October. The tenth month of 2022 already, and what a lovely place to be spending it in! 😊 After enjoying our al fresco breakfast on the aft decks around eight o’clock, we had a walk around the vessel, greeting the other passengers; we were all getting to know each other now; the barriers were coming down and we were having a blast! One of the things we love about small-vessel cruising; if you were on a ship with 5000+ passengers you’d probably never come across the same couple more than once! 😊
After breakfast, Wendy had some good and some bad news for us. The bad news was that the weather forecast for later today was not too good; very high winds (Force 7 on the Beaufort Scale) and choppy seas were expected and, while something like the Queen Mary 2 would take that all in her stride, our little gulet Hemera would be tossed about like a pea on a drum. Apparently the port authorities were calling all yachts into harbour until at least tomorrow, so the plan was that we’d head back to Nydri on Lefkada (or Lefkas, as it’s also known) and remain there until further notice. Any port in a storm, as they say. No-one was too aghast that that news – after all, we could certainly think of worse places to be! 😊
The good news was that we’d have about a 45 minute sail before we arrived at another little beach on the Greek mainland for a swim stop. After the totally gorgeous time we’d had yesterday, this news was greeted with enthusiasm by everyone, and Trevor and I returned to cabin #1 to change into our swim things and water shoes; the latter of which were still slightly damp after yesterday, and they squeaked and squelched as I dragged them onto my feet. 😊
As the Hemera glided along in the azure waters of the Ionian sea, I went and sat at the bow and just revelled in the feel of the sun and sea breeze. I’d given up trying to keep my hair styled now (!!) and it was wind-swept and tangled and what you’d call “beachy hair” as I tried to keep it from escaping its short ponytail. That’s another thing that I love so much about being on holiday – the freedom. Not just from work and the stresses of daily life, but even from things like keeping well groomed, wearing makeup etc. I didn’t care if my hair was a mess, my mascara was smeared or my ‘bingo wings’ were on show – in the grander scheme of things it mattered not a jot. 😊
Soon the engine pitch of the Hemera changed as she neared her anchorage for the next couple of hours. As we slowed to a stop and the anchor was lowered, the iron ladder was lashed into place and we looked at the inviting, glittering water. “Who will be first today?” I asked Trevor. “You!” he said. So I made my way down the ladder and inched my way into the water, which appeared colder than yesterday (unless it just seemed that way, after the hot sun). “Come on in, it’s fantastic!” I shouted joyfully to the other watching passengers. The beach was also further away this time, but we weren’t in any hurry and we swam unhurriedly towards it.
Once ashore, we stood there and looked towards the Hemera, watching as she rose and fell gently with the motion of the water, almost as if she were breathing. What an attractive little vessel she was! It was our first time on a gulet, and it’s a cruise we would recommend without hesitation to anyone who wants to explore tiny little ports and islands and experience a voyage with a difference! What she lacked in amenities and entertainment she more than made up for with her immense character and just the laid-back, barefoot charm. Absolutely wonderful. 😊
As the sun beat down on us (I didn’t want to stay too long as I had no suntan lotion on) we noticed clouds gathering in the distance, heralding the coming storm. We decided we’d better start swimming back and, indeed, frantic little ripples on the previously-calm sea told us that the wind was getting up a bit.
Back on board we got dried off and changed, and decided a freezing cold beer was in order. It really was freezing as well, having just come out of the freezer; the can was coated in rime and you had to wait a while for the beer to thaw before some of it would come out! 😊
Soon everyone was safely back up the ladder and a buffet lunch, consisting of delicious freshly-caught fish and prawns, along with fresh vegetables and salad, was served, after which we set sail for Nydri around 12.30pm. It would take about an hour and a half to get there.
We spent the time relaxing, chatting, reading, drinking more beer (!!) and, in my case, writing up some of this blog. Around 2.00pm the Hemera slowed as she approached her berth in Nydri; it was the same little town we’d visited the other night when we’d been in Lefkada (when the mini-bus brought us here), but this time we were docked directly in the town and almost dead opposite that lovely little bar we’d experienced.
