Saturday, September 29, 2012

It is a Typical Greek Sunday

2012 09 16
Preveza, Greece

Sunday at only one of the Preveza Cafes.
There are hundreds.

Just past one on a dreary Sunday afternoon.  Every citizen of this country is in one one of three places: in a cafe, enroute to a cafe, working in a cafe.  Nothing else is open.  

Every shop, business and enterprise here has been closed up tight since Saturday noon.  Greeks close early on Saturday so they can prepare for Sunday rest.  Sunday is not to be taken lightly in Greece.  One must prepare.  

A gentle rain falls, detritus of a minor TCU that strolls gently along the pier that runs for half a kilometre along the water in this quiet tourist town.  Only gentle rumbles draw the attention of the alert to presence of danger in those dark bottomed billowing cumulus clouds.  It is a pleasant pace calculated to alarm no one.  In Greece not even the Gods screw with Sunday rest.

The Budget Committee and I have just returned from a cafe date with Alain and Marie, French sailors whom we met in Mahon and with whom we crossed the Mediterranean to Tunisia.  We were hearing about their adventures with Tunisian authorities, they having stopped before they got to Sidi Bou Said as dark was falling.  It was a humorous recanting of decent treatment by friendly police who did not know how to handle immigration.

The storm is past us, life is good.  Time for the next step: to Italy and home.

Friday, September 28, 2012

The Trouble with the Greek litre is that there is just not enough of it

2012 09 27
Siracusa, Sicily, Italy

Connie at some greco italian ruins in the middle of Siracusa

Greece is the only country in which we have sailed where there are virtually no fuel docks for boats.  Here you have fuel delivered to a quay in a minitanker.  There are many disadvantages: you have  wait. To several hours for the truck to arrive, many fuel nozzles are doctored to ensure you cannot not shut them off, the trucker "forgets" to zero the meter and so on. Yesterday we added a big one.

Keeping close track of our fuel purchasees aboard Meredith: location of purchase, amount of fuel taken on, engine hours at time of purchase is as close to a religious observance as I am likely ever to come.  Before our arrival in Greece our boat consumed two litres per hour.    Reliably unalterably 2 litres per hour was our consumption between fillups.

In Greece our fuel consumption rose to 3 litres per hour.  Between every fillup at every interval we began mysteriously to consumer 50% more fuel than we did when sailing non Greek waters.  Make that before we began filling up at Greek minitankers.

Our boat has just crossed the Ionian Sea westbound moving from the Greek island of Paxos to the Italian Island of Sicily.  We came into Siracusa on Sicily with tanks almost empty: only six litres of fuel in the tanks and our deck jugs empty.  Our tanks on empty we had a good basis for comparison.

When we motored up to the fuel dock in Siracusa we took on 135 litres of fuel which worked out to, you guessed it:  TWO LITRES PER HOUR.

So I am left wondering at what gives with the Greek litre.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

There are 3189 Stories in the Quaint Little Village; These are Four of Them

2012 09 11
Vlidhi, Island of Lefkas, Greece

This Street in Galaxidi Could be in Cavtat, Croatia
based on Posts from H2OBO which is now visiting there

The past few posts should have established that we are in fact enjoying ourselves in the Med taking in all the sights and history and culture.  That we have not yet climbed on a plane and headed home was a good  clue as to the state of things aboard Meredith.  Like Malta, if we do not like a place we just haul anchor and leave.  Undisputably this is one of the joys of cruising.
Galaxidi Has Lots of Streets

This post will move us back onto a philosphic plane that is more to our liking.  We move away from the travelogue and back to episodes that we think demonstrate character of an area, or help those who come after us or give our location to family and boaters with whom we are traveling.


Galaxidi Has Streets and Streets and Streets

Galaxidi is a pretty town.  if you are anywhere near it on your boat you should give serious consideration to stopping.

Almost every town in Greece is pretty.  The houses are all white and tiny, built usually at water's edge in the crevice of two mountains or, under pressure of population growth, up the sides of those mountains like a white and blue vine.  The streets are winding and narrow.  

To a Greek there is nothing quaint about this.  This is how Greeks live.  

Add eight feet of snowfall a year and a freeze thaw cycle that would remove the molars from a sleeping polar bear and these towns could not exist.  in Canada they could not exist.  This does not detract from their beauty but I like to keep things in perspective.

If You Look Closely You will See the Mermaid
Watering the Bougainvillea
At the same time there is so much more to Galaxidi than sprays of bougainvillea and views of the sea.

Bougainvillea Really Are Prettty

The Approach To Galaxidi
Shoal Water Between the Islands
The original town of Galaxidi was utterly and completely destroyed by the Germans as they retreated out of Greece in the second world war.  Much flows from the story of the destruction of Galaxidi, relayed to me by several residents of the New Galaxidi.  Clearly the demolition of their home will not be forgotten or entirely forgiven. 

