h1

Liz Comes to Visit, Summer 2014

September 20, 2014

image

We had gone into Sami a few days before my sister was due to arrive, partly because some fairly strong winds were expected and partly because we wanted to be sure of getting a rental car to go and meet her, after our problems earlier this summer, trying to get a car to meet our previous visitors. This was the first time we had stayed in Sami, having been put off by tales from other people about the awful slopping noise of the sea water in the arches under the pontoon. (I can now say that we had no problem and slept soundly

while we were there; we berthed stern-to and sleep in the bow so our cabin was not close to the curiously designed pontoon but Liz reported no difficulties either and she was in one of the stern cabins). In addition, although Sami is not an especially picturesque little town, we decided we rather liked it. It is unpretentious with reasonable facilities within very easy walking distance, a string of tavernas along the waterfront and maybe best of all, no charges! We spent six nights there at the beginning of September plus a further four at the end of my sister’s visit and no-one took any interest in us or tried to charge us for either berthing or water. We were also able to have a diesel delivery while we were there.

Sami harbour

Sami harbour

We managed a couple of lovely early morning walks in the hills above Sami befor Lizzie’s arrival, ostensibly to the ruins of the acropolis of ancient Sami, although actually the most impressive feature was the spectacular views down to modern-day Sami, up the coast of Kefalonia towards Fiskardo and across the water to Ithaca.

Liz had been briefed by a friend who visited Kefalonia some years ago and had a wishlist of places she wanted to see, so following a restorative cup of tea after her journey and while we still had use of the car, we set off to find Anti Samos beach. It was very attractive if rather busy for our tastes; I didn’t remember but Duncan tells me we anchored there once a few years ago. After pausing there briefly and wishing we’d brought swim things with us, we drove on up to the afore-mentioned acropolis to show off the views we’d discovered a few days earlier, before heading back to ‘Rampage’ and supper.

From the acropolis above Sami, looking north to the channel between Kefalonia on the left and Ithaca on the right as you look at the photo.

From the acropolis above Sami, looking north to the channel between Kefalonia on the left and Ithaca on the right as you look at the photo.

Our first stop after leaving Sami next morning was Port Leone on Kalamos. Liz was first in the water and soon reacquainted herself with the delights of snorkelling in warm, clear water. Later, having learned from our previous experience this summer of trying to have supper on the beach there while plagued by ants and wasps, we opted instead to barbecue on board – one of the bonuses of having a Cobb barbecue! (We actually ate most of our meals down below while Liz was with us because the wasps have been particularly abundant this summer and appear as soon as you emerge into the cockpit with so much as a glass of water. It was a bit of a shame but preferable to the alternative. We have in fact, made ourselves a wasp trap, as patented by our friends Nicky and Paul from ‘Carmel’ but although we have certainly collected lots of wasps in it, we are yet to be convinced that it reduces the number that still come to plague us. Indeed it may even attract more!)

 

The Carmel Wasp Trap, made from two sparkling water bottles and baited wth a mix of honey and water!

The Carmel Wasp Trap, made from two sparkling water bottles and baited wth a mix of honey and water!

Next morning, Liz and I went for another snorkelling expedition and were so engrossed in looking at the clouds of tiny fish congregating under the jetty by the abandoned village there, that we narrowly escaped being mown down by a smallish trip boat that appeared unexpectedly and disgorged about 20 or 30 people clutching cameras, balloons and other paraphernalia. Having recovered from this excitement, we took a trip ashore ourselves to look at the remains of the village and were lucky enough to be able to see inside the little restored church. Duncan and I had been there while work was in progress a few years ago but since completion it is kept firmly locked except on certain days when services are held there. On this particular day however, it appeared that the people from the motorboat had come to celebrate a Christening there and while they packed away their bunting and prepared to depart, the priest invited us into look around. It is rather lovely because, unlike so many Greek churches, it is light and airy and relatively simple.

 

The interior of the restored little church at Port Leone, Kalamos.

The interior of the restored little church at Port Leone, Kalamos.

Knowing that we needed to depart shortly, when we got back to ‘Rampage’ I thought we would go ahead and take the outboard off the dinghy.  I attached the hoist to the harness and told Liz to haul away.  Next moment there was a snap as the harness gave way and I just managed to clutch the outboard before it sank into 10+ metres of water!  I lay leaning out of the dinghy, cuddling the thing but unable to heave it out of the water until Duncan came to the rescue!  Having lifted it safely on board, he tried to get it going again but it was sulking after it’s unwanted immersion, so it was clear that he was going to have to take it to pieces.

