21 August 2015

Sailing the Greek Islands - Santorini

Sailing the Cyclades


Stan and I join 8 others on a 15m Beneteau sailboat in Santorini.

We head out into the blue waters of the Aegean. 


Strangely, our skipper is the same one we'd met in the British Virgin Islands. 
Before taking our sailing lessons! 
He works summers in Europe - and winters in the Caribbean.


The others we don't know yet.
Yes, most everyone is much younger than we are. 
As usual. 
But - they're great to be with.


Sometimes - we anchor.

More often, we pull into a marina.
We bring the boat in stern first, which is new for us.



It's high season - on some days, we have to wait until a space opens up. 

Crazy - the Mediterranean can get surprisingly busy!



Usually, I prefer the freedom of being at anchor. 
But being in port is handier for getting around the islands and exploring.



These days, there are probably more pleasure boats than working boats.
Tourism is a big deal here.

The hills used to be fields of tomatoes, olives, grapes.
Now most of the water has been diverted to the hotels. 



We visit olive makers and distilleries.
Churches and ruins and monasteries. 



By local bus, boat - and mostly on foot.



We eat a lot of Greek seafood. Greek cheese. Greek olives. 
We're always on the hunt for a decent bottle of Greek wine. 

There were a few, but they were rare and precious. 

The Greek islands are known for their fierce winds in late summer. 
Of course, when we arrive to go sailing, the wind dies completely. 


It's glassy clear and beautiful. 
But not sailing weather!

"The magic of the islands settled over us as gently and clingingly as pollen." - Gerald Durrell
We take off from Santorini.
 To Ios - Amargos - Schinousa - Naxos
- to Mykonos - Dhespotiko - Sifnos
Folegandros (my favorite) and - back to Oia, Santorini.

The area is known as the Cyclades.



After 10 days, dirty, sore and tired, we return to Santorini. 
Our Greek island sailing adventure is over.

(I've always wanted to "sail the Greek islands"!)



Stan and I rent a place - a cave house (really!) just outside Oia.



Then settle in for a week of unlimited power and running water.



This summer, the Greek economy is on the brink of disaster. 
No one accepts credit cards. Cash only.
ATM withdrawals are severely limited.

There's an atmosphere of uncertainty.




Meanwhile, it's still beautiful.
 The view is splendid. 
The temperature perfect. Quiet. 

A white cat is snuggled beside me, eyes closed. 
Neighbor women hanging out washing in the morning sun. 
Gorgeous sunsets, whitewashed walkways. 

Stan playing guitar. 



There's a nearby tavern for dinner, outdoor tables, low key and friendly. 
Or we walk into Oia and shop for groceries. 



The market woman has her son drive us home on our first day. 
"You have too much to carry!" she said. "My son will take you back. Finikia is not far." 



We do have a lot - water and wine, yogurt, pasta, cheese, olives - the usual stuff.
But - I have NO idea what our "address" is! We just walked up tiny pathways. 
How to get to our house by car-? No idea! 


Tough times for the Greeks, but they're still friendly and welcoming to the many tourists who flock to the islands. It's easy to see why people have been coming here for so long - it's dramatic and just so very thoroughly - Greece.





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