Put to bed

The high winds continued right through the weekend and into last week so we had plenty of time to get all our jobs done and have a couple of days playing before the lift out. Monday afternoon we took a taxi across the peninsula to Palaia Fokaia, where friends of ours were anchored in the bay. Unfortunately, whilst we were sheltered on the beach, Kath and T weren’t able to leave their boat, Caladh, due to the winds so we had a lovely lunch and made our way back to Lavrion.

On the Tuesday, we took a ferry from Lavrion town to the island of Kea, the island we were making our way towards when we had our accident! We were very pleasantly surprised. The main port of Korissia was quite sweet with bars and restaurants along the front. We caught the bus up to the capital, Ioulida, which is in the middle of the island. It was similar to Lefkes on Paros with white houses and winding alleyways. From there we walked to the famous Archaic Lion made of slate from the 6th Century BC. A lovely walk and an impressive sculpture, even if it does look a bit like a Cheshire Cat! We had lunch in the lovely bay of Vourkari where all the rich Athenians sail to on a weekend. You can tell by the prices being charged in the boutique shops!

At least the lunch was a reasonable price!

Back to Lavrion and the last ferry at 1830 to prepare for being lifted out Wednesday morning. The morning was still a bit breezy with winds around 20 knots in the marina so we had one of the marina staff on hand in case we needed them. In the event, all went well and Nimmie behaved perfectly. Once lifted, she was moved to the back of the yard where she is safely ensconced until next Spring. Once again, she has looked after us superbly in all weathers. It was sad to fly back that evening, especially to a fairly wet U.K.!

Hauled out for the last time in 2019

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Home port in a storm

We didn’t manage to find a car for any sightseeing around South Evia although they did offer us a 50cc scooter but with the poor roads and high winds, we declined. However, we found a walking tour to the Demossari Gorge. This involved an hour’s coach journey along tracks and roads that were only just wide enough. God forbid anything coming the other way! We reached the start of the walk near the top of Mount Ochi and were almost blown off it by the strong NE winds. We then began our descent to the gorge. Despite being August and 35 degrees in the shade, the walk was beautifully shaded walking through trees.

Gorgeous walk through the gorge

The whole thing took about 4 hours as there were around 30 of us with varying levels of pace and included a couple of stops. The last one being at some rock pools where we had our sandwiches and bathed our feet in crystal clear, cold water.

Rock pools to eat our lunch by

We finished the walk at an old chapel and were then whisked away in a converted van. The van could take ten people so there was a shuttle service. The way we were crammed into the van would be completely illegal in the U.K. but at least it was only for 15 minutes. We then deposited near a beach at a Kantina to get a well deserved cold beer. The waves crashing on the beach were spectacular but meant that we couldn’t swim in the sea.

The sea was a bit rough that day!

Back in Karystos we treated ourselves to a meal out as we couldn’t be bothered to cook and found a busy taverna, Cavo d’Oro, down a side street. €15 each including wine – bargain.

The next day we were both a bit sore but decided the best thing was to walk it off. High above the town is a Frankish/Venetian castle called Castello Rosso that was built in the 13th century. It’s now a ruin but it does provide amazing views of the bay. We sensibly decided on a taxi there and to walk back as it was going to be another hot day and there would be no shade.

Castello Rosso

Near to the castle is the village of Myli, a verdant oasis amongst so much barren rock. The village has a river running through it that’s fed by mountain springs. Crystal clear and very drinkable.

The view across the bay

The following day was Friday and we knew we needed to get back to our home port of Lavrion (25nm away) before the stronger meltemi winds came through over the weekend. After leaving the relative shelter of the harbour, we were soon flying along with 30 knot winds behind us. We only needed a small amount of the genoa (front sail) out and we were still doing over 7 knots. The wind abated a little as we drew closer to Lavrion but it was still gusting over 20 knots in Olympic Marina. However, with help from the marineros we moored up safely. We then had to get as many of our ‘putting Nimmie to bed’ jobs that were wind dependent as possible as we knew the winds would be even stronger from Saturday morning through to Monday night. This included taking the genoa sail down just as the sun was setting and the wind had died. We could then do the other jobs over the weekend in our own time, although with the long jobs list we have, it’s been full on so far! Fingers crossed that we can be lifted out Tuesday or, worst case, Wednesday morning before flying back to the U.K. on Wednesday evening – another summer sailing at an end.