Once we were tied up and the gangplank put in place, we watched with interest as another gulet, very similar to Hemera, slid into port; she’d been chartered by Riviera Cruises; the name on her bow proclaimed her to be Harmonia. We were somewhat amused by their crew’s attempts to secure the gangplank: “Their crew isn’t as good as ours!” we crowed, gleefully. 😊
Trevor and I decided to go ashore straight away, and we wandered along in the hot sun – the temperature (according to my phone) was 32°C – exploring the coastline and making our way to the beach. Lots of thatched parasols were in place and there were several sunbathers and swimmers, but the place wasn’t crowded. Soon we spotted one of those rustic, tropical beach bars and I had to go in for an ice-filled Aperol spritz. 😊
We sat there for a while, Trevor with a cold beer and me with my cocktail, just whiling away the time and listening to the mesmeric sounds of the sea washing onto the shore. Then we continued on our way, browsing the shops with their hand-crafted wares, the grocery and produce stores selling fresh olives and oil, and soaps and cosmetics made from local olive oil. We came to an ice-cream parlour and decided to have a delicious cone each; one ice cream was made with Jack Daniels (certainly something different!) so we decided to indulge. You could really taste the JD in it! 😊
Soon we came to Pyxida, the cocktail bar where we’d been the other night, and Trevor was tempted inside by the fact they were showing the Arsenal v Tottenham Premier League match. The bar was split into two areas, the plusher, more comfortable part (what you’d call the ‘lounge’) and the more basic, plastic-chairs-and-tables part (what you’d call the ‘bar’) at the other end. The lounge was crowded but we went into the bar which we had all to ourselves, so we had prime seats in front of the 65” TV. 😊
Ordering a drink each (I had another Aperol, as all cocktails were 5 Euros) we sat and watched the footy; when they brought the drinks they were accompanied by a large bowl of crinkle-cut crisps. In fact, one thing I’d noticed here in Greece is that every drinks order was accompanied by crisps or canapés, all part of the service.
As we sat there, we noticed that several of the stray cats we’d seen basking in the sun were now seeking refuge under the walkway between our bar and the next. In addition, the bar staff were hurriedly removing the cushions from the seats and winding the canopy down to cover the outside tables and chairs. The rain had arrived, and the wind was whooshing in the trees and rustling the tablecloths and hanging baskets. Was this the start of the storm?
We looked at each other; we could either stay here in the bar (whether we wanted to or not, ha ha!) or we could sprint for the Hemera which was literally only two minutes away. While we were deciding, the sports channel on the TV advertised the Singapore F1 Grand Prix qualifying, so it wasn’t a hard decision to stay! 😊
By this time, however, the rain and wind had stopped, and the pavement was rapidly drying again.
We stayed in the bar to watch the rest of the GP qualifying and enjoyed a couple more drinks. Each time, they brought crisps and/or canapés and Trevor and I looked at each other and said we wouldn’t need any dinner tonight, as we’d been ‘grazing’ all afternoon, even though it wasn’t the healthiest of food. 😊
We arrived back on the Hemera around 5.00pm, to see some of the other passengers sitting around reading, relaxing or looking at their emails. Some hadn’t been ashore, while others were still on terra firma and arrived back shortly after us. Trevor took the chance to have a nap while I decided to stay on deck and do some of this blog.
And so the afternoon wore into evening. There was still no sign of the infamous storm and we wondered if the weatherman had got it wrong… however, while things on land may be hunky-dory, life out in the open sea can be a different kettle of fish, so to speak, altogether.
As the sun sank lower in the sky and darkness slowly descended, the port of Nydri came alive with Saturday night revellers. Several of the adjacent yachts had lively drinks parties and we could see the neon lights twinkling in the harbour-front bars and restaurants.
Around eight o’clock we decided to go ashore again. I hadn’t had a power-nap today, but I wanted to make sure I was good and tired so I would sleep through the supposed coming storm! In any case, I had that feeling where I was too tired to expend any energy, but not tired enough for sleep. I thought: Let’s just go and have a wander, and see where our feet take us. 😊
The shops were still very much open and I saw a shoe shop that had a sale on! There were none of my beloved Irregular Choice shoes, but there were plenty of colourful, leather Greek sandals and elegant evening shoes. I saw a pair I liked that were only 38 Euros, but looking down at my flip-flop clad feet I could see that the heat (and probably not drinking enough water, of which I am always guilty) had made my feet and ankles puff up slightly, so I knew I wouldn’t be able to try any of the shoes on. Trevor breathed a sigh of relief at this news. 😊
After wandering about and being amused (and a little saddened) by the sight of half a dozen or so stray cats sitting hopefully in the open doors of a fishmongers we came across our ‘favourite’ little bar Pyxida, and we went in for another of their amazing Aperol Spritzes. This time, there were the highlights of a different footy game to keep Trevor happy, but I spent the time in a semi-hypnotic state – I was so relaxed I nearly poured off the couch! – looking at my Twitter feed, reading my emails and just generally sitting there in a happy holiday haze. 😊
We were back on board by about 10.30pm. A few other couples were still around and we decided, as we were in Greece, to indulge in a glass of Ouzo. Abdul the barman wasn’t around but that didn’t matter, we were all ‘bar staff’ on this cruise because we could nip behind the bar and serve ourselves, just writing our cabin number and purchases in the honesty book. We sloshed in the Ouzo, added water and ice, then half sat, half lay at the aft decks on the large, comfortable mattresses and enjoyed the night air, the drinks and the company of our fellow Ionian adventurers. Where was this famed storm?
An hour later, we made our way back to cabin #1, where the oscillating fan mounted on the wall kept our cabin at just the right temperature and showed us that the ‘leccy was still on (I put my phone in to charge while I could!). We didn’t turn the fan off, as we knew it would eventually go off itself once they switched the generator off. Inserting my ear-plugs, I settled down for the night. This would see the more-than-halfway point of the cruise, where we had less time to go than what we’d had. ☹