Good morning my little Olympic champions! I've not seen anything of the Olympics, apart from a minute or two on Greek tv, but not glimpsed any Brits winning all these medals! I've been following the live text on BBC Sport page, but its not quite the same ...
Just after I posted the last blog, husband Tim was struck down with a nasty tummy bug thing, which laid him low for a day or two. Probably the gruesome water in Lefkas harbour. If you handle ropes, anchor, chain etc, it is vital to wash your hands straight away afterwards.
Anyway he's right as rain now (rain .... now, what's that?) which is good news.
We took the boat from tranquil bay to Scorpios island for lunch and a swim. The place where Jackie Kennedy married Aristotle Onasis, and where she was once photographed in the nude on the beach. He is buried there, alongside his daughter Christina. The island is now owned by his grand-daughter Athina, who has only visited the island twice, once when she was eight, and once on the tenth anniversary of her mother's death. It is regularly reported that she is going to sell the island, for something like 100 million euro ...
You cannot land on the island, and have to keep your distance when anchoring. They wont let you swim to the shore either. The beach is regularly patrolled by guards, although everyone is fascinated by the island and wants to get as close as they can.
It is covered with dense trees, apparently Onasis imported over 200 species of trees. He also imported the sand to make the beach. On the other side of the island to the beach there is the private harbour, where he presumably docked his mega yacht, also called Christina, after his daughter. You can only catch a glimpse of the pink villa, which allegedly is now abandoned and in a state of disrepair. There are obviously a large number of staff who still work on the island, we saw several cars and vans, and some garden work going on. Imagine owning your own island worth 100 million euro and never going there!
On our return from Scorpios we moored in Vliho bay and met up with some Dutch friends that we first met on the canals in France before Christmas, who were also taking their boat to Greece. A good time was had by all in the local taverna that evening. We also visited the Vliho Yacht Club, which sounds posh, but is actually only a taverna offering facilities for boaters, such as showers, laundry, wifi, you can also collect post there, swap your books, look at the weather, they are a mine of information. You dont need to join or be a member, they offer a very good service and also have a useful website.
Our engine part which was sent out from the UK by FedEx has now arrived, so we returned to Lefkas yesterday and picked it up. We are moored on the town quay this time, so no need to use dinghy to get ashore, although it is a little noisy but very convenient. So for the next few days, Tim will be sweating in the engine room, trying to get the bolts off the water pump which is in what looks like a horribly inaccessible place on the engine, while I may escape and go to the pool of a local hotel who lets the public use the facilities. Or I may feel terribly guilty and stay on board and pass the spanners and make the coffee .....
Tue/07/12, Tranquil bay, Nidri
We left Paxos last Saturday afternoon and sailed to Lefkas, it took about 8 hours, including waiting for the swing bridge to open. There was hardly any wind at first, but it got a little stronger later in the afternoon/ early evening. the sun was on our backs most of the way, and with no shade, it was very uncomfortable. Husband didn't want to go into the marina at Lefkas as heaven forbid you have to pay money to do so, and the town quay was apparently too uncomfortable, so we anchored between the two, joining several other yachts with the same idea. We were both tired so ate on board that night.
Sunday morning we were up early and were ashore must after nine, walking round the old town of Lefkas, with it's many shops, bars and tavernas. We returned again in the evening and had a wonderful traditional Greek meal in a taverna in one of the little side streets, it's so great to be able to sit outside and eat!
During the day we did venture into the marina by dinghy, filled up our jerry cans with their water, and I took some washing to the laundry, where a very enthusiastic Greek woman promised I could have it back the same day.
On Monday morning the clever husband changed the oil in the outboard motor, then we went ashore for shopping - found a brilliant butchers shop, bread shop and green grocers, all very cheap. After taking the goodies back to the boat. We then had lunch in a cheap waterside taverna, the set meal was Greek salad, tzatziki, three souvlaki skewers, chips, and a beer, all for 9.90 euro. Bargain.
This morning we are still anchored on the same spot, we have some Dutch friends in a boat nearby so maybe we will see them later.
I am spending all my spare time on the Internet, trying to glean any info I can about the Olympics, I so wish I was in the UK now, to,soak up all the fantastic atmosphere!
