16, 2011 – Amorgos, Greece
The month of
June brought us to Greece and the sixth continent (and final) continent that we will be touring. We’ll
leave Antarctica until the next trip J We were
so excited to go our first Greek island, Akronisi, we had all of the kids on deck to help anchor. But what
we didn’t know is that Akronisi is an Army base so we were welcomed to Greece by a soldier with a bullhorn yelling,
“Go Away!!!”, “Boat, go away,” several times over and over. Oh well, so we picked
up the hook and went on to the next spot.
checked in to Greece at the island of Samos and prepared Imagine for a visit from Philippe and Michele (Marc’s brother
and wife). When we left Chicago, they said that they would visit us in Greece and it was hard to believe
that almost three years later, we were here. With all of the dust and grime of being “on the hard”
Imagine needed a massive spring cleaning and we all pitched in to make it happen. Before Philippe and Michele
visited we had fun hanging out with our friends from Texas, Bill and Judy on the boat Bebe where we celebrated Bill’s
had a wonderful time touring Greece’s Dodecanese islands with Philippe and Michele. The clear, turquoise
water was the perfect playground for all of us, as the kids initiated their aunt and uncle to the swing off of the whisker
pole, snorkeling off of Imagine, and even catching a fish. With jobs and three small kids at home, our
goal for them was utter relaxation and I think that it was accomplished as Philippe stayed off his email and Michele finished
a book or two.
As with all of our guests from the USA, they came bearing lots and lots of stuff; school books, fun books, Spree candy,
boat parts, and even a big combined BDay/Christmas gift for the family....a wii. As Caroline exclaimed
when she saw the box, “We’re not weird anymore”. OK, maybe still a little weird but this
gift definitely put the kids back in the “real world” and they are having a blast with it…..Dad, even likes
it. Thanks Aunt Michele and Uncle Philippe!!!!
Although, we played and relaxed with our guests, we didn’t let Imagine get any growth on the hull, as
we visited seven islands in the eight days that they were with us. Some of the highlights were; seeing
the cave where St. John wrote the Book of Revelations on Patmos, cliff diving and exploring the lagoon on Makronisi, anchoring
beside a picture perfect blue domed church on Lipso, dining out Greek style in Kalimnos, and hanging out on the beach in Kos
(even if there were a few too many topless sunbathers – those wild Europeans). Even though we saw
some beautiful sites, the most fun that we had was just hanging out and enjoying our time together as a family.
Although it was
sad and difficult to say goodbye to Philippe and Michele, it wasn’t quite as hard this time, as we know that we are
getting closer to home and we may even get to see them in Caribbean. But the kids have made it very clear
that the next time that they visit they want to see their three little cousins also. We decided that instead
of spending the day, moping around and being sad, we picked up the anchor and motor-sailed the 40 miles to Amorgos.
It’s time to start heading west.
June 22, 2011 –
Although not long ocean passages, we
have put on some miles in the last week and we are now in Athens. Although we didn’t spend a lot
of time in the Cycladic islands of Greece, we were there long enough to enjoy ourselves. We were thoroughly
impressed with the dazzling white, 11th century, Byzantine monastery embedded in a cliff face with incredible views
of the Med. As you stand at the base of the stairs leading up the sheer cliff face, where only donkeys
can deliver the goods for the monks, it is hard to imagine how they built this peaceful structure a thousand years ago.
On a different note we
enjoyed the beach and beautiful water of Kythnos with our friends Bebe, who were with their son and 11 yr old grandson.
Although, we had to wait for the many, many Athens day trippers to leave, we were finally rewarded with a nice, beautiful
place to spend Marc’s Father’s Day.
From there it was on to Athens. Although we had heard very mixed reviews on Athens, we decided
that we couldn’t miss seeing the Parthenon if we were this close. So we came into Zea Marina
in Pireaus and at $75 per night (for a med moor, not even a finger dock) we had our first taste of expensive European marinas.
But we were a train ride away from all of the sites and a short walk from a large Carrefour supermarket so we bit the
it turned out, maybe we should’ve skipped Athens because on our first ride on the train, Marc realized he was pick-pocketed.
What an absolute bummer!!!!! We all know how horrible it is to have something like that happen in
the US but imagine being across the world and losing your CC, ATM, and Driver’s License, not to mention the Euros that
we had just exchanged at the bank. It was so extremely frustrating and maddening. After
being on guard for so long in some high crime areas, such as, SE Asia, Egypt, Middle East, and even Panama, it was so depressing
that we were robbed in Europe. The only good news is that the CC companies and bank have been great to
deal with and Citi is express shipping a new CC to us in another town in Greece at no charge.
