Daily Archives: June 16, 2013

Votsi Storm, Caves, and an Exceptional Meal

Literally within seconds of dropping anchor in the crowed fishing boat bay of Votsi and rafting our boat “Sonia” along side our friend’s boat “Deep Blue” there was a crack of thunder, bolts of lightning followed by a deluge like non I’d ever seen. We scrambled to batten the hatches and pull in the towels, laundry, Kindles, and iPads.

Tawny and I donned our suits and headed out into the rain with some soap. It had been several days since we had a shower and the rain was so torrential it took the soap off you before you could lather it. The unexpected hail was exfoliating. The thunder and lightning all around us was a bit disconcerting since we were the highest mast in the bay. But the refreshment of a cool shower was worth it. We caught several buckets of the soft rain water from the boat’s dodger to keep for future bathing. On shore we saw flash flooding with torrents of rain coming down the street by the tavernas and waterfalls forming on the cliffs around us.

We sat below for an hour or two waiting for the storm to pass. Eventually it did and Tom, Clara, Tawny, and I ventured out in the dingy to explore the caves nearby the bay. There are so many caves along the shores of the Sporades that after awhile it was so commonplace I stopped photographing them. Many of these caves had been above waterline at one time and have evidence of human inhabitants that dates back to pre-neolithic times.

We went ashore during a sun-break and walked around the bay scoping out tavernas that we may want visit that night. The air was fresh and clean and the bay looked beautiful.



We zeroed in on a cute little taverna built into the hillside that had a great view. It looked like another mom and pop place because we could see in the windows a baby play pen just off the kitchen. We returned to the boat and waited for them to open (many places don’t open until 6 or 7 pm and people really don’t arrive until 9 or 10pm.

The place turned out to be a mom and pop place but with a young couple, an Italian woman and her Greek boyfriend and their baby girl. Her Italian sister and her Greek boyfriend were also part of the restaurant. It was very chic variation on modern Greek and Italian food. Perhaps one of the best meals we’ll have in Greece. It was certainly the best to date. The seared tuna was a hit as was the garbanzo bean salad, the homemade tagliatelle with shrimp, but the best was the gnoci with browned butter.







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Patiriri – Old Town

Wednesday morning we took our boat with Jim, Carol, and Tom and went to the port of Patiriri for the day and met up with Barry and Judy. We hired a 3 taxis who took us to the ancient hilltop town of Patiriri. It was spectacular.









Yes, that donkey was carrying kegs of beer.
We had a late breakfast in the hill top town and again the food was excellent. Clara had a great Greek omelet and Tawny had this divine Greek yoghurt with honey and fruit and the most blissful fig I’ve ever eaten. I had a Mythos beer.



From the top of the hill we could see storms and rain coming. We called for our cabs and quickly returned to the port to get on our boat and return to our anchorage in Votsi.

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Tuesday evening we tried to get into the port of Patiriri on the island of Alonnisos but the port was very full so we had to go to the fisherman’s bay northeast of the main town. Although Barry and Judy were able to find a berth in Patiriri on the quay. The fisherman’s bay turned out to be a very protected bay called Votsi that we liked so much we decided to stay in for 2 nights.

We nestled in between small fishing boats and settled in for happy hour.





During our happy hour a man appeared on the cliff above where we were anchored and hailed us. He motioned to his mouth and pointed behind him. We assumed he may have a food truck or something in the parking area above the cliff from what we could see.

We went ashore (about 10 feet in a dingy) and clambered up the path the fishermen had made along the cliff wall. When we got to the top we saw not a food truck but a brand new restaurant – empty. We were early in the season and we were the only tourists staying in Votsi, so we decided we’d eat there for the night. One of the best meals we had in Greece to date! It was fantastic! Literally a mom and pop restaurant as the only two people there. Very new (kitchen looked like it never had a meal cooked in it, bathroom was perhaps the cleanest bathroom I’ve ever seen!)





It was a great meal and we settled back onto the boats with some difficulty even with a 10 foot water crossing late at night and in the dark.
The wind kicked up and there was considerably thunder and lightning again which provided another wild night of anchor watch started about 4am as the rafted boats began to drag. We came very close to the shore and to another fishing boat but were able to tighten the stern ties to the shore and set the anchor to keep the drift to a minimum.

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Mama Mia Church

Tuesday, in the early afternoon, we left Skopelos Town for Alonnisos and the port of Patiriri. But first we had to make a detour by heading up the rugged northern windward coast of Skopelos island so we could see the Church of the Virgin Mary made famous in the film Mama Mia.

It was a bit cloudy and foggy out. We had pretty rough seas with a strong northerly blowing in. The previous night we had quite a wild wind and considerable lightning in the distance. Zeus and Poseidon apparently not pleased with a gaggle of Americans and ex-pat Brits from Dubai invading their waters.

As we approached the church it was more majestic precariously perched high on a seaward rock than it appeared in the movie. We found a few ABBA songs on our iPhone and played Dancing Queen as we approached the rock.

The seas were quite rough but we dropped anchor in the heavy seas and Tawny, Clara, and I braved the swell, boarded the dingy, and navigated the jagged rocks for the nearest shore.




Its was either 199 or 200 steps to the top (in the sweltering heat we lost count). The steps were treacherous but clearly a railing had been added in recent years to cope with the influx of tourists that visit the church.




The church was considerably smaller inside than the movie would make it seem. So small, it was difficult to take a photograph inside the dark and confined space. But it did contain a lot of religious art and artifacts.


Outside the church upon the grounds were a few weathered and ancient olive trees vibrating with the sound of cicadas in their branches.



And an outhouse perched on the edge of the cliff. This one put the long in the term commonly used for outhouses – long drop. No, I didn’t use it.


The heat was nearly unbearable and so we headed down and back to the boat to make our way to Alonnisos. The swell on the way had us all pretty nauseated. But as we rounded the south cape of the island the swell subsided and we could see the ancient city upon the hill.


On the way into Alonnisos we had a dolphin swim right up along our port side. “Dolphin off port”, I yelled, grabbing my camera. The dolphin swam to the bow wake and took two quick jumps before I could ready my camera. I missed it. Hopefully I’ll get another opportunity.


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