Freya & Us

Vessel Name: Freya of Wight
Vessel Make/Model: Westerly Oceanranger
Hailing Port: Portishead
17 November 2017
14 November 2017 | Bristol - 6,606 NM
14 November 2017 | Athens - 6,606 NM
12 November 2017 | Kalamata - 6,606 NM
01 November 2017 | Kalamata - 6,606 NM
24 October 2017 | Kalamata - 6,606 NM
11 October 2017 | Pilos - 6,565 NM
04 October 2017
04 October 2017 | Katakolon - 6,504 NM
27 September 2017 | Ay Efumia, Cephalonia - 6,424 NM
25 July 2017 | Bristol - 6,358 NM
25 July 2017 | Bristol - 6,358 NM
10 July 2017 | Preveza - 6,358 NM
04 July 2017 | Nydri - 6,293 NM
24 June 2017 | Port Athini - 6,255 NM
14 June 2017 | Messolonghi - 6,189 NM
11 June 2017
09 June 2017 | Astakos - 6149 NM
02 June 2017 | Fiskardo, Kefalonia - 6,098 NM
02 June 2017 | Fiskardo, Kefalonia - 6,098 NM
Recent Blog Posts
14 November 2017 | Bristol - 6,606 NM

2017 By The Numbers

Sixth year of cruising completed. This years numbers are:

14 November 2017 | Athens - 6,606 NM

More Piles of Stones

It was an uneventful but beautiful three hour bus ride from Kalamata to Athens with the highlight of the journey being the crossing over the Corinth Canal. The canal connects the Gulf of Corinith (and the Ionian) with the Saronic Gulf in the Agean Sea. The first plans for building a canal date back [...]

12 November 2017 | Kalamata - 6,606 NM

Towers!

Kalamata is a popular place to overwinter for yachties and over the past few weeks boats have been pouring in. Some arrive and are lifted a few days later with their owners flying home, others stay afloat with their owners living aboard for the winter. It makes for a lively social scene and we've made [...]

01 November 2017 | Kalamata - 6,606 NM

Piles of Old Stones

Every Saturday is market day in Kalamata and it's huge. We spent most of a morning exploring the produce and buying our food for the week. We love markets!

24 October 2017 | Kalamata - 6,606 NM

A “quacking” end to the season

Kalamata is a very pleasant city. It's bigger than anywhere else we've been to so far in Greece and is a proper working university city and not built around tourism. There are some nice shops, very smart bars and the supermarket has the same variety of products we'd expect at home. Couldn't believe we [...]

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17 November 2017

2017 By The Numbers

14 November 2017 | Bristol - 6,606 NM
Rain
Sixth year of cruising completed. This years numbers are:

Nautical miles travelled: 928 (Total of 6,606 since leaving home)
Number of ports of call: 53
Total time at sea: 6 days 22 hours
Longest single passage: 63 NM (10 hours)
Average passage length: 17.5 NM


The link to our map seems to be stopping people leaving comments on the blog, so I've removed it from these posts for now. I will be keeping it up to date so simply go to one of the special map only posts and click the link there to see it

More Piles of Stones

14 November 2017 | Athens - 6,606 NM
Coll Nights
It was an uneventful but beautiful three hour bus ride from Kalamata to Athens with the highlight of the journey being the crossing over the Corinth Canal. The canal connects the Gulf of Corinith (and the Ionian) with the Saronic Gulf in the Agean Sea. The first plans for building a canal date back to the 7th century BC and despite a number of attempts over the last two thousand years, it wasn't until 1893 that the canal was finally completed. Its very impressive, a long narrow gorge carved through over 20m of rock, that is today used mainly by leisure boats, as it is to narrow for modern merchant ships.

We checked into our hotel in Plaka which was very conveniently located in the heart of Athens. Our bedroom had views of the Acropolis and Parthenon, which we visited on our first trip to Athens 8 years ago. We immediately set off to explore and only a 100m from the hotel, came across our first "pile of stones", vast remains of the ancient agora (market place). Like Rome there seems to be an ancient monument around every corner in central Athens and we joined the throng of tourists winding our way through the narrow streets and alleys filled with shops and cafes. There were a lot more tourists here than on our last visit and we think Athens has developed its "tourist offer" a lot since then.

