Next thing we know we are on the other-side, in the Ionian. Circumnavigation of the Peloponnese complete, and our first stop was Nidri, Lefakada, or Jellyfish bay.
We recently read an article entitled "If you can't beat 'em, eat em!", so on this note Anastasia and Camille set about harvesting some of the plentiful supply of Jellyfish.
We hopped into a little boat, it wobbled, there were only 8 people onboard including the driver. He had a paddle to push off the cave walls. We had to duck because the roof was so low, we couldn't turn around to get our photo taken because we could have wacked our head!
We went fast and there were some tight corners, the driver was very clever.
There were lots of stalactites and stalagmites. Stalactites hang from the ceiling and stalagmites grow up from the ground. A way to remember which is which is, stalagmites has a ground for ground in it and stalactites has a c for ceiling in it.
When the light shone on them they looked like chandeliers!
You know when something good happens and you think, "Well that was great". But not really sure how great. I think I had one of those days.
It was my birthday and very early in the morning, the girls were busy in the galley, I was ushered onto deck and told to helm the boat. I glanced at the emails. A couple of friend emailed me and said happy 48th b'day. I thought to myself, am I that old? After about half an hour of coming to terms with nearly being 50, I said to Sarah, "I'm okay with nearly 50...." Sarah said, "you have a while to go before then." "Two years", I said, trying to put on a happy face. The girls jumped in and said that's not right....As it turned out, I am getting old because I need glasses, the email I read early in the morning (bad light I say) actually said 46!!! Imagine how I felt when I just gained two years!!!
Anyway, that was the start of what turned out to be an amazing day. Camille presented an awesome peach crumble for breakfast, Asia cooked the best ever torte for a birthday cake. I mean it was the best...just melted in my mouth. And Maddy was in charge of the boat for the day.
The girls were a little worried that we had a 10 hour sail on my big day. But that turned out to be one of the best things. Imagine it, me sitting at the helm, the wind was on the beam, the swell was low and the girls were running around taking care of things. A great day for the screecher!
After 10 hours sail, we arrived at a little anchorage and dropped the hook. Again the girls looked after things, while I enjoyed a swim.
Later, Sarah and I enjoyed a good red wine as the sun slipped below the horizon. I sat in the cockpit for some time in the dark, thinking, reflecting...what a day, what a super day! Maybe the best ever...
In Kalamata went tied up in the commercial port, which was unexpectedly quiet - not so much trade these days. We expecting Kalamata to have olive statues in the town square and shops dedicated to the olive. However this wasn't the case - apparently no one in Kalamata is aware of the olive connection. It is however an unexpectedly cosmopolitan town, with some lovely shops and some beautiful old buildings.
The walk into town with a bit further than we thought so we grabbed some food before returning to the boat. Maddy and Sam had some type bet that turned bad.. you really can't take some people anywhere!
After much hunting these were the only olives we found!
Getting back on board at the port required a leap of faith...
Every town in the peloponnese seems to have a fort or a castle, dramatic stuff. Must be something to do with it's stratigic position at the bottom of Greece.
Another overnight sail (more of a motor actually) and we arrived in Kalokato, gateway to Olympia. This port town can receive up to about 10,000 visitors via cruise ship on any given day, thankfully there were none in for our overnight visit. This left us in a quiet town set up for the crowds. The cruisers however, turned up as we left early the next day.
The downside of no cruiseships is there were no trains or direct buses running, but we got lucky and hopped on a local bus to the next town and then nabbed a taxi.
Olympia is situated inland in a lovely lush valley fed by two rivers. It is a beautiful site, we were pretty happy with ourselves getting there at 9am, despite our convoluted route and it was still only 28 degrees. This valley can apparently get pretty hot.
The ancient Greeks would travel to Olympia every four years to worship, with a bit of athletics on the side. The temple of Zeus is one of the biggest and one it's columns was restored for the Athens Olympics 2004.
We had to have a run in the stadium, slightly small by modern standards.
Camille and Sam had a bit of a wrestle in the wrestling school, no one received an injury but it was touch and go.
There is a fantastic museum on site (it's by now in the mid 30's so the fact that it's air conditioned gives it extra points).
There were some amazing marble statues, some beautiful handmade glass and even some stirrups.
But our favorites were the helmets, cast onto the head of the warrior for a superior fit and...
.. and the bronze figurines of ox that were thrown in the sacrificial alter on day four of the games along with 100 real oxen.
Back in Katakalo we have lunch at a large, but almost empty restaurant.. a great finish to a fantastic trip! It has been a lot of sailing, but it is great to be back in Greece.
Sailing from Montenegro to Corfu 30hr sail. We had large seas and over 30 knots of wind for hours on end. Hector preformed brilliantly, as did the crew despite very little sleep and difficult conditions.
Camille wrote a poem..
Hills shall rise and hills shall fall
these hills from the ocean so
A Boat bobbles on the hill so much
a boat without the sight of land at all.
A boat that needn't climb the hills of land
because of the monster hills of the sea.
A boat that reaches its destination soon
and all will be calm.
Back in Corfu town. But not for long because we're off again....
We are back in Montenegro and we see the airport is full of Learjet's and private helicopters, the marina is bursting with mega-yachts. Meanwhile the hills are covered in smoke from the wildfires that Montenegro can not afford to extinguish.
Some houses have had a close call and some have been burnt out. The fires have been burning for a few weeks now and they have had international help, but the fires aren't out and the smoke and ash is at times uncomfortable for us on the boat. Must be a lot worse for those having live with it.
Still we get a man up the mast to fix our wind instrument and we have a great lunch out to celebrate our time in the former Yugoslavia.
Camille ate her own body weight in pasta... Whilst Maddy and Asia decided they would have a burger (not something normally on the menu), only to find that it was in fact nothing like a burger!
We heard time and time again from people how expensive Croatia is, when we told them we were heading to Croatia. We prefer to avoid marinas and tourist hot spots, so this hasn't been true for us. We're on a boat to find the places people on land can't get to (or not easily), so Croatia has been perfect for us. There are an amazing number of beautiful anchorages to choose from and only a handful you need to pay for. The staff are helpful, and will always offer an alternative bay that is free.
So to summerise our experience...
We've fallen in love with the clear, blue water..
..the stone buildings with terracotta roofs...
... the church spires...
..the football graffiti (the Split football supporters club was founded on 28 October 1950 and their graffiti is everywhere!)...
.. the sunsets...
A fantastic time. All the better for having visitors to share it with. Thanks Croatia.
We're an ordinary family of 5 dreaming, planning and now beginning our adventure around the Mediterranean (and further afield), having an awesome time! Look out for our boat and come and say hi.