2017: A Dimitrius Odyssey

It was my last night in Alonissos and I managed to get to the funky bar without the annoying waiter stalking me so all was well in the world.

I now head off for pastures new; the island I am most intrigued and excited by yet also most nervous about. It’s very slightly off radar for most Brits plus I’m not saying in the port town so have to work out how to get from the port on one side of the island to the resort on the other. This is of course the land of the little horseys: Skyros.

Before my journey though I have a few hours to kill in Alonissos so attempt to find a table in a café which proves somewhat difficult…then I remember the dance festival has ended so all the dancers are now in transit too and waiting for their various boats and buses. When I do find one lone table with one lone chair I know exactly where to put my lone self and entertain myself with a good old game of food roulette.

The good thing about eating anything at all means that even if I don’t know what it means on the menu I will probably like it; I’ve not yet found anything I don’t like so I’m keen to maintain my 100% hit rate. When I see a handwritten scrawl beneath the typed omelettes and sandwiches I know what I will go for: Emanakomita. At least that’s what I think it says. When the waitress appears I point and give my best Em-an -urrr a urr a komita?? And she replies in fluent English: Spinach Pie.
Damn you fluent English speaker you! You’ve ruined my game of food roulette! There’s no mystery now! But at least I can now get my taste buds excited rather than it being a total surprise. I don’t think Dimitrius will be around here, I think he’ll be put off by the crowds and will probably have taken a longer trip out to sea these past few days to escape the hullabaloo. I do however take the opportunity to play another game to pass the time: spot the fit bloke (yes this is sexist)

The best tally ever on this particular game was in Sweden in 2003 when I counted 19 in a straight run: from the men I spied through my window on the plane manning the funny little airport vehicles (I love those!) up to arriving into Gothenburg town an hour or so later. It’s proven a tough tally to beat however I am dedicated to trying. There’s quite a few wannabe Ronaldo-a-likes here but I let them off given they are probably dance heroes in the islands they represent so have earned some swagger rights. In total I count six and a half (I was a bit on the fence with one so gave half marks) so my Sweden record remains intact for now. In the interest of not making this too sexist I would also say that there were an equal number, maybe even more, of attractive women but what did you expect, this is Greece remember, all of the girls are beautiful!
I seek to make a move and note the only trouble I can really find with travelling alone is that there’s no one to watch your stuff when you need to nip to the loo (where is my baggage buddy when I need him?!) so I end up dragging my case into the tiny toilet with me which is err tricky but do-able; it’s these little details that no one seems to talk about when they are waxing lyrical on the benefits of solo travel.
Wandering down the dock the ferry pulling into Patitiri port has ‘Skyros Shipping Co’ emblazoned down the side of it so I’m pretty sure this must be my boat, but given my previous faux pas I’m keen to quadruple check this is the right one: the crew look at me like I’m insane, and I do feel insane asking but better to be safe than encounter Grumpy Officer again. Handing my ticket over to the fourth officer I’ve asked ‘is this the boat to Skyros’ he smiles and welcomes me on board; what a happy ship this is in comparison to last time and how very organised of them to check tickets BEFORE we pull away from port! It’s like being back in civilisation…well I say that until the luggage carnage hits me of people throwing cases at each other at the top of the stairs; I decide to heave mine with me up to the top deck rather than join the bun fight.
Once on deck I grab a plastic chair and head down the starboard (I think?!) side of the ship which is unoccupied and make the place my own; using my case as a footstool I stretch out and enjoy what could be a private cruise given that I can’t see a soul around me as once again they are all cowering in the shade. It’s five and a half hours of sailing before we get to Skyros and there’s a breeze on deck which makes me adopt a certain rasta hair look: I really hope Dimitrius isn’t going to meet me off the ship as quite frankly, I look like ****.

I forgot about this slight issue. I am not one of those women that look good on holiday. You see these women gliding through airports in their nonchalant ‘thrown together’ effortlessly cool outfits; then at the other side of the scale there’s me. I just look wrong. Something appears to happen as soon as I land somewhere that my facial shape changes, I become even more pink and shiny than normal and my clothes just look, well, wrong. So thinking that I may actually entice the man of my dreams whilst looking pretty much my worst is, well, hopeful at least, if not just plain ridiculous. Even if I was in the most loved up relationship on a first holiday together my beloved would probably take a look at me and think ‘jeez, what the hell happened to you?!’ but obviously couldn’t say that as then he’d sound shallow and mean so would just have to ease his pain with a few treble vodkas on arrival and hope the beer goggles kick in asap. So yes, holidays are not by best look and I have no idea how I will get a comb through this mane after more than five hours of being blown about on deck.

