Me enjoying a frappe (iced coffee)
Last fall we visited friends, Mo, Nina and their 5 year old son Marco in London. While there we mentioned that we’d like to make another sailing trip with them the following summer. We’d been to Greece with them several times before.
We exchanged e-mails and schedule a holiday for the middle two weeks in July.
Mo bounced the idea off of Allan of maybe trying a large catamaran this time. We’d sailed a small one in the past so we agreed.
I had a devil of a time arranging the transportation with our travel agent. The flights we could get on points through Athens to Kos had a terrible connection. And we’d still have to pay more for the domestic flight than for a direct charter flight to Kos. There was a problem with the charter though, it only ran on Tuesday & Thursday and the boat we were renting was from Saturday to
After pouring over the brochures and detailing our plight to our wonder travel agent she called a few companies to see if one of them would give us a two week package and cut out the middle week while we were sailing. The first few said, ‘no’ but with persistence she found one.
I chose a large hotel with three pools that was near but not in Kos town. We had been to Kos 11 years earlier and didn’t much like the beer and beach scene. We remembered hotels and sunbed crammed cheek to jowl on the beach all amid loud blaring music. Not.Our.Scene.
Thursday July 12th
A very good neighbor drove up to the airport at 2:30 a.m. for our 5 a.m. flight.
There’s that word again ‘fanatic’. Here’s how to get a free cookie. Feel faint and nauseous so go to the bathroom. They’ll slap an oxygen mask on you and accuse you of fanatical dieting for not eating before a 5 a.m. flight. I don’t know about you but I never eat at that time. Anyway after that I needed a doctor’s release before I am allowed the board the plane home.
The Oceanic Beach Resort was beautiful. Maybe a little shabby but luxurious and quiet. Right on the Mediterranean(Aegean). I think Allan is the reincarnation of Moses. It sure felt like we wandered around for 40 years. We dine at a little open air restaurant across the road from our hotel. The power goes off from time to time. Which is no problem as the food is cooked over an open fire. After our meal the waiter- who is probably the owner/chief dish washer presents us with complimentary drinks. Al gets an Ouzo and I get banana liqueur/schnapps. I wasn’t going to drink but what the hell?
Friday, July 13th.
Breakfast is served buffet style. Nutella hazelnut/chocolate butter is served in a four quart bowl. Europeans must consume simply galloons of this stuff every morning. I wonder why you see; mud & Jello wrestling but never Nutella wrestling?
We explore all the hotels pools, the one near the beach is salt water. There is a freshwater pool in the front- Andy’s favorite. The beach is a stone’s throw away, first there is a grassy area with some large mature trees for shade. The hotel supplies some sun loungers and umbrellas on the mostly rocky beach. It’s heaven. I arranged to meet with the hotel doctor once I got back for her to issue a ‘fit to fly’ statement on my behalf. We hung out and enjoy gyros on the beach for lunch.
Later in the day we heard that our friends have arrived. We agree to meet them at their hotel in Kos city for dinner. They stayed at the newly remodeled hotel Art. It was quite stark and minimalistic. Andy has fun snorkeling in the Aegean. It’s hot.
We meet our friends and the other family that will be with us on the boat. They’re all Greek but have lived a time in London. Janni & Vasso have two adorable little girls, Christina 8- born the same week as Andy & Phedra 4) While the adults lingered over dinner the four children plot, I mean bond. I made the mistake of giving my digital camera to Christina. I thought she’d snap a picture or two but after about 10 minutes of Phedra Vogueing, I demanded it back. We ate at the hotel restaurant, H20 which offered excellent modern Greek fare. I loved the dishes the food was served on.
Mo told us the boat we had wanted to rent was never returned by the previous charterer. So the charter company had purchased another boat, the same make and size but with a slightly different configuration and that the boat should arrive sometime the next morning. We were given a discount because we would not be able to use the two front single cabins. Evidently Mo had sent Allan an e-mail detailing this but Allan had never opened it. Which is just as well, that way we never worried about it.
