Thursday, June 27, 2013

O, o, o...Oia, Santorini!

After our sailing adventure we packed our bags and took the long bus trip back to Athens to board our flight on Olympic Air to the island of Santorini.

We settled into our place in Oia, Santorini (Olympic Villas) and were quite pleased that there was a beautiful pool with an awesome view of Oia town and the sea right in front of us.  As luck had it we were given the room with a spectacular view.  It was the front room facing the sea...we only booked two weeks prior, so I guess the gods or maybe the Greek ones were helping us.

It didn't take long for Amy and I to say that this is the most beautiful town we have ever visited (sorry Dubrovnik).  It is kind of like a small, euro Santa Barbara with some Santa Fe-like influences.  An idyllic picture perfect postcard shot can be had with every view you take in.  The stone paths aligned with white walls refreshes the senses and leaves you in a daze of pure enjoyment and anticipation to see what beckons around the next corner.  Our task was tough...finding the perfect restaurant with a view, with our menu selection and within our budget.

This island lifestyle is definitely for us, but the rest of our year won't be this nice and spendy.  We planned to live it up for the first few weeks and then start to cook our own meals, spend less on the trips we take and stay a bit longer in places in order to save.  In true Mike and Amy fashion, we have cut corners and conserved in other ways.  We haven't done a machine load of wash since leaving Colorado... only a sink soak and an air dry.  Call it european style, ("refugee style" per Mike Villa) or just plain silly.  We are writing it off as just another experience on our journey.
 ...our friend Nikkos
....our friend Stavros

...stumbled upon a restaurant with this fantastic view

...the town of Fira

...stairway to heaven 

...Amy posing at sunset

...we rented an atv one day to tour the island

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Our week on the Ionian Sea

We boarded our home on the water for the next week on Sunday.  We met our other sailing partners which were a family from the states living in Germany and a couple from Argentina living in England.  The ship's captain, Thanos and his wife Alicia popped open some bubbly for us and had some tasty appetizers ready for us.  After we all had a few and were ripe from the Greek heat we set sail to our first port at around 8pm (stays light until about 9:30p here).  Amy and I commented that motoring in to our first port town and seeing the town speckled in light and hearing the local music from a distance reminded us of the pirates of the caribbean ride.

Group shot our first day
...our yacht, 'Velos'

...our cabin

 We didn't end up getting off the boat and eating until about 11pm that night.  This set the stage for a schedule that was all too foreign for Amy and me.

Alicia prepared breakfast for us every morning from 8-9:30am.  After breakfast we would set out to a bay to spend the day.  At  1pm Alicia would prepare a wonderful lunch for us all on the yacht consisting of spicy cheese dip (our favorite which in Greek was called tirokafteri), grilled vegetables, Greek ratatouille. homemade tzatziki, zucchini soup, stuffed peppers and tomatoes, carrot dip and so much more.  After lunch we would set sail for about two hours until our next port.  Because of the heat we would typically get off the yacht and do some more swimming before heading back and relaxing and cleaning up for dinner.

We learned that as a result of the heat and the siesta the Greeks take, shops and restaurants close down during mid day until around 6pm.  Since the sun stays out until 9 pm or so dinner was best served and enjoyed during the milder evening/night hours.

Amy testing the waters out by jumping off the front of the yacht
The ports that we visited were:  Vathi, Meganisi; Kalamos, Kalamos; Vathi, Ithaka; Agia Efimia, Kefalonia; Fiskardo, Kefalonia; Sivota, Lefkada and Lefkas Town, Lefkada
yikes...jelly fish swimming hole for the day!
Amy pulling up the front sail (the Genoa)

Self shot in one of the beautiful port towns.  We were amazed at how calm and simple life in these small towns we visited.  Groceries were delivered by a scooter, old ladies sat on their chairs outside watching the yachts come in and out and people left there keys in their cars.  Had to remind Amy that we were on a schedule for the year as I know she would have called any of these tiny port villages her new home.

Our Greek meal staples...tzaziki, tirokafteri (spicy cheese dip) and of course the Greek salad

Our captain, Thanos and his wife Alicia.  Thank you for our wonderful adventure.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Yamas Nidri, Greece-Yamas Νυδρί Ελλάδα

Yamas... cheers in Greek.  An appropriate word for such a wonderful gem of a place and the pleasant time spent in this seaside locale.  Nidri, Greece was our stop for a couple of days before we meet the boat in Lefkas town.  Nidri is a small beach resort town about 45 minutes south of Lefkas.  The beaches are pebbled and the outer islands act as a barrier and natural breaker to the waves making the beach right outside our hotel (Avra Beach Hotel) calm as a Grecian bath.  The town resembled Ko Samui, Thailand with the flavor and sophistication of Santa Barbara.  There was a nice promenade in front of the restaurants next to the harbor which we enjoyed, and where Amy got her first run in in Greece.  We enjoyed more Greek salads and tried our first plate of tzatski.  Yamas to Greece and looking forward to returning to Nidri hopefully one day.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Mike and Amy in Athens

We made it to Athens around 6pm and didn't get to our hotel 'Acropolis View' until 8pm.  Had a nice light meal (Greek salad and spinach stuffed crepe) and then went to bed before the grand walking tour of Athens the next day.  Took in the sights of this ancient city and enjoyed another Greek salad and a mixed plate of Greek appetizers.  Walked some more, got some moisture in the form of some sprinkles and then returned to the hotel to enjoy our view, write this blog post and then prepare for dinner.

Our Launch Party in Amsterdam

Spent three wonderful days in the beautiful and very festive city of Amsterdam.  Mo and Rob came and spent the days with us in a small apartment we rented in the Westerpark area.  Chris and George came out for just 24 hours to set us out on our journey.  If the three days had anything to tell about what was to come on our journey..we had better watch out.

The Dutch made a lasting, pleasant impression on us that was very appreciated.  Whenever we got lost or needed some guidance there was a nice Dutchman/woman that stopped us and offered their assistance.

Our favorites:
-Nice tall Heinekens straight from the source
-beautiful canals
-renting bikes and cruising through the well made and various bikeways
-amazing and very clean streets and parks
-liberal city
-Anne Frank's house
-flower boxes
-bike boxes for kids built on the front of bicycles

Our guilty pleasure:
-waffles covered in chocolate
-watching and timing the guy that visited the "girl in bands" duck behind the red curtain in the red light district...(45 minutes and 50 Euro for those enquiring minds)

-3 Euro tram rides
-making up Dutch phrases (strangely sounds like Klingon)

Luckily we never did get rained on, although mother nature seemed to be ready for it.  We parted ways with Mo and Rob and boarded a flight first to Germany and then on to Greece and the city of Athens.