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Greek Attica - Welcome to the Mediterranean

A little after 9 o’clock in the morning. Sunshine and the smell of the sea. October and air temperature above 20 degrees. I sit on the terrace in Porto Rafti and enjoy the view of the calm bay. Avgerinos invites for Greek breakfast. Fluffy Greek yoghurt with diced pear and/or apple, topped with honey. I
Published: November 1, 2016 - 14:53
Updated: July 22, 2023 - 14:11
Greek Attica – Welcome to the Mediterranean

A little after 9 o’clock in the morning. Sunshine and the smell of the sea. October and air temperature above 20 degrees. I sit on the terrace in Porto Rafti and enjoy the view of the calm bay. Avgerinos invites for Greek breakfast.

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Fluffy Greek yoghurt with diced pear and/or apple, topped with honey. I will always associate this taste with Greece, which I was able to get to know in some small percentage for a few days thanks to scubahellas.com, Aqua Divers Club and divinggrecja.pl.

Earlier, after getting to Chopin Airport to arrive in Athens in the middle of the night on an evening flight from Warsaw, I met Grzegorz Deręgowski. We arrived in the Greek capital on time and without hindrance, and the night was pleasantly hot. The mentioned Avgerinos turned out to be a very nice owner of Scuba Hellas. He took care of us and after arriving at our place for the rest of the short night, he welcomed us with a shot of Tschepuro, which turned out to be a much better drink than Uzo.

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Bathing

After a tasty breakfast (there was, of course, still bread straight from the bakery, fig and strawberry jam, coffee, water and orange juice) we put on our men’s swimsuits and went, in flip-flops and with towels thrown over our shoulders, to bathe in the Aegean Sea. Going down a ladder or jumping off the rocks. The water turned out to be very pleasant. Temperature 24 C, very good transparency and silence. After the hardship of the journey and a short night, swimming did us good. We packed up and headed to the airport to pick up the rest of those invited to Greece for Press Trip 2016.

Official start

Finally, with a full line-up: British Diver, German Taucher net, Danish (for the European market) X-Ray, and Divers24, we began a Monday-Thursday tour of the locations planned by the organisers. It promised to be interesting.

A shuttle bus, which was at our disposal until the end of the escapade, took us to the centre of Athens to complete the formalities with check in at the hotel.

After a long break, which later turned out to be the longest of all until the end, we met in the conference room where Scuba Hellas prepared a professional presentation for us. Among other things, we talked about the diving situation in Europe, about how many active divers we have in the countries we represented.

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In conclusion, due to the terrorist threat, the number of people visiting potentially dangerous areas such as Turkey, Egypt and Tunisia has shifted to European destinations. Greece seems to fit in very well here. Avgerinos made us realise that Greece is not just Crete, Rhodes, Athens, Corfu and Zakynthos. The country has so much more to offer.

The coastline of Greece is nearly 14,000 km, and there are about 3000 islands. There is diving all year round, both recreational and technical. Scuba Hellas, with about 200 cooperating dive centres, guarantees high quality customer service, a wide range of dive sites such as wrecks, caves, canyons, lagoons, encounters with representatives of the fauna and flora of the Mediterranean Sea, including those unique and rare in this area.

Dinner time had arrived. Strolling through the streets between the monuments of ancient culture and looking up at the Acropolis, we squeezed between a large crowd of a mixture of locals and tourists. Finally, fighting for a seat, we sat down in some pub. We had conversations and got to know each other better. The next day we were to dive together.

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Fig. divinggreece.co.uk

The wreck of the Eleni

On Tuesday, just after breakfast, laden with equipment, we drove to Anavyssos. After being greeted and shown around the centre we had a factual briefing. We then selected what we needed and proceeded to the riba. We saw our first dive site after about 15 minutes of swimming. We jumped into the water. While waiting for the sign to start the dive I looked at what I had under my fins. It looked great. Good visibility reaching over 20m, warm and sunny.

Quite quickly we reached a depth of several meters. I dived together with Grzegorz, who knew this place well. There was sand under us, and around us the typical Mediterranean fauna. Soon, the wreck appeared before our eyes, or rather parts of it, as it broke apart while sinking.

I don’t know about you, but I like to learn about the history of the wreck I discover. The one in front of me sailed once and for something.

MV Kyra Eleni was originally from Norway. It was built at the shipyard in Trondhajm in 1948. Nearly 30 years of the ship’s service have passed. It served as a transport ship. The winter of 1978 came. The Eleni was in Attica waters, sailing from Libya to Burgas in Bulgaria, when a storm raged at sea. The wind was intensifying and the waves were huge. The wind reached 11 on the Beaufort scale. The ship was just one kilometre off Anavissos, next to the islet of Partoklosa. It was behind this island that the captain decided to take shelter to wait out the worst of the storm.