 

Port Leone anchorage with the church up above on the small headland.

Port Leone anchorage with the church up above on the small headland.

Day two was supposed to take us to Kastos for a couple of nights but while we were swimming, D had had an email from Barry at Souix Sails to say he wanted to do a fitting for our new sprayhood after the weekend, so this meant returning to Nidri. Thus we set off north instead and spent the next night at George’s near Little Vathi on Meganisi. We had a good sail up the channel between Kalamos and Meganisi but of course this didn’t charge the batteries so on arrival we were glad to be able to plug into shore power for the first time in three weeks. (The one downside of Sami is that there is no electricity available). George’s was much nicer on this occasion than when we visited with Peter and Pam in July; there were far fewer boats in so we were able to swim in peace, without running the gauntlet of kids in dinghies careering about near the beach. In addition, Duncan was able to sort out the outboard and we were able to give the batteries a good charge with the added bonus for Liz that she was able to use a hairdryer!

Self at George's, Little Vathi, with the taverna and small beach behind.

Self at George’s, Little Vathi, with the taverna and small beach behind.

She absolutely loved the trip round from Meganisi to Nidri next day, past the island of Scorpios, once owned by Onassis. In the still morning, the glassy water dotted with Islands and surrounded by the hills of Levkas and the mainland was utterly beautiful. It is all too easy to become blasé about the loveliness of this area and it was good to see it with fresh eyes.

Rather to our surprise since it was a weekend, we were able to get a space on the Sailing Holidays pontoon. This was a bonus because ever since my fiasco with the outboard when we were in Abelike (see post entitled Lynch Mob and dated 29 July ’14) I have been very wary of going off in the dinghy without Duncan. I seem to be able to start the thing okay when I set off but never for the return journey. That said, D tells me it is starting much better since its dunking in Port Leone …! Anyway, since we were on the pontoon, Liz and I were able to use the hotel pool for the next two days without having to be ferried there from the anchorage and meanwhile, Barry got on with the sprayhood.

Barry at work on our new sprayhood.

Barry at work on our new spray hood.

While in Nidri, I took Liz on the first of several walks – this one up to Nidri waterfalls.  The walk was lovely although there wasn’t a great deal of water, despite the recent rainstorms and what there was turned out to be brown and muddy.  Nevertheless, the fall of water into the gorge from maybe 40 metres up is still fairly impressive.  On the second evening in Nidri, we went to eat at Ta Kalamia, the restaurant we discovered with Jax and Robbie, where there is no menu and the chef cooks whatever he feels like!  On this occasion we had some sea bass cooked to perfection plus various other dishes.  The staff are charming and it’s not outrageously expensive (€15 per head when ordering meat, €20 for fish and €25 for shellfish,) plus it makes an interesting change from the standard Greek menu of grilled meat or fish, stifado (a kind of meat stew) or moussaka.

Liz on our walk to Nidri Falls.

Liz on our walk to Nidri Falls.

Liz had said she wanted a few days exploring Kefalonia so we knew we needed to be back in Sami shortly but were keen to take her to Kastos first.  Thus on Tuesday 9th September we set sail again.  We manage 20 minutes with the cruising chute before the wind built and swung round behind us so we did the rest of the journey on the headsail only.  On arrival, she and I had a wonderful time snorkelling; I produced some stale bread to take with us and once word got out in the fish community, we were mobbed.  I treasure the memory of my sister swimming along trailing crumbs, followed by an eager procession of fish, like some sort of underwater Pied Piper!  However this did make us rather late getting up to Chef John’s for supper so the light had nearly gone and we didn’t get the full benefit of the fabulous views up there.  We did, though, get a great welcome from Kyria Maria who came to chat to us for quite a while after she had finished in the kitchen, but sadly Liz was not able to sample Niko’s amazing home-made ice cream because of some problem with the machine.

Walking on Kastos

Walking on Kastos

Next morning I took Liz off on the second of our walks together, round what is now for me, the familiar circuit of the northern end of Kastos.  We were thankful that we had headed up the eastern shore first which is rather more up and down and provides little in the way of shade.  We had set off rather later than planned so by the time we crossed the island to the western shore it was getting pretty hot!  We were very glad to go for another swim when we got back although the fish were clearly regretting having over-eaten the previous afternoon and were less enthusiastic about more stale bread.