Saturday July 14th
We ordered a taxi to take us and all our luggage from the hotel to the harbor in the morning. We took our time. We could stay in the hotel until noon and the boat would only arrive then. The chartering company said they would take a few hours to ready the boat for us.
It took a very long time for them to show the guys the boat and all it’s accoutrements. In the meantime Nina went to get provisions and I despaired over bringing to much, way too much, again.
We got a very late start, it was very windy. Nicoli, from the chartering company maneuvered the boat out of the tight harbor, one of his colleagues collected him from the back of our boat in a dingy. I took a ginger capsule against sea sickness and gave Andy a package of kiddie Windmills cookies. Mo & Al thought it would take us about an hour to get to Pserimos but after 2.5 hours of going straight into the wind we finally arrived. The boat we had chartered was very large and it was very windy. Luckily a tire was tied to the dock as a fender. We stumbled off board and began to search for a restaurant for dinner. It was very late, the waiter took our order but it seems an eternity before any food or drink arrived. The children started falling asleep at the table. Many plates of food were left half uneaten because it wasn’t that great.
The wind howled much of the night. It was coming from the direction in which we wanted to sail.
Sunday, July 15th
The wind was still blowing. Just about everyone told me in private that they just wanted to stay put for the day but they were afraid of telling the others. We were docked in an adorable bay, so why not stay? Andy and Al donned their snorkeling equipment and made their way to shore from the boat. When Andy came back he said, ‘This is the best vacation ever!’ Later Al and I enjoyed a frappe on shore while Andy played in the surf. It was extremely pleasant. I took several long walks during the day from our berth to the end of the beach.
Around noon I made Andy some French toast. When the other kids saw that they wanted some too. Later I had an apple with peanut butter which the other kids were also eager to try.
Some other friends of Mo & Nina had chartered a Bavaria 50 for the 11 of them. They joined us.
That night we had more time to choose a restaurant. Janni inspected the kitchens of several before deciding on one. We had the most amazing fresh white bream, fresh fried potatoes, squid, octopus, red snapper. I gave it 10 our of five stars. We cleaned every plate.
Monday, July 16th
Sailing an 18 foot Hobie cat catamaran prepares you in no way for a 44 foot sailboat with motors. I felt like we were in a floating city.
The wind was still blowing hard but we wanted to see some more of the Dodecanese so we left. One of the local offered to help us with the lines. He let go too soon which made our boat scrape the anchor of the Bavaria 50. I tried to fend off the other boat with my feet but it was like pushing against a brick wall. There goes our damage deposit, we thought. It was a very bumpy ride. Later Al told me that the gusts were up to a force 8. Catamarans feel very different from mono-hulls. They are quite jerky sailing into the wind. I was nervous about having the four children riding on the flying bridge. You just can’t turn off being a mother. It’s hard enough managing your own child, multiply that by four and it’s impossible.
We arrived in Embrios where there are fixed moorings. But the boat was so high that we couldn’t catch one of the buoys from the boat. We lowered the dingy and Al went to take a look and figure out how to tie up the boat securely. The first attempt was not successful. The line was so long that even with no power the boat simply sailed itself over the buoy causing the taught rope to damage the boat. After some time we ended up tying the front of the boat in a “Y” shape to the buoy. The wind alternated directions so the boat would jerk from one side to the other.
We took the dingy on shore and found an amazing family restaurant. The other boat had already finished eating (the children ranged from age 1-12 so they were happy to eat earlier). That left the restaurant staff free to concentrate on us. Again the fresh seafood was amazing. They served something called whitebait. The best I can describe is that it’s like goldfish crackers made from real goldfish. Whole tiny fish are dipped in flour and then deep fried. You pop the whole thing in your mouth. Yum! We ordered schnitzel for Andy(breaded deep fried pork tenderloin) and I am happy to report that he actually ate some of it. It was good.
