So long, farewell, auf wiedersehen, cheese pie…

Who ate all the pies? I did! I made it my mission to get a full house and completed the Sporades set with a traditional Skiathos cheese pie on my final day. Bingo! So who is the winner of the best cheese pie you may wonder; well I wondered that myself and decided the rankings were as follows:

Straight in at number one: Skyros

Almost there but not quite: Alonissos

So-so: Skopelos

Shoulda woulda coulda done better: Skiathos

I cannot rank the one in Agios Konstantinos as it’s not part of the Sporades gang: nice try but no, plus I should never have been there anyway so the pie cannot feature. Also to clarify this very important issue the number one slot went to the cheese pasty I had in the port at Skyros and not the traditional Skyrian pie I scoffed near the adorable little horses, that thing was just plain weird even by my standards. I consume my final pie sitting of course by the harbour for one last Dimitrius spotting attempt but yet again he’s a no-show. I’m beginning to think that man just has no manners.  I guess it’s just as well though as I’ve a flight to catch; getting on the wrong boat is one thing but missing a flight is a whole different ball game and it’s definitely not cricket.
I go to check out from the hotel, a little apprehensive that someone may have seen me in my drunken ouzo fuelled state the other night. The hotel lady is checking someone else out when I get there so I loiter and squirm, not knowing whether we may have spoken the other night after my ouzofest or not. She turns to me eventually and says “Aha! It’s you!”

Uh oh…I feel my face flush and prepare myself for some apology of ‘oh dear yes sorry I was so very drunk and I’m so sorry for whatever it was I may have been talking about, I was absolutely hammered on ouzo and thank god the magic beer scooter got me home, please don’t judge me I’m normally quite sensible honest….’ but before I get the chance she says “I only see you only once when you arrive and now once when you leave!”

PHEW! I nod and smile and think to myself ‘oh yes of course that’s because I am very quiet and a well behaved lady, not surprised you never saw me, I’ve been in bed by 10pm no ouzo binges for me, honest’…but instead just give some chitchat about being sorry to leave and how I will recommend Skiathos to people etcetera etcetera, before me and my battered case make our final walk along the battered pavements to the airport and our final journey home; in doing so I reflect upon last night and my trip as a whole.

As it was my final evening I took myself into the bright lights, not so big city of town and plonked myself in, where else, but a fish restaurant. If I can’t find the fisherman at least let me have his catch. I ate well, I drank well and I savoured the sights and sounds of summertime abroad before my return to the everyday monotony of mundane, the delights of long sleeved clothing and carrying an umbrella every day ‘just in case’ as just in case happens more often than not. Light and shade though I remind myself as without the drudgery how would you recognise the exceptional.

Looking around the restaurant I see many couples and much love in the room, or on the terrace to be specific, and also maybe some not so much love… but hey if they’re happy to keep up the pretence then who am I to judge. I wonder how each couple met and whether their lives together now live up to their expectations then. I wonder if any of them met following a vision or what hand fate played in their stories. I wonder if they have any regrets. I wonder if they are with who they deem to be their true love penguins or whether they just settled as had given up on finding ‘the one’ or quite frankly couldn’t be arsed to look anymore. I wonder if this is their first holiday together or potentially their last, through choice or otherwise. I wonder if they are sitting together wishing they were sitting with someone else, a former flame or someone they fantasize may be in their future.  I wonder if any of them wonder about me; whether they feel sorry for that woman sitting alone, or admire her, or wish they were her rather than sitting across from Mr Grumpy who talks with his mouth full and still has the remnants of lunch stuck between his teeth.

