Updated: Jan 14
Greece maintains its supremacy among Mediterranean sailing and cruising grounds so we flew out to Athens to check it out.
Despite there being many marinas and yacht charter bases in Greece, we opted for the easiest one to get to. Well, it was the easiest to us as we flew direct from Dublin to Athens. This incredible city simply had to be explored before we set sail so we gave ourselves a couple of days before our charter was ready and set off to check what all the fuss was about.
Even in the big city, Greeks we dealt with were excellent hosts - friendly, boisterous, loud and above all gave us a hot Mediterranean welcome. They are very proud of their history so we learned a lot about it in passing. Since our time on Greek land was somewhat limited, we were directed towards the unmissable Acropolis, Parthenon and Theater of Dionysus. They were all as spectacular as each other and well worth a visit. It is very hard to decide whether they make you feel like you stepped back in time or into a movie set.
From what we experienced, Athens should be referred to as the Other City That Never Sleeps (after New York). Despite most of our group just about hanging on to our youth, we couldn't resist trying our best to push our own limits and get as much as we could muster out of vibrant night life, this city has to offer. Exarchia hosts a young scene with an endless choice of bars. We found it very similar to the hipster scene back at home. At Gazi, you’ll find abundance of clubs, including the one designed by the American actress Lindsay Lohan. If you are after more sedate and somewhat traditional scene, head over to Patsion, home to one of the city’s oldest bars. Au Revoir Bar will give you a little bit of the old Athens.
On a sunny Saturday afternoon we peeled ourselves away from the bar stools and headed down to the Alimos Marina where our yacht was waiting for us.
On our first sailing day, we all needed some easy sailing after our action packed monument and bar hopping marathon in Athens. So we decided to sail towards the island of Aegine, which is approximately 15Nm south-west of Athens. We moored stern-to on the town quay and went for a meal in one of the many tavernas a short stroll away. The following morning we took an opportunity to provision our yacht, as there are supermarkets, butchers, and a fish market close by. We got our fruit from the fruit boats which we found along the quay towards the big church of Agios Nikolaios. If you have time, visit the temple of Aphaia - this beautiful sanctuary was built around 500 BC. It is situated on the north-east of the island, amid the pine forests, with stunning views over the Saronic Gulf.
We then sailed on from Aegina to Poros. To get to Poros, head due south and you will get to the Poros lagoon after approximately 13Nm of sailing. Do not be alarmed by the sulphurous smell coming from your starboard side while underway - it's just a dormant volcano.
The entrance into the lagoon is pretty narrow but the ferries and other boats will help you find it. Once you get in, there are plenty of anchorages where you can stop for a lazy afternoon of swimming and relaxing on the deck.
At the entrance to Daskalia Bay there is a tiny island with a chapel. In the evening, you can head into Poros town and pick any of its many tavernas for dinner.
The town of Poros is a couple of miles east from the entrance to the lagoon, recognisable from a distance by the blue and white church tower on the hillside above the harbour.
We spent the night moored at the town quay and on our third day we set sail to Palaia Epidavros.
Once you exit the Poros lagoon, sail some 22 Nm around the top of the Methana peninsula, continuing west to Palaia Epidavros (some charts show it as Archaia Epidavros). There has been a settlement here since 1100 BC when the harbour was the most important in the Peloponnese, providing 25 ships for the Trojan war. Epidavros is now a fishing village, filled with the scent of orange blossom in the spring. A summer market offers a taste of the local produce.
For a quick taste of ancient Greece, hop in a taxi and go to the site of the sanctuary of Asklepios. You will find a huge ampitheatre seating over 10,000 people. Plays and concerts are held here over the summer. You really need a whole day to experience these awe-inspiring antiquities on this famous site. So if time is short, take a walk instead through the village streets behind the harbour, leading you past ancient burial monuments. You can even find an intact smaller amphitheatre where summer festivals are also held.
Our next hop was from Epidavros to Korfos. We were rather tired from previous day's explorations (and a very small amount of ouzo!) so we sailed some 8Nm to Korfos in the practically land locked Sofikou Bay. We dropped the anchor but you also have the option of mooring stern-to outside of many tavernas which have their own pontoons. George's taverna was also offering free use of showers.
For dinner, try local fish and seafood but make sure to get the price before you order a whole fish as it can be surprisingly expensive. Korfos is a small village so don't plan any major provisioning while there.
On our fifth day, we went to the local beach for some swimming before we sailed some 11Nm to Agistri. Agistri harbour is on the north coast of this picturesque island. Once inside the harbour, keep to the north side, as the water shallows to two metres or less elsewhere.
There are a couple of tavernas close to the small harbour, but you should also take a walk through the quiet streets up to the village. Here, you will enjoy the sights of whitewashed houses and cobbled streets as well as genuine taste of Greek life. Alternatively, you could take a very pleasant walk from the harbour, along the north coast to the next bay of Skala, where there are beaches and bars.
As out sailing trip was coming close to an end, it was time to start making our way back towards Athens. There still was so much to see and do but we opted to sail from Agistri to Perdika. It was a very short, 5-6Nm, sail to Perdika, just south of Aegina.
Here you will find pontoons, or you could anchor in the bay. The water in the bay gets quite shallow to the east, so watch your depth carefully when anchoring. Perdika is a very pretty fishing village, with picture-postcard whitewashed houses. The area attracts many day visitors from Athens. There are many tavernas and fish restaurants on a raised terrace overlooking the waterfront.
And just like that, our amazing Greek odyssey was over as we lifted anchor to head back to Alimos. We have met some wonderful people along the way and sampled many local produce, all of it either fresh from the trees or the sea. The locals could not have been friendlier or have offered us a warmer welcome, ensuring that this will not be our last visit to the Greek shores.
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