|Thu||Kalamata||Olive Oil Factory|
|Tue||Porto Kheli||Mycenae, Nafplio,Epidaurus|
|Fri||Olympic Marina||Cape Sunio|
|14 ports||478 m|
Gouvia Marina, Corfu
Corfu is one of the most cosmopolitan Mediterranean destinations with its rich multi-cultural heritage, historic monuments, stunning natural landscape, crystal clear seas and its excellent weather all year round.
Corfu (Kerkyra), the island where Ulysses met Princess Nausica in one of Homer’s Odyssey most celebrated scenes, unlike the rest of Greece, never fell under the Ottoman oppression. Due to the successive dominations of the Venetians, the French and the British over the centuries, the island has primarily become part of the Western rather the Levantine world. Their culture wielded strong influence in the city: it was here that the first Greek University (the Ionian Academy), the first Philharmonic Orchestra and the First School of Fine Arts were founded.
In the beautifully preserved Old Town of Corfu, a UNESCO world heritage site, Renaissance, Baroque and Classics were successfully blended and applied to architecture and local traditions. Palaces, fortresses, public buildings of the Venetian rule, lines of drying washing in tiny alleyways, small secluded squares, narrow cobbled streets with stairways called “kantounia”, will make you feel as if you’ve travelled to Genoa or Naples.
The are so many beautiful spots, museums and sites in the city of Corfu and nearby worth walking through and visiting:
Spianada, the largest square in the Balkans in the centre of the city with 19th-century remarkable works of French architecture and many sports and music activities throughout the year.
Liston, the city’s trademark for a welcome cup of coffee promenade through the romantic arcades.
The impressive 15th century Old Fortress.
The Saint Michael and George Palace at the northern part of Spianada, housing the Museum of Asian Art, one of its kind in Greece, founded in 1927 by the Greek Ambassador Grigorios Manos with his remarkable Chinese and Japanese Art collection and enriched later with other private collections.
The Church of St. Spyridon, the island’s patron Saint, whose relics are kept here.
Mon Repos Palace, the small but beautiful palace with colonial elements and the romantic park around, the birthplace of Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh and husband of Elisabeth the Second.
Kanoni(meaning canon) offering an amazing view across the island of Pontikonissi (meaning Mouse Island), one of the most photographed spots of Corfu. According to the legend, this rocky islet was a Phaeacian ship that was turned into stone.
Achilleion, the palace built among cypresses’ and myrtles’ gardens by the Empress of Austria Elisabeth, who truly fell in love with the island and dedicated this palace to Achilles as she cherished the belief that he represented the very soul and fairness of Greece.
Edward Lear vividly describes the magic of Corfu: “Anything like the splendour of olive-groves and orange-gardens, the blue of the sky, the violet of the mountain, rising from peacock-wing-hued sea and tipped with lines of silver snow, can hardly be imagined […]”.
To complete the ideal picture of Corfu we organize the welcome party for Rally participants in the evening with local tastes and wine to make you feel in Greece like home and join big sailing family before we start our journey to discover new places and ourselves.
Gouvia Marina – Paxoi, 32 ml
Cultural village of Europe for the year 2004 and sanctuary of love for gods, Paxi (or Paxoi) is the ideal island to start our Rally. Fjord-shaped beaches, underwater caves, small bays and green hills welcome the lucky sailors. According to the legend, the island would be the southernmost tip of Corfu, if the God of the Sea, Poseidon, had not broken it off with his trident when he needed a god-deserving place to live his love with the Nereid Amphitrite.
Its capital and main port, Gaios (Gáios), is separated from its natural breakwater, the tiny island of Agios Nikolaos (Saint Nicholas), by a narrow channel, displaying one of the most beautiful port sceneries in Greece.
The Venetian fortress of Agios Nikolaos
the Olive Museum, once a traditional olive press, cobblestoned paths, Spanish Steps, age-old cisterns, the twin-domed Ypapantis church with an icon, that according to the legend transferred itself to the spot where this church was eventually built, make up some of the island’s charming features.
Paxoi – Lefkas, 35 ml
The island with a mainland feel due to its connection to the opposite shore of Central Greece via a 50 m. floating bridge. It is surrounded by 24 islets, one of which is Aristotle Onassis’ Skorpios Island. You will find many impressive sights, churches and monasteries, picturesque villages, dense vegetation, amazing coves with transparent turquoise waters, beaches of great beauty and well-equipped and some secluded ones (Kathisma, Porto Katsiki, Pefkoulia, Agios Ioannis, Myloi, Agios Nikitas etc), great cultural traditions and hospitable locals.
Lefkada town is the capital port town of the island and its urban planning resembles a fish backbone. Beautiful alleys, small squares, traditional houses, elaborate belfries and cobblestone walkways make up the town’s character. Lefkada is surrounded by the channel and the lagoon and further north you will see the thin curving sandy stretch of Gyra with its scant trees and windmills.
