We enjoyed a good breakfast and made our way to the harbour so we could motor over to a nearby island to make our first crossing! Wow is all can say. 


It was fairly rough and choppy as we started out and by the end we earned our lunch. We must have swum at least 4 or more km. not a bad effort for the first day. I fell a lot more confident this year, knowing I can keep going – something I wasnt sure of last year..




Another good lunch this time prepared by Ricky and Emma sitting under the shade at the beach bar.



The afternoon swim was from  the port and around the headland back to the beach. We swam with Ricky which was great. He pointed things out and was diving down to show us sponges and rocks and kept a reasonable pace for us. Back on the beach we lazed before walking slowly back up the hill. Dinner was back at the Deli Bar where we choose from the menu and it was great. I had BBQ calamari. Quite delicious.





Steve enjoyed raki which Chris thinks it is really rocket fuel. Steve seems to like it.





Packed and off to bed. Leaving this hotel tomorrow for Koufonisia






SUNDAY: Swim Trek Begins




Well the swim has started! We walked down to the beach, a rocky walk mostly down hill! Wasn’t looking forward to the uphill with my so knee! 


The bay was lovely, quite deserted,  a little unkept and we stopped and put our gear at the beach bar and creamed up and went into the water for our first swim- a 400 metre swim starting with Ricky along the beach around Emma and back. This gave them a chance to check out our style and speed.



We were all pretty good with the few at the top, and Jill and I and maybe one or two others in the slower group ( not that we cared as we just want to be able to enjoy the swims.



We had the usual swim trek morning tea of tea coffee fruit and packet biscuits  before we started out training session. We all learned the swim signals and then started a few drill to help with the distance sea swimming. It was a good introduction – one we didn’t get last year as the group were all experienced swimmers. Still it was a good revision to be able to think of our stroke.



Then the big starring moment! The video camera was brought out and Emma took control. She had us swim towards her then pass in front of her to the right for twenty metres, then repeated it all underwater!





Can’t wait for the video analysis tonight!





Then it was lunch. We wandered up the stairs to a lovely little restaurant all blue and white with white billowing curtains around a LONG table set by the edge of the garden overlooking the sea. Not bad. Lunch was the usual beautiful Greek salad, pasta and sparkling water. No alcohol at lunch as we have another swim in the afternoon.





Siesta time followed and we all stretched out on one of the sun beds under the shade of the trees scattered along the beach bar.





Then the challenge starts. We swam out and around a small island, across to a headland, along the headland and into another gorgeous bay, around the bay and along the coast till we reached a little blue and white church. So picturesque. Then across the bay to reach Arki’ s boat.





Now I haven’t mentioned Arki. He is Greek, tried to be charming, and owns the yacht that swim trek use for its week long treks. We had heard he was particular – he is ridiculously so!  A we climbed the ladder to get on his boat he hoses you down practically orders you along in how to move and where to sit. A little over the top in my opinion.





We motored back to the beach bar and rested awhile before the long rocky climb up the hill to our hotel. That wasn’t in the brochure!!!!!





Video analysis time meant drink time as Ricky and Emma showed the first group their video! It was slowed and replayed several times as they made constructive comments about our swimming. It was very good and gave us lots of work on over the next few days. We sat with Kim and David and had many laughs.





We prepared for our dinner together at A little courtyard restaurant. It’s a  little restaurant in the small village. We ordered things to start and then an individual meal each. All was going really well- starters great. Then 3 people got their mains and nearly an hour  and several requests and many apologies  later our main courses started to arrive. Seems there was an issue with the BBQ gas! 



Huge meals and most of us didn’t feel like it any more!





The glass half empty girl Maryanne from Sydney made her displeasure loud and clear. Oh boy it could be a long week with her!







Naxos to Schinousa Island: Let the Trek begin!

Naxos to Schinousa

Naxos to Schinousa: Let the Trek begin!

We allowed ourselves a little sleep in today at the Hotel Grotta – and despite the name, is very lovely to rest a while. It is still busy with tourists but the family who own it have all the tourists worked out and deliver the best breakfast we have seen.

We had to wait for a table for five, but when we sat down our tour guide, Ricky, came over for a chat. Good chance to get to know him. He’s young, friendly and he looks like fun.

After packing up we headed down the rocky path to the main town. I discovered the memory card on my camera had  locked and after Steve did a little panic blaming “you know who” we visited a camera shop where  they simply unlocked the card. Greek Tragedy over!

We wandered the port front, bought towels and had some lunch before it was time to head to the ferry.

The ferry was a two hour trip along the side of Naxos across a small channel and then we were landing at Schinousa Isand.

We were met by the “Lady of the House” the manger of the Iliovasilema Hotel. She loaded our bags with the ease of a weightlifter and we packed into the van and two minutes later
were walking into the cool shade of the hotel.

We got room 3 and the Wilsons got a room two along . The rooms are basic, comfortable  with  a view from the bedroom.
We met the group and started to make our assumptions about the personalities!
There are two women from Cronulla. A lovely NZ couple a little younger than us, a single delightful young man from England, a hairdresser. Another single man from England an actuary from Brighton, and a woman from Hamburg.
We went to the first night dinner to the Deli Bar with Ricky and Emma and it started out well until the fish soup was not a hit with some of the group. Oh boy!

