Sometimes I think that Greeks only have one thing on their mind: the beach.
If you ask someone what they did on their day off, they’ll say: “I went to the beach.”
If you ask someone what they do with their friends, they’ll say: “Oh, we go to the beach.”
If someone asks you what your favorite part of Greece is, the appropriate response is: “Definitely the beaches.”
Yes, the sea is lovely. The water is crystal blue. The Mediterranean is usually very serene and perfect for swimming, snorkeling, kite-surfing, boating. The beaches are all natural, but there are still a vast array of beach “types”. There are family beaches, dance clubs, beach bars, quiet coves, resort beaches, rocky beaches, sandy beaches. An endless selection.
Please, do not take my mild indignance to imply that I don’t love the ocean. I’m a Florida and Cali girl. I swear that there is salt water in my veins! But I’ve seen a lot of beautiful beaches in my life. And, I have a ridiculously good tan already. I don’t need to spend my entire day off lounging at a beach. While many of my Greek friends question my sanity, I prefer to spend my days off doing activities.
And sometimes they include beaches.
This is the tale of my super-outdoorsy adventure yesterday.
I woke up early (another criminal act) and took the bus to the resort. For some reason, I just can’t get away from this place. I had a specific intention, though. I was hoping to get a spot on one of the bike tours. I had recently met Michael and Klitos, two of the guys who ran Navarino Outdoors. They lead biking and hiking tours, and rent Segways to guests. They told me that whenever they had an extra spot on a tour, I was free to join! I got to the bike station and Michael informed me that “Yes, they had one spot open!” I signed my waiver and wondered what to do for the next three hours til the tour began.
Maybe I should go to the beach?
I lounged at the resort beach, reading my Kindle (I know, I must sound like a walking advertisement for this thing, but it is seriously amazing!), until the sun began leaching away my energy. A quick jump in the sea gave me a little pep and I cleaned up for my bike ride. Back at the station, I was informed that we would be going on the Sunset Tour. Okey dokey. What does that mean?
“Well, we have to drive about 30 minutes away. Then we’ll bike down the side of a mountain.”
A mountain? Umm… did I mention that I really haven’t done much mountain biking?
“Oh, don’t worry, its a very easy ride.”
And indeed, it was. My butterflies flew away when I realized we would be riding a paved road down the side of a fairly steep cliff. The view was spectacular, as we cycled toward the sea. I think I used the pedals once; the rest of the time it was all brake. Two families from the Czech Republic had booked the tour, so the little kids rode right along with their parents. It was great fun to stop for water breaks at the most beautiful of the vistas and eat freshly picked grapes.
But that was not the entirety of our trek. We rode all the way down to the harbor, where we then boarded a boat. We sailed about 20 minutes out to a small island in the sea. There, inside a small cove, was a sandy beach. We dove off the back of the boat and swam to cool down from our bike ride. The water was crystal clear, with long sea grass growing all the way up to the shoreline.
Michael pointed to a buoy. “That buoy is attached to a sunken ship. An old Italy navy vessel that sunk during the War.”
“Wanna swim to it?” I asked Petr, the oldest boy in the Czech family. I dove in before I could hear his answer. We found the ship covered in rust and sea anemones. I wish I’d had a mask to explore the ship further.
Back onboard our small cruise boat, we ate a light snack of octopus and sardines, with tomatoes and cheese. Yumm…
The boat drove us down the coastline of the island, past a deserted monastery and a rock shaped like an elephant. A small inlet held carvings dating back several thousand years. Ancient Greek words warned of underwater rocks and pirates!
We returned to shore and drove home (it would not have been pleasant to ride back UP the way we came).
Oh yes, the Greek beaches are lovely. I just prefer the ones with pirates.