am WSW5-10kn/noon and pm W-WSW 10-15kn sea W 0.5m.
This is my last Greek Island. I will miss Greece. Of course I can paddle over to Kastellorizo when I get to Kas in Turkey...it is the last bit of Greece and only a short paddle there. Speck went there so I think I have to make that day trip. Today was FANTASTIC. Woke up at Alimia after a bit of a sleep in. Went snorkelling to look for italian submarine pen remnants but couldn't find them. Paddled to Rodos with a cranking sou-wester. This was really fun surfing the following sea. At Rodos I made a few stops to take a break from the paddling. Kamiros was possibly the worst coffee in Greece so I paddled on. I saw 2 turtles today. One loggerhead (caretta caretta) and one smaller species. At the second harbour on the coast I found a seagull on the beach. At first I thought it was sleeping with its head on its back as they do. Then I went to take a photo and it started to run away with its head stuck on its back. I saw that it was entangled in long line and hooks so it could not free its head. I caught it and with some help of some french tourists I cut off all the hooks and fishing line. My french surgical assistant did not understand English, but when I took the hook out of the beak the bird bit me. He understood 'f**k' and held the head so it couldn't bite me again. We had a laugh about that. Soon the bird was free and having a big drink from a puddle near the beach - poor thing. I don't know if it will survive, I think it's wing was broken, maybe it will find someone to give it some chups (chips). At least it can walk around now. Paddling north on the Rhodes coast I encountered hundreds of kite boarders and I was also enjoying the increasing winds - big smile on the dial. Eventually I landed at sunset and had to find a cheap room for the night (no camping in these parts).
. amNW-WNW 15-20kn /noonWNW-W 15-20kn/ pmW-SWS 15-20kn, sea 0.7-1m NW-W.
My GPS has packed it in! Stopped working that means (mumble, grumble)...oh well I am not lost yet, relying on my charts now and the trusty compass! I loved Alimia Islet. It is roughly half way between Halki and Rodos. Here there is the ruins of a small village that was completely deserted in the 60's. The locals here were deported because they assisted the enemy in WWII by helping British commandos to sabotage submarines who used the deep natural harbour. The little Ayios Minas monastery is beautiful and in need of some people who want a restoration project I think. This is a very sheltered and lovely campsite. There is even Knights of St John castle ruins up on the hill above the bay. This is a trip highlight camping here.
In the morning I launched at the Marina boatramp and paddled around to Therme. I wanted to stop there to have a swim in the thermal hot spring. The volcanic sulphurous bubbles come up from the sand in the pool and you can choose where you sit, depending on how hot you like it, then jump over the rocks into the sea for a refreshing cold sea water blast. At the Therme Taverna where I pulled up my kayak I met the Taverna owner and all of his sons (they have promised to email me their photos for todays blog). They had seen me on the Aegean News and were keen to help me. I got a bit of a warning from them about where I leave my kayak too. The Blue Star big ferry goes past here way out at sea and 30mins later big waves arrive at the beach, sometimes crashing into the beach furniture. It was not really safe to leave my kayak unsupervised on the beach here. This is good local knowledge. I spent the afternoon relaxing and reading my new book on a beach lounge and had a frappe. It was too windy to paddle and everyone on the beach was being blasted with the sand when the gusts came in. It reminded me of the time sitting on the beach at Karystos. Before I departed Kristos, who was making and selling jewelery on the beach, gave me a shell that he says is 'Poseidon's Eye' and is for good luck and safe passage on the seas. This same shell is also called the Mataki - Klaus on Koufonisi creates into lovely jewelery. At around 7pm I got on the water again and paddled until I found a good camping place. Conveniently my campsite had beach furniture, so I had a beach lounge bed and a table to cook on. I pulled my kayak right up and tied it to the beach shelter, heeding the advice from earlier that day. At 3 am some big waves came in and woke me up, a ferry must have gone through at 2.30am.
The highlight of the day was Bodrum Castle, I will write more about this on the Turkey page when I have a day off.
9am - I am supposed to be LIVE from Kos Marina on the Greece National TV channel, but there is a lot of talk on the tv due to the Greek economic crisis, so we are delayed, and then the camera man says we can't go live until he gets the message that the prime minister is in his office. The prime minister of Greece apparently likes kayaking and wants to see the broadcast. When we do go on, it is cut short to about a minute and I answer only one question. I wonder if the prime minister was watching?
Today I got in touch with McMurdo about my PLB. Interestingly, PLBs are sent to Greece primarily uncoded. When you buy one here you have to send it to a McMurdo dealer to have it coded for the country in which you wish to register it. I am registering mine in the UK. I didnt know about all of this when I purchased the unit, so kindly McMurdo have agreed to post me a fully programmed unit to my contact in Turkey and I will use my existing unit until then. Apparently it still works uncoded, just not as expediently. It's all been a bit of a learning experience buying this PLB, but I have to say that Jacqui at MCGA in the UK was FANTASTICly helpful and a big thanks to Geoff at McMurdo for helping sort it all out.
I added it up and I am up to just over 2900kms now! It has been lovely to receive a few phone calls whilst I am in Kos. I had a call from my mum and dad the other day and it was nice to hear their voices, texting and emails are great, but not the same as a chat. My dad learned how to send a text message when I was on my last big expedition in Australia, now my family has bought an IPAD and my Dad has learned how to open the email and check out my latest SPOT location on the google map. If you want to talk to me call the Kos Marina and ask to be put through to the kayaker staying upstairs. I spoke to Nick in Melbourne thismorning, another keen supporter of my journey. I also got an interesting call from the Greek national TV station. They have somehow tracked me down and are coming to film before I depart. My PLB should I hope be registered by then. I have tried an online registration with the UK because Australia cant register it for me. Now I find out that there is a problem with the PLB which may take a day or two to sort out - this is greece, I think I need another Frappe! I hope McMurdo will email me tomorrow from the UK to help sort out the problem. The MCGA organisation who do the registration in the UK have been fantastic. i downloaded my Kos photos thismorning to put them into the Blog page and somehow I lost the whole lot on the computer! It's the first ones I have lost, and not too many... so be patient, I'll take some more. I must share this funny photo from Niko in the mean time! He is an archeologist in Austria, but from Greece, he says:
"think that you have been very lucky with the weather till now, Poseidon and Aeolos like you! Sometimes the meltemi blast for two weeks without brake! Only with Hermes you have a little problems!
- that grumpy face. Ha Ha, I hope we get to go kayaking together again sometime.
There are a lot of archaeological sites here in Kos. A team of people have obviously done a lot of work here, but it seems the money must have run out because it is now quite overgrown and people can walk through anywhere in the dig and some of them have some graffiti tags now. They should be more of a tourist attraction and managed properly I think.
Great Day, in the morning I had a TV interview to prepare for, so I went to the marina and washed the dust and grime off my kayak.
After the interviews the crew at Kos Marina kindly offered me free accommodation at the marina for the remainder of my stay in Kos! Wow, that's fantastic. It's an accommodation upgrade for me too in a little apartment with cooking facilities and a great view over the marina (see pic below). 5 star! My PLB arrived by courier at SELAS, but being Greece, the registration process is proving a little complicated and slow. As I purchased the unit in Greece, I can't register it online in Australia and Greece won't register a PLB as they are not approved here, so they send it out with paperwork that you can complete and post in, but if you post it they wont register it anyway. I sent an email to Australia to see if AMSA could register my device. I am waiting to see what they say. In Serbia if something like this happens you just have to say Nama Problema and forget about it. In Greece they just say, this is Greece! Kostas at the SELAS shop in the marina has been really helpful, but I have to wait to tomrrrow to fix this one. Today I was happy to get an sms that my packages have arrived at Goody's. So I go down there and line up, it is a Greek fast food shop a bit like McDonalds, so the girl behind the counter is expecting me to order a burger and fries and looks puzzled when I ask for the packages, but eventually produces my post from under the counter - I got my package from postmaster Willi in Austria with some books and maps that I need for Turkey and Cyprus, and a lovely novel to read from my friend Greta in Belgrade. I pedalled them back to my new home very happily. The errant package (see July 6th) that got stuck in Veles was rescued eventually from Veles DHL offices by Angel, my friend there, and sent by ordinary post back to postmaster Willi in Austria. It arrived this week. Note to all of you out there....it is virtually impossible it seems to DHL an package between Veles, Macedonia and Greece! The two countries won't talk to each other. Oh well, I have written my own guide book to Greece in lieu of the one in the package that never came.
no packages have arrived for me yet....Monday morning and I had to go to the Kos marina to speak with the manager as my yacht doesnt quite meet the usual type that arrive here. It turns out that Antonis is a pretty nice bloke and he waived all Marina charges for my stay here (phew!). The bonus was that I also met the managing director of the marina, Michael St. Pastrikos. Michael is an aussie from Darwin, his family originally from the Kalymnos aussie greeks that I mentioned a few days ago. Michael also owns a restaurant in Kos and offered me a free meal to help me along my way. He handed me the restaurant business card saying, 'I am not sure if you will be able to pronounce it', then I looked at the card and the restaurant is called BOOMERANG (do your best to read this with a heavy greek accent and you have the correct pronounciation - ha!). He also asked me if I wanted a stern or a side berth in the marina for my small yacht. I like his sense of humour. Researching the logistics of crossing the border to Turkey has been interesting today. Through my weather man, Karel, I received the contact of a man from Israel who has done a number of trips by kayak along the Turkish coast. Avner Moncaz was gold! for me today, as was Avner's friend Sevket from Turkey. Avner has documented his journeys in Turkey through maps and photos on picasa (I will start a Turkey page soon and put links to these valuable kayaker resources for those of you who ar interested). I spent most of the day today on the computer looking at this information and making notes on my charts. There are some great stories there. Avner and a friend once tried to take a couple of kayaks into Turkey on a ferry and the ferry company could not find a rate for taking kayaks, so he was shuffled from person, to person, to the manager with the end result being that they said that no rate meant kayaks were not allowed on the ferry. Avner ingeniously managed, in the end, to beat the system by loading the kayaks onto a car to take them onto the ferry. There was a rate for cars. My investigations into how to cross into Turkey by kayak have so far indicated that it is not possible to paddle in and cross the border from Greece. Border relations are not good between these countries, the border is patrolled seriously for illegal immigrants, so at present I believe that I will have to travel by ferry with my kayak to get in. This way the kayak is just sporting equipment that I am taking as 'luggage' and not a 'boat' for which a screed of documentation is required such as length, width, tonnage, transit log, insurance, registration, radio call sign, survey papers and who knows what else! Many of the yachts pay an agent in Turkey to do the paperwork for them or it can take weeks to get it all through. Agents cost around 150 Euros. I spoke to an agent today and he said if i dont have a motor he cant help me. He told me to go on the ferry with a kayak is the only way or call the Turkish Embassy and discuss it with them, when I asked if he had the number he hung up. From an agent's point of view I think that trying to deal with a kayak entry could bring them problems too, so it is likely with good reason that he can't help me. Sometimes not being normal is not to my advantage. I have decided that from here I will continue hopping Greek islands to Rodos (Rhodes in english) and then I will probably go on the ferry from Rodos to Marmaris in Turkey and follow the Turkish coast east (or maybe ask a yacht for a lift). My Greymouth correspondent says 'Border issues - it would not be very nice to end up in a Turkish prison- long way for Crocodile Winky and myself to visit you', secretly he wants me to be put in a turkish prison to make the story more exciting! No thanks, last year I got kicked out of a pub in Exmouth for popping balloons, prison is way out of my league. The whole border crossing dilemma will rear its ugly head again when I want to go to Cyprus. I feel like I have a team of people helping me though and we may be able to figure this one out. Maybe this bloke can give me some good advice:
Have a look at this link, Antonis told me about him today. Check out the new photos and BLOG updates below... Kos photos coming soon. Thanks to the people that have donated this week to keep my trip going. The best thing about this whole journey is the amazing generosity of complete strangers. Ordinary people helping ordinary people hey. If anyone wants to join me for a paddle let me know too.
