Category Archives: EXPEDITIONS

7 Night ESC (Eating/Stand Up Paddling/Camping) Trip to the Florida Keys with the SUP Guide & Adventure Store

Loaded truck for 7 night eating/stand up paddling/camping trip to the Keys

7 Night ESC (Eating/Stand Up Paddling/Camping) Trip to the Florida Keys with Tim, Sylvie, and Keith

Day 1, Wednesday, Oct. 23

We left St. Petersburg late morning heading south to our first camping spot, the Bahia Honda State Park located in the lower Keys. South of Miami we stopped at a great fruit stand named Margarita’s near Homestead where we stocked up on fresh fruit for the road including plantains, star fruit, and tangerines. We also treated ourselves to tamales, guava flan, coconut water, and some delicious mamey shakes. One sip of this shake transports you to the tropics. The mamey sapote, a sweet, salmon-colored fruit native to tropical climates, is high in potassium, vitamins A and C, and dietary fiber and is delicious to boot.

Later in the day we stopped in Key Largo at Mrs. Mac’s Kitchen for her world famous conch chowder and real key lime pie. The chowder was spicy and the pie was light yellow and creamy. We were not disappointed!

Bahia Honda State Park is favorite camping destination in the Keys. Once a remote island, this southernmost state park is known for its beautiful beaches, magnificent sunsets, and snorkeling at nearby reefs. It is located on Big Pine Key, south of Marathon. The park is almost always booked to capacity, so, if you can, book in advance. If you can’t, keep trying because they do have cancellations.

STand up paddle/camping trip Bahia Honda State Park

On our first night, we had an RV site right across from the bathrooms which were well lit—a bit too bright, actually—so we arranged to switch to a more primitive site the next day. Rain came in early and stayed late. We set up a tarp, with netting if we needed it, and two of us slept on the Coreban BG inflatable paddle boards while our third camper slept on two stacked sleeping pads. It was cool and breezy and sometimes downright windy. We didn’t have no-see-ums or mosquitos, but we did have a family of raccoons stop by.

Day 2, Thursday, Oct. 24

We woke up early and caught the sunrise over the Atlantic. Before breakfast we decided to walk the remains of the overseas railroad bridge, nicknamed Flagler’s Folly. Henry Flagler, an oil tycoon, failed in his efforts to build an overseas highway from Miami to Key West, including a span of 7 miles of open water. The bridge was completed in 1912 but was a commercial failure, falling to the 1935 hurricane which destroyed most of it.

After a breakfast of boiled eggs and vegetables for breakfast, we broke camp and moved to a much more primitive site right across from the water. We had very clean bathrooms and our neighbors were much quieter.

Large Sea Turtle

Unfortunately, our plans for stand up paddling were sidelined by offshore winds gusting to 30mph. We headed off to the pedestrian walkway alongside the 7 mile bridge. The pedestrian walkway was actually 4 miles long, but we did get to see a huge southern ray and a giant sea turtle.

Dinner of grilled steak and vegetables were prepared on site, and afterward, we played Uno by the fire. The campground caretaker, Mona, made sure that we had plenty of wood and was extremely helpful during our stay.

Day 3, Friday, October 25

This day began with a beautiful sunrise of oranges, purples, and red! Before breaking camp and heading about 20 miles south to Sugarloaf Key, we treated ourselves to a breakfast of eggs, bacon, avocados and assorted vegetables.

The short trip to the Sugarloaf Key KOA was uneventful. We found a great site and set up the Megamid tarp without the netting. Our second trip to this KOA was similar to our first—noisy! If you need to sleep, you’ll need earplugs and a bit more patience than usual. While the caretakers do an excellent job of keeping the campground clean, many of the campers are less careful. We actually witnessed one camper using Styrofoam to start his campfire.

stand up paddle camping trip sugarloaf key

We took ourselves to lunch at Mama’s Kitchen, a restaurant conveniently located right across the street from the campground. Conch chowder was excellent!

After lunch, we took the bus to Key West for Fantasy Fest. While it was only 20 miles to Key West, the ride took an hour. The party began on the bus, with revelers unaware of how loud the human voice can be. Once in Key West, we walked Duval Street where Fantasy Festers were in abundance. Costumes, body paint, various degrees of nudity, are all standard fare at this yearly celebration. Fantasy Fest is Key West’s version of Mardi Gras and Carnival combined! You can always expect the unexpected at Fantasy Fest. For example, we wondered where the fully naked, body-painted revelers carried their money.

