You probably know already we love water related activities. So a holiday on the boat was always on our bucket list!
Each holiday close to the sea, Andrei was craving for more independence when it came to boat excursions, so he joined a group last spring to get a skipper licence. As in Romania you do mostly theory, he went for the course in Croatia. He spent a whole week on a sailing boat, learning all he needed to know and gaining confidence on a boat! So, with the licence in his wallet, now it was time to put it to a good use, right?
This is how we planned the craziest adventure so far, a week-long vacation on the boat with 18 months old Eric, together with our dear friends and their 3 and half year old toddler. So one week on a boat with two kids that were barely 5 years put together! Plus that we were beginners in sailing and for the first time on the sea with no professional help. You probably think we are crazy (most people thought the same!), but it was an incredible experience.
I have to admit, we were a bit stressed by the unknown and did a lot of research and planning, with backup options in case something goes bad. Luckily, it was never the case and we enjoyed a full week of sunshine and laughs on the board of Baccarat.
Life on a boat was completely new for me, city-girl used with mid-high class hotels. Our friends are much more adventurous and nature oriented and compared it with their RV trips. Still, I enjoyed the sense of freedom the boat gives you! Island-hopping on our own schedule, we stopped wherever we were in the mood for a refreshing swim. Not to mention the magnificent views and the feeling when you are barefoot and in swim suit the whole day!
Going by car from Romania and with 2 young kids, we preferred something in the northern side of Greece and finally chose the Sporades archipelago. Located in northern Aegean Sea, 24 islands in total, the Sporades has three main islands which we sailed through: Skiathos, Skopelos and Alonissos. We spend 2-3 night in each main harbour, making day trips to various beaches, small bays and tiny uninhabited islands.
Each of the islands has its own charm and we found incredible places everywhere. Lush pine forests and olive groves hide golden sand or white pebble beaches with crystal blue waters. The picturesque old little towns with narrow cobble stone streets and tiny souvenir shops are great for evening walks. Not to mention traditional greek food, which is amazingly delicious.
We started in Skiathos, very popular holiday destination. It features an airport where, during the summer, there are charters from various European countries. This makes it the most crowded and touristic of the whole Sporades, but it does not diminish its beauty.
The next island to the east is Skopelos, which I liked the most. Not that crowded and touristic, as you can get here by boat or ferry only, this is one of the greenest island in whole Greece. If you are a musical fan, you should know that most of the Mamma Mia movie was filmed here!
Alonissos was the last one to the East. Here we really found the traditional image of a Greek island, where the days go by in slow motion. We also visited the old village, former capital of the island, only a 5 minutes bus ride from the coast. Built on the hill slopes, Old Alonissos has amazing views towards the bay. Its small stone houses with balconies full of flowers, narrow steep streets and terraces overlooking the sea, offer the ideal place to relax and disconnect from the daily life hustle.
At the end of the week, on the ferry back to Volos, to the continent and real-life, we got very nostalgic and I’m sure there will be many more boat holidays to come in our lives. Our friends plan another one for this summer, but we are too far this time to join them :).
What I learned from this trip is that kids are really much stronger and adaptable than we think. No matter how crazy your idea is or how many people tell you it is too much to be done with a kid, if you truly feel it would be a good experience for your family, then go for it, follow your instinct! Don’t wait too much until kids are older, there are only a few summers in their childhood, live them to the fullest!