Another full night’s sleep. Which went down very well.
Carmel awoke for breakfast again while I woke up just in time for a quick shower. Then it was on to diving at 9am.
This was to be our last planned day doing our PADI Open Water Diver qualification so the pressure was on. The few exercises that Carmel and I hadn’t done up until now had to be completed on these last two dives. But Carmel’s cold hadn’t gone and if anything she was more bunged up than ever. So she had it set in her mind that she was going to suffer from massive ear ache.
We were the only guest divers this day and Tiia and Michaelis took us out to the same spot as the previous day. Although the sun seemed to be out more, the wind had got up and the waves were quite vicious as we ducked and dived over them back to the dive spot about 15 mins from the harbour. The dive spot was fairly well sheltered though and by the time we stopped the waves had calmed and everything seemed much more serene.
We did two dives. The first dive was really to test out Carmel. We did a few simple exercises including my least favourite of ones involving the mask – although just filling it with water and clearing it, rather than total mask removal underwater. Carmel was suffering though and could not dive below 2 metres. We swam around a bit for 30 mins or so and I quite enjoyed myself.
After a half hour break in the constantly bobbing boat we made our second dive. This was good for me as I felt increasingly seasick being in the boat, but bad for Carmel whose cold had obviously not cleared in the short break. For this session Tiia took her camera with her causing a little bit of camera-envy from myself. She had a Canon A710 and a waterproof housing. The housing cost as much as the camera itself and seemed to be specific to the model of camera meaning that Tiia had bad stories of breaking her camera and not only buying a new camera but also having to buy a new waterproof housing. She took some good pictures of us and we were really grateful. But now I want similar camera equipment.
This second dive was to be our last one of the PADI Open Water course. We had to complete the exercises or only get a partial diving qualification. We did a little bit of underwater compass navigation which was fairly straightforward and then hopefully the final ever mask removal exercise. At about 3m depth we took off our masks, blinked painfully in the sea water and, when our blurred vision saw Tiia indicating ok, we put the masks back on and blew air into them via our noses to clear them. Sounds simple, but for me the problem was keeping my breathing under control as I tended to panic-breathe as soon as my eyes were not protected.
Eventually we got to the last exercise which was an emergency controlled ascent which had to be done from a minimum 6m depth. Carmel was still suffering from pressure so we went down to exactly the 6m depth and Carmel went straight into her exercise. I don’t know if she had memories of Kilimanjaro, but this time she seemed determined to finish the task and not mark it down as a “very nearly”. So through some serious ear-related agony Carmel did the emergency ascent, followed closely behind by me. And that was that – we now had our PADI Open Water qualifications which meant that we could go diving down to 40m depth with dive centres around the world. Carmel swam back to the boat at this point and I spent 10 mins or so with Tiia having a fun exploratory dive. We saw octopuses, a moray eel, shoals of silver fish, some very colourful fish which were attracted by one of us banging stones against the ground, and a scorpion fish (very poisonous but swam off as soon as we got too close).
Back in the dive centre we took a copy of the photos from Tiia and took a couple more for our dive licenses. We handed over some money for the course (€900 for the two of us, less €100 for doing the online course, less €60 deposit, less €50 discount for me having done the Discover Scuba course with Tiia last year). After very little consideration we signed up for a further dive on the last day of the holiday. Tiia already had one customer for that day so given that she was doing the dive anyway we were at liberty to decide later if Carmel’s ears had improved in their ability to dive below 2 metres.
We posed for a group photo with Tiia and and Michaelis outside their dive centre office in our hotel.
There was a dead cat on the roadside by the hotel. This bothered Carmel. The hotel staff were having difficulty deciding whose job it was to remove dead cats. There seemed to be some disagreement.
After a lunch of gyros, a typical Greek pitta bread snack that Carmel lived on when she was in Greece for 3 months over 10 years ago(!), we polished off some wine and then decided to head down to the local beach. The beach stretching from Lineria to Kantouni is only 500m long and is quite narrow. Its main problem and blessing though is that there are no chairs allowed on it. This means that the crowds stay away and go to better catered for beaches, but means that if we want to enjoy the tranquillity we can’t do it from the comfort of a sunbed with a cocktail holder attached. We got a couple of beers from the bar and then took a couple of plastic chairs to the edge of the beach and sat and relaxed for a couple of hours. I followed the Monza Grand Prix on my phone, which was fun and expensive, until Hamilton crashed out on the last lap.
While on the beach we watched what must have been a hundred people or more walk up the steep zigzag slope to the little monastery dug into the cliff-side that we had visited the day earlier. We asked what the occasion was and it seemed to be a two day celebration of something. Looking on the Web, it seemed to be the Greek Orthodox Faith name day of Ypsosi tos Timios Stauros, Stavros (Steven).
Around 6pm we headed back up the road the 1km or so to the cafe where we had lunch and persuaded them to put on the Fulham v Everton game. We were the only Brits in the place and the only ones watching telly so it seemed ok. Everton had a good first half and were leading 0-1. By the end of the second they had lost 2-1 which was rubbish. They were outplayed in the second half and didn’t have many chances on goal. They remain second to bottom in the Premiership.
We possibly drank a little too much wine during the football and this was blamed for our poor choice of restaurant in the evening. We went inland a bit to try one of the places that advertised home cooked authentic food. Our waiter was a massive, both in height and width, man who was extremely surly. My beef-in-something starter was very chewy and half had to be left, but the lamb chops for the main course were fine. Carmel had mussels followed by kalamari and they also seemed fine. I guess the only problem was that the restaurant seemed to be silent and the big man serving us would sit not quite far enough way and stared at us until we left.