavros

Frikes


The plaques commemorating the resistance in 1944
We enjoyed our car trip to the rest of Ithaca especially Frikes and a small village in the centre of the island, Stavros.

Frikes is a quaint marina tucked in a bay on the north coast and appears to serve mostly local boats.
It was also a sight where during WW2 local Greek citizens made a valiant attempt to protect the town from the invading German forces who at first were repelled and who then later captured the town, killing those who resisted.