July 31 Rest day Kos
I have moved hotels again. If you are wondering why I am not in a campground, well there isn't one here. I saw the remnants of it yesterday, but it has shut down, probably the economic situation does not help and I think many people here would rather find a cheap hotel for a week. I found a place with a good deal yesterday while biking. I have a room with breakfast included and free internet now at Hotel Afendoulis
. Hopefully the package comes in the post tomorrow and I can move on soon. I still have to find out how I negotiate customs etc for entering Turkey by sea kayak. I will do that tomorrow during business hours. New from my Turkish contacts is interesting..." It looks like you will be arriving in Turkey at the start of Ramazan. Probably your entire trip in Turkey will be during the month of fasting. Usually Turkish people are the most hospitable people I've encountered with giving out food etc to strangers, you might only encounter this after sunset though - during the day you will probably encounter lots of people who look quite hungry and thirsty :) Along the coast where you are paddling there will be quite a lot of people in the major towns who don't fast though. Probably 1/2 the town we live in fast, the other 1/2 don't" So I may be fasting during my trip through Turkey - o, oh. Food is quite expensive in Greece I think. The locals all grow their own vegies and mulberry trees and fig trees are common, but neither is in season right now. In the garden they are growing all of the ingredients for Greek salad - tomatoes, cucumbers, red onions etc. This is topped with the best fetta you have tasted. On Koufonisi I admired a mans' garden and he gave me some tomatoes for free. They are best when they are fresh and home grown.
July 30 Rest day Kos, got a stupid cold....
I spend the day doing various organisational tasks for the next part of my trip and updating my blog. This place has many yachts in the marina and 3 marine chandlery stores, so I wont have to curse my maps now for some time. I got some charts and also the pilot book for Turkey - this is a hefty book to carry, but I think it will be worth the weight for the details in it. I also hired a bicycle. This is the best way to move around in Kos and very affordable at only 3 Euro per day. They also do a weekly rate if you are here for a while. There is a big flat cycleway that runs around the foreshore so the place is set up for bicycle transport and this fits in with my philosophy of trying to use mostly muscle powered transport on this journey. I move hotels to the Hotel International because Hotel Yiorgos didn't have a spare room tonight. It is high season and most places are fully booked. Hotel International is a bit more expensive, but includes breakfast. I am hoping my cold goes away because I am soooo sick of blowing my nose.
July 29 Kalymnos to Kos Town,Kos via Pserimos 37km
. am NW10-15kn / noon NW 10-16kn / pm NW 10-15kn Sea 0.25-0.6m NW
5.30am and a few goats are running past me on the beach to cross to the next bay for feeding time. Today I am crossing to Kos. I saw my first live turtle of the trip today just off Kalymnos. The turtles here are Caretta Caretta or the Loggerhead turtle. It is breeding season at this time of year for the turtles. There are islands to hop to and a good tail wind so it is not so difficult. I am going to Plati, you can stop here for a breakm then to Pserimos, then a short crossing to Kos. Paddling along the coast of Pserimos there is considerable erosion. The erosion could be natural here, or maybe from a past earthquake or maybe from the wake of the fast ferries, but what I see is one and a half churches! The church in the foreground has half dropped into the sea and a new church is set further back. At Pserimos village I stop for a coffee break. This is a place where tourist boats come in frequently. When I land on the beach I am an instant celebrity for some reason. Maybe they don't see kayakers here much. A man comes up straight away and hands me a bottle of cold water, then a group of italians come and ask me about my journey. When I go for a coffee the guy at the coffee shop is another australian greek and he gives me a free coffee because I have kayaked here. He says that it is getting harder here with the economic situation and he is thinking about moving somewhere in Australia. He has family in Darwin, but he is asking me what Perth is like. After chatting to a few more people on the beach I am off for the crossing to Kos. This crossing is easy and I think Kos is going to be quite different to these small islands that I have been visiting. I can see the hoards on the beaches, so many people here on holidays. The water is quite shallow here and I can paddle along behind any waves and chat to people along the way. I meet a family from Austria who are nice, and italian guy who chases me down with a windsurfer so he can have a chat, some cheeky dutch people and an aussie girl from Queensland. Arriving into Kos main harbour the harbour control yells at me and tries to kick me out, I seem to be arriving with half of the spanish gallion behind me as I paddle in, they are all the tourist boats returning from the day trips. I pretend to paddle in to turn around and leave and then sneak off when he loses attention. I head for the fishing boats and am looking for a boat ramp, but there is none. A kind yachty lets me tie up near his yacht and loans me an anchor for my stern to hold the boat in position. His name is Tom. Tom and his wife have their yacht here in Kos all year and spend the summers sailing around Greece and Turkey. I get a squirt of a fresh water shower on the back of their boat and head off to Goody's to see if my package has arrived and to check out where I can stay tonight. My package is not here yet, but I have more luck on the accommodation and boat storage problem with help from Omer from Terra Santa Sea Kayak Expeditions
. Omer's club used to store kayaks in the other Marina, so he has good local information. I paddle back out of the Harbour and to the yacht marina and pull up on a small beach to the right of the marina. Some negotiation ensues and eventually the marina staff let me store my kayak there. I manage to get a room at Hotel Yiorgos for the night. Most exciting, I can see Bodrum in Turkey (see photo below) from here, no goats though.
, am NW 10-20kn / noon NW 10-15kn / pm NW 20-25kn Sea 0.5m NW rising
5.30am and from both sides of the beach in the hills the goats start to come. 6am I hear him from the other side ofthe hill walking in and calling out, he whistles a long calling whistle twice and then yells out hee hee a few times. Whistle,Whistle,Hee Hee Hee, Whistle, Hee,Hee,Hee. He is on the hill top above the beach and he pulls out his binoculars from the case and looks to the hills for his goats coming in to the call. Hee Hee, Tinkle Tinkle Tinkle. Giant never ending wind chimes of different tones fill my world as the goats run in from the hills to his repeated calls. It is like some sort of bell ringers spectacle and sounds better than any bell tower or bell performance that you could witness. The 6am concert played by the goats. They line up to the shed as he goes in to fill his buckets and when he comes out there is the climax of the 1812 overture in bells, Explosion of bells as goats run to the troughs. Hee Hee, more goats are running down from the hills even now. As he walks along pouring food into the trough they fight and butt each other to get in. A male goat is above me at a trough on the hill and I can smell his odour even through my cold induced blocked nose. The man is knocked down on the path to the shed and a goat runs over him. It knocks his hat off and he gets himself up and continues his work, checking elbows for gravel rash. He ignores my presence on the beach completely. The goats above me on the hill overlooking my camp butt each other hard in competition for food. Oh shit, they are looking at me, oh it's ok they are eating again. Baby goats baaaa on the hill for mothers to return. Some goats start to return to the hills. By 7am I have the place to myself again. The occasional late goat comes for nothing, the food is gone. I am not feeling well with a cold and constantly blowing my nose. It is forecast too windy to paddle a crossing today to Kos so I am taking some time to relax on the beach for half a day and then will explore the beaches to the south of Kalymnos and look for a better campsite for tonight. I put up my beach umbrella for a bit of shade and take a swim in the crystal blue water every now and then. At around 1.30pm I am on the water and the beaches at the south of Kalymnos are really great. The first bay has only a tiny beach and a yacht is anchored here. The next bay has a huge yacht anchored and another coming in. There is a nice beach with shady trees and a BBQ area on the rocks with table and chairs. I wish I had some vegies to grill on the BBQ. Someone has written Mykonos on the rocks too...must be a freind of Niko's trying to confuse the tourists! In the next bay there is a good beach with small stones and a walk trail up onto the headland behind. I say hi to a family snorkelling there and then go for a hike up the hill. What a stunning view. I can see Turkey, Kos, Pserimos and the shipping channel that I must cross tomorrow to get to Kos. I decide to go to the next bay along for a look because I hear there is a small village there called Little Vathy. The entrance is like a canyon with steep cliffs on either side. I have to paddle hard against the wind to get there. Half way in there is a break to the left where I can get out of the wind and rest, then back into the wind for the final slog to the village. There is an area on the left where many yachts are berthed and on the right there are fishing boats. I slide my kayak up between two old fishing boats and go for an explore. At the supermarket I find an aussie called Sandra who lives in Sweden, but she has not lost a bit of her accent. The supermarket owner produces an aussie son from out the back and I am feeling right at home here. There are apparently many aussies from here that live in Darwin. So good to hear the australian accent. For dinner I have a souvalaki and then just before sunset I walk up to the hill tops to explore the ancient christian basillica and ruins which make a nice photo with the setting sun in the backdrop. On Kalymnos I discover that this area is famous for sponge harvesting. This industry would no doubt have been thriving when Oscar paddled past. Even today there are people selling sponges on the islands, but you have to wonder about the continuing impact on the ecosystem if all of the tourists here want a bit of sponge to take home to decorate their bathroom - I started to wonder if the turtles here need the sponges too - many turtle species are herbivorous. With a little more research I discovered that the sponge harvesting industry was largely wiped out some time ago by a sponge disease that decimated sponges here. Whilst there is still one or two sponge harvesting boats going out, and a sponge festival on Kalymnos, the sponges sold to the tourists are from someone elses ocean (Asia probably), not the Aegean, so yeah come and get your genuine
Aegean Sponge (from somewhere else on the planet) and bugger up that ocean ecosystem too. The price of soft skin, interior decorating and stupid tourist souveniers. I didnt get one for you mum! I paddle in fading light back to the beach with the walk trail and camp there. There are just a few goats. The goat hotel is in the bay with the BBQ area.