It turns out one of the group has particular tastes and isn’t afraid to share!

Arriving in Naxos.

The swim trek is getting closer and I’m starting to get nervous. Hope I can keep up with my fellow swimmers. The weather will be so important as to how we enjoy each day so I’m praying to the weather Gods for a fine blue Greek sky. 
The plane was late loading and then we were driven out to it and boy did it look little! A bit scary! We squished on and and I felt like I was in charge of the propellor. I was that close to it! We had a lovely attractive air hostess called Sophia who read the safety requirements in just passable English , so I’m hoping there is no emergency! 

 We hardly seemed to go up before we were flying over little islands then it was time to land. The baggage hall was a funny little room with a set of rollers coming out of a hole in the wall and if you didn’t pick your bag up quickly it crashed onto the floor! 

Arrived at our lovely Hotel Grotta. So beautiful and neat and clean. Unlike many other buildings in the area, it is yellow. Our room looks over the sea and the green shutters frame the blue sea beautifully. The manageress greeting us with drinks, spinach pie and orange syrup cake. All very delicious as we hadn’t had lunch. 

We met two others who are doing the swim trek and OH NO they are from Australia!They probably feel the same about us! But we would like some cultural difference. We met some people from the trek that had just finished and there were no Australians on that trek. Anyway I’m sure our group will be good together.
We headed down into the township and it’s just lovely. Lots of  colourful restaurants and signs for tempting cocktails and, somehow, I overlooked the “sex on the beach”,” between the sheets”,”a loving couple” and decided on a strawberry daiquiri. The friendly green man in the yellow shirt promised me a fresh fruit cocktail – but sadly it was all show and no punch!

We moved onto to one of the many seafood restaurants and used a recommendation by the lady at the hotel. It’s probably her brother’s – but how do you decide? Probably could have gone to the one with the old many beating the octopus outside his place, or the one with the coal BBQ, or the one with chairs painted the colours of the rainbow. But in the end we were happy and shared a lovely BBQ dorado with grilled vegetables, salad and lots of local wine.


Tomorrow we meet Ricky and Emma our two guides. Hope we get less wind and lots of laughs.

Morning in Athens – or Where the Eastern Frieze should be

Morning in Athens

We decided to make the most of our morning in Athens and help Steve get some sights in.
So up early and breakfast at the hotel and then on foot to the Pantheon Museum and the Acropolis – about 15 minutes away. It was well worth the early breakfast at 7am and being on the street by 7.40. It’s much quieter then and the walk towards the Acropolis was wonderful. Got there as it opened at 8:00 and spent a great hour there. On good advice from some young friends of the Wilsons we headed to the top food at the Museum. It explains clearly the story behind the building of the Acropolis . We spent some time marvelling at the remains being pieced together by the archeologists.

Evzonnes at the Greek National Memorial

Trying to beat the tour groups, our own little group of 5 set off up the hill. It unfolds gently as you walk the slopes. The view across the city unfolds and the whiteness of the building starts to stun. As we rounded the last curve towards the Acropolis we were shocked to see the crowds, in waves, of cruise ship tour groups. DAMN! They must have come sneaking through special tour gates.

The The area around the Acropolis is rocky and rough and feels more original than having set paths and signs. The temple of Athena is also there and has exquisite carvings on the porticos surrounding the temple.

Recreated Eastern Frieze at the Museum

The Acropolis is wonderful, awe inspiring, magnificent – a piece of architecture to rival anything modern. Up close it is amazing, but like a lot of buildings its grandeur becomes obvious from a distant viewing.

We wandered back down the hill through winding streets led by our own little tour guide, Sarah, who with the aid of google earth had us back near the hotel before ur departure time of 11am.

So we had time for a little shoe shopping and a really beautiful coffee.

Back to collect bags and then a suitcase rally to the nearest metro station for a train out to the airport.
All very easy.

Theatre on the Acropolis
Two old ruins amongst the ruins


Where the Eastern Frieze should go


Just another monument in Athens


We left La Grande Motte in the dark and got to Marseilles in plenty of time for our Aegean Airline flight. It was crowded but I had an empty seat next to me – lucky me! 
The flight was delayed and as it turned out we arrived at the same time as the Wilsons. We met in the baggage area. Shared a taxi to the hotel where we found Sarah waiting for us. A quick change and off we went to the roof top bar! Oh my what a view. Looked straight out toward the Acropolis. Magic! It’s so lovely to meet up with our good friends in such an exotic location. 

The Wilsons had friends (two lovely young sisters from home) meet us and we enjoyed a variety of drinks while catching up and looking at the view. Finally the need for food took over and off we went to find a restaurant commended by their Greek friend Penny. We shared such delicious food – souvlaki (pork and chicken). stuffed tomatoes, salads, tzatziki. Yum. 

Then it was off to explore. Great area to explore in the Plaka. Full of life with colour, noise and people all having fun. Lots of rush-covered timber chairs checked tablecloths , vines growing over shaded areas and twinkling lights. Great atmosphere. 
Back to the rooftop bar for another view, a few photographs and off to bed with a plan for an early start to head up to the Acropolis before the crowds. Also the new museum. Poor Steve, he won’t be coming back to Athens so wants to do the big “must see” places in the morning. 

And so to bed. Lovely to have the Wilsons – Chris, Jill and Sarah sharing this Greek Adventure with us.