Thursday 15 June and waking up to a very peaceful world, bobbing in the clear and light blue waters of the Ionian Sea. It is an almost therapeutic effect looking out over the waters while sipping a coffee, hot honey water, or a hot honey or lemon drink. After we all had our breaky this morning there was more snorkeling and beachcombing for Jon on the agenda.
Thanks to Vanessa and Corrine's long-term vision and their visit to the bakery in Vathi, we had a scrumptious morning tea of sweet Greek pastry delights.
Jon, an accomplished painter in his own right, also had started to do his water color sketches/paintings. It was actually very exciting to see him at work, to see how these little gems flowed out of his brush with such ease. He encouraged Francis, who had a go at wasting some good paper and paint. If we buy that large retirement house for us all in Greece he hopes to continue his water color education under Jon's tutelage.
After all this indulgence we head off to the island of Kefallonia, the second-biggest of the Ionian Islands after Korfu. Kefallonia is separated from Ithaka by the 3 km wide Straight of Ithaka, so just around the corner from where we were. On the East side of Kefallonia (protected from prevailing NW winds) lies the bay of Antisamos where we anchored for the rest of the day and night. Luckily Wayde is recovering from what most likely was not a light heatstroke but an influenza infection, thanks to the very good care of Corrine, the Clio Nightingale. Our proof for his recovery is that he managed to winch in the genoa (big fore-sail) in an absolute record time, leaving the 'professional' crew for dead. We know that was the flu as it has now found another unwilling host: skipper Francis.
Anyway, we all took the rest of the day off, meaning reading, sleeping, creating water painting gems, swimming etc.. While swimming we met our Irish neighbors and had a nice chat while sitting in the water on our noodles.
The days here stretch until nine at night, so dinner is often around 8:30, and after a big feed of Chris' fried rice for dinner, skipper and crew were ready for a good night's sleep in a relatively safe anchorage.
Friday 16 June: More swimming this morning, even before breakfast. We want to do some more land exploring, and we also needed to organize the Crew's transport for the crew to get back to Athens on Tuesday, so we move into the little town of Sami, just around the corner. Once we had Clio secured to the quay Chris and the crew set out to find a car rental and tour office. First the seven seater car was booked for tomorrow and then Chris found the tour office. On telling the agent that we had four people needing to get back to Athens, she advised that it was possible to buy a bus ticket from the island to Athens. So on Tuesday morning the crew will get on the bus here in Sami drive to Porou a southern port on the island and then crew and bus will get on the ferry to Kyllini on the mainland, get off the ferry and back onto their bus to drive directly to Athens, too easy.
The rest of the day was spent doing whatever anybody wanted to do and we dinned out in one of the many Greek tavernas along the harbor's waterfront. The meal was again very enjoyable as the 'share everything' allowed us to sample many different dishes.
All great plans of mice and men, we were meant to pick up our car this morning, Saturday 17 June, for the island excursion. When we went to do the paperwork we were advised that because we did not have an international license we would not be covered by their insurance. In all of our travels over the years in Europe and Greece we have never been asked for an international license before. After last year's idiotic rule that one of the rental companies in Sami came up with (hire for a calendar day, not 24 hours), this one starts to establish a bit of a pattern of silly rental conditions in this place. So we thank them for suddenly coming up with another rule and left their good company.
We tried a couple of others, but none had a car big enough for our party. Eventually, the Avis (ay, already expensive) was able to supply a car for really big money. After a powwow with the Crew and some serious head scratching, we agreed to give in and organized a vehicle for Sunday with full cover, so crisis averted. It was the most expensive car we're ever likely to rent and only by sharing it amongst six people was it just bearable. It did make the average daily budget for all of us blow out quite considerably. Anyway, eyes closed and think of Oz.
The wind has picked up today and is expected to blow for the next 24 hours so we will be keeping Clio safely tucked in the harbour until Tuesday.
While the rest of the crew settled in for sundowners, at 5.00 p.m. Chris and Vanessa decided to walk up the hill to the acropolis of ancient Sami. According to Europe (that is her name) the car rental agent, it is only 5km. Two hours later the girls were still trudging up and up 'the long and winding road' when two Italian women stopped in their car to ask the way to the Acropolis. They pointed straight ahead and said we hope it is up there, they then watched longingly as the car drove away, so on they trudged.
