When Rick and I took almost this same Sea Dream (“It’s not cruising, it’s yachting”) trip, this day was our favorite. And it was my favorite again. Though Parga is known for its 11th century castle and for spectacular beaches along its Ionian coast, it is the river at its heart that holds mine. The spring fed Archeron River is thought to be the archetype for The River Styx. We saw no three-headed dog, but many small waterfalls lacing the mother-of-pearl canyon sides and gorgeous rocks smoothed by the currents of the clear, clear water. We waded in the icy river and where there were pools, I swam. The water was so very cold that the bottoms of my feet turned purple. Our group sat on flat riverside rocks in the hot sun and waited for river guides to organize a fleet of rafts. The sun never felt so good. Twenty of us, piled five-to-a-raft, each raft with a strapling lad guide. We raced one another over the river rapids that widened out from the canyon into a broad rush of water spilling through flower-filled meadows. Everyone intent, paddling, hard, shouting, trying to take the lead, bonding Sea Dreamers screaming for victory! Amidst all the ruckus was the heart-stopping splendor of the blue green swell of mountains, colored grasses, and glassy rushing water. The guides pulled our rafts ashore (our team came in almost 1st) and we followed a path through the woods to a long table set under the trees beside the river. Sea Dream has a legendary chef and enthralling menus, but this simple repast may have been Gretchen’s favorite meal: Greek (of course) salad, rich with fresh tomatoes and studded with salty olives; warm slabs of country bread, feta pie, and thimbles of wine.
Charming Pargo was Gretchen’s favorite town. We combed the winding cobblestone streets looking for a shirt for Rick that featured the River Acheron (Styx). One shopkeeper said he’d never thought of that and would have shirts made. Alas, not in time to gift Rick. When we took the tender back to Sea Dream, I complained to a beautiful young couple from St. Thomas: “Who would come all the way to northwestern Greece to buy a t-shirt that says, ‘Jim Beam?’” On the last day of the trip (“Not cruising, it’s yachting”) the couple presented me with an amazingly colorful and tasteless t-shirt featuring Popeye having an infusion from a huge bottle of Jim Beam. The best tacky t-shirt I’ve ever seen!
Back on board in time for splendid cocktails, a swim and another superb dinner on the deck. Thanks to Gretchen, we had become so popular that we needed to dodge invitations to join tables for dinner. The next day was to be a ‘day at sea,’ and I began to lay plans for an insurrection. After dinner the open area around the pool featured a splendiferousness array of desserts and a live band. I happily danced with whatever partner I could lure out, and Gretchen chatted away. A late night for the silver duo.