Ok, cards on the table. Have you ever dreamed a dream or had a crazy vision of something and thought ‘yeah I should do that/try that’ but either been too scared to do it or just thought you were talking nonsense? Well I have.
Many moons ago (probably about 130 or so maybe) some verbal garbage came out of my mouth. I can remember it vividly and have a few good witnesses to testify. I was sitting with a group of good friends talking about a forthcoming holiday to Greece and how I would meet the man of my so far unknown dreams. A whole tale came forth about this man: how we would meet, what would happen, his family history, blah blah blah. It’s been a well-known story ever since with those who know me and brought about many random incidents and cases of mistaken identity.
So a little while ago I was thinking about how I have fancied going Greek island hopping for awhile but the ex would never do such a holiday, and that now I’m single maybe I should combine the two and take myself on a little trip with a side mission in mind? What the hell I’m going to do it. I’m going to find Dimitrius…
Who ate all the pies? I did! I made it my mission to get a full house and completed the Sporades set with a traditional Skiathos cheese pie on my final day. Bingo! So who is the winner of the best cheese pie you may wonder; well I wondered that myself and decided the rankings were as follows:
Straight in at number one: Skyros
Almost there but not quite: Alonissos
Shoulda woulda coulda done better: Skiathos
I cannot rank the one in Agios Konstantinos as it’s not part of the Sporades gang: nice try but no, plus I should never have been there anyway so the pie cannot feature. Also to clarify this very important issue the number one slot went to the cheese pasty I had in the port at Skyros and not the traditional Skyrian pie I scoffed near the adorable little horses, that thing was just plain weird even by my standards. I consume my final pie sitting of course by the harbour for one last Dimitrius spotting attempt but yet again he’s a no-show. I’m beginning to think that man just has no manners. I guess it’s just as well though as I’ve a flight to catch; getting on the wrong boat is one thing but missing a flight is a whole different ball game and it’s definitely not cricket.
I go to check out from the hotel, a little apprehensive that someone may have seen me in my drunken ouzo fuelled state the other night. The hotel lady is checking someone else out when I get there so I loiter and squirm, not knowing whether we may have spoken the other night after my ouzofest or not. She turns to me eventually and says “Aha! It’s you!”
Uh oh…I feel my face flush and prepare myself for some apology of ‘oh dear yes sorry I was so very drunk and I’m so sorry for whatever it was I may have been talking about, I was absolutely hammered on ouzo and thank god the magic beer scooter got me home, please don’t judge me I’m normally quite sensible honest….’ but before I get the chance she says “I only see you only once when you arrive and now once when you leave!”
PHEW! I nod and smile and think to myself ‘oh yes of course that’s because I am very quiet and a well behaved lady, not surprised you never saw me, I’ve been in bed by 10pm no ouzo binges for me, honest’…but instead just give some chitchat about being sorry to leave and how I will recommend Skiathos to people etcetera etcetera, before me and my battered case make our final walk along the battered pavements to the airport and our final journey home; in doing so I reflect upon last night and my trip as a whole.
As it was my final evening I took myself into the bright lights, not so big city of town and plonked myself in, where else, but a fish restaurant. If I can’t find the fisherman at least let me have his catch. I ate well, I drank well and I savoured the sights and sounds of summertime abroad before my return to the everyday monotony of mundane, the delights of long sleeved clothing and carrying an umbrella every day ‘just in case’ as just in case happens more often than not. Light and shade though I remind myself as without the drudgery how would you recognise the exceptional.
Looking around the restaurant I see many couples and much love in the room, or on the terrace to be specific, and also maybe some not so much love… but hey if they’re happy to keep up the pretence then who am I to judge. I wonder how each couple met and whether their lives together now live up to their expectations then. I wonder if any of them met following a vision or what hand fate played in their stories. I wonder if they have any regrets. I wonder if they are with who they deem to be their true love penguins or whether they just settled as had given up on finding ‘the one’ or quite frankly couldn’t be arsed to look anymore. I wonder if this is their first holiday together or potentially their last, through choice or otherwise. I wonder if they are sitting together wishing they were sitting with someone else, a former flame or someone they fantasize may be in their future. I wonder if any of them wonder about me; whether they feel sorry for that woman sitting alone, or admire her, or wish they were her rather than sitting across from Mr Grumpy who talks with his mouth full and still has the remnants of lunch stuck between his teeth.
I left the restaurant for a walk around Skiathos Town at dusk, taking in the swanky boats that have moored in Dimitrius’ potential spot and the mix of families, couples and groups of friends that have descended upon town for the hustle and bustle of evening; it’s the sort of place I think you could come with anyone…or on your own of course. I’m saddened to be leaving and feel there’s so much more to do and see…I guess I shall just have to come back some day, fisherman or not.