We had an amazing dinner at El Meson de Pepe the oldest Cuban restaurant in Key West. Family owned, consider it the perfect location for watching the nightly sunset celebration on Mallory Square. We loved our Cuban pork and awesome snapper dishes. After dinner, we wandered south on Duval and ended up at Captain Tony’s, the officially oldest bar in Key West! After a few drinks, we made our way back to the bus for the hour and a half ride back to Sugarloaf. The revelers were much quieter on the way home. . .

Day 4, Saturday, October 26

We woke to another spectacular sunrise! But the beauty of the morning sky belied the winds. No stand-up paddle boarding today. . . The winds were up, or should I say still up, to 30mph offshore. We simply hung out and did nothing all day. The highlight of this day was dinner prepared by Keith, our camping master chef, who prepared chicken curry for dinner—another culinary delight.

stand up paddle/camping sugarloaf key

The no-see-ums were not out, so we went down to the KOA bar area and enjoyed some local musicians for a while. We turned in early, around 9 pm, but were awakened shortly after midnight by some of our less than considerate neighbors. The last time we checked the time, it was 5 am.

Day 5, Sunday, October 27

Once again, we took a few moments with some great coffee and watched the beauty of the sunrise before breaking camp. We’re on our way to Geiger Key, an RV and campground that sits right on the water a few miles to our south. We had a camp site that faces the water and has a traditional tiki hut for shelter.

Finally, we were able to paddle! The key is protected by an abundance of mangrove islands which provided a buffer from the still gusting offshore winds. We followed the mangrove trails, weaving in and out, for the most part protected from the 22mph gusts. We tested out the Carbonerro El Doble paddles and found that we loved them right away. Keith, as a less experienced paddler, tried out the Coreban Mammoth and found that even fully loaded with camping gear, it was an easy board to paddle.

coreban mammoth at geiger key

Geiger Key also offered us another exceptional dining experience. The on-site restaurant had mahi mahi, shrimp, and barbequed ribs which were excellent. Their side dishes included barbequed beans, cole slaw, cornbread, and the best key lime pie ever!

The camp sites were well maintained and provide electric and water. That night we slept under the stars without the tarp—no noise and no bugs made for great sleeping.

Day 6, Monday, October 28

Sunrise told us that today would be a beautiful day. The winds were down to 20mph, so Tim and Sylvie got the boards ready while Keith made breakfast of scrambled eggs with vegetables and bacon.

stand up paddle/camping at geiger key

Our day’s plan was to take off for Boyd’s RV campground on Stock Island. Our paddle was partially downwind, and we could run along the shoreline. The water was beautifully clear, so we could see what was swimming below us. We saw fish balls, sea turtles, and several bonnet head sharks. We found a beach with a driftwood “fort” where we settled down for lunch.

The last mile of the paddle was directly into the wind, but the entire paddle from camp site to camp site was just under 3.5 hours.

When we arrived at Boyd’s on Stock Island, we were starving, so we headed over to the Hogfish Bar and Grill for awesome hogfish sandwiches, conch salad and conch fritters. This restaurant prides itself in its truly local fare and unpretentious, friendly atmosphere.

stand up paddle/camping boyd's rv park stock island

After setting up our camp, we headed over to Key West for the evening. One of our first stops was Flamingo Crossing on Duval Street where we had some amazing homemade ice cream made with mango, papaya, guava, and mamey. We strolled around Old Town and picked up some great supplies at the Sugar Apple Health Food Store located on Simonton Street which runs parallel to Duval.

Back at our Stock Island campsite at Boyd’s, we slept under the stars, arguing about the location of Orion’s Belt and Cassiopeia. As usual, and of course, Tim was right!

Day 7, Tuesday, October 29

coreban mammoth at geiger key

Our final day in Key West, the sun rose with subtle colors of mauve and gold and pink. With the winds back up to 30mph and paddling out of the question, we headed into town to the Banana Café on Duval Street for breakfast. We enjoyed fruit filled crepes then wandered down Duval. Sylvie discovered the Lush Organic Chocolate & Wine Bar, which looked promising, so we set up an appointment for a 4pm later that day for a tasting of organic beer and chocolate.

With a few hours to kill, we decided to check out Fort Zachary Taylor Historic State Park. This National Historic Landmark is actually Florida’s southernmost state park which played important roles in both the Civil and Spanish-American Wars. We took a guided tour and learned about the history of canning in this area.

making bean to bar chocolate

We headed back to the Lush where Mark Certonio, a local food and wine expert, paired five pieces of organic chocolate with five great organic beers. It was four hours later when we said goodbye, but during that time we watched a chocolate making experiment which was deliciously successful!

