Last Few Days of the 2019 Season

Lunch in Corfu Town

 

We celebrated Julie’s birthday on September 8th in Corfu.

Sunrise Corfu Town

Dinner at Imperial Hotel, Kommeno, Corfu

Sudden downpour off Corfu south east coast

Monday September 9th we set off on the return trip from Corfu south to our home port in Lefkas Marina assisted by Anna and Tim, our final crew for the year.  Shortly after leaving Corfu Town we were hit by a nasty little squall with driving rain and 20 knot wind.  Visibility was so poor that we had everyone on deck keeping a lookout, all were soaked to the skin.

It passed, the sun came out and we had a fine sail back to our favourite harbour, Lakka, on the north east coast of the island of Paxos.

an now to inflate the birthday present

Sheer bliss in Lakka

This large, sheltered bay is very shallow, you anchor in 1-2 metres under the keel, in aquamarine water, which appears to get more opaque as the water gets warmer during the summer. A perfect spot to inflate Julie’s birthday present, a large pink flamingo which she has always coveted but Terry refused to countenance on board.  After falling off a few times she managed to mount it and lay happily for hours.

Two nights at anchor in Lakka is a must as it is such a pleasant place and quiet once the charters and flotillas have left in the morning.

Easy to find Exotica in a busy bay now!

Large flotilla in Mononisi

Then on to Mongonissi, this is only a few miles further south on Paxos but took quite some time to get there as we were sailing into the teeth of a strong southerly under grey skies.  Thus, we would sail across towards the mainland of Greece and tack back towards the island making little progress to the south.  Exotica is not a greyhound to windward.

At last we have found Greek dancing, the owner is right into it

Tim getting into the spirit of Greek dancing

Mongonissi harbour is deep and not much room to anchor, embarrassingly, we spent a long time failing to find a comfortable anchorage and ended up coming stern to on the quay.  A large flotilla, tied up beside us but it meant the charming, busy restaurant put on Greek dancing which Julie and Tim joined in with enthusiasm.  No plates were smashed though.

A swim before leaving Paxos, after the flotilla has gone

We motor sailed for the 33nm passage back to Lefkas, timing our approach to the swing bridge at the head of the canal for four pm.  The bridge only opens on the hour and doesn’t wait for stragglers, so timing is important.

It’s been a tradition this season to end each cruise with a night at anchor in Goat Bay

We motored down the Lefkas Canal to our favourite bay, Varko or Goat Bay, for our final night at anchor.  As ever the water is clear, temperature 26.8 degrees C at this time if the season with excellent holding so we celebrated with a swim in the warm water and washed down the last of the provisions with Greek wine.

The hills of Lefkada and Meganisi in the early morning

Full moon over Lefkas harbour on our last night

On September 13th. we had a short but pleasant sail back to our berth in Lefkas Marina and started the big clean up, much helped by Anna and Tim.

Three days we spent packing up the boat.  Sadly, our beloved washing machine died.  It appeared that a filter was blocked but when Terry, with some difficulty, extracted the filter he found it full of blades and rusty metal which indicated that a pump had disintegrated.  So, there was a lot of hand washing, sheets to the laundry and request to our engineers to source and replace it.

Exotica safely in berth G25 in Lefkas Marina

 

On September 16th we left Exotica sitting in her winter berth and trust that our guardianage company will do a significantly better job than their colleagues last year at Preveza, a few miles away.

This is the end of our seventh season, and it has not gone quite the way we expected. Schengen visa restrictions for Julie meant we did much more mileage than we intended but the passages to Athens in May and to Albania and Montenegro in July were exciting and interesting. We have also had many more guest crew this year which has added great variety and pleasure to the various passages.

Our plan for 2020 is to sail the boat north to Montenegro, via Albania, and we have booked a berth in a brand new Marina there. We’ll use this as a base to explore Montenegro and the islands of southern Croatia. Terry is looking for a crew to help him sail there in late May so if you are interested please get in touch.

 

Statistics for the 2019 Season

Travelling Days  –  57

Distance  –  1508 nautical miles

Guests – 14

 

First night family gathering at Overways

 

Our planned family reunion eventuated with James and Nicole flying from Cairns and Edward and Charmaine from Sun Peaks to spend four days at Bovey Castle in Devon and three nights in Covent Garden. So special to have us all together.

Champagne

Bovey Castle, Dartmoor, Devon. Complete with 18 hole golf course

Vast grounds and gardens

 

 

 

 

 

 

Never too old to try something new, clay pigeon shooting while the boys play golf

Family four after 10 years

High tea, a treat in every way

Negotiated single track lanes to North Bovey, a quaint village of thatched cottages

At the practice range

Dining in our very elegant lodge

Impressive interior design

Jones, Clarke Sunday lunch in Buckinghamshire

From Dartmoor to Covent Garden after a rare family gathering at Overways

Airbnb sometimes comes up trumps, this one in Covent Garden was super

Luxurious

Curry party in Covent Garden

Last pub lunch together in Covent Garden, before James and Nicole return to Cairns

 

Escaping Greece in August

We left Exotica in her berth in Lefkas Marina on July 24th.  Julie, with her Australian passport, is only allowed ninety days in a one hundred and eighty period in the Schengen area, so we returned to England for the month of August.  We also hoped to avoid the particularly hot weather and the crowds of Italians, Germans and French who all take their holidays at the same time and swamp the Ionian Sea.

Dinner alfresco at the Edwards in Worthing

 

We made good use of our time visiting friends in the south of England who took us to the church we were married in nearly 40 years ago.  It is exactly the same as it was then, but since it is a Norman construction, what is 40 years?

Worthing beach on the hottest day, 38C

We were here nearly 40 years ago

St Mary’s West Chiltington, West Sussex

The Rectors since 1274, ours was 1974 Kenneth Lucas

 

Ancient wall paintings in X1 century St Marys Church West Chiltington

 

A summer walk along the Thames at Richmond

 

We stayed in Richmond and went to a Prom and an opera at Holland Park.  We watched polo at the Ham Polo Club as guests of our friend James.

Strauss at the Proms, Royal Albert Hall

Holland Park Opera, a new experience for us. A double bill, Il Segrreto di Susanna by Ermanno Wolf-Ferrari and Iolanta by Tchaikovsky

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ham Polo Club

Lunching with James and friends at Ham Polo Club

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Marlborough College chapel

 

Then to Marlborough College, Terry’s old school, where we spent a week at the Summer School there.  We both joined the singing class.  In the morning we sang ‘The Armed Man’ – a modern mass in traditional musical style and in the afternoon Music for Pleasure, to Terry’s horror, it was jazz, Elton John, the Lion King and Danny Boy!  He wanted to quit after the first session and do ‘Liberal Democracy Since the War’ but Julie suggested he use this opportunity to do something completely alien to him and swing with the rest of the group, and he did!

Inspirational interior of Marlborough chapel

The Court , Terry’s boarding house, B1, far left

The College rose garden next to the ancient Mound

 

 

 

The Refectory, feeding 900 three meals a day. Might not look like fine dining but the food certainly was.

Chocolate fountain, seriously naughty

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Harry the Piano, a truly talented cabaret act. Our first night at Marlborough College Summer School. Every evening there was diverse entertainment.

Sensational performance of Eugene Onegin from Berlin Kommischeoper. Directed by Barry Koskie

 

Then to the Edinburgh Festival where we had concerts and more opera.  The weather in Scotland was dire, cold and wet so we really did escape the heat of the Mediterranean.

 

 

 

Fireworks every night for the Military Tattooo

Edinburgh Castle from Grassmarket

Jones family at Overways

 

Back to Buckinghamshire and Terry’s sister Margaret who had all her family at home including those who live in Mexico, so it was a great reunion. Here we watched Terry’s niece’s husband play cricket at Blenheim Palace on a perfect sunny day.

Nayeli at Hartwell Hall, Buckinghamshire

 

Ladies who tea, celebrating family birthdays at Hartwell Hall

James Garlick playing cricket at Blenheim Palace

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Terry, James and Deborah on a perfect Glyndebourne evening

James Deborah and Terry at Glyndebourne lake

Two glorious days at Glyndebourne where it was at its very best.  Splendid opera productions of The Magic Flute and Rinaldo, magnificent weather and great company made these truly memorable occasions.  Just about the most civilised place in the world.

Sporting our new hats on a sunny Glyndebourne afternoon.

Seaford beach, near Newhaven, on a late summers day

 

Last night of Glyndebourne season foreworks

 

 

Filling in time before the afternoon Glyndebourne performance, a visit to the seaside, British style.

 

 

 

 

Bathing boxes on Seaforth beach

Hastings quaint second hand bookshop which serves wonderful Thai food on the side!

 

We always look forward to time with our dear friends in Brede, East Sussex. We all travelled up to London for the theatre, bought Cob nuts, Kent version of hazelnuts, in the local farmers market and a day in Rye.

 

Set of the excellent Captain Correllis Mandolin

 

Lizzy and Tony Dyson at Harold Pinter Theatre in the West End

Lamb House with beautiful gardens. Home of Henry James from 1895. Originally owned by James Lamb. King George 1 slept here in 1726 after his ship from Hanover to England was forced to stop nearby during a ferocious storm

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The dining room

Lamb House, Rye, home to many Mayors of Rye since 1722

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fascinatingl map of the waterways in southern Kent during the X1V century. Now fields and small rivers.

Dinner for 16 in Overways garden

 

A last summers evening with the Jones clan.

