More ruins, shopping, lots of boats and catching up with friends.
On Sunday we headed out for the day with Claire and Ollie back to the Lustica Peninsula. The goal, to visit Fort Kabala and show them the submarine pens as well as stopping off for a coffee at Lustica Bay Resort.
We’re getting better at handling adverse weather these days, I think back in Australia we’d be “nope, it’s raining, we’re staying in”, but here in Montenegro if you did that, you’d never do anything! I don’t think we were banking on the hail though! Fortunately we’ve got reasonable gear now, but we were all wet and a bit bedraggled when we stumbled into Fort Kabala to start exploring.
It’s similar to Vrmac that Ollie and I explored a few weeks ago and they are all contemporaneous to each other, part of the same defence network. After exploring the rooms inside the fort, we headed further down the hill and back into the submarine pens which I’m now satisfied I’ve fully explored in detail!
We had drinks Sunday afternoon with a new couple to the liveaboard community here, John and Deborrah and shared stories on travelling in Greece. It’s one of the great things about a network of people around, you can really learn a lot from each other about what to expect before you head somewhere.
Finally on Sunday night it was a “boat themed” quiz night organized by another couple, Todd and Catherine which we did poorly at as our knowledge of some important nautical things like “Who captained the Love Boat” is sadly lacking. Although I was quite proud of myself that we recalled the name of the boat that they were shipwrecked on in Gilligan’s Island (S.S Minnow).
Monday we dropped Rosie off with Sarah, where by all accounts she’s been having a lovely week including a lot more walking than she usually gets with us!
Then it was off in Rada the Lada to Podgorica airport and our flight to Athens. We’re not having a lot of luck with flights at the moment, this one was also delayed and we didn’t eventually get to our apartment until almost 11PM at night, 12 hours of travel including driving, waiting, flying and trains to make it.
Every time we stay at our Athens apartment we’re adding small comfort items into an “Owners Kit” that we hide away in a cupboard here — so we have our shampoo, our own coffee and a few basics ready to supplement what’s already here anyway for guests.
Athens really is home now and we’re loving our apartment more and more each time we come and stay! Unfortunately (or fortunately) the quiet season is starting to wrap up, whereas it’s been fairly empty and ready for us at a moment notice through December and January, now we already have almost 3 weeks of bookings in February! Which is good, but we’re going to miss the quick and easy stop overs here.
Living on the boat is a lot of fun and definitely where we want to be, but it’s also fantastic to be back in a big city with all the amenities. We’re eating far too much food and doing far too much shopping while we’re here, but loving it all.
Then it was off to Düsseldorf, which after all was the reason for the trip. This went a little more smoothly although we were frustrated by the hotel we’d booked. While we booked it on hotels.com as an actual hotel, not an Airbnb, it turned out to be a more “automated” style hotel — you check in online, punch a code at checkin time to be issued a pass and away you go.
This was a bad experience for two reasons. One is that the system failed which meant a few phone calls and delays in actually being able to contact a person to check in. If you didn’t have a phone and data the whole process just wouldn’t work. The more annoying part was that being automated, you literally couldn’t check in until 3PM. No, “oh yes sir, the room is ready now” or “let us store your bags”. Just “Computer says NO.”
Having arrived in Düsseldorf on time, this meant 3 hours of schlepping our carry ons with us while we toured the city waiting to be able to access our room.
We headed out early Wednesday morning to get to the boat show. We had a two day ticket, which proved useful as the show is set over 17 different halls and covers around 220,000 sqm (54 acres) of indoor space!
It’s generally well organised (although we did think of a few minor improvements), with the halls in very distinct themes. We spent most of day 1 in and around the motor boat and super yacht halls. It was pretty funny actually, because while we liked the motor boats, we also felt like “is that it”. Turns out we’re more “super yacht” people — the definition of super yacht at the show is a little different from what we’ve become used to in Porto Montenegro! A super yacht here is something in the 45–60+ foot range. At Porto Montenegro you’re really 25M or 80 ft before we’d think of it as a super yacht.
With around 250,000 people cruising through the halls, they tend to be a little “selective” about who gets to actually board the boats — but we found that dropping a few key facts, like “we actually live aboard full time and we’re thinking about a new boat in a couple of years” quickly smoothed access. Both facts are of course completely true, I just didn’t mention that we really meant “new to us second hand” and that our budget probably wouldn’t stretch to the “it’s only $3 million kitted out” they were asking on the very impressive 60 foot explorer style boat we were touring.
In the meantime we enjoyed the hospitality, free champagne and wine, the cheese boards and enjoyed the dream for a while.
On the second day we focussed more on sailing yachts and discovered a couple that we really liked (unsurprisingly in the luxury end of the market). It was definitely good to see some sailing boats that we both felt we could actually live on.
It’s also interesting the way that electrification is really starting to emerge. While there wasn’t a lot of fully electric boats there yet, a lot of manufacturers are talking about it and have them in design for release in the next couple of years. Everyone agrees that the technology is improving rapidly and for the right sort of boat, an electric option is a realistic proposition — just not a cost effective one yet.
If I had to pick the winner for us, it was the Contest 50C, a brand new sailing boat with a fantastic full beam cabin in the rear and amazing craftmanship. Their next model will have a fully electric option so this is something we’ll follow with interest. Electric engines with a sailboat is a good combination.
Beyond the boats, we were amazed at all the people we met that we knew! There were those we planned to meet, like our German friends Markus and Isa who were there. We loved meeting them for lunch and then catching up over dinner.
And then there were those we didn’t expect! When we toured boats we were often matched to Greek dealers for the tour (because A, there were no Australian dealers and B, that’s our country of residence). When we went to visit a Prestige M48, the dealer took one look at us and said “I know you!”.
Turns out that way back in our early weeks in Greece we toured a Sunseeker at Flisvos Marina and Nikos recognised us! It was fun chatting about our journey since then and the Prestige M48 he showed us was a very interesting motor catamaran with a great layout.
Then walking through the charter/marina promotion hall we saw a stand for Pythagoras on Samos and who is there, but Tassos who we first met way back in around Week 8 of the blog. He also remembered us (perhaps not quite as fondly given we forced the boat to sea trial and then backed out). The photos they had on display made us miss Samos and we hope to go back there this season.
With the boat show more or less completed, we headed back into Düsseldorf to try tour a bit more of the Aldstadt (the old town) and to walk over and see the Rhine. The main street through the Aldstadt is called “The Worlds Longest Bar” as it’s essentially small bar after small bar all lining the street and even in the cold weather it was packed on Friday night (there was also a local team playing a football/soccer match on TV too).
The journey back to Athens was uneventful and now we’re back in the apartment relaxing and soon planning to head out for a walk around the streets. Tomorrow morning it’s up and back off to the airport again to return to Matilda.
Until next time,
Tim & Karina