Posted: 31 July 2001.
Yasas everyone from Aya Kiriaki, about 100 miles north of Athens. In our last newsletter, we alluded to the fun we had had in checking back in to Greece. We entered at Alexandroupolis, on the Greek mainland. It turned out to be a long and drawn out experience. This was probably made worse by the fact that they don’t get very many yachts entering Greece here and in fact we were the first yacht this year. We were met in the harbour by the port police telling us that we had to go to the port police office where all formalities would be dealt with.
So we arrive at the port police where we sat around for an hour or so before being ushered into an office where they did not know what to do with us. After much consulting of manuals etc we managed to get all the forms filled out and paid entry and port dues. After several phone calls they then told us that we had to return at 10pm, yes 10pm that night and they would escort us to the police station where we would complete immigration. This will be interesting. So at 10pm we turn up, back at the Port Police where we were then escorted to the police station. We then sat in the foyer for about 45 minutes, all slowly melting in the heat and humidity. Finally a guy turned up who indicated we were to follow him and we proceeded up a couple of flights of stairs. He spoke no English and of course we, apart from Kalemera and kalespera, speak no Greek. So now he starts leafing through passports and of course finds that we have a stamp in our passports from Mytilene that was crossed out. At this we could see he was getting agitated and being unable to communicate he did not understand that we were aware we had a fine to pay. So he then starts making phone calls, sometimes on 2 phones at once (not sure who he was calling at this time of night as by now it was 11.30pm). Eventually he stamps our passengers’ passports and Lesley’s passport and then immediately realises what he has done so crosses out that stamp.
Finally we managed to establish (courtesy of the member of the PP (Port Police) who was still in attendance) that we would have to come back via the PP office the next day at 8.30 to 9.00am. So off we traipsed back to the boat at 12.30am, where we were then checked back on board by the PP. The next morning at 8am (earlier than directed a few hours earlier) a PP turned up at the boat and said come now. So we hastily finished our breakfast and head back to the PP office where then waited for over an hour as it turned out the immigration guy was held up. This time though we were offered a large glass of cold water while we waited.
Eventually we returned to the police station, up several flights of stairs where there were a number of people lined up waiting to deal with immigration issues and where we waited for about 2 hours while they established that we needed the original document that was issued in Rhodes detailing the issue of the fine and the amount. So back to the boat to get the documents which we didn’t have with us. We were then taken by a plain clothes policemen in his car to a bank I think about 3 kms away where we were to pay the fine. This was achieved after various forms were filled in, with the help of a lovely Greek lady, with minimal English but a good sense of humour. At one stage I pointed out to her that she had spelt our surname wrong and she laughed and said that she was in love and that made her make mistakes, or at least I think that is what she said. She would have to be about the same age as us too. She was also a bit flummoxed when we had to fill in our parents’ names and mothers’ maiden names. When it came to filling in my Dad’s name (Charles Roland Joseph Stanton), she exclaimed “So many names. In Greece we only have one name”. I did not want to risk a New Zealand/Greek incident by pointing out that their first names had about 63 letters in them! Finally we were able to hand over the money. Then back to the police station to wait for another hour or so until our passports were stamped and we were then free to go to customs!! Surprisingly customs were very efficient and we were all done a short time later. It was a 24hour marathon although with a few hours sleep included (and only a few) but we are once again legal. I wouldn’t have thought it would be so hard to pay a fine. To be fair I think everybody that we dealt with were amazed that we were fined and even more so that we were prepared to pay it. Having helped the Greek economy enormously, we must say that it is good to be back in warm, clean water with clear, blue skies. In passing on this information to a Greek yachting agent that we had been in touch with he replied that we probably picked the worst place to enter Greece as they have huge illegal immigration problems in the EU and they all hold Greece responsible. It is the border by Alexandropolis where most of them come in!
After stocking up there, we headed off to Thasos Island, where we pleased everyone on board by anchoring off a nudist beach. Must remember for next year, that if we are anchoring off nudist beaches, we need lots of pairs of binoculars as ours nearly melted, being passed from eye ball to eye ball. Next we headed back to the Greek mainland and sailed by the Akti Peninsula, that is filled with monasteries. You can only land there if you have permission and then it is only men that can land there as us fair maidens would corrupt the monks that abide there. We were not supposed to get closer than 500 metres but we could see lots of buildings in precarious positions. This is the peninsular on which Mt Athos sits at its southern end and it soars to over 2000mtrs. There 17 monasteries located on the peninsular along with various hermitages and the supporting villages.
