In September I was invited to do a report on FIOR DI LEVANTE, a nearly new ferry, linking the island of Zakynthos and the Peloponnesos. After landing I had to wait 24 hours before I could embark. First things first. In Greece that means: experiencing the most amazing hospitality.
The bridge to Cameo Island.
General manager Giannis Pylarinos drove me first to Lagana, a popular tourist destination. We saw the famous club on Cameo Island, where I was impressed by the effect of the white sheets hanging between the cliffs. I could imagine the deep house music in the wee hours of the morning, with the most beautiful people in the world enjoying the drinks, the music, the temperature, the sea breeze.
Giannis Pylarinos, general manager Levante Ferries, at the wheel of the glass-bottom boat.
A glass bottom boat picked us up and as we sailed along Turtle Island the skipper started to search for some swimming species of the loggerhead sea turtle, or Caretta-Caretta. Only 24 hours later I would understand why they wanted to show me the turtles.
Around sunset we drove up the hill of Zakynthos city, and had a lavish Greek diner. I am totally mad about Greek food, and this was again one of these evenings never to forget.
Just in front of the restaurant in the village Bochali we had a great view over Zakynthos harbour.
During our meal our table got the visit of a group of three men, singing local songs called “cantades”. Again, this was something I had to remember for the day after, they told me.
As I was driven to my hotel I could catch a glimpse of FIOR DI LEVANTE, on the right.
After the amazing dinner I was driven to my hotel, and although I was here to work, on a ferry, I only could catch a glimpse of her when she came in. “Tomorrow,” they said.
The day after I finally met all protagonists of my story: George Theodosis and Stratis Apergis, the owners of Levante Ferries, and Apostolos Molindris, the famous Greek architect and interior designer.
With George Theodosis at the helm of his yacht, we did a tour around the rocky northern coast. I felt like a king. This was again Greek hospitality at its best.
George Theodosis (at the wheel) and Stratis Apergis (with the camera) are the owners of Levante Ferries.
Mr Theodosis presented me a massive amount of figs from his own garden. They were more than delicious.
After having sailed along the beautiful coast we reached the island’s most iconic spot: Navagio Beach. I couldn’t believe my eyes when sailing slowly into the cove with its clear blue water and surrounded by sheer limestone cliffs, and a rusted wreck of a cargo ship laying on the beach. The decor was stunning, and I couldn’t stop taking pictures… before taking a dive into the delicious water.
We also stopped to swim in the Blue Caves. I couldn’t believe how lucky I was to do this job. Which job? Indeed, I was wondering when I finally would be able to board the FIOR DI LEVANTE to get started.
“We have reserved a table at a nearby restaurant,” said George, taking away any hope to see the ferry soon. But again, it was an astonishing lunch. Oh my god… the best local wines, the best food, and this on a table on a rock, in the shadow of a tree and only meters away from the sea.
When I had the feeling “I could eat no more” George announced that he ordered a big grilled fish…, a monster grouper of 5kg.
After dozens of starters came in the surprise…
With my head full of positive impressions, and with some Greek wine too, I was ready to discover the ferry, 24 enchanting hours later.
I was in good company for the first of my five or six return crossings. It was the designer, Apostolos Molindris himself, who explained why he had done this and that.
For example, when we entered the main deck via the escalator he showed the “seagull lamps” hanging on a blue-sky ceiling. Perhaps I would not have noticed.
And as we walked through the ship I was invited to discover more nice design details.
The Seagulls welcome the passengers onboard
The sun, pebble stones, a lighthouse… they all refer to Zakynthos.
Everybody wants to be photographed in front of the vintage VW camper van. Here Giannis Pylarinos and his son.
The main staircase to the upper sundeck…
…with the Caretta-Caretta turtles on the wall.
The forward lounge has the lyrics of the local “Cantades” on the ceiling.
Mr Apostolos Molindris is the architect who designed the interiors and the corporate branding.
In the outside bar and grill passengers can order typical Greek souvlaki with fries. Or a refreshing “frappé”.
The toilet doors are creatively decorated.
Nothing matches the atmosphere of a Greek ferry crossing.
Sunset encounters with MSC POESIA.
One anecdote I have to tell: after having done a few return voyages I needed some exterior shots of the ship too. Together with the owners I was waiting on the pier of Zakynthos to see the ship arrive. Mr George Theodisis asked me if the ship was coming at a good angle, but immediately he saw for himself that a little adjustment could be useful. In a very Greek way he called the Captain and asked him to make a slightly different approach in order to have the best view, and of course respecting all the rules of safety.
This photo eventually became the cover for the Shippax Designs 15 book.
My photos and my article have been published in the annual book Shippax Designs 15.
I would like to thank Levante Ferries and Mr Molindris & Associates for the wonderful cooperation, and especially the fantastic Greek hospitality.
Article and photos: Mike