I turn my attention from Dimitrius hunting to little horse hunting (but not in an actual hunting-hunting way, that’d just be wrong) as at least they won’t care what I look like and will probably just think of me as a bedraggled one of their own.
I spot the dark mountains of Skyros looming ahead and become more nervous about what I will encounter here….will there just be goats for company? Will no one understand English let alone Geordie? Will I have to survive on ouzo forever more (hmm, silver linings and all that…) All my fears fade away though and I laugh when the first thing I see after the pretty whitewashed houses and church on a hill is…a Shell garage. A bloomin’ Shell bloomin garage! Might as well have stuck a Maccy D’s there and be done with it. To top it off the ship then starts playing 2001: A Space Odyssey. I chuckle, I like this lot, I like this lot a lot.

 

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Is this the boat to Skyros do you think?!

 

 

 

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Dimitrius has a career change…maybe

In the evening it’s more Greek dancing at the Alonissos dance festival: my word those poor musicians must be knackered! I choose another restaurant on the harbour front and am again given a curious look when I tell them the table is just for me. The waiter, who is definitely not Dimitrius, asks why the most beautiful girl on the island is alone. Oh dear, here we go with the patter. Just because I’m on my own does not mean I’m desperate (err despite the title of this blog) and furthermore I can spot schmoozing a mile off. I shrug “Hey, that’s just the way of the world isn’t it. Can I have a menu please?”

Well clearly if he genuinely thought I was the most beautiful girl on the island he’s not making much of an effort as the service is incredibly slow despite things being a lot quieter than the evening before. Where is my menu?! Eventually he brings the quarter of wine and water that I have ordered and asks me which glass I would prefer the wine in: wine glass or tumbler. I joke that it’s fine, I will just drink from the jug however it’s definitely lost in translation. He just looks at me like I’m weird, which I guess I am a bit. The food is fantastic and just when I think I am all pattered out at the end of the meal a different waiter appears and tries his luck (he’s definitely definitely definitely absolutely not in a million years and then some Dimitrius). He tells me that he will meet me at the bar with the van in the wall (he means a VW Beetle; it’s not a white-van-man-type-van like it sounds, that’d just look a bit, well, s**t) when he finishes work and will buy me a drink. There’s no asking me if I want this, just a statement of fact. Well your fact is my fiction mate, there’s not a hope in hells chance I’m going to that bar tonight now despite planning to so cheers for that, you’ve just ruined my evening. Obviously I don’t say any of this, just make a nod and ensure when he has gone I leg it as soon as I can; after I’ve paid the bill of course…I haven’t turned to that life of crime after the ferry incident just yet
The following day I’m keen to have a more relaxing time and my blisters will thank me for it I’m sure. I decide to head to the nearby beaches of Rousoum Gialos and Votsi, which are basically the next bays along from Patitiri where I’m staying. All of these beaches are pebble rather than sand so I almost feel like I’m having a hot stone massage each time I lay down, they’re good for you though right… even though it feels like I’ve been sleeping on, well rocks. Walking from Rousoum to Votsi I have a slight problem: my sandal breaks. I’m not near any shops and I’m a good twenty minute walk from the hotel. I do what any self-respecting person would do and err shuffle along as best I can in the heat. I’m spurred on though when I see a sign for ‘Dimitris pizza café restaurant’ with not only the sign but a boat run aground behind it. Could this be?! Has he given up his life of fishing to enter the catering business?! There’s no way I’m turning back now; I hobble on at speed, find the restaurant and am brimming with anticipation; could this finally be?! I sit on a seat overlooking the waterfront and try and look as nonchalant as possible; flicking my hair, and gazing out at the boats. I hear someone approach and steel myself, preparing to meet the love of my life, big smile at the ready, I turn my gaze and see… a teenage girl, notebook in hand. Arrrghhhh I knew it was too good to be true; besides it was the wrong spelling anyway. I order a Mythos for refreshment before me and my Monty Python school of funny walks head back home again.

 

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The non-white-van-man-van

 

 

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My washed up man that wasn’t

 

 