There are three peninsulas that hang off the Greek mainland and they look like three fingers. We spent a bit of time at the middle finger, revelling in the water temperatures of over 30 degrees. After that we went back to the island of Panayaia, in the northern Sporades, a favourite of ours from last year. A bit much alcohol was imbibed here (sorry Dr Nigel) but we did our best to eat lots of food (sorry Dr Nigel), to soak up the alcohol. I must say at this point, that we have voted Robyn, our chef Par Excellence, preparing gorgeous gastronomic feasts, but the only trouble with her cooking is that we have too many dishes to clean up afterwards and too many damn calories to work off. (Sorry Dr Nigel, they forced me to eat all that food). Robyn so kindly arrived on board with gifts of platters and bowls etc and I have to keep a very close eye on her when we are out shopping, so that she does not buy more doodahs for Midi, because then she would use them as well and that would add to the dishes.
We re-visited the islands of Alonissis and Skopolos. Remember Skopolos is the Mamma Mia island and I think Bruce is ready to throw our Mamma Mia DVD away as he had to endure three 50 something ladies, using bananas as microphones as they warbled along with Meryl Streep and company. We anchored off the port of Loutraki and went for a walk up to the village of Glossa on the top of the hill. Well after having mucked around so long in the morning having breakfast and then there is the ritual of the grinding of the coffee beans for the perked coffee, the checking of the emails, the various Skype phone calls to various family members, the discussion of world events that have been discovered on the internet, the analysing of the habits of family members, the time has marched on in the morning and the temperature has risen. So off we trek, up this rather good trail, temperature around 30 degrees – no water bottle amongst us – me sweating (no sorry – ladies don’t sweat – we glow – I was flaming well on fire!). We finally reached the so-called picturesque village at the top and it was not as beautiful as many of the villages we have seen previously but we did get a lovely view of Midi, down in the harbour. I am thinking that I won’t schlep half way up a damn mountain in the future, just to get a good look at Midi.
Next was Skiathos, where the ladies went trinket shopping and the blokes looked for boat bits. In amongst all this visiting of touristy spots, we do have a lot of time were we just blob about in little secluded bays and we have to amuse ourselves. Here are photos of our intrepid lot, playing water polo, using a plastic shoe found on the beach as a ball. Also a photo of Nick, getting i tune with his feminine side, when I got out my nail polishes (one lira for each bottle in Turkey – that is about .80 kiwi cents).
Our next anchorage found us by another marble quarry so it was in shore for Robyn and I, gathering more stones to take home. I have yet to ascertain whether I am allowed to bring in lovely marble stones, but I will give it a go. Sailing across the bay on Saturday, the men listened to the All Blacks vs South Africa, courtesy of Radio Sport on the internet. So funny seeing them all at the helm station, in the boiling temperatures, listening to rugby at the Cake Tin where a cold southerly was blowing. But what do our intrepid Kiwi blokes do at half time?
Have a beer methinks you would say – nah our macho kiwis had a cup of tea! They had been on the turps the night before though. Bruce Cameron is to have a birthday just before they leave to go back to NZ, so we thought we better have a birthday party for him on a specified day, prior to departure. We had a planning session in a little place called Platania, but some of our party drank a little too much so that the following night, when we were in a lovely little bay on the Trikeri peninsula, having the aforementioned birthday party, alcohol consumption was not so generous. We ended up going to dinner at a lovely little taverna, overlooking the small bay with Midi bobbing about below us and dined on swordfish steaks with Greek salad, chips and fried aubergine, followed by fresh melon. Gorgeous.
It is now the 1st of August and we are heading in to the city of Volos so our crew can book transport back to Istanbul later in the week, where they will fly home. Because we changed our plans from sailing the Black Sea to coming back to Greece, it mucked it up a bit for them but I don’t think there are too many complaints as it all has been wonderful.
Well it is goodbye for us for now. Hope everyone is well back home and the weather is starting to improve.
Love from the Tebbutts
Fountaine Pajot Orana 44 – “Midi”