Yamas everyone! Yammmm-a***se! Hic…

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…

 

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Skiathos

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I preferred the Skyrian horses, far more animated than these two…

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Who the heck is Danos?! Why is there not a Dimitrius version?!

 

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Am gannin doon toon…

 

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View from the restaurant
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View from the restaurant…for once a ferry without me on it
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There was music I recall…

 

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Skills! Which I don’t have!!

 

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Port Life

Another day, another port, another ferry and another cheese pasty/pie. I don’t know why I say I’m Greek island hopping, I’m actually just Greek pasty hopping; sampling a cheese pasty in each port of call. Not a bad life really.

I managed this morning to check-out, waving my friendly landlady who speaks no English away and I’m pleased when I get to the bus stop that there are a couple there with suitcases: excellent, I mustn’t have missed the bus! I then start to panic as I realise I’d been so focused on trying to say ‘I had a lovely stay’ in Greek to the landlady that I’d forgotten to get a receipt and as they have my card details and I’ve basically just handed over a whole wad of cash, I could be charged twice and would have no proof of payment…

S*** s*** s***! What to do, what to do?! The bus is due (as due as Greek buses ever are anyway) in about 10 minutes looking at my watch…but if I get charged twice that would cost me a whole lot more than a taxi fare would…I leg it back to the apartment.
Given my noisy decrepit case disrupting the silence of the ‘busiest resort on the island’ the landlady is waiting for me outside before I get there, looking confused as to why the strange-woman-who-she-doesn’t-actually-know-who-she-is-but-smiles-a-lot has suddenly reappeared. I shout ‘receipt’ and make the little sign you draw with your hands when requesting the bill. She looks confused. Fortunately there is another lady there at this point who speaks excellent English and I explain to her what I need. She translates to the landlady in Greek then before I know it three old men with giant moustaches have appeared out of nowhere with a load of papers and a massive log book from about 1975; a flurry of activity follows and there appears to be some confusion about what is needed on an actual receipt. There’s much talking in Greek and I stand there looking perfectly clueless as I’ve perfected it so well lately.

The English speaking lady asks where am I going. I tell her I’m going to Skopelos then Skiathos then…she stops me and asks ‘but where are you going now, how are you getting there?’ I explain I’m getting the bus from here to Linaria then the ferry to Skopelos… She stops me abruptly again: ‘A bus? Here?’ One of the men barks ‘Taxi! Taxi’ as though he’s got taxi tourettes. No… not taxi, bus…Oh crikey people don’t make me panic! Surely you should know these details running a bloomin’ hotel and living here! There’s only about five buses on the whole island and one each day at this time in the morning that goes through Magazia to the port! I know this and I’m the idiot tourist! Please don’t tell me I’ve misread the bus timetable?!

I tell her what time it leaves and where from and she frowns at me. I’m right I’m right I know I am, I’m sure of it…but now I’m doubting myself given that all these locals appear to think a bus is about as likely as finding a fisherman with a blue shirt on a wall whose eyes change colour like the sea… Anyway the receipt is finally produced and presented with such a flourish you’d think it was a piece of fine art (I may well frame it when I get home) I’m then told only ‘RUN!’ which I do.

I ‘run’ as fast as I possibly can over bumpy streets in sandals with a case that has no rubber left on its wheels. Come on legs, faster, faster! I figure if the couple are still there with their cases it means the bus hasn’t yet been and I’ll be ok. I’m at the end of the street and pleased that no buses pass while I’m still slapping my feet along the cobbles. Out of breath I round the corner to the bus stop and…the couple have gone.
Arghhhhhhhhh!

I look at my watch. It’s still before 9:45…but it could have come early…I’m not sure? But where could the couple have gone? There are no other buses? The locals didn’t even know about that bus…I’m cursing myself now. The bus must’ve came, there’s no other explanation. Unless the couple were going elsewhere? But where? No, there’s no where else to go at that time with cases. Unless they got a taxi? No, there’s no taxi’s that pass this way. Dammit I must’ve missed the bus that’s the only explanation. I consider walking up to Chora to get a taxi but rule that out on the grounds that I’d probably cause such a racket I may trigger an earthquake; or I could ask the woman in the supermarket to call a taxi but then she’s probably still on the phone to her mate. I couldn’t possibly go back to the hotel again, taxi tourettes man would have a field day. But the bus still isn’t technically due yet so maybe I’m ok?

