Friday, May 15, 2009

Kastellorizo - first taste of Greece

Our first destination in Greece was to be the small island of Kastellorizo. A Greek outpost off the Turkish coast. Friends on Lasse had written excitedly about its beauty and tranquillity. As we approached what looked like a barren rock I started questioning Lasse's judgement. However as we approached the anchorage a small attractive settlement appeared. It wouldn't have mattered either way as the enthusiastic welcome from Lasse was sufficient. Even though we'd seen each other recently in Ismalia there was still a lot of talk about. My trip home, Ben working on the island, their plan to stay a year in the anchorage and Neils' and Lisa's excitement at attending the local school - 40 pupils with 16 teachers. I don't remember being that enthusiastic about starting school - apprehensive perhaps. Could that be a benefit of four years onboard a boat. Once we'd briefly caught-up, Neils drew a map of the island showing how to find the customs office.
After all the trouble and expense we went to obtain our Turkish papers when I checked them I noticed the clearance stated our previous port as Girne (northern Cyprus) - ruining our attempted subterfuge. I needn't have worried it was one of the easiest check-ins ever, with humorous, self-deprecating custom officials - "we've had 3000 years to get it right, but we can't currently give you the document you require without a tax number ... so carry-on and I'm sure we'll sort it out eventually." Handing over 20 Euros cleared us into the EU and I hoped put an end to bureaucratic expensive check-ins.

Once we were legal it was time to explore the island. I could well understand Lasse's enthusiasm. There was virtually no traffic in the two small well-cared for settlements. We walked up-to the summit of the island amongst wild oregano, rosemary and thyme with great views across the sea to Turkey. The water around the anchorage was stunningly clear and to crown a perfect day that evening we saw a turtle swimming around the boat.
Sadly our plan dictated we needed to leave first thing the next morning for Rhodes, it would have been fantastic to spend longer with Lasse. We left with sprigs of wild herbs hanging the cabin keeping the memory of their small paradise alive.

15/5/09, Kastellorizo: N36deg 08.9' E29deg 35.9'

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