We had decided for a short cruise in the Aegean departing from the port of Zea in Piraeus (Greece) and had opted for the Amanda which proposes cruises "à la carte". The Amanda is a 24 meter, motor yacht of British make, dating back to the early sixties, with all the charms of a gentleman's yacht. It has been refurbished beautifully recently. It has a long deck in teck, with large rear and front decks where one can seat and linger at length; there is also a sun deck. Amanda thus offers the possibility to be in the open air and really close to the sea during sailing and not be obliged to spend the time in an air-conditionned lounge with dark sun-proof windows, watching television or one's iPad.
During the cruise, very unstable weather was forecasted which proved right: we had a storm while at anchor in a (luckily) protected creek and strong winds (6-8 beaufort) on returning to Piraeus: the owner and captain had wisely modified the itinerary so that we avoided all dangers and delays. We are not intrepid sailors and greatly appreciated their decisions! Instead of going to the Cyclades as originally planned, we cruised in the Saronic gulf, along the eastern Peloponese coast down to the island of Cythera. Each day we had one or two stretches of sailing for a few hours, looking endlessly and dreamlily at the coasts of the islands or at the sea, stopping on the way or for the night in delighful, secluded creeks in Egina, near Kiparissi along the Peloponese coast, in Hydra. All these stops offered the possibility for carefree swimming in beautifully clear water. We also stopped in different harbors: at Epidaurus, in Poros, Diakofti, and Ermioni. When nearing the port of Old Epidaurus, the owner organised an outing to attend a play (Aristophanes' Lysistrata) in the theater of Ancient Epidaure. It involved procuring last-minute tickets and a taxi (quite a feat!), thus enabling us to to enjoy an unexpected, fantastic evening.
We will not describe all that we saw and did, there are touristic guides for that. The essential part of our pleasure was the element of surprise in such an "improvised" cruise.
The other part of our pleasure was offered by the crew, composed of the captain, his aide and - guess what? an excellent cook! The 3 made a very sympathetic team, efficient, discrete and neither formal nor cool. They did everything to make us feel at ease, comfortable and happy during the whole trip. As said earlier, the weather was unstable, yet the Captain chose a course that offered little disconfort under the rough conditions. As for the cook, well, you better forget international cuisine, and enjoy good, very good Greek cuisine for a week, with fresh vegetables or fish bought on the way in the ports where we anchored, as well as a variety of dishes and tastes that you will never find in touristic spots.
For further details, you will have to make the cruise yourself. We highly recommend it.
Dionysia & Dominique, France
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