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4. Greece 7

Some lazy years in Greece (4): after our winter stay at home in Nieuwpoort, spring, summer and autumn 2013



Nieuwpoort : looking forward to our return to Greece ...




09.03.13 Nieuwpoort.

The dark, cold and rainy winter weather that this year during a particularly long time and persistently was suppressing every early-spring-feeling makes us more than ever looking forward to the return to Greece. During the whole winter we were following the weather situation in Hortó and Lavrio: mostly we have noted temperatures around 15 degrees C - and many times more - while there were a lot of sunny days. This relatively nice and mild weather was sharply contrasting with the observations for the Ionian side of Greece where the temperature and the abundant rain (mostly with heavy thunderstorms) was reminding us the wintering at Lefkas Marina in 2008-2009!

Nieuwpoort, The Goddess of the Wind by Antoon Luyckx


At least on a clear day ...



While we are performing our to-do-before-departure-lists (o.a. a lot of routine health visits, shopping, various little purchases, some bureaucracy etc ) we also are preparing ourselves psychologically for the longer absence: besides family and friends visits we want to enjoy intensively the presence of little Lena who, by her first steps, greatly begins a new stage in discovering a still more and more fascinating but still strange world!



12.03.13 By way of present for our departure the weather gives us an ultimate cold spell, as icy as exceptional while the meteorological spring has already started on the 1st of March. On this Tuesday morning we count more than 1600 km queue on the roads! According the meteorologist of the Flemish Radio and Television (VRT) Frank De Boosere we have to go back to 1925 and 1888 to find such a huge winter attack in the beginning of the spring!



2013 March 11th 11H39 UTC, Nieuwpoort, E-pier, high water, NE wind, increasing while a snowy disturbance is approaching

March 12th, 09H00 UTC, the nautical garden, looking to the East

visual-infrared chart 20130312 high west of Ireland, low over France



On the way in a winter landscape ...




14.03.13 Trying to avoid as much as possible the problems on the road due to the winter conditions we take the motorway by Calais, Bethune and Arras: by this way we will also avoid the traffic around Lille. On the opposite direction it's very busy now that the French authorities allow little by little trucks and lorries blocked by them during the snow storm. On the parking places many lorries are still waiting while sunny periods alternate with heavy snow showers. The snow on the roadside is sometimes more than 0.5 m high. Further on between Reims and Châlons-en-Champagne there is less snow but showers of melting snow regularly are reducing the visibility. We decide to continue on the motorway and to reach Sélestat by Metz and Strasbourg where we have made a reservation at the Ibis(-ex-Etap) hotel. The nice route des Voges by Vitry-le-François, Toul, St-Dié-des-Vosges and the tunnel at Ste-Marie-aux-Mines is now not the best option!

15.03.13 This morning we are wondering if we are not wrong: are we not on the way to Chandolin (CH) where we used to go for skiing instead of driving to Greece? There is 10 cm snow on our car and the parking place of the hotel is virginal white in a nice early morning sun! When we enter Switserland a few hours later by Basel it's again very cloudy . On the motorway around Luzern it's snowing. Little desperate we are looking to this icy white-grey sticky mess on the road. In the snow we pass the Lake of the Four Forested Cantons but at Altdorf it stops snowing. After the Gotthard tunnel the sun is shining in a nice blue sky. On the motorway from Chiasso to Milan, in the rush of traffic, we do not think anymore of the winter misery behind us. At 16H30 we arrive at hotel Maritan in Padova.


From Selestat (F) to Basel (CH) - from the park place on the motorway: view of the snow-covered Haut Koeningsbourg ...




Padova ...



Padova is a very nice and lively city: a good reason to stay one day longer!

Click here to share our discoverings!





Crossing to Greece ...



the m/n Forza from Anek lines full with lorries

17.0313 13H30 LT: the Forza is leaving Venice with more than one hour delay ...

view of San Marco square ... the traditional picture ...






18.03.13 after the grey departure from Venice and a dark and windy night, the bad weather is coming fast closer. Around 05H00 UTC we have permanently SE 7 and while the wind is still increasing and the rain patters against our cabin window, the sea is building up. When at 8 o'clock - 06H00 UTC - we go for breakfast in the self-service restaurant the waves are battering against the bow of the 199m long Forza. When we look, a little later, over the sea from our cabin on the 6th bridge with view to the prow, white water of the breaking waves is flowing over the window. Short and high seas make from this crossing trip a rather unusual experience, as the bow regularly plunges in a by times more than 4m high, curling water wall. Kaat who never was seasick nor during the sailings on our boat, nor during the numerous crossings on ferries, has now to admit that you're never absolutely free of seasickness, even so like the most experienced sailors confirm.



It takes till the Forza is approaching Corfu - we have at that moment the small Greek islands Othoni and Erikoussa on starboard - before the sea is easing and the wind is decreasing. Passing here, we involuntary always think back to the crossing on our small sailing boat on July 13th 2008, from Maria di Leuka (I). The weather then was very nice and on a sea as smooth as a mirror we have sailed the 74,2 NM on our log to Gouvia Marina on Corfu, in 14 hours and 30 minutes!