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Evia ‘n’ water

We were sad to see our friends depart a week ago today (Tuesday). We quickly did a food shop as we knew we needed to get off from Paros and make our way north towards our winter berth of Lavrion as we only had a small window due to the seemingly constant strong north winds. We broke the 80nm journey half way at Stefanou on Kythnos as we knew it was a safe anchorage. It was a hot, airless day and we had to motor the entire way so a swim once we were anchored was a wonderful way to end the day made more interesting by snorkelling around the boat wreck at the head of the bay.

The next day we set off early as we had another 40nm to do to get to the Petali Islands just off the southern end of Evia. We managed a mix of motoring and motor sailing (for a change) but we found that our water maker wasn’t working. We generally ensure we have at least 250L of water spare so we weren’t too worried but it was weird to suddenly think about where we could fill up. The membrane had become blocked so the only thing to do is to get a replacement – not something that can be sent out at short notice and we only had another two weeks on the boat. We arrived around 4pm and anchored in a bay called Vasiliko on Nisos Megalo, part of the Petali Islands. It was a beautiful bay with golden sands, rock arches, turquoise water, lots of different fish and goats on the hillside. A lovely way to spend the evening celebrating Liz’s birthday. It was so lovely we decided to stay for a couple of days. The Petali Islands were once the summer retreat for royals and celebrities and are now owned by Claude Picasso, son of Pablo Picasso.

Vasiliko Bay, Petali Islands

We wanted to explore more of the island of Evia so we continued north west with the northeasterly breeze helping us along. Evia is the second largest island in Greece (Crete being the largest) and is over 100 miles long and is accessible by road from the mainland at its central point, Chalkis, which is also its capital. Evia feels somewhat off the beaten track and visited mainly by Greeks. It’s also not on any yacht charter itinerary so the bays and town quays are quieter, even in August, which is always a bonus! Anyway, we sailed as far as we could before going into the small town of Panagia at the top of a very long bay. It took us an hour to get all the way up to the top of the bay as wind and waves were against us. We were experiencing 25 to 30 knot gusts and, of course, it was at the upper end just as we were taking the sails down! As we arrived, the wind abated a bit and we motored up onto the town quay. We only had to pay for water and electricity so we filled our tanks and washed the salt of Nimmie with gusto. Panagia is a lovely place with only 100 or so permanent residents but hundreds more pour in from the daily ferries.

The ferry quay was quite close in Panagia!

It had a good supermarket, a butcher whose shop was over the meat restaurant he supplied, a public beach, bars and restaurants. Perfect for a stay of a few days. It was Friday night by now and we found out that the bars didn’t close until two in the morning so earplugs were required to get a night’s sleep. We left Panagia at lunchtime on Sunday to continue 30nm northwards to the capital, Chalkis, as we wanted to hire a car to see the island properly. We only managed to sail for an hour or so when the wind died as the middle part of the Evia channel is well protected by the surrounding mountains.

The road bridge at Chalkis

We went under the new road bridge on the outskirts of Chalkis. It doesn’t seem to matter how high you know the bridge to be (36 metres in this case), you still worry you’ll hit it! We arrived around 6pm to find that the marina was full so we anchored off. The town itself is not pretty and the sea is very shallow with its own eddies and currents. It’s more like a swamp than a sea so it also had killer mosquitoes. Liz was bitten several times before we had even finished sorting the boat out after anchoring so we had kind of decided we didn’t like the place. We also weren’t comfortable leaving Nimmie at anchor for two days whilst we explored so we abandoned our plans and came back south the next day using the northerly winds to have a cracking sail back down. This time we went back to the Petali Islands but anchored in a different bay on Nisos Xero. Again, we had golden sands, turquoise water and even spotted some coral.

That brings us to today. We thought we would try and get into the other main town, Karystos, on the south of Evia and hire a car whilst we wait for a weather window to get back across to Lavrion. Another ‘lively’ sail with 30 knots of wind and building seas but once we entered the harbour all was much calmer. We just had 18 knots of cross wind to content with as we moored up. We will now stay here for a few days, tucked safely in against the strong winds forecast and try and find some transport to see this part of the island (all the cars have apparently been reserved although to be fair, there is only one car rental place in this very sleepy town!).

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Turquoise Seas and 🐢 Spotting! Guest Blog

So our trip to Greece and aboard Nimmie started well with the old crows greeting us as we stepped off the ferry in Paroikia.