 

 

 

 

The Jones offspring, aged 3, 5, 5, 7, 9, 9, 11

 

Anchoring in Port Leone, Kalamos. Much warmer than in June

On Wednesday August 24th. we met our friends Deborah, Bruce and James at Heathrow and took the flight to Preveza and re-joined Exotica in Lefkas.  We were pleased to see that the work on the boat that we had organised with a company at the Marina had been done satisfactorily in marked contradistinction to the over-winter boatyard whose workmanship was  universally dreadful.

Our favourite taverna in Lefkas, La Vinaria, the best grilled tuna

The only surviving building from the 1953 earthquake which destroyed houses and the fresh water system. This church has worshippers from nearby Kalamos town every Sunday

 

We were thus able to set off the next day and motored to Goat Bay, one of our favourites, to anchor overnight.  The water is clear and warm and just perfect for a late night swim.

The next day we had a grand sail to the island of Kalamos and anchored again for the night.

 

A provisioning stop in Port Kalamos

Such a pretty port. Kalamos

 

 

 

 

 

Then lunch at Georges taverna

Bay of emerald water on northern tip if Kalamos, an afternoon swim

Back to Porto Spilia, to enjoy Babi’s charm and food on the beach

 

The weather was perfect as we motored out of Spartachori north towards Lefkas and the canal to the north.  Suddenly there was a loud bang and the boat shook violently.  Two more bangs and then silence.  We had hit a rock right in the middle of open water.  Looking more closely, it was well marked on the chart but there is no navigational marker which really is pretty bad.  We called into Lefkas and had a diver go down and inspect the damage as well as an engineer to have a look at the keel bolts but Exotica is built very soundly and there was no significant damage except to our amour propre.

 

 

 

Our rocky bump just off Scorpios!

 

 

 

 

 

 

At anchor in Mongonisis at sunset

We continued north the same day and after 33nm we anchored in Mongonisis at the south east tip of Paxos. A small bay popular with flotillas who line the shallow village wall.

Mongonisi Beach Bar, James disappointed no Greek dancing or plate smashing on Sunday night!

Lakka, aquamarine waters

Antipaxos has a famous bay of emerald water, Agrapidia, visited daily by hordes of tourist boats with one hour slots to allow their 200 passengers to swim in the idyllic sea. There is enough room for sailing boats as well, but the day was overcast and not at it’s best so we anchored for lunch then motored to our favourite Paxos  anchorage at Lakka.

Akis Bar, Lakka. Thank you crew for a delicious dinner

There are always many boats here but somehow everyone manages to fit in.  We took the dinghy across to the town which is charming in a touristy way.  The ladies discovered some very fine dress shops, serious retail therapy.

Mandraki Marina tucked under walls of Corfu old fort

We dropped our guests off in the picturesque marina Mandraki under the walls of the castle at Corfu Town.  By no means the world’s best marina where the electricity was dodgy, the wi-fi unreliable and the fresh tap water, with which Terry filled the tanks, distinctly brown.  He had to empty the tanks completely, flush and refill at next marina to get clean water.  Worst of all our washing machine packed up….tragic. Nonetheless it was a pretty place and had a surprisingly excellent taverna.

Mandraki Marina tucked under walls of Corfu old fort

NAOK, Nautical Club of Corfu, excellent dining overlooking Exotica at anchor

Two days later Anna and Tim joined us in Corfu for the return journey to Lefkas and the end of our seventh season.  We are currently back in Lakka, which is even busier with yachts but still just as beautiful.

 

Return to Greece

Our tour around the wonderful Bay of Kotor

Exotica in Herceg Novi harbour

We rather fell in love with Montenegro and seriously considered moving the boat there for the winter.  But the thought of doing the 250 nautical mile passage north again dissuaded us! The advantage of this area is that there are no charter companies or flotillas,  A few charter yachts come down from Croatia but it is much quieter on the water than Greece,  which is overrun with charter companies, which have moved recently from Turkey.

From the highest of Herceg Novi’s three
castles looking towards Tivat

The old town square Herceg Novi

Where Operosa Montenegro Festival is held each August

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A busy harbour, just enough room for a few visiting yachts

Magnolia trees in Herceg Novi, right next to the international water polo centre

The brand new Porto Novi marina

We’d hoped to have had a free week at the brand new five star Marina at Porto Novi, as it’s part of our marina’s group, but it was not officially open until the next week, however, they were very welcoming and gave us a free night alongside. It is likely to be very smart, quite expensive and targeting smaller boats than Porto Montenegro. Maybe next year….

At sunset

It won’t be empty like this next year, Exotica in the distance

Maybe our proposed berth for 2020

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bambi Beach at night

Cooler to depart Bar in the early morning, and quicker!

 

We had four overnight stops on our return journey to Greece. Bar, the southernmost port in Montenegro, where we managed to check out via the harbourmaster and police with much less trouble than on our arrival here three weeks previously. It’s not an attractive town but will be remembered for tasting our first Negroni cocktail.

Durres Archeological Museum, it is not a charming city

The inventor of alternate gangways

Our early start rewarded us with a pod of dolphins swimming under the boat on the 50nm passage to Durres, where in the the weeks since we were last here they have installed “lazy” bow lines for yachts to come stern to like marinas elsewhere.  This was all very well, but the quay they have selected is high, for container ships, so getting on and off the boat in the normal manner was difficult as our passarelle was far too steep.  However, a lash up with bargeboards across the pushpit and plenty of rope lifted the passarelle high enough for a very satisfactory and safe gangway.  Only a little ingenuity required.

A bit of a climb from the aft seats, thank goodness for pilates.

 

Sea mist over Durres harbour. The previous day there was thick sea fog until lunchtime

 

 

We left Durres at first light the next day in a heavy sea mist which gave us some concern as the channel away from the port is very narrow and there are shallows and rocks all around.  Fortunately it lifted and there was no traffic anyway.

 

Sunrise leaving Durres harbour

Calm evening in beautiful Sheen Janit before the strong southerly came in at midnight

 

We motor-sailed for seven hours to the entrance of Vlore bay where we were hit a 15 knot headwind.  We decided against bashing into it for another five hours to Sarande.  Anchored in Sheen Janit, the little bay we’d lunched in with Jane and Jeff. It is sheltered, clear water, good holding and we had a comfortable night in the southerly.

One mooring buoy for day trippers from Vlore

This 62ft cat had been beside us in Durres last night

On the ferry wharf in Sarande

 

Motored the entire 52nm to the final stop in Albania, Sarande, where we put down 80 metres of  anchor chain coming astern to the ferry quay.  Another high quay necessitating the elevated, botch up, passarelle. It was a beautiful evening so we finished off the orange Tanqueray on the foredeck in moonlight.

Ancient pillar on Sarande beach

Back to Restaraunt Limani for mussels

AIS can tell us the Aida Blu passenger ship will be .573nm away from us in 08.30 minutes

 

A 16nm motor across the channel to Gouvia on Corfu and Julie starts counting Schengen days again.  This was not without its problems, we had to take a taxi to the commercial port to get Julie’s passport stamped.

Aida Blu in the distance, we slowed down to avoid a collision

You see some unusual sights on the water. this “boat” called Guilty had a British flag!

 

 

Then we found Guilty at home in Gouvia

Storms were forecast so we stayed an extra day to wash clothes and the boat. A bright, hot morning but the whole area including the marina was without electricity so while we hosed the decks we put the generator on to power the washing machine, finished hanging washing on deck when it began to gently, but persistently, rain Sahara sand!

The storm came at midnight, 36 knots from the north when it had been forecast to be a southerly. We were both out on deck in the pouring rain, had to put the motor on to tighten the bow line as the stern was being pushed onto the jetty.  It proved the point that even if the weather is settled it is important to have all the lines appropriately placed and tight since storms can be fierce, however brief they may be.

The headland of castles in Corfu are stunning in the early morning light

As the promised NW wind didn’t eventuate, again we motor sailed the 67nm to our home port in Lefkas and were happy to be back in our snug berth and to stay still for a couple of days. 

 

We also replaced the mainsail which was fifteen years old, had lost its shape and was tending to stick when furling. This is a dangerous complication of the in-mast furler. The new one works very sweetly so far.

Gentlemans Final at Wimbledon. Epic five hour match. Note the score, this is in the fifth set tie breaker. Federer did have his chances in the fourth set!

On Saturday 13th. July we were joined by our friends Carmen and Anthony for ten days. Once again on guest’s first day the weather was poor, wet and windy, so we elected to stay put and they watched the Men’s Final at Wimbledon, all five hours of it.

Welcome dinner at La Vinari, our favourite tuna. Mid July and still need sleeves.

Full moon over Goat Bay aka Varko Bay

 

We then set off for a tour of the islands of the southern Ionian, anchoring in our favourite Goat Bay.

Unforecast NE blew into Spartahori causing an uncomfortable surge on the dock. Boats turned away, too dangerous to dock

Breakfast with a view of calm waters in Spartahori

 

 

Back to see Babis at Porto Spilia in Spartakhori.

Spartahori bouganvillia

Crew on watch en route to Ithaca

Anchored in a shallow, narrow passage between the two bays of Pera Pigadhi, SE Ithaca. Stern lines ashore

 

Anchored with lines ashore in a bay in Ithaca

 

Fascinating rock formations, came alive at night

Anthony raised the bar dressing for dinner on board, Terry was forced to change into a collared shirt!

 

 

 

Pera Pigadhi, this is Julie’s kind of water

Terry disconnecting shore lines

Sami Harbour, SE Cephalonia

 

We met up with friends of Carmen and Anthony in the harbour at Sami, in Cephalonia. 

