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

 

20170717_103909 (1)
Rain, rain, go away…
20170717_142746
Worlds biggest pitta

 

 

 

20170717_152252 (1)
Grey
20170717_161704
Some markings somewhere
20170717_210953 (1)
Clouds
20170717_210929
Black

20170717_211022 (1)20170717_211419 (1)20170717_211817 (1)

 

Advertisements

It’s raining…but not men

It’s abit cloudy this morning so I figure I will spend some time wandering the streets and trying to get my bearings as best I can… otherwise known as just getting lost for the sake of it. When I arrived back at the apartment last night the hostess was sitting outside reading; I have a feeling she was waiting to see that I got home ok as she seemed concerned that I was on my own and urged me to call her if I was ever lost or needed anything at all. I hope I don’t need to do that but it’s nice to know she’s there and there’s someone looking out for me. It was also handy she was there and probably confirmed her cause for concern when I couldn’t open the latch on the gate and thought I needed to use a key to get into the main building when actually pushing the door sufficed: pretty sure she’s now wondering how such a calamity has managed to get herself all the way to Greece on her own if she can’t even manage a simple gate without assistance; to be fair I often wonder the same myself.

I leave the apartment and turn to head left then right then left then right again but remember this will make me cross Grumpy Old Dimitrius’ path. I stand still for a split second thinking whether I should just find another way rather than crossing him again… then decide I should face my fears head on and just go that way anyway.
Grumpy Old Dimitrius isn’t outside when I pass but his wife is still sitting in exactly the same place as last night: infact she may have been there all night, though she can’t use my excuse of being lost. Instead of bowing my head and shuffling quickly past I smile my brightest, broadest smile and say ‘Kalimera!’ Grumpy Old Dimitrius’ Wife grins a more toothy grin than her husband could ever manage and says also ‘Kalimera’. On hearing this brief but meaningful exchange Grumpy Old Dimitrius sticks his head out of the kitchen/living room/general-purpose-room-that- appears-to-be-their-entire-house and shouts ‘Kalimera’ followed by some incomprehensible (to me) Greek. I smile even more widely (that one where your cheeks start to hurt), wave and ‘Kalimera!’ him too.

Great! Would you believe it! We are mates now! Bestest buddies BFF afterall! That’s made my day that has. After feeling a bit off my guard and out of sorts yesterday I’m at ease once again and smile to myself all the way down the bank..and up the bank…and around the bank…and over the bank… yeah I’m lost but I’m taking in the sights and sounds and seeing where each meander takes me. I take far too many pictures, end up wearing the battery out on my phone and have to find the apartment again just so that I can get some charge into it. Once I’ve managed to locate the room (cheating by using the road-navigation-pasty/pie-on-building-technique again) I plug my phone in to charge and sit typing on the balcony for awhile where I’m joined in the communal area by my hostesses husband (he’s called Stamatis; of course I checked!). He tells me he spotted me before, walking around in the maze and backtracking around the road. I tell him that ‘I was just checking that I was where I thought I was and I was’ … yeah he looks as confused as me at what has just came out of my mouth. He reiterates his wife’s request that I call them if I need anything and also explains the weather is meant to be particularly bad tonight. I decide in that case I will make sure I am back before darkness falls, free ouzo or no free ouzo.
I’ve walked a lot downhill into town this morning so decide to head upward this afternoon and explore where this road that has saved me from death-by-lostness actually leads. I walk up and up around the twisting road and have a slight panic that the wind is picking up, clouds are circulating, I am wearing sandals with no grip on a road surface that is already very slippery and as the worlds most accident prone person and number one candidate for ‘person most likely to fall over’, overall it’s not a good combination. I find myself doing what I have done a lot lately and think of a contingency plan: what will I do if it starts chucking it down and I can’t actually walk back down the hill as the road is too slippery? I figure I could take my shoes off and walk barefoot like a hobo but actually decide instead that if this does happen I will just slide back down the road on my honkers; it’ll make a memorable entrance back into town if nothing else and who knows, I may even slide all the way down to the harbour and into the arms of a certain fisherman… here’s hoping eh!