If you are liking the look of the sea kayaking here then you could be here sitting in a kayak with Terra Santa Sea Kayaking
- they have a base in the Dodecanese and excellent guides to show you the best that these islands have to offer. Check out the link. I bet they dont camp with the goats though.
July 27 Kinaros Islet to Kalymnos, 72km
, am WNW-NW 7-9kn / noon NW 8-10kn / pm NW 10-15kn Sea 0.25-0.5m SW
Goat Hotel 3: At 5.30am the goats started to come from the hills all around, most have bells and tinkle their way in. I was awake already and about to get up and be on the water by 6.15am for the big crossing. Kalimera Kalimera says George's mum as she carried the feeding buckets to the yard and begins to speak goat to them all. In one yard she has separated baby goats that get special rations...I bet they taste good too. I say Efharisto (thankyou) and launch into the rising sun. It sounds good, but soon I am paddling east straight into that sun in my eyes and I have a cold now and I am not feeling so flash. Maybe its the new goat flu, I got attacked by mosquitos last night too when the wind stopped. I push on to Levitha which is the next islet some 17kms distant. Once the sun is higher I feel better. I start to see lots of yachts crossing too in the weather window. There was no phone range in the gorge at Kinaros so I am checking my phone for Karels update and hoping it is all good. There is no wind and the sea is flat so I think it will be a good day to make the big crossing. I can just make out the haze of the mountains on the other side. A yachty checks me out through his binoculars from the point at Levitha, they must think I am crazy, or maybe they have respect for me having made it this far? I am not sure,but sometimes they divert their course to spy me through the binoculars and see what I am. I need a sign to say please throw cold cans of soft drink overboard because that's what I feel like right now. Near Levitha I see my first turtle of the trip. Sea turtles are endangered here. When I say sea turtles are endangered and protected in Australia, I still know places where I can paddle and see hundreds of them, here they should be called off-the-dial endangered. This one is floating upside-down, a bloated smelly carcus with its head and flippers ripped off (sharks?) and bones protruding where the back flippers once were. Wake up Greece. Too much plastic in the sea, too much harvesting of the produce of the sea, too many years of dynamite fishing in the past, too many people who dont throw the undersized fish back, too many tourists gorging themselves on Greek seafood in beachside restaurants, too many nets and longlines and trawlers. It all adds up to this kind of spectacle to pass on to your grandchildren.
The crossing is endlessly hard with no wind, but safe with a sea like glass. I avoid a few ships in the shipping lanes and land at last on the south of Leros near Xirkampos. I should have gone to camp there, but my phone is delaying my messages and I missed a text that a group of kayakers from Israel would be there that evening. As I paddled south to Kalymnos I met Jonathon from the Israel kayaking club guiding 2 american paddlers. If I had known Omer from their club would also be there that night then I would have turned back into the wind to paddle with them, but instead I continued south to a bay we had discussed - Palionissos. Here I turned intothe wind and found my third goat hotel on the side of the gorge because I was too lazy to paddle into the strong wind all the way to the head of the gorge. These places really funnel the wind. Greece is the first place I have paddled where there is the windward side of the island and the catabatic side of the island...the leeward side does not exist. You can only find tiny places to shelter, or you might get some reprieve from the wind between blasts. I am a weak paddler into the wind and this campsite is a good option for me. It is a nice private beach and I know the goat herder will arrive at 6am tomorrow for the feeding because the troughs are all laid out and there is a shed full of goat food and hay. The stones are softer here and I can just use the beach mat and thermarest. The strong wind keeps away the mozzies.
I have now paddled through the Cyclades and am in The Dodecanese.
This is the name of the island complex in the North East Aegean. The 12 main islands are: Rodos, Astypalia, Kalymnos, Karpathos, Kasos, Kos, Leros, Nisyros, Patmos, Symi, Tilos and Halki. There are also the islets of: Lipsi, Pserimos, Agathonisi, Saria, Kastellorizo, Levitha, Giali, Kinaros and a few other uninhabitable islets that are basically just rocky peaks poking out of the sea.
July 26 Amorgos (Cyclades) to Kinaros Islet (Dodecanese), 50km
am W-SW 5-10kn / noon SW 5-10kn / pm SW 10-15kn seas 0.5m SW
Goat Hotel 2: I was in a bit of a do I stay or do I go now today. Amorgos is very beautiful and I did not do it the justice of exploring it enough. The weather window that I have been enjoying for several days now is closing, so it is best to cross to Kinaros and Kalymnos in the Dodecanese in the next 2 days. At the next town where I had a break I found a discarded air mattress or lilo next to the bin. It was not broken so I slipped it under my back decklines. The yachts have a tender to go in to shore and now I have a tender too :) I followed some convoluted Greeklish (Greek English) directions to the bakery and walked barefoot under some Eucalypts on the way. Ah, that feeling of the leaves on the path under the soles of my feet made me feel like I was walking in Australia, how lovely a sensation through my feet. The aussie trees are common here and do well in this climate. After another bakery recharge I was off around the towering 500m cliffs of Amorgos, you cannot capture this with my little camera. Taking it all in with your eyes is difficult. The cliffs make shade on the water at the bottom to get out of the sun which is a nice break from the beating heat. I had to leave the shade though for the crossing to Kinaros. I was anticipating a small beach and no people, but as I paddled into the gorge that is the bay, dogs were barking and this beach is actually someones home. George was there with his mother who tends to the goats. I asked if it was ok to camp here one night and they gave me permission with no problem, but warned I would be awoken by the animals. Luckily I am not scared by animals because a goat, a wonky donkey and an annoyingly persistent cat all eyed off my dinner that I cooked there. I was squeezed onto the small part of the beach where the animals did not traverse to get into the feeding yard, called by George's mum who speaks only Greek and Goat. My new air mattress protected me from the chunky rocks that made what I am calling a beach.
July 25 Koufonisi to Amorgos,35.5km,
am W-WSW 10-15/ pm SW 10-15 Sea 0.5m-0.75m SW
Goat Hotel 1:
Well, Mania and I went to the post office today and no package had arrived, so she is going to forward it to me at Kos. Getting packages in Greece is fun! I needed an address on Kos for my last package that postmaster Willy has stored in Austria. I have been chatting to a kayaker Nick in Melbourne by sms, he is from Samos and has family there. Nick said he thought his aunt might be on Kos, she wasnt, so he went to a Greek restaurant in Melbourne called 'Nicks Place' because he knew the owner there is from Kos, and this restaurant owners nephew owns a restaurant in Kos town, so I eventually got an address on Kos thanks to Nick in Melbourne and Nicks Tavern! Amazing how small the world can be hey. I suspect I will arrive in Kos before the packages,but that is ok because I have some organising to do there for the next section and for going into Turkey I need to find some maps.
Today I am paddling from Koufonisi across to Amorgos. It is an easy day with some island hopping to get there (Keros to Adi Keros to Gramvoussa and then Amorgos). On the beach when I was packing my kayak Mania told some people about my trip and they gathered around like a small fan club and helped me push the kayak out into the water. The island next to Koufonisi (Keros) is very mountainous and interesting coastline to explore with some caves to paddle into. Approaching Amorgos there was much bigger swell and some breaking waves around the island just offshore (Gramvoussa). It is actually nice to see some surf because I have not seen any waves in Greece so far. It is too rocky there to catch a wave though. I felt really tired because I am usually a morning person, but on Koufonisi they work til 12midnight or 1am, then eat a meal in the restaurant and I didnt go to bed til 2 or 2.30am. I am looking forward to being asleep by 10pm tonight. For a break I stopped at Katapola which is the main port of Amorgos. The bank machine on Koufonisi had run out of money, so here I could get out money to shop and recharge my phone credit. I couldnt resist going to the bakery too. The bakeries here have nice greek food and are very affordable. After a honey soaked Greek cake I felt good to paddle out of Katapola and around to the first beach on the rocky headland. I had to turn back against the wind to get into this small beach, but the paddle into the wind was worth it for the opportunity to climb the hill for an amazing view. It is amazing the places you can sleep when you have a sea kayak. Sometimes I wonder why people sleep inside at all. Behind the beach was a yard full of goats and feeding troughs. Hence the name Goat Hotel 1. The beach is covered in litter. You could construct a house from this stuff. I slept on my beach mat under the stars. I have been gradually aquiring items that are common place for Greek beachgoers. I now have a bamboo beach mat that they all use to lay on the beach, weighted down at each corner with rocks to stop the wind blowing it. It is great on the pebble beaches. I also have a beach umbrella that I made from 2 broken ones. I found all this stuff just thrown away. When people go home they just leave it. The beach umbrella fits nicely on top of my spare paddles on the back deck and is going to be good when I have to wait on a beach for the wind to drop. Kallinichta everyone.
July 24 Rest Day Koufonisi:
Yesterday I went down to the port and asked the yachties if they had a Dodecanese chart that I could use to copy it. A kind man called Nikolaus who skippers a charter yacht loaned me the chart I needed, but there was nowhere with a photocopier so I got some photos on my camera of the sections I needed and I copied the relevant chart information onto my map that I have. I am preparing to cross from the Cyclades group of islands to the Doddecanese. The Cyclades if you look at them from the air apparently form a circular shape, hence the name. Dodeca means 12 in Greek and in the Dodecanese there are 12 islands. Actually Koufanisi belongs to the small Cyclades and these small islands are really beautiful I think. Koufonisi is on my list of places to come back to one day. You will want to come here too when you see the photos. I told Niko he has good taste in islands. The windmill below is a hotel - I want to stay there next time I visit Koufonisi.
July 23 Kato Koufonisi - Pano Koufonisi - it is just across the bay, REST DAY here:
I was woken up at 2.30am by a big ship that comes at night. The wave from the ship almost makes it to my kayak and tent. If two ships went past in a row I think I would be swamped. Luckily this is a small port. I am going to have a break from the sun today and use Manias computer, so you will all enjoy reading the newly updated blog I hope. A huge thanks to the three people who have helped me out with some donations this week. This has filled the gap a little when my sponsorship that I thought was coming at the end of June fell through. If you are reading this and you can spare even a little then it will help the adventure to keep going. Thanks everyone. It is great to see that the spirit of adventure is still alive and that people can see a point to want I am doing.
