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35 years of Nero Sport and still no end in sight...
It was sometime back in 1977 or 1978 on the beach of a small Spanish holiday resort called "Begur" accompanied by too much red wine and my friend Udo holding me in his arms that the dream of living and working somewhere on the coast was born. Despite many doubts, hurdles, and obstacles, that dream evolved. It became a goal. The only question was "What?" and "Where?". It soon became obvious that the question of "what" was answered by my passion for diving and sailing. So, a kind of water sports centre it was to be. I therefore spent the next few years getting trained and choosing a suitable spot. Sport boat licence, yacht training up to skipper, windsurfing, water skiing and of course diving training up to diving instructor with a lot of experience in "all over the world" was the foundation for the targeted base. What remained was the question of "Where?". "How? “(like the bride who doesn't dare), I searched for the right place. This one place that would make my dream come true.
It was autumn 1985 when the time had come. To round off one of my numerous "search expeditions" at that time (I had ended up in Greece), I arrived one late afternoon at the Greek island of Zakynthos on the Ionian Sea. I was supposed to take the ferry back home from Patras the next evening. Knowing that the airport being built would be an "international" one, and with a nautical chart, a guidebook and a "secret tip" from an acquaintance of a distant acquaintance, I set off to see the place of places so highly recommended to me.
Laganas... a very nice place for folks looking to party until dawn, disco after disco, "calamity", buzzing, but absolutely no place for me and my dream. Totally disappointed, I set off in search of a possible place to spend the night. According to the map, there was a small village called "Keri" at the end of the road to the south of the island. So, I hopped on my motorbike and drove along the bumpy road until I reached a sharp serpentine bend to the right. There, suddenly and unexpectedly, a wonderful, breathtaking, panoramic view opened. Below me, nestled in lush green Olive groves under the golden light of the setting sun, lay the bay of Keri with the island of Marathonisi in front of it. It was an absolutely stunning sight. With goosebumps and palpitations, I knew immediately... it was here or no place else.
The first contact I made in Limni Keri (Greek for "the bay of Keri") took me straight to the future location of my first water sports center, "Nero-Sport" (Greek for "water sports"). To be precise, to the taverna of Zanetto and Nicos Kalmieris and the adjoining goat shed. With a lot of babbling, using hands and feet, I made it clear to them what I wanted... "You give me electricity, water and a goat shed... I'll bring you tourists...". Period.
This "gentleman's agreement" continued for a total of 10 years. In the spring of the following year, I returned with 10 surfboards, a sports boat including water skis, a sailing dinghy, a Seemann-Sub compressor including 12 scuba tanks, various diving accessories and a lot of enthusiasm.
The surfboard, water-ski and sailing dinghy businesses did not survive the first three years of "my business" for one simple reason. Diving developed so sensationally well that there was no time left for other activities.
I quickly had to increase my capacities. The goat shed became too small and no longer met the guest's expectations of a modern diving center.
I acquired the land/building of today's diving center in 1996, and in 2006/2007 we refurbished it again. Meanwhile the "one man goat pen business" developed into a modern diving facility with its own appartments, catering and competent staff. To mention all the people who have contributed with their heart and soul in making my dream come true would go beyond the boundaries of this article.
I can only express my gratitude. However, there are two people I would like to wholeheartedly thank for their help and support. Without them my dream would never have become reality... Ruth (I know she is smiling now) and Manfred Balzer (Barakuda International Aquanautic Club).
Nero-Sport Founder & Proprietor