So what have I learned on this trip… other than I can’t find Dimitrius no matter how many harbours I pass through or fishing boats I scour…
I’ve learned that I prefer to stay places with abit going on. Maybe if I was with someone it would be different as then you don’t really need external influences for entertainment, with the right person you entertain each other. Though that’s not to say I haven’t entertained myself, I’ve actually found myself to be rather good company. Me and me have got on like a house on fire, which is just as well really as I am the one person I can’t escape from so it’s just as well we get on.
I’ve learned that I don’t need anyone in my life and am perfectly capable of looking after myself… but I’ve also decided that it would be nice to be with someone: I can be alone forever if need be but I don’t want to be. I guess that’s why people couple up in the first place, there must be something in it otherwise we’d all just be wandering about on our own and apart from anything else I don’t think the housing market could accommodate so much single person accommodation; on the plus side though I’m guessing there would be no single person supplement to pay when travelling alone if everyone did it, silver linings and all that. So yes it would be nice to have someone to share travels and life’s journey with…plus it’s always good to have a personal bag watcher on hand and a valuable second opinion as to whether you should get on a boat or not…
I’ve learned that I love cheese pies/pasties. Well, to be fair I knew that already but this trip has taken my love to a whole new level. Me and cheese and pastry are bound together intrinsically it seems; a cosy little threesome that shall never tire of each other. Maybe they are actually my true loves. Actually maybe I should try and find a pie maker instead of a fisherman, that might be a plan!
I’ve learned that even the most trusty cases have limits and maybe sometimes we push the things we rely on a little too much. But sometimes even when the wheels fall off there is something still there that keeps you going that you weren’t necessarily even aware of.
I’ve learned that ouzo has a lot to answer for.
I’ve learned that there is an inner biscuit-monster-beast inside me that I never knew existed before…and hope the creature is now in hibernation for another thirty odd years or else McVities may have a problem.
So all in all I’ve learned I can do this alone but I don’t want to. I would like that special someone but I know more than ever that I won’t settle just for the sake of it by making do with someone who is ok and a nice enough person, that would be the worst thing I could do. I know life isn’t Disney (though I do have a Belle costume if that helps?) but I want someone who gets me and I get them and the whole X factor thing (but not in the Simon Cowell sense, and definitely not Simon Cowell) and more than ever I know in my gut that the works is out there somewhere… and that is exciting. I saw a tarot man once who predicted a number of things that came true both for me and for the other girls who also saw him that day. He told me that it will happen for me but that it won’t be for awhile…that was well over 10 years ago now so I’m hoping the while may soon be up.
So where does all of this leave me and Dimitrius I wonder. Maybe I got the name or country wrong: desperately seeking Diego or desperately seeking Donatello maybe? Any excuse for a trip! Or maybe Dimitrius was my twenties vision and just needs some readjustment in my thirties. Maybe me and a fisherman would never have worked anyway: maybe I’d ruin his blue shirt; maybe he stinks of fish. Maybe I’d be constantly worried every time he went out to sea he’d be caught in some storm and never come home and I’d spend the rest of my days scanning out over the horizon just in case he ever did return, Tom Hanks Castaway styleee. Maybe I went looking for him too late and should have gone when I first had the vision. Maybe there’s someone else out there for me, maybe he’s not Dimitrius. Maybe I’m looking in the wrong places and he’s been under my nose this whole trip…maybe…
Apologies for the delay in posting recent entries, I’m home from the trip and finding life getting in the way of updates! These entries were still completed at the time, I just hadn’t got around to posting them due to the backlog from earlier wifi and hangover issues!
Today I had to do it; needs must. It’s my last day here so I had to get on that harbour wall and re-enact my vision, no messing about. I set an alarm for the first time in ages and made sure I was up and out early, book in bag, ready for action. I’ve chosen to wear a white beach dress with red/pink flowers on it in an attempt to look demure; I am living the dream. Now, question is where exactly to sit as there’s a few moorings around here and I need to be at the right one. I figure I’ll just have to try them all and rotate until I’ve covered all ground.