As it seemed a tad breezy, it was decided that we should stay on Paros for a couple of days. A relax in the hammocks sipping a G n T followed by a beautiful sunset meal. A stroll along the seafront and a frogmarch to the ice cream parlour past the shops was the end to a perfect day!

Sunset in Paroikia

The next day was a lazy beach visit and a wander around the town at a more sedate rate which enabled some shopping to be done!!

As it was still blowing a hoolie we did a road trip across to Naoussa via the medieval capital Lefkes. Naoussa is such a pretty little resort!The fish restaurant Glafkos served up a lovely afternoon meal.

Naoussa

At this point Nimmie felt we had neglected her for far too long so off we went to Antiparos. Ben found the journey a little unsettling on her stomach🤢! The bay of St George was our destination. Completely gorgeous. Nimmie did us proud in getting there with Liz C taking the helm on the way.

We came across Windhover again (who were in Paroikia) with Bernie and Sean on board. Our time there enabled us to see more of Bernie than we had expectedl!!

Caves were visited 180 years after King Otto and Queen Amalia but on the way a turtle (named Timmy) popped up his head to say hello right by us in the anchorage. So absolutely stunning to see him! A first for us!

Baby Nimmie also wanted an outing so we went in search of a sea arch. Just at the entrance to the bay we went through the arch and beached Baby Nimmie for a swim.

The intrepid explorers return

Back on Nimmie, watching the coast line, we saw a herd of goats being corralled by a donkey up the hill to their feeding station!

Our trip nearing its end enabled us to see the most stunning turquoise sea we had seen with Ben helming us all the way.

This doesn’t even begin to do it justice

Up to this point we had given our hosts 4.7/5 on Trip Advisor. However, back in port at anchor the Moët was served! Defo a 5/5!!!

Thanks Jo and Liz for inviting us. It has been so lovely being back on Nimmie with you. We don’t want to go!!

Ben and Liz xx

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Just in the nick of time ….

We’ve spent the last week on the lovely island of Paros as northerly winds were forecast for the following ten days and we wanted to be here so friends could join us from the U.K. As you will have read in our last post, we could only stay in the harbour until Friday morning and then try to get back in on Sunday due to a charter fleet being based there. We used being on the quay wisely as it meant we had electricity and water so could get through the maintenance jobs, do laundry, pay the Greek Cruising tax and wash the boat as she was encrusted in salt. We also took the opportunity to hire a car and tour the island for a day. We went to the medieval capital of Lefkes with its narrow streets and lovely shops, to Naoussa in the north that had a feel of Mykonos about it and a variety of beaches with beach bars and amazing rock formations (Liz’s idea!). It really is a lovely island so there are worse places to be storm bound.

Lefkes

Naoussa town

Pretty fresh octopus!

Some ancient rock formations

On Friday we knew we had to leave and decided to go north to an anchorage near Naoussa where there was turquoise water, a beach with requisite beach bar and shelter from the northerly wind. The two hours up there was a bit of a slog but at least we knew we would be able to get back the next day. The anchorage was gorgeous and not that busy as most charter boats would need to make their way back to their home ports for changeover that night. We arrived around 2.30pm and the last charter boat left around 4pm. We rowed over to the beach but decided that the cocktails weren’t that inspiring and the beer was colder and better back on the boat. We sat in the cockpit watching the sunset totally sheltered from the wind and the swell.

Nimmie at anchor with Naoussa in the background

After a lazy morning and late breakfast we set off back to Paroikia. The sea was definitely lumpy out of the anchorage but once we got round the corner, the wind was behind us so we could sail most of the way back. Once back in the bay, we anchored in a spot that would give us a good view of the harbour and of boats leaving the next day! Liz went off on the paddle board to suss out the lay of the land (or harbour, in this instance) in preparation. The high winds of the day eased as the sun set and it was like a mill pond overnight.

