So long, farewell, auf wiedersehen, cheese pie…

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

So-so: Skopelos

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…

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I’ve been here first thing in the morning and now last thing at night…and still there’s no sign of a blue shirt
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Skiathos by night
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I’m guessing theses aren’t Dimitrius’ boats…unless he won the Euromillions

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Out on me tod

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This is interesting. I found the bar I was in when the ouzo happened… I then struggled to find my way back to the hotel…clearly ouzo improves your navigation skills
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Mamma Mia, here I go again

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…

 

 

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No comments please, it’s a famous Skopelos cheese pie that’s what it is!
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It’s a sorry state of affairs when you can’t even lure a man in with a beer
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He’s behind you! Err no, he isn’t…
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Nevermind where’s Wally, where’s Dimitrius?!
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Bye bye Skopelos… and your bloomin’ sunshine today
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There’s a boat out there…should I swim to it and see if it’s him?
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Mamma Mia, here I go again…it’s Glossa
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Nevermind Dimitrius, where’s Colin Firth and Piers Brosnan?!
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Glorious Glossa
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If Dimitrius is at that port I will not be happy!
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Seasick sailing

 

“Hello Ruth, my name is D…”

 

I arrive in beautiful Skopelos town and am greeted from the ferry by my lovely hostess who has come to pick me up in her car. I think this is a nice kind gesture, which it is, but later realise she has done this as I wouldn’t have had a hope in hells chance of finding the place otherwise. The town is a rabbit warren. If I thought Skyros Chora was bad, this place is a million gazillion times worse, completely impossible to navigate, particularly for someone like me who has zero sense of direction. As she drives us to the very top of the town (there’s no roads in the actual town itself, only pavements…if you can call them that) then leads me down some steep steps to her guesthouse perched on the cliff. I’m lugging my case along with me and am thankful I don’t have any mobility issues. Once inside though the room is well worth it; beautiful views looking out over town and a pretty seaside theme filled with artwork makes me feel happy and at home. The view from the shower was a treat in itself (I’ve included a photo below, most scenic shower I’ve ever had!)

I head out early, keen to eat sooner rather than later as I’m worried about the maze below me as I don’t really know where I’m staying…despite having just left there…so want to try and get back before darkness; plus I’m rubbish with keys and the doors in the apartment appear really stiff, so I don’t want to be waking up the lovely owners just because I can’t open a perfectly adequate lock. I leave the room and turn left then right, left then right to get down the hill into town as instructed by the hostess… where I’m then met by an old man on a step who growls something at me which stops me in my tracks.

I’ve literally no idea what he’s said and he’s not smiling. I look at him and motion that I’m just passing through and query whether this is a footpath, he mutters something at me again and I look across the pavement to some elderly women for help. They say something too and just wave me on. Have I just walked through their yard? But I’ve gone the way that the landlady said? Ooh maybe that was Dimitrius?! Maybe he got so sick of waiting for me he’s aged and pulled all his teeth out in sheer frustration and when he’s finally has seen me he’s so p’d off he just gives me abuse?! Who knows, I wander on and try not to ponder what on earth that was all about but I’ve been a bit unnerved here and I really don’t know why. Further down the hill the town is far more touristy than the previous places I’ve been (maybe that’s why, maybe all the people here make me feel alone?!) but for some reason today I feel like I’ve lost my nerve. Maybe for that reason I decide to stick with what I know so when I’m beckoned into a restaurant by a man waving a menu at me I haven’t the will or energy to decline. Like a lamb (Kleftiko) to the slaughter I sit down and order a Mythos, the man who waved me in comments “you like Mythos! I like Mythos, I like you!!” and so it starts…

I don’t usually realise when someone is cracking on to me but this guy is so blatant it’s hard not to. He just stares at me when he’s not trying to drag other unsuspecting victims into the restaurant so I find I have to ask random questions or play with my phone just to try and feel less uncomfortable in his steady gaze. I order only a main thinking I’ll just have one course and go, then he starts asking where I’m from, what part of England, what’s my name, blah blah blah. Out of courtesy I ask the same back and he says his name is D….

D…ennis! Phew! That would’ve been a curveball. Just dodged it. What a relief! He brings me a cheese ball ‘on the house’. Wow, this is my kind of romance! Who needs flowers or chocolates when a cheese ball is in the offering! He brings me my main and touches my back as he puts it down. ‘Gerrof man!’ I want to growl but instead I just say thank you and make sure I don’t look at him. He stands next to me while I’m eating and comments that it is ok for me to travel alone as I am young; despite me being probably a good ten years older than him at least but I’m not going to argue or say ‘of course it’s ok for me to travel alone, why would it not be you moron?!’

I finish my food and ask for the bill; I’m keen to get going as still need to go to the supermarket and it’s beginning to get dark and my sense of direction is very poor at best, downright terrible at normal and completely non existent at worst. He asks me ‘what is the rush darling?!’ Oh gawd… I tell him I’m tired, I’ve had a long journey and need to go to the supermarket for some supplies. He says he understands. He asks if I would like an ouzo ‘on the house’. Now obviously at this point I should say no… but I have standards to maintain…

I can’t turn down a free ouzo. It’s not in my nature. My friends would think I have been kidnapped and replaced by some sensible Ruthbot that turns down free alcohol in favour of going to buy water, not getting lost and getting an early night; so obviously I say yes. He brings the ouzo then a couple of minutes later a ‘milk cake’ arrives, also ‘on the house’. Crikey ‘the house’ is very generous! Dennis tells me he finishes work at 11.30pm and we could go for a drink; I tell him again that I am tired and need to buy water etc and again he says he understands. I get the feeling I’m being held hostage here with free food and drink to try and make the place look busy as there’s only me and another couple now in the restaurant. It’s getting dark and I really want to get a shifty on; I definitely don’t want to be going anywhere other than a supermarket and back to the room. I remind Dennis firmly that I need the bill. He brings it eventually saying ‘sorry, sorry but you should not rush so… maybe tomorrow we could meet for that drink? Once you have rested and feel refreshed, yes?’ The thing with travelling alone is that I can’t say I have plans as I obviously don’t and he knows that. I just nod, smile to his face, then stick my money in a jar and leg it when he has his back turned. Note to self, don’t walk around that end of town tomorrow night!

I find a supermarket and walking back to my room manage to get completely lost in the labyrinthine streets. I knew this would happen. I try Google maps but that’s a fat load of good as the hotel isn’t where Google says it is (I’ve decided on this trip Google is no longer my friend) so I have to rely on my own (non)sense of direction. The only thing that saves me and gives me a bearing is the road at the top of the town. I know that once I am on that road I should be ok, so I just need to keep heading up and up and up. I pop out the maze eventually near some fortress-hilly-monumenty-thing and spot the road. It’s now just a case of finding which narrow windy street off the road, back into the maze and down some steep steps again is the right one…

Fortunately on the way in this afternoon my host pointed out a cheese pasty sign on the building next door to the apartment where I’m staying, so spotting that I know I am home. Who’d have thought it, saved by a cheese pie again! Maybe my saviour is not a fisherman called Dimitrius, it is actually a humble cheese filled baked good.

 

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Arriving at Skopelos
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View from the boat
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Err, where am I staying?!
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Seriously, where am I staying?!!!

 

 

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View from my balcony!
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View from the shower! The shower!!
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Excuse me sir, are you Dimitrius?
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If this is Dimitrius he’s the strong and silent type…