To Corfu and back

4th - 17th Sept

Having dropped Finn and Millie in Poros we set off for Vathi on Ithaca where we spent two nights, one at anchor in a rough sea with a strong north westerly, and the next on the east side of the quay the next morning for another night. We set off for a cycle ride and found a gem of a sandy beach past the pines on the west side of the bay, stopping for a bite en route at the taverna at the little harbour.
From Vathi we went northeast to the island of Kastos, a good crossing in quite a breeze.
In Kastos we found a place inside the mole at the outside of the harbour, with these beautiful rocky surrounds
In the neighbouring boat was Paul the biochemist from Cardiff who came across 380 Euros in notes on the sea bed whilst diving for something he had dropped overboard. Note to self: Must check seabed for treasure more often. Kastos is a tiny but charming place, the mole is a great spot for swimmming and views lovely
We stayed a couple of nights and then headed for Nikiana on Lefkas, a quiet place where we were next to Australian Lawrence who was doing up his own boat, a deep sea diver, interesting to talk to. Beautiful sunset...
And so to Preveza to meet Steve and Bibi on Sunday afternoon. The quay was full so we found a spot marked 'Fishing Boats!'. After a few drinks and a meal Steve and Bibi settled into our rear cabin. Only slightly disturbed by the local fishermen arriving at dawn either side of our boat, to sell their catch on the quay.
We set off on our journey northwards in light winds.
Crossing to the mainland we dropped anchor in Two Rock Bay where we swam ashore, explored the large cave and the white pebble beach and had dinner on board.

Tuesday we planned to travel up the River Acheron, one of the mythical waterways of Hell. The approach was less imposing than expected
The nearby rocks were more suggestive of the gates of the underworld
We headed for Parga and found a place in the tiny harbour on a tall mole, quite a steep climb getting off the boat and a challenge not tripping on all the fishing gear lying about. After a long walk weaving our way through the sun loungers to town we had a refreshments at the castle, with spectacular views
We wandered around the fortifications perched precipitously above the harbour.
Parga specialises in Happy Hour. Here we are enjoying a very enjoyable pre-dinner second round of Mojitos.
Along with a number of other yachtsmen we paid the ferry man to return us to our boats. From him we learned that British men need to get better at helping their wives!

Wednesday took us to Monganisi, a bay on the south of Paxos.
Bibi and I enjoyed a shower in the facilities ashore and we had a meal ashore.

It was a short journey Thursday morning to Gaios on Paxos, also a beautiful place where we found a place on the quay with a pleasant cafe off the gangplank. Our quiet little spot metamorphosed into nightlife central though later in the evening.

Friday night we anchored in the bay of Lakka where we took the dinghy in and were assisted out of it by an old gent.

Next stop the sleepy hollow of Petriti on Corfu. We went swimming on the little public beach with a showerhead on the end of a standing pipe and tried out a couple of places for mojitos before dinner of chickpea curry onboard.

Sunday we headed for Corfu island, we went swimming at anchor and did some human towing
and practiced diving off the coach roof, aided by expletives.

Approaching Corfu the old town appeared dwarfed by this monster superyacht with its rather futuristic design. A prop for the next James Bond villain perhaps? It turned out to have been commissioned and built for a Russian oligarch, a man younger than us who made his fortune in coal and fertilisers.
Mandraki harbour in Corfu however may be the most beautiful harbour we have visited on our whole journey, nestled as it is within the walls of the old town walls.
Not only beautiful but also functional, with showers for the boat owners, a small beach and some nice restaurants.
The castle now houses the university music department so piano music and the dulcet tones of a soprano drifted past as we walked past into town.
Over a coffee overlooking a game of cricket (Corfu was British after all) we discovered that the Museum of Asian Art was 2 minutes away, with exhibits showing the influence of Greece on Buddhist art. Synchronously Steve was reading a book titled 'The Greek Buddha'. The influence of Greece in India started in 326 BC when Alexander the Great led his troops all the way to the Indus River. From 280 BC Greek kingdoms were created in northern Punjab. In 100-80 BC the Greek king Menander was taught the Buddhist faith. He founded a Greco-Indian Kingdom and used coins with bilingual inscriptions in Greek and Hindi. From the 1st to the 5th century AD in the workshops of Gandhara, statues of Buddha and Boddhisattvas (Buddhist saints) were made.
These figures are often modelled on Apollo or Dionysus, with a Greek nose and Greek hairstyle with undulated hair tied on the top of the head in a bun. These characteristics are mixed with features of Asian sculptural tradition, such as protruding eyes and cheekbones.

There was also this beautiful example of Japanese kintsugi, with the cracks in the ceramic are mended in gold.
Kintsugi echoes the Japanese philosophy of embracing the flawed or imperfect. Not only is there no attempt to hide the damage, the cracks are literally illuminated, highlighting the uncertainty and vicissitudes of life. 'The wound is the place where the Light enters' as Rumi, the 13th century Persian poet writes...

And so farewell to Steve and Bibi who set off in a taxi for the airport that evening.

Monday we motored south, stopping for the night in the bay of Agios Ionnais on the mainland just southeast of Parga, a nice spot. From there we reached Lefkas on Tuesday, mooring alongside the canal on the north side of the bridge. Paul cycled to town and did some provisioning, and we had dinner in our favourite Taverna Vino in Lefkas. Wednesday morning we made the short hop south to Nidri where we met Sandy and Nick off the ferry from Fiscardo.