I decide to ignore the couple, wherever they have gone it’s none of my business and has nothing to do with my journey. Buses in Greece would potentially be late but not early surely? I resolve to hang fire and trust in myself. I’ll give it 20 minutes/half an hour, if it hasn’t turned up by then I’ll…do something…don’t know what but… something… it’ll be fine…
Five minutes (that feel like ten hours) later the big green bus that transported me here reappears. I flag him down, it’s the same driver that dropped me off; thinking about it he’s probably the only bus driver on the island, the Mr Big in the bus world. ‘Linaria?’ I double check. He nods. Get in!!!!! I make a mental air punch, throw my case in the hold and jump on board. As we start our journey I remember a valuable lesson: stop with the self-doubt and trust yourself, you’re an intelligent person…apart from where ferries are concerned, then you’re a bit ridiculous.. but in general terms, believe in yourself woman, you’ve got this.
I ease into the journey…having only a slight panic when he turns away from the road pointing to Linaria to instead follow one to Pefkos, until I realise he just has a few diversionary stops on the way to the port (you’re not on the X11 to Newcastle now dear) As I’m pulling my bag off the bus at Linaria who should I see but the couple from the bus stop! Aha they must’ve decided to walk to the bus stop at Molos I figure, possibly worrying themselves that the bus may not stop at Magazia. Damn you couple why couldn’t you just stay put rather than freak me out, I’ve a few more wrinkles because of you, Dimitrius will not be impressed!
I kill time at Linaria with the cheese pasty for breakfast (remember this is what the locals do, I’m not just a pasty addict…yet) and try some Dimitrus spotting activity…nope no sign here either and to be honest I’m quite relieved; for one I’m leaving now and quite frankly I’m not prepared to miss any more ferries and two, I think living here may be pushing it even by my rustic vision of donkey rescuing and selling olives: there’d be no tourist bus for me to sell things to after all and Mr local bus has enough on his hands. Yep my pasty is good enough company for me right now.

The Skyros Shipping Company ferry arrives, again playing 2001: A Space Odyssey as it docks and I once again ask more people than I need to if this is the right boat. Once on board I notice a man on the other side of the ferry (port side?), he has shoulder length hair and a blue shirt… could this be?! It’s hard to tell his features from a distance and he has sunglasses on so there’s no way of knowing if his eyes change colour like the sea but this is the only blue shirted, boat related, hairyness I’ve seen so far. He wanders off deck and I decide to follow him to the bar where the barman who kindly watched my case for me last trip when I had to nip to the loo is at work again.

He turns to me before he sees ‘Dimitrius’ and asks me where my bag is. I tell him I’m being super brave today and have left it on its own on deck: anything could happen to it today (like someone could decide to pick it up and throw it overboard or anything!) I’m feeling reckless and wild. I remember the barman is from Lesvos and does not like passengers taking suitcases into the loo but other than that I know nothing else about him. I know his name isn’t Dimitrius (well actually maybe it is? I don’t know at this stage!) and I know we never had this conversation last time but I figure if I can just say the name out loud, the other guy may register if it is his name and look up; as you do when you hear your name even if you’re miles from home and there isn’t anyone around that you know who might say it. Here goes, most ridiculous conversation of my life but it’s the name I need to say loudly, the context doesn’t matter…
Me: Did you say your name was DIMITRIUS? (I look over at the man with hair, not a flicker) err I can’t remember..I’m errr rubbish with names?!
Barman from Lesvos who is now looking very confused: Excuse me?
Me: Err, I’m trying to recall…did you say your name was DIMITRIUS? (I look at the other man but no flicker of recognition so I don’t think that’s his name, dammit)
Barman from Lesvos: My name is Lefteris.
Me: Oh of course! Lefteris from Lesvos, how could I forget! (embarrassed laugh)
He looks at me as if to say ‘probably because you never knew in the first place you raving lunatic?!’ and asks what I want
Me: Oh just a beer is fine please Lefteris…not DIMITRIUS Haha! (well it was worth one last shot)
He passes me a beer saying nothing else, I grin like the idiot that I am and pass him some cash. He brings me my change saying nothing else and I decide my work here is done.

As I’m putting my change away Barman-from-Lesvos-not-called-Dimitrius-but-Lefteris goes to serve ‘man who isn’t called Dimitrius’. In the campest voice ever ‘man who isn’t called Dimitrius’ asks for some water. Oh well, just as well he isn’t called Dimitrius, I’m pretty sure I’m not his type…

 

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Back to Linaria at last

 

 

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Just to show I was definitely there in the right place for once

 

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?!