England doesn't really 'do' summer in the style to which I'm accustomed. I'm from New Zealand, where summers are hot, and the burn time is measured in minutes because we don't have an ozone layer. Where you can drive within an hour to a sandy beach, with frothy white waves. England's summer has blue skies, yes, and it's warm enough that you could probably get away with just a cardigan, but if you blink, you might miss it, and you're not really sure whether what you've got is summer. However, what London does have going for it is it's convenient location to the rest of the continent. So I found my summer in Greece. One week, eight friends, a yacht and all of the islands we could find in the Dodecanese.
We hired a yacht, and when we flew down to Kos it was there waiting for us. The gorgeous Kos 45.2. A 45ft Jeanneau Sun Odyssey. Because we flew in late, we slept on board and did all the checks with the sailing company folk the next morning. Took a while, checking all the things were in their spots, that all of of the navigation stuff worked, that everything was ship shape. And then we were off!
Day One - To Vathys
We were all excited, and ready to be off. All congratulating each other on the brilliant sailing idea, blue skies! Warmth! Why would you be any where else? It was all grins all round. Until, oh dear, until it was clear that two of our party suffered from sea sickness. One of those people, of course, was me.
To be fair, I'm told it was windy. I don't remember time passing, I was well too busy concentrating on keeping the contents of my stomach in my stomach. Hours passed, apparently, before we stopped for lunch. Oh nausea, you horrible terrible thing. Not fun.
We stopped for lunch, and for a bit of a swim. The water was relatively warm, a bit chilly on entry but you soon warmed up. It was pretty gorgeous, actually. I'm a huge fan of swimming, and being in the water. We did a spot of snorkling before motoring around the corner to Vathys.
Oh, Vathys was gorgeous. A super cute little fishing village. It was also a bit of an introduction to modern day sailors - we had a little spot to fit in, and all of us crew were ready with fenders. There as a french man that yelled at us to watch his line (which was fine, we saw it). We were a bit far away from the pier, and at an angle, so we couldn't drop the gangplank. The french man didn't want us to moor up next to him (he was leaving early, apparently), but the Brits on the other side were perfectly lovely.
We all split off, and went for walks, or lay in the sun and read books as we pleased, all eventually reconvening to change for dinner, and then eating outside at a seafood restaurant around the end of the marina. It was a lovely introduction to Greece food (and Greece time). Morf started a tradition that night of ordering starters for the table. It always started with two greek salads, two calamari, two fried cheese somethings, and then whatever someone else requested. We feasted like kings. Like kings! We all got mains, and oh oh oh. The food was phenomenal. So tasty!
I think tonight was the night was tried Ouzo for the first time. Some got wine, too. Those of us who were suffering rocking on land (otherwise known as Mal de Debarquement Syndrome. Gah. As if sickness at sea wasn't enough, it's got to happen when I'm on land too) stuck with sprite that first night.
Day Two - To Lakki
Breakfast was had in the morning sun up in the cockpit. There's a table that folds out, and it was quite cosy with all eight of us sittin around it. There was more sailing today, with more people learning how to winch or tail as required. Todays seasickness avoidance attempt was to stand at the back of the boat. Fail, really. The winds were still up, but we made good time, and were happy to stop for lunch at midday for more swimming.
Lakki was a bigger marina that Vathys, and clearly a much more built up island. There were more establishments and roads and vegetation around. This marina had showers and flushing toilets, for example. And power for us to hook the boat up to. Once we'd sorted the marina fees (with added internet) we swam around the front of the boat, diving off the front. The water was cooler, here. Bit brisk. Still, hilarious when Talbot's bikini came off on her second jump!
Dinner was outside on a patio of a randomly picked restaurant. More starters, more main, so much eating. So tasty! The next morning, first thing Morf went overboard to fetch Cam's towel that she'd dropped overboard (oops!). Cooke + I went on a bit of a wander to see what was out and about. We met up with them for breakfast at a cafe just along side the marina. Another hilarious moment was when Morf ordered waffles, and got yoghurt and fruit (ironic, if only because it's what we'd usually be having onboard for breakfast). We all shared ours, so no harm down.
After breakfast me + Bunny hung out at on the bow with Talbots fishing line, some gross left over ham + some bread. There were loads of fishes and while we didn't catch any of them, we did feed them quite well.
Day Three - To Lera
Todays attempt at avoiding seasickness was to steer the helm. So I motored us out of the marina, and it was fine for a while, but then it really wasn't fine and I didn't want to steer anymore and gave up my spot on the helm. We were relatively close to our anchorage, so it didn't take long to get there. We were anchoring tonight, rather than mooring up in a marina. That way we could bbq on the beach! What a brilliant idea.
