SV Laurin in The Netherlands

SV Laurin in The Netherlands

Friday, 6 July 2018

Days 381 to 385: 1st to 5th July - Melissani Cave and Ancient Olympia

Sunday - A small multi-national hike.

Our new friend Maria was desperate to get off the boat for a long leg stretch so rounded up all the boat families in the anchorage to join her. In all there were 4 families and 5 different nationalities! AJ, still having a wasp phobia did amazingly well and Esmé who often tires easily was distracted enough by new friends to not notice the distance, also entertained by picking blackberries along the way.

The kids then spent the afternoon playing between the boats on paddleboards, although I think our kids need some knot lesson reminders! Luckily Patrick spotted the escapee paddleboard and mounted a rescue mission!

Later in the afternoon all the kids met at the beach for a play and to eat the blackberries picked earlier along with home made yoghurt. The adults got chance to chat and compare journeys which was a lovely opportunity to learn of others' experiences. We also got talking about how to get to Melissani cave, a tourist attraction about 7km away but one that we thought the kids would enjoy. A couple of us took a walk and managed to negotiate a minibus to take us the next day for the princely sum of 50 Euros.

We then went back to our friends' boat, Soledad, for a lovely dinner before heading back to Laurin to sleep.


I was hoping for some school before our "school trip" to Melissani Caves but after our late night on Soledad we all had a bit of a lie in and so just about made it ashore in time for our 10:30 minibus. The kids really enjoyed all being together on the bus and it was a nice change for the adults too. The cave was really exciting for the kids and the guy in the rowing boat was really great with them. The cave had been formed many thousands of years ago, with the roof falling in to reveal it around 5 thousand years ago. It was rediscovered in 1951 and then opened to the public in 1963. You now enter it down a passageway to a boat landing where you are taken out onto the lake which is in the bottom of the cave. The water is brackish and flows from one side of the island to the other through the cave. It was a lovely experience but quite short and all too quickly we were on our way back to Effumia. 

Having taken a picnic but not had chance to eat it as there was no good picnic spot we felt a little cheated so headed out on the dinghies to find a suitable picnic location. We anchored the dinghies off some flat rocks and had an enjoyable lunch, along with plenty of swimming!

We went ashore in the evening to replace lost snorkelling masks and have an ice cream treat, but ended up in a very good chandler buying a variety of goods and then splashing out on Gyros for dinner. Later I headed out with a couple of the other ladies for cocktails and much needed time away from kids!


We had already agreed with Soledad to head south to Katakolon overnight today. Katakolon is as far south as we intend to go in Greece and is the jumping off point for a day trip to Ancient Olympia. We spent the morning doing school and boat jobs, filling up with water and diesel and then having a large lunch so that we didn't have to cook whilst on passage. At 4pm both boats left for the overnight passage. By this time we were quite pleased to leave as the anchorage was getting very busy and quite chaotic! We started out first but once sails were up Soledad very quickly caught up and we were able to get some lovely photos!

Esmé was very excited to be doing night watches with Mum again but somewhat disappointed that it didn't get dark until late. She wanted to get into her onsie and eat chocolate but it was way too hot for way too long. Eventually though, night came and she kept me company as usual.

Usually I have very little problem keeping awake until at least 1:30am but this time I really struggled and opted to wake Patrick early at 1am. A little later he gave me a shout that an unlit RIB was approaching. I came on deck to hear a shout asking if we were alone on board. I said we had 2 kids and off they went, presumably border control or something but despite us asking they did not identify themselves. We quickly radioed Soledad to let them know to expect guests! Just as I had, Patrick struggled to keep the same length of watch as normal and so I was woken again at about 4:30, which in a way was nice as I got to see both the sunset and sunrise!


We arrived at Katakolon at about 6:30 am, dropped the anchor, checked it was holding and went back to bed. The day passed in a bit of a tired haze, with the Soledad family crew joining us for an early dinner on Laurin.


We had been recommended an amazing guide, Elena, who gave us a really good price for a privat tour of Olympia as she appreciated that we were on a budget and homeschooling. We don't usually do guided tours, the main reason being we have seen many bad guides in the tourist spots we have visited and have never had a personal recommendation before so we were happy to give it a try, particularly as we could share with other families as we had by now spotted a Swedish family in the anchorage who were happy to join our group. We moved into the harbour and Maria then trawled the tourist drag of this cruise terminal town and arranged a bus to take us there for 120 Euros. As the trip wasn't until late afternoon we got the big bag of lego out and the kids had a great time playing.

We had a big pasta lunch on Soledad before heading off to Olympia. We seemed to have a full sized coach for 12 of us but we weren't complaining... 120 Euros was a good price!

Once again the kids were pretty excited and when we got there Elena was really nice. She took us  to  the museum first, asking lots of questions of the kids and being particularly impressed with AJ and Marcus's knowledge. 

We then went outside to the Archaeological site where she explained the different areas. She told us that the games were largely a religious festival where the emphasis was on taking part rather than winning, thus the winners were awarded just a wreath for their heads which was of no real value. She showed us the "Hall of Fame" where winners names were recorded as well as the "Hall of Shame" where the names of cheaters were recorded for people to see for thousands of years! She also told us that not only were all competitors men, but they also competed naked!

In the photo above, Elena is showing us the area where the Olympic flame is lit every four years for the modern Olympic games. We then went to the 3000 year old running track where she encouraged the kids to race and presented them with wreaths, just as in ancient times!

We then headed back to Katakolon for Gyros with our friends!

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