Thursday, August 20, 2009

Itinerary for Greek Sailing trip!

Dodecanese Islands Itinerary
This is an example of a typical itinerary on our 2wk Greek trips. However, no two trips are ever exactly the same; one of the greatest things about being on a sailboat is the flexibility to change our minds and our route to suit personal preferences, prevailing wind conditions, etc. The start and finish points are fixed, of course – but all else is changeable according to the whims of the wind gods and those on board !

Day 1 Your yacht will be awaiting you at 11am in Pythagorion, the main "yachtie" port on the SE of Samos island.
Samos is quite the upmarket, cosmopolitan island; the little harbour of Pythagorion is lined with dozens of tavernas along the waterfront. Pythagorion is the birthplace and home of the famous mathematician, Pythagoras; who had a most ingenious way of making sure his students did not drink too much wine at his lectures. Check out the “Pythagoras Cup”! It’s a pretty little port; can get somewhat crowded and noisy in mid-summer months; definitely the place to hit the town and live up the nightlife for those so inclined!
We'll have drinks, boat chat, show you're the ropes—and then head off for our first destination of Agathonissi.
Sail to Agathonissi – approx 3-4hrs. A small, traditional island with just one fishing port, plus two tiny villages perched on top of the hillside; a population of just 150 people. On arrival, we’ll no doubt be greeted by our host Giorgos – a.k.a. Unofficial Harbour Master and Ouzo King of Agathonissi ! A colourful evening at George’s is usually on the menu; he loves to see our yachts sailing in – it’s a great excuse for a party on an otherwise quiet and isolated island.

Day 2 An early am sail for Marathi. If you could paint a picture of the perfect, tiny Greek island retreat - Marathi would be it. A horseshoe-shaped sandy bay, no regular ferry connections with other islands; you need your own boat to get here. Our adopted family here are so wonderful and hospitable too – and the food is incredible!! This tiny spot has hit top of the Favourite Spot list with our groups for several years now - so much so that it’s been hard to persuade people that, really, we should leave, there are other islands to visit ! (approx 3hrs sail time)

Day 3 Sail to Patmos – a short hop of only a couple of hours. This is the famous monastery island – in fact is supposedly the second most important religious centre for Greek Orthodoxy in the world! This is where St John (as of Apostle fame) was inspired by visions to write the Book of Revelations; where the 10th century monastery (built by Crusader Knights) reigns over the island, still an active training centre for novice monks. The village that lies at the foot of the monastery is everyone’s romantic image of what a Greek village should be like; narrow, winding alleyways, cats sunning themselves on whitewashed streets, old ladies in black collecting fresh bread from the bakery in the morning. Despite all the visitors they now get, these villagers have remained wonderfully friendly; particularly if you go up there in the early morning hours; the old ladies will look at you in faint amazement that a foreigner should find their way up there at such an hour; if you can remember enough of our Greek lessons to say “kalimera!” (good morning), they’ll give you a huge smile and a “kalimera-sas” back (good morning to you too) !

Day 4 Day 11 Sail for Arki. (approx 2hrs). If the weather is sufficiently calm, we may be able to visit Tiganakia also en route; also known as “Caribbean Cove” for it’s translucent turquoise waters!
Another tiny, traditional island, Arki boasts a permanent population of just 27 people ! (The population expands considerably if you count the goats, however). There is just one little port, a few houses scattered down the hillside – and most of all, Manoli’s place ! Mr Cool Dude Manoli runs a wonderful little oasis of a taverna; cushions scattered around the shady patio, speakers hidden away in the trees, from which a constant, beautiful stream of music emanates. Manoli has the most incredible music collection you could ever imagine on such an isolated little island, and is quite the musical expert too. Get him in the right mood, and he’s also a hot dancer… as are all his nieces and nephews !

Day 5 Sail to Lipsos – island of the 42 blue-domed churches. It’s a quiet, very untouristy island; the harbour is a typical, whitewashed little Greek town; a photographers’ dream in the village. To cool off, there is a lovely little sandy beach, just over the hill from where we moor the boats, and a great hike out to the point for those needing to burn off some of those calamari !
If we’re lucky and conditions are calm, we may be able to visit Aspro Nisi (“White Island”) en route; this a real stunning little island – or should we say “large rock”! – out in the middle of nowhere.
Day 6 Sail back to Leros, to our home base of Lakki on the western side. En route, we’ll stop for lunch-and-swim at the little uninhabited island of Archangelos – make sure not all the film gets shot in Lipsos, you’ll be needing it for the amazingly bright turquoise waters of this little anchorage !
Once back in Lakki, there is one last chance to soak up the sun on the little beach just around the corner from the yachts, or maybe last just chill out with a beer / ice-cream frappe in the marina’s taverna! Farewell dinner at Vromolithos – a beautiful beachfront taverna with the most amazing views over the bay – and, for a final night’s grand finale – live Greek music !
Day 7 Disembark 9am in Lakki.

The Plan

In 2005, Angela and I decided to head to Europe on a backpacking trip. She'd been a couple times before, and I'd been to London and Paris with my parents when I was a senior in high school, but backpacking was a new direction for us. Angela and I have lived 6 houses from eachother our whole lives, and were friends when we were little. We went to different schools though, and didn't meet up again until almost college. Turns out we were pretty good traveling buddies. We wanted to see the same things (basically walk around, climb lots of steps, and go into a billion cathedrals, which are free). We liked to save money and explore grocery stores by cooking at the hostels we stayed at. We were completely happy to stop every few hours to peoplewatch on a bench for a while. We like historical sites, so we visited Holocaust sites including Dachau and Auschwitz.

We went to 7 countries and 8 cities in 30 days:
Paris, France
Strasbourg, France
Munich, Germany
Prague, Czech Republic,
Vienna, Austria
Krakow, Poland
Venice, Italy
Zurich, Switzerland
Back to Paris to fly out

This spring, we got to thinking that we should probably do it again. And our jobs were silly enough to give us the time off! So here's the plan in 25 days:
12 hour layover in Amsterdam
Athens, Greece
7 day sailing trip in Greek isles leaving from Samos, Greece
Thessalonika, Greece
Budapest, Hungary
Bucharest, Romania
Istambul, Turkey
*Maybe a couple of extra cities

Turns out the longest train ride on our last trip is shorter than our shortest train ride on this trip, which we aren't exactly looking forward to. I would say the sailing trip is the part I am most excited about. This sailboat holds 8 passengers plus a couple of crew guys, and the company seems really cool.