I went to a coffee shop in the morning after paddling back to Koufonisi from Kato and I explained to the guy in the coffee shop that I needed to take the coffee to Manias shop, but I would return the cup if that was ok. He looked confused like he didnt know Mania and Klaus, so I said they have the shop called ... wait for it.....I got the word wrong.... Malaka! Once I said it I knew I said the wrong word and this dude is cracking up laughing, no it is not the name of the shop he says! I realised my mistake already you see Malaka means Jerk in Greek! The shop is called Mataki that means eye or the shell found on the beach that looks like an eye actually. All day when that guy saw me he laughed at me and probably tomorrow too. Funny Mistake. In the evening I was invited to go with Mania to the home she shares with Klaus to put my washing in the machine (oh yeah exciting stuff folks). The house they live in is stone and has a roof made from the local trees. Hard to describe, but it is a work of art, maybe I will get some photos tomorrow when I go to get the washing in. After Klaus closed the shop (jewellery store) I stayed up til about 2.30am at the restaurant across the street trading stories with Mania, Klaus and their friends. It was a relaxing and fun evening with lots of laughs. And we laughed again about my stuff up thismorning....Niko sends a text to my host Mania....He says he doesnt know about these Australians, you give them your hospitality and help and they call your shop Malaka!
July 22 Naxos to Koufanisi, 37km,
am NNW3:6kn, noon NNW 5-10kn, pm NW-WNW 5-8kn:
The south of Naxos island is very beautiful. Koufonisi is where the film Big Blue was made and the water at the south of Naxos where the white rocks are under the sea is so clear and beautiful like how I remember it in Big Blue. In one small bay a yacht is moored filled with young people jumping overboard and exploring a tiny church on the hill, then leaping off the cliff into the beautiful water. I say hello to another yachty later in the day and they give me a cold drink and their cook tells me what he is making for dinner. They show me the sea urchin shears or scissors that you can use to open the spiky creatures. They also tell me the best way to eat them is fresh from the shell on bread with olive oil and after you eat it you say Ahhhhhhhh! You can only eat the urchins with the small fine spines. The mouth or arisotles lantern side of the urchin contains the organs and the other half contains the lovely roe. The shears cut the urchin in half easily, but if you dont have them you can maybe use a knife. The sea urchins with the bigger spines are empty inside. After talking to the people on the yacht I set out across the channel to Koufanisi. When I arrive I think it is the most beautiful island that I have seen so far and I go and meet Mania at the little shop that she runs with Klaus. Then I head off to Kato Koufonisi just opposite in the bay because apparently I am allowed to stay at a house there. When I get to the island I call and discover there has been some mix up and actually I cant stay at the house so I camp on the beach. I am a bit disappointed because I was hoping for that elusive hot shower and a chance to do my laundry, but tomorrow Mania says I can stay in her art studio which she calls the laboratory. Mania is very welcoming and a treasure. She is Nikos friend and will look after me. I am looking forward to staying on Koufanisi. The photo below is looking from Koufonisi to Kato Koufonisi.
July 21 Ammiti Beach - Mikri Beach, Naxos, 25km,
am NW10-15kn, noon NNW 5-10kn, pm NW-WNW 5-10kn:
My head hurts today and my body is exhausted. I think I did not drink enough water on the crossing yesterday and I need a go slow day today. I paddle to the Naxos Hora. On the way I pass a place in the cliffs that has more birds then I have seen anywhere in Greece. The seagulls and crows abound because at the top of the cliff is the Naxos garbage dump and relics of garbage from years gone by are tumbling over the edge into the sea. I later discover that when Greece joined the EU they said Naxos must clean all of this rubbish up, but it has been like this for years, so the people here dont see it is a problem. When I arrive in the Naxos port I meet Giorgis (George in english). He is excited by what I am doing because he is a whitewater paddler and he also likes mountaineering and rockclimbing. He goes out of his way to show me where the post office and the mini mart are and he fills my waterbag with good water and introduces me to his family. His mother is a greek american woman from Chicargo. I am invited to lunch with the extended family. This is a real treat as I get to sample some local foods like the famous Naxos cheese. They are great company. After a really awesome lunch I can use the internet a bit too. The generosity of Greek people is wonderful. I paddle south to find a nice beach to camp and am drawn to camp at Mikri because there are lovely rocks on the point and it is a good place to climb up for those panoramic views. Naxos is the most mountainous island that I have been to and it is a stunning view from the top of the rocks looking out over the water to Paros and further south. People are camping all around the base of the rocks in tents and the Taverna on the beach is busy. I find a lttle bay nestled in the rocks that is just big enough for my kayak and tent. The sound of waves crashing on the beach opposite keeps me awake a bit. I have not really seen any swell and waves til now.
July 20 Mykonos - Ammiti Beach, Naxos, 45.4km,
am N-NNW4-8kn, noon W-NW3-5kn, pm SW-W 3-5kn, seas 0.25-0.4m:
Getting up early is a bit of a challenge after the late night, but today is the perfect weather scenario for the huge crossing to Naxos. I am up early and on my way. Yorgos tells me the big fast hydrofoil ferries go to Paros first before they go to Naxos, so this means they are not a problem for me as I make the crossing directly to the north of Naxos. It is a hot day and as I reach about 7km from Mykonos the southerly starts to blow lightly, so I cannot use my sail and I have to redirect my course slightly to make the crossing without being blown past Naxos. The southerly wind direction here brings hot and humid conditions and it seems like there is endless water between Mykonos and Naxos, I am turning on my GPS periodically to see how much fuurther like a child in a car who asks ARE WE THERE YET?...Once I reach land again, with the hot day and the lack of sleep last night, I am exhausted and I sleep on the beach for a while, but then it is too hot to lie on the beach so I have a snorkel and continue on. I end up camping at Ammity Bch. One crux of the trip is done, I have made the crossing to Naxos, well at least I think I have. I set off my spot messenger and shortly afterwads I get a message from my friend Niko saying WELCOME TO PAROS! Paros is the island next to Naxos. I do a double take and think maybe I navigated wrong, but then I think, NO, I am definitely on Naxos. I reply to Niko and he tells me as a child he used to hang about the port at naxos and tell the tourists that just got off the boats, Welcome to Paros. They giggled as they confused the tourists. Now he is playing those games on me (and it almost worked too). The photo below is Mykonos and the shadow on the horizon is Naxos. With its mountains Naxos is towering and easy to navigate to.
July 19 Tinos - Mykonos, 24km
am N10-12kn, noon N10-13kn, pm N8-12kn:
Spectacular view thismorning. Said kalimera to the cows grazing on the hillside and I went to explore on the point to another small church. The morning light is gorgeous. Near the church where I camped there are stone buildings nestled into to hillside. I have seen lots of these in Greece and now I know that they are animal shelters for sheep or goats and they have a place inside to place the feed for the animals. I see a dead sheep in one of them - eeeeewwwwww. I was going to go to Tinos Hora today but the wind feels good for the crossing to Mykonos so I paddle south. On the crossing the wind is not too strong and I have my sail up. The swell increases in size as I near the island, but the crossing is not difficult. In the Mykonos port there are about 6 huge cruise ships that are giants of the sea. They are 8 stories high an the people working out of little doors at water level to take on supplies I suppose, well, they look like little ants in comparison to the ship. I find out later that each ship can take about 2000 people so it is no surprise when I get to the Mykonos town, that it is crawling with tourists. Yasoo says a fisherman as I paddle past to land in the harbour. He sees me pull up my boat and comes and talks to me, his name is Yorgos. We go for a coffee. Yorgos is a Mykonos local of many gererations and a long line fisherman. After a while he offers that I could stay at his place, moor my boat next to his and we will go out tonight. Accommodation dilemma solved with no planning, No roof top tonight, couchsurfing instead. This water round here can be treacherous so the locals seem a bit surprised that a girl can make it here in a kano (greek for kayak), but then I dont think they know what a kano is capable of because there are not many around here. It is fun to hang out with the locals and hear their stories. I found out how to eat sea urchin... I am going to try to make sea urchin roe pasta, good protein apparently. Oh and I met the Mykonos Pelican in the coffee shop here (thought of you Daz). We stay out to about 3am which is way too late for me, but hey, this is Mykonos, I dont think this place sleeps.
The photo below shows the maze of Mykonos streets, they all look the same and it is easy to get lost, even when you have paddled from Germany!
July 18 Zagora, Andros - Gastrion, Tinos, 37km,
am NW5-10kn, noon NNW 10-15kn, pm NNW 10-15kn easing:
As I eat my breakfast a man in blue overalls with yellow pockets is hiking down the hill wearing a small backpack. He comes around the corner and surprises me a little, I say goodmorning and let him know I slept on the roof last night and I hope it is ok. Then I realise we have been talking in English, not Greek. He seems ok about me camping at his place luckily. He is proud of the new blue door he has just installed and shows me his boat and then tinkers about with his continuing work on the door frame and on the verandah roof. His hammer is broken so he uses a flat rock as a hammer. The bay is filled with hammers! I pack up and get going, waving goodbye to him. I tried to ask him about the sea urchins and how to eat them, but he didnt understand me. The cliffs drop down 50m and then fall into the gorgeous turquoise waters that I paddle in. Schools of garfish and pilchards leap out of the water as my kayak scares them. They are beautiful shiny spectacles in the morning light. Many of the bays further on have huts like the one I stayed at, but mine was the best because the bay was so small and private. I cant get the cliffs in my photo near the southern point on Andros. They tower to 100m and I go slow to take in the natural beauty of the area. The crossing to Tinos is tiny, it is almost part of Andros it is so close. I paddle to a small island at the tip of Tinos, actually there are 2 islands, but only one is on the map. Then I follow the cliffs south until I reach a small bay with a tiny church. It is a good place for a lunch break. No sooner have I consumed my lunch and I am being given a bottle of nice cold water and an ice tea from a man staying in this small village with his family. These cold treats are very welcome on a hot day. I go exploring and find an old marble factory in the village. Later Alex who is the man with the cold drinks son, explains to me that marble was once brought from the mountains and processed in the factory here and then shipped all over the islands. What remains here is now being made into a museum. I think the marble factory was only about a year old when Oskar paddled here.The seat in the shade of a tree where I ate my lunch is a big slab of marble. The wind intensifies after lunch and I stop for another break at Ormos Giannaki and then paddle later in the evening til I reach a small bay with a tiny church opposite Tinos Hora (capital) . I slept on the roof of the building next to the church.
July 17 Gavrios, Andros - Zagora, Andros, 20km:
My calm weather window is here. am NW5-8kn, noon N-NNW 5-10kn, pm NW 3-8kn. In the morning I am invited for coffee with the family that are hosting me and we chat a while. I exchange the nice coffee for a cowrie shell that I found at Magnisia. Edurados mother is russian, she married a greek man, so now she speaks russian, greek and english. No wonder her son has such good language skills. I spend a few hours doing expedition office chores, I am still trying to get some sponsorship, so this means I need internet. I also get shopping and with the help of the friendly newsagency staff I can recharge my phone credit. I recently got the email working on the phone, but I am not sure if this is a good thing, because now it is costing more. I make some deluxe snacks with Stella chocolates given to me by Kostas, biscuits from Krisula at Politiko and some nuts and dried fruit that I have bought. Then I paddle for half a day on Andros and at Zagora I find a campsite to rival Magnisia with a little white stone hut with a blue door. I slept on the roof on an old mattress under the stars. Someone here eats sea urchin - I need to find out how. With my freshly resupplied provisions I cook mexican chilli beans for dinner and eat a can of peaches for dessert and I sing as I do the washing up - Movin to the country, gonna eat a lotta peaches!