Fri/07/12, Lakka, Paxos
Friday 27 July It's a while since I was last wrote anything, I will try and give a very brief account of our last week or so. After the check in with the port police in Sivota, we came back across to Corfu and anchored at the tiny fishing harbour of Petriti on the south east coast. It really was one of the smallest places we've been to, lots of local fishing boats of all sizes, but only four or five tavernas and a tiny shop! We anchored just outside the harbour as no spaces left on the harbour wall, and it was fairly uncomfortable, boats bouncing about all over the place. Hello everyone, thanks for taking the time to read the blog! Arrived in Corfu old harbour, free to moor here, no water or elexctricity. We are moored alongside a young dutch guy who has been sailing round the Med for many years, he has a beautiful cat on board his boat, a part Siamese, part greek cat, with the most wonderful blue eyes. The cat is called Paradox, what a fab name! he also has a teeny tiny black puppy, only 6 or 7 weeks old, called Matrix!
I'm so upset that I'm going to miss the Olympics opening ceremony!
It looks like this might be our last day in Paxos and the Corfu area before moving on to pastures new. On Saturday we are hopping down to Lefkas further south. Lots to explore there, it's what the call the inland sea, because you are surrounded by islands and mainland in almost all directions. Lots to explore there, as well as the island of Lefkas, there are also the islands of Meganisi, Kastos, Kalamos, Atakos, as well as the larger ones of Ithaca and Kefalonia. Looking at the chart, there are also many smaller islands close to the mainland, then there's the area approaching the Corinth canal to the east, Zakynthos a little further south, then even further south to the Peloponnese. So much to see, lots of time to see it!
We first arrived in Greece on 14 June, making landfall at Kassiopi on the north east corner of Corfu. So we have been in the Corfu area for just over six weeks! It has been wonderful, and I really feel we have got to know (some) parts of Corfu plus the island of Paxos, very well. My only previous experience of Corfu and Paxos was as two separate day trips when I stayed by myself in Parga on the mainland, over ten years ago. Little has changed, Greece adopts a very slow way of life!
So, what have been the highlights of the past six weeks? Too many to choose! We really haven't been to a single place we have disliked in any way. Kassiopi was charming if a little touristy. We preferred Agios/Saint Stefanos a little further south. There are actually two St Stefanos in Corfu. One in the NW, and the one we visited, on the NE. Fascinating fact alert - "Stephanos" means 'crown' in Greek, and St Stephen was invested with a crown of martyrdom. He is known among other things, as the patron saint of masons, horses, headaches, casket makers, and Deacons. I can see where the headache bit comes from, as he was stoned to death in 34 BC. That surely would have given him a headache!
I have decided not to write so much on the blog each time, so next instalment later today. I would just like to say hello to Louise and Tony and their lovely girls Millie and Lola, that we met in Ninios reataurant, Lakka. Lola, I'm using your decorated stone! Louise said she wanted to follow our adventures so if you get this Louise, email me your address so we can keep in touch!
I will put some new pics in the gallery - Best of Corfu/Paxos -
Wed/07/12, Lakka, Paxos
We had a walk along the small beach that wasn't busy at all, lots of beachside bars hoping for customers. We found one bar offering free use of their pool if you bought drinks there, made a note to return there tomorrow! Strangely we also found a large, well kept full size football pitch with what looked like real, watered turf! Corfu is so green with excellent water supply, so,it could have been. I think it was probably the secret training ground for the Greek Olympic team ...
We chose the cheapest looking taverna, not directly on the waterfront and ordered drinks from the extremely welcoming and helpful owner called Vasilis, who told us he offered free wifi, free water and his wife would even do washing for us for free! Sounded too good to be true, but we did in fact make use of all these facilities! For drinking water, Vasilis took our two large plastic jerry cans on his moped and rode back to his house outside of the village to fill them from his personal tap! On our next trip ashore, I gave him a large bag load of bedding and towels etc, and the washing was ready for collection when we finished supper, not dried though, but that wasn't a problem.
There has virtually been no wind at all for the last two weeks, so the next day we motored north again, stopping at Garitsa bay, San Stefanos, and Kassiopi, where we met up with my son and daughter in law who were on a package holiday on Corfu for a week. We had great fun taking them out for the day, even managed to unfurl the genoa and turn the engine off for an hour! I was given the wonderful news that I am to be a grandmother for the first time in December! Better start knitting!
We came to Paxos last Saturday and anchored in the beautiful harbour of Lakka, on the north coast. Paxos is known for its ultra clear turquoise water, you can see the bottom even in ten metres of water. We are anchored at the far end of the bay, probably the furthest spot away from the harbour, with a stern line out, attached to a large rock on the pebbly beach, to stop the boat swinging. It is idyllic sitting in one of the many tavernas right on the water's edge, watching all the yacht activity.
