Tuesday, 27 June 2017

John's visit

On the quay at Pothia (some of these photos are John's)

On Sunday 11th June Lin’s brother John arrived to spend a couple of weeks with us. He got the early flight from Athens, caught the 9 o’clock ferry from Mastikhari to Pothia by the skin of his teeth and we set off immediately to Palionissos, arriving in time for lunch. Ray and Carol were parked in front of us, so we invited them to join us for lunch at Kalidonis.

As the wind was forecast to get up, we decided we wanted to get north as soon as possible, so we left Palionissos the next day, Monday 12th June. We had intended to go to Arkhangelos, but since we were making good time decided to keep going north and got to Arki about 1.30. We later discovered that by keeping going we had missed Simon and Christiana in Arkhangelos.
Arki fisherman's tame cormorant

We spent three days chilling in Arki. On Tuesday we walked down to Tiganaki for the morning where we had the beach to ourselves before coming back for a beer at Nikolas's taverna.

On Tuesday afternoon Nikolas went off to Patmos to meet Carolina, her mum and the children, who were coming on the overnight ferry from Piraeus. They would stay in a hotel in Patmos and come back on the Nisos Kalymnos on the Wednesday. On Tuesday evening Nikolas had left his uncle, Stephanos, to manage the taverna – he was hoping it would not be too busy. In fact the heavens opened and there was thunder and lightning, so very few people ventured out to eat in the evening and Stephanos managed fine, though Maria did a lot to help him.
On Wednesday morning we walked up to the church, with its view over the bay,

then down the dirt road on the east side of the island, past a farm, through a rickety gate, 
Directing us to the rickety gate!
to a beach, which was a bit grotty as a lot of rubbish had been blown onto it. 

There was also a wrecked refugee boat on the shore. 

We retraced our steps, crossed a headland and swam at another small cove. 

When we were about to set off for home, Simon found that he had dropped his camera case, so had to walk back past the farm, though the rickety gate to the grotty beach. Only on the way back did he find his camera case. 

When we got back to the village Nikolas's and Carolina’s children, Alexandr and Eleni, were playing by the taverna, but Carolina was resting and unpacking, so we did not get to see her before we left.
We left Arki on Thursday morning, June 15th, and motor sailed down to Arkhangelos, where we picked up one of Georgio’s buoys. He was so pleased that we were using his buoy that he yelled from the shore, “Bravo, Simon, Bravo!”. We had a lot of swimming and the usual excellent meals in the taverna.

On Friday June 16th we motored down to Lakki for fuel, water and provisions and to see Sue and Steve, who came in to anchor just after we had arrived. We had lunch with them at Poppy’s and went out with them for a pizza. They are heading north, so we probably won’t see them again until September.
On Saturday 17th June we left Lakki early for a fast motor-sail westward round Kalymnos and Kos to Nisyros. We reached Pali in time for lunch at Aphrodite, where Chrysanthi greeted us as old friends, though we have not seen her for two years. Frank and Lin were moored on the quay opposite Aphrodite, with Frank's daughter, Jo, her husband, Joseph, and their two little girls, who had come over from Kardamena, where the family have an apartment for a week. They were about to go back to Kardamena, but Frank and Joseph had time for a beer before they left.

On the end of the quay at Pali are two derelict boats. 

One was a refugee boat that had been towed over from Kos and looked as though it was under repair. The other, now sunk, was a beautiful traditional Greek caique which had been bought by a German but had sprung a leak and sunk over the winter. People had then stripped it of bits and pieces so it has been left there to die.

In the afternoon we walked along the coast road, past the derelict spa, until we met a horse,

which, unusually for Greece, looked quite healthy, if a bit skinny.

On Sunday we swam in the morning and hired a car in the afternoon to go to the volcano. Mike the car hire man’s daughter, who is a student at Warwick, was visiting her parents. She loves Warwick and is obviously doing very well, so everyone is very happy!

We drove first up to Nikia, on the volcano rim, and walked around the village. Nikia had been almost depopulated, but has now largely been restored. The square by the church is justifiably a tourist trap.

We then drove down to the volcano and followed the signs down into the largest crater, 

which seemed much more active than when we were last there, 

We then climbed up to the set of smaller craters, which erupted in the late nineteenth century.

After the volcano we drove round to Emborios, the other village on the crater rim, the old part of which is still mostly derelict, though restoration is going on here. 

