Got up around 8.00am and went along to the aft deck for breakfast, where I partook of a bowl of granola washed down with a couple of cups of the good, fresh coffee. We then had a wander around the deck, where the weather was already pleasantly warm with a tantalising little breeze. We saw some of our fellow passengers arriving back on board after having been for a walk or a swim – obviously early birds. 😊
Walking around, we looked with interest at the other vessels moored in this lively and picturesque little port. We were due to sail at 10.00am but just before then a couple of passengers – probably completely unaware of the time – decided to take a stroll ashore just as the increased vibrations coming up through the decks of the Hemera told us that her engines had started once more, prior to sailing. After a quick head-count, Wendy ascertained that they were the only passengers not on board, so she set off in pursuit after them; Wendy’s a runner, so it didn’t take long for her to catch up with them and bring them back to the Hemera. 😊
We were advised that it would take about 45 minutes for us to reach our anchorage off a pretty little wild beach on the Greek mainland near Aghios Nikolaos. In the meantime, we returned to cabin #1 and changed into our swimming things as well as our water shoes.
Then we returned to the main deck, sat in the sun, exchanging pleasantries with our 12 fellow passengers and showing each other some of our photos on our phones. Breathing in huge lungfuls of the fresh salty air, looking at the blue sky with its fluffy clouds, the pale grey and purple of the distant mountains and the blue, blue Ionian Sea, we sighed in utter contentment – this is certainly the life. We’d never watched the BBC or read a newspaper since we’d left home – and stories of the drop in the pound, of war and unrest in the world, of increased living costs all seemed a million miles away. 😊
Soon the Hemera reached a small bay with a lovely little strip of shingle beach. Not a soul was to be seen anywhere – we had the place to ourselves. Sitting at the bow, we watched as the anchor was lowered, squeaking and clanking on its chain. Then an iron ladder with a small wooden platform was lowered and lashed against the side of the vessel with steel cables and hooks; this was our means of going into the sea, unless you were brave enough literally to dive off the side of the Hemera.
Although I’m a decent swimmer and the beach didn’t look too far away, the sea can be unpredictable, so I grabbed one the nearby swimming aids, a long compressed polystyrene tube that you wrapped around your back and tucked under your arms, just to give that little bit more buoyancy. Then I gingerly descended the suspended ladder until I reached the wooden platform, by which time I was calf-deep in the water, which was colder than I’d expected. Lowering myself inch by inch, I finally took off into the sea which, after the initial gasp of cold, was exhilarating.
Swimming away from the vessel a little, I was amused at the expressions on the face of some of the other passengers as they went through the same experience. One lady did take the plunge half-way down the ladder and executed a graceful dive; she was an excellent swimmer.
Looking around at everyone enjoying themselves was just so wonderful. Holding onto my float, I kicked my legs and splashed my arms just like a little kid, holding up my hands and my face towards the heavens and offering myself to the gods of the sun. This was amazing! For a brief (a very brief!) moment I wondered what I’d normally have been doing this time on a Friday morning… 😊
We swam to the beach and were grateful for our water shoes, and it was very pebbly and we saw other people wincing as the stones dug into their bare feet. I looked over at the Hemera at anchor – she looked so rustic and attractive I wished I’d had my phone with me to take a photo… in fact, I decided to swim back and get it, and try out the waterproof case I’d bought.
After climbing back up the ladder – you had to hold on tightly to the boat’s railings or the cables as the ladder had a tendency to shake and shift with the slight movement of the vessel – I returned to our cabin and retrieved my phone and its waterproof cover, which is on a lanyard so you can put it around your neck and use both hands to swim. Once you put the phone into the clear plastic case, you seal it by means of a couple of clamps at the top which allow you to make a tight seal.
Then I made my way back down the ladder and into the sea again, and managed to get some fabulous photos of the Hemera at anchor, as well as a little video footage. The photos were very clear, even through the plastic of the case; I was very pleased with them.
Trevor decided to have a go at paddle-boarding; I had so far resisted the temptation (if anyone was going to fall off, it would be yours truly!) He was a natural, kneeling on the board and propelling himself along with the paddle.
Back on board, I removed my Samsung phone from the case and was very pleased to see that it was completely dry. As I was showing someone my photos, Abdul the barman came over and looked at my waterproof phone case with interest. He asked if I’d taken any video with it, and I showed him my brief footage. He then asked if you could take photos/vidoes underwater, but I didn’t know; I hadn’t wanted to trust a 10 quid phone case to keep a 1100 quid phone dry. Abdul then asked where I got it (Amazon) and if he could borrow it with his phone to try it out! I agreed, interested to see if it was as watertight as it claimed. 😊
Meanwhile, other passengers ascended the ladder one by one and got dried off and indulged in a beer or two. We watched Abdul in the water, his phone in the case on the lanyard around his neck, taking lots of photos and occasionally going below the surface.