While our trip did not include as much paddling as we had hoped, we felt as if we had discovered some excellent camping locations, many fantastic restaurants, and the best beer and chocolate tasting you could ever imagine.

leaaving boyd's rv park stock island
—–

The SUP Guide & Adventure Store’s primary goal is to introduce and educate people on how to get on the water and stand up paddle safely. We are primarily a SUP GUIDE and outfitter location. We paddle almost every day, we have no sales pitch, only great advice on paddling! We pour our time and energy into the water and stand up paddling. For us, this is a lot more than a business, it is a lifestyle. So, please check out our store on Madeira Beach or our online inventory at http://pinterest.com/yogaenergy


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The SUP Guide & Adventure Store
15002 Madeira Way, Madeira Beach, FL

(727) 466-7994
yogaenergystudio@yahoo.com

Om Shreem Hreem Kleem Shreem Lakshmi Ragachchha Gachchh Mam Mandire Tishth Tishth Swaha

BEST SUP CAMPING BREAKFAST EVER

breakfast on the paddle board

There are lots of things that you can have for breakfast while stand up paddle camping but this is a meal that is simple to make, takes minimal space, tastes great and gives you a lot of sustained energy. It helps us go without snacks ’til lunch.

This meal is considered Ayurvedic and Paleo. If you are allergic to nuts or any of the items below, please do not eat this!!

Preparation, prior to camping:

Preferably, as many of the ingredients as possible should be organic. The fruit should have no added sugar.

Step 1. Combine a mixture of:

- Raw cashews, walnuts, almonds, hazelnuts, pumpkin seeds and sunflower seeds.
- Dried apples, apricots, pineapples, figs, golden raisins, currants and blueberries.
- A few cacao beans.

Step 2. Put it all in a blender and blend for no more than 1 minute. Careful not to overdo it.
Step 3. Separate the desired amounts in ziploc type bags.
Step 4. In every bag, add some dried unsweetened coconut flakes, cinnamon, cardamom and nutmeg
             to taste.
Step 5. Get your favorite coconut milk packages.

Preparation at campsite:

Step 1. Heat the coconut milk in a Jetboil or similar type stove.
Step 2. Transfer the desired amount of above mixture (from number 4) into a bowl.
Step 3. Add warm coconut milk and mix.
Step 4. Enjoy!!!

Side tips:

- To get an idea of how much may be enough, Vie is 108 lbs, she uses 1 cup of mix (measured prior to     blending), I am 210 I use 2 cups of mix.
- We prepackage our personal amount separately while still at the house.
- 2 cans of coconut milk last us 3 mornings.
- It takes less than 5 minutes to prepare while camping.
- If you cannot find any or some of the above ingredients, no worries, it will still taste great!
—–

The SUP Guide & Adventure Store’s primary goal is to introduce and educate people on how to get on the water and stand up paddle safely. We are primarily a SUP GUIDE and outfitter location. We paddle almost every day, we have no sales pitch, only great advice on paddling! We pour our time and energy into the water and stand up paddling. For us, this is a lot more than a business, it is a lifestyle. So, please check out our store on Madeira Beach or our online inventory at http://pinterest.com/yogaenergy


Official PayPal Seal

The Yoga Energy Studio                        The SUP Guide & Adventure Store
1010 Central Ave #102, St Pete, FL       15002 Madeira Way, Mad Beach, FL

(727) 466-7994
yogaenergystudio@yahoo.com

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Om Shreem Hreem Kleem Shreem Lakshmi Ragachchha Gachchh Mam Mandire Tishth Tishth Swaha

PADDLE CRYSTAL RIVER, FL Nov 15th – 16th

The manatees are calling us! It’s been over a year since we paddled Crystal River, FL.

crystal river manatees

So What?!?!
So, on Thursday November 14th, we will be heading north to Crystal River to camp, paddle and snorkel with the manatees.

We will be guiding two different paddle trips:

Friday November 15th at 10:30am

- and -

Saturday November 16th at 10:30am

Can I join in?
We are opening up this trip to all who want to go!

What is the cost?
If you have bought a board from us, the guided trips are FREE.

If you need to rent a board or you got a board from some where else, the cost is $100.00 for the two trips.

This cost does not include, room and board, transportation or any other unforeseen expenses.

Once a reservation is made, 48 hours notice must be given or your card will be charged for the trip. No exception to this rule. You will not be charged if we cancel due to weather, water conditions, etc.

Where do we meet?
Once you sign up, you will be given directions to the put-in area.

How do I sign up?
As always, please, call Karen at (727) 466-7994 to sign up or use the Paypal “Buy Now” button below.

