Saturday, November 3, 2018

Winter on Ibiza Island

After hauling out Eidos for the winter, I decided to take a week off to travel to Ibiza for a Tantra Festival. Unfortunately (or fortunately as you will soon see), I hurt my ankle on the last day of the festival and moved into the Ibiza Yoga retreat to rest and recover. Soon it became apparent that I actually had a closed fracture in the right fibia (the smaller bone) and my leg was put in a cast at the Ibiza hospital. So, now I am in the perfect situation to update my blogs, catch up on emails and do some more writing. The guests and volunteers here keep me company in their free time, help out with making tea and fetch and carry that I can't do while hobbling on crutches and it's nice to have a community of people around me while I recover.
The retreat is also a place that I would love to invest in if it was in Greece and facing south! So, I am observing how it is run and organized for future reference.

Thursday, January 25, 2018

Road to Karkinagri Pano

One day, as I was browsing online, I found a one acre property for sale near the village of Karkinagri on Ikaria island. It had a small house on it. I fell in love with it, contacted the broker, Eleni Mazari and a week later flew from Rhodes to Ikaria with a one day layover in Athens because my connecting flight was cancelled due to force 11 winds over Ikaria. Flight and ferry cancellations due to weather seem to be the normal and accepted conditions of life in Greece.
Landing on Ikaria

Yiorgos, a handsome man with a beard and smiling eyes, who was referred to me by Matina Tsamoudaki, the owner of the Karkinagri Studios where I would be staying, met me at the airport and drove me to Agios Kirikos where I had already stayed for a month in March of 2017. 
Agios Kirikos harbour
From there, I boarded the small, coastal ferry that luckily was running and two hours later we arrived in a small harbour of Karkinagri. 

Arriving in Karkinagri. The harbour is to the left side of the centre of the photo.

The harbour of Karkinagri is quite small with a concrete ferry quay that also acts as an additional breakwater protecting it from the west and an inner harbour for small fishing boats.
Karkinagri inner harbour.

I checked the depth and it looks like Eidos at 10 m. LOA and 2.5 m. draft could fit in without much problem. A few days later, there was a force 9 wind from the south with large breaking waves over the rock breakwater, but the next day the fishing boats were still there undamaged. The harbour is also safe during north winds. It is quite small though and I wouldn't recommend it for big yachts.
Karkinagri harbour during a southerly gale.

Karkinagri hard standing.
Just outside of the harbour, there is a small hard standing for fishing boats which are hauled out on logs. However, it doesn't look suitable for yachts.

Eleni, the manager of Karkinagri Studios and Apartments got me settled in and then I went to the only restaurant that is open in winter for some fried smelts with greens and a glass of wine. It had been a busy day.
We had rain on Saturday but on Sunday, Eleni, the manager told me that Nikos, the owner of the property that I was interested in, could show it to me. I was entranced by the beauty of the land and the surrounding area and didn't want to leave. I tried to play it cool, but when we returned to town, immediately  emailed Eleni with my offer. 
On Wednesday, she took me back to see it again and to answer my many questions before finally agreeing to call Nikos with my offer.
The land is located near the mountain hamlet above Karkinagri. It is where people used to live to avoid pirate attacks - their houses made of stone and sometimes even built under a big stone, to blend into the rocky background.
Road from Karkinagri to property.

Road from Karkinagri to Trapalo. Turn left in front of the motorcycle to go to Karkinagri Pano.

From Karkinagri we take the road that heads east in the direction of Trapalo and after crossing a culvert over a rushing creek, turn left and head uphill following the creek. 
Road to abandoned hamlet.
It is a rough road, best navigated with a 4WD vehicle, on a donkey or by walking. Eleni's car manages quite well for most of the way, but due to the recent rain, the road developed ruts from flowing water and in one place on a corner, we encounter a huge boulder that recently crashed from the mountain above. Eleni however is a skillful driver and manages to drive around it and is able to make it almost to the end of the road at which point she turns it around to point downhill.
"The battery is old, I need to get the car going on a hill," she says.
Eleni's car gets stuck in a rut. Good thing it's on a slope.