 

Efemia to the north of Sami Bay

Melissanin underground lake near Sami. The water comes from Agristole, 24 klm underground and enters Sami Bay 2klm from here. In ancient times the “roof” of the mountain fell at this point making it shallow and crystal clear

 

We stayed there an extra day, hired a taxi and driver and explored the island, stopping at an amazing underground lake, the picturesque harbour at Assos and finally the beach at Myrtos.  It was very hot so a swim was most welcome

 

 

 

Stalagmites and Stalagtites abound

Magical cave

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ancient town of Assos on NW coast of Cephalonia, untouched by earthquakes

Popular sheltered harbour

 

 

 

Assos overlooked by a Roman castle

Faded glory, ripe for renovation

 

 

I have never swum in water so turquoise. They say it’s a sandy beach but it’s not. There is a thick layer of big pebbles at the water’s edge making it difficult to walk on. Then it becomes deep very quickly causing rough waves breaking right on the beach in any wind. We were lucky to be there on a windless day.

Mirtos Beach. The finest stones make it look like sand further up the beach. Huge traffic jams on the tiny road and jammed carpark.

 

 

 

Dining on Sami waterfront we saw Valhalla arriving

The yacht in the distance was 185ft, I wonder what they were eating tonight

 

 

This fisherman was in the same spot each morning, Sami

 

 

 

Our anchor came up without being fouled leaving Sami Harbour

WE couldn’t get a free berth at 12 Gods, but the food was spectacular. They’ve promised us a berth next time

A night in Sivota, just about the busiest harbour in Lefkada, followed by the quietest anchorage completed the trip and by Tuesday July 23rd. we were back home in Lefkas for cleaning and closing up the boat.

 

Wasps are a problem on some islands, in Sivota they say if you burn Greek coffee it will repel them????

This is what happens when people don’t put their anchor down properly, they drag onto other boats, even in calm conditions….charterers!

 

 

 

 

My vegetarian skills are improving

Our last night at sea with Carmen and Anthony, back to Varko bay, the other side of Goat Bay. A brisk NW from 4-7pm then a calm night

 

 

 

 

 

 

Early morning swim felt like bathing in velvet

Sun setting and moon rising over Lefkas port

 

After a day of cleaning and packing we dined on board and were rewarded by  a beautiful sunset.

 

 

 

Music in the cockpit, sunset on the foredeck

We decided to leave the boat for the month of August as the Ionian is impossibly busy with all the Europeans on holiday. So, on Wednesday July 24th. we left with our guests and flew to London where we have a busy itinerary of seeing family but also the Proms, Holland Park Opera, Edinburgh Festival and Glyndebourne to look forward to.

From Montenegro back to Greece.

Through Albania to Montenegro

Course of Exotica – Lefkas to Montenegro

When we took a marina berth in Lefkas for a year we had the intention of doing less sea miles than in previous years and merely pottering around the Ionian Sea exploring the local harbours and anchorages.  This was not to be as Julie’s problem with the Schengen visa (she can only stay in EU countries for 90 days in any 180-day period) has meant that we have sailed Exotica from Greece to Montenegro via Albania.

Kotor, early morning cruise ships arrival. Exotica the only blue yacht in far left of photo

We are currently in the delightful town of Kotor, nestled between huge mountains in this charming inland sea.

Ancient city of Nicopolis

Prior to this journey we had a week around the Ionian with our friend Robert Mitchell. The day he arrived was stormy so we left Exotica secured in her berth and took a taxi to Nicopolis, just north of Preveza, where Emperor Augustus built a city to celebrate his victory over Anthony and Cleopatra at Actium in 31 BC.

Ancient city of Nicopolis

Nicopolis amphitheatre being renovated

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The next day we sailed to Spatakhori on the island of Meganissy where we tied up alongside the powerboat of friends we had first met in Malta in 2015. 

One Life to Live, motor boat end of jetty and Exotica meet up in the stunning bay on Meganissi

 

 

 

 

Met up with Debs and Eric in Spartohori, Haven’t seen them since 2015, just as much fun

Stunning ceiling and light in Spartohori’s beautiful church perched on the edge of the town cliffs

Our first time in Cephalonia, beautiful town of Eufemia

 

We joined them again the next day in Eufemia on the island of Cephalonia for another fine taverna meal.

 

Chelsea defeated Arsenal 5-2 in the European Cup final, watched with Eric and Debs on Exotica

Farewell mussels to Robert at Lefkas Marina

 

 

Back in Lefkas we were joined by John Studdert and Dennis Mather and made a few short trips, the weather began dull and cool but warmed up as the week progressed. 

 

We anchored one night in Petala, the first night at anchor on our passage to Athens, a tad warmer this time. Dennis and John swam….then another night back in Spatakhori at the wonderfully welcoming Taverna Porto Spilia

Still chilly at end of first week in June, Eufemia, Cephalonia.

Exotica packed up for our 10 days away

 

 

 

We then left the boat for an opera trip.

 

 

Terry braving the rain for the traditional photo at Longborough

The Grahams elegant home, Longborough

First to England and a night at Longborough, a favourite country house opera where we saw the new production of Rheingold which is the start of their next complete Ring Cycle.  It was the most bitterly cold, wet and miserable night imaginable but the music was sensational.  The production, under the direction of Amy Lane and the baton of Anthony Negus, was a breath of fresh air. The choreography, lighting and costumes made the most of the small stage and talented cast. It bodes well for the full Ring in 2023.

Excitement before Das Rheingold at Longborough, a taste of the imaginative set

Wonderful acoustic

The following day we were off to Budapest for the complete Ring.  This production, which we saw in 2008, is semi-staged, it was the cast of some of the world’s best Wagner singers in Stefan Vinke, Catherine Foster, Stuart Skelton and Gerhard Siegel that enticed us back. The Palace of Arts is famous for it’s acoustics, musically it is the best Ring we have seen but we felt the staging lacked imagination.  Unusually the four operas which comprise the Ring were performed on four consecutive nights, this is hard on the singers, musicians and the audience sitting on seats where the upholstery has sunken somewhat.

Stuart Skelton, Siegmund; Catherine Foster, Brunnhilde; Stefan Vinke, Siegfried; and Albert Pesendorfer, Hunding and Hagan met with the Habsburg Heritage group run by Robert Avery

Architectually pleasing, the brass play the fist few bars of the next act to call the audience into the theatre

 

 

 

 

The Palace of Arts, Budapest

View of Danube from the Palace of Arts

The Hungarian Radio Symphony Orchestra were magnificent under the baton of Adam Fischer.

Curtain call after Siegfried. Allison Oakes, third from the right, will be Brunnhilde in the Brisbane Ring 2020

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Curtain call after Gotterdammerung, Brunnhilde’s red coat was only colour. Bravo Catherine Foster and Stefan Vinke

NSW Wagner Society with Waltraute

 

 

 

 

 

 

Plummers, Cropleys and Clarkes on the last night

Our hotel was on Margaret Island, roses in full bloom

 

 

 

 

 

 

An avenue of roses, every one fragrant

Lakka in northern Paxos, sheer bliss.

We returned to Greece on June 19th. to find that summer had arrived and the coldest May and early June in living memory had finally departed.  Jane and Jeff Carryer joined us for our passage to Albania.

The next morning, we approached the harbourmaster and police to leave Greece and were immediately wrapped in Greek officialdom and spent three hours marching from one to the other to get the right piece of paper.  It was a frustrating morning when we had so far to go. However, we finally got away and had a long day of sailing and motoring to the island of Paxos where we found one of the most beautiful bays in Greece with turquoise water, sandy bottom and excellent shelter and holding.  Needless to say, it was full of yachts but there was plenty of room for us.

Sarande bay not very sheltered but quite shallow

 

From there the next stop was our first port in Albania.  This country has been isolated from the rest of the world since the war with a hard line communist regime, a bit like North Korea.  However, in recent years it has opened up a great deal and now has a kind of democracy.  We were a little scared of going there as very few yachts stop in Albania and there is very limited infrastructure for non-commercial craft.  Nonetheless we contacted agents in each harbour we stopped at and they were universally helpful and informative.  Our first night was in Sarande, the southernmost Albanian port which is actually a popular seaside resort, only room for one or two yachts on the customs quay but  very safe.  We went ashore and had the best mussels ever in a seafront restaurant.  Also managed to get an Albanian SIM card for the phone.

Carryers and Clarkes enjoying Albanian hospitalily

Restoran Limani of mussel fame, the tiny harbour for small motor boats. Not sure what sign on red boat says, For rent, for sale?

 

 

 

 

 

Sarande bay, a pleasant introduction to Albania

From a distance the rounded bunkers looked like sheep.

It was 57 miles to our next port, Albania’s only marina at Orikum.  The headland at the entrance is the home of thousands of army bunkers, a truly sobering sight. We anchored for lunch and a swim in a sheltered bay on the west side of Vlore Bay. Jeff noticed fishing net around our prop, not easy to cut away using a snorkel so Terry deployed our battery operated deck snorkel, which enabled both Terry and Jeff 20 minutes under the boat to cut the net away.

Entrance to Vlore bay. WW11 bunkers by the thousand

Leaving the rather dull Orikum Marina

Orikum marina is in the south east of Vlore bay, a huge, shallow, protected bay used as a naval base during WW1. Built with money donated by the EU the marina is somewhat underutilised and a bit sad with quite a few unloved boats growing weeds on their hulls.  Julie and Jane decided to go to the supermarket in the evening but were forced to retreat by savage dogs.