What else do I need to know?
We will be camping Thursday and Friday night. Any one interested in camping, you must supply your own gear/site. Contact us for details on our campsite location.


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The Yoga Energy Studio                        The SUP Guide & Adventure Store
1010 Central Ave #102, St Pete, FL       15002 Madeira Way, Mad Beach, FL

(727) 466-7994
yogaenergystudio@yahoo.com

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Om Shreem Hreem Kleem Shreem Lakshmi Ragachchha Gachchh Mam Mandire Tishth Tishth Swaha

THIS IS SPARTA!

Mornings are great for paddling in Mavrovouni.

Mornings are great for paddling in Mavrovouni.

It is now Saturday morning and after a quick paddle we are heading to Sparti for some climbing. Sparti is just an hour’s drive on land from our hotel. The town itself has one main road in with a lot of smaller streets crossing. It is filled with coffee shops, bakeries, pastry shops and chocolate shops. We are still learning how to park in Greece which basically consists of getting as close to the side walk as possible, meaning that we could even end up in the middle of the road. So, we park next to 4 other cars in a turning lane.

This area is so cool, even the medians are filled with lime trees for any one’s pickings. We choose the coffee shop closest to us to have a wonderful double espresso and a double Greek “metrio” coffee. The coffee shop is made out of dark wood and rock, with very little sitting inside but plenty of sitting outside. I think I could stay here all day. But we have to move on to find information about climbing in the area.

Another great coffee shop downtown Sparti.

Another great coffee shop downtown Sparti.

After talking to several people we find that the information we want is at a local photography and camera store, several blocks away. This walk becomes extremely difficult passing chocolate store after pastry store after bakery every so many steps. The pavement turns to glue under my feet as the smell of fresh baked goods grabs my nose. We can no longer hold back the temptation of the smell of fresh pastries being baked. As I turn to look inside the pastry store I already see Keith purchasing two chocolate/banana croissants and Vie holding a profiterole in her hands. They have made the best choice, the Katounas Bakery, on Lykourgou street. We devour the pastries and profiteroles because we tell ourselves that climbing all day will burn the calories. So we order more. :-) After eating, we are now able to make it to the photography store of Vasilis Georgiadis on Lykourgou street.

We enter the store and see an older gentleman standing behind the counter. I thought to myself, how long has he been climbing? We tell him what we are looking for and without a single word he leaves the counter and walks to a room in the back of the store. We are not sure if we upset him. Several quiet minutes go by and then finally a younger man with a climbing demeanor comes out of the back speaking loud Greek. He has several papers in his hand and he gets louder as he thrashes the papers back and forth at Vie. Keith and I start looking around when two more men enter the front door and walk quickly toward us. Vie turns to us and says this is awesome. He printed all the routes, gave us his phone number for questions and even asked us to contact him for feedback and if we wanted to see any changes in the climbing area.

The access point to the Lagkada climbing area outside Sparta.

The view of the strange cave from the access point to the Lagkada climbing area outside Sparta.

It ends up that Vasilis is one of the lead developers of this climbing area and would love to see the climbing community in Sparti grow. He even gives us information on a second climbing area, Nedousa, that is nearby. Vasilis and the Sparti climbing area reminded us of our first trip to Kalymnos 6 years ago and how enthusiastic Kalymnos and Telendos were in wanting to see the climbing community grow there.

Vie spends a couple of more minutes talking to the gentleman behind the counter, Vasilis’s father, it is now time to go and we leave more than happy. As we are walking back to the car, Vie tells us that Vasilis’s father knew her Great-grandfather and even told us where his house was.

Vie climbing Lagkada outside Sparta.

Vie climbing Lagkada outside Sparta.

We get to the car and head to Lagkada, the climbing area only 20 minutes away. The climbing area is well marked and the parking lot is across the street from the access point. We park in front of a mountain overlooking a valley. Vie notices that one of the caves on the mountain looks somewhat strange, so I get out my binoculars. I can see inside the cave — there is a table and chairs, a refrigerator, and even a stove — I am not sure if they worked.

It is only a 5-minute hike to the first sector. There is an outhouse and a cabin providing all the required climbing info and a shelter if needed. The climbing routes follow the modern Greek standards of Kalymnos and Telendos, the route names are all painted on the rock and the bolts are placed close together for safety. The rock itself is limestone offering great challenge to all climbing skills.

While on the rock, don’t forget to turn around and look at the spectacular view! We spent about 5 hrs climbing and we decide that it is time to eat. We have been told by several locals that the best restaurant/taverna to eat at is Bozola’s, in Trypi a small town just a couple of miles away. BTW, in Greece, taverna means restaurant, not a bar. We find out the hard way that since we are in Greece and it is only 5:30pm the restaurant is closed, it will be opening closer to 9pm.

