Saturday was a long day of travel to Athens by ferry, bus, and subway to our hotel in Athens. It took about 12 hours and it still cost me nearly as much as the 40 minute plane ride to Athens. But we did get to see a bit of the Greek countryside. Greece is beautiful and my conclusion from the 12 hour trip is that I’m no longer concerned about the world supply of olives and olive oil. I think we’ll be just fine.
We left Skiathos on the ferry to Volos about 11:15. The ferry takes about 3 hours to reach the mainland port of Volos.
About 1/2 hour into the ferry ride there was an announcement for any doctors on board. I egged on my father and Tom to respond, which they did. “Its either a heart attack or a woman going into labor”, said Tom. “Let’s hope its not the latter”. Well…it was. A woman’s water had broken and she was going into labor. She was on her way to Volos from Skiathos because the umbilical cord was wrapped around her baby’s neck and she needed to travel there for a c-section, but her water broke too soon. However, as this was her first baby the labor wasn’t active and her contractions where still 10 minutes apart by the time she boarded the ambulance on the other side.
We arrived in Volos and walked to the bus station (although we sent our bags along in a taxi). We missed the 3pm express bus so had to take the 4:30 local (4.5 hours long) for 27 Euro each. We were dropped at a subway station about 6 stops away from our hotel. It all worked out and we were happy to be back in Athens and at the Attalos Hotel for a few days in Athens before heading to Paris.
The bus ride was long but on a very modern and nice bus. But it was enough for Clara to get a little punchy with her paprika Pringles.
Once in Athens we went out on a Saturday night on a full moon and had dinner. Athens and the Plaka was hopping! Very intense number of people out. Great people watching and meal.
Much to our Sunday morning regret we finished our meal with our first (and last) glass of grappa in Greece. It tasted good going down but combined with our sea legs it made our Sunday morning get off to a slow start.
On Friday we spent our last day on the boat swimming and sunning ourselves on the beach of Troulos Bay before heading back to Skiathos Town to return our boat. It was a short trip but gave us time to think about all the great experiences we’ve had over the past two weeks sailing in the Sporades.
We had one last nice meal at a great little seafood restaurant in Skiathos Town and walked the streets on the solstice until late into the night.
To the people of the Sporades thank you for taking care of us on our trip. And to all the stray cats – even the surly ones – we hope you all find loving homes, and if not, may you find a little piece of fish or squid passed to you under the table by sympathetic tourists.
We anchored at famous Koukounaries Bay. Its said to be the nicest beach in Greece, but also voted one of the top 7 beaches in the world. The sand is like gold flecked talcum powder – very fine sand but with flecks that sparkle gold in the sun. Its a shallow gradual beach so the water is warm. It fronts a lagoon with a wildlife sanctuary behind it.
We went ashore and although we were early in the season the beach was still pretty busy. Tawny, Clara and I bought an umbrella and 3 chairs to rent in front of Kahlua Taverna and sat in the sun, swam, read, drank beers, ate lunch, relaxed, and enjoyed the people watching. Unlike the rest of the Sporades reachable by boat filled with French and Germans, this beach reached by plane and ferry seemed to have been populated by Russian tour packages.
In the afternoon tour boats from Skiathos Town started coming in and the beach filled in by the hundreds. Although we were enjoying the people watching others wanted to head to a little bay around the corner for the night. So we went back to the boat and navigated the dangerous shoal Vrak Marines to Troulos Beach and found ourselves the only boats (except for 1 Greek fishing boat) in the bay. We could still see the mega-yacht Al Mirqab. It was our warmest swimming area yet. Clara went ashore and tried a paddle board (but it was really an unstable surf board so the very nice beach rental people refused to take payment for it.)
We went ashore that night for dinner at Troulos Taverna. Food was good and we had breem (a delicate white fish) for the first time. The taverna had a cute little kitten that Clara was very smitten with. As the evening wore on and the wine and ouzo was poured it deteriorated into dancing with the wait staff. A fine evening.