The wind was quite strong, so again we had to change our plans. But we just go where the wind blows, right? Today that place was the island of Hydra. We first tried to dock in Mandraki Bay, but there were already too many others there. It was also too deep to just set anchor, so we continued to Hydra town. When we arrived the port was more or less full, but luckily we managed to sneak in behind a catamaran.
Like in Poros town, the houses crawl up the hillside. Merely white houses with colourful window blinds and doors. The entire island is free of cars, so to transport goods they have to use donkeys. Isn’t that just picture perfect?
The harbour protects a few hundred small private boats, used for fishing and getting around. The harbour front is packed with cafes, restaurants and bars. We decided to find a place a little bit more hidden, just a few alleys back. The outdoor tables at Tavern Zefyros is situated in a small quiet square. We were craving for grilled fish, but then we had to come with the owner to the fish store at the other end of the square to pick the one we wanted. It seemed we made a good choice, at least it was very tasteful!
Setting sail in the morning, but the wind soon died of, so we had to go by engine again. With this, we also had to change from the original plan, as it would be too far to go without proper sailing wind.
We stopped for lunch and swimming in a small bay off Moni island, before heading on to our new destination; Poros. Sailing in to the bay with the village of Poros climbing up the hill was simply fantastic! And finishing off with an amazing sunset just made everything perfect.
Tomasz had been here quite a few times before, and wanted to take us to his favorite places. For the starter he took us to the small local tavern Karavolos. It is located in a back alley, just up the street from Corner Souvlaki by the harbour. Their specialty is snails, so we ordered some portions to share. I think all of us were a little bit sceptic at first, but it was seriously incredible! With the restaurant in itself being beautiful as well, is the recipe for success.
For our main course, Tomasz took us to Corner Souvlaki. One of the things you must eat when you are in Greece is exactly that. Usually it is served with tzatziki, but according to our captain, we should try the chicken souvlakia with their special sauce at this particular place. And he was so right!
For dessert we went further out along the harbour front to a place that had no less than 46 different tastes of ice-cream. What to choose?…
Poros is a typical example of the idyllic Greek small towns, with peaceful narrow streets, and blue doors and windows everywhere. The only thing missing in this picture is the old man and the donkey…
Epidavros is a very popular harbor, so in order to get a spot there, we had to be there around 14.00. From Vathi it should take approximately 2,5 hours to get there. We had a slow morning, and stopped in a nice bay close by Epidavros for a swim to cool down from the heat. The remains of an old house was supposed to be seen under the surface, but we could not find them. But at least all of us got a nice and long swim.
Arriving in the harbor of Epidavros, we got one of the few available spots. As we were at shore at lunchtime, we decided to make it easy and just buy some gyros.
One of the great attractions nearby is the old Epidaurus Theater. It is about 30 min drive from the port, and it usually cost 40€ to have a taxi drive you and pick you up again. It is recommended to spend at least 1,5 hours there. It would have been great to see this enormous ancient theater, but the heat set us back, so we relaxed partly in the shadow at the beach, or out in the cooling water instead.
In the evening we had dinner at a great restaurant called To Perivoli, meaning under the oranges. It was a few minutes walk away from the harbor, situated in a beautiful back yard with orange trees (surprise, surprise…!) We could go to the kitchen and point out what we wanted to order, and chose some mixed grilled meat and seafood, and some chicken in lemon sauce. For starters we had Cheese Zaganaki (fried cheese) with honey and sesame seeds, and also some fried small fish. Everything was really tasty, and we certainly did not go to bed feeling hungry.
The next morning we woke up to a magnificent sunrise, accompanied by the calming sound of the small fishing boats going out for today’s catch.
A few of us went for a walk, leading us to an old amphitheater (not to be mistaken for the big one) and further to the Church of Virgin Mary on the top of a hill.
Overall Epidavros is a very pictorial harbor, with charming streets and squares, and some nice sights. I regret that we did not go to Epidaurus Theater, but if I am ever nearby again, I will definitely do that!
We started off sailing for a few hours before the wind disappeared. Going by engine for a little while, we finally stopped for a cooling swim outside Aegina Marina on the island of Aegina. We prepared lunch on board, before heading towards Vathi.
Vathi is a small fishing village on the Methana Peninsula that is a part of Peloponnese. As it is attached to the mainland, it is also possible to get there by car. The charming village has some small fishing boats and a few taverns along the harbor, but no shop, so there is a small van coming every morning with groceries. If you come by car instead of boat, there are a few rooms for rent. It is the perfect place for finding peace and quiet.
One of the attractions nearby is the volcano. Or at least, what they call the volcano. The owner of one of the taverns drove us up in the mountains. From where he left us, it was about 15 min uphill walk along a very pleasant trail with great views. The landscape can pass as volcanic, but when we arrived at what was supposed to be the volcano, I was really more a cave. So if you expect a volcano you will be disappointed, but if you settle for a nice cave and breathtaking views along the way, it is definitely worth the trip!
The harbor has room for approximately 15 visiting boats, and the managing tavern also offer toilets and showers included in the harbor-fee.
Sailing is a great way to explore an area, so we gathered a group of friends and rented a sailboat. Including a captain, that is. It is off course possible to rent your own boat, but as none of us are capable to take charge and manoeuvre the boat safely, that was what we had to do. And even if we could, I think it is a better experience to have a captain that knows the area and where to go.
Our booking was arranged by Nautic Sailing, a Norwegian company that use their local contacts.
We arrived at the pier in Alimos/Kalamaki marina and were introduced to our captain, Tomasz. We talked briefly about what we planned for the next week, and agreed to see where the wind would take us.
The experience when we were shopping for food and beverages was absolutely fantastic. A car picked us up at the pier and took us to the beverage store. We chose what we wanted and paid there, and they would transport it to the boat. Another car picked us up, and took us to the grocery shop. The driver was waiting while we were shopping, and took us back when we were done. Very smooth, and the service was included. Very professional.
As a few of us had been on a similar sailing trip in Croatia a few years ago, we had experienced that the best solution is to make breakfast and lunch on board. That way you are free to stop for lunch wherever suites you. It is also wise to have some extra food, in case something unexpected happens and you do not get to the port with the restaurants you planned.
Our boat was a 45,1 foot Sun Odyssey (2001) named Meridien. She had four double cabins, but if needed it would be possible to sleep in the salon. Even though it was an “old” boat, it was in good shape.
Arriving at the bus station in Athens very early in the morning, I decided to take a taxi to Sea View Hotel in Glyfada where my friends had checked in the night before.
Glyfada is a suburb in the southern part of Athens, also known as Athens Riviera. We started out easy, and just walked down to the beach just across the street from the hotel. We had to pay 4€ entrance fee, but that included the sun bed, very nice toilets and changing facilities. The area also had a pleasant restaurant. We spent most of the day just relaxing and cooling down in the fresh seawater.
When in Athens, a visit to the Acropolis is a must. The site is one of the most important archaeological sites in the world and consist of several ancient buildings. Most of the ones that are still standing today was originally built during the 5th century BC. This includes the Parthenon, dedicated to the goddess Athena.
As the structures are very old and fragile, quite a few of them needs to be supported to stand up. In addition to the remarkable ruins, you have an awesome view of the city.
Walking down from the hill, we walked through the historical area of Plaka. This area is built on top of the former residential area of the ancient town of Athens, and you pass many old ruins as you wander around.
There is off course so many other things to experience in Athens, but sadly we had quite limited time before moving on to our journey at sea.