We threw Bunny off the back with a beer and some tasty treats on a rubber ring (with a rope tied to the back, so he couldn't float away too far) while we prepared all the food, and ferried it across to the beach. I think this was one of my favourite nights. It was warm, and relatively lovely. We had a ridiculous amount of food, a lovely fire, lots and lots of beer, and lovely company.
There was enough beer that Talbs and I skinny dipped back to the boat. Though Morf + Cooke also swam back after us. I think I was one of the few that made it safe and sound, both Talbs + Cam got big gashes in their feet. With the beach being gravel, it all had to be dug out - not a fun experience back onboard!
Day Four - To Patmos
Oh Patmos. Definite highlight of the trip. I loved Patmos. I loved dining on the beach (even more so when Cam, Talbs + Gosling had scuttlefish ink pasta, which turned their lips all goth). We wandered, which was fun. We met a donkey. We also stopped at a few cake places, to sample a few cakes. There was one place that had a ferrero rocher type cake. We devoured it barely outside the bakery, before going back in to get a new one. So tasty.
Patmos also happened to be one of the more built up islands. Loads of whitewashed buildings all the way up the hills. And the top? At the top, there was a monastary! I maybe have tantrum through a little bit to get there - There was a little bit of cabin fever, and I was over being seasick on the boat. The majority of the crew wasn't so keen, but after some quick negotiation and minor technicalities (like who was currently skipper + who had the final say) three of us, me Bunny and Morf were off and up the mountain. Woah buddy, the view was AMAZING! Loved it. It was interesting to see things from a higher vantage point, than just at sea level.
The Monastery was one of the few still working Orthodox monasteries in Greece, and it was gorgeous. It was founded back in 1088, and has loads of interconnected little chapels, alleyways, rooms and courtyards. The floors are paved with gorgeous tiles, the walls have amazing murals and frescos, and everything in the chapel is so intricate and amazing. (Hilariously, while I was listening to a monk do a sermon in greek, I noticed a kettle plugged in an outer-room. Old school gorgeous with modern day conveniences!). They don't let you take photos inside, so I didn't. Also, when someone tells you that you need to cover your arms and legs, you don't. So don't listen to them, and don't suffer in the heat. As long as you're relatively covered (like a skirt to the knee, and covered shoulders say) it should be fine.
And oh! The museum is amazing. I could easily have spent much more time. It's little, and it's filled with all sorts of gorgeous art and remnants of a past time. Everything is intricate, and OLD. Like hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of years old. It blew my mind, I loved it. We even found some stone work that was part of the original Olympics. Woah buddy. Definite highlight, you should definitely make time to see this. On the way out there are loads of little touristy stores. I won't like, I wanted to buy everything. Gorgeous little watercolours. Stoneware. Glasswear. Enough that I did half my christmas shopping right then and there.
Also? There's a cave. The Cave of the Apocalypse. It's where the Book of the Apocalypse was written, otherwise known as the Book of Revelation, as in, the Bible. Woah buddy. I didn't have time to go in, but I stood outside for a moment and marvelled at how old everything is.
Day Five - To Leros
After about an hour and a half mad dash up a mountain, we came down, jumped aboard and pushed off. About half way back we slowed down a little so we could drag an inflatable tyre behind the boat, as well as a second line out for the aerofoil. Morf made two, one solid one and one with a hinge, so you could turn corners really fast. He broke that one within the first ten minutes. Ridiculous amounts of fun, though!
Speaking of fun, we'd got Morf a few random presents (ha!) and celebrated with cake. Lots of cake. It was a pretty sugar filled lunch, actually.
We headed into Leros just before the sun went down. This was another lovely little town. A fishing village. Everyone was lovely, and when our crew went off for afternoon swims I attempted to fish off the front with Talb's line and some banana. Annoyingly, I didn't catch anything. But the guys on the boats a little bit down the marina were pulling up fish like no ones business. Clearly, they were waiting for all the fishermen to sort out their nets. The pier was chock full of nets, and people tending them. After feeding the fish three bananas, I went over there to see what I was doing wrong. Well, turns out that they didn't speak english, but they did know the word for Banana. Once we'd played a bit of charades, and they knew I wanted to fish, they pointed at my bait, and asked 'Banana?' - when I showed them, they roared with laughter! Apparently it's not the done thing. It was funny enough to them that they called people over from the marina, and jabbered away in Greek. All I heard was 'banana' and much laughter. Worse, it obviously spread down the pier, because ten minutes I was still hearing laughter and 'banana'.
They gave me some line, and were using a kind of dough, with a line that had smaller hooks. I made friends with the younger guy next to me - he might have been 12 years old, or about there. He didn't speak much english, and I didn't speak much Greek (other than 'kalispera!'), but I spoke to him in English, and he spoke back in Greek. It was pretty novel conversation, actually. Also, I didn't catch anything. I should just have thrown the bait over the side, but he caught loads.