July 16 Kalamos, Evvoia - Gavrios, Andros (via Potami Evvoia), 35km:
In the morning I have a swim and a snorkel, there are more fish on this side, especially in the deep water and the usual abundance of sea urchins. Some places where I get out of the kayak on the shore I am careful to wear my sandals in case I stand on a sea urchin. The water is a lovely shade of turquoise blue but overall I am noticing a big lack of marine life in Greece. I dont see so many fish and I think that overfishing has killed the ecosystem here and that it is probably too late to change that. In tourist shops they sell sea turtle fridge magnets here in Greece, but I dont see any turtles. One yachty I met said he used to have a dive compressor on board, but he sold all his diving gear in Turkey because he thinks there is not much point to dive in Greece. I have not seen enough to know if this is true. Probably there are some special places that divers can go to. Yesterday I snorkelled at Bouros and I saw a squid which inked me when I chased it. I like these funny moments in nature. I am not in a hurry to get going because I will not be able to make the crossing until later in the afternoon... morning NNE 10-15kn, noon NNE 10-13, afternoon N-NNW 5-10kn. I paddle slowly and explore the rocks and cliffs on the shore, although I am paddling into the wind, the rocks give me some shelter in many places so it is easy. At one point a lone dolphin launches fully out of the water like one from seaworld, wiggles its tail in the air and dives back into the water, I dont see it again. I am always thrilled to see how dolphins play. Eventually the wind is strong in my face and I do need a rest stop. At potami there is a nice beach, a cafe and a river comes out to the sea here. I hang out on the beach, talk to some people asking about the kayak and have a coffee at the cafe and write in my diary whilst waiting for the wind to change direction or drop. I have seen 3 yachts go across the channel today, none have their sails up even though there are strong winds, maybe they are being cautious like me. A man on the beach says they are crazy not to be using their sails. Interestingly he also says that after a week of strong Meltemi here, there is frequently a week of hardly any wind at all. I hope so. By 4.30pm I think the wind is as low as it is going to get and it has not really swung around how I would like, but it looks ok. Many ships have passed by in the channel today and a couple of huge ships pass just before I launch. During the crossing the seas are ok and the wind does become a tailwind eventually and I monitor the horizon for the big ships. 6 huge ships pass through the channel as I make the crossing, but none come too close. The fast ferries go straight to Andros and this far north they are not an issue for me. I aim for the 5 wind turbines on the coast at Andros and the lighthouse on the point. I am trying to cross the channel at its smallest part so I spend minimum time in the channel. It is about 11km across.Shearwaters are there circling over me and then dipping a wing to the water and flying by. I have seen these birds a lot in Australia and they always make me smile at how agile they are in the wind. Soon the Kafirea crossing is behind me - Yay, I made it across :) I turn south happily to paddle to the port at Gavrios. I arrive at Gavrios around 8pm and am adopted and given a camping place at Gavrios by a kind Greek family from Athens. Their children met me on the waterfront and they speak great English, especially Eduardo. Eduardos grandfather Miltos lived in Australia for a couple of years and he lets me camp on the concrete near his house for the night. I get out my big map of Greece and show the children where I am travelling and they are excited to have me as a guest here. After settling in I go to have souvalaki for dinner and find an internet cafe too. Tomorrow I can do some chores here before I leave because there is a supermarket etc.
July 15 Bouris - Kalamos Beach, Evvoia, 9.3km:
I wake up early and pack up my tent. I am not supposed to camp on this beach so I try to make my camping discreet. The wind is still blowing its guts out, as we say in Australia...NNE 15-20kn, noon forecast NNE 10-13kn, afternoon forecast N-NNW 5-10kn, so another day on the beach for me and waiting for the wind to drop. I use the time to catch up on my diary writing because I have finished my book now and dont have another. I also go snorkelling and when the Kantina opens I get a coffee. I sit on the deck chairs on the beach, but the Kantina woman comes and kicks me off because I am not paying, I thought if you buy a coffee you can use the chairs - at this point I realise that you actually have to pay to sit on the deck chairs on the beaches in Greece under the little umbrellas and that is why all the beaches have the chairs, it is about making money. I retreat to the shade of a tree and my sarong to sit on. The waiting for the wind to change is the hardest part, mentally it drives me a bit crazy I think...it is not like I have not had to wait for the wind to change before. It reminds me of paddling around Esperance and Albany in summer. In one month I think I only paddled half of the days there. The waiting, the warnings from people, the notes on the chart and not being able to actually see where I will be paddling, because I have not yet rounded the point, makes me start to doubt myself a bit. I look into the option of going on a ferry even, but this I think would mean paddling back to Mamari, a thought I dont like too much. Later in the afternoon when the wind is meant to drop it just blasts stronger and everyone on the beach is getting sandblasted, its how we get our skin so smooth! I wait until around 5pm and then I am wondering if I must camp here another night. I dont want to sleep on this beach on a Friday night so I decide to go around the point and see if the wind drops, and if it is really too hard then I will return to the small beach just north of here. So I launch late and paddle around the point, and as it turns out the wind eases, or maybe it is just not catabatic round this side, and there are several places before Kastri that I note a seakayaker could take a break or camp on tiny sand beaches. On one beach there are three small tents set up. I paddle on and pass a couple camped in a bay, frollicking naked in the sea. The beach after this, which I think is called Kalamos, has a great sheltered campsite in the trees above the beach. I stop here and am unloading my kayak as the moon rises over Andros. I feel happy to have moved past the difficult section of the trip and I believe in myself again - I can paddle to Andros tomorrow. I make some pesto pasta for dinner and add Kostas fresh cherry tomatoes from his garden, they are deliscious. The mosquitos are eating me, I dont know how Oskar coped with just sleeping in his kanu with the canvas spray cover over him, but then mosquitos dont bother some people. In the night a car comes and shines a big spotlight on my tent, I am the rabbit in the spotlight with no fly covering the tent, they move on to another campsite further along the large beach. I think I have probably taken their favourite camping place, this is a great sheltered place with a cicada in the tree to sing you to sleep and the tree branches curling over the tent for extra special shelter and natural towel drying racks.
July 14 Bouros, Rest Day, Evvoia, 900m:
There are no shops or anywhere to resupply my water at this beach. Paddling to Karystos is not happening with the winds today (NNW 15-20, noon NNW-NW 15-20, later NW 15-20, sea 0.8-2m), so I rlelax for half the day and finish reading my book and have a snorkel amongst the rocks. Then I paddle 900m to Bouros beach to see what is there. It has a Kantina so i buy a coffee and sit on the beach chair and write in my diary. A Greek man called Kostas comes and chats to me and invites me to lunch wih his family, he says he will drive me back here later. Kostas talks to the lady at the kantina about minding my kayak and Miltos and Kostas help me to carry the kayak to directly in front of her little caravan, then we are off in the car. Kostas and his family have a holiday house at Karystos. They are all really lovely people. I have a shower and then we sit down to talk and eat a Greek feast! Miltos explains to me that Greek people love to eat. The food is delicious. Miltos's sister Mary gives me some Greek lessons after lunch. She is studying to be a primary school teacher and is an excellent teacher. On Friday lots of their family and friend are coming here for the christening ceremony for Kostas daughter Stella who is 1yo on Saturday. They are expecting 70-100 people for the party and church service at a little church up in the hills. Kostas wife also celebrates her birthday on the same day. Before I leave, Kostas makes sure I have my water filled and he supplies me with a bag of treats including chocolates that say Stella and he birthdate, sesame snacks, fresh homegrown cherry tomatoes and other things, then we go back t the beach and they wish me a good journey. WOW the generosity of complete strangers hey. Kostas has told me some local information about the crossing to Andos and the paddle around to the other side of the point. I am worried about this crossing after the seas I have encountered yesterday. At the beach I meet a fisherman and his daughter after I take a nice sunset silohette photo of them. He is from Greece, but works in Berlin. He warns me about the crossing also. I camp at Bouros but it is a noisy beach at night and not a good campsite. Kalinikta.
July 13 Marmari-Karystos Bay (near Bouros), Evvoia, 30.5km:
Karystos is the ultimate test I think. Morning N-NNE 16-25kn, Noon N 20-25kn, Afternoon N 16-22kn, Seas rising 1-1.5m. The start of the paddle is brilliant and around the headland to Paximidi Cape there are some beautiful tranquil places that are sheltered from the wind. I paddle around and gt to the point that juts out on the western side of the Karystos Bay. Behind the point there is a lovely sheltered beach and calm water. Looking to the eastern side of the Karystos Bay all I see is whitecaps. I should stop for a break here, but I elect to go further into the bay as I want to check out if there are ferries coming into the bay before I paddle across it. The world on the other side of the point is quite different! Catabatic blasts from the mountiain top and the now noon winds create big waves that are breaking on top sometimes and I must paddle head on into the watery turmoil, avoid going backwards to the rocks behind me and try to make a little progress slowly to my left to reach a sandy beach that I can see. It is hell. My hat blows back and there is no point to keep replacing it on my head in this wind. I brace into the gusts and paddle hard. My eyes fill with so much salt water that I cant see, I wipe them occasionally. I cant paddle directly to the beach I want to land on or I will be bowled over in the waves, so I slowly angle and inch my way there. Eventually the fish farm is in front of me and I cant believe people are working in this wind. I reach the fish farm beach, pull up my kayak and lie next to it and sleep. If this is Karystos Bay, how the heck am I going to paddle to Andros? I dont want to put myself in that wind again. It's crazy. Right on the edge of my limits, but I got here. I go down to some shady trees and have lunch there. I sit on the beach for 4 hours as the wind blows. Then it is all calm again and it is beautiful. a completely different wourld with the wind NW. I decide to do the dash across the bay to the other side. At first it is calm and smooth, then confused seas and the last part I am back in the windy gusts racing down from the mountain again. Not as extreme as thismorning, but I am asking myself "How am I doing this again?" a I fight against the wind to reach the beach. At last a lovely sheltered beach behind some rocks and a stony beach on which to rest and cook dinner. When the other beach goers have gone I put my tent up. I text Karel to let him know I am not paddling to Andros until the wind drops.
