A bit behind schedule as it is already the new year, but I would still like to share a recap of our travel stories of 2014. Last year, we started the year with a winter getaway to the island of La Palma in the Canary Islands, went sailing and island hopping in Greece, mud-walking in East Friesland in Germany, another island hopping sailing back home in the Netherlands, had a short trip to Jakarta and rounded up the year with spending our Christmas days in Berlin.
It was a great travelling year, but what stood out for me as the highlights of the year were:
1. Learning the Mediterranean mooring
The entire Greek trip was definitely the top highlight of our travel story for 2014, and it may be odd that natural and cultural wonders aside, the highlight for me was working the anchor. But let me explain.
Both my husband and I learned so many new things about sailing. We were exposed to a complete different sea, wind and weather than what we usually have in the North Sea, including getting used to managing harbour maneuvers using Mediterranean mooring, which we never done before.
Mediterranean mooring works by dropping anchor and backing stern-to the wharf in the harbours. It is quite important to start as far as your anchor chain allows before backing to the harbours while keeping parallel to other boats and chain lines so your chain won’t cross them. You also need to make sure the anchor had enough grip on the sea floor, but not too tight that the anchor might break away from the chain.
On our last island of the trip, Kea, we needed to prepare the mooring for a particularly strong wind storm. I was quite proud to find the next morning that our boat was one of very few boats still solidly moored to the harbour while many other had to leave in the middle of the night because their chain got loose and the boat drifted (we lost one fender that night, though). Seeing incredible places are great, but it’s nothing compared to the feeling of having learned something new and accomplished something out of it.
This was how we moored our boat in Korissia, all tight, before the storm hit.
2. Greek food
We knew we’re going to eat well in Greece, but it was a delightful surprise to find that not only we ate well, we ate fabulously! Each island we went to had something different to offer and the quality of the food was always good, and very affordable too. I was worried that we would find it difficult to feed picky-eater Kid (who prefers Asian food than anything else), but even she loved all the simple but delicious fares on the islands. I will always remember how she gobbled down the crispy little sardines, bones and all.
3. Seeing our only snow of last winter in a sub-tropical island
Last winter was a warm one. There was not a single snow day in Amsterdam, and temperatures in Berlin in late December was around 10 C, which was unheard of before. Which is why it was a bit ironic that the only snow we saw last winter was in the sub-tropical island of La Palma, where we went to in February to escape the European winter. To be fair, we had to drive up the mountain to reach Roque de los Muchachos observatory at 2.396 m above sea level elevation. It was 22 C degree on the coast, but up there, the ground was covered with snow and it was near freezing temperatures.
4. Dawn sailing from the island of Texel to Vlieland
Another sailing highlight, but this one is purely from sensory point of view. When we decided to leave the island of Texel to Vlieland riding the early morning tide, I thought nothing of it but a practical decision, since the harbour in the popular Dutch island of Vlieland fills up fast. We left the Texel marina at 5am while it’s still dark, but then the lights slowly filled the sky in gentle, soft, powdery pinks and blues, and there were just us and a few fishing boats on the sea. It was so serene and peaceful and beautiful, while the tide ushered us nicely and steadily with the tide to Vlieland.
Unlike previous years, we haven’t got many travel plans queued for 2015. One decision we made was to go to the South of Thailand for our May vacation as a last minute destination choice that wasn’t previously considered at all for our 2015 travel planning. Here’s hoping for another great travel year!