As I sit in a darkened room listening to the hush of rain outside, it’s difficult not to believe the past two weeks were more than a hazy dream; there is little more dream-like than the spattering of islands in the north west Aegean.
After a 3 hour flight, 2 and a half hour coach ride and a half hour ferry trip, I found myself in a muggy greek twilight on a quay in the sleepy town of Orei. A family of stray dogs watched with interest as a tired out band of tourists loaded bags onto a series of yachts. Ahead of us was the prospect of two weeks of long and lazy days island-hopping. I’ll say now: sailing is not for everyone. Yachting in Greece may sound utterly romantic but the reality might not live up to expectation. It had been few years since I’d last been sailing but by day one I remembered some of it’s realities. Proper toilets and showers are a thing of the past and a combination of sweat and salty sea air mean you quickly become used to feeling slightly sticky all over. Finally there’s the sailing itself: a strange mix of inactivity – little to do but sit or lie for hours on end – and activity – hauling ropes and not being able to move more than a couple of steps without using every muscle in your body just to stay upright. But there is a reason this place has remained so untouched; there is no way other than boat to see these island-be-speckled waters.
We had joined a flotilla with Sailing holidays. This meant we had more of a social side to our holiday than bare-boat. I also gave us some added security if things went wrong. This wasn’t the sort of holiday where you are looking to pack your days full. Our long and languid days were filled mostly with reading and sunbathing. Around lunch time we’d anchor in some deserted bay to swim in the turquoise waters, then, as the sun reached its peak, there was little more to do than sleep. By late afternoon, we would usually have reached our night spot and then, because we’re a family of Brits, we put the kettle on and stretch out to watch the town come alive.
Because it’s with the stars, that the Greeks arise. Greece seems to be a country of the dawn and the twilight, where the beat of the midday sun is just too much. From the cockpit of our boat, we watched the waterfronts transform from drowsy idylls and listen to music long into the early hours of the morning.