I left the restaurant for a walk around Skiathos Town at dusk, taking in the swanky boats that have moored in Dimitrius’ potential spot and the mix of families, couples and groups of friends that have descended upon town for the hustle and bustle of evening; it’s the sort of place I think you could come with anyone…or on your own of course. I’m saddened to be leaving and feel there’s so much more to do and see…I guess I shall just have to come back some day, fisherman or not.
So what have I learned on this trip… other than I can’t find Dimitrius no matter how many harbours I pass through or fishing boats I scour…

I’ve learned that I prefer to stay places with abit going on. Maybe if I was with someone it would be different as then you don’t really need external influences for entertainment, with the right person you entertain each other. Though that’s not to say I haven’t entertained myself, I’ve actually found myself to be rather good company. Me and me have got on like a house on fire, which is just as well really as I am the one person I can’t escape from so it’s just as well we get on.
I’ve learned that I don’t need anyone in my life and am perfectly capable of looking after myself… but I’ve also decided that it would be nice to be with someone: I can be alone forever if need be but I don’t want to be. I guess that’s why people couple up in the first place, there must be something in it otherwise we’d all just be wandering about on our own and apart from anything else I don’t think the housing market could accommodate so much single person accommodation; on the plus side though I’m guessing there would be no single person supplement to pay when travelling alone if everyone did it, silver linings and all that. So yes it would be nice to have someone to share travels and life’s journey with…plus it’s always good to have a personal bag watcher on hand and a valuable second opinion as to whether you should get on a boat or not…

I’ve learned that I love cheese pies/pasties. Well, to be fair I knew that already but this trip has taken my love to a whole new level. Me and cheese and pastry are bound together intrinsically it seems; a cosy little threesome that shall never tire of each other. Maybe they are actually my true loves. Actually maybe I should try and find a pie maker instead of a fisherman, that might be a plan!

I’ve learned that even the most trusty cases have limits and maybe sometimes we push the things we rely on a little too much. But sometimes even when the wheels fall off there is something still there that keeps you going that you weren’t necessarily even aware of.

I’ve learned that ouzo has a lot to answer for.

I’ve learned that there is an inner biscuit-monster-beast inside me that I never knew existed before…and hope the creature is now in hibernation for another thirty odd years or else McVities may have a problem.

So all in all I’ve learned I can do this alone but I don’t want to. I would like that special someone but I know more than ever that I won’t settle just for the sake of it by making do with someone who is ok and a nice enough person, that would be the worst thing I could do. I know life isn’t Disney (though I do have a Belle costume if that helps?) but I want someone who gets me and I get them and the whole X factor thing (but not in the Simon Cowell sense, and definitely not Simon Cowell) and more than ever I know in my gut that the works is out there somewhere… and that is exciting. I saw a tarot man once who predicted a number of things that came true both for me and for the other girls who also saw him that day. He told me that it will happen for me but that it won’t be for awhile…that was well over 10 years ago now so I’m hoping the while may soon be up.

So where does all of this leave me and Dimitrius I wonder. Maybe I got the name or country wrong: desperately seeking Diego or desperately seeking Donatello maybe? Any excuse for a trip! Or maybe Dimitrius was my twenties vision and just needs some readjustment in my thirties. Maybe me and a fisherman would never have worked anyway: maybe I’d ruin his blue shirt; maybe he stinks of fish. Maybe I’d be constantly worried every time he went out to sea he’d be caught in some storm and never come home and I’d spend the rest of my days scanning out over the horizon just in case he ever did return, Tom Hanks Castaway styleee. Maybe I went looking for him too late and should have gone when I first had the vision. Maybe there’s someone else out there for me, maybe he’s not Dimitrius. Maybe I’m looking in the wrong places and he’s been under my nose this whole trip…maybe…

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I’ve been here first thing in the morning and now last thing at night…and still there’s no sign of a blue shirt
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Skiathos by night
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I’m guessing theses aren’t Dimitrius’ boats…unless he won the Euromillions

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Out on me tod

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This is interesting. I found the bar I was in when the ouzo happened… I then struggled to find my way back to the hotel…clearly ouzo improves your navigation skills
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The re-enactment

Apologies for the delay in posting recent entries, I’m home from the trip and finding life getting in the way of updates! These entries were still completed at the time, I just hadn’t got around to posting them due to the backlog from earlier wifi and hangover issues!