We had a drink in the balcony café, overlooking the crater, which features a mirror broken by a German bullet in a battle with the Greek army near the end of the war, and a photo of the local hero, who was killed in the taverna in the same battle.
On Monday Simon rode his bike to Mandraki while Lin and John went on a walk around the coast following part of a geological trail, which had some spectacular views of the strata formed by successive volcanic eruptions.

On Tuesday John hired a bike from Mike and we set off to cycle to the ancient city walls above Mandraki. 

When John and Simon got to the turn-off they waited for Lin, but she did not reappear. We went back for her and found she had a puncture. Lin decided to push the bike the three miles back to Pali, in the vain hope of getting a lift, while Simon and John set off up the steep hills to the walls. The walls have been partially restored, using the original stones. 

Simon and John then took a short-cut down to Mandraki, 

which involved pushing the bikes down steep steps until we reached the town. We then had to cycle through hordes of day-trippers who had come from Kos for a guided tour of the island.
When John and Simon got back, Simon mended Lin’s puncture and after lunch we all cycled round the coast road to the end of the beach at Lies, 

where we stopped for a swim before riding back. The road was mostly flat, but had two or three steep hills.

We had planned to go to Tilos, but the weather forecast was for stronger winds and Lin was afraid it would be difficult to get John back to Kos for his flight home, so on Wednesday June 21st we motored over to Kardamena on Kos. Kardamena is the closest resort to the airport, but we had never been there because the pilot book warned of the small harbor, the crowds and the noise of discos all through the night. In fact the harbor had been enlarged and it seems that the mayor has successfully transformed it from a Club 18-30 to a family resort, closing the night clubs and discos, which are now derelict. Kardamena is certainly a busy tourist resort, but it was much less noisy that Pythagorion on Samos and has a couple of excellent restaurants. We tied up alongside Frank and Lin on the quay and settled in for a couple of days chilling and swimming.
On Friday June 23rd we hired a car for the day for a tour of the island. 

Simon dropped John and Lin at the Asklepion 

while he went in to Kos town, then, after a stop at Lidl, we drove up to Zia, a village up a mountain which has been developed as a tourist trap – restaurants, bars and tat shops, with sweeping views across the north of Kos. 

Its main selling point is the sunsets, when hundreds of tourists are bused up to the village. After Zia we drove to the other end of the island, Kamara, to which we planned to sail the next day. We had imagined Kamara to be a deserted bay, but in fact it is built up all round with apartment blocks and tavernas along the long beach. We stopped at a taverna which somebody had recommended to us years ago, which was a disappointment, apart from the cheap beer, and we were joined by Frank and Lin, who had sailed round that morning. After a swim we drove back to Kos for John to get packed for his flight home early on Saturday morning.
On Saturday morning Simon drove John to the airport before dropping off the hire car and settling down to watch the rugby in a nearby bar. As soon as the rugby finished we set off for Kamara. At first the wind was behind us, so we only set the genoa, but as we sailed on we were steadily headed, so we had to drop the genoa for the last couple of miles and motor in. 

We anchored on sand next to Frank and Lin 

and immediately dived in for a swim. The water was incredibly clear!
We stayed in Kamara until Tuesday 27th, eating aboard and hardly going ashore – Simon went ashore on Sunday to watch the grand prix and we both went ashore on Monday morning to walk along the front. 

It turned out to be a very peaceful anchorage, with no loud music coming from the resort, with superb swimming. Just behind the harbour is what looks like a tripper boat, but on closer inspection it turns out to be a superstructure with no hull.

Presumably somebody intended to restore it but ran out of money.

On Tuesday 27th we left early, sailing along the shore to look at “Bubble Beach”, where there is a hot volcanic spring bubbling up from under the sea, but it was buoyed off and in any case too shallow for us to approach it, so we sailed on and anchored in the lee of Giali, a small volcanic island between Kos and Nisyros, the west end of which is made of pumice, with a large quarry 

and a loading jetty for the ships that take the pumice away, and the east end is made of obsidian, with a smaller quarry. 
Panoramic view of Giali from the anchorage

We anchored in crystal clear water, with only a Moody 425 for company, who left during the morning. A German boat stopped for lunch, but otherwise we had the bay to ourselves.