When he climbed back on board, he showed us some selfies he’d done underwater and some footage of lots of little fish swimming by. Removing his phone from the case, I was happy (and somewhat relieved!) to see it was completely dry. Abdul said he was definitely going to buy one of those cases. 😊
Trevor and I then got showered and changed into clean, dry clothes, and we all sat around the large communal table talking, laughing, looking over our photos from the day and watching while other yachts, gulets and catamarans arrived at the beach and dropped anchor. Presently a large tourist cruiser called “Ionian Star” sailed in, almost beaching itself, and crew members disembarked and started hammering large, blue and white striped parasols into the sand, using wooden mallets. Shortly afterwards, the sunbathers, swimmers and snorkellers descended and the secluded little wild beach started to look a little crowded.
Soon the appetising scent of grilling meat reached our nostrils, as a long table was set up on the shore, ready for a beach barbecue. Other vessels arrived and the area started to look a little Butlins-esque – we were pleased we’d arrived when we had and enjoyed the peace and tranquillity of the empty, unspoilt little beach. 😊
Around three o’clock, everyone had done as much swimming as they wanted, and the Hemera weighed anchor before we set off for our overnight mooring, a lovely little island called Meganisi, which was east-southeast of Lefkada. It took about half an hour to get there, and this time Captain Yanni was able to reverse the Hemera into her berth stern first, so that the rickety gangplank could be installed in place. 😊
Trevor and I, after returning to our cabin to collect our money, credit cards, phones and other essentials, were among the first to disembark, and we set off eagerly to explore. It didn’t look a very big place, but there were lots of shops, bars, cafés and tavernas, the proprietors standing in the doorways trying to entice us to enter.
As ever, we spotted numerous stray cats, in some cases whole families. Some flitted nervously away as we approached, but others boldly approached us, hoping for something to eat. We decided that when we had dinner later on, we’d keep some of the meat back to feed to these poor little waifs.
Passing a general store, we had an idea – instead of going into a bar and having a beer, we’d buy a can each and sit on the sea wall, looking at the sea and the boats and people-watching while we drank the cold, foamy beer. As we sat there, we were amused by the “bin men” – guys on motorbikes with trailers attached who would empty the trash bins and the bins outside restaurants into their trailers, to take them to the large, industrial bins strategically places at points around the island, far less incongruous than a massive council-type bin wagon such as those that we see at home. 😊
It was just so pleasant sitting there. We greeted other Hemera passengers passing by before we finished our drinks and walked all the way along the sea front, until the shops and restaurants thinned out and gave way to private dwellings. As it was now around six o’clock, we thought we’d start looking around for a likely place to eat.
We did see an attractive little restaurant called Stravros (well, we are in Greece after all!) which had tables and chairs under canopies at the waterfront and had a decent-looking menu. However, there was hardly anyone around and it transpired that they didn’t open until 7.00pm – we were too hungry to wait another hour and, in any case, I needed the loo! 😊
Walking back, we came across an unassuming little place with a menu board placed prominently outside; it had tables and chairs under a canopy over the road, adjacent to a series of fishing boats moored up. Perusing the menu, we saw that they offered a typically-Greek menu, including gyros. It was as good a place as any to eat, so we each ordered – Trevor had chicken skewers with pita, and I ordered pork gyros. We each asked for a large pint of Mythos beer.
Our food came, with plates piled high as well as a complimentary basket of fresh bread. My gyros had a generous pile of shaved pork as well as fries, tomatoes, red onion and a dollop of tsatsiki dusted with paprika and served with pita. It looked delicious and we hungrily tucked in. There was so much pork that despite eating loads, the pile never seemed to go down. 😊
We weren’t alone as we ate, however; a family of cats tentatively approached and, once they got the scent of the meat, they sat there looking up at me with their large, expressive green eyes. I can never resist a pretty little feline face, so several pieces of the shaved pork were surreptitiously dropped onto the floor, to be pounced on eagerly. Once they’d eaten their fill and drifted away, I put the rest of the meat into a couple of napkins to give to some of the other stray cats we’d seen.
After our meal and our beer we felt quite tired, so we decided to return to the Hemera. As we neared the gulet, we saw another family of cats waiting near another small harbour-front bar, so I shared out the contents of my napkins equally, and watched as they ate; some of them warning others off with a hiss if they came too near to their share! 😊
As we strolled along the harbour front, it just looked so tranquil and gorgeous, all lit up and reflecting beautifully on a the water. What a lovely little hidden gem this place is!
We were back on Hemera just before 8.00pm, to a deserted aft deck. Everyone else must have still been ashore. Abdul the barman appeared out of nowhere, and Trevor had a beer while I decided to try the local wine – it wasn’t the most palatable vintage.
As we sat relaxing in a semi-somnolent state on the large mattresses at the stern, several other passengers arrived back and more drinks were served. As ever, we made our own entertainment, all sharing anecdotes, jokes and other travel tales with each other and passing the time in fun and interesting company. 😊 It was about 10.30pm when Trevor and I returned to cabin #1. Very early for us when on holiday, but a combination of the hot weather, the good food and drinks and the sheer relaxation that comes with being on holiday had caught up with us so, after reading for a short while, we settled down to sleep and we were out like a light. What a delightful day we had had!