Today I had to do it; needs must. It’s my last day here so I had to get on that harbour wall and re-enact my vision, no messing about. I set an alarm for the first time in ages and made sure I was up and out early, book in bag, ready for action. I’ve chosen to wear a white beach dress with red/pink flowers on it in an attempt to look demure; I am living the dream. Now, question is where exactly to sit as there’s a few moorings around here and I need to be at the right one. I figure I’ll just have to try them all and rotate until I’ve covered all ground.
I make my way down to the harbour and sit on my first bench: I should be sitting on the wall I know if I am staying strictly on script but as there’s empty benches right next to the wall I’d look a bit of an idiot choosing not to sit on a seat and I don’t think ‘bit of an idiot’ is a good look when trying to attract a mate. I get my book out. I sit. I wait. There’s no one around give or take a few café owners opening up. I try and look engrossed in my book but I can’t concentrate as I’m too busy scouting for blue shirts and eyes that change colour with the sea. I yawn. It’s tiring work this waiting for love game. I look at the boats. One them has ‘traditional fishing trips’ scrawled down the side: maybe he’s branched out again and does organised tours? Nah he’s too quiet and mysterious for a tour guide, that would never work, he’d be rubbish at it and be on the breadline within days. I stretch my legs and look at my feet. Holiday feet are so much better than home feet, all that sand is really good for them. Oh crikey I’m distracted thinking about feet of all things, stay focused, stay focused…
I move to a different part of the harbour. I get my book out again. I sit cross legged and try to look nonchalant. I chew the end of my sunglasses to look deep in thought and knowledgeable: at least I pretend to anyway, I wouldn’t purposefully disfigure any item; I hate it when people chew pens for example, why would you do that to a lovely pen?! I give up as there’s no one nearby other than a few scraggy cats and they don’t care if I look knowledgeable or not. I look at my hands. Again all that sun must be good as my nails are looking very healthy. Oh well if nothing else I’m giving myself a good MOT. I look at my book. I’m not actually reading this book, I am currently reading Wuthering Heights on my Kindle, but I decided I needed a physical book for the prop side of things. It’s a favourite of mine though, ‘The Alchemist’, so I know it well just in case Dimitrius does appear. I worry though that he’ll realise this is quite a new edition (I keep giving copies away to people who haven’t read it) and may think I’m jumping on some band waggon or something and he wouldn’t be impressed by that. Oh well, tough, needs must, I shall just have to explain my book dispersal activities early on in the conversation if he does ever show up.
I move to my third spot. If anyone is watching they must think I have some form of seat tic or something. I don’t care; I’m making my dreams come true and therefore it’s worth looking like a buffoon. Good things come to those who wait right?! Even the Guinness advert says so, so it must be true. I then spot some other woman (people are starting to rise now) wearing the same bloomin’ white beach dress with red/pink flowers as me! The EXACT SAME bloomin’ dress!!! In all the holiday resorts in all the world on this one day that I’m trying to make my dreams come true someone is wearing the bloomin’ same dress as me: it’s from last years summer collection so it’s not even like it’s in the shops now! Darn you H&M and your cheap but stylish beach garments! Who is she trying to look demure for?! Oh no, what if he mistakes her for me?! I put my sunglasses back over my eyes so I can stare at her better. She’s younger than me by the looks of it and has long blonde hair. She’s basically me when I invented the story, oh the irony!! I hide behind my book and pretend not to notice. She’s not hanging out on the harbour wall scouting for salt licked hair so she doesn’t appear to be a threat… but still, move along missy! I had the vision first so finders keepers! Thankfully she heads into town instead and leaves my story to its rightful owner: me.
Well a good hour or so has passed and nothing, nada, total blank. I decide to take a walk along the water front and end up at the tiny runway of Skiathos airport, looking at a sign that basically tells me I am at risk of death by standing there. Wow get me! I’ve turned into a right rebel! Certain death could appear at any second and here I am just cavorting right in front of it. Ner nur ne ner nur death, come and have a go if you think you’re hard enough! From the timid girl whose catchphrase when I was little was ‘am I allowed?’ I am now actively dicing with death! In your face allowedness! I feel smug for a moment until I realise nevermind death, I would actually pee myself if a plane was coming in/taking off and that’s definitely not a good look for a date, so decide to make a move. Again.

