Around the beginning of the year, one of Chris’ close college friends and fraternity brothers (and best man at our wedding!) asked if we would be interested in chartering a 42′ catamaran with he and his wife in Greece and sail along the coast and islands. Their daughter was finishing up her college semester studying in Greece. They wanted to go visit her right before the semester ended, explore the country a bit, and fly back with her once the semester was over. That was a no-brainer. Of course we said yes! Chris and I have talked about possibly living on a boat part time and we thought this would be a good test to see how we would like it. On April 25, we took off from Orlando and started on our adventure.
I posted several photos while we were there on my personal Facebook Page and Instagram account. I had many people write and ask about how we did this, where we went, etc. This post will be a two-part series (possibly three), sharing photos and details of what we did.
Although we live in Tampa, we flew out of Orlando because the flights were cheaper. We had an 8:30am flight on JetBlue out of Orlando to JFK. It was the first time we flew JetBlue, and were really happy with them! It was also our first time flying into JFK and we won’t do that again (although our flight back was going back through JFK). Not a fan of that airport at all. From JFK we boarded a Turkish Air flight to Istanbul. One thing you may not know about me is that I hate flying (and my husband was a pilot in the Marine Corps). For me to fly on an international airline that I am not familiar with, well, needless to say I was a nervous wreck. But then when I saw that Dr. Oz is a spokesperson for the airline, I guess it can’t be all that bad, right? And it wasn’t. Such a great airline. Awesome service–they gave us little bags with socks, slippers, lip balm, and a mini toothbrush and toothpaste. The food was good, too! From Istanbul, we flew to Athens, again on Turkish Air, and after 19+ hours of traveling, we finally made it to our hotel near the Acropolis by taxi on Thursday, April 26 (Note that Athens is 7 hours ahead of east coast time here in the US).
Jim and Jenifer, the couple we were sailing with, were not arriving until Friday. And since we could not get on the catamaran until Saturday, we had two nights in a hotel and some time to explore Athens. Once we arrived at our hotel we took about a 2-hour nap and then we were up to explore the city!
Pretty impressive close-up, right? I have another one coming up here in a bit. But about the camera I used. It’s a Nikon CoolPix B700. I have a Nikon D80 that is just about as ancient as the ruins in the pics above. It still works fine, but I didn’t want to take a bulky DSLR with me with all the lenses. My iPhone 6s+ has a better resolution than my D80 (waiting to upgrade to the iPhone X)! I just LOVE this new camera! It totally got the job done!
On Friday we visited the Agora and Roman Forum.
I gotta mention the camera again. Notice the column that is toppled over in the photo of the Roman Forum. The photo right below it is zoomed in on the cap of that fallen column. The 60X optical zoom on this little camera is awesome!
Jim & Jen arrived in Athens earlier in the day on Friday and spent some time with their daughter. We met them at the Air B&B the rented and the pic of the Acropolis at night was the view from their place!!!
Sailing Day One
On Saturday morning we all took taxis to the harbor to begin our sailing adventure. The company Jim went through to charter the boat was yachtsailing.gr. Although we (Chris and I) didn’t have any contact with them, Jim said they were wonderful to work with and are a top-rated charter company. Prior to our arrival, they provided us with a list of provisions to chose to have stocked on the boat when we arrived. Although we knew we would be eating out quite a bit wherever we dropped anchor for the night, we selected to have things like, bottled water, coffee, yogurt, fruit, cheeses, olives, and, of course, alcohol on the boat.
We really had no sailing agenda we wanted to follow. This was our first time doing something like this. Not being familiar with the waters, various harbors, or sailing conditions, we wanted to see what Haris was going to recommend. We did have a desire to go to Santorini and Mykonos, but Haris explained that we really would need two weeks if we wanted to sail the Cyclades. The weather can be a little unpredictable at times there this time of year and it is possible we could get stuck on an island for 2 or three days. Which is not cool when we only have 7 days! So after much discussion on the route, it was decided that we will sail around the Peloponnese peninsula and the islands around it.
This is Haris, our captain. He was a Greek Naval Officer for 27 years before retiring. Both Chris and Jim have ASA certifications, but were still looking forward to learning even more from him!
Our favorite part of the the 42′ Lagoon catamaran named “Fantasy” was the seating at the front!
Each day of our sail we would stop in a secluded cove or lagoon to swim and then sail on to our next destination for the night. On our first day we stopped off the coast of the island of Aegina.
The weather this time of year can be a little iffy. Friends who have been to Greece before said to expect cool temperatures and chilly waters. But the weather Gods were on our side. Although the water temperatures were were cool (about 68 degrees) the weather was GORGEOUS with highs in the 80s the whole time we were there! And as far as those chilly water temps, your body quickly adjusts! I wasn’t going to not swim in the Aegean! Jumping into the water was a good way to get over jet lag (and the occasional hangover).
Our first stop was the island of Poros. Never heard of the place before, but man is it pretty! There was a lovely little church bell tower at the top of the hill. We enjoyed walking our way through the winding streets (uphill) to find it.
Dinner, Haris made reservations for us at a restaurant where he knows the owner. We didn’t even order off of the menu! The owner selected some fresh sea bass for us and he brought out a sampling of traditional greek side dishes. It was the first time I had octopus. It was delish!
Sailing Day Two
As we were pulling up the anchor to leave Poros (it’s motorized), it got caught on an old chain that was laying on the bottom of the harbor. Haris was not happy and he had to call a scuba diver in to set us free!
Once freed, we headed for the seaside town of Ermione (Er-me-oh-knee). But first we stopped for a swim in the waters off the island of Dokos.
This island only has one family living on it. Plus a white donkey (insert white ass jokes here) and we believe some goats. Haris told us that this is a place where many Greek celebrities come to get married as it is difficult for the paparazzi to get here. We did take the dingy off of the boat and went to the island. We pet the goat-Jim has the pictures (I’ll get them soon). It liked us and did follow us up and down the beach.
After our swim we docked the boat in the coastal town of Ermione. Just like on Poros, we explored the winding roads and ducked in and out of shops. We had any of Greece’s national drink-Ouzo-yet and found a beverage store and picked up a bottle to enjoy after dinner later. We also found a great bakery and bought some baklava and little spanakopitas (Greek spinach pie) to munch on. Chris became addicted to that spanakopita!
Sailing Day Three
We left Ermione and headed for another coastal town, Nafplio. On our way we stopped for a swim near a former home of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis. I will never get tired of that blue water!
While in Nafpoli we had plans to travel by taxi to visit the ruins of the Theatre of Epidaurus and Mycenae. However it was May 1. May Day. This holiday is HUGE in all of Europe and unfortunately these sites were all closed. So instead we decided to climb the 999 steps of the Palamidi Fortress instead. Not that we could go inside, because again, it’s May Day and it’s closed. But we are so glad we did because the views were amazing!
I am going to close this post with a picture of the moon above. If you can zoom in on it, do so! Look at the detail! It’s that camera! There is a moon setting on the camera and it is amazing! No tripod was used! I just aimed the camera at the moon snapped the photo and I got this! How amazing is that???
I will be back later this week with the second post about our sailing adventure. Thanks for reading!