Orikum channel is extremely shallow, it’s vital to keep within the narrow buoys

Christina O in Durres

 

A good 61 nautical mile sail with wind 10-18 knots behind us to Durres, the largest and busiest port in Albania where the agent put us alongside a rough old harbour wall.  There were a number of cargo vessels close by as was Christina O, the enormous pleasure boat which used to belong to Aristotle Onassis and which has been beautifully restored at the cost of many millions. Now owned by a Greek under a Maltese flag and used for charters.

A brush with fame and amazing history

 

 

 

 

 

 

Exotica tied up in Durres port, as was Christina O

Restorant Mema House, truly the worst food, don’t go there

Our agent recommended a local restaurant serving traditional Albanian cuisine.  The specialty was lamb baked in a ceramic dish.  This proved somewhat disappointing as there was very little lamb and much polenta and it had obviously come straight from the microwave.  The wine was pretty ordinary as well.

The extraordinary thing about Durres was the number of smart cars driving around in heavy traffic.  More Mercedes, BMWs and Audis than anywhere else outside Mayfair. Strange considering the poverty of the country generally.

Extraordinary storm formation, with revolving funnel

 

A grey day from Durres to Bar in Montenegro, storm clouds gathered, two of them with rotating funnels reaching towards the sea.  Julie took fright, reduced sails and motored with haste away from the offending danger.Thankfully it was short lived but it was a long days motoring against wind and swell.

 

 

Welcome to Bar in Montenegro

St Nikola’s Orthodox Church, Bar, the gold domed roofs can be seen for miles

After the 65nm passage Terry then had another two-hour tussle with Montenegrin officialdom having to attend the Harbourmaster, Police and then Customs in that order as well as queuing for nearly an hour in the Post Office to pay 32 Euro.  Every transaction requires reams of paperwork completed by people who can only type with one finger.  There was no problem it just took forever.

Montenegro’s dramatic mountains farewell to Bar

 

We watched this pool under construction in 2015

From Bar we motored north to the Bay of Kotor, 40nm, and retraced our steps of 2015 by spending a night at Porto Montenegro, one of the fanciest marinas in the Mediterranean.  Julie had wangled an invitation to the Yacht Club so we were invited to use the magnificent facilities including the infinity swimming pool with its spectacular view over the bay.

Infinity to infinity

Whatever next, high heeled running shoes!! Shops in Marina Porto Montenegro are very swanky

So special to have friends of 50 years on board, watching the sun set Porto Montenegro Marina

New crew, Jules

Dining in Tivat

History of Kotor

 

 

Exotica had two nights in Kotor, a very ancient city deep in the bay surrounded by high mountains and a dramatic city wall which stretches far up the hillside.

The ancient city of Kotor, fortified mountain wall which kept the Ottomans out, lit up at night

Blue Grotto – Jules, Jules and Terry

We had an hour long speedboat ride to the Blue Grotto, just at the entrance of the Bay of Kotor where our bodies became blue in the iridescent water, then into WW11 caves where submarines hid, and then to ancient Perast and the islands off it.

Speedboats jostling with skill to dodge the swimmers

Pretty impressive

 

 

Entering submarine tunnel with polystarene camouflage.

Our Lady of the Rocks, ornate chapel with stunning Venetian glass light. Popular for weddings

 

Perast, restored palaces now hotels

 

Exotica in Risan

Not ideal to tie up to a sign post!

 

 

 

 

An unsophisticated town with renowned orthopaedic hospital we are told

Charming staff and owner

 

 

 

Excellent food at Restoran Risan

Having farewelled our crew we are now relaxing in beautiful, friendly Montenegro for a few more days before heading south again via Albania to Greece, alone this time but feel confident tackling Albanian ports and bureaucracy.

Thanks to Jane and Jeff who thought they were joining us for a gentle cruise around the Ionian islands and ended up helping us with the 250 nautical mile passage up the coast and to Jules Maxwell for her bubbly personality.

A Tense Start to 2019 and an Athenian Odyssey

We had a somewhat disastrous start to the 2019 Exotica sailing season, which we can hardly believe is our seventh in the Mediterranean.

At the end of last year we left Croatia and sailed, via Italy, to Greece and left the boat at Cleopatra Marina in Preveza which is on the Greek mainland about 50 miles south of Corfu.

Launching on a cold May 1st

This was, by far, our least happy experience with a boatyard for winter storage. When we arrived back to Exotica on May 1st we found the boat covered in dirt both from the dusty boatyard and also Sahara sand which is deposited when it rains and the wind is southerly. Leaving dirty streaks in the white gelcoat. Inside the boat, which we had left neat and pristine, was a shambles. Whenever workmen had done any maintenance they had failed to clean up after themselves and the place was a mess. Furthermore, they had not ordered the batteries as requested and the ones installed were flat.

After first clean

The list of our dissatisfaction is too long to enumerate but, suffice to say, we will not be returning or recommending this boatyard. Once the boat was in the water we checked the bilge, only to find a thick layer of yellow, oily, dirty liquid covering our normally perfectly clean, dry bilge. The boatyard manager was summoned, couldn’t recognise the turpentine smell and declared it was nothing to do with them, ascertained there was no leak from the fuel tank, got his men to sop it up and waved us goodbye.

Welcomed by a new scratch on port side, not happy

Worse was to come. On our second night we were returning from quite a good meal late in the evening. Julie got aboard using the passarelle but when Terry stepped onto it a clip on the side broke and he suddenly found himself under water. Unfortunately, he was carrying Julie’s iPhone and his own iPad, which although were still held tightly, were instantly dead. In addition, his glasses also went to the bottom. It could have been worse; he must have missed hitting his head on the dock by a fraction.

Castle of Santa Maura built in 1300 by the island’s Frankish ruler, Giovanni Orsini

Procession of boats entering the Lefkas channel

We left Preveza the next day with few regrets and motored to Lefkas, where we have taken a berth in the Marina for a whole year. For the first time on our travels we have decided to have a base. This is a good spot in the middle of the Ionian, the sea to the west of Greece. It is close to an airport for the arrival and departure of guests and a pleasant town with all facilities and the best grilled tuna at restaurant La Vinaria.
Within a couple of days of arrival,

Wildflowers on a dismal day, good for touring Castle of Maura

Ruined remains of the city it once was

The causeway from mainland to Lefkas town

Lesley White, our first guest arrived to cold winds and driving rain, the weather finally improved so we set off on a trip to Athens.

After 32nm south, our first stop was a delightful bay in the lee of the island, Nisis Petalas, just north of the Gulf of Patras where we had a most comfortable night with only one other yacht in sight – rare for the Ionian.

Dinner on board in Patras

Then on to Patras, a 37nm passage, the third biggest city in Greece and the capital of the Peloponnese. We took a lazy line on the town quay wall which was so high that it was mighty dangerous to climb off the boat. Julie and Lesley did, very gingerly, and declared the town to be charming, full of designer shops but not one supermarket to be found.

Early morning passage under Rion Bridge, longest suspension bridge, 2,252m, air height 25-45m

Car ferries supplement the bridge

From Patras to Corinth we had one of the best sails ever. After an early start we caught a following wind up to 28 knots and with full sail we barrelled down the Gulf of Corinth, the stretch of water that divides the Greek mainland from the Peloponnese. At times Exotica was surfing at 10.5 knots, very exhilarating if a bit scary. We had to gybe about seven times and then, the weather gods being kind, the wind dropped as we entered the little harbour of Corinth, after our 66nm ride.

We tied up to the last spot on the floating pontoon, directed by George, who said that would be 25 euros for one night, no water or electricity. We gladly paid, only to be confronted by an earnest, young French Canadian couple who said he was illegal, they had taken a photo of him and reported him to the port police! The Germans beside us had paid him 10 euros for two nights.

The pink taverna in Corinth, unpronounceable name but terrific food.

We were directed to an excellent restaurant in a back street in Corinth town and had a fine meal.

Entering Corinth Canal May 11th

Two road and one railway bridge span the highest section of the canal

Early tourists waving from the bridge

Another early start meant we could enter the Corinth Canal without waiting, a six kilometer cut through the piece of land which joins the Peloponnese to Greece. It is 23 metres wide and rises 90 metres above the water. This canal was started by the Emperor Nero in 87 AD but not completed until 1893 by French engineers. It is said to be the most expensive canal by length in the world to travel through.

The never to be forgotten steps at Isthmia, treasure is on the bottom

It was made even more expensive for us when Terry, while he was scrambling on to the dock to pay, inadvertently flicked the wallet containing all our kitty money, into the water and about 500 Euros went to the bottom. Another disaster which left him feeling old and stupid.

Marina Zea, superyachts

We still had another four hours before reaching Piraeus, the port of Athens. Probably, with Marseilles, one of the busiest ports in the Mediterranean. We had a booking for a week in Marina Zea, an enormous marina full of super yachts. We had a comfortable place close to the town with electricity and water provided. Our bilge problem had  continued to cause us grief, so we employed an engineer who immediately diagnosed diesel as the culprit. He believed there had been an overflow when the engine was serviced by Cleopatra leaving the bowels of Exotica flowing with diesel. Five hours and three hundred euros later there is an improvement but Julie continues to have her head regularly in the bilge sopping the residue.

