Yacht Pipit


Living on an island and going topless - 27th October 2013

Now that the title has caught your attention, anyone got any Quo? Well yes, we have:  

I never thought I'd ever live in a mansion and, to be honest, I still don't, but nevertheless that is what our villa is called: Katopodis Mansion. Perhaps not a mansion, but a lovely villa with views overlooking Vathi harbour and the mainland mountains in the distance. You can see photos and details of Villa Katopodis Mansion here.

After just two days of a mixture of rain, wind, thunder and lightning, the weather has returned to glorious warm sunshine here on Meganisi, our winter island home. We have been gradually moving into the villa but an obvious early priority was to enjoy a barbecue! As there is a ready supply of fresh rosemary growing in the bed near the barbecue, lamb marinated in olive oil, lemon juice, rosemary and garlic was the perfect choice. We accompanied the lamb with, following the two top tips from our friend Samir, Lebanese style barbecued onions and baba ganoush, plus some courgettes and tomatoes. The onions were barbecued whole in their skins on skewers, resembling toffee apples. For the baba ganoush, we put whole aubergines (eggplant) on the barbecue and cooked them until the flesh was very soft and the skins were completely blackened. You can follow the rest of the recipe here.

That's what I call a proper barbecue area - well-designed, complete with sink and marble work surface, plus log store.

Andy knows his onions... And his Mythos.

Kalí óreksi!

After living full time on a yacht for so long it's funny what things seem impressive - 32 inches and soft-close drawers for example. I'm talking TV and kitchen furniture obviously... We haven't yet moved all the bits & bobs we require from Pipit into the villa, but we have been enjoying its extra space and some of its luxuries - two sofas, kitchen with full-sized cooker, dishwasher and, upstairs, en-suite bathrooms, one with a bath! Whilst we aren't television addicts, we have been watching several programs on the BBC, courtesy of the speedy wireless internet connection, with a laptop connected to the enormous (to us) television. Even then though, as the sun sets unseen to the west, our eyes are often drawn away from the box, eastwards out of the lounge window to the mountains of the mainland which turn a soft pink in the early evening light.

Andy's favourite luxury, the dishwasher.

This photo doesn't do the view of the mountains justice - will try to take a better one!

There were a number of household items, including bedding, that we needed for the villa (it's never really been let before) so last Monday, we hired a car to go to the big smoke, Lefkas. Not just any hire car though - whilst in Sicily we had tried and failed on more than one occasion to hire a Fiat 500 in its natural habitat (ok, I know they are actually made in Poland). However, during the summer, we had noticed that VitaCar in Nidri had a convertible 500 and when we were offered this for €100 for 3 days we didn't have to think twice. We didn't really need it for 3 days, but as the weather was so glorious we decided to combine our shopping expedition with some sightseeing on Lefkas. We had thought of hiring a quad bike at some stage to explore the extremities of Meganisi, but as these are €25 per day the Fiat deal seemed even better - air conditioning and an electric retracting roof!

We started our shopping in Lefkas Town itself, but we weren't having much success and by complete chance, we bumped into our landlord who told us of 'Jumbo' on the outskirts of town. So a 5 minute drive later and we found nearly everything we needed all under one roof - Andy's kind of shopping! We planned to stock up on perishable food (including meat as we now have a freezer!) but didn't want to do this until shortly before returning to Meganisi on the ferry, so we had time in hand to go topless! From here on there are numerous gratuitous photos of the 500 - shame it wasn't the Abarth version (try and find one of those on a rental fleet - it was surprising enough to find the convertible!) but it was cute and fun to drive.

A view of Lefkas we haven't seen before.

A view from the road winding down from Karya, once the capital of the island of Lefkada.

