As a keen traveller, sailing has always been one of my passions.. So when I’m not on the road, backpacking and blogging, if the opportunity presents I like to get away on the sea. Sailing offers the same opportunities to explore new and exciting places but from a totally different perspective.
So last year, after scouring the internet I managed to get on a boat trip from Athens to Monemvasia. I arrived exhausted in Athens on the bus from Albania after touring Macedonia and Albania, fortunately, I had arranged with the Skipper so that I could stay the night before everyone else turned up. Still I didn’t know what to expect. I turned up early evening and the Skipper and the early birds (other crew members that arrived early) were heading out, so I joined them.. well rude not to.
We all hit it off and I knew I was going to be in for a treat. It was a laid back atmosphere unlike some other sailing adventures I’ve done. The next day the remainder of the crew arrived. The boat we were going to sail was a Bavaria style boat, 51 feet long, pure luxury and style. It had accommodation for 10 people in 5 cabins, so being able to share is essential. In sailing you have to be able to live in small spaces and get on with people, it’s all part of the fun..
So early morning we departed for Aegina, just a short sail from Athens. The weather was great, too good in fact as there was lots of sun and no wind. So we trundled along on the motor. Unfortunately, this became a theme for the week, very little or no wind and lots of power boating!
We arrived at Aegina after only a few hours, after undertaking the usual sea drills – getting to know the boat, practicing reefing the sails (taking in sail or letting more out depending on weather conditions) etc.. It was a medium sized marina in the middle of town, full up with luxury yachts, catamarans and mighty big power boats. To the front, row upon row of quality Greek restaurants with smartly dressed waiters waving their menus at the hungry folk. Oh how the rich and famous live! We moored up for the evening, lucky enough to find the one empty slot available.
After a fine Greek salad, followed by Souvlaki dish washed down with a couple of Greeks beers it was time to call it a night. It would be an early start. We were heading straight for Monemvasia, a 70 mile passage so that some of the crew could get in some miles towards their sailing exams. We divided ourselves into shifts and then retired for the night. It was a 5am start and luckily, I was second shift!
I awoke with a crash as the boat bounced through the water, trying to go back to sleep was not an option. I decided to go up on deck and to see what’s what. One again there was not enough wind to make good headway and the skipper decided to motor. I can understand this as he’s on a timescale and we are not. Nevertheless, we carried out our shifts and progressed south to Monemvasia. The blue sea shimmered in the warm Aegean Sun; the coastline of Islands that we passed seemed full of mystery in a sort of blue haze in the heat of the day. Random churches and ancient buildings adorned peaks seemingly in the middle of nowhere.
On board it was good fun, plenty of cups of tea and snacks. Sat at the helm we all swapped stories and exchanged sailing tips and really go to know each other. You always do in Sailing; it’s easy to make friends for life..
For lunch, we weighed anchor just off a small inlet and while food was being prepared by some conscientious crew members, the remainder went for a dip in the sea to cool off from the warm afternoon breeze. The water was a tad chilly and it took me a few minutes to get used to the fresh temperature. However, once in.. it was amazing to swim in the clear blue sea, to be able to see right to the bottom, which would have been 5-10 meters.
Wow, we arrived at Monemvasia and boy was it worth it. A rocky plateau with a picturesque ancient town encased by a towering protective wall perched on the sea edge. As we dropped anchor you couldn’t help but feel maybe Jason and the Argonauts had sailed by this way.
Monemvasia is medieval town with byzantine churches sat around small charming town squares and narrow cobbled lanes that eventually lead to a mountain fortress up high on the rock. Unfortunately, the gate to the Fortress was locked due to renovations.
Inside the old town, was the usual array of gift shops, fine restaurants and elegant tavernas to cater for the obvious more well-to-do type that visited this out of the way corner of Greece.
Al in all it wasn’t so much of a great sailing adventure but it was a great way to see the beautiful coastline of Greece. In our huge monster of a luxury yacht, passing by gorgeous little islands surrounded by a brilliant blue sea. Finally, ending up in the truly wonderful, historic and scenic town of Monemvasia. The sailing might be a bit temperamental but you will never get tired of the views as you float along the Aegean Sea.