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  • Writer's pictureCaptain Ian

Athens to Montenegro, October 2023

We finished our last blog riding out yet another Meltemi, in Olympic Marina, South East of Athens.  We had given NJ a good clean (which turned out to be pointless given the grime that the wind brought with it) and it was now time to pick up our great friends, the Thomson family, from Athens Airport. The Thomson's would be joining us for the 550 nautical mile sail back to NJ’s winter home, Montenegro. 


Athens


Before we left Athens though (actually, it was too windy to leave even if we wanted to), we did a day trip to see the UNESCO world heritage site of the Acropolis. Considered by many to be the birthplace of democracy, the Acropolis is a must see when visiting Athens. Like much of Greece’s greatness and antiquity, many of the structures and temples on the Acropolis were built during the fifth century BC. (coincidentally, I had a Chicken Gyros in Corfu that I think was also prepared during the 5th Century BC). The downside of this fascinating sight is the number of tourists it attracts. But still worth the long queues in the blazing heat to see it.


Day two in Athens was going to be a ferry ride down to the Island of Hydra. Unfortunately the ferry was cancelled at the last minute due to… You guessed it, strong winds (damn you Meltemi). We ended up spending the rest of the day having a little bit of a road trip down the east coast of Athens and doing some provisioning for the long sail ahead.


The wind was forecast to settle the following day and our marina booking had reached its end in any case. It was time to get moving. We still had 20+ knots of wind in the marina, so we needed two dinghy's to help us out of our slip, to avoid any further touch parking (the boats around us looked very expensive). It was very stressful for all, including our new crew, who did an outstanding job in the circumstances. Once out of the marina, the wind and the sea state was awful. Thankfully, by afternoon the wind had settled and it was all made better by our arrival in beautiful Poros.  


On our way back West, heading towards Corfu, we took the Thomson's to many of our favourite anchorages that we have already posted about. Poros, Corinth Canal, Nafpaktos and Fiskado to mention a few. There were a few spots though that we had missed when heading East, so we took this opportunity to stop and explore.










Galaxidi


Unlike a month before when we were heading East, the weather was much more settled and we were finally able to enter the narrow harbour of Galaxidi. And wow, was it worth the wait. Galaxidi is a jewel in what is otherwise a very barren and remote landscape. Like many town quays in Greece,  you tie up right out the front of the harbour promenade amongst all of the restaurants and nightclubs.  This also means that any local festivals are right on your doorstep, and we happened to visit Galaxidi during one such festival.  To this day, I'm still unsure what they were celebrating, however it involved lots of flares, a parade and plenty of gun shooting from small boats moving up and down the harbour.  It also involved a party in the nightclub just behind us that finished at 6:45 am. Still, it was well worth it as the town was gorgeous and it was a short drive up to the historic town of Delphi.

















Delphi


We hired a car in Galaxidi and drove up the hill to the Unesco world heritage site of Delphi. Considered by the ancient Greeks to be the centre of the world and the location of the oracle, the archaeological site includes many structures including the temple of Apollo, the stadium where the Pythian games were held and an Amphitheatre with a most spectacular backdrop. It was unbearably hot, but well worth the effort. 















Asos


After Galaxidi we revisited several favourite places all the way to Corfu. There was one new anchorage that we hadn’t been to though. On the less visited West side of the island of Kefalonia is the gorgeous holiday town Asos. Asos boasts one of the largest Venetian castles to be in Greece. However the Venetians never finished it and there is frankly very little left of the castle. Strangely, the pathway that had been paved for tourists to walk up to this underwhelming site, was far more impressive than the site itself. The views back down to the town were stunning.











We dropped 3 of the 4 Thomson's off in Corfu to make the long journey home to Australia. Neil stayed with us for the Journey up through Albania to Montenegro where Nova Jean was hauled out for the winter. We have already posted photos of Albania and many from Montenegro. We did stop at two new anchorages in Albania though. 


Porto Palermo


Porto Palermo is on a very remote part of the Albanian coast. It’s home to a branch of the Albanian Navy, an Ottoman fort/castle, a grubby little beach and a rather nice restaurant. Staggeringly clear water though.











Durres


Durres is a major commercial port in Northern Albania. As the closest port to the Albanian capital, Tirana, it is rather busy and there is quite a bit of poverty as well as dubious wealth on show. We all felt a little uncomfortable in Durres and were happy to check out and be on our way to Montenegro the next day.

















2023 was a great cruising season. We had visited Croatia, Albania, Greece and were back in our winter home of Montenegro. We’d had the whole family visit and spend time aboard with us as well as 8 additional guests. For 2024 we were planning to obtain an extended visa for Greece so that we could finally explore Croatia for 3 months and spend the remainder of our time in Greece. It was time to head home for Christmas and to spend time with the kids… 

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