Exotica in Marina Zea

Large fleet of small boats racing in Piraeus

Lesley braving the Piraeus to Athens train

Over the next seven days we negotiated the Athens transport system on buses and trains and saw all the sights as well as finding the Australian Embassy, which sadly was not a smart villa in the right side of town but part of the third floor of an anonymous office block. However, they were there waiting to receive our votes which did not arrive in Australia until after the election is over.

The Acropolis can bee seen from many squares in Athens

The modern Acropolis Museum

New Acropolis Museum, they leave an empty spot for the Elgin marbles

The Roman arena at the foot of the Acropolis

Sunset at the Parthenon

Temple of Nike

Hundred of steep steps to Lycebettus furnicular

Worth the view from Mount Lycebettus

Changing of the Guard every hour at Athens Parliament

Best mussels at Parmigiana restaurant on Marina Zea waterfront, a long lunch

Spectacular food at Belle Ami in Piraeus

Charming ambience

Leaving Athens at daybreak

On Saturday May 18th we departed at daybreak from Athens to make the return journey through the Corinth Canal and the Gulf of Corinth where this time we had a cold hard motor against the wind and sea. Made more tedious by having to wait over two hours before entering the canal because of very slow towing tugs.

Sunrise over Athens

Towing tugs at last exit Corinth Canal, May 18th

Return journey through Corinth Canal

Still snow on mountains above Itea

After 74nm we arrived at our destination was Itea, where again, we got the last spot on the town quay. No water or electricity here either, but no charge.

Itea is a small, neat town on the north shore of the Gulf, from where we took a local bus to Delphi, a twenty minute ride.

Spectacular bus drive to Delphi

City carved into mountainside

We toured the museum and the archaeological site where remains of the Temple of Apollo and the site of the Delphic oracle from the 6th and 5th centuries BC have been uncovered. The site itself is carved into the hillside and requires much climbing to get to the stadium at the top. It was very busy with tourists although this is only the start of the season. Met up with some Aussies, who are also on their seventh summer cruising, and had a very jolly evening on Exotica.

Arena with a view

Original wall of five sided marble blocks supporting Temple of Appollo

Temples of Delphi

An old man, hardly damaged at all

Roman boy

Twins from 5BC found in Delphi

Ancient Greek boy

Spectacular artwork found in Delphi

Cold leaving Itea

From Itea to Messolonghi, a 56nm day. Famous for being the town where Lord Byron died in 1824 and also for a massacre of up to 9000 of the townsfolks by the Turks in 1826 .

Back under Rion Bridge near Patras

Messolonghi channel, 3m under the keel

Exotica at night in Messolonghi

Messolonghi will be remembered for a beggar, mistaken for a waiter, who grabbed chips left on Julie’s plate and shoved them into his mouth, ran away, then returned trying to snatch the salad. Sad

A comfortable night alongside the quay but a less than inspiring town nowadays.
It has been an unseasonably cold May, we’ve been grateful for our thick waterproofs and beanies. One joy of the Gulfs of Patras and Corinth were the sightings of several dolphin pods.

Asian style houses on stilts in Messolonghi channel

More houses on stilts

Sunset at anchor in Vathi, Ithica

From Messalonghi we motored to Vathi on the island of Ithaca where we anchored in the bay for a comfortable night.

Motley crew in Spartahori

Then to Spatakhori, a small inlet on the north of Meganissi, a free berth at the restaurant of Babis Konidaris and a rendezvous with Juliet and Nick Mason-Jones on their yacht Johanem.  We first met them outside Rome in 2015 and our sailing paths have crossed on frequent occasions in Italy, Croatia and Greece ever since.  Early next morning they were off to the Gulf of Corinth.

Farewell lunch with Lesley, Marina Lefkas

We made our way back to our home base in Lefkas for four loads of washing and some electrical repairs and update out safety equipment. Farewell to Lesley.

Our Athenian Odyssey, two hundred nautical miles each way.

Lefkas to Athens - Black = Outward journey Red = Return

The Athenian Odyssey – Lefkas to Athens.

AND SO TO GREECE

On Friday August 31st. we made our eleventh crossing of the Adriatic, starting at dawn from the small port of Santa Foce di Melendugno

Greece in sight, Orthoni Island

on the Italian east coast and heading due east into the rising sun.  We had a little breeze directly behind us so augmented the motor with the sails and were a little ahead of schedule when the first Greek islands came into view.

 

 

 

Sleepy village of Orthoni, the closest Greek island to Italy

We slipped into the tiny island of Orthoni on the extreme north west of Greece before we checked into customs.  Although the small harbour and anchorage was very full of boats we managed to find a spot over sand with only a few rocks and had a comfortable night with little wind.  We met a young Australian couple who have sold up everything, bought a yacht and with very little experience and two dogs plan to sail the Atlantic in November.  We are sure they will make it.

A misty motor along the north coast of Corfu

The next day we made for the island of Corfu and the huge marina of Gouvia on the east coast of the island.  We had been told that the formalities for bringing a boat into Greece were fearsome and that failure to abide by the rules risked all kinds of problems, and costs.  Thus, we were a little anxious about our first stop not being a port of entry. In the event it was remarkably easy and took less than an hour of walking between the Marina Office and the Port Police.  Furthermore, it only cost 50 Euro in comparison to the thousands they extract in Croatia.

Enormous Gouvia Marina, just north of Corfu town

We celebrated our arrival in Greece with a meal at the Marina restaurant and ordered the best bottle of wine on the menu.  Our recall from the last time we sailed these waters  in 1982 that the Greek wine was undrinkable, Retsina or Domestica.  Nowadays, however, even the house wines are palatable.

The Sunday was spent doing a massive clean up in preparation for the arrival of Terry’s sister Margaret and our friends Lizzy and Tony Dyson who have joined us regularly at this time over the past few years.  They arrived on a very late flight from England.

Fort on Corfu town headland

 

 

 

 

We sailed past Corfu Harbour, astonished to see Sailing Yacht A, owned by Russian billionaire Andrey Melnichenko. 468ft built in Kiel, designed by Dutch Dykstra Naval architect, Philippe Starck, it’s three 100 metre carbon masts built by British firm Magna Structures. Naturally there is a helipad on the bow

Endless beach umbrellas on Parga beach. Clear water

We set off south first thing the next morning and, in bright sunshine but no wind, motored thirty miles to a large bay on the Greek mainland called Parga. There were already a few boats in the bay and after a few attempts we managed to find a good spot where the anchor would hold in sand and far enough from the rocky outcrop which we discovered when we went for a swim.  Unfortunately, when the wind died completely at night  the swell coming into the bay from the sea caused the boat to roll from side to side so nobody had a good night’s sleep.

Burrata starter at anchor in Parga bay

Jostling with flotilla boats to enter Lefkas channel

The forecast for the next couple of days was for strong winds so we decided to head straight for our destination, the marina on the island of Lefkas.  We delayed our start from Parga to wait for the wind which duly arrived, and we had an exciting sail due south.  There is a swing bridge on the entry into Lefkas which opens on the hour.  We were sailing so fast that we were going to arrive too early so reduced sail to slow down.  However, we still had to wait for half an hour along with about 15 other boats all going through the bridge down the canal.

Bridge opens every hour, mostly!

Keeping our distance in current and 20 knot cross wind

Our first passage down the Lefkas canal in 20 knots of breeze did cause a little anxiety but we managed to turn into the Lefkas marina and find a secure berth with minimal problems.  It was then time to relax with a cocktail followed by a meal in the town.

 

So far so good

Skipper and crew worried?

 

 

 

 

 

 

Away from the main drag, perfect start to our Lefkas experience

 

Lefkas is very much a holiday resort full of tourists. The town itself is vibrant with many good restaurants and the marina is smart and well run.  We are seriously considering taking a year’s contract and making this our base for our 2019 season.

Taverna Eytyxia, Lefkas

Lefkas salt pans

As predicted the winds were strong all day and night so we stayed tied up securely in the marina and explored the town, the museum and the telephone shop.  We were spoiled in Croatia for internet which was excellent, always available and cheap.  Here in Greece it is very expensive so no more Netflix on rainy evenings.

Tranquil Bay, Nidri

There are several wrecks in this bay, slightly alarming

 

 

The next two days we spent exploring the island of Lefkas, anchoring first in Tranquil Bay opposite the town of Nidri where, as its name suggests, we had a very quiet night.  Then to Sivota, a bay on the south coast of the island where we tied up to a brand new pontoon.  We are learning all the time the differences between Croatia and Greece.  Here the yachting infrastructure, i.e. moorings, marinas and pontoons, is much less developed, but it is all about half the price.  However, Greece is a lot busier with many more charter yachts and flotillas.

Crew mucking around in boats

Nidri with mainland mountains in the distance

 

 

 

Tranquil Bay full

It really was a tranquil night at anchor

 

 

 

 

 

Sivota

Are those storm clouds over Sivota?

Saturday September 8th. was Julie’s birthday and one of our least successful of the season.  The plan was to anchor in one of the bays on the north coast of Meganissi, a small island to the east of Lefkas. After exploring a few bays, we tried to anchor in one where quite a few yachts were already riding comfortably.  We must have spent two fruitless hours trying to get the anchor to hold and when it finally did we found we were too close to the rocks at the edge.  As you tour around trying to find a space all the other boats are watching you and ready to shout at you if you are coming too close or likely to foul their anchor.  Stressful? Yes!

Furthermore, as we were struggling to find a spot a great storm cloud with flashes of lightening and thunder approached and looked very threatening.  In the event the worst of it passed to the south of us and we only had a little rain, but it didn’t decrease the level of stress much.

