Awoken by the sun’s rays again the next morning, I was greeted by the most exquisite lagoon where our skipper had chosen to dock for the morning swim. The water was the perfect bluish green mix and an empty blue and white boat bobbed gently on the waves.
I decided against swimming because I just wanted to enjoy the view and grin gleefully whilst thinking of all the work that I was missing back in Bangladesh. The best part? We decided to dispose of the uneaten food in the water (apparently that is actually environmentally friendly – disposing food, not anything which is non-biodegradable) and were immediately greeted by a school of silver and blue striped fish. Stupendous!
After another scheduled swim spot and lunch, we then sailed towards our next destination – the port of Plaka on the quiet island of Leonidio.
- Travel Fact: Leonidio Plaka is the picturesque port of Leonidio, situated 4 km from the town. It functions mainly with the help of tourism, but a small fishing fleet is also to be found; a well-regarded beach lies 4 km across the shore. The port takes in a number of taverns and bars immediately adjacent to the sea, while every August, it also hosts the “TsakonianEggplant Festival”, attracting well-known chefs from across Europe and achieving ever-growing popularity.
We disembarked and looked around, a little lost and quite enchanted. Lost because the scenery was a far cry from what we had witnessed during the last two days – this was like a place time had forgotten. The port was almost deserted, and so was the beach. Little did I know that two of my best memories of Greece would be on this very island!
It is a pleasant surprise when, after 02 days of haggling with shopkeepers, battling it out with tourists for the best view spots and waiting in line for tables to clear, we finally arrived at a place where none of that existed. In fact, apart from our yacht, only one other yacht was anchored at port. The port itself was interesting as it remained enclosed by the beach on one side and lush green mountains on the other side.
- Travel Tip: Make a conscious effort to visit places which are off the beaten track. The hidden beauty you will find in these places is incomparable and will truly be worth your while.
I enjoyed the best dinner of the entire trip on this island. With a range of options at Plaka port itself, the group decided to break up into twos and threes. Sarah and I chose a table near the water at a tavern near the water, with the perfect beach and mountain views on both sides and the sunset behind us. The spot was priceless.
The owner herself came out to greet us and offered us complimentary handmade ice cream, whilst we browsed the menu. I opted for deep fried whole calamari whilst Sarah decided on freshly grilled whitefish and the local specialty- eggplant parmigiana, accompanied with a glass of the house red. The food, when it came was hot, extremely fresh (catch of the day) and portions were generous. I also loved the fact that our total bill amounted to less than 20 Euros, which was actually the cheapest meal I enjoyed during my entire time in Greece.
- Travel Fact: The sweet “tsakóniki” aubergine grows in the fertile plain around Leonidio. In the narrow streets of Leonidio and the villages around it, a different language is spoken. It’s the Tsakonian language, which derives from the ancient Doric dialect. Regarded as the oldest dialect in the world, it is spoken and written by some 2,000 people in this area.
My other worthwhile memory of Greece happened a little while later, after dinner, when Sarah and I comfortably settled into beach chairs overlooking the water. The group joined us a little while later and settled into a circle on the sand itself, surrounding us. The stories followed freely under the stars. It was a little while later that a red spot on the water caught our eye. We all looked at it whilst the conversation flowed. The red spot continued to grow larger and larger, until at one point it felt like a boat or a ship may be approaching. And then, suddenly, in a combined moment of awe we suddenly realized what we were looking at – it was the moon rising. It was the most amazing blood-red full moon that I had ever witnessed. And it was breath-taking. I remember how the entire group fell silent – not a word passed between any of us for the next 10 minutes as we watched the moon ascend.
I have witnessed and experienced a lot during my travels, but that is one scene and one experience that I will never forget. That absolute moment of awe.