Greece is a beautiful country that has remained almost unchanged in decades in places such as the South Ionian islands, where I went in early May on a flotilla holiday with Neilson Holidays.
A group of around 30 of us went, after a member of our sailing club booked it with Neilson.
We were due to spend the week in a Dufour 325, but unfortunately due to a problem with Neilson’s invoicing system, we arrived at the boat base in Nydri and didn’t have a boat ready for us.
The great Neilson team stationed at Nydri on Lefkas sorted out our boat upgrade – a Beneteau – while we had free drinks and a meal. Thanks for that one guys.
A fantastic yet packed seven days followed. We went from Nydri to Sivota, Sivota to Vathy (Ithaca), Vathy to Kalamos, Kalamos to Spartochori (Meganissi) and Spartochori to Nydri.
Greek food is up there with the best in the world in my opinion. Simple, fresh ingredients, healthy (usually but not always) and delicious. We ate Greek salad every day; we bought feta, onions, tomatoes and cucumber and crumbled the cheese over the veg with a generous helping of olive oil and lemon juice. Add fresh bread, a gently rocking boat, some Greek sunshine and perfection awaits.
Cheese saganaki (fried halloumi) isn’t healthy to say the least. But it’s very tasty. A generous helping at O Nikos in Vathy meant we had to share what was meant for one. You can have too much cheese!
Breakfast was fruit, yoghurt and giant pastries from the bakery ashore.
I’ve never been to Kalamos before but I would definitely go again. It’s a picturesque quintessential quiet Greek island town, with the usual pretty church gracing its hilltop and bakery. We had to earn our bread, baklava and pains au chocolat that morning.
Dinner was a bustling affair at George’s taverna, with long tables full of visiting yachtsman drinking carafes of wine and lots of beer. I couldn’t wait to try the prawn saganaki. Neither could the local cats.
The week really was a whistle-stop tour of the South Ionian; from one gem of a village to another. Village is really a bit of an exaggeration, because a couple of the places we stopped at were so tiny, there are only one or two tavernas and not much else. Spartochori is a perfect example of the smaller types of places you come across in the South Ionian.
There are a few jetties for the arriving boats to dock at, two tavernas (one right across the other side of the bay) and a tiny winding road that leads up to the main town.
Town is stretching it here – it’s a few cobbled streets linked together by white houses, a tiny souvenir shop and a couple of cafés overlooking one of my personal favourite views in the world.
I’ve been on sailing holidays around Greece and Turkey a few times between the ages of six and 10 and they truly do hold some of my best holiday memories.
This week was wonderful. It was a shame that our itinerary had to be changed due to bad weather and we missed out Fiskardo. But I would wholeheartedly recommend this trip to anyone. Neilson do sailing holidays for beginners to the very experienced and if you’ve never done anything like it before, it is an experience you’re unlikely to forget.