Greek Mainland - Thessaloniki 2 - Halkidiki Peninsula
05 October 2022
Having done the major sights of Thessaloniki, the plan was that we would move on and explore the Halkidiki Peninsula by boat before starting to slowly make our way back to Leros where Stiletto would be lifted and stored on the hard for the winter and we return to our bijoux apartment in Gosport. We would be stopping off at a few islands on the way. We had worked out that we had 50 days in which to get back to Leros.
So before we left, we did a supermarket run, filled the water tank and our 18 x 10 litre containers and arranged for the diesel tanker to come to Stiletto and top up the fuel tank and our 4 x 10 litre fuel containers. I had cleaned above and below decks, we gave Dubsy the Dinghy a once over and stored it on deck - all ready to leave the next morning.
The best laid plans........... can, and did, go pear shaped and were cancelled later that evening ! The wind completely changed direction and was now coming from the South and would continue to do for a while yet. Absolutely of no use to us at all. We would have been very exposed at anchor around the peninsula if the wind blew up.
So Andreas went to the office the next morning, explained that we were not leaving and Despina, the lovely receptionist, called a car rental company and we got a real good deal for 5 days and a Fiat Panda was delivered to us next morning.
We remained a further 7 days and did the Halkidiki Peninsula by car as well as loads of other sights over the 5 days that we had it. We really packed it in, visited some stunning places, some steeped in history, others created by Mother Nature that left us breathless, and Andreas took grillions of photos to share with you all but at the end of the 5 days I have to confess that we were left absolutely knackered! Being a tourist is bloomin' hard work !!!
There are 3 fingers to the Halkidiki Peninsula. From west to east are Kassandra, Sithonia and Athos. The beaches - many of which are considered to be the best in Greece - are pristine with crystal clear water and many tucked away bays with hills and mountains as a backdrop. It is very lush with huge forests of tightly packed trees. It is a stunning cruising ground and beautiful from both land and sea.
We visited both Kassandra and Sithonia, however, the third finger - Mount Athos, commonly known as the Holy Mountain - is the spiritual capital of the Orthodox Christian world, consisting of 20 monasteries and approximately 700 houses, cells or hermitages and 2,000 monks.
It is not open to everyone - only men are allowed - and any visitors should contact the Holy Executive of the Holy Mount Athos Pilgrims' Bureau Office (phew!) to obtain a written permit before they plan to visit.
Women are forbidden to enter by any means or stay anywhere near the monastic state. This prohibition is a punishable offence (although I haven't been able to ascertain exactly what the punishment is) because Mount Athos is dedicated to the one woman whom all the monks honour and pray to; the Blessed Mary.
The next few posts will be many photos of the sites that we visited whilst here and in actual fact, our 2 week stay has changed our thinking for our future sailing around the Med. It's not just about dropping the anchor, swimming off the back of the boat, eating in a local taverna and just skimming the local "must do's" and then moving on. Next season we are going to be much more circumspect about where we go and how long we will stay - according to what there is to see.
Some places will be just a 'one night visit', there is nothing wrong with that, but others may be longer and hiring a car for a day or two has the added advantage that we can also do a supermarket run and really max it out.
Muse for this post : The best-laid plans of mice and men often go awry !