We worked our way across town to the Lykavittos Hill and took the funicular railway to the top of the hill to enjoy the views and the sunset. We were a little disappointed when we realised the train made the whole journey in a tunnel but the views at top across the rooftops and the Acropolis were well worth it. We were planning to stay and watch the sunset, about 30 minutes away, but so it seemed were all the other tourists in town and it was getting crowded. That and the cold wind made us decide to head down and we slowly wandered back to town past the stadium that hosted the first modern Olympic Games in 1896, found a nice (under a patio heater!) place for an al-fresco dinner and then back to our hotel.

The next morning after breakfast on the hotel's rooftop terrace (more Acropolis views) we headed to the area of Monastraki. On a Sunday morning the streets of Monastraki become a giant flea market where you can buy almost anything from tourist tat, to expensive antiques and everything in between. After a few hours of perusing the stalls we explored further afield finding some more piles of stones to look at before returning to our hotel for a siesta.

We set out later that afternoon, this time climbing to the top of the Filapappous Hill. It was very atmospheric and looking across the rooftops of Athens surrounded by hills and mountains reminded us of a similar view of La Paz in Boliva. We slowly walked back towards our hotel, around the bottom of the Acropolis, which as it was now dark gave us lots of opportunities to look at floodlit piles of stones. The evenings in Athens in November are cold, so we opted to eat inside a restaurant, the first time we'd done this in Greece since we first arrived in March.

Our flight out the next day wasn't until the afternoon, so after a leisurely breakfast we retraced our steps of Saturday afternoon to explore the Olympic Stadium and its surrounding areas in daylight, followed by a long slow lunch before catching the metro to the airport and our flight back to Bristol.

We hope to be returning to Freya to continue our travels into the Aegean next spring.

The link to our map seems to be stopping people leaving comments on the blog, so I've removed it from these posts for now. I will be keeping it up to date so simply go to one of the special map only posts and click the link there to see it

Towers!

12 November 2017 | Kalamata - 6,606 NM
Warm
Kalamata is a popular place to overwinter for yachties and over the past few weeks boats have been pouring in. Some arrive and are lifted a few days later with their owners flying home, others stay afloat with their owners living aboard for the winter. It makes for a lively social scene and we've made friends with Louise and Gordon, a Scotish couple living aboard their Moody 31. A small boat for live aboards but they have made it very comfortable. Our first boat, Socotra, was a Moody 28 and spending time aboard with them bought back lots of memories.

We wanted to fully explore the area of Mani, the middle of the three fingers of the Peloponnese, and even though the distances aren't huge the roads are so slow we decided we would need a hotel for the night, so we set off in the car heading towards to the fishing village of Gerolimenas where we had booked a room.

Our first stop was in Limeni, a picturesque fishing village on the west coast with a few tavernas and beautiful tower houses. The people of Mani claim to be the true descendants of the Spartans and they certainly had a very violent past. When the Romans and later the Byzantines and then the Ottomans occupied northern Greece, many people fled to Mani and competition for land became fierce, so individual families lived in fortified tower houses. They are everywhere, some still lived in, some derelict and others converted into hotels or holiday accommodation.

Our next stop was the coastal town of Areopoli named after Ares the Greek god of War. We found it to be a pleasant place with narrow old streets, old churches and restaurants to hangout in around the old town square. From there we drove a few miles further south to the caves of Diros. These limestone caves are right on the sea and after buying our tickets at the top of the cliffs, we made our way down past the closed (for a few years now) museum to the lower carpark and the cave entrance. The caves are completely flooded and you visit them by boat. You are slowly punted through the caves across mirror flat water often having to duck down to get through low and narrow passages. They are full of stalactites and stalagmites and the reflections in the water created a wonderful and beautiful atmosphere. Well worth the exorbitant (for Greece) entry fee.

From the caves we carried on south to Gerolimenas where our hotel was. There were towers everywhere, high up on the hills, on the side of the road and on the cliff edges, with what must have been fabulous views of the rugged coastline that reminded us of Cornwall.

There is a lot building here, with old towers being converted into holiday homes, but also new developments in the same style. The new developments are very small and scattered across the countryside and have been done very sympathetically. While they aren't there yet, they are in danger of overdeveloping the area.

Gerolimenas, is of course a pretty fishing village and our hotel was in a converted tower right on the sea. The hotel was excellent, luxurious and very atmospheric. We had an (almost) Michelin quality dinner in the hotel restaurant with a good bottle of Greek wine finished off with a very short and very windy stroll along the hotel's sea front walkway - lovely.

The next morning, after breakfast on the beachside terrace we made our way up the hill to a viewpoint above the village of Vathi, where almost every other building is a tower. This is apparently the most photographed village in Mani and we did our bit to keep it at the top of the list.

