After the overnight ferry trip from Bari, it was a short drive along the rugged Greek coastline to meet up with our flotilla of yachts in the small fishing village of Mourtos.
From here, we embarked on an incredible three-day sailing adventure in the Ionian Sea. Our Geordie/Scottish flotilla instructor Ben was not a happy chappy when we arrived an hour late though, as this cut down our training time considerably.
Subsequently, we set sail with only a basic knowledge of steering; nothing like being thrown into the deep end, right? Ben also had an extremely difficult accent to understand at times, particularly when he was screaming at us over the radio “GET IN FORMATION” and “YOU’RE GOING THE WRONG WAY“.
Nevertheless, we quickly got the hang of sailing, and before I knew it, we were surrounded by the beautiful blue water. Unfortunately, my boat’s toilet broke within half an hour so for the entire trip, we either had to plan bathroom breaks during ‘swim time’ or go in a bucket and throw it overboard. Such a beautiful day in the sunshine!
That evening we reached our next island Corfu. Despite its high tourism concentration, we ported at a quiet, laid-back harbour area that felt completely real and ‘Greek’ which was wonderfully refreshing.
Tonight was a Topdeck organised dinner at a local outdoor restaurant where I had the best fresh seafood of my life. The calamari and Greek salad was amazing, and I could live on their tomatoes and feta cheese forever. Afterwards, the tables were cleared away, the shots were lined up, the music was turned up LOUD and the restaurant staff taught us how to Greek dance. This was by far my favourite night in Europe!
The following day was another perfect day of sailing, swimming and sunbathing. In Rome, we had planned ahead and stocked up on inflatable toys, which our group of twenty-somethings enjoyed playing with far too much.
On arrival at the next island, Plataria, we headed straight to the local water park which was a lot of fun, but a little painful with sunburn! That evening, our 48 strong group split down the middle into those who could afford a restaurant dinner and those who couldn’t. Thank goodness Jess was with me on the latter side; she turned into Jesus and cooked a delicious meal for about 10 of us using leftover ingredients over a mini gas stove. This gave her the new nickname UJ, meaning useful Jess.
UJ also concocted a mysterious cocktail with God knows what in it. Well, I drank a lot of it, or so I’m told. Later that evening, our tour guide Molly arranged with a local bar for us to get an unlimited amount of punch for five Euro each. Obviously, we joined in for this which was a terrible idea. One minute I was sitting down fine, the next I was gone. It must have been a combination of all that mixed alcohol and too much sun exposure.
Our tour driver Jason told me the following day that I was continuously projectile vomiting and wouldn’t stand still, so Molly and Ben had to follow me around washing down my path behind me. How embarrassing. This meant that I also missed out on the pirate party which I was extremely devastated about.
The next morning, I woke up not really knowing where I was or how I got there as I found myself on Jess’ boat. I had to climb across six boats to get back to my own, with the local fishermen watching me in amusement. My own boat crew tried to get me to eat breakfast, but it wasn’t happening. I couldn’t even help them set sail that day as I was asleep inside the cabin. We later stopped for a swim at which point I forced myself to jump into the water. This immediately made me feel better though – wish I had done that earlier! It was during this swim session that last night’s mortifying antics were revealed to me in more detail. Oh, the shame.
That night we returned to base in Mourtos for a seafood dinner feast. I tried swordfish for the first time which was great – I was really proud of myself for trying it. A few of us walked around the island and found a bar, but as we were a little over drinking, we got ginormous sundaes instead, and ate them while watching the sun set. As cheesy as it sounds, this was one of those ‘I love my life‘ moments.
This quickly changed though as I was the last back to my boat that night, which meant I had to sleep outside on the deck. Before the sailing started, Molly told us that we didn’t need to bring our sleeping bags on board because it would be too humid and hot each night to use them. Lies Molly, lies. Each night so far had been freezing, and that was when I was sleeping in the cabin. Tonight, all I had for warmth was a damp beach towel and the one jumper that I had bought on board. It was honestly the worst sleep of my life, and to this day it still traumatises me.
The sun blinded me awake at 5 am, but I was so relieved that it was daytime again, I didn’t care. We tidied and washed down our boat, ready for inspection and then UJ and I met up to go for a wander. We came across the most delightful bakery for breakfast; ugh I have hunger pangs writing this, I could so happily live there for the food!