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
I figure today I will get my bearings and have a walk up to Chora, Skyros town. There must be a footpath but as I don’t know where it is I decide to follow the road the bus came on as at least I know that will get me there without being overly experimental and getting lost, again… which I know I am getting very good at but I’m still not keen to do it. I find a road cutting up the hill though and figure if cars are going up there, there must be something at the top and when I get there find myself at the monument to the English poet Rupert Brooke; which also feels abit random as most things appear to be around here. Maybe one day there’ll be a monument to me and Dimitrius! It’d have to be in his hometown though, I just need to work out where that is…
It’s a sorry state of affairs though when Google maps doesn’t know where you are. There are so many ‘unknown roads’ I begin to think that’s actually just the name of the road: ‘you want to go to Chora huh? Well that’ll be a right at unknown road then take a slight left at unknown road and unknown road will be right in front of you, but make sure you don’t go too far or then you’ll hit unknown road’. In these twisting, winding streets though it’s nice to acknowledge the locals when you pass them and before I know it I’m yiasu’ing everyone. I yiasu old men, yiasu old women, yiasu large groups, yiasu cats, yiasu dogs; everyone gets a yiasu , like it or not. It’s a veritable yiasu-fest and I’m enjoying it. I’ve also noted that the little bits of English that are being spoken are not by English people, which again puts us Brits to shame in the language stakes as we really are generally very ignorant in language terms. It’s also weird that when I’m asked by people where I’m from they mean country, not town. Usually on holiday the answer is ‘Newcastle’ but here I now know to say ‘England’ rather than anything more specific. They definitely wouldn’t know where Newcastle was…or I say that but actually when a man in Alonissos asked me he came straight back with ‘Alan Shearer’ so once more the international language of football transcends all boundaries!
There was a story in the news not so long ago about a man who filmed his entire trip back to front and basically just ended up with a massive recording of a selfie of himself. Well I’ve made that mistake a couple of times so far and ended up with a few photos of me taking photos; it appears I have certain ‘photo-taking-face’ that I adopt which I hadn’t been aware of: have to say it’s not a good look! Fortunately the times I have done this have only been for a few snaps and are pictures I probably already have as I have been taking that many. It highlights the issues though of using cameras in the sunshine as half the time I can’t see a bleedin’ thing!
I’m beginning to wonder as I’m walking this maze whether I’m taking photos because I want the pictures or if it’s actually just to mark some sort of trail; so I can look back at my pictures and think ‘aha! I’ve been here before!’ on the medieval streets. I find myself at the Byzantine Castle which is quite high on the list of tourist attractions but there’s not a soul in sight: well only me, a priest (there’s a church in the castle) and a man working there. I have a bit nosey about before venturing back into the maze.
I wonder what people do for a living here?! It’s a labyrinth of streets and stairs and I’m not sure if I’m walking on a pavement or someone’s house. I’m pleased again that I didn’t stay in the old town and understand why google struggled. There’s no street signs or markers to show where you are and everywhere looks the same. I’ve so far seen two shops: a computer shop and a tap shop. Helpful. Where the heck is the supermarket? I wander still… I’ve been walking for hours now and really want some water. It’s at precisely this point that I finally find it: civilisation! There’s people and supermarkets and bars and tavernas and…stuff!!!! There’s a pretty little square with old men playing backgammon like they do on the films. There’s no fishermen in blue shirts with eyes that change colour like the sea though so the town doesn’t quite have everything but at least it has more than a computer shop and a tap shop.
It’s mid-afternoon so I figure now I’m here I’ll try and find a taverna for lunch. Trip Adviser points me in one direction so like a lamb to the slaughter I trust its ever-correct judgement….except where the restaurant is meant to be there’s….well a garage…that’s shut…turns out Trip Advisor’s ever-correct judgement is, well, not-ever-correct. I find a Euro on the floor and pick it up: for my good luck I will pass it on to a waiter/waitress if ever I can find this place. Nevermind wild goose chase I’ve been sent on a wild google chase! Technology ain’t all that after-all; I tell you give me a quill, some parchment and a pigeon any day.
I give up trying to find this magic restaurant and decide to walk back along the roadside as I appear to have done a massive loop of the hill anyway. A car pulls up next to me. I assume he’s going to say what the heck are you doing/are you lost/you shouldn’t be walking on a road/are you German, but instead he asks if I speak English (Yes!! Yes I do! I can do that! Yes!) and then asks me for directions to some beach I’ve never heard of. I apologise that I don’t know where the heck he’s on about and he drives off. I then burst out laughing on my own in the middle of a deserted road; wow I must’ve gone truly native, people think I look like I know what I’m doing! Who ever would have thought!!