Guess who’s back…

Yiasu! Apologies for the brief photographic interlude, I apologise further for uploading photographs of rank wine (yes of course I still drank it) and throwback photos of me 9 years ago still on the Dimitrius hunt but at least it shows this tale is true. So, back in the modern world I’m at this point in Alonissos, heading out for my first night…
After the build up from my balcony watching the boats bring the dancers in to the beating of their drums, I toddle off to the main square to see what this dance festival is all about. I have to say, the atmosphere is electric. Swirls of dance troupes fill the streets, there’s music and merriment and the place is generally jumping. I need to find somewhere to eat and feel foolish to think I will find a table anywhere. As luck would have it though one of the restaurants makes a table up for me (“just one?!” “yes, just me…”) in what I actually think is one of the best seats in the house. It’s a raised platform from the rest of the restaurant where all of the tables are full and I have a birds eye view of the action. I order a traditional Greek garlic dip as can’t think I’ve had one of those before and a Beef Stifado. Happy days…until the dip arrives and I realise I may as well just eat a garlic bulb raw. Oh well, no kissing if I meet Dimitrius tonight then! I have a fantastic evening watching the dancing and soaking up the atmosphere and though I’d like to get up at the end of the night when they invite the crowds up on stage, it’s really not something you would do on your own: believe me though if I’d been there with the girls we’d have been Opa-ing all night an then some!
Next day I decide I’m going to walk to the old town so take my legs off on a journey…except me being me with my rotten sense of direction end up walking the wrong way. After a 30 minute hike in the heat passing a wall with water bottles stuck to it (representing all the people who have died here trying to find the old village?!) I end up at a dead end with only a resort ahead of me. Appears I’ve got my Marpunta’s and Megalos Mourtias mixed up; why the bleedin’ hell is there a full on proper official road sign that makes you think you’re going to a proper official place when actually a handwritten plank of wood on a tree would suffice? Just confuses folk like me who assume a proper roads sign means an actual proper town. Anyway, after I walk back (so basically hour down and two blisters up) I find the sign pointing to a footpath for ‘Chora’ the old village. Oh well, at least I’m on the right track now at least, ‘track’ being the operative word.
Heading up this ‘path’ I feel more and more like a mountain goat trying to, well, stay alive. Little lizardy things run past me, birds swirl (vultures I reckon hoping to get a taste of last night’s Stifado; oh well at least the garlic may come in useful for something) flying buzzing things land on me and I do some sort of freakish tribal dance to try and ward them all off. There’s a stench of manure and I think that if I don’t find Dimitrius at least I know where Gepeto is. No one had told me that in order to get to the old town I really should have brought Bear Grylls along with me. I’m amazed to see some older ladies coming towards me, phew! There must be a town up there soon if these two have survived. They’re talking to each other in English and just as we pass each other and I’m about to say hello, one of them cheerfully says to me “Guten Tag!”
Guten Tag?! Guten bloody Tag?! Weirdly I smile and Guten Tag them back even though I’m not German and neither are they. I’ve been away from home all of two days and I’ve changed name and nationality, whatever next! Tomorrow I may wake up a teetotal vegan, anything appears to be possible here.
Walking this route though I’m so thankful I decided not to stay in the old village; I know that me being me would probably have set out on this very same route with case in tow: that would’ve well and truly buggared my wheels for sure. I get into the village and there’s only the same band and dancers from last night playing. Bless them they’ve had no rest, still beating their drums and dancing away; I like their style! I wander around the old village like the proper tourist that I am, taking photos of churches even though I’m not religious and never go in them at home but for some reason when abroad always seem to be sticking my head in one and taking photos of the exterior; surely it’s not just me that does this?
After a couple of hours I’m done with the old town and decide to head down to Megalos Whatsitsname. I know the beach is just down from the old town but what I didn’t realise was just how much it bends and bends and bends and bends….my blisters are multiplying and quite frankly I consider turning back it’s so torturous given I’ve already walked so much already. Half way down the bends there’s a message in Greek on a tree with a number printed on it: I’m guessing it’s the equivalent of the Samaritans helpline for those lost wandering along this winding road in the blazing heat wondering if their thoughts of a beach are actually just a mirage. I also wonder if Uber cover Alonissos? I could do with someone to call right now to pick me up but give that Goole Maps doesn’t even seem to register half the place I’m guessing not.
I eventually reach the beach and spend a few hours:

a) Swimming lengths
b) Extreme tanning
c) Drinking beer, nodding off, waking up and attempting to look cool strolling into the sea but tripping over the pepples and falling ar*e first into the water

Answers on a postcard please, you can reach me at: Vasili, The German, Alonissos, Greece

 

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Old Town Alonissos
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Water bottles on the road to nowhere/death valley
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Alonissos Old Town

 

 

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Doesn’t help narrow my search for Dimitrius as a man in a blue shirt when the ‘Fashions for Men’ here are basically, err, various shades of blue tops
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Megalos Mourtias

 

 

 

The photographic interlude continues…

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Beautiful Alonissos
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DO NOT drink this wine…yeah I know, you wouldn’t buy it let alone drink it!!
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Could this be?! Well not for me it wasn’t, it was only bloomin’ well sold out!! Wrong spelling though anyway…again!!
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Clear Aegean waters
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A house of pies you say?!! Did I? Of course I did!
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Well I was there but where was he?! Come on Dimitrius, reveal yourself!
Proof of how long this search has gone on for! Rhodes 2008...I think
Proof of how long this search has gone on for! Rhodes 2008…or thereabouts