I head back in to town and order some breakfast as consolation for my lack of man-treasure: I may not find my Greek man but Greek food always satisfies. I spend the rest of the day on the beach attempting to get some sort of a tan and making the most of warm clear waters as I’ve no idea how long it will be before I can enjoy them again. On leaving the beach with a big dopey grin on my face, relaxed and refreshed, I end up in a salsa-off with one of the waiters in a bar you have to pass through to get off the beach. He wasn’t Dimitrius but he made my smile widen further as only dancing can and there’s a spring in my step as I walk back to my hotel, ready for my last night and ready for whatever that may bring. Fingers crossed…

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Pondering where is Dimitrius?!
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Checking out the boats
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Did he branch out?
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Grim Reaper stop
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The little windmill bar where people sit to watch the planes…maybe I should ask them to keep an eye out for fishermen too

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…

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Skopelos with blue skies

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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!

 

 

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!!

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

 

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?!

 

 

 

Dimitrius has a career change…maybe

In the evening it’s more Greek dancing at the Alonissos dance festival: my word those poor musicians must be knackered! I choose another restaurant on the harbour front and am again given a curious look when I tell them the table is just for me. The waiter, who is definitely not Dimitrius, asks why the most beautiful girl on the island is alone. Oh dear, here we go with the patter. Just because I’m on my own does not mean I’m desperate (err despite the title of this blog) and furthermore I can spot schmoozing a mile off. I shrug “Hey, that’s just the way of the world isn’t it. Can I have a menu please?”

Well clearly if he genuinely thought I was the most beautiful girl on the island he’s not making much of an effort as the service is incredibly slow despite things being a lot quieter than the evening before. Where is my menu?! Eventually he brings the quarter of wine and water that I have ordered and asks me which glass I would prefer the wine in: wine glass or tumbler. I joke that it’s fine, I will just drink from the jug however it’s definitely lost in translation. He just looks at me like I’m weird, which I guess I am a bit. The food is fantastic and just when I think I am all pattered out at the end of the meal a different waiter appears and tries his luck (he’s definitely definitely definitely absolutely not in a million years and then some Dimitrius). He tells me that he will meet me at the bar with the van in the wall (he means a VW Beetle; it’s not a white-van-man-type-van like it sounds, that’d just look a bit, well, s**t) when he finishes work and will buy me a drink. There’s no asking me if I want this, just a statement of fact. Well your fact is my fiction mate, there’s not a hope in hells chance I’m going to that bar tonight now despite planning to so cheers for that, you’ve just ruined my evening. Obviously I don’t say any of this, just make a nod and ensure when he has gone I leg it as soon as I can; after I’ve paid the bill of course…I haven’t turned to that life of crime after the ferry incident just yet
The following day I’m keen to have a more relaxing time and my blisters will thank me for it I’m sure. I decide to head to the nearby beaches of Rousoum Gialos and Votsi, which are basically the next bays along from Patitiri where I’m staying. All of these beaches are pebble rather than sand so I almost feel like I’m having a hot stone massage each time I lay down, they’re good for you though right… even though it feels like I’ve been sleeping on, well rocks. Walking from Rousoum to Votsi I have a slight problem: my sandal breaks. I’m not near any shops and I’m a good twenty minute walk from the hotel. I do what any self-respecting person would do and err shuffle along as best I can in the heat. I’m spurred on though when I see a sign for ‘Dimitris pizza café restaurant’ with not only the sign but a boat run aground behind it. Could this be?! Has he given up his life of fishing to enter the catering business?! There’s no way I’m turning back now; I hobble on at speed, find the restaurant and am brimming with anticipation; could this finally be?! I sit on a seat overlooking the waterfront and try and look as nonchalant as possible; flicking my hair, and gazing out at the boats. I hear someone approach and steel myself, preparing to meet the love of my life, big smile at the ready, I turn my gaze and see… a teenage girl, notebook in hand. Arrrghhhh I knew it was too good to be true; besides it was the wrong spelling anyway. I order a Mythos for refreshment before me and my Monty Python school of funny walks head back home again.

 

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The non-white-van-man-van

 

 

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My washed up man that wasn’t