The first few islands of the Cyclades group … Kythnos, Serifos and Sifnos …

Typical cubic style houses of the Cyclades Island group

Leaving Athens with a fresh bunch of guests (full blooded land lubbers) in winds of 25 knots was not ideal and to be fair we thought of going downwind to Aegina and spend the night there. (Instead of bashing into the wind pushing on to the first island) We will then head for Cape Sounion in order to get a bitter angle wind wise to start our journey through the Cyclades (group of Islands)

In the next 2 weeks we will be doing Kythnos, Serifos, Sifnos, Milos, Dispotiko (only just did not miss it!… a very brief encounter), Paros and Naxos with Ben, Hendri and two Dianne’s on board. Unfortunately Mykonos and Santorini were not going to be on our list this time. The wind was not favourable for either of them and Santorini does not offer any anchorages for yachts as it is volcanic island surrounded by very deep water all round. Who ever wanted to see it has to take a ferry from one of the islands. That in the end was exactly what Hendri and Dianne did.

Our first night was one of testing all the flavours of Greece in Aegina and it ended up as our kitty’s best-value-for-money-meal! Having Tapas/ meze and shearing it around proofed to be the way to go! … and don’t forget the carafe of house-wine … they normally comes in 250 ml, 500 ml and 1 litre for about between 2.50 and 3 Euro per litre. It is great value for money and most of the time (did I say most of the time? … well almost all the time!) it is quite drinkable. Aegina is a pretty special little town and being there for the second time in 7 days, was a bonus for us!

CAPE SOUNION and the TEMPLE OF POSOIDON: (6/8/2013)

The Temple of Posoidon
The Temple of Posoidon
The slippery walk on the rocks back to the dinghy
Scolamanzi in the bay of Cape Sounion in howling winds
Leaving for the visit to the Temple
The stainless steel hook that took a knock in the 45 knot wind!
Leaving the Temple of Posoidon behind in our wake

As we are heading out of our anchorage just outside the harbour wall, we were hit with 30+ knot winds and pretty big waves too!… Everyone seems to take it surprisingly well! As we arrived in the bay of Cape Sounion, the anchorage seemed to be solid with the anchor slightly wedged underneath a flat rock…. which means it is fine even in 35-45 knot winds as we had there at times in the bay, as long as the wind direction does not change! Seeing that the Temple of Posoidon was a must see (about a 15 min walk up the hill from the beach) and were winking from a long way off, the expedition got ready almost straight away. I stayed on board just to be sure the boat is safe …the wind still howling at about 25 knots and even picked up during the night slightly.The anchor was still wedged in under the rock and was hopefully not going anywhere! I had radio contact with the captain all the time they were on the mountain… with a switched off radio on board! … I was reminded briefly that that is called a break in the link!

The trip up the hill to the Temple produced some spectacular pictures! The views from the Temple is almost as breathtaking as the temple itself.
Johann came to pick me up from the boat (coming back from the Temple) for a drink ashore (we always think it is wise to support the local businesses at least once a day) and we ended up with an interesting slippery walk across a few flat rocks from where we left the dingy! The next morning we realised that the anchor was so well wedged in and the wind so strong, that the hook (a substantial and solid marine grade stainless steel one too) of the bridle was bent open! We waited till we get to Kythnos to replace it with a spare.

KYTHNOS ISLAND AND THE BAY OF ORNOS KOLONA:

Hot water spring at Ornos Kolona
The sand beach at Ornos Kolona
At the restaurant at Ornos Kolona
Sunset over the bay of Kolona
Bonn fire on the beach
Nature’s decoration at Kolona Taverna at Ornos Kolona
Decor of Kolona Taverna

Kythnos Island: (7/8/2013)

The bay or Ornos Kolona was quite something! The bay has a few hot springs under the water and one almost on the beach that has been protected by rocks to form a little hot bath. Needless to say … this two-man bath was quite popular and I found a man occupying the entire “bath” spread-eagle style when I got there!! Snorkelling around the edges, I could see and feel the hot bubbles and reminded me of Champagne bay near Soufriere at Dominica Island in the Caribbean, but not nearly as spectacular. The big difference was not only the massive amounts of bubbles at Soufriere (it felt like swimming in a champaign glass!) but also the massive amount of sea life that was there and missing in action here. The Med is disappointing at best of times when it comes to snorkelling – it is a sterile bed of sand and cobble stones or rocks. Hardly any fish or coral.

There are two bays separated by a strip of beach stretching from one part of the island to the other part that looks oddly strange. A big lone tree in the middle of this beach is an indication that it has been like this for ages. We could only wonder why it has not washed away? We were watching a few young guys making a bonfire at dusk getting ready for a romantic moment on the sliver of beach with the sea on both sides. The restaurant at the top has a wonderful view across the two bays. The rough and ready Kolona restaurant (that is like many small places only open for a few months during the high season) is decorated with old Greek pots and drift wood but provided a less spectacular menu and a very green colour house-wine. It was still worth our while – it is a really great spot to wait for the sun to set.

