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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Who am I and where am I going?!

The eagle eyed of you will realise I didn’t post anything yesterday and you may be wondering what was the reason for this? Did I end up on the wrong boat again heading to god knows where?  Was I once again plunged into the dark ages without wifi? Did I run off with Dimitrius on his fishing boat? Pah, if only! No. The reason was quite simple, one little word with one big impact. The reason I did not post anything yesterday was: Ouzo. We’ll get to that story in about a week or so though, for now: Skyros.

I disembark at Linaria and head over to the only bus I can see but looks far too, err, modern and robust to be the island bus, but sure enough it is. I check with the driver that he will go to Magazia and he confirms the destination. Sights of the beautiful Chora come into view after 15 mintes or so and as he pulls into the bottom of the village a woman asks the rest of the bus in English ‘where is this and does he go to the coast?’ The driver at this point has hopped off to open up the luggage compartment.

A German man in front of me says ‘Molos. We are going to Molos’ He said this in perfect English but the lady looks at him as though he’s just spoken alien. I feel like shouting up that ‘this is Chora and that yes he does drop down to the coast as swotty me checked’ but given that I’ve probably as little a clue as her really I keep my mouth shut. When the bus driver comes back on board and checks where the rest of us are going (that lady jumped off, who knows where she ended up) he appears to want to pair me with some American guy sitting across from me – no no no no no Mr Bus Driver! I am not with him!!! I feel like saying I am looking for Dimitrius but I think that may confuse my bus journey somewhat as I could end up in god only knows where (again) so again I keep quiet. When we arrive in Magazia (I know this as Mr Bus Driver tells me so) I rely again on good old google maps to steer me to my destination, suitcase again making a right racket down the cobbled streets. On doing so I spot the name of the apartment and a woman runs out from an adjacent property, smiling and saying what I assume to be a greeting. She doesn’t check my ID, or ask my name, doesn’t check anything, just sees someone with a case and basically goes for it. I could be anyone; I could be an imposter slurring my good name, I could be Vasili the German, I could be anyone at all. I’m lead up some stairs to a large apartment which could easily sleep three if not more and a massive balcony stretching around two corners of the building. The lady can’t speak much English, I can’t speak much Greek, infact we are both pretty much on par in the language stakes but get by with lots of smiling and gesticulating: I’ve gone full on native now in the arm waving. I dread to think how this is going to pan out come check-out but will cross that bridge when I come to it. I’m here now and my main concern is finding a supermarket and somewhere to eat before the sun drops and the town is in near darkness.
Considering this is meant to be the busiest resort on the island and at one point this had put me off from booking it, I’m surprised to find very little going on. I wander for a bit and stumble upon the supermarket, which won’t be challenging Tesco for market share anytime soon given that half the warehouse is just in the shop and there’s clearly no stock rotation given the build up of dust on half the items. I grab some supplies and just as my turn in the queue comes the checkout lady’s phone rings and I spend ten minutes watching her chatting to her mate. Still, no rush, no rush. I have no schedule. The surprising thing given the tumbledown supermarket is the shiny modern hairdressers right next door – which is still open for business and it’s gone 9pm now. This place is rather random…
Back in my room I take the surroundings in a little more. There are some weird 3D pictures of London buses on the walls which I really don’t understand. They’d be odd enough if you were actually in London (looking at them they give the effect of having beer googles on) but on a small island in Greece they appear even more displaced: where’s the usual pictures of boats when you need them? Taking a shower is also an experience as for some reason the shower curtain also stretches over the toilet. Leaving the bathroom I realise as it’s dark and I have the lights on and the curtains are some see through net type material I’ve probably just flashed at the entire town. To be honest though I doubt there’s anyone here to even see; busiest resort my a** …which is pretty much what I’ve just exposed to the world.
I throw on the same dress I wore last night as no one will know and consider that actually no one out here knows me anyway, I could assume a completely different persona and no one would be any different. Maybe that should be my next challenge?! I could put myself in a role, play a new part. Though to be honest given the level of English anyone can speak the only change I possibly could make would be to make my voice more high/low pitched or develop a funny walk…which I kind of did the other day anyway when my sandal broke. I decide I shall continue just being me as that’s what I know best.
I can only find two places open, or at least as far away from the apartment as I want to venture in the dark without knowing my bearings. One appears to be just the waiting staff/owners sitting around chatting so I decide on the other option which is a beach bar with lounge music playing. I take a table and twist around to stretch my back out, after sitting on that plastic chair on the boat all day I’m very stiff. I then note I’m getting peculiar looks from the men on the table next to me and suddenly click why. They seem to think I’m doing some sort of sexy chair dancing thing for them. Oh dear. I stop moving and figure it’s better to put up with the ache than have people thinking I’m trying to do some sort of exotic dance for them, they’re definitely not Dimitrius afterall!

I’m tired after my journey and just want some food and wine and bed; as the waitress takes my order though I look up at the night sky and know it’s all been worthwhile: a brilliant black sky, the brightest stars I have possibly ever seen and a huge orange moon. Beautiful. Life isn’t half bad: life is good.

 

 

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The port of Linaria…with its Shell garage

 

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Linaria
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First sighting of the beach at Magazia

 

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?!