With a 3 hours delay the Forza arrives at Igoumenitsa. It's about 7 pm when we can leave the ferry: too late to reach Doupiani House*** in Kastraki on the foot of the Meteora where we passed the night in March 2009. The Jolly hotel here is a more rational choice now by this dark, wet and windy weather. We hoped for better weather for our return to Greece. But when later in the night by the open fireplace of estatorio Aleko where we already were two years ago, the owner bringing the grilled peppers, the feta psiti (warm feta cheese with onions, tomatoes, peppers, oregano), the tsaziki (yogurt with cucumber and leek), the chtapodi stifado (octopus stewed with small onions ) and the soupies me spanaki (cuttlefish stewed with spinach) and a carafe of white wine, then we make a toast to each other: stin ya sou, stin ya sou (to your health!) de misery of the trip is forgotten .... misery? what for misery? Happiness, yeah!



Approaching Igoumenitsa





19.03.13 Igoumentsa Jolly hotel. the breakfast buffet is prepared with care, we are the only clients; the owner - a nice man - seems worrying a lot and it's not only because the grey sky and the rather coldness in the hotel. We try to honour the breakfast. Yes, things are very difficult now, the future does not seem rosy, less clients. This family has also a hotel in Sivota-Mourtos. Will things go better this summer? But when the touristic season starts ... business will be better then ... tourists will come ... now it's very early, we suggest as an encouragement. Yes, we're back in Greece. New cuts have taken effect on the 1st of January ... the end of the tunnel for the people ..., perhaps over 10 or 20 years, we think. A large part of Europe on the way to destroy itself by austerity cuts ...

On the Egnatia-motorway from Igoumenitsa to the exit to Kalambaka, just after Metsovo, we can count the other cars on one hand.

The grey sky, the snow on the summits of the Pindos mountains. Light blue sky, sun. Then, Trikala, dreary view of the so many empty and already deserted recently built premises for bigger shops and small business along this not less drab road with endless enlarging works. Despite all, there is some progress. Shall we shade: 30 years ago, this road was equally unnice!

Larisa, .further on to the motorway Thessaloniki-Athene - the National Road - to Volos.

Shortly before 2 pm we arrive at Hortó.





Hortó, end of March. Nice spring feeling. In the pretty high grass the sun is playing with a palette of colours: variations of green tints, rich colours of the numerous flowers - the golden yellow en the deep red of the freesias, the white and blue purple lilies, the bright red geraniums. In all surroundings olive trees are pruned, the groves are cleaned , now that the harvest is finished. The cut wood is burned immediately now that it is still allowed because in a few weeks making fire will be absolutely forbidden. The fire are loudly crackling every time that a new load oil-rich branches and leaves are heavily catching fire. On the hills on the other side of the valley in which Hortó is situated, huge grey capricious patches in which suddenly high orange tongues are blazing up, reveal the burning prunes. For the maintenance of the olive groves mainly Albanians are recruited. They are hard workers, not afraid of toiling from sunrise now about 7 a.m. till sunset, when the blue light too is slowly vanishing. Clever in building, experts in running up walls and putting floors and terraces with natural stones, they are hustling workers in a country where unemployment under the young Greeks towers around 50%!

Our planning is calling us: cleaning and fixing up the house, smooth adaptation of the furnishings, thereafter the maintenance of the garden, removing the overgrowing weeds from the last November planting, burning the big quantity of small wood after the pruning of the about twenty olive trees in the garden, and ... taking all dispositions and arrangements we can imagine for the future - this time hopefully successful - transfer of Nehalinnia ....


02.04.13 During the Eastern holiday, Olivier, Helen and little Lena join us for a week, nice and sunny weather, a real luck!








05.05.13 For the Greek Easter we are invited again by Greek friends but this year we got two invitations!

After the four days long feast - from Saturday ( but on Friday administrative and economic activity has almost stopped ) till Tuesday, we want to prepare our boat. On the 17th of April we were already in Olympic Marina, by our car, to check the boat after the wintering and to survey the works. We were reassured. It's always a long and boring trip but the fact that there is less traffic on the New Road - the old National Road Athens-Thessalonique, has been transformed in an at least 2 times 2 strokes motorway, except the part Stilida-Lamia -, makes the 2 times 400km long trip still bearable!

But the whole operation to transfer our car back to Horto, after the works, will be complicated and not cheap. Later we will speak about it.


Yiannis preparing the Easter lam

about Yiannis Koniordos see also page Summer meeting 2011 - Spalatrians




The transfer of our boat from Olympic Marina to Hortó




Click here to read the story







And when the summer comes ...




Summer 2013 in Hortó: between land and sea ... click here to go to this page


... we cannot see time going by ... and autumn is already close ...




Nehalinnia at the Pefkakia yard, her wintering spot





While Nehalinnia finds her wintering quarters, in Greece life goes on again after the holidays ... with strikes and protest actions: ( here ) teachers and students refuse the coming reform and the big changes in school- and options spreading, an upheaval that for many teachers means an very uncertain future ...


Soon comes the time for the return to Nieuwpoort, by Patras, Venice ( I), Selestat (F)



with a lot of trucks the m/n Corragio of Anek lines leaves the Igoumenitsa stop in the early morning

VENICE: 24 hours later the Corragio is sailing the canal della Giudecca

view of San Marco ... the traditional picture of arrival ( and departure! ) ...

Autumn and winter mode ...

Nieuwpoort, the western pier, lows and autumnal storms are never far away ...

Nieuwpoort, with Lena in the park ...

The Pinta at work in the river IJzer: the start of the yearly dredging works, in the fairway and soon in the yacht harbours and in the fishing harbour ...

Click here to continue the voyage, Greece 4.8: Spring 2014. Ep12

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Updated 10-feb-19
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