Biscuits, biscuits, everywhere…

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
00:26am: Yes
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…

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Be that a fishing boat?

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Oh to be a cat

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Cold but not lonely

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

 

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Rain, rain, go away…
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Worlds biggest pitta

 

 

 

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Grey
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Some markings somewhere
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Clouds
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Black

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“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…

 

 

True love strikes

Today it happened. I fell in love. It came quite unexpected to be honest but they say love can strike when you least expect it. I heard him before I saw him and when he called to me I froze for a moment at his sheer beauty; he was mesmerizing and he knew it but to be honest he suited the swagger. When he called to me I went straight to him and we shared a tender moment, looking deep into each others eyes…then he sh*t himself and ran off…

Yes at last I had encountered the beautiful miniature horses of Skyros and this one was one hell of a dude, mane flowing in the breeze he could be a top model for err, Horse and Hound magazine maybe.

I’d had a bit of a headache to get here but it was worth it. First there was locating the actual taxi rank and as I’m finding most people’s English is on par with my Greek here that in itself wasn’t straightforward. Once I’d found the taxi rank and approached the drivers (who looked really p’d off that I dare to interrupt their card game nevermind give them some business) there was the issue of where I wanted to go. Bearing in mind my Geordie accent and the place I wanted to go was called Mouries…
Me: Err Taxi parakelo?
Blank looks from the taxi drivers sitting in the taxi rank
Me: Err I want to go to Mooooreez? In a taxi?
Even blanker looks. One of them says something, another scratches his chin. Thank god there’s a woman there too, someone with a bit of sense
Lady taxi man: Muriesss?
Me: Uhh Yes Mooooreez…Murriess? Err little horses
At this point I pat the air to indicate little horses. I’ve no idea how or why this would indicate little horses but idiot abroad has struck again.
Lady taxi man: I will take you, come
We agree a fare and set off into the countryside. It only takes ten minutes but watching her whizz around the corners, driving with fag in one hand and her phone in the other texting her mate it feels a little longer. When we arrive there’s all of about five other people here on a little farm in Skyros with only little horses for any real company. Perfect. I spend some time there then head for a walk into the countryside as there’s nothing else here but a restaurant but it’s too early for lunch.
It’s at this point that my little grey stallion gallops up out of nowhere, whinnying at me and standing proud as punch on the hilltop. I sneak a few photos before going to meet him in person, he’s an absolute superstar and I’m smitten. He soon gets bored of me though so I’m left to wander on my own, ending up on the other side of the island on another beach before heading back to the restaurant by the farm.
I go to order some food but apparently the kitchen doesn’t open until 1pm (It’s now gone midday) so I entertain myself with a beer and when I hear someone calling the waiter Dimitris it’s only right that I stay for some food too; it’s not so long to wait when you have beer in hand after all. When the kitchen does open I order a traditional Skyrian pie which is possibly the weirdest thing I’ve ever eaten. It’s basically some pastry with a dollop of cheese on the side and it’s enormous. Now I like my food but even for me there are limits on the about of pastry I can eat in one go and I end up defeated by the piebeast, having to leave a third of it. I try to leave at this point as I’ve been here almost two hours and have already said I’m stuffed but rather than the bill a dessert appears ‘on the house’. I think it’s chocolate ice-cream before I stick my spoon in but turns out it’s chocolate torte, possibly one of my favourite desserts and has a hazelnut wafer filled with chocolate stuck in the top of it. Little horses, beer, giant pie and free chocolate torte. Who needs Dimitrius, I’m in heaven! I’ve had enough of being held food hostage though and need to push on. I’ve a one hour 40 minute walk back to Magazia and I’d like to get back on the beach….Oh and by the way the waiter was definitely Dimitris and not Dimitrius in case you were wondering; besides he was far too young and short and clearly wasn’t a fisherman either!
I walk through Aspous, planning on having a drink there as it’s half way between the farm and Magazia and it was also somewhere I had considered staying at one point, however when I get there again there’s nothing there. I settle for a bottle of water in the supermarket and trudge on. By the time I get back to Magazia I’ve walked 18km and did a 6km run in the morning so feel I’ve earned a lie down on the beach. I decide to sit on the opposite side from yesterday, away from the ‘busy’ end and particularly boys who kick you.

I’m soon disturbed though but by far more welcome company…Dimitrus you say?! Has he finally made an appearance to help with suncream and rub my aching feet?

No, a big golden retriever has taken a shine to me and basically decided to plonk himself pretty much on top of me; his owner comes over and drags him off but I was quite happy with that kind of company. When I take a dip later my friend appears again to join me: some people go on holiday and get to swim with dolphins, I get Golden Retrievers instead; trust me, I have to be different.

 

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My new love
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Isn’t be a beauty! Love a male with long hair…
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Just a beach with a parasol and Greek flag in the water, as you do
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The pie that defeated me
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Giz a kiss!
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And my heart belonged to a horse
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Lot’s n lot’s of little horses!