A bit later, a guy down the way came down to talk to me. His english was limited, and I have this accent and speak so fast, so it wasn't much of a conversation. He helped me, though. Together, we caught a few. I was estatic! As the sun was going down, and I'd had my fill, I said gbye and went back to my boat, with four fish! Loved it!
This was also the night we met Mario. Usually when finding a place for dinner, we wander until we find a random place we like the look of, and done. This time we'd past a place, and waiter called out to us. Him and I had a bit of a flirty verbal spar, and with some clever words he'd convinced us! He got us horrifically drunk (at least me - Greece pours are much like Egyptian pours: ridiculous!!). He even came down and sat with us for a bit, sharing some ouzo! Oh ouzo! After dinner, he directed us to a bar back the way we'd come for some dancing. It was run by two old English men, and was very quaint. They did fun cocktails though (Greek style) and had some music to dance to. Sadly, the power cut out, twice. Mario showed up later, and we had some lovely waters together (me being well to boozed by that point!).
On the way back to the boat (some of our party having slipped out earlier) we came across Talbs + Morf skinny dipping in the marina. Ha!
Day Six - To Kos
Today we headed back to Kos. I think we were all ready for it - a week on a tiny boat with eight people is a bit much. It was quiet morning, with a stop at lunch for some more snorkling. We took the banana out with us, and sure enough, got proof that fish DO eat banana! It was pretty relaxing, actually. It was hot today, with not much wind. I sat on the back of the boat and trailed my feet in the water as we motored along.
I'm pretty sure the girls were feeling the heat two, because we had a 'man overboard incident', which was less an incident and more a calculated 'its too fucking hot' type thing. It meant that those that were quick enough (like me) could jump off the back. The water was amazing. I loved it - being warm, being in the water, swimming.
That evening was relatively quiet. There were drinks on the boat, as we tried to get rid of the alcohol after dinner. I played dj, and I think we just generally hung out. Gone was all the enthusiasm of previous nights.
Day Seven - Kos
Possibly one of my favourite days of the whole trip. After disposing of our gear, Bunny and I very quickly absconded from the group mentality and off we went. We hired scooters, which was WELL fun! There's something about riding around in the sun across a fairly exotic island. We followed the the coast for a bit (and by a bit I mean for a good few hours) before getting we lost out past the hotels, past the farms, into the middle of nowhere. It was brilliant, and I loved it. The only downside was of course, in Greece they drive on the wrong side of the road. Also, I'd always forget I had my indicator on, and would drive around without actually turning. Fail!
We hit up the castle of the Knights of the Order of Saint, which was well fancy. Pretty novel for a castle. However, we didn't really want to pay a ridiculous amount of money to go in. So we didn't (we went across the fancy bridge and and had a look, but really, I've seen so many castles, and I wanted to see a castle I hadn't seen).
Beyond the castle, there was a tree where Hippocrates taught medicine. It's called (go figure) the Tree of Hippocrates. Though, to be fair, they reckon that the current tree is actually a descendant of the original. Fair enough, considering Hippocrates hung out there a massive 2400 years ago. I think they said the current tree was only 500 years old, so by comparison. Fun times!
After lunch we wondered down to the beach, and picked randomly a few sun loungers to hang out in. For €5, you get two chairs and an umbrella for as long as you want it. They also bring around free watermelon and ouzo. Nice, right? It was pretty cool, and I enjoyed baking in the (ridiculously hot sun). The water was divine, as always. I was glad to be sunbathing on something that wasn't moving, and where I wasn't likely to get sprayed with water.
I was less glad to see all the naked boobs. It made me feel over dressed in a bikini. And all the ladies had their boobs out. All of them. The young ones who were my age, and the many old old old ladies, and all the ladies in between. I felt random not getting mine out, but then, my boobs, having been covered up the last week were (as Talbs had said earlier) luminous. The whole thing made me feel a little bit uncomfortable, but not enough to move off my sun lounger.
After a bit, Bunny and I went to find some refreshments - we found a super fun bar (with 2 for 1 cheap drinks. So fun!). They had a pool table, so off we went. There were a few kids who, with every shot, got closer and closer to the pool table. During the second game we paired up with them, and had a game. It wasn't much of a game, they couldn't play very well, but we aimed and if one went in we high fived all around. It was quite fun, actually. Also, they didn't speak much English, so a lot of it was 'Okay' and 'One Two Three!' as we hit the ball. Pretty cute, actually.
We returned our scooters shortly after, and made it back to the Marina just in time for our transfer + then back to London Town. It was amazing. I enjoyed myself immensely, even though I got seasick. Greece! What a phenomenal place to go. If you get the chance, don't hesitate :)