July 12 Nouvra-Marmari, Evvoia, 41.25km:
Winds continue to test me. Morning NNE 20-25kn, afternoon N-NW 15-20kn, Seas 0.2 -0.5m.....As I go south on Evvoia it gets harder. I leave early after watching the shepherd tinkle his sheep back around the point while I eat my muesli. Today I go with the wind where I can point to point, because I know once I round that far point I will be punching a tough head wind. I paddle past the dramatic clifflines of Ag. Andreas Island and Stira Island the Stroglio Cape. Then it is into the wind to reach Nimborio. At last the beach comes and I take a 3 hour siesta after lunch. Once the wind eases I go to Vigles Cape and Elagi Island. Here I go around the island, but then regret it because it is another slog to reach the beach at Mamari (the quiet beach before Marmari town). I feel like I am crawling to the beach in the distance and it takes an extroidinary amount of time. The catabatic blasts from the tops of the hills are powerful gusts in my face and I just hope to keep moving forward. Dramatic spirals of water whip up and blast across the surface like mini cyclones in places. I count 59 wind turbines on he hill top as I paddle slowly into the wind and I am thinking this is a sign of what lies ahead. I will sms Karel later for a 7 day outlook because crossing to Anrdros wont happen in this weather. Eventualy I reach the beach and I look to see if there is anywhere to camp, but there isnt so I ask at a restaurant/kantina where I could camp and the waiter says to camp for free on the beach out the front. I buy a coffee and dinner at the restaurant. A tired and injured seagull also sleeps on the beach there. Bad news by sms, it seems the sponsorship I was hoping for this month has fallen through!
July 11 Eretria - Nouvra Cape, Evvoia, 32.5km:
A new routine begins. The wind begins. Morning NNE 20-25kn, Noon 15-20kn, afternoon N 15-20kn, Seas 0.2 -0.5m..... I am paddling along rocky shorelines where you cant always find good landings. Generally I am following the contour of the shore to try to gain shelter from the wind. There is no cutting directly across the bays for me today. I pass a few fish farms again today and then I round a point and have to do a sustained paddle into the headwind. Behind some of the fish farm structures there is some reprieve from the wind, but only marginal. I paddle until 1.30pm and am feeling buggered so I stop on a beach for lunch and a siesta. It is extemely hot on the beach. It is next to a roadside truck stop. I shelter under the shade of the 1 little tree on the beach. A tired seagull also shelters on the beach. Late afternoon the wind dies down and after a 3 hour break I go on to look for a campsite. I paddle until dark and find a campsite on a beach in the dark. It is a great place to camp. A couple of people are fishing on the beach for a while. There are hilly fields behind the beach with dry stone walls. The greeks are brilliant at building stuff on hills! One wall I saw went right from one side of the point to the other, up a massively steep hill. The wall looks like something the romans built. As I set up camp I can hear a flock of sheep in the field tinkling away with their bells on. It's a nice sound that I have not heard since Macedonia. The area around my tent is olive trees, dry stone walls, thistles, burrs and the small breadth of the beach is loaded with a lot of rubbish and fishing farm debris. You could build your own fish farm from the stuff on the beaches around here, it must be costly how much they lose in bad weather. There is a house and caravan further up the track but it seems nobody is home, so it's just me and the tinkling sheep tonight.
July 10 Chalkida - Eretria, Evvoia (Apparently you say Evia), 27.5km:
I think I have about 3 more days on Evvoia Island and then I will cross to Andros. I am not sure where my next internet will be, so stay tuned. Some people have been asking for my route through the Aegean so i will post the proposed Speck route and I may diverge from it a little due to ocean and wind conditions, but I am trying to be as true to the Speck route as possible. He couldnt swim you know! He paddled 50 000kms from Germany to Australia and tied himself to his kayak on the ocean crossings to avoid drowning if he capsized. The seas in the Aegean are said to be characterised by the wind and the waves. There is a strong wind from the north called the Meltemi. It can cause a catabatic effect along the coast of some of the islands. The charts that I have bought show me the wind directions and places where the winds can gust in several directions close to the shore. Now I go and find out what it is really like. Speck was in Chalkida on April 13th, 1933. I think maybe he crossed the Aegean at a better time than me when the winds were less strong, but I will keeping asking for good winds. I have been lucky so far.
After a few final internet tasks in the Chalkida 24hr internet den I checked out of my hotel and lugged my gear back down to the marina. The kayak was still there thank goodness! It is stressfull sleeping apart! I usually camp right next to my kayak in the tent and tie the tent guy lines to the kayak. Sometimes I sleep with my paddle in the tent...his name is Werner...over 200cm, enough joking around.....I wasn't too stressed about departing Chalkida at midday because I didnt have far to go, just to Eretria and hoping for an island to camp on for the night there. At Eretria I check out the island close to the town calld Dream Island, but it isnt too dreamy. The resort hotel that used to be there is closed, something that I think will be happening more and more if Greece finances keep going the way they are. I have a late lunch there and a quick swim before paddling to the town for a look. On the way I meet some nice yachties from Austria...the Austrians are alays nice. I meet some kids on the shore and later a woman who is fishing. I hang around there with them under some nice shady trees for a break. Just as I am thinking about heading off to look for a campsite on an island the Austrian yachties come ashore. They are waiting to take their boat out of the water on the mainland, but the forecast is for a lot of wind so they have to hang about until the wind dies down. They invite me to come with them for a beer, but not yet having found a campsite I decline (what was I thinking, I should have). He just wants a story he says, now he's going to look on my website to see what I am not telling him (sorry!). Anyway, I paddle out to the next island past Dream Island and it is private property, but behind it it a very small island the makes a perfect campsite for the night. Dinner is a can of Baked Beans which may not sound that exciting to you, but I am thrilled because I have not seen a can of baked beans for 2 months. Maybe I could have been sleeping on the deck of a yacht tonight if I had chosen differently, but my island and beans will do.
July 9 Chalkida Logistics and Resupply Day, Evvoia:
I was running around like a busy squirrel today. I bought flares today and I tried to get a chart for the Dodecanese but they are out of stock, so I am hoping I can find one somewhere before I get there (I have asked Sverti Pantelemon for help Jugo). I have found free internet today for the price of a coffee (YAY) and I found a big supermarket. Niko from Wein, Austria has been helping me via text. I feel like I have been calling on him a lot in the last week. He is my Greek translator and helper and I hope I get to paddle with him again sometime. Last night he was training on his bike. He texted " Tonight was hard training. 55km mountain bike, sms writing and mosquito killing" I was sms'ing him to find out what the hell Spiritus is called in Greece! The Greek Spiritus challenge was reminisent of the Hungarian Spiritus challenge, but for this seasoned international camper, I had my sources anticipating the question. I never could have done it without Niko. There is no reading the bottle for me here, it's all Greek characters. Niko texted 'Inopnevma'
and I held my phone out to a girl in the supermarket so she could read the text, no way i would attempt the pronounciation! Anyway, she took me straight to the correct product on the shelf and now I am wondering if there is someone out there that can tell me " What is Spiritus called in turkish?" I think I have enough to last me until then :) I almost got run over on a pedestrian crossing today whilst 12 police watched from the footpath. Apparently the cars are meant to stop, but they just dont always, so the pedestrians have to watch out. The police were amused and told me this is just the Greek way. I got all the emergency numbers that I needed for Greece from them while I had their attention (check that one off the list).
July 8 Ploutacho - Chalkida, Evvoia, 17.5km:
I am now in Chalkida (pronounced Halkida) and it is the first big city I have been in for a while. There is no campsites here so I had to fork out for a cheap hotel room. There goes the budget! Oh well, this will be my opportunity to get my skin out of the sun for a day and to update the website fully with photos etc. Thismorning I woke up in Ploutacho (say politico) at Krisula's place. She made me another nice Frappe coffee - which is the only way to drink coffee in Greece... you put a little coffee and water in the glass, wizz it up with the hand held blender so it is frothy, then add ice and a bit of milk and sugar to taste and thats a nice ice coffee, quite strong coffee, but refreshing in the hot weather. We also had some greek cake brought over by the neighbour. Then I took down my tent and packed up and carted it all to the beach (10 metres away)...At the beach Krisula and her neighbour showed me how they catch the fish that we had with the dinner last night. They had a net in the water and they worked together to pull the net into a big bucket. The net is loaded with little fish which means later they must sit and painstakingly pull all of the fish out of the net. A lot of fish fell in the water from the last bit of the net so i helped them pick them up and then I was on my way with fishy smelling fingers....
I was worried about paddling across the big shipping chanel toward Chalkida, but only one big ship passed by and one was anchored in the bay. I didnt see any big ferries and the yachties are generally amused by my very small yacht. When I arrived in Chalkida I found a canoe/kayak club with slalom gates and a great boat ramp. There was a guy collecting mussels from the harbour buoys and I looked for someone to ask if I could store my kayak there. A friendly local helped me with translation, but there was no security for the kayak there overnight, so i went around to the Marina on the other side of the bridge. At the Marina some guys talked with me and with English, a few Greek words and a bit of German I asked where I could store my kayak securely for a day or two. They said I could put it behind the locked gate in their Marina club house. I dont really know what the place is, somewhere that the local me come to hang out and drink coffee together, but they seemed genuinely kind and they didnt charge any fee. They also told me a cheap hotel where I can stay. This city has all I need to shop, buy flares, charts, food, update the website....it's a rest time out of the sun for my skin, but not really a rest as I have a lot to get done. The Greek God of mobile phones got the email working on my mobile phone and I now have a Greek SIM card. I think my only souveniers from this trip are a SIM card from every country I have visited, a collection of random t-shirts from lovely people, a Bavarian Kanu Club flag from Werner and one Roman Coin. Memories to last more than a life time though and friends for life, so I dont care much for collecting too many souveniers.
July 7 Rovies Campsite - Ploutacho, Evvoia, 40km:
I depart late again today because I have an egg and some mushrooms and I make scrambled egg for breakfast. Then I paddle across to the point past Limni. After Limni I follow the coast past a monastery and stop on the nice beach near the monastery for a swim and a snack of honeydew melon. Here I say hello to a family swimming and the woman has great English. I ask where she is from and she tells me a villiage close by. Her husband and son come and talk to me. He is an English teacher and has excellent language skills to have a proper conversation. I learn about life in Greece and about pastimes that Greek people enjoy and don't. I have not seen one other kayaker and apparently I am obviously not from Greece because I am enjoying exercising in a kayak! It is great to talk to someone and as I leave his son brings me a little treat like the Pita that you get in Serbia - free lunch today, yum. After the monastery I enjoy the coastline along the Kandilion mountain range (see below) and I decide to camp in Ploutacho because it has a tent symbol on the map. On arrival in Ploutacho there is no campsite where the map says there is, but I find a place with lots of caravans so i stop to ask if I can put up a tent there. Nobody there seems to speak English, but eventually I find Sylvia, a Phillipino woman who is married to a Greek man and who lives next door in the apartmnents over summer, but she is freinds with the people in the caravans. This is a place where Greek people from Athens and Chalkida come and live by the sea for the whole summer. Ula gives me a glass of fanta while we wait for the caretaker to come and through Sylvias excellent translation I tell them about my trip. Then Krisula comes back and I meet her and she calls the campsite owner to check it is all ok. Eventually it is decided that I can camp for free opposite Krisulas place and I am invited to have dinner with her. I meet lots of people there and Sylvia is an excellent teacher and teaches me all of the greek phrases that I need to get by. Having just a bit of the language and nice people around makes it so much more fun. We have sardines (I think) and greek salad and chips and bread for dinner and I eat until I cant eat anymore. Krisula also makes a great Frappe coffee for me. It is a fun evening and now I feel like I am really in Greece.