Tim climbing Lagkada outside Sparta.

Tim climbing Lagkada outside Sparta.

So we have a couple of hours to kill. We drive around until we run into Mystras, one of the Byzantine-era castles on Mount Taygetos. The castle grounds have fig trees surrounding the parking lot. However, all the figs within reach are gone. Damn tourists ate all the figs. Keith is starving so he starts shaking a tree hoping some figs will fall. A thin fifty’ish year old man covered in dirt appears from nowhere and waves us to a fenced in area opposite the castle. As we enter the fenced in area, we see about 30 goats walking near the man.

A herd of goats by Mystras, on Taygetos mountain.

A herd of goats by Mystras, on Taygetos mountain.

He is obviously a goat herder. He speaks no English but points to some hidden fig trees. Vie starts speaking Greek to him and he said “take all the figs you want”. Life is good! Keith is happy again. It was great picking figs off the trees and eating them right then. They were the sweetest figs ever.

After a quick hike around the castle, we head into Sparti and find Vie’s Great-grandparent’s home. It’s cool to see that the playground across the street is named after Vie’s Great-grandfather. Right next door to the house is a chocolate store and since we haven’t had supper yet, it is time for our evening snack.

Vie's Great-grandparents' house downtown Sparti.

Vie’s Great-grandparents’ house downtown Sparti.

It is getting closer to 8:30pm so we head back to Bozola’s and yes, it is open but we are the first ones in! The restaurant owner sits at our table and lists the meals for tonight, no fish. The owner says that the restaurant is an hour from water and the fish would not be fresh enough for him to serve it by the time it got there.

After a great meal of extremely fresh food we head back to Mavrovouni, Mani to call it a night.

Stay tuned for Sunday’s episode coming soon!

Follow us on this blog page and the buttons below to see where the currents are taking us.

The Yoga Energy Studio                        The SUP Guide & Adventure Store
1010 Central Ave #102, St Pete, FL       15002 Madeira Way, Mad Beach, FL

(727) 466-7994
yogaenergystudio@yahoo.com

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Om Shreem Hreem Kleem Shreem Lakshmi Ragachchha Gachchh Mam Mandire Tishth Tishth Swaha

PADDLING DIROS, MANI, GREECE

Leaving the "Keith Cave"/

Leaving the “Keith Cave.”

On Friday morning, after our much needed yoga practice, we are heading to paddle some of the Diros Caves on the Messinian Gulf. The wind typically kicks up in the early afternoon, so it is best to get on the water in the morning or early evening.

It takes less than an hour to get from our hotel, the Land of Gods, in Mavrovouni to our paddle destination. As this is our third day on the middle finger of the Peloponnese, we feel almost at home driving up, down and around all of these winding roads.

We arrive to what is going to be our put-in area and we see numerous RV’s lined up along the white rocky beach and deep blue sea. It appears to be a great camping area, however, no amenities. To our left, are couples sitting in chairs overlooking the water and to our right is one lone hefty man wearing a red speedo.

An ISUP is great for rocky beaches.

An ISUP is great for rocky beaches.

The beach is full of baseball to football size white stones making a great contrast to the deep blue sea. It is time to put on the five-fingers. We walk the boards to the shore line and Keith is the first to put in. He makes a B-line straight to one of the caves. It’s been a couple of months since he’s climbed so nothing can stop him from bouldering in the cave.

ISUPs will take you to places that regular boards cannot take you.

ISUPs will take you to places that regular boards cannot take you.

Vie and I paddle the rest of the area out to the mouth. To the right of our put-in the water shifts from a deep blue to a turquoise green as it becomes shallower. Both sides of the cove are covered with caves with the bigger caves being near the mouth which today has 3′-5′ swells. After paddling for about 2 hours enjoying the combination of mountains, water and cave formations we joined Keith in his cave (Keith already took ownership and named it “The Keith Cave” :-) He charged us one Euro each to enter.

Beautiful mountainous landscape with cave formations.

Beautiful mountainous landscape with cave formations.

As the afternoon starts coming in, the water starts to become rougher so we head to shore. After putting the boards away it is time to visit the world renowned “Vlychada Cave of Diros”, a definite must-see in south Greece full of stalactites and stalagmites. It is less than 10 minutes away so we grab some fresh figs, local cheese, olives, warm bread and delicious seafood which we enjoyed on the side of the road overlooking the water.

A great lunch from local markets.

A great lunch from local markets.