I make my way down to the harbour and sit on my first bench: I should be sitting on the wall I know if I am staying strictly on script but as there’s empty benches right next to the wall I’d look a bit of an idiot choosing not to sit on a seat and I don’t think ‘bit of an idiot’ is a good look when trying to attract a mate. I get my book out. I sit. I wait. There’s no one around give or take a few café owners opening up. I try and look engrossed in my book but I can’t concentrate as I’m too busy scouting for blue shirts and eyes that change colour with the sea. I yawn. It’s tiring work this waiting for love game. I look at the boats. One them has ‘traditional fishing trips’ scrawled down the side: maybe he’s branched out again and does organised tours? Nah he’s too quiet and mysterious for a tour guide, that would never work, he’d be rubbish at it and be on the breadline within days. I stretch my legs and look at my feet. Holiday feet are so much better than home feet, all that sand is really good for them. Oh crikey I’m distracted thinking about feet of all things, stay focused, stay focused…
I move to a different part of the harbour. I get my book out again. I sit cross legged and try to look nonchalant. I chew the end of my sunglasses to look deep in thought and knowledgeable: at least I pretend to anyway, I wouldn’t purposefully disfigure any item; I hate it when people chew pens for example, why would you do that to a lovely pen?! I give up as there’s no one nearby other than a few scraggy cats and they don’t care if I look knowledgeable or not. I look at my hands. Again all that sun must be good as my nails are looking very healthy. Oh well if nothing else I’m giving myself a good MOT. I look at my book. I’m not actually reading this book, I am currently reading Wuthering Heights on my Kindle, but I decided I needed a physical book for the prop side of things. It’s a favourite of mine though, ‘The Alchemist’, so I know it well just in case Dimitrius does appear. I worry though that he’ll realise this is quite a new edition (I keep giving copies away to people who haven’t read it) and may think I’m jumping on some band waggon or something and he wouldn’t be impressed by that. Oh well, tough, needs must, I shall just have to explain my book dispersal activities early on in the conversation if he does ever show up.
I move to my third spot. If anyone is watching they must think I have some form of seat tic or something. I don’t care; I’m making my dreams come true and therefore it’s worth looking like a buffoon. Good things come to those who wait right?! Even the Guinness advert says so, so it must be true. I then spot some other woman (people are starting to rise now) wearing the same bloomin’ white beach dress with red/pink flowers as me! The EXACT SAME bloomin’ dress!!! In all the holiday resorts in all the world on this one day that I’m trying to make my dreams come true someone is wearing the bloomin’ same dress as me: it’s from last years summer collection so it’s not even like it’s in the shops now! Darn you H&M and your cheap but stylish beach garments! Who is she trying to look demure for?! Oh no, what if he mistakes her for me?! I put my sunglasses back over my eyes so I can stare at her better. She’s younger than me by the looks of it and has long blonde hair. She’s basically me when I invented the story, oh the irony!! I hide behind my book and pretend not to notice. She’s not hanging out on the harbour wall scouting for salt licked hair so she doesn’t appear to be a threat… but still, move along missy! I had the vision first so finders keepers! Thankfully she heads into town instead and leaves my story to its rightful owner: me.
Well a good hour or so has passed and nothing, nada, total blank. I decide to take a walk along the water front and end up at the tiny runway of Skiathos airport, looking at a sign that basically tells me I am at risk of death by standing there. Wow get me! I’ve turned into a right rebel! Certain death could appear at any second and here I am just cavorting right in front of it. Ner nur ne ner nur death, come and have a go if you think you’re hard enough! From the timid girl whose catchphrase when I was little was ‘am I allowed?’ I am now actively dicing with death! In your face allowedness! I feel smug for a moment until I realise nevermind death, I would actually pee myself if a plane was coming in/taking off and that’s definitely not a good look for a date, so decide to make a move. Again.
I head back in to town and order some breakfast as consolation for my lack of man-treasure: I may not find my Greek man but Greek food always satisfies. I spend the rest of the day on the beach attempting to get some sort of a tan and making the most of warm clear waters as I’ve no idea how long it will be before I can enjoy them again. On leaving the beach with a big dopey grin on my face, relaxed and refreshed, I end up in a salsa-off with one of the waiters in a bar you have to pass through to get off the beach. He wasn’t Dimitrius but he made my smile widen further as only dancing can and there’s a spring in my step as I walk back to my hotel, ready for my last night and ready for whatever that may bring. Fingers crossed…
I wake curled in the foetal position at the top of the bed. I still have last nights dress on. I can’t stretch out as my suitcase is at the bottom of the bed so I’ve obviously decided just to lie down around it. Ohhhhhhhh dearrrr…
I reach for my phone, which is surprisingly sensibly on the bedside table next to me and get the fright of my life: It’s 11.30 am! 11.30am!!!!! Jeez I’ve missed a whole morning of Dimitrius hunting AND tanning time, both of which I can ill afford to miss! There are three missed calls from the couple last night checking I got home safe and messages from people I’d been texting before I passed out, again checking that I’m ok. I’m ok… I’m still in the foetal position and there’s a little man banging his fist off the inside of my skull but I’m ok. I gingerly text the couple back to give my apologies for not getting back to them, telling them I passed out on my bed and thank you so much yes I did get home safe… though God only knows how. I must’ve been a racing pigeon in a previous life as I somehow always manage to find my way home; even though I’d only previously walked here once and that was a back-and-forward-try-this-way-then-that-way-mission. In that respect I’m very proud of my drunk self as she actually has greater navigation skills than my sober self. My drunk self gets extra brownie points when I realise she also remembered to take her contact lenses out: I’m an inebriated genius! Though the makeup taking off was obviously a step too far as looking in the mirror I’m sporting that lovely panda look. How come my makeup was sliding off my face last night yet now it is resolutely stuck to my skin and burrowed into every crevice? I sigh, turning my gaze from the mirror to find of all things a biscuit perched at the end of the bed. What the…?!
