Isle Paddle Boards Greek Isles and the Med Coast of Spain
Inflatable Rolling Bag Samples Pass The Travel Test!
Greece and the Med Coast of Spain have endless flat water and really not much in the swell category. That being said I opted to take a couple of our inflatable sup boards and leave the shred sticks at home. Easy to travel with and a perfect opportunity to test out some of our new rolling inflatable luggage samples that also double as backpacks. Just as I suspected they worked like a charm making moving the ISUP Boards across airports a snap by simply rolling it on wheels. Then anytime we hit the soft sand of the beach we would slip on the backpack straps of the same bag and walk across the sand. Look for the new Isle Inflatable Rolling backpack travel Bags to hit the website soon and they will change the way you travel and transport your inflatable board for the better and you will wonder how you ever lived without one.
Stopover in Athens to Marvel at the Ruins
We took the long haul across the pond from San Diego to NYC and then to Athens. Our final destination would land us on the Greek Island of Rhodes. But with so many historic sites in Athens why not spend the weekend their before heading out to the Islands? Several people told me to stay out of Athens as it was a "shithole" as they called it. So thankful I never listened to them as it turned out Athens had so much to offer and wish I could have spent more time than just a weekend. The city is all low rise buildings no more than 5-6 stories as far as the eye can see and holds around 4 million people. It’s a big city! And smack dab in the center is the Acropolis one of the most historic sites in the world dating back to the 400 B.C.
The city is filled with many other historic ruins from temples to stadiums, statues and bath houses. As you wander around the narrow streets in a modern era filled with cars and apartment buildings the site of 2500 year old ruins seems very surreal and the scale and intricacy of the ancient buildings hardly seem possible even with modern machinery. After wandering around the many sites it was time to turn down for the night and catch up on some much needed sleep after the long sleepless 20 hour plane ride to get here.
No Drone Fly Zone
Waking up refreshed and bringing my phantom 3+ drone along for the trip I thought what better place than to shoot some aerial shots of the most famous building in town, the Acropolis. I first chose to wander to the hill opposite the acropolis and take some shots from a distance of the surrounding monuments. The hill sits atop the city and you can see hundreds if not thousands of building and houses stretching out in all directions as far as the eye can see. A small group of locals were perched atop the rock outcroppings sipping on a secret Greek tequila and munching on olives and bread and offered me some free samples as I buzzed around with the drone snapping breath taking shots of the scenery.
After an hour or so I wanted to get a closer view of the Acropolis so I walked over to base of the structure on the other hill and moved just under some olive trees set for drone flight number two. With the sun slowly falling into the horizon the lighting cast an orange hue across the structure making for some breathtaking photos and I buzzed back and forth across the buildings snapping away but with darkness approaching began to descend back to into the Olive grove and call it a day. Just as I was about to land the drone below the tree line I looked around me and saw armed guards in police uniforms with machine guns approaching fast in every direct headed straight at me. They were accompanied by authoritative plain clothed individuals with badges around their necks. This was not good and just as I touched down the drone they snatched it up and marched me off to the police office. Apparently drone flying around the structure is prohibited and things were not looking good. With 6 police leading me to the station toting automatic weapons and some very unhappy officials I was expecting the worst. Jail, a steep fine, the drone taken away, or all 3. After several hours of paperwork and explaining I was just shooting pictures for personal use they took away my memory chip and sent me packing. A total bummer to lose all those amazing photos but lucky to be walking away with my drone and no jail time.
A bit of Athens Nightlife
After sulking over the lost photos and 3 hour tour at the police station it was time to head out on the town and see what a Saturday night in Athens was all about. It had come to my attention via Instagram one of my favorite DJ’s Richie Hawtin was setting up a live show in the city center sponsored by red bull in Monastiraki square. The square is an open courtyard surrounded by monuments, restaurants and hotels with the Acropolis towering over it in the background. A perfect venue for an outdoor concert. By dusk the event was in full swing and thousands gathered to groove to the sounds of Mr. Hawtin sipping beers and Ouzo the local tequila.
The grooves lasted until around midnight and he finally pulled the plug. With the concert over and light buzz from the Ouzo it was time to explore the backstreets of Athens. The small streets are filled with graffiti and tiny bars, cafes and clubs. Each twist and turn of the street offered up something interesting for the eyes. One street even had lamp shades of all kinds strung across the apartments above.
