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Tuesday, 01 March 2016

A Certain Time of Day: Cycling and Sailing in Greece - Page 2

Written by Dale Fehringer
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This was the most diverse group we’d traveled with, ranging in age from mid-40’s to mid-70’s, and included a wide variety of occupations, from glassblowers to high-tech engineers.  There were singles, married couples, non-married couples, moms, dads, and grandparents.   People traveled from all over the world:  Argentina, Austria, Australia, Canada, Croatia, Germany, Italy, Scotland, and the U.S.  Everyone speaks at least some English, so our guides use it to address the group.  We are all cyclists, to one extent or another, and the best cyclist in the group is a 72-year-old man from Austria.


Our tour is led by two guides:  Catharina and Toni.  Catharina is German, and she is fluent in German, English, and Greek.  She has a deep love for Greece and Greek history, and we benefit by being led by Catharina to interesting places and hearing stories of Greek mythology.  Toni is Croatian, an athlete, and a lot of fun.  He cycles up hills with us and leads us in music at night.  Our crew are young and hard-working, and they run the ship and keep us supplied with good food and cold beer.  


There is cycling scheduled for each day -- rides of 12-20 miles -- with options each day for longer and shorter rides.  The tour company supplies hybrid bicycles, and tour members provide their own cycling gear; including shoes, gloves, helmets, shirts and shorts.  Catharina and Toni cycle with us, encourage us, keep us from getting lost, and entertain us with stories about Greek mythology, island life, and local customs. After each day’s cycling, Catharina and Toni save time for a swim in the Mediterranean Sea, next to our boat.  It’s refreshing and a great way to cool off!


Our handsome wooden boat is named the Panagiota.  She is a two-masted motor yacht, 19 feet wide and 75 feet long, built in 1990 and restored in 2001. We bunk in small, private air conditioned cabins with en-suite bathrooms.  There are 10 cabins for guests -- small, functional spaces -- some above and others below deck, and 4-5 places to hang out during the passages and when the ship is in dock. Some meals are on board and the food is plentiful and good.  


Exploring the Islands 

Our first visit is to Seriphos, a small island with quaint villages, great beaches, and a feeling of peace-and-quiet.  From the harbor town of Livadi, we cycle in the heat to the main town of Seriphos, a sea of white and blue houses.  The lone building that doesn’t meet that scheme is the yellow town hall.  We return to the village for dinner, arriving around 7:30, and select a restaurant with outdoor seating.  We sit down at one of the deserted tables and order wine, spinach pies, and pork stew and relax under a clear sky and yellow moon.  As we wait for our food to arrive we began to feel sorry for the rather bored wait staff, but by nine o’clock the place is full and the waiters are hard at it.  Families arrive late, sit together, and visit -- grandparents, parents, and children -- having their evening meal and enjoying each other’s company.  The pace is slower here, and time is for sharing.  


The weather cools for our visit to the island of Kythnos on our second day, and we cycle up and over steep hills in the middle of the island. This is a stark land, with brown hills that are barren and eroded by winds after the Romans stripped its timber.  It’s now a lonely island with quaint villages and beautiful harbors.  We order coffee at the end of the ride and enjoy the hospitality of the locals, who are kind and helpful and do not seem to be in a hurry.  Dinner at one of the restaurants near the harbor includes two of the island’s specialties:  cheese and honey. Our favorite dish is feta cheese wrapped in filo dough, drizzled with honey, and cooked over a fire.    

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Last modified on Tuesday, 01 March 2016

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