Lefkas – Ithaca, 32 ml
Worldwide famous as the home of Odysseus, Ithaca symbolizes the return to the haven, the discovery and the fulfillment.
There will be no other references to the Odyssey since everybody has its own Ithaca and its own way to return.
But the real Ithaca is a cosy and pleasant island to satisfy any yachtsman without appealing to its glorious past. Its capital, Vathy, where we shall stay, is a peaceful place in the foothills of the mountains which occupy most of the island. From here, a curious one can decide to go and explore an island by bus, in order to see quite remarkable views, but a sage one will stay and relax in some café, enjoying all the nearly meditative calmness after the noisy Lefkas. So, yes, the Greek national poet Kavafis was sincere saying: “Keep Ithaca always in your mind. Arriving there is what you are destined for”…
Ithaka – Sami, 17 ml
Kefalonia a gem in the Ionian Sea. It’s the biggest Ionian island carrying a rich history in cultural tradition.
After we pass the picturesque bay of Fiskardo and local fishermen’s village of Agia Eufimia, we shall berth in Sami – the main port of the east coast of Kefalonia. The town like many other settlements in the island were fully destroyed by devastating earthquake in 1953 nevertheless preserve their traditional local color and played as a town-decoration for the Hollywood production “Captain Corelli’s Mandolin”.
There is a cave lake of Melissani near Sami, a wonder of nature and one of the most impressive sights on Kefalonia partly because of the roof that has collapsed and you have a view of the sky while being in a cave.
Kefalonia is famous for its culinary traditions that will make you fall in love with the island except of its history, traditional villages, upbeat nightlife and emerald beaches. The island produces yellow cheese, feta cheese, olive oil, honey and local meats. Kefalonian cuisine is represented by a large number of delicious recipes given from one generation to the next: meat pie, lagoto dish cooked with rabbit, sofigado dish cooked with goat, cod pie filled with salted cod fish and skordalia (a garlic sauce), strapatsada (scrambled cooked eggs with tomatoes), mandoles (almonds assorted with sugar), pastokydono (a sweet made of quince puree) are some of them. Don’t miss a sip of the local wine Robola, a dry white wine from Mt. Ainos vineyards.
Sami – Zakynthos , 35 ml
The island called “the Flower of Levante” deriving from the Italian word meaning “rising sun in the east” is worth to visit it for a lot of reasons: a comfortable mooring in a vast port; some beautiful beaches in the closest proximity to the capital town; a town itself, although rebuilt completely from the ashes after the disastrous earthquake of 1953, but restored with a great respect to its environment preserving the spirit of the past; a Venetian fortress above the town, offering spectacular views of the sea and the island, together with peculiar belfries reminding of the fact that the Venetians were in possession of Zakynthos for 3 centuries. To complete the picture – Navagio beach is the site of a famed 1980 shipwreck resting in a sandy cove framed by cliffs, strange and beautiful sea creatures that chose the local waters to live – turtle caretta-caretta (known also as loggerhead sea turtle) and local wine which definitely worth for tasting.
Zakynthos – Katakolon. 24 ml. Olympia.
During the times of French domination, the castle above the town was called “Beauvoir” – “beautiful view”. Whether it is true you can surely find out yourself, while the main event waiting for us in Katakolon is a bus trip to Olympia – the world famous birthplace of the Olympic games and the important centre of the cult of Zeus. Actually, a sanctuary of Poseidon or Aeolus would suit us better, but who knows, maybe a blessing of Thunderer will also come in handy?
Katakolon – Pilos. 50 ml
Nearly everyone heard about the battle of Navarino. At the same time, not so many people realize that, in fact, 19th century Navarino and modern Pilos are the same until one manages to find oneself in this small and calm town on a shore of a great bay, which witnessed many great sea battles. It is said, the sunken ships still can be seen down there. Well, personally, we have not seen them, but maybe we just were not attentive enough? Pilos is the most suitable place for relaxation in the first half of the rally, although an enthusiastic person can surely visit local castles and the remains of the palace of Nestor. However, we are still planning a short trip to Sphacteria island, an uninhabited isle and the site of three battles, bearing so much history is a must-see.
Pilos – Kalamata, 41 ml
The first big city on our way, Kalamata, the capital and central port of Messinia, is situated at the site of ancient Farai where the natural beauty of the indented shores, sandy beaches, forested mountains and fertile valleys coexists with significant archaeological monuments.
O hail, civilization – the walls covered with graffiti and neo-Greek mansions in the shadow of concrete blocks!