Yesterday while we were whiling away an hour or so with a cold beer, we saw one of the tourist tripping boats approaching Lakka. Along with our fellow taverna customers who were of similar age to ourselves, ie, older than forty, our hearts collectively stopped and our jaws dropped as we realised it was crammed full of partially clad inebriated young people swaying to what can only be described as booming thudding brain numbing sounds I hardly like to call music. They looked like they were enjoying themselves but we were praying they wouldn't come ashore for more than twenty minutes before they had to depart for their next port of call on their whistle stop tour of the Greek islands. The tourist boat went astern and approached the quay, it's gangplank being lowered at the same time. We braced ourselves for an influx of young brash holiday makers ....... Then a curious thing happened - as soon as the boat appeared to reach the wall, it immediately went ahead again, and took its passengers back out to sea! No one got off! The taverna clientele breathed a collective sigh of relief, but no one could explain why their boat did that! We did agree though, that in 40 years time they would be complaining about exactly the same thing as we were today .....
Next time I may tell you about our walking experience on Paxos ......
I get the feeling its all a bit samey, eg ..sail to new harbour, enthuse about beauty of location, a few photos, a swim, eating and drinking. So I thought I would tell you about some formalities that have to be completed if you come to Greece in a boat, and the joy of the Greek beaurocratic procedures....
There are so many rules and regulation regarding everything in Greece. I have read lots of internet pages, web forums, expert and non-expert opinions, I have decided that even the Greeks do not know what is going on, which is why they are in deep do-do in Europe. For many years, if you bring a sailing boat over 10 metres long into Greece for the first time from another European country, you have to get a form called a cruising permit, available from specific ports/harbours. However, there does not appear to be anything similar if you take a boat into any other country in Europe, so much for the EEC being equal! Anyway, in Greece this form goes by the acronym D.E.P.K.A, but despite hours on line trying to find what these initials stand for, I am none the wiser, so we'll just call it the DEPKA form. Im sure the cleverer ones among you could make up your own suitable acronym for this, but I digress.
Again through internet information, we discovered that there are some ports which are more DEPKA friendly than others. I read that someone tried to check in at Gouvia marina (Corfu) but was told they didnt have any DEPKA forms in their office, they had run out, and the same person came back almost a year later, and they still didn't have a supply of forms! I also read that some ports make you take a form that you have completed in their office to another tax office in another part of the town, to get it stamped and pay money, then you have to return to the first office and fill in more forms. In Corfu town (not Gouvia) we had read that the Port Police were not consistent with their information given to boat owners, some charging you different amounts, some sending you on a wild goose chase, etc, so we decided to head to Mourtos/Sivota on the Greek mainland to check in with the Port Police there, as they received good recommendations and seemed to take the shortest time.
(Mourtos is so named as it translates into something like "town of the dead", so they changed it to Sivota. But everyone still calls it Mourtos .....)
We duly reported to the Port Police office at about 9.45 the next morning, a time carefully chosen by us as we thought they would have finished their early morning jobs, they wouldnt be thinking about lunch just yet, and hopefully there wouldnt be anything on TV to distract them. Believe me, all Port Police offices seem to have a TV permanently switched on! There was only one fine Greek official in the office, a very dour, surly chap, not very communicative, poor English. He was wearing a uniform with a Greek Coastguard badge, so we hoped he could multi-task. We presented our carefully put together folder of all the important papers pertaining to our yacht, such as Registration certificate, Insurance documents (complete with necessary Greek translation), Bill of Sale to prove ownership, receipt to show VAT had been paid on initial purchase of vessel, OFCOM radio licence, VHF radio operator's certificate, Certificate of Competence, oh the list is endless. Plus our passports. Stavros as he shall be known, carefully inspected every document. The phone in the office rings during his inspection, so he goes to answer it, which takes ten minutes. He return and completes his document inspection. He then asks us to complete some forms which appear to be an application for a DEPKA, and a form giving the crew of the yacht, plus passport details. Stavros then decides to photocopy some of our documents, on the world's slowest photocopier, which of course runs out of paper halfway through.
