Awoke to a beautiful day. The weather (as usual) looks better. Sunny, clear skies, 12 knots of wind from the north in the harbor. Barb, Tom and June did a quick trip to shore: weather forecast and baked goods. Barb is having departure anxiety related to leaving an excellent bakery she has found here.
Our nice anchorage in the north of the harbor has served us very well, but we are ready to leave.
Michelle is going to be at the helm today. She used to own a smaller sailboat, and she’s a 747 pilot, which counts for something. We haul the anchor and wave goodbye to our nice French neighbor boat (or are they waving to warn us not to leave?).
We motor out of the harbor (dodging big ferries), and start heading north, intending to curve around to the east and to the island of Naxos. The wind seems to have been building from the time we hauled anchor and shortly after we round the corner, I glance down at the instruments and the wind shows 32 knots and the waves get big. Dang! Abort Departure!
While I’m sure we could have pounded our way to Naxos, I don’t think it’s wise to leave with the wind blowing that hard unless there is some compelling reason. In Alaska, people do extreme skiing on ‘high consequence’ terrain. It’s called ‘high consequence’ because if you fall, you generally die. To me, leaving in a Gale is ‘high consequence’ sailing. Not really that dramatic because we probably wouldn’t die, but when the wind is going over 35 MPH and anything goes wrong (rigging fails, motor dies, we hit something, weather gets worse, someone goes overboard, etc.), it definitely has higher consequences.
So we go back to the same spot we had anchored, drop the hook and talk about options. Rather than waiting an hour or two and trying again, we decide to stick here and go do fun things on the ground.
Half of us (Michelle, Susan, Sheven and I) rent 4-wheel ATVs. The other 4 rent a little white car. We go explore the island. I’d never thought of doing this before, but it’s an excellent way to see an island. You can get places that cars can’t, it’s more fun, and it only cost around 12 Euros per ATV.
Our ATV group circles around the island clockwise. We go by Naousis harbor, which is another harbor we had considered on Paros on the northwest corner of the island. The wind was really ripping through the harbor and I was glad we had opted to not be on our way to Naxos. The harbor is mostly exposed to the north wind but over on the northwest corner, there seems to be some fairly protected areas. There is a jetty there and we can see some masts where boats are moored/anchored.
We drive further around the island, clockwise, and head up a road to Lefkes, which I hear is the oldest town on the island and used to be the capital during the middle ages. It’s about 1,000 FT above sea level. It gets steep and there are thousands of terraces built out of rocks. It’s amazing to think about all the effort that went into building these terraces, and we assume they were built to create flat areas for agriculture of some kind. We determine to find out what they grow and how old some of these terraces are – they look (and probably are) ancient.
We keep climbing up the hills. The ATV that Susan and I are on is the runt of the litter. I have the throttle wide open but The Sheven and Michelle whiz right by us.
We get up near the town of Lefkes and find a spectacular taverna with a terrace overlooking the valley. Susan asks the dude in charge and he says they are open. We sit on a sunny terrace, incredible view of the valley below us, and across the water over to the island of Naxos, our next intended destination.
After the mandatory 15 minute waiting period we have noticed in most Greek restaurants (even though we are the only customers), the dude approaches us and asks what we want. Beer and food, we answer in sign language and English. He says he has little of either, but to come into the kitchen to see what he has. Sheven and I go in. There is one large diameter pot there and he opens the lid. It’s dark inside, but we see what appear to be some kind of beans that don’t look very appealing at all.
We decide that maybe we only need some beer, so he shows us his refrigerator and we snag several beers. Back out on the sunny terrace, we take in the view and beer.
The dude then shows up with the aforementioned beans and bread – apparently we had not fully communicated our disinterest in the beans. Not wanting to offend, we consumed the beans. They were fantastic. Susan said they were Lima/Butter beans, Garbanzo beans, in a savory sauce of carrots, peppers, olive oil and spices. We devoured them, and then soaked the fresh bread in the sauce. Excellent.
We saddle up and ride further into the town of Lefkes. It’s got the tiny, narrow, steep streets you see in travel brochures. It’s hard to believe cars fit through the streets, since some are tight for our ATVs. It’s Good Friday, and a bunch of people seem to be dressed up and going to church. We hit some dead ends, then cut back and try other streets, going upward.
Finally we get above the town – incredible views, and continue winding up to what appears to be the top of the island. Multiple times, in the middle of what seems to be nowhere, there are beautiful little churches and shrines.
After going up and up, we finally reach the top. The wind is howling. Lots of communication towers, and (of course) a church. Incredible views all around – we can see the whole island, Andiparos to the west, Naxos to the east and Ios way out to the south.
We start descending on the other side of the island (west) and the road is rougher and rutted dirt. The runt is skidding most of the way down now. When we get down to the more lush vegetation and terraces we start seeing some more churches and shrines. Then a herd of goats comes across our road with a shepherd fellow. The goats are spooked by our ATVs, so we turn them off and the goats skitter by, urged by the shepherd guy who smiles and nods hello. It was a really special Greek-culture-tourism-Kodak moment for us.
We silently thank the goats for all the Feta cheese we have eaten on this trip, and we apologize for any of their relatives that we have recently eaten.
About an hour before sunset, we’ve made our way back to the harbor at Parikia.
There is a rumor of a Mexican restaurant someplace in Parikia, and we spend some time futilely seeking the place. It sounds strange, but several of us have been craving Mexican food. We finally give up.
We can see our boat happily bobbing at anchor, which is nice since I always worry a little leaving an anchored boat unattended. There is a taverna on the shore by the boat which is quite crowded. We take this to be a good sign, park our ATVs, and get a table in the sun overlooking the harbor and our boat.
Then we had another “special Mediterranean tourism moment” of basking in the sun, feasting on an incredible spread of pasta, seafood, wine, ouzo and watching the sun set behind our catamaran. Really amazing. Susan and I make the first of many marriage proposals to Sheven, but she politely changes the subject.
For the first time since we started our trip, there was virtually no wind.
We have been on water restriction because we haven’t topped our tanks for several days, so we got a room (30 Euros) at the hotel next to the restaurant so we could rotate through and take showers. Michelle stayed the night in the hotel room.
See ALL PHOTOS from Day 6/7. Sheven took most of them.