We didn't have time to stop in Karya (Lidl beckoned!) but it looked an interesting place to which we will return. Once loaded up with essential stores (i.e. beer, wine, enough meat to fill the freezer and a few other groceries) we returned to Nidri to catch the last ferry of the day (1600) back to Meganisi. There's actually not much we can't get on Meganisi, but Carrefour and Lidl on the outskirts of Lefkas offer a much wider choice at usefully lower prices. There is also a hardware/homeware shop next to Lidl, the afore-mentioned Jumbo, and we also found Dixons (yes really!) although slow cookers don't seem to be popular in Greece, so we have a large one on order from Amazon!

Aboard Meganisi II.

We returned to the villa, unloaded our booty, put the new sheets on to wash and had a relaxing evening before returning to Pipit one last night to sleep.


The next day, we intended to explore Meganisi in the 500, including driving down the tail of the island. We bought a map, such as it was, from the supermarket and headed off. All but the roads between Vathy, Katomeri, Spartochori and the bays on the north of the island are marked as non-metalled, but as we initially ventured onto the first part of one, it was narrow and rough, but still paved. This wasn't to last, and as we headed down track after track looking for the one that lead south down to the tail, we ended up reversing (most weren't wide enough to turn even the 500 around!) all the way back, as the tracks changed from roughly tarmaced to potential sump-ripping dirt and stone tracks. We did eventually find the track that leads to the tail of the island, but it was definitely quad bike territory so that will have to wait for another time.

Just south of Ioannis Beach on the west coast of Meganisi.

Looking north up the Meganisi Channel.

On Wednesday morning, we caught the ferry back to Lefkas to go topless down the rugged west coast. We drove north to Lefkas Town, primarily to re-visit Lidl and Jumbo but also to pick up the coast road that would eventually lead us to Vasiliki in the south of the island. The map we had was useless without the aid of a microscope so although we couldn't really get lost, we were often not exactly sure where we were, but kept the wet stuff to our right. We periodically deviated from the 'main' road and took some narrow ones that wound their way high up in the mountains above the coastline, affording us panoramic views out to sea. Although the sea on the west side of the island can be very rough, it was flat calm when we were there and so perhaps not as spectacular as it might be in a winter gale, but still beautiful in the shimmering sun. We drove all the way to the southern-most point of Lefkas via a hairpin bend strewn road, the 500 with roof down being great fun, if just a little underpowered for exiting uphill hairpins.

Heading towards the point.

Getting nearer...


Crocuses flowering on the path up to the lighthouse.

Looking back north from the lighthouse.

From the lighthouse we re-traced the long road back north to rejoin the main road to Vasiliki, where we had lunch in the Dolphin Taverna, one of a few still open. We've not been to Vasiliki with Pipit, due to its reputation as being very windy (hence the hundreds of windsurfers) and the reportedly silting harbour. There was no wind, no windsurfers, but the silting was evident from the breakwater.

We had time in hand before having to return to Nidri for the ferry home, so we made a detour to Sivota - I even let Ann drive! Sivota was in the throws of closing down for the winter, but we did find one mini market that was still open and had ice creams! The ducks were still on the beach too - what is it about their antics that never fails to bring a smile to our faces?

Luckily for Ann the seat went far enough forward...

Bath time.

"Where's my towel?"

We returned to Nidri, via a brief stop in Vliho to say "hello" to Sail Ionian and to re-stock with 'Brandy Lefkas' in the nearby shop, and caught the ferry home.

Final gratuitous photo.

There was no lie-in for Andy on Thursday morning as he had to get up early to put the Fiat on the ferry for collection at the other end, thereby avoiding having to spend about 5 hours in Nidri waiting for the return ferry. We spent the rest of the week moving more 'stuff' from Pipit into the villa, and now it's Sunday lunchtime (and yes we did remember to put our clocks back), warm & sunny, it must surely be time for another barbecue...

Finally, apropos of nothing, we recently saw something on television about llamas and alpacas. We're not sure what the difference is, but we do know the difference between a bison and a buffalo - you can't wash your hands in a buffalo.

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