Here are before and after pictures of a 1.6 kg fresh white bream.
The other boat’s dingy wasn’t that great so they used ours to ferry the 11 of them back and forth. Al was going to take the last load but wasn’t too keen to come back alone so Andy and I said we’d join them/him. Well when we got close to the Bavaria 50 it’s anchor appeared to have drug and they seemed to have blown ashore. So we took everyone to our boat. In a very short time they reset their anchor and the whole party was transported back to their boat. That left Andy and me on board alone. I heard a might ‘crash’ which scared the bejesus out of me. A few minutes later Al and the rest were back so I told them about the crash. They decided that with the crazy winds we’d bumped against the buoy so they rearranged the lines so that one was shorter than the other. No other bumps were heard that night. Every star in the sky was visible. I could clearly make out the milky way.
Tuesday July 17th
We had a lazy morning and then made our way to Lakki on Leros. It was hot. It was windy. Al found a restaurant that served frappe with…Bailey’s! The harbor had hot showers and we refilled the boat with water. That night we took taxis to another part of the island-Milos where we ate by a windmill. The Castro at the top of the island was beautifully lit.
Wednesday July 18th
I tried to take one last shower in the morning but the drain was blocked making the whole enterprise unpleasant. It was so hot that a one piece bathing suit was almost too much clothing. I insisted on finding a full English breakfast for myself. You know how cranky I can be if I don’t get my eggs in the morning. We walked around awhile in the heat first to find a place and by the time I got there all I could mutter was, ‘Eggs! Bring me eggs!’ Well they did but first I got some yummy apricot juice.
Finally the conditions were perfect for sailing a catamaran. You want flat water and a steady strong, but not too strong breeze.
We anchored for a short time in the middle of nowhere. We were by two tiny islands. Later we moved the boat to a cove that we had to ourselves. The Bavaria came too. They invited us to a BBQ onshore. Once it got dark the stars were unbelievably bright against a velvety black sky.
Vasily (from the other boat) was a spear fisherman. He crawled out of the water around dusk with quite a haul. They made a fire and were prepared with grids to hold the sausages & rib eyes. Earlier they’d prepared baked potatoes. Plenty of wine and beer flowed. There was dancing. Someone had brought an I-Pod with a docking station. We’d contributed a salad and some bread. It was indescribably wonderful.
Andy (& honestly me too) were conking out so I asked Al to take us to the boat. He was to return with the makings for Gin & tonics. I put some ice in a Tupperware container and sent him back ashore.
Thursday July 19th
In the morning Janni & Mo took some of the children for a walk. Andy and Al went snorkeling. After that we motored to Pendeli, another harbor on Leros.
Al swam with the three older children to shore. I took a nap. Janni went to pick up Al and the kids with the dingy.
A little before dusk I noticed that everything turned a wonderful golden color. I tried to take as many pictures as possible to capture this magic light.
The children played Anne Marie Kokook (Stop light/Go lilght) and the other children on the beach joined in. We ended up at a café for ice cream and Al tried a frozen frappe. It was a hit. Think iced coffee made in a slushy machine.
Friday July 20th
I had strange dreams. We motored to Vathi, a last stop before returning to Kos harbor. On the way we saw one dolphin lazily porpoising in and out of the water. Vathi is very close to Kos, there are day trips that go there. It’s quite scenic tucked into a picturesque gorge. We moored stern to and I took a walk to explore the hamlet. One restaurant had a little stream full of fish. Andy snapped pictures of cats while Al & I enjoyed a snack.
Andy jumping off the front of the boat in Vathi.
Later I saw our little waitress swimming in the harbor. You can’t call it a beach it’s more like a concrete swimming pool that opens out into the water. Vasso had chosen the restaurant and the lady had already started making our meat & squid balls.