The next morning, Sunday, the breeze got up around 9am and no boats had left. We had gusts of 30 knots (34 mph) as we were waiting to nab a prized spot inside the harbour. There were spaces on the outside but they would have meant that the waves and wind would be pushing us onto the concrete quay and that’s without the wash from the huge number of ferries that come in and out of Paros every day. Finally, two boats left the inner part so we knew there was space. Despite the windy conditions we decided to go for it as the forecast was for the winds to increase and stay high for the next 5 days so it was now or never. As we approached, the wind dropped to 18 knots and Nimmie behaved beautifully so we slipped into one of the free berths with no drama at all. The last free berth was taken ten minutes later and that was it for the rest of the day. No one was moving anywhere! The wind seems to be slightly less in the inner harbour and certainly no swell or ferry wash so we were very pleased with ourselves. The wind increased throughout the afternoon and various boats came in to find sanctuary but they had to go onto the outer wall. It was carnage as some boats didn’t put enough chain out for the high winds so either got blown sideways onto other yachts or hit the concrete quay as the wind pushed them backwards.

Now that we are in place for our guests, we can continue to finish our chores, relax knowing that, if we are storm bound, we can get off the boat easily and even tour around the island.

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Milos, Mining and Meltemi

We left Stefanos on Kythnos after breakfast on Wednesday morning to make our way to the island of Serifos, some 22nm south. We managed to get the genoa (headsail) out for about an hour of downwind sailing but then the wind died so on came the motor for the rest of the journey. We had heard that Livadia on Serifos was cute so we headed for there. The names of the islands in the Cyclades can be very confusing – Serifos, Sithnos, Sinos – all within spitting distance of each other.

We anchored off Livadia town in an area that should have been good holding but we knew that many boats had had problems in the past, did a few jobs, launched Baby Nimmie (aka the dinghy) and headed into town. Back to the boat for dinner and then to bed.

During the night it was so calm that all the boats were dancing around their proverbial handbags so the catamaran next to us was very close at various stages of the night. We let out more chain so we would be further away which helped a bit but we ended up staying up all night on anchor watch. The wind picked up around 9am and then our anchor started to drag. Suddenly we had 25 plus knots of wind and moving ever closer to the other boats. We lifted the anchor and tried to re-anchor three times but in the strong winds the anchor was just not holding in the weed and sand. The Meltemi wind was now gusting over 30 knots inside the anchorage. We decided enough was enough and left to go around the corner to another bay called Koutalas. It was only about 6nm but the wind and sea had now got up. We saw gusts of 44 knots as we went round but, as always, Nimmie took it in her stride and we safely entered the bay. Here it had excellent holding so that, despite the strong winds, the anchor set first time and with gusts of 38 knots, we settled in for the afternoon and evening. There were a few other boats around but we had all given each other plenty of space. Well, until a professionally crewed catamaran came in and tried to anchor by us. We told them in no uncertain terms that they were too close. Eventually they took the hint and moved away. Idiots.

We did an anchor watch of checking every two hours overnight but by the next morning you wouldn’t have even realised there had been a blow. Gently blowing around 12 knots with a few boats already left. We left after breakfast and made our way 27nm south to the island of Milos (of Venus de Milo fame).

Milos is shaped like a horseshoe similar to Santorini and for the same reason, a volcanic eruption many years ago. Consequently, it has a deep bay with many anchorages so you can pretty much shelter from any wind there. Perfect. It also has a rich history of mining, with many different ores having being excavated there over the years. We anchored just outside of the marina, near town. It was a lovely evening so we launched Baby Nimmie to look around town and do some provisioning. We also took the opportunity to visit the excellent Mining Museum in town. It made you realise what a hard life these workers had. One quarry employed 150 men to dig the rock out and 100 women to get the ore out of the rock pieces. The town of Adamas was a lovely place so we decided to eat out and splashed out on a couple of gyros at €3 each. We know how to really push the boat out! Finally, we were able to have a proper night’s sleep.

On the Saturday morning we wanted to sail around the island as there were supposed to be several excellent beaches/coves and rock formations. This was our only chance to have a look as we needed to catch a weather window the next day to go north to Paros. However, we had a snag – literally. Our anchor was caught around a huge chain that had been left on the seabed. When I say huge, the links were the thickness of an arm. It was too deep for us to dive down to and we also figured it was going to be too heavy to pull out even if we got down there. We then remembered that a friend of our friend, Jaco, was based in the marina. We contacted him and bless him, Nikos came out to the boat, free dived to the bottom and lifted the anchor free. It took him less than 5 mins. He wouldn’t take anything from us apart from some beer and a bottle of wine.

We had only been delayed a couple of hours so we made the most of the afternoon by motoring along the coast of the island in an anti clockwise direction. As we left the bay, we motored past the shoreline village of Klima, where there are boat garages at sea level.

