Sailing Trip Around Chalkidiki

   All I know for certain at this current moment is that instead of buying a house I’m getting a boat and living on it, it’s cheaper than a house and much more fun.
     I guess I should start off with how much fun the trip actually was and what it was.  The program has organized a bunch of excursions for us to participate in (paying of course), including things like hiking, rafting, and sailing.  This trip was three nights, two days on a boat where we hung out, helped to sail, and swam in the Aegean Sea on sailboats.  Food and water and such were bought for us to cook on the boat, and we stopped in ports during the night and slept on the boats.  All in all, A+ trip.
     Now for the details.
     Friday we set out from ACT campus around 6:30 pm to Neos Maramaras, a lovely town in the Halkidiki (Χαλκιδική) region of Thessaloniki.  It had a port, nice restaurants, some shops and killer gelato.  Also, it’s around 2 hours away from the city. Not bad, considering you make it all the way to the third penninsula.  So we dropped our stuff off, put things on the boat and met our skipper, Staelos, who was a short and sweet guy of few words. My boat had Morgan Headden, Emma Hunt, Andie Kinsler, Alec Rodriguez (ISA), and Ben Hernzburg; we were the one almost all Metropolitan boat minus Ben. After eating dinner in town and passing out on the boat, we set off Saturday morning with vigor and a wish for some sun.
     Our boat was the Meander, a lovely sailing vessel that took us out of Neos Maramaras, passed Turtle Island, and across the sea to the second peninsula. Anchoring at a small beach we later found out to be Paliouri Beach, everyone quickly switched into bathing suits and jumped in.
     The water was absolutely clear, one could stare straight to the bottom.  A deep blue-turquoise color, the sand was highlighed in pathways where it was a seafoam green color. everyone swam to shore, stuck around the beach for a little while.  A larger group broke off to find a bar and go cliff-diving, while my boat mainly stuck towards and.  I grabbed a few rocks from the beach as a reminder of where we had gone, and five of us began to swim back.  On the way back, Alec got a little bit tired, so I swam back to the boat and grabbed him a balloon from the side of a boat to use as float. We climbed back into the boat, jumped off a few times, and then cooked pasta for lunch.
     The wind totally wasn’t on our side, and we managed to sail for a little while with the main and general sails but after twenty minutes it was clear we weren’t really moving.  SO, with a bit of reluctance, we put both away and sailed towards our next destination across the sea, back on the third peninsula. Stuck between two cliffs, not really visible to the eye from a ways away was a physical port tucked into the hillsides.  Porto Koufo was a small, five restaurant and one supermarket port with a harbor of boats and very good food.  Our boat chose to eat at a small restaurant, and after everyone devoured their dinner Alec, Andie, Emma and I made our way back to the boat while Morgan and Ben went out exploring. Shouts echoed from the boat as long games of  Spoons, Gin Rummy and BS basically dominated around three hours. We totally tried to get Staelos to play but he wasn’t really feeling it.  I think we confused him a bit. Morgan and Ben came back, Alec went to read, and I fell asleep after talking to Ben for a while.
     Sunday morning, most of us found ourselves at a small restaurant getting tea and coffee, also charging our phones.  Breakfast was pleasant, and while they said we would leave around 11, most of the boats were a tinyyy bit hungover and slept till probably 12.  So once most everyone was up, the sailboats set off out of Koufo and headed back up the coastline towards Neos Maramaras.  We made a stop at Porto Carras, a small beach-like area where a yacht was docked and we swam around.  Since we couldn’t stay that long, it was more of a quick swim to the beach and back.
     Leaving Carras and heading back, the view was absolutely gorgeous!! I can’t begin to describe it to you.  The hills were covered in green trees and the light from the sun and clouds lit up the landscape to be a soft color palette.  The sight of four sailboats skimming the clear blue aegean sea was incredible, and we all took a ton of pictures.
     Finally, we coasted back into Neos Maramaras and unloaded the boats.  Stripping the beds, emptying the trash, and commandeering food from the trip, everyone made it back onto land with little injury! We took a nice boat picutre (I’ll post it later), and said our goodbyes as we loaded up the bus and drove away back to Thessaloniki.
     I was so excited for the trip and it totally didn’t disappoint. 100% would recommend, and I’m definitely being a skipper now.  It was a great way to start off my stay here, and I’m looking forward to having so much fun in the next couple of weeks!!

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