The further up I go though the windier it gets and as I have no idea where I’m headed, I decide to drop back down into town and have a mooch around the shops instead. I now understand why Southern Europe may have a less robust economy than the North: in the South it is mainly sunny so people sit out enjoying the sunshine, head to the beach, relax etc, in the North it is bloomin’ cold therefore people go shopping for entertainment and thus the economy thrives. Clearly all Greece needs if it is struggling financially again is a few days of grey skies and a boat load of women to go shopping, that’ll solve any economic crises and everything will be right as err rain; in the space of a few hours of grey skies I’ve somehow managed to buy a picture, a scarf and some earrings that I hadn’t intended to. If the sun had been shining there’s no way this would have happened; I wonder if I can sue mother nature for financial ruin induced by storm clouds…?
In the evening I walk past Not So Grumpy Old Dimitrius’ house again, smiling again at his wife (who still hasn’t moved) and say ‘Kalispera’, she Kalisperas me back and Not So Grumpy Old Dimitrius sticks his head through the door and I recognise one of his words this time: ‘Agapi Mou’ I know what this means, and it’s an affectionate term so it’s nice to hear. I have friends. Even though we just pass on the winding steps a couple of times a day, for a few days they are a feature of my life and I am a feature of theirs, and that feels good.
I have a lovely meal on the steps of Gorgones taverna and get back to the apartment just as the rain is starting; just as well I do as 10 minutes later there is a power cut. Complete silence and darkness. Only the wild wind howling, rain lashing and a few lights down by the port, other than that nothing…until the thunder starts and lightning streaks across the skies. I am so happy I came home when I did. I would hate to be out in those twisty mazey streets on my own in the pitch black. That would indeed have freaked me right out; there’s no way I could have found my way back and would probably have broken an ankle or two in the process. I use the torch on my phone for the first time ever and notice someone has been in my room as there’s something new on the bedside table: a battery powered lamp has been placed there, I’m guessing in case there was a power cut. I may not yet have found Dimitrius but I have found the warmth of Greek hospitality and that’s a comforting hug in itself, particularly when you are faced with the night of the mother of all storms…

20170716_120952 (1)
Skopelos with blue skies

20170716_12130720170716_12213120170716_12141620170716_12265020170716_124127 (1)20170716_12450620170716_124950(0)20170716_15041220170716_15142220170716_213648

“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.

 

20170715_180821
Arriving at Skopelos
20170715_180839
View from the boat
20170716_104904
Err, where am I staying?!
20170716_104843
Seriously, where am I staying?!!!

 

 

20170715_183328
View from my balcony!
20170715_190418
View from the shower! The shower!!
20170716_120321
Excuse me sir, are you Dimitrius?
20170716_120402
If this is Dimitrius he’s the strong and silent type…

 

 

Wild Google chase

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!!

20170712_110246 (1)
English Poets Abroad R Us
20170712_121139
Skyros Chora
20170712_125415 (1)
One of my yiasu pals
20170712_110327 (1)
I’m up a mountain I tell you, a bleedin’ mountain! In sandals!!
20170712_121204 (1)
Churches a go go
20170712_115541 (1)
Am I in someone’s yard?! I have no idea..
20170712_112348 (1)
Just call me a mountain goat getting all the way up here
20170712_111826 (1)
Another church?!
20170712_115121 (1)
Winding streets. Google doesn’t stand a chance

 

