And breathe…..

4 May

We’ve arrived at our first proper cruising destination of the summer, the Northern Sporades. 12 days, 10 stops & 366 nautical miles after leaving Lefkas we’re now back to ‘going with the flow’ mode.

The Northern Sporades are in the North Aegean, just east of mainland Greece, and consist of Skiathos, Skopelos, Alonnisos, Peristeri, Skantzoura, Kira Panayia, Yioura, Piperi &, to the south, Skyros.

. We plan to have a look at a few of these islands, starting with Skiathos and finishing with Skyros.

Having read Michael Carroll’s ‘Gates of the Wind’, an enchanting and beautifully written account of life in 1960’s Sporades, we have both been very much looking forward to exploring the islands for ourselves. All the current literature warns that Skiathos, though attractive, is the most developed and touristy island in the group, particularly Skiathos Town.

Skiathos Town

Skiathos Town


We would certainly agree with this point of view. The town has some charm, with a maze of little alleyways and cobbled streets spreading out and upwards from the harbour which nestles in between two pine-clad promontories. The quaint little alleyways are, however, peppered with tourist-tat shops and bars offering karaoke & Sky Sports. There are also a number of upmarket clothes shops and eateries. The island is obviously not only geared up for Brits seeking the sun (they are very evident, sporting skimpy summer gear and lobster tans), but is also a popular destination for many Greek tourists looking for an island escape. image

Despite the commercialism of Skiathos Town, we’ve decided to stay here for a couple of days or so while Orthodox Easter is celebrated. Easter in Greece is the most significant religious occasion of the year, more so than Christmas. There has, for the devout, been a period of 40 days fasting and during Holy Week, there is a build up of important rituals, religious services and traditions. This culminates in a breaking of the fast at midnight on Saturday night/Sunday morning at the Resurrection service and the passing of the Eternal Flame from one person to another to light the darkness. This is accompanied by fireworks, bell-ringing and general noisy celebration. A meal of Easter soup and Easter bread is shared at this time, a warm-up for the feasting of spit-roasted lamb that will go on all day, all over Greece, on Sunday.

We wanted to stay in one place for all this celebrating, but, prior to our arrival in Skiathos Town, we were a bit cautious about heading for the town quay. According to the Pilot book, the quay is now designated as a ‘marina’ and is managed by a consortium of charter companies who jealously guard their berths. We are happy to pay the normal rate on a town quay if necessary (normally about €10-12 per night), but certainly didn’t want to be paying marina rates, possibly €40-50. I phoned ahead to the a number I had found on the Internet to find out what the deal was. A very helpful chap, Minas, assured me that because the marina berths aren’t quite ready and because water and electricity are not currently available, there would be no charge at all. He said that he would make sure that he was there when we arrived to direct us to a berth, which he duly was. And, in addition, he came along today to invite us to join him for the post-midnight meal tonight 🙂 Yum! I can’t wait to sample the Easter Soup…..

P.S. Nature watch from my bike ride today…

A mere mallard...

A mere mallard…


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