Chapter Forty    March 1 -  April 30, 2008

 

If you’re tired of witnessing the work, we’re certainly tired of doing the work. But the good news is it is finished.  We’re ready for fun. The last stage was the annual haul-out when the underwater parts of Seraphim get their turn.  This is also the time when we give the exterior teak its annual refurbishing. While “on the hard,” John received (unsolicited) advice about everything he was doing from his new best friend, Ali. Ali instructed John on the better way to do whatever job was at hand.  Further, he informed Sharon that the reason John didn’t get a whole lot of work done every day was because he talked too much. Now this was not a huge revelation to Sharon but it was certainly the pot calling the kettle black; who was interrupting whom? Ten days on the hard and the jobs were complete, despite Ali and some occasional rain (rain is not conducive to painting).

  

One last comment before we close the work report: the repair to the teak eyebrow on the starboard side required a bit of ingenuity to clamp the repaired section in place as the glue set. Leonardo would have marveled at John’s clever engineering feat, don’t you think?

 

Speaking of fun, a few of our yacthie friends converted an unused storefront into an art studio this past winter, and then exhibited their work in the marina’s art gallery.  The Opening Gala was attended by local dignitaries and the press, so we dressed for the occasion.

 

We have new-found friends who don’t happen to be sailors.  Ruthe and Sharon have become fast friends and we recently had the wonderful experience of meeting the whole family. They picked us up early morning for a jaunt out to their favorite breakfast spot. It was twenty miles out into the country. We sat down under the trees for a traditional Turkish breakfast which included hot, home-made peasant bread, eggs, gozleme (spiced ground beef wrapped in a pita), olives, feta, dried apricots, tomatoes and cucumbers. We ate for hours while the children played in the gardens and in the little stream running through the restaurant. It was a real treat. But the greatest gift was meeting Ruthe’s husband and learning more about the Turkish way of life. Şener is a gem of a guy. After stuffing our bellies we were taken to the sea where we looked out onto “Cleopatra’s Island,” supposedly the place where she honeymooned with Marc Antony. The day was one we won’t forget, and the Ege family will be friends forever.

  

Now the real fun begins. Work is finished and it is time to relax.  It is still a bit early to go sailing (it gets cold at night, and the rains still come occasionally).  So we launched the season with a week’s trip to Crete. We had hoped to get there last year, but other plans got in the way, so this year we made it a priority. We flew instead of sailed. A good way to get into the swing of things, we thought. We stayed in Hania, on the northwest coast.  Hania is considered the prettiest town on the island; we would heartily agree. It was wonderful being back in Greece, overindulging in our favorite foods, the sights and the people.

  

Crete is much larger than we imagined, and it was impossible to see the whole of it in one week, so we confined ourselves to the western end.  Spectacular mountain ranges are dotted with caves and sliced by dramatic gorges.  Cretans are proud and hospitable people who maintain their customs and culture. We drove through traditional mountain villages and agricultural settlements. Shepherds still tend their flocks.

  

The “Must Do” stop here is a visit to Knossos. The palace of Knossos was destroyed in 1450 B.C., apparently by the earthquake and tsunami associated with the destruction of Santorini, just 60 miles away.  Was this the seat of legendary King Minos?  Were all the kings named “Minos?”  And is that how we come to call this “civilization” by the name “Minoan?”  All is speculation, as very little is known for certain.  But what is known is fascinating.  And quite beautiful.  The artwork has a clear Egyptian presence, and the technology is impressive.  (Did we mention that the queen’s chambers feature a flushing toilet?)  Also here is the “First Road in Europe,” which connected the palace at Knossos with that of the prince, a kilometer away.

  

After touring the site, we visited the Archaeological Museum to see the “real stuff” they had found.  Fortunately for us, the museum is under renovation and most of the 38+ rooms are closed.  Why is that “fortunate?”  It is because the most important pieces have been assembled and are displayed in two rooms.  So we were able to see the “key” bits of the collection in less than two hours!  Now that’s Fortunate!

Sharon’s favorite parts in these things are always the fashions.  (Surprise!) The frescos featured some dazzling fashions. The richness of the colors was phenomenal.

  

We took a leisurely drive to see the 16th century monastery of Arkadiou.  It was here that Crete’s “Battle of the Alamo” took place in 1866.  The gardens, renovations and atmosphere were intriguing. The traditional silver icons in the orthodox chapel were particularly interesting, but mostly because the 90-something curator oozed such pride and enthusiasm. She had countless stories to tell. All in Greek, of course.

  

One monk in particular caught our eye.  We think he posed for some of Michelangelo’s frescoes in the Sistine Chapel.

  

Now that we’re truly on vacation we’re doing lots of things we haven’t done in a while. Sleeping in. Lazying around. Dreaming about our summer cruising. Even watching cruisers pass us by while gazing over the cliffs of Santorini.

  

Santorini is all about the views.  What do you think?

   

We spent the week soaking in the beauty of Santorini. Morning walks along the edge of the caldera. Afternoon strolls down cobbled walks. Evening jaunts to ice cream destinations. Sounding good yet?

   

Now it’s time to set sail. The Turkish coast has hundreds of quiet isolated ports that we are about to discover. More on that when we return.

 Until then, happy summer.