An incredible story about rescuing, friendship, sailing and crocodiling.
This story started two days ago. Just after a stormy moment, we saw far away, a green buoy floating over the sea, trying as good as possible not to drown. The situation was obvious, “MAN OVER BOARD”, the captain shouted.
Used to training MOB (Man Over Board), the fantastic crew of La Bum decided to save this green buoy. By arriving closer, we understood this green buoy is nothing else than a crocodile.
Even if the weather was windy and the sea was wavy, Basile with his famous fisherman skills, harpooned the crocodile and brought it inside the ship.
At this moment, none of the crew could imagine this crocodile would become so much more than a beach kid game.
After a few hours, the crocodile, welcomed by the whole crew, became a new member of La Bum. Very skilled as a helmsman or as a deckhand, trimming the sails, Crocodile has become an important member of the crew (maybe the most important one…).
This evening, Crocodile is cooking, preparing us some good pita breads and good burgers. A perfect Chef Cuistot!
Regardless of all the good things he does, Crocodile is cheeky, always trying to sleep in Luigi’s bed, or making pranks to Renato, he is at the center of our attention… All day-long.
Hopefully, Crocodile is going to find a new owner under 12 soon, to take care of him as he deserves!
At the moment Renato still tries to understand the situation… The senior crew is exhausted after two days of being with this new crew member.
Sailing with a bunch of crazy Czech people on an Italian hippie-boat is quite an experience. ”Interesting”, as Julius Ceasar would say. Being the only non-Czech crew member on board, I was not so sure what to expect from this trip. It seemed a little contradictory: Czech and Sailing. On which sea did they learn that exactly? And do they realise that traffic rules can be of real importance here?
But as soon as we left the port of Preveza I discovered that the Czechs feel very comfortable and responsible on the water. It is not just a coincidence that the nautical greeting ”Ahoj” is one of the most commonly used Czech words to say hello. As a country of many rivers they have quite some experience of moving on water. And thus after some smooth manoeuvring through the Lefkas channel, the four beautiful red sails of La Bum were opened one by one, with Czech enthusiasm and professional care.
Before the sails could be opened the Czech flag had to be raised of course. Which seemed to be a big thing (also the flag itself, quite big. ..), including some singing of the national anthem. Such a small nation, yet so proud of their culture. The few times we met some other Czech people on the water, the happiness of recognition could not be bigger: ”Ahoj!!! Jak se mate?!! Dobry! Hezky! Krasny!” It is really a cuty crazy language to listen to.
While moving south slowly, from Meganisi to Ithaka and from Ithaka to Kefalonia, I started to feel more comfortable with these Czech sailors. They really have some good habits that I can get used to. For example, they always make sure there is some beer in the fridge (and some stronger drinks of course, beer is just for when you’re thirsty). Although I do not feel the need to drink it right after breakfast, it was great to have a tasty cold Mythos when arriving in one of the incredibly “krasny” bay of Assos (Kefalonia) or Lagana beach (Zakinthos).
During the last two days the Czechs proved themselves to be very tough as well. While sailing around Zakinthos and crossing the sea back to the mainland, the wind started to increase up to 20 knots, and waves achieved heights of 1 meter. La Bum was moving forward like a rollercoaster and the salty water was washing the deck. But no one was complaining. Only life jackets, a reefed main sail, and excited smiling faces were visible. The safe arrival to Killini had to be celebrated with some strong Metaxa, of course.
So okay, Czech people can sail. And their black sense of humour, mostly used to make fun of themselves, is actually also quite enjoyable. Sailing on a hippie-boat, raising the Czech flag, singing the national anthem, drinking beer instead of coffee, and screaming ahoj with proud while dominating the Ionian waves professionally. We should not take life too seriously, but enjoy it like the Czechs do. Ahoj!
7/8 July – The World Heritage-listed Meteora is an extraordinary place and one of the most visited in all of Greece. The massive pinnacles of smooth rock are ancient and yet could be the setting for a futuristic science-finction tale. The monasteries atop them add to the strange and beautiful landscape.
Each monastery is built around a central courtyard surrounded by monks’ cells, chapels and refectory.
The name Meteora derives from the Greek adjective meteoros, which means “suspended in the air”. From the 11th century, hermit monks lived in the caverns of Meteora. The earliest monasteries were reached by climbing removable ladders. Later, wind-lasses were used so monks could be hauled up in nets.
These days, access to the monasteries is by steps that were hewn into the rocks in the 1920s and by a convenient road.
We stay in Kastraki, Meteora Hotel on a quiet cul-de-sac below the rocks, with great breakfasts and incredible view to Meteora.
We visit Moni Agiou Nikolaou that is the nearest monastery to Kastraki, Moni Agias Varvaras Rousanou that is today home to an order of around 15 nuns, Moni Megalou Meteorou, the best known of the Meteora monasteries. This monastery is an imposing form built on the highest rock in the valley, 613 mt above the sea level. Founded by St Athanasios in the 14th century, it became the richest and most powerful monastery thanks to the Serbian emperor Symeon Uros, who turned all his wealth over to the monastery and became a monk. We visit some other monasteries than stop due to Renato reached his limits.
6/7 July – The Zagorohoria’s 46 traditional stone-and-slate villages, tucked into the Pindos range, offer atmospheric accomodation, crisp alpine air, sublime views.
Once connected only by mountain paths and stone bridges, they’re now connected by paved roads, some of which enjoy spectacular twists and turns. And turtles.
We book Arktouros Hotel in Monodendri, around 38 km north of Ioannina and we visit Mono Agia Paraskevi, a monastery with spectacular views over Vikos Gorge.
Agia Paraskevi has the oldest preserved church in Zagorohria. According to legend, Michael Voevodas Therianos founded it in 1413 to thank God for healing his dougther of an incurable illness.
Vikos Gorge is a river carved the 12 km long, 900 mt deep over millions of years, leaving cliffs and dephts. According to Guiness, it’s the world’s deepest canyon in proportion to its width. It begins south of Monodendri, running north until the Papingo villages.
We went to Megalo Papingo by road ribboning North offering Zagorohoria’s most breath-taking views. Megalo Papingo and Mirko Papingo -respectively, the large and the small -are two villages tucked into the Vikos-Aoos National Park at altitude of 960 mt. The most distinctive element of Papingo’s setting is the looming rock formations known as The Towers. The tallest is 1788 mt. We drive 1 Km to Micro Papingo up to natural pools fed by the Rogovo River. Many people were there swimming… not us…