Following what seems to have been a very long, cold winter, it is with great excitement that we look forward to the new sailing season in sunny Greece.
This will be our fifth season in the Mediterranean with Hapatoni. We plan to stay in the Ionian most of the time, except in August when we will head south, circumnavigating the Peloponnese to escape the Italian invasion during the hottest period of the summer. We will visit some old favourites from last year on the Aegean side, returning through the Corinth canal late August ready for the arrival of my parents in early September.
We left Hamble bright and early on Monday 16th April for our 12:15pm flight to Athens, the taxi driver was an uninspiring sort with unusually little noteworthy news …… except to gleefully announce that the UK’s spring heat wave had arrived and today would be hotter than Greece. Mark tried to make further conversation to pass the journey, but the going was tough, so the remainder of the journey to Heathrow was spent in silence apart from Hudson’s snoring – Mark tried to claim it was me, tut, tut.
The flight to Athens followed the now familiar and well-trodden format, the only exception being we did not have the customary four large (stuffed to the gunnels) 23kg bags, but surprisingly only three, obviously plus dog and extremely large and cumbersome dog cage. The process for transporting dogs with Aegean at Heathrow T2 is very straight forward, you get to jump the check-in queues and after handing over the luggage, Hudson is commandeered by the “over-sized” baggage team and wheeled of into the subterranean depths of the terminal. He will never be a happy flyer but at least this time would be better as he had another doggie to keep him company in the hold of the aeroplane ….. or so we thought. As we took our seats near the back of the plane, I started to relax and think ahead to the summer, the warmth of the sun, the translucent waters of the Med and the delicious Greek food …… only to have my karma abruptly shattered by the sound of a howling Hudson who seems to have been put in the hold, inches below our feet. His howls and whimpers set the other dog off, so the plane was treated to a heart wrenching duet which only subsided when the engines started up – I would like to think that they settled and went to sleep rather that the engine noise drowned out their remonstrations.
On arrival at Athens, Hudson was surprisingly out before us, he made sure the whole of arrivals was aware he was there and decidedly unhappy at being left in the hold for several hours. I hurriedly left Mark to collect the luggage and with Hudson barking intensely, made a dash for the exit before Hudson could leave an unwanted “present” for the Greeks in their sparkling clean arrivals hall. With Hudson sorted and now relaxed, we picked up the hire car and drove the four hours to Lefkas on the island of Lefkada, arriving at the Ianos hotel which is conveniently placed in the marina a few minutes from Hapatoni, at around 10:30pm, where we planned to stay for a few days.
Lefkada owes its name to the white (lefkos in Greek) rocks that characterize the southern part of the island, the cape of Lefkata. The Corinthians colonised the island during the 7th century BC, built the new town of Lefkas and started the construction of the canal that separates Lefkada from the mainland in 650 BC, turning Lefkada into an island. Lefkada has been conquered and under the control of many countries and states since then, including Sicily, Turkey, Venice, France, Russia and England.
The next day began with an inspection of the boat and a meeting with Robert the owner of Paleros, who was doing the refit to Hapatoni for us and which was not due for completion for another couple of weeks. So, with this in mind we found a lovely apartment just on the outskirts of Lefkas, a ten-minute walk into town or to the marina.
With the hire car returned, Mark retrieved the bikes stored on Hapatoni and has started to do his “stuff” on the boat. Hudson and I have been on several morning runs dodging stray packs of dogs who like to let you know whose territory it is. They do come across as a little intimidating, but their bark is much louder than their bite, as the saying goes. When we don’t run, we walk into town, making the obligatory stop at a delightful café called Karma on the North side of Lefkas, for a fresh orange juice accompanied by a free slice of chocolate cake, to re-charge our batteries – well it would be rude to refuse it and we don’t want to offend our Greek hosts. My walk takes in the town quay, which is a hive of activity as the Charter companies get their massed yachts ready for the new season starting on the 1st May, followed by a visit to see what “stuff” Mark is doing to Hapatoni and concluding with a second refreshment stop on Shiraz with Tina and Tim or Alice on Spirit 3.
Now that Mark is unable to run anymore due to a partially worn out cartilage in his left knee, he has taken up cycling, and so that we can all go exploring more, Mark has invested in a bright red trailer for Hudson to sit in, as it’s far too hot and there are far too many distractions (of the stray food variety) to allow Hudson to run beside the bike. The Hudson taxi service is officially launched.
On our first trip through Lefkas town, the trailer certainly attracted everyone’s attention as he does look cute with his head popping out the top watching the world go by. Hudson is still not 100% sure about this new transport yet, but it does give us many more options for exploring.… Read more