Saturday, 10 June 2017


On Monday 5th June we got ready to move off on Tuesday, ready to meet Lin's brother John in Pothia, Kalymnos. We did our stocking up shopping and went to visit Ghalia at lunchtime. She was not in Pikpa because there were no lunches to do as it was Ramadan, so we went to see her in the villa, where she had been having a sleep. She showed us the nine kittens that two of their cats had just had, six of them newborn. Ghalia was not in the best of spirits. The doctors had been able to do nothing about her bad leg, which hurt, and her anti-depressants make her very sleepy. We then went and had a beer and a sandwich at Poppy's.
We had invited Al and Kitty to dinner on the boat, but they messaged us to see that they had just rescued a new-born kitten, which had to be hand-fed every two hours,

so could we go over to them instead. We walked over to Platanos and up the steep steps to their hotel, taking with us the pork dish that we had been going to cook for them. Kitty had made an Imam and we had a lovely evening sitting on their terrace

before getting a taxi back to the marina.
On Tuesday 6th June we set off to motor (no wind) down to Palionisos on Kalymnos. At the top of Kalymnos we noticed a string of little buoys, holding up a net or fishing lines, that ran down the coast for a mile and a half. We had seen the same, or a similar, string of buoys last year and Frank later told us that they had been there for years. We arrived at Palionisos about 11 and Pothitos came out in his little motor boat to thread the line through the buoy for us - he said he had seen us coming and recognised the boat. We went up to his taverna Kalidonis for a beer and Atherina at lunchtime and swam

and did odd jobs in the afternoon before going back to the taverna for dinner. Pothitos had had a good winter, with plenty of construction work to bring some money in, and the children, Georgios and Raphaela were well, but still at school, so they stayed at home in Chora and did not come over to the taverna,
Frank and Lin arrived on Wednesday with their friends Trevor and Vera. They had arranged to have dinner at Taverna Ilias, on the other side of the bay, and go on their buoys, so we went for lunch at Pothitos's and told him that we would not be eating with him that night as we were going with our friends to Ilias. 'No problem', he said, 'the important thing is that people come to Palionisos. It doesn't matter where they eat'. After lunch we harvested some origano from Pothitos's garden and some mountain tea from the path down to the church. We followed the path past the church, but it ended in someone's front yard, so we scrambled across a rocky field to the road and walked back to the beach.
We went for a drink with Frank and Lin and had dinner at Ilias. They were very welcoming and the food was quite good, but certainly not as good as at Pothitos's.
Heavy rain and strong winds were forecast for Thursday afternoon, and there was a bit of rain overnight, so we decided to leave early for Pothia.
In Pothia we went on to the new quay alongside a boatload of Russians, who were having trouble with their anchor as their windlass was not working. They took more than an hour to get themselves onto the quay. We later learned that the same boatload of Russians had pulled up Simon and Christiana's anchor earlier, forcing them to leave early.
We got an electrician to come and fix our electric winch. It turned out that the earth connection inside the motor had failed, which he fixed very quickly for 80 euros. We did not do much as it was raining on and off, with a thunderstorm threatening, though it never came, We had tuna pasta aboard for dinner.
We went to bed early and set the alarm for midnight, when we got up to watch the election special. Like everyone else, we could not believe the exit poll, having been resigned to despair. We stayed up till 5am watching the results come in before collapsing into bed.
On Friday we took the bus to Chora and walked up to the castle, which is a dramatic medieval castle which used to have a population of 1000.

It was a steep climb up to the door,

which was closed, but only with a piece of wire tied on, which we managed to undo. Inside there had been a lot of restoration, funded by 1 million euros of EU money, including building a visitor centre, but none of it was operating. The climb to the top of the castle was just as high as the climb to the gate, with fantastic views up to Profitis Ilias and down to Pothia.

Apart from a lot of broken down walls of old houses there was a number of 15-16th century little churches,

one of which had the remains of old frescoes in it.

We then had a hot walk back to Pothia, through the affluent suburbs of Chora and Pothia, built no doubt by US and Australian Kalymniots. We got back in time for a beer at Stuka. We spent the afternoon listening to the election special on Radio 4 and Simon tightened up the fanbelt, which had started to slip. In the evening we had dinner at Stuka with Keith, a lone British sailor we had met before at Arkhangelos.
On Saturday morning we did some shopping. We had used 5Gb of our internet allowance watching the election programme so Simon went off to buy a 30E voucher to recharge our Wind mobile internet, but it would not load. He took it back to the shop but they could neither sort it out nor refund it so we will have to go to the Wind shop in Leros to sort it out

We eventually set off to walk along the coast to Vlikhadia, the first leg of the Kalymnos trail.

Although the walk was only classified as moderate, it got increasingly tricky walking along a rough path halfway up a cliff.

Lin decided that she did not want to go on, so we went down to a tiny beach

and had a swim

before walking back to Pothia for lunch.