Monday, September 15, 2008

Greece Day Trip

Current Location: Finike, Turkey
Current Position: 36 17.63 N 30 08.98 E
Next Destination: Hanging here for the winter

It kind of cracks us up because everybody keeps asking us what we're doing. Why aren't we moving? Unless you've "been there, done that" it is hard to explain to people that we are worn out. Yeah, I know you're thinking "worn out from an endless vacation?" But really, imagine nearly 12,000 miles in 14 months. Imagine traveling a fourth of those miles with 100+ other boats (think crowded, think loud, think endless activities - although fun, kind of hectic). Imagine about half of those miles to weather – yep, right on the nose; pound-pound-pound. Imagine lightning storms, torrential downpours, the boat flooding, and whiteout sand storms. Tired yet? Because I could go on? Don't get me wrong, we loved our last year - it was exotic, it was different, and it was heaps of fun; we will always be happy with our decision to join the Indonesian Rally and continue on through the Red Sea. However, when we arrived in Finike we were relieved. It feels so good to be staying in one place, to no longer worry about the weather, no longer worry about how many more miles we need to make and in what time period. For now we are just happy to "be". And Finike is the perfect town for some time off. It is small and cute, friendly, and not overrun by tourists. The perfect mix of just about everything; its the size of town I can imagine living in when we move back home. Also, since Finike is where we plan on keeping the boat over the winter it was more economical to take out a year contract with the marina. And so we have a home; a non-moving, relaxing, quiet home, where we know the butcher and the baker, have a cherry guy, a tomato guy and a peach guy, where the boys that serve the ultra-cold beers know that I like a bowl of ice with my Sprite, and the lady at one of the market stalls knows how I like my avocados. Sure, they don't speak English, and I don't speak Turkish, but it feels good to be recognized.
Greece Day Trip
For those who think we really ought to be doing something in addition to "being", you'll be happy to know we did, finally, get out of Finike. Our Turkey visas are only good for 90 days, so at some point we were required to leave the country. The good news is Billabong can stay, and there is no time requirement for how long you have to be out of the country. With all the Greek islands nearby getting out of the country is quite simple.

We hooked up with friends from S/Y Swanya for a day trip to Kastelorizo, Greece. It was one of those perfect days. Not because any one thing was spectacular, but rather that every detail of the day was terrific. Furthermore, we barely had to lift a finger all day – everything was done for us.

First we caught the local bus from Finike to Kas. It's about a two-hour bus ride. Very scenic and the bus is air-conditioned, even better it's cheap. With someone else doing the driving we could all sit back, relax and enjoy the ride. Next we hooked up with the ferry from Kas to Kastelorizo. This is where we were really pampered. We handed over our passports and some Euros and they took care of the rest. No walking miles in search of the right offices or waiting hours for a stamp. We had an hour before the ferry departed so we walked around the town of Kas. It's another small town, and very pleasant to poke around (although it is slightly more touristic than Finike). The ferry ride was another bout of pampering. We laid back under the awning while other people handled the dock lines, steered the boat, and anchored at the other end. We didn't have to look out for other boats, didn't have to think about the weather, didn't have to worry about anchoring – oh man it was so fantastic to be on somebody else's boat and not have a worry or care in the world!

Kasteloriz is the smallest island of the Dodecanese (group of 162 Greek islands in the Aegean Sea). It is roughly 5 square miles and has a whopping population of roughly 300! The harbor we entered was lined with slender buildings with wooden balconies and colorful trim. As cruisers are always one to get their money's worth we asked the ferry operator if we could stay a couple of extra hours (after all we'd come this far, might as well do a bit of exploring). We started with a walk along the waterfront, taking in the shops and restaurants and hunting for Gyros. Over the last week I'd been dreaming about Gyros. I'd even taken the time to make sure I knew the correct Greek pronunciation (versus the butchered American version). I was ready, and couldn't stop talking about them. I should have remembered though that (a) Greeks and Europeans tend to eater later in the day and (b) Gyros, like the Arabic Shwarmas, aren't served until late in the afternoon or evening. Gyros are a kind of meat roasted on a vertical rotisserie – you can get lamb, pork, or chicken (depending on where you are), but they don't tend to fire up the rotisseries until at least 3:00/4:00 pm. It was a huge bummer – and the only disappointment of the day. Instead of gyros we ate at a little waterfront cafĂ© (as if we don't get to see enough water – but hey, habits die hard). It was an idyllic lunch; slow and relaxed, good food, good wine, good view and good company.

After lunch we ventured out for a walk and found a stairway path that went up the side of the mountain and provided terrific views over the harbor. We weren't all as energetic as Kimberly (who went to the top); Chris & Mark sat at the first shady spot and I only ventured as far as required for a good photo!

Having come to another country, we couldn't miss out on the duty free opportunities. Of course, without Billabong we were limited to 1 L per person, but it's better than nothing!

Then, as if we hadn't been gluttonous enough at lunch, we decided we needed coffees. But not just your ordinary coffees, nope, we went for ice-cream coffees! Stuffed like pigs and tired from the uphill walk and hot sun we bordered the ferry and lounged our way back to Turkey. By the time we got our passports back, waited for the next bus to Finike, and rode along for two hours, it was, surprise-surprise, dinnertime! After such a luxurious day, why spoil it cooking for ourselves and having to do dishes. We went for cold beers and pide; the perfect end to a perfect day!

Continue reading "Greece Day Trip"...