Moving around the room there are biscuits everywhere. I must’ve come in and had some sort of biscuit orgy. Just as well I didn’t manage to give them to Not-So-Grumpy-Old-Dimitrius and Not-So-Grumpy-Old-Dimitrius’-Wife as they’ve clearly played a key part in last nights activities. They’re on the drainer in the kitchen, in the bathroom sink, basically any random place you can think that a biscuit shouldn’t be, there’s a biscuit there to greet you. It’s like a Tracey Emin piece of modern art. A postmodern biscuitopia. I eat them; or should I say I down them like last nights shots. I hate waste and hangovers call for food… even if they wouldn’t be my first choice and they’ve gone abit soft now, they’ll do.
I finish my biscuit treasure trail of gluttony and look at my phone in more detail, specifically the messages from the night before. Oh my. It’s just as well I’m sitting down (I find the little man in my head bangs his fists even more when I stand up). My favourite messages trail is the following, all sent by me and with no response from the other party in between:
00:26am: Oh dear
1:01am: I am ver
1:02am: I am ver
1:02am: I am
Then nothing else.
Answers on a postcard please: what the bloomin’ heck was I talking about?! I have absolutely no idea now and by the looks of it I probably didn’t have any idea then either. Think brain think…I can’t recall leaving the bar but I do remember at one point walking along Papadiamantis (love that name) Street and giving myself a stern talking to for swaying around like the drunken idiot that I am. The next thing I recall is waking up…
Uh-oh how did I get in the hotel?! The lady told me when I checked in that they lock the front door at midnight but there is a key on my fob I can use, or there is a back gate near my room which also might be locked, but again I have a key. Question is did I get in the front door or use the back gate?! Either way I’m very impressed at my key usage at a strange property in a drunken state; again drunken self has outshone sober self. Oh hang on, did I see anyone? Or more importantly did they see me? If I went through reception there is the possibility I may have had a conversation with someone… I have absolutely no idea. I could’ve met Dimitrius himself in reception last night and I’d be none the wiser. I decide for the rest of my stay I shall use the back gate so that I don’t have to see anyone at reception, just in case they know of or mention my drunken antics.
Keen to waste no more of the sunshine I take my makeup and last nights dress off, put my suncream and beach clothes on and drag my sorry a** down to the beach to mend my broken self. On the agenda is pure pandering to whatever my hangover wishes, be it sleep, stuffing my face or hair of the dog, whatever is necessary will be done.
I find a solitary space on the beach and doze and dip for a few hours before playing a game with myself: I want food, I don’t want food, I want food, I don’t want food. For gods sake please don’t let today be Dimitrius day, he’d run a mile if he saw me now I’m sure. What exactly happens to your face during a hangover? Is it just that my eyes can’t see straight so I look different or have my features actually contorted into some unrecognisable shape? It’s 3pm now and other than those random biscuits I haven’t ate anything and as not eating isn’t making me feel any better I decide to give eating a go.
The beach is lined with bars and tavernas. I go and sit in the only one I can find that isn’t shaded (after missing the full morning I need to maximise my tanning time now) I sit for fifteen minutes and no one approaches. Maybe I’m just invisible on my own, or maybe someone recognises me from last night and thinks I’m not going near that drunken loon, or maybe I just look hungover and should not be served anything just in case I decide to hurl it up again. Whatever it is I’m not in the mood for Greek service lethargy so move on elsewhere; sun or no sun I need a Cola. Speaking of Coke I’ve recently been made aware that some people actually say no when told at a bar ‘sorry we don’t have Coke, is Pepsi ok?’ I honestly thought this was just a polite bar brand name awareness statement which everyone always agrees to but apparently not, there are people in the world who change their drink preference if they are to be served Pepsi rather than Coke! Who knew! Life is a constant education.
