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May '06: Now we're Enroute - Greece I

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 Greece – the land of the Hellas (land of the sun) is situated at the southern extremity of the Balkan peninsula and at the south east end of Europe. Its size is 131'957 square kilometers. This is three times as big as Switzerland.

 Greece – land of the sun, land of the gods and myths; land of the sea with its coasts and islands. Everywhere you go ancient sites and picturesque villages full of tradition.

 Greece has become for us – a deep blue sky over turquoise water, dice like white houses clustered over the hillside overlooking a harbor. It is a country with a unique culture, a unique language, wild landscapes and warm and friendly people.

 Mid April we left Brindisi, Italy for Greece. After a 'rolling' night at sea (huge waves, no winds) we arrived at Errikoussa Island (north of Corfu) by sunrise. We reached the 'green islands' – the Ionian Islands are very green, with lots of olive trees, mountains and valleys, sheltered coves and small harbors. We have not been disappointed!

 After a few exploring days on Corfu, we continued via Igoumenitsa to Paxos. In the bay of Lakka (north on Paxos) we dropped our anchor for a few days – it was just wonderful and absolute freedom. We would have loved to stay longer, but since we expected guests in Levkas we had to leave… but there will be other beautiful places.

 After a short stop in Preveza (on mainland) we passed the car bridge which opens hourly for boats to the canal to Levkas town and the marina. We booked ourselves in the marina and tried to solve our energy problem. To be even more independed we also decided to buy a portable generator (220V).

 Our first guests arrived here – Caroline and Patrik. Together we plan to sail through the canal of Corinth into the Saronic Gulf. After stops in Meganisi, Cephalonia and Ithaka we passed the impressive bridge which connects the Peleponnes and mainland Greece and separates the Gulf of Patras from the Gulf of Corinth.

 In the Gulf of Corinth, in Galaxidhi we made a daytrip by car to Delphi and surroundings. If you want to see more than just Athens then Delphi is the most important site to visit. Delphi leaves an unforgettable impression. The tradition goes 3000 years back. In the 12th century b.c. pilgrims came to this famous oracle of the old world to ask for advice and guidance – back then and today the questions were the same: if ones partner is faithful, if one can trust a friend and if one can accept a certain job. The oracle was a woman whom Apollo gave the gift of prophecy. It is said the oracle was under drugs and priests translated her prophecies to the pilgrims.

 The monastery of Osios Lucas was our next stop. At the hillside the monastery lies very secluded high above an olive tree filled valley. Osiou Louka (= holy Lucas) was a Greek Eremit. He died 935 a.c. and is buried in the krypta of the monastery. The chapels belong to the most outstanding examples amongst Byzantine architecture in Greece ornamented with the most beautiful mosaics and frescos of the country.

 Our next stop was Corinth – and the passage through its canal. 1893 the 3.2 nautical miles long, 25 meters wide and up to 76 meters high Canal of Corinth was finished after twelve years of construction. From then on ships were able to reach the Saronic gulf and Piraeus directly. Completely uncomplicated we entered and passed the canal ourselves (without a pilot) – what an experience! On the other side we only had to pay for the passage…

 The island of Aegina was our first stop in the Saronic gulf as well as the last port for our first guests. After cleaning the boat, restocking and exploring Aegina our next guests arrived – Sabine and Luis. Together we enjoyed beautiful anchor bays and small ports along the Peleponnes and the islands of Poros, Spetsai and Hydra.

 On Hydra Sabine and Luis had to leave us again. We stayed over the weekend – not knowing what will happen… everyone from Athens who owns a boat comes to Hydra on a weekend. This meant for us lying in several rows off the mole (one boat tied in front of the other)… and then the salad of anchors and chains the next morning upon leaving! What a weekend, what an experience! Fortunately Sunday evening it all calmed down and we were able to relax and enjoy Hydra including a drink at the SunSet bar…

 The next morning we sailed towards the East to round Attica – Cap Sounion. It was nice sailing and we were rewarded with a great view onto the temple of Poseidon. After we put down our anchor we visited the temple at sunset – no further comment necessary… the pictures say it all! 

 pictures to this logbook entry: Greece I - Corfu to Paxos  -  Greece II - Levkas to Ithaka  -  Greece III - Patras / Galaxidhi / Delphi / Osios Lucas  -  Greece IV - Canal of Corinth  -  Greece V - Aegina to Poros  -  Greece VI - Spetsai to Hydra  -  Greece VII - Cap Sounion / Temple of Poseidon

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