Garages for their boats have become des res

The most spectacular cove we saw was at Kleftiko, also known as Pirate’s Cove. You can see why pirates based themselves there with a number of caves to hide in, reefs and rocks for the unwary and spots to secrete boats away from prying eyes. It also had the most amazing turquoise water. Gorgeous.

Kleftiko – Pirate’s Cove

You can see how pirates could hide here

After a brief stop there to dinghy into the caves, we continued on passing amazing rock formations, disbanded mining villages and secluded beaches. We arrived in Apollonia on the NE corner of the island just before sunset and tied up to a mooring buoy that Nikos owned and had kindly let us use. We slept well that night!

Sunday morning the SW wind filled in and it was perfect for our trip NE to Paros. Unfortunately it didn’t stay strong enough for us to sail more than half an hour so we ended up motoring (again) the 36nm to Paros. It did mean that we could make water and fill the tanks. We arrived in Paroikia on the West side of the island around 4pm and tried to get into the harbour but there was no room apart from in the entrance itself. We tied up and a port police officer strolled up to us and told us that we didn’t want to stay there as we would hit the bottom with the wash created by the ferries coming in and out. He did think there would be space in the harbour in the morning though so we anchored in the bay for the night. On the Monday morning we kept an eagle eye out for anyone leaving and as soon as they did, we went straight in and tied up. We wanted to be in the inner harbour away from the ferry wash (there seems to be over 20 ferries a day here) and with some protection from the wind. We can only stay until Friday morning and we then have to leave so that there is room for the charter fleet to return but we can then come back in when they leave again on the Saturday or Sunday. There were strong winds forecast from Sunday so we are hoping to be able to pop back in before it blows up again as we have friends arriving next week. Fingers crossed. It does mean that we can provision easily, explore the island and get some chores done like the washing!

The town of Paroikia is quite sweet

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Kythnos

Having spent two days in the marina, we were finally ready to leave. The keel cooled fridge was cold, stocked and working well now we were in the water ( it doesn’t work very well on land as it needs water to cool it). We put the genoa (front sail) back on, pumped up the dinghy (Baby Nimmie) washed everything down within an itch of its life and bought enough fresh provisions to last us several days.

On Sunday morning at 1130 we finally slipped our moorings and headed south east to the Western Cycladean island of Kythnos. There was absolutely no wind so it was a four hour motor. We even passed the point of our collision on the way. Needless to say, we kept a very sharp look out the whole time! Our destination was a bay on the West side called Ormos Kolona, a bay that was the more westerly of two bays that are separated by a sand spit. It was relatively crowded on a Sunday afternoon with Greeks enjoying the weekend and charter boats on their first day as it’s only 20 or so miles from Lavrion. However, we found somewhere to anchor eventually that wasn’t in weed or across a super yacht’s anchor chain. They appear to put out 100m of chain which limits everyone else’s options. Anyway, we got the paddle board out and went to the beach. Daytime temperatures are around 35 degrees in the shade so a swim and a cold beer at the beach taverna was required! More boats came in as the evening progressed but we were settled and didn’t even need to growl at anyone for trying to anchor too close to us. A meal on board and we settled in for the night, having decided that we would stay there another night as it was such a delightful spot.

Nimmie playing with the big boys

Most yachts left on Monday morning so for about an hour all was quiet until an armada of super-yachts arrived. Clearly, they’d all got the same memo about how lovely the place was! Apart from the slightly unnerving sight of them reversing very close to us as they went against stern to with lines ashore, it gave us plenty to watch during the day with all the toys these boats carry. We went ashore again in the morning to find the local thermal spring and to climb up to a chapel on the hill that overlooked the two bays. On the way up, we came across the resident goat herd, complete with kid goats!

The two bays on Kythnos

The afternoon was spent lazying about, swimming and just chilling. Lovely. We decided that we would give the local taverna a try and we weren’t disappointed. Liz had baby goat (how could she after seeing them gambolling about on the hillside?) and I had lamb chops. The piece de resistance was the starter of fried local cheese balls – absolutely delicious. Back on board to watch the sunset and several more boats come in.

Dinner time!

We had a rude awakening this morning when firstly, one of the boats that came in late last night decided to leave at 5am and then a nearby super yacht left at 7am. I decided to stay awake as I figured that more super yachts would be leaving soon and, sure enough, most of them left by 8am. Luckily, none were a problem for us but they could have been so that was a relief.