The legendary “Castle of Isabeau” proudly staying on the hill above the city, the Old City at the foot of the Castle, Metropolitan Panagia Ipapanti church (1873), Modern Greek art gallery, Folklore and History museum are the points of reference for the city although we suggest you to join us for visiting the real oil factory: you will see olive plantations and oil presses making the famous Kalamata oil and Kalamon olives and will have a chance to try it at the source. On the way back one can stop and walking down the dusty slope find himself suddenly in the cool shadow near some small and nice waterfalls.
Kalamata – Porto Kayio. 48 ml.
Porto Kayio. We shall anchor in the typical maniote bay, under the mighty formidable towers and in front of the stony shores. It is a nice place to swim – or to remember the glory of old Greek pirates and freedom-fighters at the same time.
Elafonisos. Almost all the sail men put their tribute to this small and lost in time island before entering the Aegean. By far the largest inhabited island in the Peloponnese archipelago with the population of 300 people that increases dramatically in the summer months. More than 3000 tourists a day visit the island for its light colored, sandy beaches among the most well known of them are Sarakiniko, Fragos (Simos) and Panagias Nissia, all filled with blue-green waters.
There are also some archaeological discoveries to explore on the island and in the surrounding waters.
Porto Kayio – Monemvasia. 52 ml.
A decent reward for all the challenges of rounding the cape Malea. Legendary Monemvasia-Malvasia, a special sweet wine variety, in a butt of which the duke of Clarence was drown, was initially created right here! It is not the only thing to be fond of for the locals, but one can start directly from a visit to the local wine factory, and wine tasting, of course.
Strolling peacefully around this Byzantine town which stays forever in the 15th century promises you actually one of the most vivid impressions of the Rally and one of the most astonishing sunset of the route.
Founded on a rock off the eastern shore of the Peloponnese in the late sixth century A.D, Monemvasia was populated by the inhabitants of Sparta. Its strategic position on the main maritime routes along the Mediterranean converted it to an important commercial maritime center. This favorable location for Monemvasia came to an end in 1893 with the opening of the Corinth channel, which dramatically reduced maritime traffic. The citizens retained their ancient institutions, while they developed maritime activities, both military and commercial. Today Monemvasia preserves its reputation and keeps attracting visitors from all corners of the world because it embodies a rare example of a rich historical settlement that has never ceased being inhabited and still remains “alive”, while at the same time it combines a spectacular natural beauty with the careful preservation of its unique local architectural style.
Monemvasia – Porto Heli. 42 ml. Excursions to Mycenae, Epidaurus and Nafplio.
An enchanting tourist resort on the deep blue shores of the eastern Peloponnese – Porto Heli built around natural harbor in the prefecture of Argolis.Owing its name to “Halieis”, an ancient city built at the same location, Porto Heli boasts crystal-clear water, pine trees encompassing the bay and dreamlike crimson-shot sunsets creating a setting of unparalleled serenity and beauty and matching the diverse elements together: tranquility and cosmopolitan life.
The resort is famous for the royal families’ summer residencies – King Constantine II of Greece lives here with his wife the Queen Anne-Marie of Greece, the King of the Netherlands, the royal family of Spain. The famous movie and sports stars are the frequent guests of Porto Heli – among them Sean Connery, Hugh Grant, Michael Jordan, Cristiano Ronaldo.
Here we are travelling by bus to the most interesting places of Peloponnese – Mycenae, Epidaurus and Nafplio.
Mycenae ‘Rich in Gold’, the kingdom of mythical Agamemnon, first sung by Homer in his epics, is the most important and richest palatial centre of the Late Bronze Age in Greece. Its name was given to one of the greatest civilizations of Greek prehistory, the Mycenaean civilization, while the myths related to its history have inspired poets and writers over many centuries, from the Homeric epics and the great tragedies of the Classical period to contemporary literary and artistic creation.
The construction of the palace and fortification wall currently visible began c. 1350 BC. The famous tholos tomb known as the ‘Treasure of Atreus’, with its gigantic lintels and tall beehive vault, was probably built during the same period. In 1876 Heinrich Schliemann started the excavations which led him to the discovery of the Homeric Mycenae.
The theatre of Epidaurus represents the finest and best-preserved example of a classical Greek theatre. Even by today’s standards, this monument stands out as a unique artistic achievement through its admirable integration into the landscape and above all the perfection of its proportions and incomparable acoustics. It was built in 330-20 BC and enlarged in the mid-2nd century AD. The overall 55 rows of seats rest on a natural slope and face the stage area set against a backdrop of lush landscape. The theatre is marveled for its exceptional acoustics. Any sound on the open-air stage, whether a stentorian voice or a whisper, a deep breath or the sound of a match struck is perfectly audible to all spectators, even in the topmost row of seats, that is, nearly 60 m away. The answer to what makes the sound transmit so well comes from recent scientific studies: The arrangement of the stepped seating rows acts as an acoustic filter that deadens low-frequency background sounds, such as the murmurs of the audience, while amplifying the high-frequency sounds from the stage. Once again in use today, the ancient monument floods with theatre devotees during the annual summer Festival of Epidaurus.