We left Kolona beach at 6.30 am with a bit of a struggle to get the anchor out from underneath the rock and with a wind still howling the port front locker slammed close from a sudden gust and wedged my little toe underneath it! If it was not for the Vibram shoes I was wearing at the time, it could have been a nasty broken toe! My first injury on board left me wondering how did I managed to dodge any more injuries. For weeks afterwards I was reminded (by a bruised toe) of Kythnos Island.

SERIFOS and the town called CHORA:

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Serifos Island and the first real Chora: (8/8/2013)

A Chora or Kora/ Hora as the Greeks sometimes spell it is typical of the Cyclades. I is a cluster of white washed houses (with their blue doors and window frames) on a hill where the invaders or pirates could be spotted from a distance. In the early days they never use to live right on the beach for that reason. On a few islands the town is actually called “Chora” as is the case here at Serifos.

The trip there was pretty rolley with almost 2 meter high side on waves and up to 38 knots of wind! I was surprised how well the guests were handling it! Dianne Zietsman wedged herself in on the deck and the other Dianne was sitting inside the cabin to watch the waves through her port hole going up and down! Enough to make me run for the stern with a green face! No one ever seems to be in need of any seasickness tablets! Quite amazing!

The town of Serifos is spectacular with its small alleyways, little white houses and blue doors and window frames and a stretch of restaurants right around the curved bay. We had a fantastic meal at one of these restaurants, with the dinghy tied to the table’s legs and our feet on soft sea sand. Its a wonderful protected bay, where we could leave the boat without worries and visit the Chora on the hill by bus.

Chora provided some serious exercise for the legs! Not a single level street to be found there! Every one of them has a steep incline of either steps and more steps or a narrow cobbled stone path just big enough for a donkey – the only way of transport of any goods or luggage to restaurants, shops and houses. We had a coffee (some could not withstand the Fix or Mythos beer) in one of the most artistically decorated restaurants – straight form a magazine! A picture of a place!

The view over Sifnos from the church right at the top was breathtaking! As it is on the Greek islands, time is irrelevant and timetables not straight forward and that is how we missed the first bus going back to Sifnos. It was way too long a walk after all the climbing to attempt!) so we settled for another beer at the restaurant next to the bus stop.
Another wonderful day at a spectacular site has wiggled itself into our bank of memories! We left the next morning to a small bay not far from there just to realise that our trusty coffee machine has stopped working after I routinely did a descaling! A disaster for both the Captain and me – that was after all the only way to kick-start our early mornings! We immediately ordered another one from Athens (thank goodness for good internet and phone access) to be delivered at Paros in a few days’ time. It was Rooibos tea for us for a few days. The old Nespresso was still spitting out the odd cup of coffee but eventually rebelled against abuse and went on a strike just before we got to Paros!

We anchored one more night on the coast of Serifos in Megalon bay. A very small village where Johann almost have to ask the beach babes to clear the way for him to anchor! That close did we drop the anchor to the beach and drifted back (the only spot left being such a small bay and with no other options in reach that time of the afternoon) – we never went ashore to meet Faros. This will have to be one of the few nights we stayed on board without leaving the boat at all.

SIFNOS ISLAND – The little village called VATHI

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Sifnos Island (10/08/2013)

We pulled into Vathi, a small bay where no Ferries are going to and mass tourism is just not part of their daily experiences. What a lovely bay! Buses are going there as we have seen a few, but we have heard and seen very few tourist other than Greeks in the town. It looks like a very popular town (for locals living nearby) to have a beach shack to go to during a weekend or school holidays . It really has a wonderful feel to it. A single row of houses and only a few restaurants and barely more than three shops are built right on the edge of the high-water mark (if there is such a thing … the water was more or less staying at the same level, lapping onto the steps of the houses and restaurants. In the background, an arid hilly countryside formed a stark contrast to the beautiful little village and clear blue water.

Life must be pretty tranquil and inexpensive here and I think most of the people living here are happy to just be there, soak up this wonderful quality of life, make just enough money during the tourist season to survive and just eat whatever the sea and land provides. We watched and old man teaching his grandchildren to row a boat and do some fishing and let them play in the shallow waters in front of the restaurant…relaxed, easy and uncomplicated … A lifestyle to dream of!

We anchored in shallow turquoise blue water – close enough to the beach to swim out and take a walk along the pebbled beach, flippers and goggles in hand.
As we came into the bay, a cute all white church was taking the limelight of the town without a blink! So relaxed it look in all its glory in the prime spot on the waters-edge, that it happily allow two little boys to play hide and seek on its roof! A few fishing boats have docked just below the church and beach stretching either way of it with a small amount of restaurants formed the core of this tiny heart-warming village.

We had a beer and wine and as customs are with Greek restaurants, they always give you something to nibble on with every order – either nuts, olives or chips. The owner of the restaurant brought out a bowl with the nicest big purple figs, telling us that it is for free because he got it for free from the mountain behind his house. Such a wonderful gesture. This is Vathi!

It certainly is one of the few places that, for all different reasons crept into our list of favourites and nestled into our hearts. It is just special!

Milos is our next Island destination … one of my favourites! I will have to give Milos a special place in the sun (and a separate blog entry) to do it justice! 🙂 So watch this space…

The Cyclades

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