This blog post records our last week in Greece, as our 90 day limit for the EU and Schengen zone has almost finished. It is a pity that as Australians we cannot spend more than 90 days in the EU. As we have spent almost 90 days in Greece, this precludes us from visiting any other EU countries. So, from Greece it will be back to Turkiye.
Our last week in Greece started in Kos marina. We booked ourselves into the marina as the wind was predicted to blow above 30 knots. This gave us the opportunity to get washing done, clean the boat and reprovision. Marinas are often noisy places, especially when it is windy with the sound of clanging ropes and the wind whistling through the rigging.
After two days the wind had settled, so we left the marina, topped up with diesel and headed off to the island of Nisiros. The wind looked favourable for sailing as we left but turned out to be fairly light and variable. We ended up motoring, sailing a bit then motoring again. It was quite a relaxed and leisurely trip with a dolphin who joined us for a while on the way. After arriving at the Nisiros harbour about midday we found the harbour was full of yachts from a rally that was running in the area. It looked a bit like they may leave soon so we anchored just outside the harbour to wait for a while. After having lunch there was still no sign of movement so we decided as there was no other safe overnight stop on this island we would head off to Tilos, about 2 hours travel away. For this trip we did have a good breeze of 12 to 15 knots and the seas were quite flat so it was a good sail all the way. We were averaging 8 and at times over 8.5 knots which is a good speed for a cruising yacht.
The small harbour at Tilos was also full and there were a lot of yachts anchored in the bay. We suspect this was due to yachts escaping the fires on Rhodes as well as people like us who could not get into Nisiros. The was still plenty of room to anchor in the bay and after our second attempt at getting the anchor through the thick weed there it was time for a swim and a beer! We did watch a couple on a charter boat nearby make at least 8 attempts at anchoring before they managed to get it to work. One suspects they may have been getting a little stressed out? It was very tempting to go and give them some basic anchoring technique lessons!
Our dinner was chops on the charcoal bbq and a salad. While cooking, there was a dolphin cruising back and forward about 50 meters away, not something you see very often! Had our last swim at 10:00pm, the air temperature was still 32 degrees, water temperature 25 degrees. A bit more travel than planned and we didn't get to go to Georges restaurant at Nisiros but not a bad day.....
From Tilos we headed to the sheltered bay of Panormitis, at the bottom end of Symi, as again the wind was predicted to blow above 30 knots. Panormitis is almost a totally enclosed bay with only a narrow entrance, so it provides excellent protection from the meltimi wind. Panormitis is also home to a monastery and a few tavernas, although we did not eat ashore. The monastery has a spectacular bell tower which chimes the time every half hour. It also chimes to welcome the tour boats and ferries from Rhodes that unload hundreds of visitors to the monastery, thankfully who only stay an hour before heading to their next destination. Once the tour boats go the monastery and bay becomes quiet, with only a few yachts. There are 5 or 6 resident turtles in the bay which regularly surface around SCII, truly delightful.
As is typical in the Aegean, the weather often goes from strong winds to no wind and the forecast is for a week of almost no wind. So we motor up the east side of Symi to the bay of Marathouda. This bay is very small, with only room for 3 or 4 boats. The water here is crystal clear and refreshingly cool, as fresh water springs flow into the bay. At the head of the bay is a rocky beach and a taverna that opens for lunch and provides beach chairs for tourists. We call this 'goat bay' as there are numerous goats that roam the beach. Here the taverna has a fence around it to keep the goats out. Goats have been known to put their heads over the fence to try to steal food from unsuspecting diners.
Our final destination in Greece is Symi harbour, where we go through the process of checking out of Greece. Symi also provides an opportunity to stock up on foods and drink that we cannot purchase in Turkiye. So our freezer is full of pork products, such as souvlaki, bacon, ham and salami. We have also stocked up on good coffee, which is difficult to find in Turkiye as well as wine and spirits, which are very expensive in Turkiye. In Greece we typically pay about $10A for a bottle of wine, while in Turkiye wine is usually over $20A.
While in Symi we ate at our favourite restaurant To Spitico (meaning home made). The lovely host Jordana welcomed us warmly when we arrived in the harbour, as she remembered us from previous visits. We had a delicious meal of grilled haloumi with Symi honey, rocket salad, dolmades and grilled octopus.
For our last night in Symi there was a big free concert in the town square. Everyone in the town was very excited as the artist was Helena Paparizou, who is a Greek superstar and won Eurovision in 2005. For the Eurovision fans out there, she was the first Greek to win with the song My number One - here is the link to her Eurovision performance
if you are interested . We have included a short grab of the concert in our video. It was a nice finish to our time in Greece.
This year in Greece we have visited 24 islands, including six that we have not visited before- Sifnos, Milos, Kimolos, Poliagros, Folegrandos and Naxos. There are still quite a few islands that we are yet to explore, but we have to leave some new destinations for next year. We entered and exited Greece at Symi, our western most point was Milos and northern most point was Samos. We have travelled approximately 850 nautical miles (about 1500km) in Greece. So our next blog post will be from Turkiye.
The weather has been consistently in the mid 30's, with overnight lows between 25-29 degrees. The water temperature is between 25-28 degrees.