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Friday 27 January 2023
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Bucket List Trip – Day 5 – Departing Santorini for Iraklia, then Koufonissi

After our great day in Santorini, we had to set out early (6am) to get ahead of the weather/winds and sadly, start heading back in the direction of Paros.  We still have 2 nights and three more to visit more islands, then a night in Paros and a night in Athens to complete our visit.

It was a very smooth sail out of Santorini and the sunrise was almost as majestic as the sunset. This was the first morning that I had company to watch the sunrise on our trip as I was up each day on my normal schedule of between 5:30-6:00 while most everyone else has been waking up about 8:00.  I have thoroughly enjoyed my alone time each morning and have used the time to recollect the fabulous things we did the day be for, to blog, and to relax in solitude with beautiful views.  As I write this morning, the roosters are crowing like crazy in Koufonissi and there is an occasional dog trying to get their $0.02 in.  The sun is rising over a farming community on the hills in front of me.  Back to our day yesterday…

We pulled in to a totally awesome cove in Iraklia shortly before 10:00 were very excited at the possibilities of exploring all that Mother Nature has provided there.  the cove was approximately 200 yards across and 1000 yards deep and it was perfectly hidden from the effects of the Mediterranean Sea which was extra mild on this day anyway.  Snorkeling was the order of business all day and we seemed to keep finding interesting things to explore.  Kate and one of the boys found an octopus right away, we all found shells that we had never seen before, and for lunch Eric gathered a huge amount of sea urchin.  I happened to swim up on Eric as he was gathering the sea urchin and it was really cool to watch him dive to the bottom, identify the best urchin and pry them lose away from the rocks and into a dive bag.  I also created a special snorkeling opportunity when my watchband broke while teaching the boys how to dive off the deck and through the life preserver. The adults joined in the diving fun trying to bring out their inner teenagers! As for me, I have not tried flips like that in at least 25 years. As for the adults, My watch was later saved and the boys increased their diving skills 300% in one short afternoon. Thank God for Tylenol and alcohol!

Sea Urchins for LunchBefore lunch we all gathered on the back of the boat, check out the octopus picture from an earlier post to get a visual, to watch Eric prepare the Sea Urchin for eating.   It was quite a process and Erica’s expertise shown through as he cleaned about 25 urchins in just about 10 minutes.  He also told us that the brown and green urchins were the ones to eat and that the black ones were to be avoided.  That was good to know because by my observation the black ones outnumbered all others by about 10 to 1.  We were all a little hesitant to try the Sea Urchin because we had a visual of the urchin that is served in sushi restaurants that very large and sweet and generally only consumed by hard core sushi fanatics. But this urchin was very small.  Each bite was approximately 1-2 millimeters wide and maybe a centimeter long.  The flavor was surprisingly pretty good.  It was mild and maybe a little bit salty.  Everyone had at least a little try and most of us really enjoyed the special treat of exceptionally fresh Sea Urchin.

At about 4:00 we picked and sailed for 30 minutes into a cove in Koufonissi for the night.  We were in no hurry to shower and clean up as we could see the tavern where we would eat dinner right on the beach.  We snorkeled, relaxed and had some adult beverages for the rest of the afternoon.

We enjoyed another fabulous dinner at the tavern on the beach and as we rode the dingy back to the boat we observed that Koufonissi was a small but popular destination as the cove as filled with 6 or 7 other sailboats.  It turns out that one of the other boats was from the same company we rented ours from and their captain, Eva, was a long time friend of Eric.

For the second night in a row, I missed cocktail hour because I fell asleep putting our son to bed.  It is not unusual for me to do this, however, at home I usually read a few chapters of whatever he is reading or I come up with a story of my own before saying prayers and theming singing him to sleep.  On this trip, my made-up stories have been unusually colorful due to the additional inspiration of our trip and the new settings for stories.  We have both really enjoyed rolling on the bunks with laughter for far longer than I allow at home and it has provided for one more bonding opportunity!  Vacations always open my creativity to a new level.

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NOTE: Follow Joe on Instagram (j0elavelle) if you’d like to see more pictures of these beautiful islands.

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Joe Lavelle
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JOE LAVELLE is a Healthcare Management and Technology Consultant with a record of successfully meeting the business and technology challenges of diverse organizations including health plans, health delivery networks, and health care companies for 25 years. Joe worked his way up through Cap Gemini and Andersen Consulting to the partner/VP level of at First Consulting Group, Technology Solutions Group and Santa Rosa Consulting. After running his own company, Results First Consulting, for 12 years Joe Co-Founded intrepidNow with Todd Schnick to create incredible content to dramatically improve the sales and marketing efforts of their clients.