He then stamps all the forms several times, staples everything together, almost ceremoniously, then we remind him he hasn't provided us with a DEPKA, we need one for the first time, although we made this clear at the beginning. So he lumbers into the adjoining office, where I spotted another huge rubber stamp holder, much loved by Greek officials. This held at least 20 rubber stamps of various shapes and sizes. After five minutes Stavros comes back with a brand shiny new DEPKA form, a fold-out document with about six pages divided into squares which is where the offical stamps go when you next present it to a Port Police office. Stavros then procedes to complete the front of this form, very slowly, as he has to copy information which we have already written on the other documents. And stamps it of course. He asks when we are leaving, we tell him we are anchored in the bay and will leave tomorrow. This generates yet more forms and photocopying.
To add to the excitement, a female Greek official enters the office, presumably to start her shift at 10am. She does not acknowledge us, makes no eye contact, proceeds to speak animatedly to Stavros for several minutes, preventing him from completing his paperwork. We wait patiently, looking at the fine display of ancient black and white Greek documents pinned to the wall, a poster about weever fish, and a religious Greek icon. The television is on, but strangely there is no picture, only sound. To relieve the boredom, another humanoid enters the office, who appears to be a flotilla leader, who needs to make some transaction. Stavros immediately stops dealing with us, and attends to this new customer.
Stavros and surly woman then complete some receipts for us in duplicate. Which are then photocopied. And stapled. Finally, about 40 minutes after entering the office, he presents us with the bill. One bill is for purchasing the DEPKA which is about 30 euros. One bill is for 88 cents, which bizarrely is for having the document stamped. Then he presents us with a bill for two nights mooring fees, about 25 euros - hang on a minute Stavros, we're anchored in the bay and don't need to pay for mooring! You should have told me that to start with, retorts Stavros, getting slightly cross with me for questioning him. WE DID! we said. Too late says Stavros, I have written the receipt and cannot change it, its been logged. WHAT! Husband glares at me and says lets just pay it and leave. So we did. With the taxes added on, we paid 71 euros.
It could have been worse. They didnt ask us any difficult questions, they didn't strip search us or bring in any instruments of torture. And we haven't paid any mooring fees for the last two weeks since being in Greece, so we got off quite lightly. We left the office and rushed to the nearest bar for refreshment and recuperation ......
You are supposed to present this DEPKA form at the Port Police office when you arrive in a new harbour. But at some harbours there is no port police office, sometimes they don't want to know, and sometimes they never bother you. We have decided to adopt the strategy of waiting until they come to us, then show them the documents only if required. I have read on the internet that some people bought a new DEPKA form when they arrived in Greece for the first time, and never got it stamped once in three years! Maybe we should make that our objective too!
Thu/06/12, Corfu town
The cat is very inquisitive and goes on to everyone else's boat for a nose around. I love the way that cats are so haughty -they choose whether to be friendly or not, they do their own thing. Paradox wont let you stroke him, but he went down below for a nose around. I had visions of returning in the evening and finding him asleep on our bed! I have put some photos of him in a gallery album.
We have explored Corfu town a lot, loving the old narrow streets and buildings of the old town. We have walked around the Liston area, seen the cricket ground, the Royal Palace, its such a wonderful place, so much to see.
Later this evening when it has cooled down a bit, we may move to the anchorage near Garitsa Bay, so we can swim. Its really turned into summer now, the afternoons are stifling hot, but I'm not complaining, its what we came for.
On the way to Corfu town we stopped off at a Lidl, we anchored offshore, took the dinghy, then walked 200m to Lidl to stock up with essentials, mainly alcohol. Also lots of cheese and ham, Greek meatballs, tomato puree, coffee, etc etc. Prices were more expensive than french Lidl for some items.
More news soon!
It's a while since I was last wrote anything, I will try and give a very brief account of our last week or so. After the check in with the port police in Sivota, we came back across to Corfu and anchored at the tiny fishing harbour of Petriti on the south east coast. It really was one of the smallest places we've been to, lots of local fishing boats of all sizes, but only four or five tavernas and a tiny shop! We anchored just outside the harbour as no spaces left on the harbour wall, and it was fairly uncomfortable, boats bouncing about all over the place.
Hello everyone, thanks for taking the time to read the blog!
Arrived in Corfu old harbour, free to moor here, no water or elexctricity. We are moored alongside a young dutch guy who has been sailing round the Med for many years, he has a beautiful cat on board his boat, a part Siamese, part greek cat, with the most wonderful blue eyes. The cat is called Paradox, what a fab name! he also has a teeny tiny black puppy, only 6 or 7 weeks old, called Matrix!