Again we’d stumbled upon some amazing home cooking. I doubt if Allan and I could eat so well without some native Greek speakers along. Our normal meal was served family style and consisted of; Greek salad- we encountered ones with hard bread at the bottom to soak up the yummy olive oil/vinegar dressing, tzatsiki, white bait, white wine, fresh fish, fresh potatoes, squid, octopus balls. With watermelon for dessert.
During the sail back Andy came to tell me that Marco was eating paper. When I went to look in the cabin Phedra had dismantled all her markers- a budding mechanical engineer? Marco had cut up his drawing and the pieces were scattered everywhere. I asked him if he was a good boy or a bad boy. He said, ‘good.’ I asked him then why he did bad things. He was mute. I asked him then what he thought would happen when his parents saw the mess he made. He said they’d be mad at him. I asked him then what he could do to prevent that. He on his own initiative cleaned up the paper.
We’d timed our arrival in Kos to not be too early so we enjoyed a stunning sunset on our last night. Before entering the harbor we radioed the chartering company asking for a pilot to come bring the boat in. It was a tight squeeze on the way out and we didn’t feel like risking any more damage. We kept thinking that it was going to be expensive, that we were sure to lose our damage deposit.
Nicoli came out in a dingy and climbed on board via one of the swim platforms on the back of a hull and easily put our boat in it’s berth.
We’d had a large late lunch in Vathi so we just went to bed.
Saturday July 21st
I woke very early and went for a walk. I saw two really big boats one red and one blue. The blue one had a dog basket on the dock for people to put their shoe in. The red boat looked like a really cool racer.
The other family had to leave really early to catch a catamaran to Rhodes. They were going to stay a little bit longer over there.
I packed at my leisure and then we went back to our hotel. It turned out the chartering company was very generous to us and charged us only a miniscule sum for all the damage. Mo, Nina & Marco joined us at our hotel as their flight was later in the day.
We could not get Marcos out of the pool. I thought it was pretty funny. But I don’t think his dad did. He reminded me of Andy. Andy loves water. Anything to do with water. Fish, whales, dolphins, swimming, snorkeling, sailing. He loves to be wet. In fact I say if there is water, Andy will be wet.
We enjoyed a very lazy day and dreamt of the next time. Maybe the Southern Ionians. Nina said she didn’t need to bring any normal shoes nor as much make up. I’d vow that I really only needed 3 bikinis-tops! I was glad though that the only make up I’d brought or needed was; blush, bronzer & lip gloss. The only excitement that day was that I had the task of digging three sea urchin spines out of the side of Allan’s foot. I think he thought I enjoyed poking him with the needle. I didn’t. They’re not like normal splinters in that they have a barb at the end of them. So the only remedy is to dig them completely out.
During the holiday Al and I had dreamt up every vacation we’d ever like to take. I think Andy would like Maui with the whale watching. Al said you can watch whales in the Azores too. Of course some day we want to go skiing again with our friends in Colorado. We’ve always meant to return to the Schober mountains in the summer. And Andy would like to visit the Harry Potter Theme park they are building in Orlando. We’d all like to drive down the Florida keys.
We bid goodbye to our friends then later took the bus into Kos town. Andy ate his fill of McDonald’s chicken nuggets. Then we went to an intriguing restaurant that Allan had seen advertised. There was no one sitting at the tables out front so we hesitated. But then I said, ‘Sometimes you just have to take risks.’ And went in. The reason no one was sitting in the front was because everyone was in the exquisite back garden. We shared a mixed grill. I didn’t finish my complimentary ouzo, we’d had wine- in the cutest decorated terra cotta pitcher with dinner and then lazily made our way back to the bus stop after Allan had stopped for an ice cream.