Me being me who will eat or drink anything doesn’t care what Cola beverage they serve, only that they serve one quick. I find another bar, plonk myself in a chair and zone out to the music. I’m bemused when people keep clapping at the end of records until I realise a good half hour or so later that there is a dude playing guitar right behind me! Jeez hangovers suck, you miss the most obvious goings on: Dimitrius could’ve been holding two fingers up behind my head to do that rabbit ear thing right now and I’d be none the wiser. I down my Coke faster than last nights Ouzo and eagerly wait for my obligatory holiday Club Sandwich (for some reason I never eat them at home, only on holidays) then it arrives and I struggle to eat it. I’m neither here nor there nor in nor out. I’m used to indecision at the best of times but I’m in hangover hell and don’t know what to do with myself, everything is a self-inflicted struggle. I take my time and get through the bread mountain before retiring to the beach again to do the only thing that can help me now: sleep. Dimitrius will have to wait another day…
As the ferry pulls into Skiathos Town I’m busy taking a million photos until it dawns on me the boat has anchored and may be going elsewhere; nevermind playing David Bailey, I need to get off quick!!! I attempt to run for it but can’t find a door off the deck nevermind anywhere else: where on earth is the exit when you need it?! Why is the layout of this boat so different to every other ferry I’ve been on?! Where’s Grumpy Officer when I need him?! Why do I always leave everything until the last minute?! Arghhhhhhhhhh…
I manage to find some doors and fight my way through them, leaping over some steps with my case in the process: those recent hills have definitely turned me part mountain goat. I sprint down the corridors, down a staircase or two, down the gangway and onto dry land. Phew. Home and dry, well almost. Once there the town feels very flat compared to where I’ve just been so even when I can’t find the hotel at first it doesn’t really matter, I simply walk abit more than planned: compared to Skopelos this isn’t anywhere near a maze, it’s just me being abit useless with my non-sense of direction. When I do find my hotel it’s like a different world, it’s an actual proper hotel with lots and lots of rooms, an actual proper reception desk, actual proper computer booking systems and people speaking better English than I do. I feel like I’ve been time travelling; it’s like a vision from the future.
I don’t have much time as I have plans tonight (me! plans! tonight!) so nip out quickly for the essentials at a nearby supermarket before a quick shower and time for glamourfication. Yes, I’m back to wearing proper make up here. I hadn’t bothered in some of the more recent places as would’ve stood out if I’d made too much effort and prefer to blend in where possible. Even here I’m not out to impress anyone tonight (Dimitrius isn’t the type to notice make up, he’d probably just ask what was different about my face; besides he won’t be out late tonight being a fisherman and all that) so whilst I’m getting my face tarted up I start to think what is the point, I’m not doing this for anyone so why bother? Then I realise she’s standing right in front of me. I’m doing this for me. I’m doing this because I want to look nice so that I feel good about myself, and that’s a nice thing to think…even if it is a right faff putting make up on in the heat and my eyeliner just keeps rubbing off anyway. So where am I off to I hear you wondering? Remember that lovely couple from the flight, well they invited me out with them and their friends now I’m back in civilisation so I’m off out on the town…
I manage to find my way back into town from my hotel and we go for cocktails, dinner then drinks. Well there were drinks throughout of course, there were just more of them toward the end. Civilisation is fun! I can understand why our ancestors became err civilised! You can talk to people and have conversations and laughter and much merriment, which although I haven’t missed company during my trip I’m now remembering that it’s fun to have people around. The waiter is of course asked if he is Dimitrius? No, he’s not. Does he know Dimitrius? Yes he does, which one? Err how many are there? Thousands.
Hang on a minute, there are thousands of Dimitriuses on this island alone but I can’t seem to meet one on four Greek islands and even the mainland?! Is there some sort of Dimitrius conspiracy going on?! Maybe there’s some international Dimitrius airwave that has infiltrated my plans and decided to hide all Dimitriuses from me? The waiter points out that one Dimitrius he knows works at some sister restaurant somewhere or other that I’ve never heard of, which isn’t surprising considering I don’t even know the name of the restaurant I’m in now. I decide whoever he is he’s not my fisherman anyway so turn my attention instead to my other great love: alcohol.
Wine, beer, gin, whatever…I love it all and I drink it all. We’ve moved on now to a lovely little bar with some great live music. I do chair dancing (basically sitting down and twisting your upper body about as you’re too lazy to get off the seat) and sing along to whatever I can where possible: this time not accosting the musicians and grabbing the microphone from them as I have been known to do on previous drunken occasions. Young people who are far too young to be in a bar appear sporadically and try to sell roses; someone then buys a rose which creates a multitude of photo opportunities: holding it between teeth and trying to balance it on your head/chin/nose as the kid does but all to no avail of course.