The storm has cleared, now for birthday cake

Finally, we gave it away and returned to Tranquil Bay, off Nidri, where we had been successful two nights ago.  The wind dropped, the sun came out we had birthday champagne, courtesy of our guests, and chilli con carne.

 

Evening light, back in Tranquil Bay

entering Lefkas channel from the south

The next day we made our way north, through the Lefkas canal and the swing bridge, which held us up for an hour, and a final perfect sail in 12 knots of breeze to Preveza, a large port on the mainland of Greece and close to an airport, where our guests left after a week on board.

Exotica in Preveza marina

Old charm in Preveza

Sailing into Preveza is interesting since it was in these exact waters on September 2nd. 31 BC that the Battle of Actium was fought between the fleets of Octavian, later Emperor Augustus, and the joint fleets of Anthony and Cleopatra.  Octavian won, and Anthony and Cleopatra retreated to Egypt and their deaths shortly afterwards.

We stayed in Preveza an extra day to unblock a toilet.  Terry spent the whole morning trying to access the motor on our electric toilet which had suddenly stopped working and tripped its fuse. It was hot, awkward and unrewarding, apart from being rather smelly.  A local plumber was working on an adjacent boat and agreed to come and look at it.  Within ten minutes and with the aid of a screwdriver and a wrench he had easily fixed the problem.  Terry gave him a good tip on top of his modest fee deciding to leave these jobs to the experts in future.

At anchor near Vonitsa

Our final ten days was spent exploring further anchorages in the middle Ionian.  We spent a couple of nights near Vonitsa a town with a tenth century castle which we explored for two euros and had completely to ourselves.

 

Vonitsa castle dating from 1060

Vonitsa castle

 

 

 

Vonitsa castle

Our bay in the distance

 

 

 

 

 

 

Greek gum trees!

Unusual footbridge connecting the island over  shallow rocks

At last, aquamarine water in Orsomo Varko

 

 

Our last night of the 2018 season was spent in a beautiful bay with crystal clear water and good holding.  A great memory to take home and look forward to next year.

 

Evening light on mountains

Suspect this bay is chock a block in high season

 

 

 

 

 

 

The narrow channel into Preveza and Cleopatra marina

Into lifting dock

 

 

Exotica was slipped at Cleopatra Marina, Preveza on Tuesday September 18th. and after a night spent in a hotel in the town we took the plane back to England and thence home to Australia.

Lifting

A very clean bottom

Now for our slot

How much further?

Exorica’s home for the winter

No accounting for some peoples sense of humour

We missed the spectacular English summer, in true form our arrival has brought rain and cold winds but special family moments.

 

Exotica’s Travels 2018

Statistics for 2018 Cruise

Distance Travelled   1,319.8 nautical miles  in 60 days.                                           Engine hours – 275.9        Guests 7

 

 

 

Change Of Plan As We Leave Croatia And Italy

 

The day after Philippa and James left we remained in Trogir Marina and worked on the decks.  To maintain the fine brown colour of the teak we use a two-part solution.  First a UV protective coat and, once dry, a clear Nano sealant.  It takes both of us working all day, somewhat exhausting in the heat but once done the decks look as they did when we bought Exotica.

 

The brewing storm, once again in Vinisce, our safe anchorage

This time we really are saying farewell to Vinisce, the calm after the storm

As we motored towards the entrance of Trogir bay we noticed very dense back clouds to the west moving quite fast towards us, so our planned sail south to the island of Hvar was changed to the ever secure anchorage of Vinisce. Here we weathered yet another storm comfortably at anchor. A good decision as we heard the storm intensified and by the time it got to Korcula, near Hvar, there were winds of 70 knots with blinding rain blowing 54 foot yachts sideways.

Early morning departure from Vinisce, August 15th.

Mooring buoys in Uvala Tiha, Hvar

 

A gentle sail the following day to Hvar, probably the most famous of the Croatian islands for expensive living and wild parties of the rich and famous.  We found a delightful spot with three adjoining bays near Starigrad and picked up a mooring in the middle arm.  During the afternoon a vast charter fleet sailed into the right arm.  We took the dinghy round to have a look and counted sixty-five yachts and catamarans all rafted together, calling themselves Yacht Week.  A brief search on the internet revealed that this was an organised sail in company where the average age was twenty-seven. We expected a huge noisy party but apart from a little bass noise we were not unduly disturbed, or could a short, sharp shower at 11pm have dampened their ardour.

The floating stage in halfway along these boats

 

 

 

Sail week , thankfully we chose a different arm to this bay

Exotica at peace

 

 

The dinghy captain

Turquoise waters of Uvala Gradina on Korcula

 

 

Three years ago we visited the north of Korcula, this time we wanted to see the western coast.

 

 

Dining with ones boat in the background

Spectacular sunset

 

 

 

 

 

 

Korcula island en route to Miljet

Tied up to Konoba Barbaive, Pomena

We moved on every day to another island and met up with our friends Juliet and Nick Mason-Jones on their yacht Johanem.  We met them first at Porta di Roma in 2014 and have kept in touch, meeting from time to time particularly this year as our plans are roughly similar, we both intend to winter in Greece.  Here we got together at Pomena on the island of Miljet.  We moored stern to at one if the six restaurants on the quay. The mooring is free provided you eat at the restaurant which we did where they cooked great steaks and fish over the wood fired stove.

Exotica from the hotel bar

Pomena sunset

 

 

 

 

From our dining table

Crew of Johanem

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A nice new little marina in Slano, complete with swimming pool

 

From there we went to the little town of Slano on the Croatian mainland, just north of Dubrovnik, and booked into the marina for the night.  Apparently, the town was completely destroyed by a Serbian bombardment in the Yugoslav war of 1991 – 1992 but has now been rebuilt.  There are, however, still a few reminders of this tragic event.

A sad reminder of the 1991 war in Slano

It was in Slano that we had to make a complete change of all our plans for the rest of the season.  Our intention all year had been to go to Greece via Montenegro and Albania. Unfortunately, the crew we had invited to help us do the trip had to cancel for family health reasons.  We were not comfortable going to Albania where the infrastructure for yachts is non-existent without at least one more experienced sailor so we abandoned that plan and instead decided to cross over to Italy and cruise down the east coast before crossing back to Greece.

Sipan, we were here in June 2015

 

En route we stopped in Sipan, a secluded bay with elegant reminders of days gone by. we have fond memories of our night there three years ago.

 

Renowned Konoba Kod Marka. A table of 10 from a superyacht arrived for lunch at 1300 and left at 1845…..a very long lunch

This storm wasn’t forecast in Sipan

 

 

 

 

Tied up to the restaurant mooring buoy with 2 metres below the keel

The rain stopped by 8pm, a wet dinghy ride to dinner, which lived up to expectations

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And then to Lastovo, the most south westerly island of Croatia and where we could check out with police and customs.

A tight fuel dock at the very end of this bay in Ubli, our last stop in Croatia

The dreaded pontoon that gave us a sleepless night

Here we had an interesting experience.  We had tied up the now disused seaplane pontoon next to the police shed and were permitted to stay the night. It was a calm night and we expected no problem.  However, at midnight a huge ferry arrived and its wake caused a surge on the boat sufficient to break off one of the cleats to which we were attached with an almighty bang.  Julie was not asleep and rushed up to see us slowly swinging round on the bowline towards the rocks.  Dashing about in our night attire we managed to get the engine on and get ourselves back into position and a cat’s cradle of lines to every available cleat on the jetty.  On closer inspection they were all made of a very soft alloy and simply not up to holding any substantial vessel.

Farewell Croatia at daybreak

The next morning, we called the police at 3.30 am, we were checked out of Croatia by 4.15 am and on our way to Italy.  It was very dark and motoring out of this tiny harbour with two sharp right angle turns, avoiding the considerable shallows, caused some anxiety especially as the aforementioned huge ferry was right behind us but once clear of the island we were headed due south.

The sun rises

and rises

 

 

 

 

 

Quite spectacular

It was trip of 96 nautical miles to Bari where we arrived after thirteen hours of motor sailing across the Adriatic seeing very little other shipping and no wildlife at all.  All the dolphins seem to have disappeared from the Mediterranean.

Bari Cathedral at night

We had three days in Bari and were joined again by Johanem, who were surprised to find us in Italy rather than Albania. Bari has a substantial old town right on the port. It was of particular interest as a friend’s mother was there in the NZ Nursing Corps from 1943-45. She recalled the ferocious German bombing which devastated Bari and blew up a US ship secretly containing mustard gas, a retaliatory measure in case the Germans resorted to gas warfare. Many seamen were killed and injured but the authorities refused to tell the medical staff the contents of the ship, severely hindering the treatment given. This information was not made public until 1972.

Bari cathedral at night

The city walls in Bari old town

Borgo Antica a charming lunch in Bari

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bari old town from the sea

A fishing boat in the sunrise, leaving Bari

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dodging those storms

 

We motored 64nm in nine hours to the next large port of Brindisi. A less comfortable trip as there were storms around which we could plainly see and managed to avoid, although along the edge of them were some strong winds.  We tied up in the Brindisi Marina during a lull. This was the port we departed Italy in June 2015 to Montenegro and Croatia.

Brindisi in sight, a choppy ride

Entering Brindisi harbour, we missed that storm

 

 

 

 

 

Brindisi marina, it’s nice to re-visit harbours you know

It takes 45 minutes to walk to the lighthouse on this substantial breakwater protecting Brindisi port

 

 

 

 

 

 

The NW wind from the marina, blowing 30 knots here

 

 

 

Strong NW winds kept us in Brindisi for four days. Johanem caught up with us again for the last night.