Unfortunately, he was unfamiliar with the prevailing conditions here. At the very spot where the ship anchored, strong gusts hit from both sides, pressing the Eleni into the shore of the bay. The anchorage proved to be a trap from which the ship was no longer able to be guided out and as a result crashed into the rocks. The crew was ordered to disembark and, with considerable difficulty, managed to carry out this order. They waited out the storm on an island and were only later returned to port. MV Kyra Eleni sank on 5 January 1978, breaking in half. The stern lay at a depth of 14-17 metres and the bow at 30 metres. In the 1980s divers excavated some of the equipment, and today the wreck provides a home for many sea creatures.

The diving is pleasant and fairly easy. There are no currents in the area and visibility varies from 20 to 40 metres.

So we went around the bow and from the other side, combing with our eyes the nooks and crannies, holes and hollows, losing depth, we moved towards the stern. We were accompanied by shoals of amarellas, oblads, chestnut chromis. We met mullets penetrating the sand with their whiskers and corys. In the midship area single and very shy groupers and moray eels appeared. You can see that the wreck has had a large community living on it for almost 40 years.

Satisfied with the dive, we returned to the dive centre for a tasty lunch, only to find ourselves back on the other side of the water surface after a 2 hour break. This time it was shallower and we did not exceed 20m. We dived in the Blue Canyon by the island of Arsida. The canyon promised to be interesting. Following the guide’s suggestion, we entered it on the surface, looking up and down. In the middle, we plunged a dozen or so metres. The great blue stretched just beyond the gap created by the canyon’s rocks. Above us, the water and the rocks, the blue sky was towering. A very pleasant dive, invariably showing how beautiful the world of animate and inanimate nature is.

On arrival at the hotel we were given just 15 minutes to shower and change. Every member of our team proved to be punctual, so with peace of mind we set off after Gregory and Avgerinos to reach the Plaka district for a traditional Greek dinner.

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Underwater again

The next day was a different direction, a different dive base, but still good sites. We arrived in Porto Rafti. After a very professional briefing we drove by car to the port to jump on the rib. The dive site was called Olka. Our first deeper dive, at over 20 metres, was at a wall overgrown with anemones, tunicates and lichens, full of wandering polychaetes. When the rocks shifted to more horizontal bottom structures, we saw fragments of amphorae, which we curiously inspected. On the way back I saw several hermit crabs.

After a break on the boat in an invented cove, we had a mini lunch without getting off the boat. Then we sailed away to take a last dip. The place was very interesting. We reached the rocks, from which a crack appeared just above the water. The depth was not more than 7 meters, and after hanging in the water, it turned out that this crevice forms a large cavern. We were able to fit into it without any problems. It was big enough that we did not disturb each other penetrating its nooks and crannies. Avgerinos came from one of the rock windows. The cavern was overgrown with stationary polychaetes, mussels, bryozoans and encrusted anemones. The guide showed me a cave anemone, and shrimps could be seen between the stones at the bottom.

We enjoyed this last dive, and remembered it all the more well because when we returned to the dive centre, a Greek barbecue was waiting for us. Sausages, bacon, Greek salad with wonderful feta, house wine and pita. Delicious and friendly.

Last moments in Greece

On our return to the hotel our 15 minutes proved to be very quick and too short. We went to visit the Acropolis Museum. The building is at the foot of the Acropolis itself and is modern, and spacious. The monuments date back several hundred years before Christ. We finished the pleasant with the useful, because we had dinner in the same museum. Looking at the Acropolis illuminated by the setting sun, we enjoyed delicacies of Greek cuisine. For dessert, the Greek yoghurt with honey, mentioned at the beginning, was served. We returned walking through the streets of Athens. In the historical district of Plaka, most of the streets were closed to car traffic. Late in the evening we arrived at a pub where we sat for a while to say goodbye.

Coming back to cold Poland, bathed in rain, did not put me in an optimistic mood and already on the second day my upper respiratory tract started to give out, but it was worth the sacrifice.

Summary

I will say this: I discovered that Greece needs to be discovered. It seems to be a very good destination for divers as well as companions. I visited Corfu a few years ago, but it was only here that I felt the Greek atmosphere. Attica with a good connection of at least two airlines and a flight of only 3 hours is at the top of the list of the best destinations in Europe. A variety of dive sites suitable for course, advanced and technical divers. Good infrastructure, great facilities of bases cooperating with Scubahellas.com and divinggrecja.pl Sympathetic and friendly atmosphere, and of course great food. Prices are surprisingly low for a Mediterranean capital. Those of you who know the prices of meals on Greek islands, in Italy, Spain, Malta or Croatia will be pleasantly surprised.
I recommend!

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About author

Tomasz Andrukajtis
Editor-in-chief of the DIVERS24 portal and magazine. Responsible for obtaining, translating and developing content. He also supervises all publications. Achived his first diving certification – P1 CMAS, in 2000. Has a degree in journalism and social communication. In the diving industry since 2008.
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