However, before she can move the car to the side of the road, it gets stuck in a deep rut and so we leave it where it is.
Within shouting distance, there are a dozen or so other stone houses, the last one marking the end of the road with rusted road equipment parked on the side of the road.

A stone house in Karkinagri Pano.
Another house in the hamlet.

Road building equipment on the side of the dirt road.

From here, we will have to walk.

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Still searching for my home

After Athens, I decided to head over to Rhodes because it's warm and sunny in winter. I also had hoped that it would be less crowded than Athens (it is) but more bustling than Ithaka (it is). But it is a city and I am a small town girl. Can't help it. It has a nice waterfront all around the north-eastern end (great for walks or bike rides), beautiful old town (shops and restaurants closed in winter) and a lively downtown. But it is expensive. There are designer clothes in the shops and land for sale very much out of my range. I rented a car for a day and drove around but did not fall in love. Maybe because it's winter... I think I'll head back to Ikaria.

Friday, January 12, 2018

Buy or rent?

Here is a nice place for rent in Vathi, Ithaka for 350 Euros a month. 

Very nice.  Maybe I should just go back to Ithaka and rent it instead of buying a ruin? Tell that to the romantic in me...

Friday, December 22, 2017

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year

As an alternative to Christmas cards, I would like to share with you this article on Astronomy merging with the Biblical Christmas story:
Celebrating Winter Solstice – The Sun is on the Southern Cross
For thousands of years, carvings on temples, cave walls, monuments and artefacts have honoured the sun: bringer of warmth, security, life and light.  As the days grow shorter in the period leading up to the winter solstice, December 21st, the sun appears to stop moving south or north and stays still for three days (in the northern hemisphere) – the 22nd, 23rd and 24th of December. This is the meaning of the word ‘sol-stice’ – sun standing still. To our ancestors this period symbolized the death of the sun god (son of god) and when three days later on the 25th of December the sun started moving again, the sun was reborn – hence the birth of Jesus at this time – the sun god or son of god, the saviour of mankind. It is no coincidence that our principal day of worship is called Sun Day.

The Bible tells us that three wise men came from the east, following a star that led them to Bethlehem to celebrate the birth of Jesus the Messiah.  Sirius is the star in the east, the brightest star in the sky, which on December 24th aligns with the three brightest stars in the constellation of Orion (Orion’s belt). The stars were referred to by many ancient cultures as the Three Kings.

During this three day period, the sun resides in the vicinity of the Southern Cross constellation and appears to ‘hang’ on the cross, hence the story of the crucifixion. However the resurrection of the sun or son is celebrated three months later at the spring equinox when the nights are equal to the daylight (Easter) and when once again the forces of light ‘defeat’ the forces of darkness, and the days grow longer than the nights. (Author: Stella Woods)

May the long time sun shine upon you, all love surround you and the pure light within you guide your way on.”



Sometime in mid-November, the rains came on Ithaka where I was living onboard and Eidos was no longer the comfortable magic carpet that she is in summer. So, I decided to do some traveling. I wasn't sure where to go, but I needed some culture so boarded the ferry to Astakos and then a bus to Athens to continue my search for a retreat.
I had sailed all summer and published a book, so now was time to do some chilling. Yes, winter arrived in Greece. It's not as cold as in Canada, but cold enough to turn the heat on and sip a hot chocolate in the evening. 
For a few days, I thought that perhaps I would like to live in Athens during the winter and run a writers' retreat here, but the city is too big for a small town girl, and after a few weeks, I was ready to move on.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Stormy weather on Ikaria

Watch out for the waves
 I pulled a ligament or pinched a nerve or something in my back, so have been staying close to my home on Ikaria for three weeks. Bother! 
And then, just as my back was feeling better, we had a storm several days in the row and then my month was up. So, it was either pay for another month or head back to get some work done on my boat in the Ionian in preparation for sailing this summer. I checked the weather and it was 5-10 degrees warmer in Preveza. Then I found a cheap airfare and that helped me make my decision. 
Also, the hot springs wouldn't be open until May or June, so I decided to come back again sometime perhaps with my boat in summer. The storm also didn't help. Ikaria is a wild, rugged island. I will always remember my visit here.
Smart move getting the cars away

Even the inner harbour was not that safe.