July 6 Gregolimano - Rovies Campsite, Evvoia, 30km:
Strange, the 3 tents I camped next to I discover are all empty, what is this campground? The drone of the first waterski boats started at around 7.30am. I wrote in my diary for a while and got on the water late at 9.15am. I paddled across the bay and I found an internet cafe and a large town at last, I am in Edipsos, or it is also called Loytra Edipsoy! I feel like I have started to go slow on the trip now, but I have to find good campsites where I can and this section of coast is quite rocky and steep in many places, so I am hopping along the coast between places where I can camp. It is very beautiful in many places and I am taking loads of photos as I go. The villages and towns are really great to explore, but I am not seeing much of them because mostly I am just looking from the water or the beach and then paddling on to find a beach with not so many people so I can easily pull my kayak up and camp on the beach for free. It works well because I have been paddling 53 days now and I have only spent 57 Euro on accommodation so far! Gotta be happy about that kind of budgeting. I am so glad to have a tent. Finding a town like this one is great because it is big enough to have cheaper prices and lots of great greek food options - mmmmmm. As predicted my shorts are falling off - the guys at Mainpeak suggested these shorts are good because they have a belt to adjust the shorts to my decreasing waistline...I am eating so much I cant believe I can lose weight. My glove box of my kayak is an interesing place. I started out the journey with muesli bars and protein bars and now I have fresh fruit, kakao tahini and boiled eggs! Yesterday I consumed most of a jar of Kakao Tahini, why dont they sell chocolate flavoured Tahini in Australia? It is way
better then Nutella, and I think good for you maybe (if you dont eat a whole jar in one day). Actually I am eating the Tahini as a snack because it was a lot cheaper than the other snack options...In one town I found the Greek version of the German biscuits that I loved (Doppel Keks), but the Greek copy was not up to standard, so now I am eating greek snacks instead. Honeydew Melon is to die for here. Enough about food. After updating my website a little and playing about downloading photos I return to my kayak and paddle around to the thermal hot springs and paddle under it in my kayak. The coast looks like a cave formation and the water is unbelievably hot coming out of this spring. I am fascinated by this phenomenon. Apparently it is meant ot be healing, which is good because my muscles are aching a little from paddling into headwinds in the afternoon yesterday. Today I am paddling to Rovies (say Rovier) because it shows a tent site there on my map and then a long section of mountain range to paddle on the following day. I am still paddling as the sun sets and the light is dancing over the water making the world very beautiful. The Rovies campsite is a long stony beach and I camp under a little pine tree. The council are making a big effort to get the campsite ready for summer and they are cleaning up all the rubbish and whippersnippering in many areas. I meet a Russian family on the beach and their son who I think is around 12yo speaks great English so we can chat and he can translate for his dad. He says that he likes to read books in English so that is why he can speak the language well. They show me where I can get water at a beach cafe close by and their are toilets there so no Spellunking today! (Read July 3 if you have no idea what I mean). After dark I wander into the village for an icecream and I find a nice medievil tower lit up in the village, I wonder how many years this has been here. My friend Gaynor would love this. I am texting my version of Charlies Angels... Three men, their mission should they choose to accept it is to get my package to me somewhere in Greece! My angels are 1.paddler and paraglider Aleksander Kocev in Macedonia, he is familiar with the workings of the Macedonian postal services, 2.my postmaster Willy in Linz, Austria who understands all things to do with packages and getting them to places and the inticacies of expedition logisitics and 3. my friend and Greek connection Niko in Wein, Austria who of course speaks Greek and understands the geography and postal services of Greece. Between them they have all of the information to get 1 slightly misguided package to me on a remote Greek Island, i know they can do it. Willy my postmaster was frollicking in a folding kayak in the sea off Croatia when the problem began. I sent the address for the package to his sister. Somehow, the package was mistakenly shipped to Serbia instead of Macedonia. Realsing the error, Willy tried to get the package back. Eventually Serbian customs released the package and sent it on to Aleksander in Macedonia, unfortunately by this stage I had reached the sea in Greece and was not within driving distance of Veles. Aleksander tried to send the package to Chalkida for me, but there is some politics between Macedonia and Greece and they would not send it to the address I gave, which may have been incorrect anyway. So Niko gave me an address in Greece to send the package to, but that address was no good due to their being no DHL office on that island, so now I think the package is going via the port near Athens and then will be hopefully forwarded to me...I just want my greek guide books and phrase book! My snorkel would be nice too. i learn the art of patience
July 5 Beach Opposite Agiokambos - just past Gregolimano (Club Med Greece), Evvoia, 30km:
I slept restlessly as many fishing boats with lights were cruising close to shore. Something was moving under my tent too. When I pack down my tent in the morning I discover that there was a mouse sleeping under me last night, that's what I could feel. With a Kalimera greeting (Good Morning) another cowboy style fisherman arrives on the beach. I am slow to get going after lack of sleep and I launch late at 9.15am. There is no wind and it is going to be a hot day. The first 15kms of the coast has fish farms in every cove, so there are no landings really. At the point I spot my first Dolphins at sea, but they dive and I dont get close to them. Just past the point is a bay dotted with houses and most houses have a little asian style palm shelter on the beach for shade, which is good today. I stop at a vacant shelter and swim and make a nice greek salad for lunch with the fresh ingredients that I picked up yesterday. Simple things make me happy. MMMMM feta cheese. After luch I go around the next poitn and paddle into an easterly headwind for a while. There are 2 islands on the point that are not shown on any of my stupid maps! On the point there are lots of motor home campers. I continue to paddle 10kms into the wind past Agio Georgios and a little further until i find Club Med! After Club Med there are some nice campsites on the beach with tents set up and some other campers around so this looks like the perfect campsite for me. Yes of course I did sneak into Club Med for a hot shower! It took me back to the Whitsundays trip when the students that I was paddling with did just that. I was of course tempted to join in on the buffet dinner on the beach too, but unfortunately I had left my freshly ironed crisp white linen outfit back at the tent and I stood a mile away as an imposter even though I was freshly showered and wearing my very neat black Lettmann Polo shirt. Every person there was dressed all in white and perched on swings on approach to the beach buffet were scantily clad girls swinging away in white swim suit style outfits. I tried to find some free internet there, but I didn't know the password so I made my way back to my little campsite further down the beach. Such a contrast between the world of groomed club med and the 'real' Greek coastline. My campsite has a rock and sand beach. There is litter everywhere and toilet paper lying around every corner. In some places there are piles of rubbish in the bush and there are little old squat toilets dotted along the coast, but they are delapitdated and filled with shit and old toilet paper and too disgusting to go near! Cross the boundary into club med and the beaches are fine white sand, deck chairs, umbrellas, white gravel pathways, bins everywhere, signs telling me how great club med is for looking after the environment after the recent bushfire, cocktail bars, swimming pool, tennis court, archery course and about 6 speed boats towing bikini clad waterskiers around the bay at high speed. They think they are in Greece, I think they are on some sort of fantasy planet that money can buy if you have enough! Fantasy planet with nice hot shower.
July 4 Secret Beach - Beach opposite Agiokambos, Evvoia, 37km
I pack up in the morning, fill my water, take a fresh water shower and eat breakfast. Today I am crossing to Evvoia Island. This is my first chanel crossing with big ferries and ships to keep an eye out for. It is like paddling in far north Queensland in Australia. You must stop and scan the full horizon for ships every 10 minutes or so because they are moving fast and they will not be stopping for a little sea kayak, they may not even see you. I have my sail up for increased visibility to boating traffic. I cross first to a big hill that is being mined open cut style and then i follow the rocky coastline around toward Trikeri. There is almost no landings on this section of coast. Soon I can see the island mid channel and I paddle the 11-12km across to the island whilst keeping an eye out for the fast ferries, but all I see is a couple of yachts which are no problem. Then from the island it is only a 4km crossing to Evvoia's coastline. This crossing is where the big cargo ships travel and also the ferries bound for the Aegean Islands. I have a clear crossing and then follow the coast to the Garos cape. On the beach on the point a Greek man starts yelling something to me. I think he is saying that where I have paddled is dangerous because of the ships, I dont understand exactly what he is saying, but this is what I infer and his wife tells him that I know what I am doing. From here it is a calm paddle to the Oreio Harbour. The town has loads of delapidated buildings until you get to the tourist waterfront adjacent to the boat harbour. I stop and shop at a minimart and it is soooo hot today. I buy a honeydew melon and eat half. Then I look for an internet cafe to check my email. The Greek directions in English are often confusing, they say it is at the end of the street when it is in the middle, or that it has red tables, when it doesnt and they tell you the name of the place, but reading the signs is confusing, so after 30minutes I find the place. I have probably walked past it 7 times! The internet is coin operated which can be costly so I cant update much. I paddle on. I paddle past a couple of more 'resort' style settlements and then past Agiokambos which is where the car ferry comes across from Gilfa. Then I find a good place to camp just a few kilometres past the town near a river mouth. A man comes and fishes on the beach for ages and I am facinated because he just has a line but no hand reel or rod. To cast he swings the line around in the air like a cowboy about to lasso a calf, then off it goes into the water. This style of fishing must take some practice, I would end up with fish hook body piercing is I had to cast that way...but you could easily make this rig from rubbish on the beach and his bait is mussels...I will try it when I run out of money and have to live off the land! No joke really, my sponsorship money has not come through and I am worried I will soon run out of money. Today I have fresh fruit and vegies though, so I am happy.
