The Ionian more like it used to be 30 years ago, including (sadly for us) no Thai meal available - 16th October 2013
Whilst writing the last update, a Bavaria 38 called Wanderer pulled in alongside us. The first boat I ever chartered out here in 2004 was Sail Ionian's
Bavaria 38 called Wanderer of Falmouth. Could it be the same yacht? If so Wanderer of Falmouth had become just Wanderer written in a different
type face, she had gained an SSR number and there were no Sail Ionian decals, but there were teak decks and other little clues that just led me to believe she was
the same boat. A quick chat with the owner confirmed my suspicions, so here we were, 9 years later, parked next to the yacht on which my sailing in the Ionian
started. She still looks in very good condition too, about the same vintage as Pipit.
Anyway, as forecast the weather improved towards the end of last week, so on Saturday we headed for Sivota, a useful place from which to sail early the next
morning to Fiskardo, thus maximising our chances of finding a space to park. We were surprised to see Sivota so empty - the quay & pontoon by the Olive Press was
virtually empty, as was the main quay until the Sailing Holidays flotilla returned to base. We anchored in the middle with just a few other yachts, and enjoyed a
vista of Sivota we've not really appreciated before, and very peaceful it was too.
An unusually empty Sivota.
As planned we were away early (ok 0830) on Sunday and motored in a flat calm to Fiskardo. We timed our arrival to coincide with when the first yachts would be
venturing out and were a bit worried as we approached as we saw none doing so. We needn't have worried - we genuinely thought something was wrong as we rounded the
corner into the harbour - there were no boats at all anchored to starboard, the quays had spaces and the pontoon was almost deserted. Never have I seen Fiskardo
like this and, as Mr Heikell writes in his guide, visiting out of season gives you an idea of how the Ionian was 30 years ago. Anyway we moored on the pontoon and
soon had another boat next to us, leaving half a boat width of space between them and us - with hindsight we should have closed this gap, but more on that later...
We had a brief recce and discovered the new supermarket and square. We had heard some opinions expressed that this has spoiled Fiskardo, but we thought it has
been done very well and the buildings are in keeping with their surroundings. The pond with koi carp, the surrounding artefacts and wooden benches were all very
attractive, and all immaculately clean. The stone frog may not be to everyone's taste, but if you don't like the new part you don't have to go there - it is tucked
a little behind the quayside.
Next came a disappointment - we found the
Thai restaurant we
were so looking forward to visiting only to find it had closed for the winter on the 3rd of October. This seemed surprisingly early, and all the other
tavernas and bars were still open.
The new lighthouse and the old Venetian one.
The new square in Fiskardo.
Anyway after lunch we embarked on a walk to the beach at Kimilia. We had been sent an article from The Sunday Times about a walk from Fiskardo to a relatively
remote beach, and the description of the turquoise waters accessed via a pine-scented woodland path sounded wonderful. The first part of the walk from Fiskardo to
Emblissi Beach was along the road, but the beach was as beautiful as described, though there were a dozen or so people there. After a bit of confusion deciding if
the rusty fencing tied with a bit of string on one side was the 'rusty gate' mentioned in the article, through we went and into the woodland. The path is edged with
stones and periodic daubs of yellow paint on tree trunks or rocks confirm you haven't lost your way as the woodland is fairly dense. It is also dotted
with several charming hand-painted signs in Greek and English describing the flora and fauna of the woodland. Well I thought they were charming until we saw the one
about the snakes that climb trees and constrict their prey... Did I mention that even I had to duck beneath many of the branches along the path? :-o As the prey
for these snakes was stated to be small mammals, logic quickly dispelled my visions of a giant boa constrictor dropping on my head. With my imagination heightened
however, I began to wonder what had left very large piles of poo along the path. They were way too big for goats or sheep and the wrong shape - more like bovine
deposits, but as the branches were so low in many places, the path twisty and the trees quite close together I didn't think it was somewhere Daisy and her grazing
chums might choose to wander. What else might like such a habitat - wild boar perhaps? Oh dear, I'm no wildlife expert, but I know that although they are renowned
as being fairly shy generally, they can be aggressive if surprised or have young to protect. Where is Chris Packham with his extensive knowledge of animal poo
when you need him? Anyway, no perturbed piggies were encountered and we arrived safely at Kimilia Beach after about half an hour. It was as stunning as the article
described, although there were also a few people here too - the article suggested it would be deserted! I guess the lure of the relative solitude, crystal clear
water and the glorious October sunshine was going to appeal to more than just us! If you're in Fiskardo, it's well worth the walk, although in mid-summer, it might
be a bit too hot, even through the shady woodland.
By the time we returned the pontoon had filled up with a Sailing Holidays flotilla and as it was nearly dark we were confident in leaving Pipit with space
on one side as surely no one would be coming in here in the dark? So off we went for a restorative Mythos in the Captain's Cabin. As we were about to leave, a
large yacht entered the harbour and before we knew it had attempted to park in the half space next to us. We couldn't really believe that someone was trying to
put a 46 foot yacht in there and by the time we returned to Pipit they had forced their way in. Fortunately the skipper seemed to know what he was
doing and it appeared no damage had been done, just some very tightly squashed fenders and a further sense of humour failure... I was annoyed though, partly at
myself for leaving a tempting half-gap next to us, but we had been lulled into a false sense of security by the relative emptiness of Fiskardo.
Refreshment at the Captain's Cabin.
So not for the first time this season we went for dinner in a somewhat less than jovial mood, but the waiter at a favourite of ours,
Nicolas Taverna, must have sensed this and endeavoured to cheer us up. There was good news as
he had some rabbit (the traditional meat rather than the oft-served beef) stifado left, so that was enjoyed after some fried courgettes and before the obligatory
baklava. Our friendly waiter also confirmed that the poo in the woods was from cows - can't remember how that subject arose, somewhere between our
starter and main course, but Bon Appétit anyway!
On Monday morning we headed for Kioni on Ithaca, to complete our mini-tour of old favourites. Again we left quite early and again we needn't have worried - there
was plenty of room on the quay. Kioni seemed more 'closed down' already than anywhere else we've been, although some tavernas were still open. Sadly a phone call
Polyphemus Garden Restaurant at Stavros, another place we were looking forward to
re-visiting, revealed that they also closed on the 3rd of October, so that will have to wait for another time too.
Kioni seemed smaller than I remembered it and, although I like cats, the place was over-run with them, their home seemingly being the uncovered bins, and their
toilet being the wall on the breakwater. One, having smelled a fish in a bucket on a nearby yacht, made an impressive leap from the quayside (there was no
passerelle) and then managed an even more impressive leap back ashore with said fish (which was half the size of the cat) and ran away to enjoy its lunch pursued by
a dozen or so of its feline friends plus the skipper of the adjacent yacht! We had a stroll round to the other side of the harbour but this time didn't go as far as
Ruined windmills with Nisos Arkoudi in the distance.
We later had dinner aboard watched by a cat that had made next door's cockpit its temporary home and understandably retired to bed with no passerelle out
and the washboard firmly in place!
And so on Tuesday morning we headed back to Vathy, having completed our end of season mini-tour. Alas there was barely a breath of wind, so we had a three hour
motor, but there are worse places to be on a Tuesday morning in mid-October! There are now a couple of days of wet & windy weather forecast:
As I type heavy rain is falling and we had thunder & lightning early this morning, so we are more than happy to be tucked up in Vathy, and earlier today we
collected the keys to our winter villa - more on that story next time...
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