Then it happens. There’s always some idiot at some point in the night who decides shots are a good idea. That idiot is always me. I never learn. Never ever ever. I go to the bar and as we are in Greece, obviously order a round of ouzo shots. It’s like I’m possessed by the shot fairy and can’t control myself, no one is safe from my shotliness so….Yamas!!!
I feel fine! I feel great! I send a WhatsApp message to someone saying ‘I’ve just had a shot of ouzo and can’t feel my tongue’! I dance… or at least move around in a non-walking type motion. Someone tries to match me up with some bloke but I’m having none of it, he’s not my Dimitrius and I have a rose to dance with! I’m having a great night! I know I am! I just can’t now remember any of it…
The magic beer scooter appears at some point and whisks me home…which is very clever of it considering I’m not even sure where home is; I couldn’t even find it sober earlier so how the heck the magic beer scooter knows where to go in a strange town after copious amounts of alcohol I have no idea…it’s clearly better than my ferry navigation skills at least…
It’s axiomatic that on my last day in Skopelos the sun is back out in full force. As I’m leaving one of the hostesses neighbours pops by and there’s discussion around the weather; I comment that bad weather seems to follow me and she is visibly relieved when I tell her I’m going today, effectively asking me to please never return. My lovely hostess (who appears personally distressed that the weather has been so poor during my stay as though it were something she could control) offers to drive me down to the port but I tell her I have plenty of time, it’s all downhill and plus I have some people I’d like to say goodbye to…
I make the regular turns: left then right then left then right and…they’re not there! Not So Grumpy Old Dimitrius and Not So Grumpy Old Dimitrius’ Wife’s house is locked up! I am genuinely gutted. I wanted to ask their names; why on earth I didn’t do this sooner I have no idea and now I’m kicking myself. I also have some biscuits left over I was going to give to them. I figure I could leave them on the doorstep (well, pavement) but how would they know they were from me and it’s not like I have some post it notes in my suitcase I could quickly write a note on…and even if I did they wouldn’t be able to understand it anyway. Another reminder that in life you should do things while you can as you never know what is around the corner (that’s certainly the case around here, I can’t even work out what corner I’m on nevermind what is around it) and may never get the opportunity again; Carpe Diem and all that jazz. I trundle off deflated down the hill, bumping my weary case behind me.
Once in town I need to find a bakery to have one of these famous Skopelos cheese pies – and see if they’re actually any different to any of the other islands cheese pies. This one is baked fresh for me and it appears in a snail shape, which would have been a surprise had the spinach pie in Alonissos not been the same shape. I sit at the harbour with my pasty swigging from a can of Greek beer (well I wasn’t going to leave it was I, I did say I hate waste!) once again waiting for a man in a blue shirt. No such luck but I figure it’s too busy around here anyway, this is neither the time nor the place so I’m quite happy to leave when the next ferry appears and whisks me off.
The water is still very choppy after the storms so it’s a slightly queasy journey and I’m pleased with the slight break from the bumps when we stop in Glossa. This is the port nearest the famous Mamma Mia church so I’m surprised it appears quite low key, I was expecting lots of sightseeing party boats but it appears very peaceful and unpretentious…possibly the sort of place where you might find a fisherman! Damn why didn’t I stay here again?! Oh well, no changing plans now, I’m all ferried out; onward to Skiathos! My final Dimitrius hunting destination…
Oh my word what a night! I haven’t seen a storm like that in a long long time and haven’t slept too well because of it. If Dimitrius was out fishing in that I have to admit he is probably a gonner by now and I am a fishermans widow without ever being a wife. It’s still chucking it down and doesn’t appear to want to ease for a good few hours so I have a slight panic in that I have no water or food in and am the sort of person who likes to make sure she has supplies in at all times: at home I always have an emergency pizza in the freezer as obviously in an emergency a pizza is exactly what is needed. I also note the extreme impact the weather has on my mood. I know people get Seasonal Affective Disorder and I can understand why; in the space of 24 hours I’ve gone from happy-smiley-person to grumpy-as-hell-don’t-cross-me-I’m-in-a-right-fettle-person; all because of a few drops of rain and a drop in temperature (I HATE HATE HATE being cold).