Nafplio – one of the most beautiful towns in the area of Argolis as well as one of the most romantic cities all over Greece, the first capital of the newly born Greek state between 1823 and 1834. According to mythology, the town was founded by Nafplios, the son of god Poseidon and the daughter of Danaus (Danaida). The town’s history traces back to the prehistoric era when soldiers from here participated in the Argonautic expedition and the Trojan War alike. The town declined during the Roman times and flourished again during the Byzantine times. Frankish, Venetian and Turkish conquerors left their mark in the town and strongly influenced its culture, architecture and traditions during the centuries. Ancient walls, medieval castles, monuments and statues, Ottoman fountains and Venetian or neoclassical buildings mesmerize the visitor with their unique architecture and beauty.
You can visit the Palamidi Castle, which proudly stands 216 m above sea level. In order to reach it you have to climb all of its 999 steps carved into the rock, though the view from above here is totally rewarding!
The most photographed spot of Nafplio –and its point of reference as well– is Bourtzi, the Venetian small fortress standing on the rocky islet. During the Venetian rule it was connected to the rock at the foot of Palamidi Hill through a huge metal chain that secured the port against enemy ship attacks. At the beginning of 1860 in Bourtzi used to live the executioners of Palamidi prisoners.
Porto Kheli – Poros, 34 ml.
The town of Poros is built in the shape of an amphitheatre over two hills. In antiquity Poros consisted in fact of two islands, Sphería and Kalávria, but the last explosion of the Méthana volcano in 273 BC radically changed the morphology of the area. Sphería was cut off from Méthana, and in this way Póros took its present-day form.
Lush pine trees vegetation, crystal clear beaches, a lively waterfront adorned with shops, cosy cafes and restaurants, a picturesque capital (it has been declared protected settlement) with grand traditional mansions and picturesque cobbled streets, as well as a wide selection of entertainment venues are the ingredients of this quiet, yet cosmopolitan, destination that attracts visitors.
Visiting its Folklore Museum, the Temple of Poseidon, the Zoodohos Pigi Monastery, the Russian naval base and the Residence of Governor Kapodistrias are highly recommended while you can relax and enjoy a panoramic view of the whole town visiting the historic Clock tower on the hill – the trademark of the island.
Poros – Lavrio, Olympic Marina, 34 ml
Our rally finishes in Lavrio – the small town only half an hour away from the Athens International airport on the tip of the Attiki Peninsula, important ferry terminal for the Greek islands and home port for cruise ships and sailboat charter companies.
Although it is not featured prominently in guidebooks about Greece it has the oldest and biggest ancient amphitheater in the country and a mysterious giant hole that would be an attraction to Fortians and seekers of unexplained phenomena.
The area is known for its industry and mining operations from ancient times. The silver mines of Lavrio nominated by Greece to enter the list of UNESCO world heritage. This is where the great columns from the temple of Poseidon at nearby Sounion were dug out.
In the last few years Lavrion has gone through an amazing transformation. Restaurants, shops and cafes have opened and Lavrio has new life due to the rebuilding of the port. There are two well stocked supermarkets at the top of the town’s central square, which is more like an extended rectangle with fountains and cafes and restaurants as well as a couple excellent bakeries.
Lavrion’s fish market is one of the best in Attika being supplied by the town’s fishing fleet. The nearby waters of Evia are rich in sardines and anchovies and other healthy fish. Most of the market has been converted into restaurants and ouzeries most specializing in fresh fish. People come from as far as Athens to enjoy grilled shrimps, sardines, gavros(anchovies), squid, and barbounia (red mullet) while drinking ouzo and local wine.
Olympic marina (37° 41′ 9 Ν-24° 03′ 3 Ε) based in Lavrio is one of the most modern and secure of the Mediterranean, operating on international standards having always in mind the convenience and comfortable stay with the highest awareness for the environment.
Many international charter companies in Lavrio provide their services at reasonable prices for those who are interested in bare boat charter or in charter with a captain.
Our arrival here promises to be quite festive, accompanied by music, speeches and rivers of wine – if it’s an exaggeration, then only the slightest one.
Being well connected to the Athens International airport and to the Greek capital, Lavrio is the proper place for the rally participants to end the journey and to travel home or maybe to stay for several days in Athens visiting Acropolis and other important sightseeing.
For those who rush to the Aegean or to the Turkish coast that is the most convenient point to continue their trip.
The end of a journey means the start of another one.
Who can say where the roads go?
Who can say where the day flows?