18 July 2018 | Severn Beach - 7,283 NM
We were counting down to going home for a few weeks to escape the wind, the heat and the crowds of high summer. We had almost 2 weeks and just 14 miles to go to Leros, where Freya was going to stay.
Leaving wonderful Arkoi we motored the few miles to the next island, Lipsoi where we moored on the town quay. High winds were forecast again and so we wanted shelter. The yacht quay is on the inside of the breakwater and so is much quieter and less public than some. We were met by Manolis who charged us 3€ for catching our lines and then sold us a jar of preserved fish that looked more like a science experiment than dinner! Lipsoi is a small island with just the one village which is very pretty and dominated by the huge church. Our 6 night stay here seems to have been dominated by England World Cup matches in the local bar which had a great atmosphere - the locals supporting Colombia (because everybody else was supporting England) and siding with us when the Swedes arrived for the next match. Who would've thought 2 totally non football fans could get so engrossed! During the day we visited the beaches of Lipsoi either on foot or by mini bus. The beaches are all small but stunningly beautiful with trees giving shade and amazing turquoise sea. It was a very relaxing few days.
Our final stop was Leros. We had planned to have a few days in the marina before Freya was lifted but realised the wind was forecast to be gusting 38 knots on the day of our lift and so after talking to the boat yard it was brought forward from Saturday to Tuesday. We left Lipsoi expecting a final down wind sail but the wind dropped and disappeared leaving us motoring to a lovely bay on a small island opposite the boatyard which we had to ourselves for a lovely day of swimming and relaxing. In the evening we went over to the boatyard and picked up a buoy for the night ready for our lift in the morning. We had been told they started their lifting program at 8.00 in the morning and so to be ready with the radio on. We were but didn't really expect anything to happen at that time - this was Greece! But just before 8.00 we could see the travel lift moving and we were called over. It was very efficient and Freya was in her cradle by 9.30. Our experience in the office wasn't quite so positive! We'd heard rumours of financial difficulties and the credit card machine still wasn't 'working' - we hope we've made the right decision to stay there.......
The boatyard is very isolated on the north of the island and so we hired a car to explore but after 2 nights on the hard we'd had enough and abandoned ship for an apartment by the sea and nearer to life. We really don't like living up a ladder with no plumbing!
For such a little island Leros is really interesting with lots of history. It's also very built up compared to its neighbours making driving the narrow roads interesting. Panteli castle is stunning on the top of a hill dominating most of the island and giving amazing views. It was largely built by the crusaders about 1,000 years ago but also saw action in WWll. Leros was the sight of a major battle in the war when Germany took it from the Italians who had occupied the island in 1912. There are several shipwrecks which we hope to dive later in the year but also a network of tunnels built by the Italians and used by the locals for shelter during the battles and now a museum of that period.
Culture sorted we drove every passable road on the island (our hire car was brand new, unusual in Greece and making us wary of driving off-road) visiting the lovely old villages, ports and beaches.
The day before our flight we drove to Lakki to get the ferry to Kos. Despite all our care we had managed to scratch the car and paid the 50€ requested! The ferry journey was about 30 miles and beautiful giving us a different perspective of the small islands we passed. We arrived in Kos town at about 11.30 in the morning and wow, we were not prepared for tourism on that scale! It was so busy, with so many tripper boats and so many tavernas - a real shock to our system. We think we have to revisit our thoughts on islands we've described as touristy before! On saying that it's a very interesting town with Roman and Arabic ruins scattered about. We only had 1 afternoon and so we'll save that for later. In the morning we took the bus to the airport across the island which appears much quieter out of town and now we're back in Severn Beach......