Guess who’s back…

Yiasu! Apologies for the brief photographic interlude, I apologise further for uploading photographs of rank wine (yes of course I still drank it) and throwback photos of me 9 years ago still on the Dimitrius hunt but at least it shows this tale is true. So, back in the modern world I’m at this point in Alonissos, heading out for my first night…
After the build up from my balcony watching the boats bring the dancers in to the beating of their drums, I toddle off to the main square to see what this dance festival is all about. I have to say, the atmosphere is electric. Swirls of dance troupes fill the streets, there’s music and merriment and the place is generally jumping. I need to find somewhere to eat and feel foolish to think I will find a table anywhere. As luck would have it though one of the restaurants makes a table up for me (“just one?!” “yes, just me…”) in what I actually think is one of the best seats in the house. It’s a raised platform from the rest of the restaurant where all of the tables are full and I have a birds eye view of the action. I order a traditional Greek garlic dip as can’t think I’ve had one of those before and a Beef Stifado. Happy days…until the dip arrives and I realise I may as well just eat a garlic bulb raw. Oh well, no kissing if I meet Dimitrius tonight then! I have a fantastic evening watching the dancing and soaking up the atmosphere and though I’d like to get up at the end of the night when they invite the crowds up on stage, it’s really not something you would do on your own: believe me though if I’d been there with the girls we’d have been Opa-ing all night an then some!
Next day I decide I’m going to walk to the old town so take my legs off on a journey…except me being me with my rotten sense of direction end up walking the wrong way. After a 30 minute hike in the heat passing a wall with water bottles stuck to it (representing all the people who have died here trying to find the old village?!) I end up at a dead end with only a resort ahead of me. Appears I’ve got my Marpunta’s and Megalos Mourtias mixed up; why the bleedin’ hell is there a full on proper official road sign that makes you think you’re going to a proper official place when actually a handwritten plank of wood on a tree would suffice? Just confuses folk like me who assume a proper roads sign means an actual proper town. Anyway, after I walk back (so basically hour down and two blisters up) I find the sign pointing to a footpath for ‘Chora’ the old village. Oh well, at least I’m on the right track now at least, ‘track’ being the operative word.
Heading up this ‘path’ I feel more and more like a mountain goat trying to, well, stay alive. Little lizardy things run past me, birds swirl (vultures I reckon hoping to get a taste of last night’s Stifado; oh well at least the garlic may come in useful for something) flying buzzing things land on me and I do some sort of freakish tribal dance to try and ward them all off. There’s a stench of manure and I think that if I don’t find Dimitrius at least I know where Gepeto is. No one had told me that in order to get to the old town I really should have brought Bear Grylls along with me. I’m amazed to see some older ladies coming towards me, phew! There must be a town up there soon if these two have survived. They’re talking to each other in English and just as we pass each other and I’m about to say hello, one of them cheerfully says to me “Guten Tag!”
Guten Tag?! Guten bloody Tag?! Weirdly I smile and Guten Tag them back even though I’m not German and neither are they. I’ve been away from home all of two days and I’ve changed name and nationality, whatever next! Tomorrow I may wake up a teetotal vegan, anything appears to be possible here.
Walking this route though I’m so thankful I decided not to stay in the old village; I know that me being me would probably have set out on this very same route with case in tow: that would’ve well and truly buggared my wheels for sure. I get into the village and there’s only the same band and dancers from last night playing. Bless them they’ve had no rest, still beating their drums and dancing away; I like their style! I wander around the old village like the proper tourist that I am, taking photos of churches even though I’m not religious and never go in them at home but for some reason when abroad always seem to be sticking my head in one and taking photos of the exterior; surely it’s not just me that does this?
After a couple of hours I’m done with the old town and decide to head down to Megalos Whatsitsname. I know the beach is just down from the old town but what I didn’t realise was just how much it bends and bends and bends and bends….my blisters are multiplying and quite frankly I consider turning back it’s so torturous given I’ve already walked so much already. Half way down the bends there’s a message in Greek on a tree with a number printed on it: I’m guessing it’s the equivalent of the Samaritans helpline for those lost wandering along this winding road in the blazing heat wondering if their thoughts of a beach are actually just a mirage. I also wonder if Uber cover Alonissos? I could do with someone to call right now to pick me up but give that Goole Maps doesn’t even seem to register half the place I’m guessing not.
I eventually reach the beach and spend a few hours:

a) Swimming lengths
b) Extreme tanning
c) Drinking beer, nodding off, waking up and attempting to look cool strolling into the sea but tripping over the pepples and falling ar*e first into the water

Answers on a postcard please, you can reach me at: Vasili, The German, Alonissos, Greece

 

20170709_114000
Old Town Alonissos
20170709_103322
Water bottles on the road to nowhere/death valley
20170709_115958
Alonissos Old Town