It costs 12 Euro per person to enter. The cave is 3.5 km long and its main characteristic is the big and multicolored stalagmites looking like animals and people and the stalactites forming palatial columns. The cave began to be formed millions of years ago. The stalactites and the stalagmites lying under the water surface were formed when the sea surface was much lower than today.

Entrance of the Vlychada Cave at Diros.

Entrance of the Vlychada Cave at Diros.

Follow us on this blog page and the buttons below to see where the currents are taking us.

The Yoga Energy Studio                        The SUP Guide & Adventure Store
1010 Central Ave #102, St Pete, FL       15002 Madeira Way, Mad Beach, FL

(727) 466-7994
yogaenergystudio@yahoo.com

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Om Shreem Hreem Kleem Shreem Lakshmi Ragachchha Gachchh Mam Mandire Tishth Tishth Swaha

PADDLING CAPE TENARON, GREECE

Paddling off of the Entrance to Hades, aka Gates of Hell in Mani Peninsula.

Paddling off of the Entrance to Hades, aka Gates of Hell in Mani Peninsula.

It is Thursday morning, and after a great beach run, we are off to Cape Tenaron, the southern continental tip that reaches into the Ionian Sea, looking for the Entrance to Hades. This is where according to Greek mythology, ancients like Persephone, Hercules, Charon and Odysseus entered the underworld.

The drive is approximately an hour from our hotel, the road winding up, down and all around the mountainous landscapes. We travel through small towns, farmlands, and even castles, some times being stopped by goats and mules crossing the street.

Sheep crossing the road in the Mani Peninsula.

Sheep crossing the road in the Mani Peninsula.

We were cautioned about going to this area without a boat motor due to the high winds and strong currents. We arrive at the put-in to the Gates of Hell. And boy did we find them! The wind was blowing at a steady 25 mph, gusting up to 35 mph and all while blowing offshore. The prophecy of the Oracle was that even the strength of Hercules and the perseverance of Odysseus would not help us make it to the Gates of Hell today, but Poseidon granted us permission to paddle the cove safely.

One of Poseidon's Temples located off of the Entrance to Hades.

One of Poseidon’s Temples located off of the Entrance to Hades.

After descending a rocky ledge to the water, we put in at the protected cove by one of Poseidon’s temples right across from the Oracle of Death.

ISUPs are great for rocky put-in areas.

ISUPs are great for rocky put-in areas.

The water was a deep ocean blue and completely clear. We could see the rocks underneath our boards as we paddled. The landscape consisted of ancient ruins peppered onto the rock covered sides of Mount Taygetus.

Leaving the cove, we found the offshore winds were too strong to paddle against. We would not suggest going to this location if you are looking for a long leisurely paddle but it is well worth the visit!

Paddling off of the Gates of Hell.

Paddling off of the Gates of Hell.

There are numerous restaurants and coffee shops on this drive through the Mani Peninsula but the best thing of all was when we found some lamb yogurt in a clay pot and local saffron infused honey. We all agreed that this was the nectar of the Gods and was the perfect transition from the Entrance of Hades to the Gates of Heaven.

As a personal note, on the way back to the hotel, we were able to find Vie’s grandparent’s summer home, in Alika, Mani. It is a little castle-like rock house overlooking the water.

Vie's grandparents' summer home in Alika, Mani.

Vie’s grandparents’ summer home in Alika, Mani.

Follow us on this blog page and the buttons below to see where the currents are taking us.

The Yoga Energy Studio                        The SUP Guide & Adventure Store
1010 Central Ave #102, St Pete, FL       15002 Madeira Way, Mad Beach, FL

(727) 466-7994
yogaenergystudio@yahoo.com

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Om Shreem Hreem Kleem Shreem Lakshmi Ragachchha Gachchh Mam Mandire Tishth Tishth Swaha

PADDLING MAVROVOUNI, MANI PENINSULA, GREECE

It is Tuesday afternoon 4:30pm and we are waiting for Keith to arrive from Washington. He is the third party of this expedition. We rented a car from National and got a double upgrade, sweet!!

Leaving the airport and onto A6, heading to Mavrovouni, in the Mani Peninsula area. With a rental Garmin GPS on the dash, this was one of the easiest drives I’ve done. As a side note, bring Euro with you, there are at least 3 tolls. So, outside the Athens area, Greece is very easy to drive, however, not easy to navigate. :-)

We are going to be spending the next 4 days in south Greece, in the area of Mani. We set up our base camp at the Land of Gods, on Mavrovouni Beach. We chose this location because it’s on the middle finger (yes, I said middle finger) of south Greece. There should be over 100 different locations to paddle near this hotel.

