We have finally made it out to Greece to see how Nimmie has fared over the last two years. Having both been doubly vaccinated, we had our digital NHS pass, filled out our Passenger Locator Form, purchased our pre flight tests for the return journey and ordered our Day Two tests for back in the UK. We flew from Luton and it was amazingly quiet. The plane only had 80 passengers so there was plenty of space and it all felt very manageable. Landing at Athens airport, we had to show our vaccination passes and Passenger Locator Form before standing in the ‘All passports’ queue to have our passports stamped. This means that our entry into the EU/Schengen area is documented and timed as we can only spend 90 in any 180 days in Schengen. This isn’t going to be a problem this year but it does mean that we will have to be careful how long we spend in Europe going forward. Even visiting our families in Norway counts!
We had landed around 8.30pm and once through passport control, we waited for our luggage which included our repaired watermaker that we thought we may have to prove wasn’t new and subject to Greek VAT and import duty. The joy of Brexit! In the event, there weren’t any customs people around so we headed off to pick up our hire car and make our way to the AirBnB apartment we had rented for two weeks. Lavrion is about 45 minutes from Athens airport on the SE tip of Attica near to Sounio and the Temple of Poseidon. It’s a fairly lively town with bars and restaurants, even a summer cinema, so we felt we had a good base for our stay. It was lovely to be able to sit out at 11.30pm having a welcome beer in t shirts and shorts.
On the Thursday morning, 16th September, we went to the boatyard in Olympic Marine to meet with the technical department before seeing how Nimmie looked. We were very pleasantly surprised. Nimmie was very dusty (inside and out) but didn’t look too worse for wear. We agreed with the yard that they would remove our old solar panels, make good and install the new ones we had shipped out in 2020. We also suspected that we would find a few more things that had decided not to work over the intervening period.
We spent the next couple of days checking her over and preparing her for the work to be done. It has been hot here, 35 degrees Celsius in the shade, so with no bimini up and the sun reflecting off the gravel floor, it soon become quite unbearable on the boat. Still, we carried out our normal winter and spring tasks to compile a list of jobs that would need to be completed before launching in 2022. As you can imagine, a boat that hasn’t been used in two years can have quite a few things go wrong or as we put it, Nimmie breaks her toys when she feels neglected! A number of safety equipment items had passed their due dates including the life raft service, personal locator beacon batteries, fire extinguishers. The list went on and on. Nothing that can’t be replaced or serviced but all adding to the To Do list. For those of you who have followed us for a while, you’ll remember that when we left Salamina near Piraeas in 2019, we had an unexpected passenger. A little fledgling sparrow had been nesting in our boom. When we put Nimmie to bed at the end of the season here, we stuffed a plastic bag into the boom to prevent that happening again. Over the last two years, the bag had disintegrated and made a lovely base for a new nest. This time the chick had died in the nest. However, we did manage to rescue a wild tortoise that seemed to want to dice with death by crossing one of the busy roads on the way to the boatyard.
It transpired that the guy who was due to do the painting on the topsides was away until the Monday so we had Thursday and Friday free to do jobs. After working in the heat of the day, it was glorious to be able to come back to the apartment for a shower and air con. We decided that as the yard would be shut over the weekend we would go on a road trip to the more inland region of Greece where we wouldn’t normally have access to by boat. We made our way towards Arachova, the Greek equivalent of Aspen on Mount Parnassos, as we had booked a mountainside hotel for the Saturday night. This area is a ski resort but in the blistering summer sun, it’s hard to imagine! En route we visited the 11th century monastery of Osios Loukas. It is in a remote but beautiful setting and has a large collection of Byzantine art and stonework.
We then drove up to Arachova, which was quite sweet and lively but about 30 minutes drive from the hotel so we were hoping that there would be somewhere closer to have dinner. The hotel described itself as a boutique hotel and spa and was definitely up market rustic. The owner was charming and we had gorgeous views over the mountainside. It even had its own indoor pool that was just the ticket after a dusty, hot afternoon!
The hotel recommended a taverna just down the road, called Babis, that served wonderful food. The wild boar melted in your mouth. They even gave us a glass of a local grappa type drink called tsipouro to try. Not to my taste but Liz was happy to drink both!
We decided to go for a walk up to Corycian Cave, which is where Pan and the nymphs liked to hang out according to Greek mythology. It’s a 4 hour trek from Delphi but from our hotel is was more like 45 mins as we could park the car a bit nearer!
Nice hike up but an hour and a half walking in the sun was more than enough. Pleasant enough cave but we have seen better in our travels.
On our way back on Sunday, we visited a few seaside resorts that the guidebooks mention. The nicest by far was Itea where we had waffles overlooking the harbour. Back at the apartment by around 8pm, a takeaway from the local taverna and ready for the following week when, hopefully, the deck will be repaired and painted ready for the new solar panels.