We eventually made our way to a bar called “The Party” and a party it was. A small pub with fancy décor and the bartenders gave rounds of drink and shots on the house. It was more like a house party and after receiving the third round and another high five from the tender I figured it was time to buy him a round. The attitude and hospitality of the Greek people on the town was second to none and the night raged on and on until the wee hours jumping from one spot to another along the windy streets.
Off to Rhodes – The Eastern Most Greek Island
With a solid Athenian hangover it was time to say goodbye to the capitol and head off to Rhodes Island. Rhodes is just a quick 1 hour flight from Athens and after nearly missing the flight due to our taxi electing to take the back road turning a 30 minute ride into 2 hours we finally touched down in Rhodos surrounded by clear blue windswept water.
We jumped in the tiny Pugot rental car and managed to easily fit both inflatable paddle boards in the back storage. Thank god for inflatable sups! Great to be out of the big city of Athens and into the small idyllic villages of Rhodes. Over an hour drive along the coast we passed beach after beach of calm smooth waters beckoning us for a paddle but we would hold off and wait for our final destination in the bay of Lindos town.
The Town of Lindos and its Acropolis
Lindos is one of the most famous attractions on Rhodes. It’s a tiny town situated in a calm picturesque bay with a castle overlooking the city high atop vertical cliffs overlooking the Mediterranean. Lindos was founded by the Dorians, who arrived in about the 10th century BC..The eastern location of Rhodes made it a natural meeting place between the Greeks and the Phoenicians, and by the 8th century Lindos was a major trading center. The acropolis of Lindos was dominated by the massive temple of Athenia Lindia, which attained its final form in around 300 BC. It’s an amazing structure and up high atop a very steep mountain. Over thousands of years it changed hands many times and the outer walls resemble that of a castle.
As we approached our hotel in the town below we couldn’t help but notice the stench of donkey poo and loud heehaws as we made our way along the windy high walled narrow streets to our bungalow. Excited to lay down for a rest then catch a paddle in the calm bay we finally reached our room with amazing views of the acropolis and water.Just as we were about to enter the front door a couple donkeys carrying tourists whizzed by headed up to the acropolis at the top of the hill. Come to find out they had a large herd of 100 donkeys you could rent for quick ride up the steep cobble streets to the Lindos Acropolis and we would pass them daily as our front door was on the main path up. Funny to watch all the tourists hold on for dear life as the donkeys wisped them up to the top while they poop the whole way. Thankfully every couple donkeys are followed by a poo cleaner with broom and dustpan to keep the streets clean but the rank of the poo remains and doesn’t sit well, especially for the hungover folk.The Southern Tip of Rhodes & Paddle across Lindos Bay
After getting settled we opted to take the boards and make a day trip to the southern end of the Island. The tip offered a tiny white sand beach connecting a large island famous for kite boarding and separating the Aegean Sea on one side and Med on the other.
It would prove way too windy to paddle so we gawked at the kite boarders and went for a dip before heading back to the calm protected waters of Lindos to jump in for our first paddle. We decided to enter from a smaller bay around the southern end of the Acropolis and could drive right up to the shore for easy entry. The beach was packed with all kinds of people sunbathing and enjoying the perfect weather and warm water. We quickly inflated the boards and hoped in for a dip.
So great to finally get wet and catch and paddle and the scenery and clarity of the water was breathtaking. And with the castle atop the near vertical cliffs as the backdrop it just didn’t get any better for flat water paddling. We explored the bay and made our way out and around the bay near the base of the castle. The hills above were filled with all kinds of mountain goats clinging to the cliffs above. Hands down one of the most memorable paddles and for my first time in Greece on the Mediterranean I couldn’t ask for much more.
After several hours of exploring the nooks ,crannies and keyholes we called it a day as I had a Scottish wedding to attend just down the road from our hotel that afternoon.
The whole reason behind this trip in the first place was to attend a family wedding happening during the week at an all-inclusive resort down the road from Lindos town. The wedding was on my mom’s Scottish side and her brother’s son was to be marrying a Scottish lassie (that’s Scottish for lady). The wedding was on the beach and in true Scottish fashion kilts adorned most of the male wedding party and I figured what better chance than to show off my heritage than to sport a kilt myself. I was lucky enough to rent one just before I left San Diego and joined in on the wedding fun fully kilted and accessorized from head to toe.
