Adventures in Greece as we pursue the dream of buying a boat and cruising the Mediterranean.
We’re probably the worst possible parents to have during a pandemic because we take great delight in texting photos like the ones above to the kids letting them know how much fun we’re having. It’s a tough job, but someone has to do it.
It’s been an event filled week — things are definitely not slowing down at all. We headed to the island of Samos primarily to view a boat and the trip was structured around that. We were full of doubt before we left— was it really worth the airfare and accommodation to visit an island just to see a boat; one that we suspected we probably didn’t want?
Turns out that yes it was! An hour after landing, we decided that the next time we come to an island we need more time, it’s so different from Athens, a slower and more peaceful pace. People are friendlier and it really was delightful. It also helps that Samos is very beautiful. We stayed in Pythagória, a small town on the oldest harbor in the Mediterranean of around 800 people and could have spent another 3 days there easily.
Amongst its many claims to fame, a key one is that it was the birthplace of Pythagoras, although at the time they didn’t appreciate him and the king exiled him to Italy! The town is built on ruins that date back 2000 years and there are is evidence of civilization as much as 5,000 years before.
Wandering along the port, seeing all the pleasure craft moored up and enjoying the tavernas really made us excited — we’re having a fantastic time, but this was the moment that it all made sense! This is why we’re dealing with the various crazy government requirements so we can do this and be one of these people here. We could taste it!
The town is full of cats, every restaurant has an adopted one and they move around begging for food everywhere. Whenever there are people fishing or cleaning out their nets, the cats cluster around begging (and receiving) fish scraps tossed over the back of the boat.
On Tuesday we met the local yacht broker, who took us to see the boat we’d arranged an inspection for, then as he learnt more requirements, said “well, there’s this other one here I think you should look at too”. There’s a lesson there — we haven’t met a single boat broker that didn’t also have another boat for us to see. Always leave time to see what else is on offer. We arranged to see this additional boat on Wednesday before we left.
The broker was lovely, excited that we were wanting to live in Greece and proud that we liked Samos. When talked about our plans for the afternoon, he insisted on driving us to our location and took us up the monastery above it so we could walk back. He told us a lot of detail about the history of the local area. At the back of the monastery was a very large cave complex, which had a church in grotto at one end of it (photo below) and he told us how he remembered hiding in the caves as a child in 1974 when Turkey invaded Cyprus.
It’s hard as an Australian sometimes to really appreciate just how close different countries can be, one of the photos above shows the old fort in Pythagorio and behind it, the land in the distance is actually Turkey.
On Wednesday we decided to see the museum. We’d seen it earlier in the week and so were confident we knew where we were going. We headed off to visit the very modern building, built similarly to the museum of the Acropolis, with a glass entrance way overlooking ruins. It seemed very quiet, but then that’s not a big surprise during this season in Greece, so we masked up and headed in. A lady appeared and came wandering over and asked what we wanted — when we said to visit the museum, she kindly informed us this was an office building and we were in completely the wrong place! It could happen to anyone, but it’s also funny to us because 20+ years ago when we were traveling in China, we did almost exactly the same thing — confidently storming an office building looking for a travel agency, only to find we were in completely the wrong building and just poking our noses into someones place of work!
The museum (once we found it) was great, with a lot of detailed history and interesting mosaics and then it was off to see the “bonus” boat.
The second boat was a Fairline Targa 62 and while it needs some work, we were impressed — it’s BIG (the photo here is really misleading). Those stainless steel rails are roughly waist height and the standing room below decks is around 7 ft. It’s the first boat that we felt “wow, we could really live on this”. Washing machine, full height refrigerator and yes, much bigger than we really think we could afford… or is it 🤔 Lots to think about as we headed back to Athens in the evening.
Thursday we were busy prepping for Karina’s Resident Card appointment on Friday which meant another visit to the bank, this time for Health Insurance (it was very confusing for a while, here in Greece they say “Life Insurance” to mean health insurance, whereas in the US and Australia, “Life Insurance” is for when you die — apparently what we think of as life insurance here is called “Death Insurance”, which is much more logical I think).
Somewhere in there we decided to make an offer on the Fairline and we were pleased (and somewhat surprised) that it was accepted, so now on top of everything else, we’re also learning the ins and outs of boat buying and are now desperately wrangling a Marine Lawyer, Marine Surveyor, Diesel Mechanic and learning the ins and out of the process, surveying and sea trials. It may not yet be the one, but we’re now approaching the point where we get some experts in to kick the tires and work out if it’s really the deal we think it is.
The BIG news, is that Karina successfully got her residents card and is now officially a resident of Greece! Whoo hoo!
So that’s a win too — another piece of the puzzle has fallen into place. We’re very happy to call Greece home, next major step (aside from the boat buying pieces) is for me to sort out my Residents Card. This is complicated by COVID apparently, so it might take longer than we expect, but we’ll see!
This weekend, I’m off on a sailing trip with a group I met online which aside from being a bit of fun, will get me a Greek Skippers license for sailboats as well as some exposure to the workings of marinas and islands around Athens.
Until next week!
Tim & Karina