When our friend Uli asked us about our vacation situation and if we would like to join her and some friends for a sailing trip in Greece we were excited! Turns out, however, that the only party pooper appeared to be our working schedule for the time in question. Luckily the work issues vanished into thin air (for the most part) and we were able to secure the very last berth on a beautiful sailing yacht. Yay! Our friend and well-experienced skipper Georg had booked the Sheria, a boat he had been crossing the Atlantic ocean with a few years ago and a fact, that gave everybody on board a strong sense of security. Altogether we were eight on board of a 15 meter yacht and it didn’t feel crowded at all, but how would we all get along?
The motley crew flew in from Berlin, Stuttgart, Munich and Vienna to the muggy and hot city of Thessaloniki, from where fearless pedal-to-the-metal type cab rides brought everyone down to the Southern end of Sithonia, our starting point. We briefly met Sheria’s former crew, before we boarded the yacht with our limited luggage and stocks of food. Georg explained to us in detail the security equipment as well as the kitchen – and I could feel my adrenalin kicking in -, assigned tasks and before we knew it, we were hoisting the sails. Oh, and of course we were introduced to the traditional and mandatory anchor-beer – not sure if it translates well, but I’m certain you get the point.
Ever traveled by sailing boat? It is a completely different way of traveling. Every night the motion of the water nicely lulls you into sleep, each day anew you get to decide what to do and where to sail next. We either anchored in deserted coves with clear, turquoise water to relax, read, sun-bath, hike and cook aboard or picked one of the picturesque little harbors and islands, to discover tiny villages and rustic taverns. I know, tough life. Wherever the Sheria took us, we enjoyed wonderful Greek hospitality and delish food. (more visual impressions…)
Our excursions, strolling through small and quaint Greek villages, came with two tasks: Firstly, finding a supermarket (and bakery if they had them separate) to stock up on edible goods and secondly, checking out the local taverns for our dinner plans. And the latter was really important. Not sure why that is, but the steady sea breeze naturally made us hungry like there was no tomorrow! Thank goodness everybody aboard was equally food-enthusiastic, oftentimes we discussed our next meal hours before we’d hit our destination.
The on-board kitchen was pretty well equipped, it featured a gas stove and oven, two huge fridges and plenty of pots, pans and tableware. A typical out-on-the-sea food day would start of on deck with a huge bowl of Greek yogurt with honey and fresh fruits (the peaches were one of a kind), bread, jams, Nutella, cheeses, fresh tomatoes and sometimes even scrambled eggs. In between snacks included Greek salad, savory Greek pastry (HELP, we lost the name of the toothsome feta-filled pastry shown above, anybody?), chocolate cookies straight from the fridge or yummy pistachio bars. When we decided to cook, pasta mostly won. Simply because it was quick to cook – in favor of the ones below deck preparing the food at temperatures that would make a Swedish sauna look old.
Eating out was a completely different story, oftentimes our eyes were bigger than our stomach. No, all-the-times. Skordalia, tzatziki, saganaki, fried calamari and sardines, fried eggplant, different kinds of souvlaki, pastitsio, moussaka, dolmades, pantzaria, taramosalata and what not were regulars on our dinner table. Of course we shared plates, which made it easy to discover and experience new tastes. And if we really had eaten too much (which raaaarely happened) – nothing an Ouzo couldn’t set straight… says someone who doesn’t even like anise!
The heat (35-38°C/95-100° Fahrenheit was standard) became quite bearable as soon as we were sailing, anyway, we had blue skies all the way so I won’t complain. Perfect weather throughout? Well, there was this one night we anchored in a cove near Sykias and had crawled inside our cozy berths after watching a beautiful sunset. However at around 2 AM enormous waves were splashing against the boat, the wood began to creak dauntingly and voices could be heard from the deck above. We were facing a bold storm and soon decided to leave and seek a quieter sleeping place, but more importantly a safer place. How little we knew what would lay ahead of us! Guided only by the light of an almost full moon we made our way out to the open sea where the waves reached astronomical heights (at least that’s how it felt) and the far away lights and landmarks vanished. Wearing our life vests, wrapped in blankets we tried to keep warm and in a good mood. Uli we even had to tie to the boat when she courageously took over the steering wheel from Georg, who had to check instruments below deck, that’s what kind of storm we were dealing with! During day the maximum wind speed we recorded was somewhere around 20 knots – that night we looked at 32 average. Never-ending four hours later we reached the spot Georg was looking for and to our surprise (not that we didn’t believe him) the water was almost completely flat there. Even though the sun was about to rise, we fell into our beds, exhausted and drained. Before our heads even hit the pillow we were fast asleep…
So if someone offers you tomorrow a sailing trip for a week or two, say YES!
Click here for more impressions…