My uncle, cousins and others in the wedding party couldn't have been happier and it made the wedding that much more fun. After a quick ceremony on the beach we retreated to the banquet room of the hotel to continue the celebration filled with speeches, dancing and lots of Greek tequila. I was told a true Scotsman always goes bare under his kilts and would soon find this is not just a joke as the groom’s best man flipped up his kilt doing the splits on the dance floor. It was an experience like no other and the night turned hazy into the wee hours at a local Greek bar down the street. It was our last night in town and we would be headed off to Barcelona the next day to explore a bit more of Europe before we headed back to San Diego.
Barcelona and La Merce Festival
The next day we boarded a short 5 hour flight from Rhodes airport to Barcelona Spain and checking the paddle boards was easy as we whisked through the airport with no hassles. We arrived in Barcelona that evening and rented a sheik apartment in the city center of Las Ramblas.
The city is situated along the water with lots of cool beaches for flat water paddling and is world renowned for its museums, soccer stadium, nightlife and discos that rage on until the wee hours of the am. We hoped to explore a bit of it all and to top it off one of the largest street festivals of the year called La Merce was starting in a couple days for the weekend so we would have no shortage of things to do for our short stay. We settled into our apartment and managed to meet up with a few more friends who traveled from San Diego and Norway to join us. We headed out on the town and enjoyed some tapas and beer in a nighttime café along the main Blvd. of Las Ramblas. The city was clean and filled with old Spanish style architecture, fountains and statues to gawk at. And the best part is street hawkers walk around carrying 6 packs of cold beer for 1 euro per brewski so keeping a frosty beer in hand is always easy as you walk around. After taking it easy we decided to retreat for the evening and rest up for the paddle the next day and the coming festival and big nights out on the town.
Paddling the Beach of Barceloneta
The next morning we awoke to sunny skies and perfect weather and would make our way to Barceloneta Beach just a short cab ride away from Las Ramblas. The beach was packed with thousands of locals and tourists enjoying the afternoon sun and to our surprise lot and lots of paddlers. Many of the shops along the beach offered up paddle boards for rent and being such a nice calm stretch beach there were no shortage of people looking to paddle. We made our way to a sheltered bay and jumped into the warm waters and enjoyed a leisurely paddle with the city backdrop.
The famous W hotel is a 40 story icon that sits at the tip of Barceloneta Beach and towers above the city as one of the tallest buildings. And nudity is permitted and culture shock kicks into full gear trying to walk past naked 60 year old men staring off into the sunset. A lot of sights to take in for one day it was time to head back and get ready for a night on the town and check out the start of La Merce festival and nightlife.
El Diablos of Rambla De Catalunya
La Merce festival is a street festival filled with bands, art, and parades at different locations in the city happening dawn till dusk for 5 days. After looking over the program I specifically wanted to catch the fireworks display in the street. People dressed as devils beating drums and make large floats worn by people and dance around in the street and light fireworks affixed to the floats and themselves. Its absolute chaos and anyone can partake but locals warned to wear full body clothing and cover up the hands and eyes as they literally light and shoot the fireworks at you as the rambunctious crowd of revelers make their way down the street.
After pushing my way into the hot zone I was chased by a fire breathing dragon with sparks shooting out of its face and horns and managed to snap and few pics and cover up before getting burned by the sparks as they whizzed past my head. I and my camera managed to escape unharmed and make it back to the apartment ready to set out for the nightlife.
Barcelona Boogie Nights
Nightlife in Barcelona Starts late. People make their way to the café and tapas bars for a smoke and beer around midnight. Then around 2am they make their way from the cafes to the nightclubs of the city that keep grooving until 8-9 am in the manana. The city lived up to its rep and the night turned into day as we raged in an outdoor nightclub in a walled historic city up on a hill overlooking Barcelona that doubles as tourist attraction by day and turns to a nightclub by night. The party just don’t stop and things once again became hazy as the club spilled out onto the street early in the morning. The weather would finally take a turn for the worst for the first time in 2 weeks and just in time to spend a day in doors healing the body after long Barcelona night of rage.
"The rain in Spain falls mainly on the plain"
The rain never let up and it was finally time to say goodbye to Barcelona and head back across the pond to San Diego. Traveling to places like this with paddle boards really added to the fun being able to jump in the water so easily with the inflatables and stow them away quickly for any car and air travel. Both Greece and Spain have so much to offer and we will get back one day to see more!