What was your favorite place?
When we return home for the winter, our landlubbing friends and family typically ask this impossible question. Last year, we visited 75 ports, in 7 counties, not to mention all of the cities that we saw by land. There just isn't one favorite. Each has its own charm, and what makes them all unique is the combination of the place, the experiences, and people. The local people that go out of their way to help us, the other cruisers we meet, the new friendships, this is what really makes make what we do special. A couple of examples:
Driving back to Berkeley East from our land trip to Umbria, we decided to stop at a winery in Le Marche. While trying to find the winery, our GPS finally gave up and said "drive off road". We wound our way around for a while, gave up and stopped for directions. Most Italian small towns have a square where the local men sit, drink coffee and talk, so we stopped there and asked, in our broken Italian, for directions to the winery. One of the men quickly got up and signaled us to follow him. He got in his car and proceeded to drive up and down hills for 10 minutes to the winery. Pointed it out, smiled, waved and then took off. At the winery we were shown around first by the owner's son, then his daughter. When the owner eventually caught up with us in the tasting room he was beaming with pride talking about his children, not the wine. People like this are what make us treasure our visit to Le Marche.
Another time, we were at anchor off Dugi Otak Croatia, when a couple in a dinghy stopped by to admire Berkeley East and they asked if we were going to dinner at the restaurant onshore. We had planned to eat on board, but based on their recommendation we decided to go to the restaurant. They said that they knew the owners and would call the restaurant to make a reservation for us, which they did.
Over the next few days we got to know them a little better and confided in them that we were struggling with Croatia, as there were so many island and places to go we just couldn't find a clear path through the country. We also had the itch to get to Greece quickly. They had been cruising in Croatia for over 10 years and insisted on sharing their insights. So after 2 ¬Ĺ hours of going through charts, guide books and all the business cards they had collected, we were even more overwhelmed. But we developed a plan and as a result, we extended our time in Croatia by six weeks, had countless wonderful experiences and ate at some of the best food we've had in Europe.
As much as we will remember all the great places we have traveled to, the beautiful scenery and interesting history, we will remember the people and our interactions equally as much.
Our path last year (2012)
Where are you cruising this year?
Whenever we get back to Berkeley East in the spring, our cruising friends typically ask us "where are you going this summer and where will you leave the boat for the winter?" For the last two cruising seasons, we have started with a plan of sailing through Greece and on to Turkey for the winter. So our standing answer has been that we plan to cruise in Greece and winter in Turkey. This plan always seems to falls apart quickly, as we find there is too much to see and do on the way and we cannot tear ourselves away from the fun. So our plan for this year is, once again, to sail to through Greece and put BE in Turkey for the winter.