Sunday July 22nd
Sometime during the night Allan took ill. That morning I took Allan some breakfast up to the room. Then in the late morning I took a very long walk on the beach. Soon it became very wild. There was a nature preserve. I’d only gone four bus stops but it took me over an hour. I was trying to find a hotel that l’d seen from the bus- Kipriotis Village. I was just curious to see how it compared to our hotel. I gave up before I found it and went back to the room. Al still wasn’t feeling well so after I got back Andy and I snuck into the hotel next door- The Grec Hotel. It was rather newer, and the pool was more modern, clear and extremely noisy. I savored my lunch from the poolside cafeteria while Andy enjoyed the pool. Later in the afternoon the two of us went to the beach where Andy played with the boogie board Marco had left behind. That night the only thing that appealed to Allan was pizza so we went into town. He had a romantica pizza so I felt obligated to order the erotica pasta.
Monday July 23rd
We’d set two alarm clocks because my doctor’s appointment was at nine. That meant I would have to catch the bus. So far the busses had been fairy regular but you never know. I gave the driver the usual €1 and he handed me back 50 cents. Early bird discount? I’ll never know. I pushed the button before my stop but he didn’t stop so angrily I made my way to the front and finally he stopped two stops later.
Basically the exam consisted of her asking if I had problems with low blood pressure and I answered, ‘yes.’ She wanted to do a few blood tests just to be sure so then I was directed to the lab. The drew my blood quickly and efficiently and said the results would be ready later that day. I sent Al a text message that said since I was already in town that I was going to check out a flip-flop store I’d seen earlier. It was hot. Really hot. So first I had a granita (slushy) and then I bought two pairs of sandals. Do I look like Gisele Bundchen now? After all I’m wearing the same shoes as her.
I revived myself with a frappe with a scoop of ice cream in it and then took the bus to the hotel I was curious about (Kipriotis Village). It was big. Very big. You would need a bike just to get around the complex. The beach didn’t compare to our hotel’s though. I downed a sour cherry juice then took the bus the rest of the way back. Curiously this time the driver charged me €1.10.
Al still wasn’t feeling well, and Andy wasn’t hungry (he’d had some ice cream and a croissant) so I ate in one of the hotel restaurants. I’d seen tuna & spaghetti on the menu earlier and was curious. It was okay. I would have left out the tomatoes though.
Andy had been an absolute jewel so we asked him what he’d like as a souvenir of the trip. He wanted an inflatable killer whale. So we walked across the road to a mini mart and bought him one. The nice man at the store even offered to blow it up for us!
Once my lab results were ready I went and collected them. I had an appointment Wednesday morning to go over them with the doctor. At which time she would issue my fit to fly letter. After examining the various boats and possibilities we booked a day trip to Bodrum, Turkey for the next day.
Andy had a crepe then we took the taxi to Nestorias, a restaurant we had visited and really liked on our previous trip. Andy was quite impressed with the 8 octopi drying in a case out front. You walk past the kitchen because the tables are on the grass in the back overlooking the water. Inside the kitchen I spied fresh seafood. Al and I enjoyed a lazy dinner while Andy fell asleep across two chairs. It was an interminable wait at the bus stop so Al finally flagged down a taxi.
Tuesday July 24th
Andy was very sleepy but we had a boat to catch. The bus finally came and took us into Kos town to meet the Maria Star. It was hot. We went a little ways and then were made to get off the boat to clear immigration. It was awful. My dear husband waited in line while Andy and I tried to find a patch of shade. I think our boat captain pulled a few strings because after awhile we were shuffled ahead of a bunch of other people. The immigration guy studied our American passports and then asked Allan where the heck were our exit stamps? We were sent to another window where the guy would have preferred to see our Dutch residents cards. I hadn’t brought them because advertised on the front of Maria Star it said ‘all you need is a passport!’ I’d left all my non-essentials including my Dutch resident’s card back at the hotel. Al and the guy agreed on something I never understood and we were allowed to go to Turkey. I suspect Americans and their dollars are pretty much welcome there.
