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Published: October 1st 2015
.... Thursday we were not allowed off the ship until dinner. It was to be a home hosted meal which is a wonderful feature that Grand Circle offers. The gangplank was held down by sturdy seamen for all 37 of us. We took a large bus to several drop off points. We were given directions to walk up, and up, and up until we saw an open door. We walked through rain, wind, then heavier rain until we saw a lady waving us into her home. The wind was blowing with such force that it was difficult to stand up straight.
I was delighted to see that two of our hosts had been part of the dance troupe from the previous evening. Three other women were in the large warm kitchen/ dining room area. Their welcoming smiles were a calming influence for me on such a stormy night. A long table was set with glasses and dishes with small plates of 'mezes', which are like tapas, set every few inches. Oh, there were olives, meatballs, salads, hot pockets, other pita like breads - and these were just the appetizers. Then came potatoes, home made pastas, lamb and goat stews. When
I thought I could not eat one more bite the desserts came. Really, who can resist a warm taste of baklava? There were other morsels swimming in home made honey. But I could not eat one more crumb. The amazing thing was that this was Holy Thursday evening and this was not the island where we were supposed to have a home hosted meal. Somehow the guides and the hosts had pulled this all together which was kind and gracious of them all just because our ship was stuck on Naxos. I was humbled by the sacrifice these ladies had made to provide us with an unforgettable experience. After lots of hugs and deep felt thanks our group headed back out into the storm which by now was blowing us almost horizontally to the ground. It was rather terrifying on the pier as we all held on to each other to keep from being blown off into the sea. The crewmen held the gangplank and we again tumbled into the ship happy to be 'home' and out of the storm.
Friday we were not allowed off the ship at all. People read, chatted, played with their phones and devices,
tried in vain to send e-mails or txts when no signals existed, napped, or ate. Pleasantly there was no whining or griping. Before dinner the captain spoke to us. He looked red eyed and weary. He was very serious. He told us that he had been a captain for over thirty years. That he had gone through 10 hurricanes in Florida and storms all over he world but that this was the worst one he had ever been through. He described the Beaufort wind scale to us. It rates wind velocity on a scale from 1-12. "This Storm was an 11." He spoke of the sleepless nights for all the crew when 5 of the rope cables holding the ship to the dock snapped at different times. He assured us that more cables has been ordered but we had to wait until the larger island ferries started to sail before they would get to us so the earliest we would be leaving Naxos would be Saturday night. There was silence in the lounge. I think we all knew it was a big storm but had no idea it was THAT big. Turns out it was the worst storm the islands
had had in 75 years. I was very grateful to have had this experience with a weathered, seasoned captain at the helm and that he had had the courage to call off our planned itinerary for FOUR DAYS.
So another day on Naxos wherer we toured a potter's studio and got to meet his 85 year old mother. We visited an olive oil press where the guide's helper serenaded us with a hauntingly beautiful song of lamentation. Truly, for me that was one of then most memorable highlights of my trip. We had lots of time to wander around the island and I visited a butcher getting a lamb ready for someone's Easter feast - not something one see's everyday.
Finally, sailing again and got to spend Easter Sunday on Santorini. I chose to ride the funicular up to the top instead of walking or taking the donkey. We had the place to ourselves until another small ship pulled in. It was a fulfillment of every Greek island dream (Thank you Shirley Valentine) - gorgeous blue sky, turquoise sea, blindingly white buildings and no other tourists-at least for the first hour.
On to Athens.....
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