Thursday, 21 June 2012

Halkide, Chalkide, or Chalkis

We are getting to feel really at home. And never have we met so many helpful people. Many of the Halkideans speak reasonable English and David has been delighted to discover small shops and a Chandlery stocking all the intricate spare parts he could not find anywhere else.
I have become an expert in creating Greek salads with just that touch of a difference (teaspoon of marmelade (Italian) in the dressing... ) ever thought of that?

Last night we watched the bridge open to let three of our yacht-neighbours pass through on their way north.
That was Citta del sole, with Francisco and Paola (yes, gender reversal...), together with Hoe from France, and Piccolo from Germany, crewed by Marianna and Volker.
Quite a few of the crews on these long trips are, like us, retired and pacing life (the sea!) slowly.
After the yachts had gone through the bridge (an opening section of the road, that dropped about a metre and then slid inwards under the road on either side -- took a long time to accomplish this feat) watched by cheering crowds shouting Yassas, and waving farewell -- we joined them on the other side and helped them tie up.
I went on board Piccolo and drank a glass of retsina and talked about travel, and age, and so forth.
The night air was soft and warm.

Back to Stroemhella, now bereft of her neighbours, but able to take shot of the sunrise over the waters, unimpeded by friendly masts...

And there she is, the beautiful Stroemhella, with a sheet to act as wind funnel -- most necessary!
David says the forecast for this weekend is 39 degrees Celsius. A cool church required...

Wednesday, 20 June 2012

The wind in Chalkide (or Kalkis)

It is very hot. But a wonderful wind (blowing light plastic bottles along the streets and tangling the streamers from boats and shop fronts) makes life quite bearable. We decided to spend a week here. It's a sizeable town, quite hilly, boasting several churches -- one medieval, and an old castle, and a museum. Hope to get there but right now the hours between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. are too hot for me: even with factor 50 suncream my skin is not happy.
Brilliant light, fading at the end of the day into pinks and mauves and opals and reflected across the water. The heat is happy-making. Our boating neighbours sit on deck in the shade of their awnings and read; I study Greek, the men from this shipyard work, all through the heat, wearing large sunhats, communicating by cell-phone. Their langauge still sounds strange to me, words resembling Russian, sometimes like Spanish-Arabic -- and then I hear something I recognize. We met an Italian couple (Paola and Francesco, for the change!) who had sailed in Greece for eight years and still had problems understanding what was being said (the difficulty of dialects!) but told us they did find many words similar to Italian.
David (and Yannos) are mounting a wind generator so that the cool-box will be more useful (joke) when the engine isn't running.
We have found lots of interesting shops here, a wonderful laundry where they are also making up some fitted sheets for Stroemhella, and truly excellent places to eat. Delicious meals for ten euros a head. Wine included.

So why quit Chalkide? (above two funeral stelae from the first century AD, I think)

Saturday, 16 June 2012

Second largest Greek island after Crete

We have reached Evia, and sailed (or mainly chugged) up the west coast, starting at the southern tip.
We are now half-way up, where a swing-bridge links mainland Greece with this, the largest isalnd after Crete (of the countless Greek isles...)
We crossed over from mainland Greece, after sailing eastwards from Athens, and stopping in some small working harbours, where we encountered much friendly hospitality and helfulness.

Meanwhile, our capitano continues to care for his guests on board and prepares wondrous dishes (see above) using the superb Greek veggies and fruit, bread and wine (we have now acquired the words psomi and ouzo, which prove very helpful; tomate also exceedingly handy...) In fact, our Greek progresses, albeit slowly, and I have written out a list of the alphabet, caps and cursive... to which I apply myself diligently.

Time and patience
Very strange how time passes on a boat, with daily sails and new harbours, varying scenes, strangers becoming friends (for a brief hour). So many impressions to absorb. Let alone the continuous addition of new historical inforwation -- straightening out the realtions between the Greeks and the Persians, recalling all those Greek myths one learned at school, and the Greek names for the gods and goddesses (not Minerva, but Athena).

Sometimes straightening out relations bewteen the crew. Learing how to be quiet and speak words sparingly (very hard for me!!). Watching all the time, observing amazing beauty, the light dazzling across the waves, or gleaming on the oily waters, the dark cypresses standing out againt the velvet depths of blue sky, and on land the squashed mulberries on the ground beneath a laden tree, oranges shining between their green leaves, skinny cats with their large liquid eyes... So much to absorb...
And so much light...

 Note for my faithful blog followers: sometimes I can't attach the pic I would like to, so maybe you see some doubles ... well, you know how it is...

Friday, 8 June 2012

Through the Corinth Canal

We had to wait outside for about an hour, bouncing around (so installed Shenghui and baby Helene in a bunk with side, in the main cabin.)
As we enetered, Shenghui awoke -- happily, since it was truly spectacular. Helene slet the whole way through...
It was narrow, with high steep sides, showing layers of different coloured sandy rock. Plants and small trees grew from the banks. The occasional watery cave...

We went through with three other yachts -- we were the last.
In front of us a smaller, slower yacht from France -- whose delightful owners (a couple, of retirement age...) frequently slowed down to take photos (one is meant to speed through the Canal at around 6 knots...) and we had to put our boat into neutral -- once even considered putting the engine into reverse mode!
But one couldn't blame them. It was unforgettable.
Helene slept through it all -- but then, she has sooo much to see on this, her first sea voyage!

We found a quiet bay to anchor in, watched the sun sink below the horizon, and realized why we are here...

Wednesday, 6 June 2012

The Corinth Canal

Quick update.
Now in Corinth harbour, and plan to enter the canal and travel through from west to east.
We now have Gwenn, Shenghui and 8-month-old Helene as crew.

Herewith pic of Helene on the beach near Porto Germeno.
As you see, a lady with an investigative turn of mind.
We spent some delightful days with George, Dmitra and their three children, being overwhelmed with Greek hospitality...

And enjoying the sheer beauty of this place...

More stories of the briny deep to follow -- we discovered just how bouncing the waves can be, on our crossing from Porto Germeno to Corinth ... not entitrely a happy day. Three seasick sailors. But not Helene (Eleni in Greek!) who found the surging splashing waves if great interest...

So now for the Canal and the impressive rocky heights...