Quaint Galaxidi is not historic.  This quaint old style Greek village is perfectly modern, all new construction.  It's quaintness flows from its Greekness.       

If you mine the collective memory of its destruction, a vein that lies so close to the surface of the inhabitants of this town, you learn a few things.  
This May be the Only Pre WWII Building in Galaxidi

In WWII the Greeks, bordered by Italy and Germany on one side and Germany's Arab allies on the other, chose to align themselves with us, a gutsy play.  Italy invaded Greece, but being Italy began almost at once to be pushed back by gritty Greek fighters.  Finally to save Italian egos Germany was forced to commit troops and resources to shore up the occupation.   Germany then destroyed this quaint town when it began to fall to allied military pressure and its own fatally flawed Nietschean insanity.  I find Galaxidian (and Greek) character disclosed by the story of the town's destruction quite endearing.

You wonder how this village can be so accommodating to the German boaters who arrive every day in their big Bavaria 40 somethings, backing badly onto the free dock, using the free water and free electric and then  not eating at the local restaurants or frequenting the bakeries or markets.   You also wonder how the Germans have the nerve to even show up in this town that they destroyed.  I get that it was not them but their fathers who destroyed the village and that the sins of the fathers should not necessarily be visited upon the sons however were I German I would be embarrassed to ever come here.  It would be difficult for me to show my face in Dresden for similar reasons.

The Liberty Cafe

It Did Not Take a Rocket Scientist to Figure that This
Was a Good Bakery
 Of the local restaurants we preferred patronizing Mary's Liberty Cafe, located only steps from our bow on the dock.  The Liberty Cafe has been owned by Mary, a quiet unassuming woman,  for seventeen years, a fact she relays with a good deal of pride.  Obviously not all of the seventeen years have been easy and she is proud of her achievement.  These days Mary lets her son take charge.  He is eager and willing and is learning fast.  Our third night we shared drinks on the patio at the Liberty cafe and we left a tip.  A small tip as we find tipping is not always appreciated in Europe.  The young man was initially horrified that we had overpaid and came running after us, thinking we had left too much money by mistake.  When we explained it was a tip and that we appreciated his efficient service he faltered for a moment.  Really.  Struggling to control a wvering voice he explained that he was trying hard to learn how to run the business and that he worked hard to meet everyone's expectations.   He explained that now he could tell his wife that he was doing better.  "She is from New Jersey.  She will believe me now that I have a tip".

The Dockmaster 

The Dockmaster at Galaxidi.  Looks Can Be Deceiving.
This Guy is Talented at Docking.

Then there is the dockmaster.  He is superb at his job: marshalling visiting sailboats to the waiting docks of his town.  This is not an easy job given the fact that many visitors are inexperienced sailors medmooring to a dock that was constructed so it was perpetually in a crosswind.  Under his vocal tutelage boat after boat was landed with nary a hitch.  

The man never wore a shirt, never wore shoes, never was without a glass of wine or a bottle of beer in hand, never was inebriated and never spoke at anything less than full volume.  I think years of trying to make sense to tired cruisers has broken his volume control.  
The Master Surveys His Realm

Imagine sitting in blessed silence in your cockpit as a boat enters the quiet bay for a look around.  Moments later the dockmaster comes flying down the hill at full speed on his bicycle naked from the waist up yelling instructions at the top of his leather bound lungs to the poor boater.  He adopted us for some reason.  Once he learned our names he liked to use them.  Over and over.  "BAWB" he would yell, "BAWWWB".  I am going to the square to buy two litres of wine".  "CAWNNIE, BUS AT THE SQUARE.  BUS COMES AT 7 OR MAYBE 7:15 OR 7:30.  I DON'T KNOW FOR SURE BUT FOR SURE IT COMES".  

The Town Geese

Goose House in the Lower Right Corner
In the south east corner of the harbour at Galaxidi there floats a small wooden house.  It is for geese.  There are many geese, white of course, and they roam freely.  The town takes care of them.  

The Floating Heads

No fools the Galaxidians, they wear decent headgear to protect them from the sum.  They wear it all the time.

Every Morning These Two Swam Off the Point.
They always waved.

God we love Galaxidi.  

It's quaint too. If you like photos they follow.

Monday, September 10, 2012

SummertiiIIImmmme and the Livin' is Easy

2012 09 10
Frikes, Ithaca, Greece

We are here:

Today We are the Letter A
And it looks like this:

Arkoudi Is. on the Far Left, Lefkas Behind it and Meganisi to the Right
The View on the Starboard Side
Wind:          F2
Boat Speed: 3.5
Attitude:      Positive

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Woke Up This Morning; Got Myself a Gun

2012 09 09
Frikes, Ithaca, Greece
(Island home of Odysseus)

I whiled away the morning drinking coffee in the cockpit with a pair of Irish doctors.  We were fully occupied watching this sportfisher take up its lines and get underway.  Fully occupied.