We then headed onto Cape Tainaro, the most southerly point on the European mainland. We parked the car by the ruins of a medieval church built on the ruins on Ancient Greek temple and walked along the often narrow and rocky path to the lighthouse on the cape. At times we were scrambling on all fours over some narrow ridges and steep climbs, but we made it and the views were fabulous. On the way back to the car we found the ruins of an ancient fortified village we missed on the way there, which had some wonderful mosaic floors to look at.

Leaving Tainaro, we started heading north along the east coast of the Mani peninsula stopping at Porto Kagio. Our guidebook described it as a favourite hangout of the international yachting set so we obviously fitted right in. It was more of a small fishing village with a sheltered anchorage rather than a Cannes or Monaco, but a lovely spot for a drink nonetheless. From there we drove a little further north along a spectacular mountain road before heading back to the northwest coast to get back to Kalamata. We stopped in Stoupa only 40 minutes from home for a very late lunch/early dinner. Stoupa is very touristy with a lot of foreign visitors and some expats but still quite nice.

Our final few days in Kalamata were spent putting Freya to bed for the winter and of course a bit more socialising. Freya was lifted on the Friday morning and we retired to the bar while she was cleaned off and put into a cradle. Sat in the bar we were surprised to see a mast moving along the road. It looked very surreal to see a boat moving slowly along a road. A few minutes later the boat itself came into view, it was Freya on a trailer being pulled by a tractor to the marina's second boatyard by the bar.

The following morning we said goodbye to Kalamata and got the bus to Athens where we are spending a couple of nights before flying home to Bristol.

The link to our map seems to be stopping people leaving comments on the blog, so I've removed it from these posts for now. I will be keeping it up to date so simply go to one of the special map only posts and click the link there to see it

Piles of Old Stones

01 November 2017 | Kalamata - 6,606 NM
Cooler and Changeable
Every Saturday is market day in Kalamata and it's huge. We spent most of a morning exploring the produce and buying our food for the week. We love markets!

Later in the day we drove off in the opposite direction to our last outing, without much of a plan. We eventually found ourselves in Kardamyli which isn't far away but the coast road was very narrow and windy and so it took ages. We hadn't done any research but it looked very pretty. We parked next to a sign to the ancient town - always a good start. The path led us to a renovated Mani Tower and defensive settlement of which, we would later discover, there are hundreds dotted all over the peninsula. The Maniots (from where the word maniac comes) are supposedly descended from the defeated Spartans and each family built their own defensive tower as they continually fought each other. They also each had their own church as they couldn't possibly worship with anyone else! It was our first and very interesting as we followed the cobbled streets through the old town to the very pretty little harbour.

The next day we drove through more narrow windy lanes over beautiful hills covered with olive trees providing the famous Kalamata olives and oil. We were heading for Ancient Messini - more piles of old stones! This site was much less crowded than some others which made it much more pleasant and was just as amazing. It goes back to the Myceans (1500-1800BC) but was later taken over by the Romans which is most of what you see. It's a huge area including the usual theatre, temples, markets, baths and a few villas with mosaics, but the most impressive has to be the stadium and gymnasium surrounded by pillars and seats with a stunning backdrop. While driving to the site we drove through the very imposing old city walls which were quite a way from what's left of the city showing how big it must once have been. We finished off with lunch in a restaurant overlooking the site so that we could continue to ponder what it must've been like.

Then followed a couple of stormy days and so we stayed local and explored the shops and the archeological museum. We don't do many museums as we find they make really interesting things seem very dry and boring but this one was quite small and really showed the amazing history of Messenia. It really is the place of legends with the Spartans, Jason and the Argonauts, Paris and Helen of Troy as well as other references from Homers Iliad. There were clearly lots more piles of stones to see!

The next pile was the Palace of Nestor which dates back to1800 BC. Again, the palace is in a spectacular position but there isn't a lot left other than foundations as it burn't down in 1200 BC but the fire did preserve some interesting things including lots of jars for storing oils etc and a detailed archive of life in the palace. Scribes we're employed to record daily life on clay tablets using an Ancient Greek language and, of course, the fire baked them saving them for the future, and leaving an amazing insight into life 4000 years ago. There is also a tomb near the site and we stopped to see others near by - there are lots dotted around!