July 3 Mylopotamus - A Secret Beach past Mikro, 30km
I wake up early but am slow to get going. I am dreaming of buying some nice fresh fruit - I feel like I havent had any for days. Or a big salad like the ones they served in Macedonia would be nice! I am not excited by the muesli option today.Today I reached the southern part of the Pelion coast and soon I will cross to my first Greek island. It is a big island, so it's going to be while on that coast. If all of Greece is like the past 4 days then i am going to enjoy it. I need to start conversing with and interacting with some Greek people though, I am getting a bit tired of my own company today. I make my first stop for the day at Katio Giorgis harbour. It is a lovely little village and I have a coffee and catch up on my diary writing in the sun on the balcony of a coffee shop that overlooks the sea and my kayak. I find a book about the Pelion beaches in a newsagent and browse it to see what it is like where I will paddle today. I am excited to go there after seeing the book. I did a bit more sea kayak spellunking today. Sorry I have to diverge from this point for a moment, you see, I just googled the word spellunking to make sure i had the correct spelling for the caving term, that is, what i mean is, I was exploring caves with a sea kayak, however, I see online in the urban dictionary spellunking is also the art of taking a shit into the water with the water splashing onto your ass, which, yes I have also been doing at times, but I wish to clarify that this is not my meaning in this dialogue. My head torch is not so bright, I wished I had a really bright light to see the bats that were squeeking up in the roof of the cave. One cave I went into had light coming through the water from under the wall and it made the water the most gorgeous turquiose light colour so i felt like I was paddling inside a lava lamp. Eventually I had taken so many photos that my camera battery died, so I had a late lunch in Platania at a restaurant on the waterfront which recharged my battery as the camera battery recharged in the restaurant. I met a German yachty from Munich on the beach and we talked for quite a while and he gave me three kisses for good luck. After the late lunch I thought I would paddle toward Mikro beach for a campsite, but my map failed me again and I think I paddled past Mikro, but I found a better place. I have called it secret beach and it is someones secret hideaway with a gorgeous house, a beautifully landscaped garden, a loo with a view (toilet with no door) and a water tap right near the beach. The beach was white stones and there was a red deck chair for me to sit in and read my book until sunset. Nobody came home so I slept in my tent inner, with just the mesh to keep the mozzies off, on the garden path. I picked up all of the litter on the beach as a thanks for this nice campsite.
July 2 Magnisia - Mylopotamus, 39km
In the morning the mallee root type log that I had placed on the fire had worked a treat and I just had to add a bit more driftwood to have a nice fire again for making a cup of tea and some hot water to wash my face. Once again I did not want to leave - I really do need a day off, but I am going to keep going and take a day off in a big town with internet so that I can update my website fully (you see what I do for you!). This coastline is amazing to explore and I paddle slowly taking it all in. I am following the shoreline rather than going point to point because the rocks and cliffs are full of caves and the water is so clear that you can see right to the bottom even where it is quite deep. I think I am lucky to have such perfect weather for exploring this section of coast. In high winds and poor weather it would be decidedly less hospitable. I keep feeling like I am in a magic wilderness all alone and then I come across a lone snorkeller kicking along the bottom of the cliff. The snorkellers are towing a blow up float with a red dive flag which makes them easy to spot and often they are spearfishing so I dont go too close to them. I should stop for a snorkel, but I am enjoying the paddling too much. By mid-morning the wind comes up to about 10 knots and I make a stop at a boat harbour to rest and wait for the wind to drop a bit. I refill my water there as to some explanation as ot why I dont want to take 6L in 500ml plastic bottles that are offered for free! It is a 4 x 4 campout for the whole of Greece and the 4WD's are lines up in the street in convoy talking to each other on their little UHF radios. They remind me of my freind Steve from the Sea Kayak Club. He would love to see this. So they offer me free water, but all I want is a tap and eventually I find the kitchen. The drama is that they cant understand why i would want what they call 'hot' water when I could have refrigerated water. I take one 500ml bottle in the end to placate them and not seem rude. I dont think they quite visualise what I am doing and that their cold water wouldnt have been cold for too long sitting in the waterbag in my kayak cockpit. I meet some nice Greek people on the beach but it is difficult to communicate with them because my Greek phrase book has been waylayed in a package that was supposed to come to me in Veles, but it didnt arrive in time. I manage to communicate what I am doing and where I am from with a bit of english, german and sign language and all I really understand is the Greeks like to say 'BRAVO!' when they find out what I am doing. Other than Bravo, as they say in English. "It's all Greek to me". I paddle on slowly and then the wind drops right off and it is one magical bay and scene after another. I explore some of the caves. When I get to Mylopotomus I am ready to stop for the day. There are several other campers on the beach here, but it is a big beach so the tents are spread out and nobody comes and talks to me. I am happy to cook, eat, swim, read my book and sleep early.
July 1 Beach before Stomio - Magnisia (my name for the most magnificent campsite on this part of the coast), 55km
This was my longest paddling day on the Pelion Coast and by far the best campsite of the entire trip so far. I usually dread Friday and Saturday nights. It is not a good night to be camping alone because often there are drunk people around, so I was wondering where I would find to camp and it worked out better than perfect... Magnisia! If I tell you where I found this word you will laugh. I bought a new digital camera for this trip and it has a built in GPS function. You can take a photo and then review the photo and printed on the bottom it tells you where the photo was taken. So tonight my camera says I am camping at Magnisia! Don't worry, I won't be navigating all of the coast using my digital camera, although, maybe it is possible as a strange new expedition navigation option. Magnisia is not on my map (stupid map).
I paddled past the last village because it didnt look like it was possible to camp there, and then I started to visualise the shape that the rocky coastline would need to take to protect it from the swell in the morning and make a perfect campsite, and then there it was right in front of my eyes. I could not believe my luck, small, private, protected from the swell and just big enough for my tent. I love where a sea kayak can squeeze into. The water is crystal clear and I had a swim and washed my hair and dried my clothes on the warm rocks. I decided not to put up the tent, so I had more time to go exploring. I found a track from the beach to the top of the cliffs and some old ruins up there, buildings built when dry stone walling was not a lost art. There was a lizard scurrying to the side of the path, bumble bees bumbling in the flowers and magnificent vistas all around. You can drink this kind of scenery with your eyes and it makes you feel energised and glad to be alive. I couldnt feel the 55kms a bit. It was sea kayaker heaven. At sunset the dolphins were there in the bay again and I felt like I was in gods campsite. I made a small driftwood fire to cook on and made jacket potatoes in foil in the coals and numerous cups of tea. Sleeping under the stars at Magnisia is the BEST.
June 30 Rivermouth - Beach Before Stomio, 40km
I wake up feeling like I would like to stay here for a day, but i do not have enough food and water with me to make a stop. My body is sore from swamp fly bites from near the mouth of the Vardar. They are sooooo itchy I am going nuts trying not to scratch them. Fishermen are standing waist deep out in the water off the point when I wake up. I think they are fishing with nets. The coast is beautiful here. I love the mountains. As I paddle I find more beaches covered in deck chairs and shade umbrellas, it seems that you dont lie on the sand on these beaches. I stop at a busy beach with a town behind it and pull up my kayak while I go searching for more water and a supermarket. I find a mini mart and buy a few provisions. A restaurant is kind enough to allow me to fill my water bag - I am trying not to add to the plastic bottle nightmare that I am seeing every day on the beaches and floating in the sea. This experience has made me so much more aware of the horrors of the plastic revolution that has swept out society. Everyday I see plastic bags, plastic cups and plastic bottles in the sea. There is only so much that you can retrieve and carry out.
On the beach when i return I meet another Serbian family on holiday. Greece is obviously the holiday destination for those in Serbia who can afford a cheap Greek getaway. They have spotted my Serbian paddler sticker and are excited to meet me. I am surrounded by them taking photos and their children are leaning over my shoulder to see as I pack my supplies into the kayak. They are nice people and thrilled to see that I have Serbian jam in my supplies. It's a ticket to a smile. I am videoed as I leave the beach and I give them the Serbian three fingered salute for the bonus smile before I paddle away. I am laughing. Jugo would be proud. Once again I seek out the quiet beach with no tourists for a campsite. Just after a rivermouth like yesterday and this time there are some shacks on the beach and some houses, but no people around except the fishermen out on the water. I can see Stomio from here.
June 29 Methoni - Rivermouth Sth of Paralia (?), 35km
I arrived in Greece on June 27th on the Vardar River, but for me the real journey in Greece begins today because now I am paddling on the sea, where a sea kayaker feels most at home. I stayed last night at a little village called Methoni and celebrated arriving at the Sea with a pizza and coffee.
I woke to the tap tap percussive drumming of fisherman hitting their wooden boat to bring fish into the net they had set and then the bustling noise of the mussel farmers/fishermen packaging the mussells for freight. The coast here is surrounded by floating blue drums and mussell farms. Many of the drums (44 gallon size) have escaped and are washed up on the beaches. I kep thinking they are people camping in blue tents, until I get close enough to see. The villages are full of waterfront restaurants that seem poised for the summer onslaught of greek summer tourists, but now they are empty except for a few men drinking coffee and playing backgammon. They wait to be busy. This is the first internet I have seen since Veles, but too slow to do photos for the Blog pages.... I will be back online when I find a high speed connection.
At my internet stop I met a nice Serbian family. They are here on holidays and the hotel they are at has sit on top kayaks that they can paddle, so that is how we met. Dane (which he translates to YesNo in Serbian) was very excited to meet me and hear about my trip and so he got his daughter Una and his wife Bici too and we had a cold drink on the beach and talked for a while. Then he was kind enough to drive me to the village bakery so i could get some fresh bread. Dane told me the village only has about 1000 people and he shows me the old railway station that is now a museum. When we returned they laughed when I showed them my jars of Serbian Jam in the kayak. After a heartfelt send off I was on my way again and I paddle out past the salt mine on the point. Una told me there is a place here where a lot of German tourists come to bathe in the high salt content water and mud. First you must sit in the water for 40minutes, then you rub the smelly mud all over your skin and it has something like an oil in it as well as the exfolliation of the salt crystals, making your skin all silky smooth. I have to admit that her skin looked luxurious after the salt treatment that they did yesterday. After the salt mine it seems that I have come to the beaches where all the holiday tourists are. It is like the Gold Coast and not my kind of beach really. I find a quiet beach to camp on for the night, one with room for insects, birds and other flora and fauna. It is just past the river mouth, covered in rubbish, shadowed by towering Mt Olympos and a paradise for me (except for the plastic that is). I am guessing that this river does not have a dam to filter out all of the plastic coming from upstream like the Vardar does. Or is this all coming from the Gold Coast style deck chaired tourists? Or are those big cruising boats and ferries simply throwing it overboard? At sunset seven dolphins are playing and feeding in the bay and it is nice to see them again. Think how many more their would be if the waters were plastic free. I am not sure of the exact name of this beach, my map shows it just south of Paralia which translates to Beach in Greek, so I am at the beach south of the beach called beach or the beach village called beach - gotta get some decent maps! Distances are also approximate due to the dodgy map situation at present. When I get to Chalkida I will buy sea charts.