Cruising the Greek Islands Page 4

Athens 2004

By Ken Kreisler


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• Athens 2004

Going to the Olympics? A yacht charter might be the best game in town.

If you’re thinking of visiting Athens this summer for the Olympics, consider doing so by charter yacht. The officials I met less than a year before the August 13 opening ceremonies promised that everything was on track and that there would be plenty of lodging for visitors. But the local buzz and my own impressions hinted that much of the construction was behind schedule and most of the hotels were booked.

Should worse come to worst, there will be no better perch than a private yacht for getting to and from the Games.

The Greek government granted permits for my press group to see only two venues, but luckily they were two of the venues along the shoreline that will be easiest for yacht guests to access: the Faliro Coastal Zone Complex (beach volleyball, handball preliminaries, and tae kwon do) and the Agios Kosmas Sailing Centre (sailing). Both venues were well underway in terms of construction, but the trams and promenades were pretty much strips of cleared brush surrounded by cautionary plastic orange fences. Those same fences were the only things standing at many of the other sites we buzzed past, and they also were all over the Metro system, which is supposed to have new stops in place in time for the Games.

What intrigued me most was a newly completed marina within the Faliro complex that the officials said would not be open to private boats during the Games, but that a local charter broker told me her company had been offered access to. It would make a spectacular charter port; you might be able to see the beach volleyball or sailing from your aft deck with a pair of binoculars. Ask your charter broker about the possibility of docking here as the dates draw closer.

If the new marina is closed to private yachts, consider basing your charter in the nearby Saronic Gulf islands. The major port Piraeus (close to Athens) and the marinas within it are usually good charter bases, but during the Games, 11 cruise ships are expected to dock there as lodging for spectators. The crush of people in this already bustling place will be immense, but the ferries and high-speed hydrofoils should be able to continue their daily departure schedules out to the nearby islands. It’s no more than about an hour by water to each one, and those ports should remain relatively calm and quiet no matter what’s happening back in Athens. They’re also lovely spots for anyone in your party who wants to remain on the boat instead of going to the Games.

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This article originally appeared in the January 2004 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.

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