Smuggler’s Cove- "Navagio"

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Niko’s instructions for us sounded like they came straight from an old odyssean-like novel.  It began with instructions of this road and that, then he said “Once you get down to the beach at Porto Vromi, look for a woman named Aphrodite.  Like the Goddess.  She will have a boat for you.”

The first half of his instructions took us a solid two hours to complete until we were at last at the beach where we realized the surprising simplicity of the next task at hand.  Find Aphrodite.  Firstly, what an awesome name.  Secondly, how many Aphrodites can there possibly be on a small beach with just two ticket booths.  The first person we asked said “no one is here by that name.” What did he think we were trying to find her for? The next person we asked revealed that Aphrodite was in fact the woman sitting right beside the original man we had asked.

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Thanks to our connection with Niko, Aphrodite gave us 20% off of her regular rate for a boat tour and off we went, zipping along the massive cliffs that form Zakynthos’ coast.

Smuggler’s Cove or “the hidden beach” as I had been calling it is an incredibly beautiful place that, (like so many beautiful places in this world) is crowded to the max with tourists.  Niko had warned us that unless we arrive before 1 (and it was now 2pm) it was going to be crowded.  He was right.  The powdery blue water looked like a game of bob for apples with people bobbing around in clusters.  They swam aside as our boat came up to the beach to park.

On the beach there is a massive ship rusting into a crumbling orange mass.  This too has become a magnet for tourists and they sit beside it in the little margin of shade it provides, sharing picnic lunches or laying out on beach towels.  It occurs to me that a crew full of men spent their last panicking moments jumping from or wrecking with this ship sometime around 1980.  Smugglers the story says.  It feels a bit like a grave to me: a monument for some tragedy.  Something tells me this is not a popular way to view the ship.  A more common approach it seems is to carve your name into the rusting form or to use it as a backdrop for your photo shoot.  I hear it’s actually quite a popular spot for photo-shoots with super models.  Who knows if that’s true.

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In any case it is quite fascinating to be walled in with a giant decaying ship by massive cliffs on three sides and a great blue  ocean on the fourth.  Its novelty makes up for its crowds.  We spent an hour on the beach before the Aprhodite (named for her owner I suppose) came back to retrieve us.  On the ride back our driver took his time, poking the boat’s nose into caves for our amusement and stopping at one for a ten minute swim break.

The views from the beach and from the boat are just magnificent and by the time you reach shore you feel like you’ve had an Odyssean adventure, even if littered with other tourists having the very same Odyssean adventure.

 

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