 

Surfs up in Brindisi

Last time we left Brindisi there was strong wind and choppy seas also

 

 

In NW 18-20 and very choppy seas we left Brindisi yesterday for a 30nm run to Santa Foce di Meledugno, a rather uninspiring fishing town with several sandy beaches full of Italians on their holidays.

Safely tucked into Marina Santa Foce di Melendugno

Italians at the seaside

 

 

 

 

Exotica protected by the sea wall, enormous blocks of concrete line the sea side

Tomorrow, August 31st we leave Italy at dawn for our final passage to Greece.

Munich and Calm Weather

The storm brewing, once again in Vinisce, our safe anchorage, August 14th

 

It seems that the only time we get to update this blog is when we are sheltering from a storm.  This is the case at present as we are tucked into a well sheltered bay, Vinisce, near Trogir, with 50 metres of anchor chain down and keeping a close eye on the boats and land surrounding us.

 

Sundowners listening to BBC 4 news from our balcony overlooking Hotel Maximilian’s courtyard garden, an oasis in central Munich

Our second floor balcony at Hotel Maximilian

Our trip to Munich was a great success. It was, of course, for the Ring and we were privileged to hear, arguably, the four best singers in the world of the present generation in their respective roles. The first Act of Die Walküre with Jonas Kaufman and Anja Kampe was the best we have ever heard, as was the whole of Götterdämerung with the magnificent Nina Stemme as Brünnhilde and Stefan Vinke as Siegfried.

Dining with Siegfried, Stefan Vinke, and friends at der Katzlmacher, one of Munich’s excellent Italian restaurants

Cast list die Walkure

 

 

 

Photo shoot outside the Staatsoper on a very cold evening

Fascinated opera patrons

 

 

Bayerische Staatsoper

Staatsoper ceiling

 

 

Curtain call Siegfried

Beanbags on the steps of the opera house

 

The Clarkes at the opera

Promenading during the interval

 

 

The spectacular cast of Gotterdamerung

Curtain call, a colourful production

 

On one of the non-Wagner nights we went to Les Vêpres sicilienne by Verdi, an infrequently performed opera but a most enjoyable evening.

Scicilian Vespers

There were many Australians attending this Ring and, coincidentally, a tour group were staying in our hotel which was only a short walk from the Opera House. So, we had many friends to chat with during the intervals as well as our Munich friend Jürgen Lüders who was in town as well.

Gothic architecture of St Peter’s Dom, Regensburg. Built between 1273 completed in 1872. The solid silver altar is magnificent

 

On a day off from opera, we took a tour to Regensburg, a well-preserved medieval city on the Danube, untouched by bombing unlike Munich.

A side chapel

Charming architecture

Regensburg was a city of merchants, each wanted to show their wealth by the house they built

This clock tower is empty, it was built only the show it was the tallest house in the city

The Stone Bridge was constructed in the 12th century. For 800 years it was the only bridge across the Danube river in Regensburg and the first in Bavaria

and today

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hitler built the Fuhrerbau between 1933-37, his Munich home. Chamberlain signed the Munich Agreement here on September 30th 1938

Another tour of Munich was Hitler and the Third Reich, where we walked around the city with a guide who gave us an extended history lesson on the formation and the rise of Hitler and the Nazi party in Munich.  It is interesting to us that Munich appears scarcely to acknowledge its role in the war and the holocaust whereas Berlin appears to have embraced it with many monuments and commemorations. Our guide was quite critical of the Bavarians, not surprisingly, she came from western Germany.

Royal Residenz, heavily bombed during WW11, it has been completely restored

 

It takes a couple of days to really appreciate the Residenz of the Bavarian dukes, electors and kings from 1508 to 1918. There was a castle on this site in 1385. It houses rooms and art collections from the Renaissance, Baroque, Rococo to Neoclassicism and bears witness to the taste and political ambition of the Wittelsbach dynasty.

State medals

Residenz Treasury

King Ludwig 1 crown

There are 120 rooms to visit in the Residenz, this is the banqueting hall

Perspective in marble

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Siegfried wedding to “Gutrune”

Hardly a wonder that King Ludwig 11 was obsessed with this legend, he was brought up here.

Part of the Nibelungen legend

Hagen murdering Siegfried

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Traditional Bavarian fish cooked on a stick in a very local market, our farewell to Munich with thanks to Jurgen for procuring our Ring tickets

We returned to Kastela on Saturday July 28th. and set off the next day not without as certain amount of trouble.  Terry, unfortunately forgot to cast off the starboard mooring rope which we tore away from the shore on our way out, and finally, having come to an abrupt halt in the middle of the marina, let it go to the bottom.  Luckily there is plenty of room in Marina Kastela, no damage was done, except to his amour proper, but it did cost us 80 Euro for the diver to retrieve it.

Since then we have had, until today, almost continuously settled weather, which means continuous sunshine, light airs in the morning, a stiff westerly in the afternoon and quiet nights.

Dining with the superyachts at Marina Kastela’s Spinnaker Konoba. No, you don’t get to sleep on one of those.

We have stayed in the area around Split and the offshore islands as we have had two lots of visitors, our friends from Munich, Maria and Jürgen, were with us for six days.  They had only ever stepped on a yacht once before, a twilight race with us on Sydney Harbour, and we were concerned that they would find it a bit daunting.  However, the weather was very kind, and we experienced many of the pleasures of this lifestyle including mooring in crystal water on islands and local restaurants where the menu is meat, fish or calamari and the wine is red or white.

Early morning light on Konoba Sesula, Otok Solta

Exotica from Konoba Sesula

Returned to Konoba Stupica for whole Orada at reasonable prices. Our last time on beautiful Otok Zirje.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Exotica in the foreground in Stupica Vela, from the Roman fortress

Maria and Julie bobbing the the turquoise waters, bubbly to perfect the moment

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Stayed another night in Zirje

Uvala Bacvice, Split’s suburban sandy beach, just near the superb Konoba Matoni

The hosts, after a James Bond pluck from a marina dock after crew arrived in Split

 

Last weekend Terry’s niece, Philippa and her husband James, flew out for three days. Again, the weather was spectacular and we had some excellent sailing as well as some charming anchorages.

Uvala Poljica,the first of four bays in three days with Phee and James

Back to Konoba Sesula

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

One of my favourite bays, last visited three years ago, Uvala Krknjes on Drevnik Veli

Perfect turquoise water

 

 

 

 

 

 

Champagne while the sun sets in Vinisce

Sunset reflected in the clouds

 

 

 

 

Before Julie got her hair wet

Farewell to our safe harbour, Vinisce

There were the usual owners blips since our last blog. The bimini, which shades the cockpit, stitching was coming adrift so we paid up front for a sailmaker to re-stitch it while we were in Munich. On our return our perfectly fitted bimini had a corner flapping and the zip broken. Josip swore it was intact when he re-fitted but Julie would not be so easily fobbed off, so he sent his minion along who would have also denied responsibility had our teak deck “nano” guru not been visiting us. He insisted, in Croatian, that it be fixed and returned by 10am tomorrow….and it was. Thank you Albert.

It’s handy to have a chain counter next to the helm when dropping the anchor but this, too, failed. Two electricians took two hours and 800 kunas to do a twenty minute repair. Thankfully, Terry watched the process carefully and will do it himself next time.

This time we really are saying farewell to Vinisce, the calm after the storm

 

This is the end of our time in this part of the Adriatic.  When this storm abates we will be heading south, checking out of Croatia and picking up our next crew in Montenegro on our way to Albania and finally Greece.

Early morning departure from Vinisce, August 15th.

Track of Exotica in Croatia 2018 so far.

Continuing South Through the Islands of Croatia

Favourite breakfast after weathering the storm

The storm of June 22nd. blew itself out and Exotica weathered it comfortably in the Marina at Veli Rat at the top of the island Dugi Otok.

 

 

 

Veli Rat Marina and wide sheltered bay after the storm

Uvala Sakarun

 

The next day we set off for a short trip round the top of the island to find the delightful bay of Sakuran where there were plenty of moorings.  The water was turquoise and warm enough to swim.  We took the dinghy ashore to dine at restaurant which the Adriatic Pilot said had the best mussels in Croatia.  However, when we got there we found a ramshackle café, the mussels  were off and all that was available was pizza. Surprisingly, the pizza was rather good.

Mussels are off, it’s pizza and Greek salad. Wine, red or white, the carafe was glass but one drank it out of a plastic cup. Plastic plates and “cutlery”!

Exotica on a buoy from the salubrious Konoba Amarcord

 

 

 

 

Sakarun has one of the few sandy beaches in Croatia and turquoise water

Uvala Sakarun

 

 

 

 

 

 

For the next few days we sailed or motored from one magical bay to the next, generally not going very far as these islands, of the Zadar archipelago, and their bays are quite close together.  A few of these moorings were so pleasant that we stayed a couple of days.

Delightful sheltered bay in Brbinj

Easy fore and aft mooring in crystal water

 

We are continually bemused by the tendency of German and Austrian yachting people to shed all their clothes as soon as they get on a boat.  Sadly this does not apply to the young and attractive ones but rather to the elderly, who like us, would be much better to hide their ageing bodies with a veneer of clothing.