But I have to say that we all rallied
well and we didn’t let a couple of petty thieves ruin our trip to Athens. As soon as Marc made all
of his phone calls and emails to financial institutions, we were back on the train and on our way to the Acropolis.
Although the structure of the Parthenon and Erechtheion are quite impressive and truly amazing, the restoration construction,
roped off areas, security guards, and do not enter signs definitely take away from the whole experience. Let’s
face it, it’s a little hard to picture yourself in ancient times when a security guard is blowing his whistle and yelling
at an elderly tourist, who has ventured behind the ropes for a photo. I was just glad that it wasn’t
my children getting in trouble. After being able to literally climb and explore the many ruins in Turkey,
it was a little disheartening.
Although very sad to admit, I feel that our best experience in Athens was grocery shopping at a first rate, inexpensive
grocery store – Carrefour. We bought all of life’s delicacies like thinly sliced turkey, bacon,
ice cream bars, frozen pizzas, and tortellini. Isn’t it amazing what excites us, now.
Oh, and I can’t forget that we stocked up on $2 wine liters…..long gone are the days of expensive wines.
From here we head through the
Corinth Canal and on to the Ionian Sea with hopes to catch up with our friends, Martin on Anima and the kid boat Mehari from
30, 2011 – Levkas, Greece
We thought that we were robbed in Athens, but the real fleecing occurred in the Corinth Canal. Although
beautiful, the tiny – 3.2 mile – canal cost us $367 for a half hour ride. I guess that we are
helping to bail out the Greek economy. The canal separates mainland Greece and the Peloponnese and provides
a link between the Aegean and Ionian Sea. For us, it cut approximately 200 miles of beating into
the wind, out of our trip across the Med. Cut through the rock, the canal is only 76 feet wide and the
steep cliff face walls are almost 300 feet above the water. At $115 per mile, this was by far the most
expensive canal that we have used; at least, it may have also been the most beautiful.
But, I can say that we haven’t been through a canal that has had a
longer history. The concept of a canal through the Corinth Isthmus was first proposed at the end of the
7th century BC, but the scope of cutting through the solid rock was too daunting. Instead a
paved road was built across the isthmus where sailors would use rollers to transport their ships. This
mode of transportation was used until the 13th century. Over the thousands of years, many leaders,
including Alexander the Great, toyed with the idea of a canal but it wasn’t until 1893 that a French engineering team
accomplished the goal.
Even though we were to the point of being ruined on ruins, we decided to hit one more ancient Greek sight along our
way – the Ancient City of Delphi. Before leaving Imagine, I literally had to promise the kids that
this would be our last ancient ruin in Greece and to be honest, Marc and I have had our fill as well. But
once considered the center of the world, this picturesque ancient city was a real treat and we were glad that we decided take
in one last ruin. Built on the slopes of a mountain, looking over the valley of Cyprus and olive
trees the city was peaceful and lovely. With a large amphitheater, Panhellenic stadium, and many temples,
the ruins were somewhat intact and impressive. The modern village of Delphi was also quaint and pretty,
with a main street lined with Greek restaurants overlooking the valley below. Unfortunately, with very
few Euros left after the pick pocketing and canal fees and only an AMEX (which isn’t readily accepted in Greece), we
opted to take the early bus back to Imagine.
The day after leaving Delphi, we caught up with the kid boat, Mehari from Arizona, which has 6 kids on board - Wow.
We first met Eric, Rachel, Maggie (16), Levi (15), Emma (10), Lily (6), Zoe (4), and Miles (11 mo) in Israel.
It sounds crazy to have that many kids on a boat but when you meet them you quickly realize that they are a very calm,
relaxed, and fun family. Since Israel, we have been on different paths and we were all excited to reunite.
For the last week, we have been traveling together stopping at beautiful little anchorages in the Ionian BBQ ing on
the beach, swimming, snorkeling, playing, and socializing. It’s been good for the kids, and for the
parents, to have some friends to enjoy.
We have been moving pretty quickly lately, because we were eager to catch up with our good friend Martin, on Anima
III. We first met Martin, in the Galapagos, in April 2009 and have cruised together on and off since
then, especially through SE Asia, the Indian Ocean, and the Red Sea. We haven’t seen Martin since
Egypt as he didn’t go to Turkey. As a teacher from Austria, Martin is great with the kids and a good
friend of both Marc and mine. We were thrilled to have him meet us at the dock in Levkas and to help him
celebrate the completion of his circumnavigation. Congrats to Martin!!!