We wanted to go round to the NE side of Kythnos as we had heard that there was a thermal spring there at a village called Loutra. We even managed to sail part of the way, although, inevitably, the wind died and we ended up motoring.

Loutra on Kythnos

Well, it was a delightful place with a spring that would give you third degree burns. According to the guide books, it is 50 degrees C in the outside pool and I can believe it. We had anchored around the corner in a little bay and walked into the village. On the way we came across a bag full of rubbish that had been dropped by the side of the road. We picked it up and took it into the village but couldn’t believe that someone would just drop it like that. Even a 15 min walk each way was enough to make you want to jump into the water when we got back to the boat.

We had decided that we would head further south to a bay called Ormos Stefanou as it would give us shelter from every direction. It has a chapel on an isthmus that apparently has an icon from Panayia Athenia (Virgin of Athens) who swam here from Athens when it as overtaken by the Turks. That is one hell of a swim! It is a delightful bay though with a couple of tavernas and only two other boats. Liz is complaining that it is too sheltered as it’s still very warm at 8pm as there is no breeze. No pleasing some!

The thermal springs at Loutra

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Finally launched!

We were very glad we stayed around this week as each day was a procession of workmen (sadly no women) coming onto the boat to finish the various jobs off. Between Monday and Thursday, we had the stainless steel guy, the riggers, the painter, the teak deck man, the electrician and various odd jobs men.

Shiny new deck, pulpit and anchor

The boatyard have been amazing (I think we may have said that before!) so that anything we didn’t quite like was rectified immediately. Our insurers, Bishop Skinner, have also been incredible paying for a couple of days in the marina to get the boat ready. To say that Nimmie was covered in dust was an understatement. We washed her down this morning before launch but it only scratched the surface. She was going to need a deep clean once in the marina. The electrician came this morning to fit the navigation light on the bow and the stainless steel guy came back as the anchor securing post on the deck was slightly misaligned. We agreed that he would make us something to fix the problem and it could be fitted whilst in the water. That meant we could be launched. Sotiris, the technical director, told us we would be launched immediately. That meant within two minutes his staff brought round the travel hoist and starting taking away the supports, including the ladder. Seems we were going to stay on board whilst she was launched! This was highly unusual but fun.

Once in the water, we took the opportunity to refuel so that we didn’t have to worry when we set off on Sunday and then went into the marina. Now that we were in the water we could turn on our main fridge, which is cooled by sea water, give her a thorough wash and put up the bimini so that we had some shade. It’s been at least 35 degrees during the day in the yard with the reflection off the surface was like being in a desert. It’s definitely cooler in the water.

Tomorrow, we will finish getting her ready, including putting the Genoa (front sail) on and doing a proper shop (now the fridge is working). Liz decided that it was my turn to go up the mast to sort out the lines for the burgees.

Jo up the mast for a change!

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Road trip!

We hired a car for 5 days and in that time covered 1500 km of mainland Greece from Lavrion in the south up to the Vikos Gorge in the northwest.

Our first stop on the Wednesday was the town of Kalabaka so that we could visit the monasteries of the Meteora. Meteora means suspended in mid air, a very apt description! These monasteries were built in medieval times on the top of rock pillars, looking over a fertile valley. You can now access them via steep steps but before the 1920s, access was via rope ladders or baskets. Quite stunning. We arrived in the late afternoon after the five and a half hour trip and were rewarded with a sunset and only a few visitors – the coach parties having long gone.

The monastery of the Holy Trinity

The next morning we visited the two main ones, Grand Meteora and Varlaam, the latter being our favourite. We also visited the nunnery at Roussanou but the nuns were decidedly grumpy and unwelcoming although they happily took our entrance fee money! By lunchtime, we were ready for our next adventure and stopover in the lakeside town of Iaonnina (pronounced Yanina). This is where the Muslim Albanian, Ali Pasha (Lion of Iaonnina) savagely ruled from until his death in 1822. It is now a thriving university town with an old castle and lively night life on the lake shores.

The tomb of Ali Pasha in front of the mosque at Iaonnina

The next day (Friday) we moved onto the Zagori National Park where the Vikos Gorge is situated. It is claimed that it is one of the deepest gorges in the world but, in truth, whilst stunning it is only a kilometre or so deep.

Vikos Gorge

It appears to be one of Greece’s best kept secrets as there were very few people around. The villages and bridges are all made of the local stone and it has more of an Italian feel to it than Greece. The 30 minute walk in 30+ degree heat to the first viewpoint was more than worth it.