This is where the mid-sized ferry docks. Not today!

A river flowing down the stairs. Ikaria does not lack water.

Statue of Ikarus at the airport.
So, as far as living full time on Ikaria, and running a retreat here, I don't think I could. The island is too big to see without a 4-wd car and there are no safe harbours for my boat during the winter. But I'd love to come back during the summer.
Good bye Ikaria, hope to see you again.
View of Evdilos harbour and the mountains from the air.
If you want to see what I'm up to next - check my sailing blog.

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Walk to Glaredo

More stairs...

There is no getting away from climbing stairs or going uphill nearly everywhere I want to go on Ikaria. And so when I decided to go for a walk to a nearby village, the first thing I had to do was climb some stairs...
Agios Kirikos Church

At least I could find out which way to go. Or could I? All the roads signs, if any, on Ikaria are only in Greek. Good luck!

I love these old cottages. Many look abandoned.

Oh, but what a view after you get there...

Abandoned, unfinished hotel near Glaredo.

Bee keepers collecting honey.

Small gardens can be found just about anywhere.

Ikaria Island harbours

Ikaria is not well known to sailors because it is notorious for strong winds and lack of safe harbours. The two main harbours, Evdilos on the north side and Agios Kirikos on the south side of the island offer limited shelter in settled weather. 
However, a new marina has been built east of Agios Kirikos that might encourage few more yachts to stop here.
The following video and images were taken in February of 2017 during relatively good weather. 

This is Evdilos harbour on the north side of Ikaria during a 20-30 knot northerly wind. Note how far from the quay the boats are tied down.

Evdilos harbour from above.
Agios Kirikos on the south side of the island seems like a safer bet during the winter. There is a new marina here and a few boats left in the water for the winter. The ferry from Piraeus comes twice a week (in winter, probably more often during the summer), there is a small ferry that sails weather permitting to the village of Karkinagri further south, and another one to Fourni Island. Even the fishing boats venture out now and then.

Entrance to Agios Kirikos main harbour and the new marina on the right. Photo taken facing south west.

Two boats that have remained in Agios Kirikos inner harbour during the winter. Note the number of mooring lines.

New marina just east of the town of Agios Kirikos. Photo taken in February 2017 facing north east.

Entrance to the new Agios Kirikos marina.

Boats tied up in the new marina.

Small boat launching area.

Office building in the new marina.

View of the new marina towards east and the entrance.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Drive around Ikaria

Anytime I rent a car, I fill out all the paperwork the night before, so that I have it from early morning all day. I rarely drive after dark and on Ikaria it would be suicidal, especially the first time. 
I was only allowed on the main, paved roads, which I thought limited me to no end, but after seeing what the main roads looked like, I agreed that it was wise advice. Furthermore, notice how low the front of the car is - insurance that the person who rents the car obeys the limitations of the contract. Here is the map of my six hour trip.

Sculpture outside of Agios Kirikos

Main road from Agios Kirikos to Evdilos. Very narrow, with steep drop-off on one side and steep mountain on the other side. With the wind blasting through the passes, I was afraid of being blown off this road.

Monastery on top of a rocky crag. Protection and view point against the pirates.

The north coast of Ikaria during northerly 20-30 knots in winter.

Evdilos harbour
Even the bank has rooms for rent.

Another view of Evdilos.

No wonder the people here live longer - talk about stair master.

Kampos beach in winter.

Analipsi Church near Gialiskari, Ikaria.

Surfing anyone?

One of the homes on the north coast of Ikaria.
Armenistis village.

Mountain village and road cling to the cliffs.

View south after crossing the mountain pass.

Katafigio village

Lefkada hot springs.