Thursday 17 December 2009

Sailing around Athens

After we got back from Canada, we had a couple of days to repack our bags before we headed to Athens for a week of sailing around the local waters and a few days exploring Athens.

We flew there and back with Olympus Airlines which went well. No hassle and relatively inexpensive. But it was a late flight there so we stayed overnight at Peri's Hotel. It's a very small hotel but very convenient being close to the airport. As we expected for August, it was wiltingly hot.

Day 1

In the morning, we awoke to an angry sky as we discovered that fires were burning in the hills around Athens - a big news item. We went back to the airport to meet our sailing friends, Karen and James who we previously sailed with in Turkey. Together we caught the bus down to Kalimaki to find our yacht. Once again we had hired the yacht through Nautilus Yachting. This time it was a Bavaria 42' Prestige model and we weren't disappointed when we found it. It was in excellent shape and well kitted out.

By the time we had done all the paperwork and provisioned the yacht, it was too late to sail so we relaxed and stayed the night in the harbour falling asleep to the blasting music of a local disco.

Day 2

Karen had been teaching sailing locally so she knew the waters well. This made the itinerary very easy. Just had to ask, "Karen, where shall we go next?"

First stop was a sail across the busy straits outside of Athens to our lunch stop at Ak. Plakakia on Aigina where we had the first of several nice swims. I wouldn't say the water was warm but definitely refreshing. Unfortunately, the sailing motion this day didn't suit Jenny and she was rather ill. After lunch it was an easy reach down to picturesque Poros where we stayed the night tied up at the quay. Poros has a busy harbour with loads of restaurant and tons of fellow yachties. Kieran busied himself fishing with the pack of yachtie kids.

Day 3

Sailed towards Ermioni mostly on a run. Jenny still wasn't quite good with the motion. Ate a quick lunch swinging in an exposed bay. Made it to Ermioni early enough to squeeze onto the quay. Good local swimming. Kids befriended the dog on the neighbouring boat. Dozens of restaurant right beside the mooring. This is the kind of Greek location I had in mind when I first started sailing. A beautiful sunset to end the day. Marvellous!

Day 4

Sailing into the wind, we spent a lot of time tacking. Jenny was much better. The lovely harbour at Hydra was full so we anchored in the sheltered bay of Mandraki a bit further up right beside a monster luxury yacht. Good swimming and lots of jokes about visiting the neighbours.

Day 5

Long sail up to Epidhavros with a brief stop at Poros for supplies. Had lunch on the run. Anchored in a bay full of jellyfish so no swimming. The kids had a great time rowing around in the dinghy exploring the bay. Robyn did a stellar job of ferrying us to shore when we went for dinner.

Day 6

No hurry today. We were going to try to visit a local ruin but the taxis wanted too much money. Abandoned it for relaxing in a cafe and a spot of shopping. In the afternoon, we did the short sail over to Aigina and found a nice mooring in the harbour. Aigina is a big town and the island is famous for pistachio's.

Day 7

A lazy day poking around Aigina and relaxing on a local beach before the short sail back to Kalimaki where we stayed the night. Reluctantly our sailing holiday had come to an end.

Day 8

Karen and James headed to the airport while we went on to find our hotel in the middle of Athens. In the process, we got ripped off by a taxi driver. Very common in Athens. We stayed at Hotel Attalos. Excellent location. Inexpensive. Clean. Great view of the Acropolis from the rooftop bar. Highly recommended.

We spent the afternoon at the superb National Archeological Museum. It has very good exhibits and even better air conditioning! Athens was sweltering. We then went up to the top of Lykavitos Hill to get a great view of the city and watch the sunset.

Day 9

Early morning start to climb the Acropolis and join the daily throngs of tourists. I've wanted to see the Parthenon for a long time. It's not in very good condition but I expected that. Before this trip I had read much of the history and had even visited the British Museum to see the Elgin marbles. It was great to finally get here and took loads of pictures to commerate it.

 In the afternoon, we walked around the perimeter or the Acropolis and tried to get into the New Acropolis Museum but the queues were too long and we abandoned it. Slunk back to our hotel for some aircon and a nap as it was just too hot. Towards evening, we walked through the Ancient Agora with the Temple of Hephaistos before climbing up Filopappou Hill for some great views of the Acropolis at night.

Day 10

In the morning, we walked around the food markets as that's one of Jenny's favourite things to do. Then we split up with the girls going shopping and the boys exploring the old Roman forum. A very casual day before our flight home the next morning.

It was a great trip. Really enjoyed the sailing and would really like to get out more often. Athens was much better than I expected. The greatest drawback I find with Greece is the food! It gets so repetitive.

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