 

 

 

A swim before we leave, water temp 22.5C

The only shop in Bribnj was closed from 1100 – 1700. A sleepy hollow

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Restaurant Rava on west coast of Otok Rava provides mooring buoys if you eat there

On the tiny island of Rava we took up a mooring belonging to the nearby restaurant, which is free provided you eat at the restaurant.  Here we had a lamb Peka, one of the few traditional Croatian dishes. Basically, it is a stew of cheapest cuts of lamb and potatoes cooked in an iron pot over a wood fire. They charge an inordinate amount of money for this so it will be our last Peka this year, but at least the mooring was free.

A cut above the last meal out!

We ordered Peka, without checking the price!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Moon rising over Rava

Sun setting in U Landin, O Pasman

From there we had another great sail to the south end of Pasman Island.  This year has been notable for more good sails than any previously.  We found a splendid inlet at Uvala Landin, where we have been before.  This time no-one came round to charge us so we spent an extra day in this delightful spot. The stiff nor’wester brought the temperature down and the sea temperature even more. Julie was not at all impressed when she found she’d swum in 17.9C

The best looking boat in the bay!

 

 

Happy sailor after a great sail

Back to U Landin for another free night on the mooring. We dined with Saint Angela

 

Two days later we were in a marina at Sukosan just south of Zadar on the Croatian mainland in order to collect our friend Angela Bush, whereupon we set off again into the islands and bays either spending the nights on a mooring or on the anchor.

Tuna steak excellent at Konoba Gajela, Landin

The crystal water of U Kakan after a bracing two and a half hour beat. The swim also bracing at 20C

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Terry managed to contract a nasty cold.  How could he do this when we have little contact with humanity and live mostly in the open air.  However, he failed to pass it on to anyone else.

Stupica means trap. This bay is very sheltered until the southerly blows, many seafarers have been trapped here in the past.

 

We couldn’t resist a couple of nights in Uvala Stupica Vela, on Otok Zirje, a favourite from last year.

 

 

A girls trip in the dinghy in our favourite bay of Stupica Vela

An unpretentious entrance to the one restaurant

 

 

 

 

 

 

To an unpretentious restaurant. However, the dour ladies serve excellent pork chop, fish or calamari to at least 100 each night.

I love the ruins of Gradina, the Roman fortress on Zirje

 

 

 

 

 

The history of Gradina during the reign of Justinian 527-565 AD

And what it looked like

 

 

 

 

 

Angela and Julie after a swim…..Rose o’clock

Senta departing Stupica Vela

 

 

 

 

 

 

A fortnight of Wimbledon and the World Cup. This was the exciting bit World Cup-wise

 

 

He has also managed, by dint of some computer wizardry, to find both Wimbledon and the World Cup and transfer them to the television.

 

 

After a night at anchor in Vinisce, on the mainland near Trogir and Split

A night at Split Marina, expensive but a terrific view of Diocletian’s Palace

 

We had planned to change crew in Split, with Angela leaving, Julie’s cousin’s grand-daughter Abbey and then Debbie Humble joining us for week.  However, on Friday afternoon we were unceremoniously chucked out of the Marina in Split to make way for 200 charter yachts which stream in during the day.  It was an impressive mass of boats we had to wriggle our way through as they all waited around the fuel dock and then enter the marina in quite a strong breeze.

Locals enjoying an evening swim on the sandy Bacvice beach in suburban Split, near Matoni

 

On Angela’s last night she kindly offered to treat us to dinner so we asked the marina receptionist her favourite. Matoni, she said. A taxi ride to the other side of town but well worth it. Croatia can produce sophisticated food at reasonable prices.

Tourists enjoying an Aperol Spritz at Bacvice beach

Matoni restaurant, where the locals eat, atmospheric and a cut above t

166 steep stairs up to the top Split cathedrals bell tower

 

 

Angela and Julie had a few hours being a tourist in Split, so many shoe shops but we resisted.

 

You need a head for heights

Bell ringers would be extremely fit

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The only family member, apart from our boys, to spend a night on Exotica. So lovely to meet Abbey

 

 

We were happy to return to Marina Kastela where were last over two years ago.  It is a good deal smarter now with new buildings and even an indoor swimming pool.

 

A windy sky but excellent meal in the Kastela Yacht Club on Debbie’s arrival

Sunset over Kastela

 

 

 

 

 

 

We’d planned to pick up one of the moorings in the distance, a sparkling bay, only to discover there was a 13metre limit so had to settle for the town quay.

 

 

We hadn’t had enough of the islands off Zadar, so headed north again. Our first stop, Rogoznica.

 

 

The crew goes shopping in Rogoznica

The busy tourist town of Rogoznica was deserted at 8am

We try to bring all our guests here….Stupica Vela….again

 

Oh, we seem to be back to our favourite bay on Zirje.  We had drinks and dinner with American friends Robin and Bob, whom we met first in Venice, and are making their way south to Greece and Turkey.

 

Dinner with American’s, Robin and Bob, whom we’d met in Venice

Last lunch in Stupica, will we ever return

 

 

 

 

 

 

We stumbled upon yet another idyllic bay, Nozdran, on Otok Kariije

Terry invented the antidote to buoys bumping in the night

 

 

 

 

 

So we just had to have cocktails on the foredeck

As the sun set

 

 

 

 

The pretty town of Primosten was heaving with tourists and the bay was full. A bumpy night, a westerly had created waves in the bay

Back to the safe anchorage of Vinisce, a convenient stop before dropping guests back to Split

 

 

 

 

The afternoon nap

Vinisce in the early morning

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fishing boat returning with the night’s catch

Trogir at night

 

We have never taken Exotica into Trogir before. We dropped Debbie to her flight back to Sydney. Watched the Gentlemen ‘s final of Wimbledon and then Croatia, sadly being defeated by France, in the World Cup final at Marina Trogir.

 

and at day

It was calm when Marino departed on Homeless this morning with his new Aussie flag on the main.

 

 

We have two nights before we take a plane to Munich for a nine day holiday from Exotica and four days of Wagner. So back to the safe anchorage of Vinisce where our friend Marino joined us for dinner then an unexpected storm with 30 knot winds hit us at 11.30pm. We were up until 2am watching for boats dragging their anchors.

The wind is abating, the rain heading for Bosnia and we to Kastela tomorrow to continue our endless summer adventures.

Farewell to Venice and Istria

Storm-bound in a tiny harbour on one of the outer islands of the Croatian archipelago is a good opportunity to update the blog.  With thanks to all those who responded to the last one, it was very good to hear from you.

Always exciting entering Venezia Lagoon, Terry hoisting Italian courtesy flag

Distinctive lighthouse entering the Lagoon

It takes a good half hour to motor up the channel being careful to stay within the marker buoys.

Settled in Marina Sant Elena

 

Our month in the Marina Santelena in Venice flew by.  The weather throughout was superb and we were able to explore the city from the quiet and comfortable backwater of the marina at the very edge of the city.

 

The fly in the ointment, a fresh water leak. We seem to spend our life sopping out bilges. Thankfully traced to the anchor locker shower which must have frozen during the winter.

Terry honoured his promise to find a way for me to see the Royal wedding. We shared the occasion with Juliet and Nick Mason-Jones

 

 

 

 

 

 

Arriving at St Georges Chapel as Meghan Markle

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex

 

 

 

 

Cousin James Munro, tuning before a chamber music concert in Treviso. So good to see him, if only briefly.

Dinner with the Mason-Jones’s at our favourite, Osteria ae Sconti

Venice wakes

Storm clearing in the early morning

 

 

 

 

 

Bridge of Sighs before the crowds

Cast list

We also managed some interesting cultural events.  At La Fenice we were delighted by a splendid production of Donizetti’s L’Elisir d’Amore.  Just the best fun, full of good singing and witty direction.  It was so good that we booked in for La Traviata the next evening.  This was a mistake.  Hard to mess up a sure fire hit like Traviata, but they did.

 

We booked these seats the day before so they were only 80 Euros!

Terrific seats

 

 

 

 

Curtain call

Orchestra of La Fenice, a truly moving performance

 

Later we attended an excellent concert, Siegfried Idyll, Schubert’s second Symphony and Enigma Variations, under the inspired baton of Antonello Manacorda. It really was terrific.

 

Waiting for the No 1.

Cruise ship floats by the outdoor Biennale exhibitions

 

 

 

 

Arsenale in the early morning

An organ and soprano recital in San Giorgio Maggiore on a quiet Sunday evening

 

 

Isolo Sant Giorgio hosts several Biennale exhibitions. This is Sir Norman Foster’s Vatican Vault

Renata Rampazzi’s dramatic hanging gauze tunnel emphasized her fight against cruelty to women

Renata Rampazzi

Il Gondolieri in Dorsoduro, old world charm. This must be the only restaurant in Venice which does not serve fish!

I don’t think I want these snails after all!

Beef Risotto

Duck salad, spectacular

Gold mosaic adorns the entrance

Basilica di Santa Maria Assunta. The oldest Byzantine Romanesque monument.

Torcello and Burano in the distance

The best thing about this campanile, there were stairs only on the corners, between were ramps. 11thC Chiesa di Santa Fosca beside the larger basilica.

Gold Apartment Mercanti. We’ve stayed in some wild places, this was grand in an extremely small space

 

On 4th. June, we left Exotica in her berth and took a train to Milan for three days.  We stayed in a strange apartment squeezed into a thin building in the Mercanti right near the Duomo.  It had the world’s smallest, oldest and most rickety lift.A squeeze for two passengers, without luggage.

 

Ornate, and had the best hairdryer in any hotel I have been

The tiniest lift in the world!