Clinton Bolton's Big Pfat Greek Kiteboarding Adventure
Posted Monday July 16th
Greece ... a place full of ancient history and culture, and great kiteboarding conditions.
Bullis, our Bestkiteboarding importer, wanted Bas Kool, Christian Holley and I to come down for a few days to tour around and do some demos. We didn't know what we were in for, and knowing Bullis anything could happen, We were looking forward to hanging out with him and seeing more of his country and of course, checking out some spots to ride.
Bas arrived a day before me so he was already all pimped in the hotel. I arrived the next day with no luggage, as Iberia had lost my bags yet again, this time somewhere in Madrid. So I got to the hotel that Bullis arranged, a sick 5-star hotel, and headed to the room I'd be sharing with Bas for the few days we were there.
The room was unreal, but what do you think when you're going to be staying in a 5-star hotel ... you're not going to get some closet-sized room. All I wanted to do was check out the fitness centre and relax at the pool, hoping that my bags would arrive soon. Bas and I were leaving early the next morning to an island called Corfu to meet up with Bullis and ride some spots with the locals.
After dinner, Bullis called to make sure we had the details for the flight he'd arranged for us. We got a wake-up call from reception at 4 AM ... perfect. Flight leaves at 6 AM, we've got time. After breakfast, we went to the airport and waited in line at our check-in. It was a very long queue, since there were other flights going to other places and all the check-in desks had written "to all destinations" on them. We finally got to the front of the line, handed in our tickets ...and got them handed back to us! What's the problem now?????
"This check-in for flight to Corfu is closed. We've been calling for the past 10 minutes for this flight"... yeah, calling the flight in Greek! Bas and I didn't know what the island was called in Greek. With boarding at 5:30 AM, and us being at the check in desk at 5:10 (for the 6AM flight), we had time to quickly check in, but nope! The lady didn't want to know about us. So after Bullis telling us the night before, "Don't miss your flight," we some how did.
We managed to book ourselves onto another flight at a later time ... but this time, we were flying business class, so we were flying in style! On arriving, Bullis was there to meet us in his limo-style Mercedes 500. Damn, we were really traveling in style, cruising the island in this pimped out car. Bullis gave us a quick tour of some parts of the island: where to go party, where to sight-see, etc, and on the way, we also met some of his friends that were big into kiteboarding.
Finally we arrived at our hotel, amazed by where we were staying. Bas and I couldn't believe it. This place was massive, situated on top of a hill. It practically covered the entire hill, with tons of rooms and small cabins over looking the sea with an incredible view, and its own private beach.
We unpacked quickly and got into Bullis's luxury car and cruised the streets to the kite spot, which was a 25 minute drive. The wind was blowing hard, side offshore and flat water ... it looked sick. Bas and I couldn't wait any longer ... we jumped out of the car while it was still moving.
We rigged our 7's and sessioned for an hour while waiting for the local kiteboarders to arrive. It was still early and they had to work ... unlike some of us. We were lit. Bas was on his 7m Yarga and I was on my sick, white 7m Waroo. The beach started to fill up as local riders began to arrive, and I had to stop for a while as my knees where beat from doing too many kiteloops.
So stopping was maybe a bad idea, because as Bas and I got out, we got the local guys to try out our gear, and from then on we couldn't get our stuff back to go for a session ourselves. The kites kept on getting passed from one rider to another, and it was great to see so many people come down to the beach. All the guys told us we were lucky to have such strong winds as they don't get it very often, maybe 3 or 4 times out of the year. The rest of the time, they're on 11's or 14's. So was stoked to hear that and just hoped it would stay for the rest of the time we were staying.
After being on the beach for 6 hours, we were tired and completely burnt by the sun. Everyone chilled at the beach bar, which was really nice with a great atmosphere and just great people to hang with.
Driving back to the hotel, the sun was setting and the whole contrast of the island changed, really making the island beautiful and unique. That night we went to Bullis's restaurant, Aglio e Olio, that just opened up 2 weeks ago. It was packed with people.
Bullis has some special dishes on the menu and told us we would love it. He's been in the food industry for many years so we trusted that it would be good. I have to say the food was first class, and I can see why it's packed every night.
During dinner, I'd gotten an odd call from my bank: last week, someone in South Africa tried to use my credit card number to buy clothes worth over 1000 euros, I told the bank I wasn't there last week, that I'm here in Greece, and to cancel those transactions.
Not thinking much more of it, Bas and I cruised around after dinner, and went to check out the scene and party a bit. On our way to one of the night clubs, I needed to get some cash, so I went to the ATM. Everything was fine until I tried to withdraw cash. Suddenly, a notice came up that my card had been reported stolen or missing, and the ATM never gave my card back! So in the end, the bank decided to cancel my card and get me a new one! GREAT. No card. No cash.
The next day we had to leave in the afternoon to catch the ferry back to the mainland, for a 5 hour drive to Athens. There was an event being held over the weekend with Epson (a printer company) at Bullis's surf club (the Nissakia Surf Club). The wind was nuking in front of the hotel, so we sessioned right there and had a photographer take some shots from the boat that followed us. It was unreal ... dark blue water and insane landscaping, making it a great place to shoot. The photos look unreal, and you don't want to look at the rider ... instead, you're looking at the awesome landscaping in the photo.
We kited for a good hour and half, packed up and realized we had to hurry quick.
Bullis was like, "Guys, guys! Let's catch the next ferry in 2 hours ... we can chill at the spa and take it easy." Great! So Bullis took us to the spa in the hotel and we just relaxed. It was insane ... this place would be great to spend a few weeks to train and ride in front of the hotel and then after a hard day of kiting relax at the spa and loosen up.
When it was time to catch the ferry, we nearly missed it by a couple of minutes. After an hour and a half ride, the ferry docked at the port, and we decided to eat some fast food before the long drive.
Drive to Athens was quick and smooth ... no traffic. We got to Athens at 2 AM, went to our room, and crashed. We needed to be at the beach at 11 AM to meet up with the guys from Epson.
Christian Holley joined us for the rest of the stay ... he'd come later and had been in Athens while we were in Corfu.
When we arrived at Bullis's surf club, the wind was light, but the local riders said it would pick up as the day went on, so we had our hopes up that we'd get to ride. We met some of the people from Epson and the photographer they had hired, and the wind picked up enough for us to go out on 13's.. What was cool was that once you came out, they had printed photos that the photographer took while you rode, and they had everything set up in the surf club. It was insane. You could have photos printed the size of postcards to full 3-foot sized posters ... high quality and fast printing. So it was great for everyone to get shots of themselves riding. It was a great day ... loads of fun. Unfortunately, the wind dropped off an hour later, so everyone hung out at the surf club.
The next day, we were going to do the same but the wind never picked up. So it was a laid back day, hanging with everyone. Being a Sunday, the club was full of people, and I was hoping to break some plates, as I'd heard how it used to be a tradition that you'd throw a plate on the floor for good luck, but unfortunately, they don't do that anymore.
Anyway, the time we were in Greece was too short, but it was great to be there for the short time we could stay. We saw such a lot in such short time, and met some really nice people. Thanks to Bullis for bring us to Greece and hooking us up with everything. It made it a really relaxing stay for us, and we got to see so much and do so many things. Also thanks to Aglio e Olio restaurant, Nissakia Surf Club and Epson printers for the great shots.
Guys, if you're thinking of going somewhere, for sure go to Greece. There are some great spots to ride and really friendly people. Check out www.nissakia.gr for details on the spots where you can ride and also any help you need.
For more on Clinton, click here.
To read Bas's account of the Greece Trip, click here.