At last they reached the acropolis only again to encounter the Italians. After wandering through the ruins and taking photos, Chris offered to take a photo of the Italians together and took the opportunity to ask (beg) them for a ride back down. With their limited English and Chris's non Italian language skills they managed to reach agreement to give them a ride but only after all four drove further up the hill to visit an ancient Byzantine monastery. This was such a treat for Chris and Vanessa as they would never have made it up this far and they would have missed out on seeing this amazing spectacle, not to mention the stunning views.
At 8.00p.m. Chris and Vanessa were safely and very gratefully returned to Clio by the lovely Italian pair from Pizza, just in time for a feast of spaghetti bolognaise prepared by Wayde, thanks heaps. Soon after dinner Chris was fading fast and retired for the night, while the rest of the crew shared Pink Floyd music and conversation with our English neighbours John and Carol who hail from near Bath in southern England.
Earlier in the afternoon all of the yachties moored on the wall were treated to the usual entertainment of anchor knitting when a catamaran decided to go out in 25+ knot winds and choppy sea. As they bought up their anchor they caught the neighbor's stern anchor and displaced it. So they had to release their dinghy and take the anchor line out and reposition it. In the meantime the cat had managed to catch another line from the other side of the harbour and displace that one as well. The chap in the dinghy had had enough by now and threw his arms in the air and said nothing I can do and proceeded to follow the cat out into the choppy sea. Result a very unhappy Belgian who had to now release his mooring lines and re-anchor in windy conditions. Never a dull moment.
Sunday 18 June and we managed to get our 7-seater car this morning for the exorbitant price of €215.00 ($320) for the day. Alternatively, we would have had to hire two taxis for the day, which would be at least as expensive. Anyway, we picked up the car and were off to see the delights of Kefallonia. First stop the Melissani lake. Chris and Francis had already visited it last year with Chris' sister Rhonda. This time we arrived around 11 in the morning and the busses hadn't arrived yet. That meant that the Crew did not have to wait for half an hour in a long queue but could slip straight into one of the rowboats that transport people around the underground lake. After the underground sightseeing we had some coffee and did some souvenir shopping.
We then drove north through Efimia and up the mountain to the very serene site of the Monastery Panagias where all had a sticky-beak. Unfortunately the monastery was closed so all we could do is scout its perimeter.
More winding mountain roads and spectacular views as we made our way to our lunch stop at Fiskardo. Chris and Francis took the crew back to the Panormos
Restaurant that they had already tried with the previous crew. Everyone was suitably impressed with the very creative and delicious menu of this delightful restaurant perched on top of the water overlooking the entrance to the bay. Wade organized a photo session with his top-model Corrine on a lounge chair with the beautiful Bay as a backdrop. Unfortunately, I just missed the very gracious pouting performance of our beloved model.
It was then time to walk off the excess calories with a visit next door to the roman cemetery. After Francis who has also caught the flu bug, retreated back to the car for a sleep in air-conditioned luxury, Jon found himself a cool shady spot to sit and contemplate the world and people watch while Chris and Vanessa, Corrine and the now recovered Wayde strolled out to the point to see the ancient Venetian lighthouse and the Byzantine church ruins.
Back in the car we headed down the west coast and made the steep drive down the mountain to the sandy Mirtos beach with awesome milky blue water. Due to the high winds of the last couple of days, the surf was up and none was willing to risk venturing into the serious breakers dumping on the shore. Chris attempted a foot-paddle to check the temperature of the water and was soaked by a rogue wave. Vanessa who was busy photographing Chris did not notice that she too was within range and her shoes and trousers were also dunked.
After a fabulous day it was time to return to Clio for a light meal and more sleeping.
Monday 19 June and this morning we said farewell to John and Carol, our English neighbours, as they head north. But not before we exchanged emails and they invited us to visit them if we are ever near Bath. We may take them up on their offer!
A quiet day today as the crew do their last bit of shopping and prepare for their departure tomorrow morning. Over the past few days Jon has been perfecting his Greek salad making skills and today passed the skipper's very high standard of creating the famous 'Clio Greek Salad' for which he was awarded the Certificate of Achievement. As if that is not enough, he also created a very nice quiche (for which he still owes the Clio Cookbook a recipe). Skipper has been restricted to his cabin for rest and rehabilitation from the flu bug. That night we enjoyed our final dinner with this great crew.
Its Tuesday 20 June and this morning we waved goodbye to our second Crew as they make their way to Athens and then on to more adventures in Scotland before heading home. We'll miss their great company and their ever-present help as we'll now have to carry the heavy load of our endeavors here in Greece on our own. Thanks guys for being such a model Crew, we couldn't have asked for a more enjoyable time.
Where is Clio during the 2017 season: click to open web page.