 

 

20170709_131147
Doesn’t help narrow my search for Dimitrius as a man in a blue shirt when the ‘Fashions for Men’ here are basically, err, various shades of blue tops
20170709_153819.jpg
Megalos Mourtias

 

 

 

A life of crime

So I appear to be on a boat heading to a place I’ve never even heard of nevermind wanted to visit. ****!!!!!!!! **** **** **** **** **** ****
A grumpy officer (GO) then appears.
GO: You don’t have ticket
Me: No I don’t have a ticket! I don’t want to go Agios wherever, I need to be on Alonissos! Is this a joke?
GO: Lady this is not a laughing matter, in Greece it is illegal to travel on ferry without ticket. Illegal. You must have ticket
I’m not laughing, I’m in a state of panic. I have no issue buying a ticket, my concern is that Greek ferries aren’t the most reliable and some crossings are only done once a week or so. I’ve no idea if where I’m going I will be able to get back from anytime quickly. The little Skyrian horses are beginning to canter away from me right now.
Me: Yes but I don’t have ticket as I’m not meant to be here! I’m meant to be going to Alonissos! I’m not bothered about buying a ticket, I just need to know how to get to Alonissos!
Another random man appears and has a heated conversation with grumpy officer. Or it sounds heated anyway but I think that’s actually just how the Greeks talk, everything sounds like an argument.
GO: You are not going to Alonissos and you do not have a ticket for this boat. It is big trouble. You tourists wander around getting on boat without knowing where it goes, you should be more careful
I want to tell him I did ask at the bloomin’ port but I’m too frustrated and wondering what the hell I’m going to do when I end up wherever I end up and how and when I will get back to where I’m meant to be. Random man starts talking again and they both start gesticulating at each other. I’m standing jaw open with a million thoughts running through my head, I can’t actually believe this is happening, in all my research I never came across a ferry to the mainland from Skiathos, where the heck am I going!
Me: Yes I know! I did not mean to be here! How do I get to Alonissos?!
GO: You will not get to Alonissos today. Tomorrow you can get this ferry to Alonissos at 10am. Tonight you are in Agios Konstantinos, what you do there is nothing to do with me. For now I do not want to see you, go on the boat and get out of my sight
And with that he waves for me to get lost, so I take the cue and get lost.
There’s a boat tomorrow! Thank ****ing **** for that. Absolute relief washes over me. I have a feeling also that random man may have been my saviour and just saved me 50 euro, even though I would have paid, so I’m thankful to him even though he has again disappeared. I head through the ship and contemplate my new life of crime. I’m such a by-the-book straight-and-narrow person I’m shocked that me of all people is effectively an illegal stowaway. Could this be the start of a downward spiral? Am I going to start legging it before I’ve paid the bill in restaurants or nicking things from shops? Well considering I once left a supermarket without paying for some bananas (the weight hadn’t registered on the self-serve till, it wasn’t intentional!) and was so mortified when I realised I hadn’t paid or them I didn’t return to the shop for a good few months in case they recognised me as the banana thief girl, I’m thinking I’m hardly gangster material.
Once on deck I get my phone out and start looking for a place to stay the night and book a ferry for tomorrow. How good are smartphones! How good is data roaming! If this had been in the olden days I’d probably have had to just wander around looking for any hotel I could find and asking if they had room at the inn. Fortunately I’m not in biblical times and booking.com find me a room bang on the port so at least I won’t have to doss on the pavement like a tramp.
Once at Agios Konstantinos I check in, drop my bags and head to the little square for some food. It’s a nice little square and there appear to be some quite cool bars, which would have been nice to visit had I been with anyone. Instead I sit at a simple gyros place with the locals, order a local beer and some food and contemplate where the hell I am. Maybe this is fate. Maybe I am meant to be here. Maybe this is where Dimitrius actually is. There’s some men sitting behind me and though I can’t understand what they are saying my ears prick when I hear them say a certain name. I turn with interest to see who they are and at precisely this moment a grey haired lady walks past and gives me what I can only describe as a death stare. Hmm, I wonder if that is my future mother in law?!