We were off to the beautiful island of Aegina, located in the Argo-Saronic Gulf. Mythology states the island got its name from Asopos, the river god, who eloped with Zeus to the then deserted island. As we approached the port we saw a quaint town nestled behind a mass of boats. Dimi, our skipper, steered our catamaran through the maze of different sized boats anchored for the night while we stared in awe at the old buildings on the shoreline. We listened to the music piping out of the town signifying a celebration was underway. We had made it in time for the Pistachio Festival.
What we hadn’t made it in time for was to find a good “parking” spot. These ports have a first come, first serve policy and since we left so late, we’d missed our opportunity for prime parking.
Dimi, although of Bulgarian descendent spoke very good Greek and English. He told us we would have to “double park.” He threw a rope to a man on the deck of an already anchored boat who agreed to help. Dimi began to work with our anchor team (Christal and Bill) to get us set. Until (cue the ominous music)…a man sitting at a dockside table came rushing out, yelling in Greek. Dimi calmly spoke to the man but tempers began to flare a bit. We all stood dumbfounded since none of us knew what they were saying, although it was a bit obvious the guy did not want us parking there. Finally, Dimi relented and the first (nice) guy threw our rope back.
Dimi decided our only option was to dock to an even larger catamaran. Nobody was on this boat so our team had to do all the work.
Travel Tip: If you are planning a sailing trip, be ready to work and learn how to tie knots…much more helpful than reading up on places to visit!
The work entailed lowering the dingy and two people rowing out to the big catamaran to tie our ropes (go Mark and Janet). By this time the sun had set and it was dark. As Janet got in the dingy, she immediately jumped out and went to her cabin, returning in 30 seconds with a headlamp. Yes, a headlamp! Who knows to bring that? Janet does! Side note: Janet also brought the fixings for chocolate/espresso martinis, including real martini glasses.
Travel Tip: Always bring a survivor/pack rat traveling-companion on your adventure trips. They think of everything and bring it. You may never use any of it but when you need something, it’s invaluable!
With Dimi directing, Janet and Mark did an awesome job in the dingy. Ali and I did an okay job on the ropes. Christal and Bill held steady on the front with the anchor. With all that teamwork, we were finally anchored and ready to go ashore. How, you ask? Back in the dingy. All of us at the same time, I asked? Yes, Dimi tells me. It was a bit hairy but no one got wet – success!
We walked through the Pistachio Festival sampling the different varieties of goodies – yum! Each of us purchased some nutty treats and then we made our way to a dockside restaurant. We had a great dinner of Greek dishes including tzatziki, Greek salad, fried hard cheese, red mullet, and sardines. There were choices for those less adventurous. Bill was that person on our trip but he always found something good wherever we went.
Back to the dingy and to our much needed first night’s sleep on the boat. Each room had a square window above the bed. I kept mine open and slept right under it. As I fell asleep, I stared up at the stars and when I woke slightly in the middle of the night I saw the most beautiful star-lit sky…it was amazing!
The next morning we left Aegina. Back to the dingy for Janet and Mark – no headlamp needed now. Once out of the port, we put up our sail. Ali and Christal at the back of the sail. Janet, Bill, and I were at the front of the sail. Mark was working the ropes with Dimi. It was a bit scary as the wind whipped through the sail, sending you off balance at any moment, but we were all so proud once we were done and sailing through the islands of Greece!
Dimi took us to an amazing bay off Agistri. We anchored, jumped off the back of the boat and swam in the clear blue water of the Mediterranean. It was so clear, Ali swore she spotted a diamond ring but it was too deep for anyone to find.
Mark made a great lunch on the boat and after we ate we were ready to sail to our next destination – Methana. Methana includes a volcano, natural hot springs, and the great beaches. Its history goes as far back as 1500 B.C.
In this wonderful place, our good skipper became our awesome skipper and a true member of our vacation party. Dimi had called ahead to a friend who picked us up in the port and drove us halfway up the mountain. He dropped us off and Dimi took us on a hike through the old volcano. It was fantastic. Although it’s not active, we saw the most amazing views and were there just in time for sunset. Spectacular!
We hiked back down where the van was waiting to take us to a mountainside restaurant for dinner. This local establishment was the best food we had in Greece (yes, of the entire trip). Although all the food was good, the standouts were the sausage and onion balls. Read it again and you’ll understand why those dishes plus homemade wine made for a thousand jokes that night. Back on the boat, Dimi treated us all to ice cream bars for dessert – so sweet…Dimi and the treat!