Our hotel in Mavrovouni, Mani Peninsula, Greece.

Our hotel in Mavrovouni, Mani Peninsula, Greece.

The hotel itself is great and less than 20 meters from the water. The rooms are equipped with a full kitchen and an extremely spacious balcony overlooking the Mediterranean. The back door opens up to chickens, roosters, turkeys, goats, lambs and mountains covered with olive trees. There are several markets in the area with very fresh fruits, vegetables, meats and seafood. There are also a few restaurants close by and one right next door with excellent lunch and dinner.

The Coreban BG ISUPs, Sawyer 3-piece travel paddles and NRS gear.

The Coreban BG ISUPs, Sawyer 3-piece travel paddles and NRS gear.

Back to paddling. The beach is sandy but the shoreline is covered with pebbles. The water’s color defines the term “sea-green”. It is crystal clear and we can see the bottom during our entire paddle.
The wind picks up in the early afternoon so it is best to paddle in the morning and evening. The view at this location is breath-taking.

Greek architecture runs the shoreline while mountains fill the background. WARNING: While paddling, be aware of heads popping up next to your board. On several occasions, even quite a distance off shore, a swimmer appeared out of the water, like a mermaid, to ask us questions about the paddle board.

Breath-taking view, pay attention to our warning.

Breath-taking view, pay attention to our warning.

Another great hotel in the area is the Diamond Palace Hotel. The owner to the hotel/restaurant, Elena, is full of knowledge to the area. With her maps and her computer she was able to give us information to more paddling destinations.

Follow us on this blog page and the buttons below to see where the currents are taking us.

The Yoga Energy Studio                        The SUP Guide & Adventure Store
1010 Central Ave #102, St Pete, FL       15002 Madeira Way, Mad Beach, FL

(727) 466-7994
yogaenergystudio@yahoo.com

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Om Shreem Hreem Kleem Shreem Lakshmi Ragachchha Gachchh Mam Mandire Tishth Tishth Swaha

STAND UP PADDLING ATHENS, GREECE

At Cape Sounio, Greece.

At Cape Sounio, near Athens, Greece.

So, it is Saturday night and we just got back from the Surf Expo, where we picked up two of the Coreban ISUP Bear Grylls Scouts, three Sawyer 3-piece travel paddles along with SUP gear from NRS. We are heading to Greece in the morning on US Airways. US Airways now does have direct flights from US to Greece which is a wonderful thing. However, what we found inconvenient, is that you can only check-in one piece of luggage for free, of no more than 50 lbs.

We are planning on paddling numerous locations with unknown terrain, so we had to choose the toughest gear around.

coreban isup

Essential gear for the trip, Coreban BG ISUPs, Sawyer paddles, NRS gear, PrAna yoga mats/clothes, shoes from Fit2Run.

We chose the Coreban BG at 12′ x 34″ x 6″ weighing less than 30 lbs. This board is considered the ultimate go anywhere, do everything adventure-wise type of paddle board. It comes with numerous tie-downs, hand-holds and a 3-fin system. You can even get its attachment tent for camping which turns the board into a sleeping pad.

We also chose the Sawyer 3-piece travel paddles (you can get different blade types and sizes) due to their durability and lightness.

We chose NRS for the rest of the gear since we have been using their gear for years and it has never failed us.

Back to, it’s Saturday night. We are getting ready to do a 2-week paddle boarding/hiking/rock climbing/eating trip and we are only allowed 50 lbs of check-in luggage each. The great thing is that the Coreban backpack can hold our paddle board, life-jacket, leash, Sawyer 3-piece travel paddle, yoga mat, climbing helmet, climbing shoes, climbing harness, carabiners, dry bags, and even myofascial release balls. And yes, it just hits 49 lbs.

It is now Sunday morning and we are heading to the airport with a lot of little things to wrap up on the computer. Parking was easy, security check was a breeze and we now have an hour to kill.

coreban-greece tampa airport

At Tampa International Airport, before boarding the connecting flight to Philadelphia.

Vie said that she was able to catch up with all our computer loose ends before we got on the plane (not sure if that is true :-). We then flew to Philadelphia. The gate transfer was easy, we had plenty of time for pizza, before catching our flight to Greece.

The flight to Greece was a little over 9 hours and we were fortunate enough to have all three center seats to ourselves. I stayed up while Vie fell asleep instantly during take off.

9 hours later, we are landing in Athens and Vie finally wakes up. You can tell that she was brought up flying as both her parents worked for the airline industry. She always feels quite at home flying.

Teaching a local how to stand up paddle.

Teaching a local how to stand up paddle.