I love the Mediterranean.

Consulting the Oracle

2012 09 06
Stizonia Island, Corinth Sea, Greece

View from the Portal of the Temple of Apollo
Our main reason, at least before we arrived, for visiting Galaxidi was to arrange a bus excursion to Delphi, site of the Oracle.  If you are not into this stuff you can stop now.

Being unable to find a bus schedule we just went one morning to the main square where we knew the bus would come.  There was a bus due at 1000 or 1030 depending on which helpful townsperson was offering advice.  Having been in Galaxidi for two days everyone in town knew not that we were Canadian but that we were "on the Canadian boat".  Being cautious we attended at 0945 for what turned into the 1030 bus.  

The Cafe Like Bus Station in Galaxidi
Tickets were no problem once we found the bus station, a nice unmarked cafe.  Not the whole cafe of course, just the back table on the south side in the corner.  There sat the bus agent who, for seven Euros, handed me a handwritten receipt in Greek.  He assured me it would get us to Delphi.  It did.  The route was amazing, most of it driven in second gear as the bus driver fought to keep our large comfortable bus on the road.  In Greece, a nation of mountains, bus driving is a profession. 

Here are two of the turns the bus driver, with a fully loaded highway bus, had to negotiate.  There were many many turns.  Our five kilometer trip took almost 40 minutes.

All that was forgotten on our arrival in Delphi, a small village about a kilometer walk from the temple of Apollo where lived and practiced the Oracle and the sisterhood in charge of glorification of Apollo.

What you get is this:

Once on the site you realize that you are standing on earth that once carried Nero and Alexander and the mighty and ambitious leaders of the entire known world, come to seek the certainty of future knowledge of the success of their plans of conquest. 

Here I am looking over the mountain pass at Itea where parties royal would have disembarked with their retinues to begin the arduous climb up the mountain to seek the knowledge possessed by the Oracle.  I am lost in the imagination of my boyhood and was shocked when Connie disturbed my reverie.  Here is the view, Itea just visible in the distance:

This is no Acropolis which was rather tedious.  Delphi holds place in our travels with Visibulis, the medina at Fes, the Coliseum at El Jem, the sands of Carthage, the oasis at Tazeur.  It has few equals among the sites we have visited in the Mediterranean.

Either you are into this stuff or you are not.  If you are you have to be here.  Here are a few more photos:  


The Village of Delphi from the Bus Stop

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

How To Vacation in Greece: Erin and Christian Visit

2012 08 26
Palau Fokaia, Greece

Getting the Hang of It
Erin and Christian on a Caique near Naoussa
Erin, our daughter an officer in the navy, and Christian, the navy bum (and officer) who dates our daughter, visited the boat recently.

On arrival the strain of their duties was evident. It looked like we had our work cut out for us.  Fortunately we had Greece along to help out with the relaxation therapy.

The two flew to Athens and ferried from Athens to Mykonos where we were anchored off Ormos Ornos waiting their arrival.

No sooner was the anchor weighed than Christian's naval instincts took hold.  We found him to be very useful on the foredeck  where he hauled anchor by hand and looked as if he enjoyed it.  

Once underway the helm was his and, being a former national sailing champion, he knew what he was doing.  I sat back and learned.

Meantime Erin and Connie caught up on months worth of reconnecting.

First day we sailed to Naoussa, a nice  vacation town on the island of Paros.
With the hook down we too got down to some serious relaxing.  

Swim Ladder Neatly Tied Up on Deck
Christian Nicely in the Water - Five Feet Down.
One rule on the boat was that "You do not Go Swimming Unless You have Made Sure the Swim Ladder is Lowered".  This rule is just common sense but of course, being navy, Christian had to test the boundaries by changing the tactical order.  First he went swimming

Good looking guy in great shape.
But such a Hambone.
and then he lowered the swim ladder.  Everything got done it's just, well...

One Day Erin took us all to lunch.  First we had to choose our "fresh" fish.  I chose the one that was not still moving.

The meal was the best we have had since arriving in Greece.

You Can't Say Greece Without Smiling - our hostess

Dessert at the Creperie just down the little alley,
turn left at the third  pathway
Of course we had to finish off with dessert.  

Our job was done and next day they grabbed the ferry from Paros to Thira, also known as Santorini where they begain their adventures with Costas the Crooked Innkeeper.  We figured Greece won them over.

With every visit there is the moment of farewell.