It’s a tad difficult to get my head around the fact that for the last 18 months or so, I’ve been keeping close contacts to a minimum and am now about to embark on a two-week sailing trip in the Greek Cyclades islands in the Aegean Sea, sharing a 51-foot boat with eight others. Apparently, one of the islands, Delos, is where Apollo was born. Who knew?
We landed in Athens at 6 pm Friday evening, arriving a day before the Irish contingent. We could have gotten a taxi to the port of Lavrio for about €40 or a local bus for €4. We got the bus. If you’re interested, the regional bus stop is outside Sofitel which is outside the arrivals hall. One very quick change in Markopoulou and you’re at the port in Lavrio in an hour. Sweet.
If you’re heading to Lavrio on a Friday or Saturday, book a hotel as it’s busy with boat changeovers. The bus dropped us right outside our hotel – Nikolakakis Lavrio Rooms. For €70, we got a small apartment with aircon and a breakfast that was nothing to write home about. It did the job, though. It’s across the road from the excellent cocktail bar, Sirmos – they do a mean Whiskey Sour – and close to lots of restaurants and cafés. Covid rules though mean that they’ll store your bag on arrival but won’t keep it once you check out. Be warned.
From what I can gather, the port is known as Lavrio and there’s a town nearby called Lavrion:
The town of Lavrion on the tip of the Attiki Peninsula is not featured prominently in very many guidebooks about Greece even though it has the oldest and biggest ancient amphitheater in the country and a mysterious giant hole that would be an attraction to Fortians and seekers of unexplained phenomena if they knew about it.
The silver mines date back to prehistoric times and are some of the oldest in the world. What came from them helped pay for the Acropolis. By all accounts, the place has enjoyed a rebirth in recent years. Once so run down, Greek director Theo Angelopoulos filmed Ulysses Gaze here to depict Sarajevo at the height of the war.
But we’re in Lavrio itself, minutes from the port, where hundreds of boats are moored waiting for passengers to embark. Groups of French, German, and English mill around, some finishing up on the water, others preparing to set off.
We found our boat – Marla – and I mentally imagined eight bodies splayed out on deck, sunbathing. I reckon we’ll have to take it in turns.
Wandering the town to find the supermarket we came across the fabulous St Andrew’s Orthodox Church. There’s something special about the frescos and the icons and the smell of the burning candles. I lit some, one in particular for a safe journey with no falling outs. Nine people – 51 feet.
Down by the harbour, there’s the requisite harbour-town statue of a woman looking out to sea waiting for her man to come home safely. This is one of the more intriguing ones I’ve seen and I wondered briefly if gender mania will ever see it gone.
Every café and restaurant was full. Raucous laughs and animated conversations filled the air last night. This morning, the smell of coffee and cigarette smoke accompanied the same animation as weatherbeaten faces put the world to rights. I’m slowly getting in the right frame of mind. We board at 5pm. In the meantime, there’s a town to wander and food to eat.
Note to self: If we have time on the way back, I’d like to go see St Paul’s Monastery about 5km from the town.