Mid-afternoon when the rain finally stops I take the opportunity to head out and like everyone else does on holiday when the weather is crap, go and find somewhere to eat and drink. I decide on a local restaurant with a nice seated area by a tree and ask for a table. ‘Just you?’ the owner says. Yes ‘just me’…just me again as always. Other people seem to have such an issue with my being alone; some even seem quite upset by it but quite frankly I would much rather be on my own sitting in silence looking awkward to everyone else, than sitting in awkward silence with someone. You see it all the time: couples just sitting staring into space or worse still looking at their phones throughout a meal together. I’ve watched it many times on this trip and can honestly say I may not have anyone to smile at but I have smiled more and have had far more entertaining evenings than some of those people appear to have. I’ve been in relationships where a partner has looked at his phone throughout a meal for no good reason whilst I sit and look like the gooseberry in the situation; I’ve been there and I won’t go there again. I may not be as smart as a smart phone (who is) but my time is worth more than being second best to a gadget…so it’s just as well as Dimitrius probably doesn’t even own a mobile and if he does it’ll be a brick. So yes world stop feeling sorry for me as I don’t need it. I’m alone because I don’t yet have someone who I want to spend my quality time with: my time is precious and until there is someone I want to spend it with, I am spending it on myself and that in itself is a good investment.
I order a Moussaka and the waiter asks me if I want some homemade pitta bread. I don’t but he does such a good sales pitch I agree. When it turns up though it’s not pitta bread, or certainly not pitta like I’ve ever seen. This appears to be some sort of deep fried dough ball the size of the plate. It’s tasty but it’s massive and I end up having to leave some of it again, which I’m not happy about. I really don’t know what has happened to me this holiday as I hate waste and normally polish off every bit of food just for the sake of it. You could say it’s because of the heat…except you couldn’t say that today. Maybe I’m finally learning I’m not a walking dustbin after all, that’s an achievement if nothing else.
In the evening I walk past Not So Grumpy Old Dimitrius and Mrs Not So Grumpy Old Dimitrius and we do our usual Ti kanis, Kali Speras; I shall miss these two when I go I really will. I can’t get in to the restaurant I want to go to as it’s full so spend most of the evening wandering aimlessly around to find somewhere else even though I’m not particularly hungry after my giant pitta experience this afternoon. I decide to keep it simple with a Gyros and Fix beer (I’m always looking for a quick Fix: boom boom!) and try to head home, determined that I will find the right way this time despite failing to every time since I arrived.
It’s not even like I keep making the same wrong turn, every time I get lost I end up somewhere else. There’s a whole other town I keep discovering…which is nice, other than when I just want to get in before the downpour starts again. Once again, twice again, thrice again I end up in the wrong place, having to keep dropping back to water level to start again. I’m sure the streets are alive and moving, changing direction as I walk through them. This is all up steep winding streets and I keep going only with the thought that at least I might get an *ss like J-Lo’s by the end of it. How on earth elderly people live here I have no idea. The place is a mountain. I’m surprised there aren’t goats leaping past. I’d hate to be a postie around here and it’s certainly not DDA compliant. Saying that there’s no one on mobility scooters but everyone gets around fine, you wouldn’t get that at home where you can’t walk around Tesco at ease without fear of being mown down by some morbidly obese forty-something year old on a mobility scooter. The reason I never pass Not So Grumpy Old Dimitrius on the way back is that I can never actually find their ‘street’. I’ve tried to memorise it as the street near a yellow house which you look at and think couldn’t possibly lead anywhere, but turns out there’s a load of those too; everywhere looks like it doesn’t lead anywhere and the paths you think do lead somewhere often don’t: there’s a metaphor in there somewhere. I’ve walked past a game of hopscotch five times, each time thinking I was in a different place and I’m sure even if I marked a trail it would be wrong; I feel like I’m in the film Labyrinth where they keep moving her markings so she doesn’t have a clue where she is. So it’s back down to the water level for me, again…
At some point in the night after I don’t even know how many attempts I manage to find it: the ‘hidden’ stairway past Not So Grumpy Old Dimitrius’ house, then a left and right and left and right and I’ve sussed it…just in time before I leave tomorrow
It’s abit cloudy this morning so I figure I will spend some time wandering the streets and trying to get my bearings as best I can… otherwise known as just getting lost for the sake of it. When I arrived back at the apartment last night the hostess was sitting outside reading; I have a feeling she was waiting to see that I got home ok as she seemed concerned that I was on my own and urged me to call her if I was ever lost or needed anything at all. I hope I don’t need to do that but it’s nice to know she’s there and there’s someone looking out for me. It was also handy she was there and probably confirmed her cause for concern when I couldn’t open the latch on the gate and thought I needed to use a key to get into the main building when actually pushing the door sufficed: pretty sure she’s now wondering how such a calamity has managed to get herself all the way to Greece on her own if she can’t even manage a simple gate without assistance; to be fair I often wonder the same myself.
I leave the apartment and turn to head left then right then left then right again but remember this will make me cross Grumpy Old Dimitrius’ path. I stand still for a split second thinking whether I should just find another way rather than crossing him again… then decide I should face my fears head on and just go that way anyway.
