Our last swim adventure was from a secluded bay on the island of Sparti, 3 km south east to the island of Skorpios previously owned by the Onassis family, including swimming along the isle of Skorpidi and finishing at a "permitted" beach on Skorpios where Jackie Onassis often swam.
Skorpios is now owned by a Russian Oligarch who except for the beach where we finished has, for his personal security reasons, cordoned off the waters around the island with buoys to prevent vessels approaching or landing. There is KGB like security patrolling the water in RIBs as well as on shore around the island.
Cameras and security agents could be seen keeping an eye on us as we swam along the shoreline. Steve unwittingly swam into the no go zone oblivious to the whistles, horns and everyone yelling for him to stop. Fortunately for him, Erica was dispatched at sprint pace to catch him and bring him back. After Steve's second flirt with swimming in the no go zone, Erica said she wouldn't risk her life again by swimming with him!
Arguably, this was one of the best swims of the week. Orange group put the hammer down today and didn't finish far behind Pink group, with Yellow not far behind them. After the swim, we all congregated on the beach for photos and to eat watermelon with Noa, who had swum from the boat with a watermelon in tow and a knife in his teeth. The girls were beside themselves at the sight of his bronzed torso emerging "Daniel Craig" like from the water. All the girls had photos taken with him and Deb even got a photo taken with a security guard who appeared from nowhere.
As we motored to our lunch stop, we were all a little sad that our week of swimming around the islands in this amazing water had come to an end.
Our lunch stop today is Nidri, the nearest major town to our hotel just across the bay. Some stopped for lunch before joining the others shopping for "secret santa" presents for each other and presents for the crew. These were to be exchanged at tonight's final dinner, to be held at a restaurant in Nidri booked by Noa.
We assembled at the hotel pool bar for pre-dinner drinks for the last time, before a 16 seat mini-bus took 18 of us to a small restaurant in the foothills behind Nidri, where we enjoyed the best meal of the trip. Prior to eating everyone stood up one at a time to give a heartfelt and often humorous speech about the person they had bought a gift for and the connection of the gift they had chosen to that person. We thanked our BigBlueSwim guides and gave them some Australiania gifts and something more practical that came in a bottle. We also thanked and gave gifts to Deb and Hazel for their hard work. The antics and conversations of the evening are best left unreported, but the night as a whole reflected the bond and friendship the group had built over the last week or so. A very merry bunch were delivered back to our hotel just before turning into pumpkins.
To end the Blog, on behalf of our group I would first like to thank and acknowledge our BigBlueSwim Skipper and Swim Guides. Captain George is the archetypical bronzed Greek sea salt. He spent every journey at the helm standing on the upper deck of Mowgli, shirtless and with a fag. He has a quick smile and warm sense of humour. Noa the Senior Swim Guide and team leader is both knowledgable and, according to the girls, easy on the eye (it was 2 days before Hazel could control herself if he walked by without a shirt). Noa would often spend the journey to the swim in a contorted yoga pose with Anne Marie taking covert photos of him, before he would jump in the RIB to look after Yellow group. Avinos (hope the spelling is close) is the young Greek Adonis who looked after Orange group. He earnt our respect with his expert assessment of our swim technique and would often join us at the hotel restaurant. Lena is the Russian swim queen who kept an eye on Pink group from on board Mowgli. It was her first time as a BigBlueSwim guide and you could see she wished she was in the water with us. After every swim, she would jump in for a 400IM showing us that she knows her stuff.
Thanks to Hazel for having and turning the idea for this trip into reality, as well as for coordinating with BigBlueSwim and organising our team shirts which were ideal for on the boat.
Thanks to Deb our Travel Agent whose experience travelling made her the ideal person to fill in all the gaps and coordinate getting 18 of us from A to B and back again, as well as working out where to stay at A and B.
Special thanks to Helen who has done a fantastic job editing and publishing the Blog, as well as the numerous photos and videos we have sent through. I am not sure if she ended up taking the week off work or she just used up all her spare time. Well done Helen, your hard work was much appreciated! You can now take a well earned break! Thanks to Ivan for the FB updates - you guys make a great team!
Most of all I would like to thank the great group of people with whom we had the pleasure of sharing this amazing holiday. You couldn't find a more friendly and fun mob to spend time with, but we knew that from the start!
Greg, Hazel, Sue, Deb and Linda who head to Croatia for a bike tour;
Deb who is off to Crete;
Wayne and Glenda who are off to Spain;
Ann and Steve who are off to Switzerland;
Steve and Jen who are off to Paris;
Jim, Kirk, Anne Marie, Narelle and Trevor who are having a few days in Athens before heading home;
Erica who is off to Perth and someone called Craig!
Until we meet at Doddi's - Safe travels one and all!!
Blog extraordinaire Steve