Athens International Airport is easier to get around than most international airports. Since this was my fourth time going through it, it was a breeze. A couple of quick side notes about Greece. Vie speaks fluent Greek so I will give you the US beta on it:

1. Greek is a unique language and fortunately 90% of the Greeks speak English. But it is extremely helpful to know that “OH HE”, with a nod up and down of the head means NO. However, it may appear that they are saying OK. “NAA”, on the other hand, with a long “a” means YES, not NO. I have been confused on numerous occasions with this.

2. Road signs are terrible in Greece. But what is very encouraging, is that you can literally stop on the side of the road and ask some one for directions. If they cannot give them to you, they will go out of their way and find some one who can. So, if you are willing to ask for assistance, you will not get lost.

3. What may seem like “screaming” or “yelling” to you, might be as simple as “have a great day” or “enjoy your stay”. People in Greece, over all, are very vocal, but not rude.

Vie in front of Poseidon's Temple at Cape Sounio in Athens, Greece.

Vie in front of Poseidon’s Temple at Cape Sounio near Athens, Greece.

Back to, we arrive in Athens. Driving in Athens is not for the weak of heart. I have driven in many states and in many countries, but Athens is probably one of the most unique ones. With that said, if you stay calm, ask for directions and not let loud voices and honking bother you, Athens can be simple.

Our first paddle board destination is an hour and a half south of the Athens International Airport, the Cape Sounio area, where the Temple of Poseidon is located at. It is considered one of the best places in Greece to watch the sunset. The temple of Poseidon was constructed in approximately 440 B.C., over the ruins of another temple. It is perched above the sea at a height of almost 230′.

This area is on the Aegean Sea, it is a beautiful dark blue water featuring a large cove area for paddling. We unload our boards and are able to hit the water in less than 20 minutes. We paddle for about 2 hours, and right when we get back in we are approached by some of the locals who have never seen a paddle board before.

tim paddling at poseidon's temple

Tim paddling in front of Poseidon’s Temple at Cape Sounio, near Athens, Greece.

This leads us to a great meal at Akrogiali, 10’ from the put-in area. There are 2 restaurants right in that area, but Akrogiali is the one that caters to the locals.

Our hotel Galini, with an incredible view of the water, is in Voula, a beach town full of paddling locations. We could have easily spent our whole two weeks here.

hotel galini voula greece

The view from our hotel Galini, in Voula, near Athens.

Tomorrow, we are picking up Keith, heading to the southern tip of continental Greece and paddling our way into the next blog.

Follow us on this blog page and the buttons below to see where the currents are taking us.

The Yoga Energy Studio                        The SUP Guide & Adventure Store
1010 Central Ave #102, St Pete, FL       15002 Madeira Way, Mad Beach, FL

(727) 466-7994
yogaenergystudio@yahoo.com

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Om Shreem Hreem Kleem Shreem Lakshmi Ragachchha Gachchh Mam Mandire Tishth Tishth Swaha

STAND UP PADDLE LIFESTYLE – THE BEGINNING

We are very pleased to announce that our Yoga Energy/SUP Guide & Adventure Store team is embarking on a Stand Up Paddle and Yoga trip. We will be living the SUP lifestyle with about 6 expedition trips from September 2013 to August 2014.

We will be introducing Stand Up Paddling to new people, and at the same time discovering fabulous areas to SUP. As we experience the “local” culture, we will share information about the area, its history, what to see, what and where to eat (could be an adventure in itself :) and where to play.

The inaugural video will feature our Odyssey SUP Expedition starting with a paddle outside the temple of Poseidon in Athens, Greece. This expedition will take us paddling from the Entrance of Hades at the southern tip of continental Greece to Zeus’s home on Mount Olympus in the northern part of the country. We will paddle on three of the main seas surrounding Greece, the Aegean, the Mediterranean and the Ionian.

Our first episode will be featuring inflatable paddle boards and their use for traveling. We will be using and testing gear from the following companies: Coreban, NRS, Sawyer Paddles & Oars, Carbonerro, HDX Mix, PrAna and shoes from Fit2Run.

During each trip we will be posting instagram shots, facebook updates, blogs and youtube videos highlighting the SUP destination and the gear/toys we used.

Follow us on this blog page and the buttons below to see where the currents are taking us.

The Yoga Energy Studio                        The SUP Guide & Adventure Store
1010 Central Ave #102, St Pete, FL       15002 Madeira Way, Mad Beach, FL

(727) 466-7994
yogaenergystudio@yahoo.com

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Om Shreem Hreem Kleem Shreem Lakshmi Ragachchha Gachchh Mam Mandire Tishth Tishth Swaha