Grumpy Old Dimitrius isn’t outside when I pass but his wife is still sitting in exactly the same place as last night: infact she may have been there all night, though she can’t use my excuse of being lost. Instead of bowing my head and shuffling quickly past I smile my brightest, broadest smile and say ‘Kalimera!’ Grumpy Old Dimitrius’ Wife grins a more toothy grin than her husband could ever manage and says also ‘Kalimera’. On hearing this brief but meaningful exchange Grumpy Old Dimitrius sticks his head out of the kitchen/living room/general-purpose-room-that- appears-to-be-their-entire-house and shouts ‘Kalimera’ followed by some incomprehensible (to me) Greek. I smile even more widely (that one where your cheeks start to hurt), wave and ‘Kalimera!’ him too.
Great! Would you believe it! We are mates now! Bestest buddies BFF afterall! That’s made my day that has. After feeling a bit off my guard and out of sorts yesterday I’m at ease once again and smile to myself all the way down the bank..and up the bank…and around the bank…and over the bank… yeah I’m lost but I’m taking in the sights and sounds and seeing where each meander takes me. I take far too many pictures, end up wearing the battery out on my phone and have to find the apartment again just so that I can get some charge into it. Once I’ve managed to locate the room (cheating by using the road-navigation-pasty/pie-on-building-technique again) I plug my phone in to charge and sit typing on the balcony for awhile where I’m joined in the communal area by my hostesses husband (he’s called Stamatis; of course I checked!). He tells me he spotted me before, walking around in the maze and backtracking around the road. I tell him that ‘I was just checking that I was where I thought I was and I was’ … yeah he looks as confused as me at what has just came out of my mouth. He reiterates his wife’s request that I call them if I need anything and also explains the weather is meant to be particularly bad tonight. I decide in that case I will make sure I am back before darkness falls, free ouzo or no free ouzo.
I’ve walked a lot downhill into town this morning so decide to head upward this afternoon and explore where this road that has saved me from death-by-lostness actually leads. I walk up and up around the twisting road and have a slight panic that the wind is picking up, clouds are circulating, I am wearing sandals with no grip on a road surface that is already very slippery and as the worlds most accident prone person and number one candidate for ‘person most likely to fall over’, overall it’s not a good combination. I find myself doing what I have done a lot lately and think of a contingency plan: what will I do if it starts chucking it down and I can’t actually walk back down the hill as the road is too slippery? I figure I could take my shoes off and walk barefoot like a hobo but actually decide instead that if this does happen I will just slide back down the road on my honkers; it’ll make a memorable entrance back into town if nothing else and who knows, I may even slide all the way down to the harbour and into the arms of a certain fisherman… here’s hoping eh!
The further up I go though the windier it gets and as I have no idea where I’m headed, I decide to drop back down into town and have a mooch around the shops instead. I now understand why Southern Europe may have a less robust economy than the North: in the South it is mainly sunny so people sit out enjoying the sunshine, head to the beach, relax etc, in the North it is bloomin’ cold therefore people go shopping for entertainment and thus the economy thrives. Clearly all Greece needs if it is struggling financially again is a few days of grey skies and a boat load of women to go shopping, that’ll solve any economic crises and everything will be right as err rain; in the space of a few hours of grey skies I’ve somehow managed to buy a picture, a scarf and some earrings that I hadn’t intended to. If the sun had been shining there’s no way this would have happened; I wonder if I can sue mother nature for financial ruin induced by storm clouds…?
In the evening I walk past Not So Grumpy Old Dimitrius’ house again, smiling again at his wife (who still hasn’t moved) and say ‘Kalispera’, she Kalisperas me back and Not So Grumpy Old Dimitrius sticks his head through the door and I recognise one of his words this time: ‘Agapi Mou’ I know what this means, and it’s an affectionate term so it’s nice to hear. I have friends. Even though we just pass on the winding steps a couple of times a day, for a few days they are a feature of my life and I am a feature of theirs, and that feels good.
I have a lovely meal on the steps of Gorgones taverna and get back to the apartment just as the rain is starting; just as well I do as 10 minutes later there is a power cut. Complete silence and darkness. Only the wild wind howling, rain lashing and a few lights down by the port, other than that nothing…until the thunder starts and lightning streaks across the skies. I am so happy I came home when I did. I would hate to be out in those twisty mazey streets on my own in the pitch black. That would indeed have freaked me right out; there’s no way I could have found my way back and would probably have broken an ankle or two in the process. I use the torch on my phone for the first time ever and notice someone has been in my room as there’s something new on the bedside table: a battery powered lamp has been placed there, I’m guessing in case there was a power cut. I may not yet have found Dimitrius but I have found the warmth of Greek hospitality and that’s a comforting hug in itself, particularly when you are faced with the night of the mother of all storms…