Our next trip took us on a spectacular, if very windy, drive over the Taygetos mountains, which form the back drop to Kalamata, to Sparta. Sparta is now a modern city but a little remains of the ancient city which we had to explore before heading to Mystras, a ruined Byzantine city which was occupied into the 1700s. The city is spread over the steep side of a mountain topped by a castle and the ruins of lots of houses and cobbled paths leading up to it. These ruins were hard work but definitely worth it.

Phew! There's so much to see! Not so many piles of stones the next day but we did stop at another tomb on the way to some very pretty waterfalls at Polylimnio which tumbled down a gorge through autumnal trees into deep turquoise pools. There was a bit of rock climbing and clambering involved as well as a steep walk but very enjoyable.

The link to our map seems to be stopping people leaving comments on the blog, so I've removed it from these posts for now. I will be keeping it up to date so simply go to one of the special map only posts and click the link there to see it

A “quacking” end to the season

24 October 2017 | Kalamata - 6,606 NM
Sunny and Hot
Kalamata is a very pleasant city. It's bigger than anywhere else we've been to so far in Greece and is a proper working university city and not built around tourism. There are some nice shops, very smart bars and the supermarket has the same variety of products we'd expect at home. Couldn't believe we could be so excited in a supermarket!

We've started putting Freya to bed and cycled along the coast road which is lined with bars and restaurants and we've been into the centre which is quite modern and has a nice feel. Trains no longer run here but they've turned the old station into a really nice park and left the old trains sitting on their tracks. We found a hairdressers which was a relief and also happened to pass an upholsterer and popped in as we would love to have the cushions in the salon covered. Paul's Greek came in very handy as the shop owner spoke no English but he was very helpful and came to the boat to have a look. The next morning we went back to his shop to look at material. Paul's Greek was really tested when he had to explain that the material needed to be treated for damp but it was all sorted and we were amazed when his quote was only €400 - deal done!

Our berth is next to the marinaros hut and so can be quite interesting as we get to monitor the comings and goings in the marina as well as join in their banter. They had been out scrumping chestnuts one day and had filled a large crate. We were asked if wanted a few, and in true Greek style "a few" meant a large carrier bag full and lots of conflicting advice on how best to cook them.

We were a little concerned as there are 2 ducks kept in a shopping trolley with a lid opposite the boat. Our first thought was that they were for the pot - this is Greece after all! But we couldn't have been more wrong - the ducks living in the marina had laid eggs on the end of our pontoon, which duly hatched and then became of great interest to the local cats. So the marineros put them in protective custody. The parents visit regularly and its all very entertaining as well as noisy. They're getting quite big now and so we're hoping they will be released before we leave.

Not so entertaining was our night visitor - We were asleep in the middle of the night when Paul heard a loud thud. A cat had been exploring the boat and tried to walk across the mossy net on the open hatch. He'd fallen through - hence the thud - but was then franticly trying to get out. By the time Paul got up to investigate it was jumping around the walls, terrified, with everything on shelves flying everywhere. It tried to climb up Paul, presumably as a means of escape, leaving scratches all over his legs and arms. Paul eventually caught the intruder in a towel and it was unceremoniously removed!

The next day we cycled along the coast in the other direction discovering that in 5 minutes we were out of town and cycling along a nice beach to a village with a taverna - a thought for another day. We've also been exploring the old town of Kalamata. There isn't much left as there was an earthquake in 1986 which destroyed a lot of it but it was interesting and has a very different feel to the modern part. The castle has suffered a very turbulent history as well as damage from the earthquakes but has now been turned into a park and was a pleasant wander.

We've hired a car so that we can explore further afield but our first adventure was into the depths of Kalamata as we tried to find an o-ring to fit our water filler cap. We had vague directions and after driving up and down very narrow one-way streets we found ourselves in a bustling, busy street with lots of hardware shops where, clearly, tourists rarely visited. Each shop helpfully directed us to another until we eventually found what we were looking for - we bought 4 just in case!

In the afternoon we drove back along the coast to Koroni. We'd passed it in the boat but hadn't stopped. It was really pretty and hasn't been affected by the earthquakes leaving lovely old winding streets as well as the usual waterfront lined with tavernas. As seems to be the norm in this part of Greece, there was also a huge spectacular castle. This was our first taste of the Peloponnese - narrow, windy roads where everywhere takes much longer to get to than the map suggests!

The link to our map seems to be stopping people leaving comments on the blog, so I've removed it from these posts for now. I will be keeping it up to date so simply go to one of the special map only posts and click the link there to see it
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