Liz being brave!

The second viewpoint was good but Liz and I differed as to which one was more impressive. Finally, after dodging kamikaze wild tortoises trying to cross the road, we made our way to our hotel for the night.

It was in a small mountain village called Micro Papingo and it was next door to Megalo Papingo (yes, it’s bigger neighbour). Delightful views across the National Park made our sundowner of G&T even more special. We had decided to eat in the hotel and the food was delicious. It was a family run establishment and the daughter was clearly of our “persuasion”. Hell of a small place to be gay in!

The view from our hotel in Papingo

The following morning Liz was keen to try the natural rock pools nearby. We pretty much had them to ourselves for half an hour and even Liz went into the cold, mountain water!

Natural rock pools

We needed to head south now as we were keen to visit the Ancient Oracle at Delphi. We arrived around 5pm so had a couple of hours to take in the sights and the museum before checking into our hotel. Again, we timed it so that we had missed the main tourist crowds of the day. We had again struck lucky with our room with magnificent views across to the Saronic Gulf.

Part of the ruins at Delphi

By now, it was Sunday morning and we, sadly, made our way back to Lavrion. However, we had a few more stops to make. First was the Corinth Canal. It is 4 miles long and a shortcut from the Ionian to the Saronic Gulf bypassing the long boat trip round by the Peloponnese. We were lucky to see a ship transiting the canal just after we arrived. It really is a major feat of engineering.

Corinth Canal looking towards the Ionian

Continuing on, we then drove north east to the site of the Battle of Marathon. This is where a herald ran 42 km to Athens to give the news of the Athenian victory over the Persians in 490BC and so the marathon race was born. Apparently, ‘marathon’ means fennel.

Our final stop before returning back to Nimmie was the Temple of Poseidon at Cape Sounion, just south of Lavrion. It was blowing a gale whilst we were there but it was still very impressive. The temple stands on the hilltop and can be seen for miles from the sea. We took advantage of having a car and ate out at a very nice taverna near Sounion as our road trip came to an end.

Temple of Poseidon

We were very pleased to see that the repairs on Nimmie are continuing at pace although they still haven’t been able to paint the bow due to the high winds we have had all week. The scheduled launch date is the end of this week so fingers crossed!

Our road trip with the places we visited starred in yellow

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Mykonos

We arrived back from the U.K. late on Sunday evening but at least with hand luggage we were quickly out of the airport. Back on Nimmie, we could see that repairs had progressed with the bow having been fibre glassed and various parts removed. We popped into the boatyard office on the Monday morning to get a feel for how things were going but Sotiris, the Technical Director, was in a bit of a flap about some other boats. He assured us that it was all progressing but clearly didn’t have time to give us any more detail. We left them to it.

As we had originally planned to be in Mykonos from June 18, we decided to keep with the plan and go over by ferry from Rafina, some 50km north. Our friends, Phil and Gerard, who were supposed to be with us on Nimmie had rented an apartment on the south of the Mykonos island so we joined them for a few days.

View from our apartment

This was my first time on the island whilst Liz had been there quite a few times over the last 30 years.

Lia Beach, Mykonos

It was great to explore the place without worrying about the weather or the mooring. We visited some beautiful beaches including Lia, Elia, Fokos and Agia Anna.

Lunch with Phil and Gerard at the delightful Fokos beach

We even managed to fit in a couple of dives. Our friends, Phil and Gerard, left us on the Saturday to make their way to Paros and we went to Mykonos town to meet up with an old school friend of Liz’s, Denise, at an amazing hotel called Absolut Mykonos.

Absolut Mykonos Hotel

We spent the next couple of days being completely spoilt with an infinity pool and air conditioning! Sadly, we had to leave on the Monday evening to get back to Lavrion and find out how the repairs were going. The ferry trip back was uneventful but on time. This couldn’t be said for the taxi ride home which involved going at breakneck speed and cost nearly €90 (one and a half times the cost up there). Funnily enough, he didn’t get a tip.

The boat repairs are coming along and it’s hoped that they will all be complete by the end of next week. We will lose a few days as it’s gusting 40 knots (45 mph) here at the moment and this will continue for the rest of the week so they can’t paint the bow. With this strength of wind, you really feel it several metres off the ground! So, we have decided to venture into central Greece and go on a road trip!

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