A Ramble Through Greece
17 August 2009 | Vathi on the Island of Ithaca
My thoughts and observations on Greece, so far:
The women are drop-dead gorgeous and the men are too.
The hill sides are covered in maquis, evergreens and of course even more olive trees. Apparently you can't build a new home on a lot that has even one olive tree, because that is considered agricultural land..In the villages, the bright colours of flowers are everywhere.
There are lots of small vegetable gardens but the selection of veggies in the markets is slim. Fruit, on the other hand, is abundant in the markets with grapes, three or four different varieties of peaches, plums, apples, oranges, limes, bananas and a variety of other unnamed ones that I call surprise fruits.
There are very few seagulls or other sea birds (I've seen about 15 in two weeks) but there are lots of butterflies. Our first Grecian visitor prior to our arrival in Paxos was a beautiful largish yellow butterfly.
Some of the infrastructure in the country leaves us wondering at times. For example I had ordered a new set of brushes for our windlass motor and were told they would be here "tomorrow". There were about five "sorry, tomorrows" before they arrived. Tony, a friend of Horatio's, says that the Greek word for tomorrow, "avrio", really just means "not today". On day two, I asked Horatio if we could get a waybill number and put a trace on the shipment. Horatio got a bemused look on his face and said "It doesn't work like that here" in his Irish brogue. He said, it will come when it comes. When it does come, we have to jump quick because all the shipments are put on top of a pile of all the other shipments. If you do not get there right away there is a good chance you will never find it, even though you know (?) it is there somewhere. Eventually we did get our brushes and now our windlass is working like a charm again (knock on wood). Too bad the fridge stopped working yesterday. We had decided to live without it until we get to Athens, where there is a Grunert dealer, because we did not want to have to put up with any more "sorry tomorrows" for a while. But after realizing that ice doesn't last very long in this heat, I called Grunert in Florida and managed to put in a temporary fix. Bonnie is very happy.
There are lots of cruisers here, though many may be just taking their two or three weeks of holidays. At the moment, the Italian contingent even outnumbers the Greeks, followed by the Brits, French and Dutch. After that it's Swedes, Germans and Belgians and a light smattering of Norwegians, Swiss, Spanish, Canadians and Americans.Bonnie and I used to secretly cringe when we would hear one nationality putting down another, but I have learned that we probably all have our little idiosyncracies and some cultures are more vocal than others about them. We have noticed more than a few "International Incidents". I have also noticed that those Italians sure like to anchor up close and personal, and don't even get me started on the topic of scope.
After we finally left the dock in Vlicho we headed to the southern tip of Lefkada to a small town called Syvota. Syvota, I was told by an Icelandic girl who was working there, has a population of 17 in the winter but when we were there it was packed (maybe 5000) with holiday makers and two charter fleets med-moored to the wall around the harbour. I was a little apprehensive about this spot but we had been told by some other Canadians who live here that this is their favourite spot in the Ionian, so we had to go. My apprehension was based on the fact that the anchoring room was very limited because of the depths. About 500 feet from the end of the harbour the depths are about 200' and deeper. When we arrived there were three other boats at anchor and I saw there was room for one more, us. I thought probably another three or four could squeeze in if they were brave.... Well by sundown there were 34 boats at anchor and we were packed like sardines in a can that's too small. This is in an area that is like the west end of Rogues Roost at home. A classic example was an Italian 55' power boat that came in between two boats about 50 feet apart and dropped his anchor. There was lots of yelling in the morning, as collisions were taking place in the windless space, especially from the Greek whose boat was hit by the Italian power boat. The Italian gave as good as he got and he got a lot! None of them moved.
It's a treat to watch these big ferries (350' long) come into a small tight harbour and the Captains swing the boat around and then med moor stern-to without bow thrusters, like they do it every day, which I guess they do.. They use their anchors in ways I would not initially have thought of but that make perfect sense. The anchor is used as a brake, a pivot and to pull them out of a tight space. It is beautiful to watch.
How would I characterize Greece? It is a beautiful locale, with tall mountains on the many small islands sprinkled on the deep blue sea. The skies are almost always clear and in July and August the temps run in the 30's C. I think this is a place where life can be very simple and joyful. You can have a small house near the sea or way up on the mountain where you can see for miles, a little garden and a small boat for fishing. It is a sailor's paradise. You will probably live a long time eating their Mediterranean diet, as long as you do not smoke. Most of the locals do smoke. Though there are now laws about where you can smoke, no one follows them. Everyone is very friendly and polite. The streets ring in the morning with the sound of Kalimera (Good Morning) as you walk on by.
I like it here.