Right off the boat I saw a white leather bag to die for. I got the guy down from €150 to €80 but since it was the first thing I’d seen I said ‘later’ and walked away. We washed our feet at the mosque to cool off then made our way to the open bazaar. I found Andy a warm up suit and a polo shirt. We bought some pretty bowls and Andy some Pokemon cards. After that we took a taxi to a modern shopping center which had a gold center. It was huge. I spent some time dickering over a ring and some earrings but they really didn’t have what I wanted so we left empty handed.
Time was getting short and it was hot. Did I say it was hot? It was really really hot. The first place Al picked to eat I just couldn’t sit there in the heat so we persevered on. Finally we ended up somewhere, where I ate something and then we tried to find that darn white bag. The first shop didn’t seem quite right, Andy said it was the wrong shop and led up to the right one. Thank goodness he was along- his memory blows both his parents’ away. So we found the shop and the bag and persuaded the guy’s brother to sell it to us for €80 (can you imagine the talk around the dinner table that night, ‘you let her have it for what!?’ and then we headed back to the boat.
The trip back seemed shorter, it was still incredibly hot. Then back at Kos town Andy and I had crepes (his plain, mine was white Nutella with strawberries- yes it was orgasmic). All Al wanted was ice cream from the bakery by the Art hotel. So that’s what we did then headed back. I would have liked ice cream too but the crepe was really filling.
Wednesday July 25th
We’d decided to rent a large ATV to explore the island. I had to get to the doctor at 9:30 but of course they didn’t have the ATV, we got a dune buggy instead. And again I was late to the doctor. I was shocked to learn that I was anemic but the doctor still issued my release with the orders for me to drink at least three liters of water today before my flight the next day. Then we were off. It was hot. Did I say it was hot? It was really, really hot. I was curious about the other side of Kos town so we sped off to Tigaki. It’s rather amazing that just a little ways aways things are wild and quiet. In Tigaki the people we nice, we had a frappe. We did a drive by of Marmari then stopped next in Mastichari. Both are remote and charming. Andy had some ice cream and we stopped at a wonderful grocery store. I wish I’d noted the name of the hotel outside Marmari (I think) but alas I didn’t.
Why do the Greeks hate
toilet seats? And say
‘neh’, when they mean ‘yes?’
Next we crossed the island. It was rather like being in a world sized hair dryer, it was that hot. At Kefalos I hit upon the idea of getting my shirt wet. That helped for about 5-10 minutes until it dried. Then we swam for a little bit at Kardemena. Every little burg has it’s own personality. We never found a better beach than the one by our hotel. Although looking down on the Club Med beach we could see that it was very long and sandy, but still no mature trees. I can’t remember where but I had a terrible lunch of supposed bifteki- it was two bunless bugers. I guess it wasn’t served with bread because there was so much breadcrumbs in the patty. Andy tried to use a shower on the beach but the mean man said it was only for his restaurant! Somewhere I had a virgin pina colada. Andy didn’t like his strawberry slushy- no matter how much we watered it down it still was incredibly syrupy.
Allan was surprised that Zia, in the middle of the island was full of tourists. It was beautifully wooded. The smell of the cedar trees permeating the feverish air.
Allan explored some 300 bc ruins while Andy and I waited outside.
Our day ended at the Empros thermen (hot springs). After the last bus stop past our hotel you just keep going. First you come to a snack bar and then you just keep going. We parked our dune buggy and the bottom and then kept walking. Eventually we saw a ring of big stones in the sea. By it up the hill a little bit was the best restaurant. They had fresh fish but what I really wanted was spaghetti carbonara, which they had and was very very good. Andy swam a bit in the sea. I dipped a toe in the hot springs.
I had no trouble on the flight home. They showed the film ‘Wild Hogs’ which I thought was really stupid. Especially the scene where they’re skinny dipping and the other family comes in and freaks out over the nudity.
It’s been three days and most of the laundry is done.
It’s so hard to believe that there are places in the world that are basically spontaneously combusting from the dry heat while here in Holland it’s its usual gray, rainy wet self.