We set off back to Sami at 12:30 that day, eating lunch en route.  The sea was flat calm all the way so there was no opportunity to sail, (rather to Lizzie’s relief,) but we did catch a a fairly quick glimpse of a lone dolphin just as we came along the south coast of Ithaca.  This is only the second sighting of a dolphin we have had this year and it was all too brief.

Poros harbour

Poros harbour

We decided to head south on the first of our days with the car, partly because there is a circuit of geocaches in the village of Katelios so I thought we could incorporate a tour of the southern part of the island with a walk and an introduction to caching! We stopped first for coffee at a taverna overlooking the harbour at Poros which was peaceful and largely empty. We then made an abortive detour up into the hills looking for a cache above Skala. We were fairly sure it was hidden at the base of an olive tree but the landowner had clearly not bought into the business of geocaching and there was very sturdy fencing and a padlocked gate preventing access. Instead we headed on to Katelios and managed to find all the caches although it was rather hot to take a walk in the middle of the day and we were glad to find a little taverna near the seashore to rest and have a cold drink when we’d finished.

The bell tower near where we stopped for our picnic on our walk around Katelios.

The bell tower near where we stopped for our picnic on our walk around Katelios.

As we left Katelios the clouds started to gather and the weather grew more and more ominous as we made our way back over the mountains to Sami.  We got back just in time to bring in cockpit cushions and close hatches before the heavens opened!  Torrential rain plus lots of sheet lightening besieged us for the next couple of hours.  Thankfully there was not much movement of the boat inside the harbour but it was quite alarming enough for my sister experiencing her first storm on board a small sailing boat!

Next day it was bright and sunny once more and we set off north west via Agios Efimia to Assos.  The usual road is closed due to a landslide last winter so we were diverted up over the mountains on tiny, switchback roads, but the views were glorious so it was worth the extra miles.  Assos was as enchanting as ever and Liz, who you will have gathered by now is a reasonably energetic soul, was keen to walk up to the ruined castle on the pinnacle of rock that joins Assos by means of a short causeway.  Once again it was the middle of the day, so she and I had a hot climb to admire the views while the Skipper wisely sat in a shady taverna (no, not that sort!) down in the tiny village square.  Afterwards, to cool off, we swam from the little cove at the base of the rock and ate our picnic on the beach before heading on to Fiskardo, the last item on her wishlist of places to see.

 

Looking down on the village at Assos as we walked up to the castle.

Looking down on the village at Assos as we walked up to the castle.

Saturday 13th saw us heading back to the airport at Argostoli and waving farewell. We so enjoyed Lizzie’s visit; there were a lot of laughs and I think she was able to thoroughly relax and recharge her own batteries before returning to the busy life she leads, running a gastro pub near Faversham with her partner, another chef called John!

The following day we made our way to Kioni on Ithaka, a first for us, to meet up with Steve and Linda on ‘Tantrum’. We had agreed to meet after an exchange of emails and were delighted to find them already in the harbour with a berth waiting for us next door to them. We had supper out that evening and had a great time exchanging gossip. As strong winds were expected we knew we would stay for a couple of days so, leaving ‘Rampage’ under Steve’s watchful eye, D and I rented yet another vehicle and went off to find the caches on Ithaca and discovered what a beautiful and unspoilt island it is with amazing views from the hilltops.

Looking down onto Vathi Bay, Ithaca

Looking down onto Vathi Bay, Ithaca

We then headed back to Nidri for hopefully the last time this summer to take delivery of our brand new sprayhood and meet up with our friends Claudio and Corinne who were anchored in Tranquil Bay. We had supper on board ‘Levitha’, catching up on a year’s worth of news. They have very kindly offered us a bed for the night before we fly back to UK at the beginning of October; it’s good to know we’ll be seeing them again very soon. In the meantime, we are now anchored on Palairos Bay and plan to head on, through the Levkas canal today, to explore the Gulf of Amvrakikos.

'Levitha' in Tranquil Bay, Nidri as we set off to Palairos.

‘Levitha’ in Tranquil Bay, Nidri as we set off to Palairos.

 

Advertisements

3 comments

  1. Wow! An epic post. Really interesting – love reading about your adventures!! 😄 xx


  2. The title sounds like an Enid Blyton book! Lovely to have a detailed record of my holiday and look forward to hearing about the remainder of your summer travels.


  3. Glad you enjoyed it Jan! As you see, we have had a little flurry of geocaching lately. Almost exhausted the possibilities for this part of the world now, ha ha! Lizzie, I agree that the title is uninspired. Had a bit of a nightmare getting this post published and just wanted to get it done in the end. Happy to change it ‘though, if you have a suggestion. X



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: