July 20 morning - July 24
Woke up at 6:40 AM and left Santorini at 7:50 AM for a 50 nautical mile sail towards Astipalaia. We had beautiful winds ranging from 4 knots to 31 knots (not all at once). For most of the day we were seeing 15-17 knots. The seas had a swell ranging from 2-6 foot waves. We sailed on a beam to close reach with the lumpy seas on our beam again.
Upon arriving to the island at 4:30 PM the winds dropped down to 4 knots our lowest of the day. We dropped the main sail and motored to a bay that Shaun had read about (or so he thought) that was known for its good holding (sand). As we rounded the tip and started to head up the winds increased to over 30 knots sustained. The bay was very crowded and after trying to anchor 3 times we decided to do a recon mission into the bay next door. We had also noticed a very large navy ship (Shaun thinks it is a frigate) anchored in the bay near the Hora. It had multiple missile launching platforms and turrets.
After a double check on the charts Shaun realized we were in the wrong bay to begin with so we headed over to the correct one. At the same time another sailboat had the same idea. They got there first and grabbed our intended spot. We circled another bay when another boat in the bay we liked pulled up their anchor and left which was perfectly placed so we grabbed the spot. We went in and dropped the hook, set the anchor watch alarm and got settled. Karma was on our side.
As we were getting settled a third boat arrived and dropped their anchor right in front of us and if the winds changed or if his anchor dragged his boat would hit us. What an idiot. Luckily none of the above happened.
We got our dinghy down and headed to the beach to check out the local taverna. The taverna is called Astifagea. Our waiters gave us excellent service and we knew that we had found our newest food and watering spot for the next few days. This evening the navy ship came to life with helicopters doing nighttime exercises.
In our original plan we were only going to stay overnight and sail to Tilos but upon arriving and settling we decided to stay until the next weather window appeared. I am so very thankful that we made this decision because Astipalaia is a true gem with lovely people.
The following day was a beach day. Shaun and I hung out at Astifagea taverna while Jordan and Paige played at the beach meeting new friends and jumping off the dock. Paige came over to let us know that inside holes in a wall there were baby birds. Every time she would peek in the babies would start cheeping. Before we noticed it, we had spent over 5 hours in the taverna.
|view from our favourite taverna|
|a peak-a-boo view of Element|
|more wonderful food|
|another view of Element|
|Paige walking along the beach|
We woke up to another beautiful morning in our sheltered bay. Today we were going to catch the bus into the Hora to rent a car. We got to the beach for 10:30 AM as we had seen signs for 10:30 and 11:00 AM. It turned out that the bus arrived at 11:00 AM. It was a really nice bright blue and pink bus with plush seats. It cost 5 Euro for all four of us to reach the Hora. It was a longer ride than I had expected along narrow roads that were in a bit of disrepair. They wound through valleys and along the coast showcasing the lovely views of the seas. In the distance we could see the Hora with the castle growing bigger.
We were dropped off in the centre of a quaint water front that included a beach. We walked along and perused the shops before having a light lunch. We found a rental care company and hired a blue jeep for 24 hours.
|view down a narrow street in the lower village|
|view of the castle from the lower village|
|view down to the centre beach from our café|
|closer look at the navy frigate|
|looking stylish with my shades|
We hopped into the jeep and headed up to the castle at the top of the Hora to explore. There was a parking lot at the bottom square so we parked the jeep. We walked the steep incline up the narrow rock paved streets to the incredible castle that had been owned by the Venetian family Querini family for many many years - http://www.greeka.com/dodecanese/astypalea/astypalea-excursions/venetian-castle.htm. As we walked up to the castle Jordan saw a no parking sign but mistakenly said “look mom there is a no peeing sing” it was very funny. The castle was really incredible. You cold see the stone houses where people lived before the last earthquake in 1953 that destroyed most of them.
|renovated windmills in the Hora|
|look mom no peeing|
|taking break under a tree on our way up to the castle|
|steps up to the castle|
|getting closer to the top|
|the first up close views of the castle walls|
|very tall walls|
|Paige at the entrance|
|views from inside|
|what the castle looked like from the outside|
|how the houses were laid out|
|ruins of the inner walls|
|what remained of a floor inside a house|
|picturesque view of the bay next door|
|an even prettier view with Jordan|
|view of the remaining walls and floors|
|look mom I fit in this alcove|
|looking down from the top of the castle|
|view across the roofs|
|looking out over to where we are anchored|
|doorway into the house|
|our walk down to the Hora|
|narrow streets heading down|
|colourful doors and verandas brighten up the buildings|
|steps up into the hidden streets|
While at the castle we met an Australian fellow named Graham. We mentioned our bay that we were anchored in and the taverna that we had fallen in love with. If he were to come to the area we would love to have a beer with him.
Before we left the Hora we found the local carrefour express for groceries however, they were closed for ciesta. This island is a very authentic island and take the break time from 2-6 PM very seriously. So we stopped a small taverna and then headed down to a beach in the next bay over to wait for the store to open and allow the girls to play. We went back and picked up our small list of provisions and headed back to the boat.
This island is a bit scrubby with many winding roads. It is in the shape of a butterfly and we are anchored in the middle (body if you will). It was inhabited by pirates many years ago. In fact the bay next to us was famous for being an old pirates lair. There is a memorial to a french captain Bisson who sacrificed his life by blowing up a captured pirate ship and killing all the attacking pirates and freeing the locals from pirate slavery.
We have met Stefano, Christian and several other lovely staff members at Astifagea taverna. I love chatting with them all and hearing about their lives and how they ended up working where they are.
We had to take the car back so we decided to go a little early and let the girls play at the beach in the bay over from the Hora while we surfed the web and drank our coffees. It is always fun watching the girls in the water and collect rocks to add to their collections.
We finished up at the beach as it was time to return the rental jeep. We made our way up the extremely steep windy road and back into the beachside town at the rental company. Shaun saw a bus just after we dropped the jeep off but failed to ask the vital question “where are you going”. On we got only to find out we were headed back to the beach we just came from and then back towards our boat.
At one stop approx. 20 people piled on board giving us our closest feeling of being a sardine as we have ever felt. That on top of someone who has not figured out the use of deodorant….. Not the best mix. We arrived back We arrived after the long bus ride to our bay and who should we see? Graham from Australia. So we sat and had some beers while chatting and while the girls got to play again at the beach. Jordan met a little girl named Mia who is 6 and just as outgoing as she is. By the end of their playing and jumping the dock Jordan was swimming without her lifejacket from the end of the dock.
We said our farewell to Graham as he had to leave and then we took the girls back to the boat with promises to Stafanos and Christian that we would be back later to chat and say goodbye. Stefano had said another day that he might be able to score a t-shirt for me……. and true to his word was able to hand one over to us over our beverages.
|another view of our bay|
|our newest friends Stafanos and Christian|
|Jordan and Paige swimming|
|Jordan and her new friend Mia|
I was sad to say goodbye to this island and to our new friends (not to their bugs as there were too many and my poor body was being eaten alive). We headed back to the boat and to bed in preparation for our morning sail.
Follow our video adventures on the following youtube channel: