Yamas everyone! Yammmm-a***se! Hic…

As the ferry pulls into Skiathos Town I’m busy taking a million photos until it dawns on me the boat has anchored and may be going elsewhere; nevermind playing David Bailey, I need to get off quick!!! I attempt to run for it but can’t find a door off the deck nevermind anywhere else: where on earth is the exit when you need it?! Why is the layout of this boat so different to every other ferry I’ve been on?! Where’s Grumpy Officer when I need him?! Why do I always leave everything until the last minute?! Arghhhhhhhhhh…

I manage to find some doors and fight my way through them, leaping over some steps with my case in the process: those recent hills have definitely turned me part mountain goat. I sprint down the corridors, down a staircase or two, down the gangway and onto dry land. Phew. Home and dry, well almost. Once there the town feels very flat compared to where I’ve just been so even when I can’t find the hotel at first it doesn’t really matter, I simply walk abit more than planned: compared to Skopelos this isn’t anywhere near a maze, it’s just me being abit useless with my non-sense of direction. When I do find my hotel it’s like a different world, it’s an actual proper hotel with lots and lots of rooms, an actual proper reception desk, actual proper computer booking systems and people speaking better English than I do. I feel like I’ve been time travelling; it’s like a vision from the future.

I don’t have much time as I have plans tonight (me! plans! tonight!) so nip out quickly for the essentials at a nearby supermarket before a quick shower and time for glamourfication. Yes, I’m back to wearing proper make up here. I hadn’t bothered in some of the more recent places as would’ve stood out if I’d made too much effort and prefer to blend in where possible. Even here I’m not out to impress anyone tonight (Dimitrius isn’t the type to notice make up, he’d probably just ask what was different about my face; besides he won’t be out late tonight being a fisherman and all that) so whilst I’m getting my face tarted up I start to think what is the point, I’m not doing this for anyone so why bother? Then I realise she’s standing right in front of me. I’m doing this for me. I’m doing this because I want to look nice so that I feel good about myself, and that’s a nice thing to think…even if it is a right faff putting make up on in the heat and my eyeliner just keeps rubbing off anyway. So where am I off to I hear you wondering? Remember that lovely couple from the flight, well they invited me out with them and their friends now I’m back in civilisation so I’m off out on the town…

I manage to find my way back into town from my hotel and we go for cocktails, dinner then drinks. Well there were drinks throughout of course, there were just more of them toward the end. Civilisation is fun! I can understand why our ancestors became err civilised! You can talk to people and have conversations and laughter and much merriment, which although I haven’t missed company during my trip I’m now remembering that it’s fun to have people around. The waiter is of course asked if he is Dimitrius? No, he’s not. Does he know Dimitrius? Yes he does, which one? Err how many are there? Thousands.

Hang on a minute, there are thousands of Dimitriuses on this island alone but I can’t seem to meet one on four Greek islands and even the mainland?! Is there some sort of Dimitrius conspiracy going on?! Maybe there’s some international Dimitrius airwave that has infiltrated my plans and decided to hide all Dimitriuses from me? The waiter points out that one Dimitrius he knows works at some sister restaurant somewhere or other that I’ve never heard of, which isn’t surprising considering I don’t even know the name of the restaurant I’m in now. I decide whoever he is he’s not my fisherman anyway so turn my attention instead to my other great love: alcohol.

Wine, beer, gin, whatever…I love it all and I drink it all. We’ve moved on now to a lovely little bar with some great live music. I do chair dancing (basically sitting down and twisting your upper body about as you’re too lazy to get off the seat) and sing along to whatever I can where possible: this time not accosting the musicians and grabbing the microphone from them as I have been known to do on previous drunken occasions. Young people who are far too young to be in a bar appear sporadically and try to sell roses; someone then buys a rose which creates a multitude of photo opportunities: holding it between teeth and trying to balance it on your head/chin/nose as the kid does but all to no avail of course.

Then it happens. There’s always some idiot at some point in the night who decides shots are a good idea. That idiot is always me. I never learn. Never ever ever. I go to the bar and as we are in Greece, obviously order a round of ouzo shots. It’s like I’m possessed by the shot fairy and can’t control myself, no one is safe from my shotliness so….Yamas!!!

I feel fine! I feel great! I send a WhatsApp message to someone saying ‘I’ve just had a shot of ouzo and can’t feel my tongue’! I dance… or at least move around in a non-walking type motion. Someone tries to match me up with some bloke but I’m having none of it, he’s not my Dimitrius and I have a rose to dance with! I’m having a great night! I know I am! I just can’t now remember any of it…

The magic beer scooter appears at some point and whisks me home…which is very clever of it considering I’m not even sure where home is; I couldn’t even find it sober earlier so how the heck the magic beer scooter knows where to go in a strange town after copious amounts of alcohol I have no idea…it’s clearly better than my ferry navigation skills at least…

 

20170718_152036
Skiathos

20170718_15232020170718_152122

20170718_164532
I preferred the Skyrian horses, far more animated than these two…

20170718_17091420170718_17113820170718_17141020170718_171712

20170718_172351
Who the heck is Danos?! Why is there not a Dimitrius version?!

 

20170718_190136
Am gannin doon toon…

 

20170718_200737
View from the restaurant
20170718_200744
View from the restaurant…for once a ferry without me on it
20170718_224748
There was music I recall…

 

20170718_232515.jpg
Skills! Which I don’t have!!

 

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)

 

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…

 

 

Port Life

Another day, another port, another ferry and another cheese pasty/pie. I don’t know why I say I’m Greek island hopping, I’m actually just Greek pasty hopping; sampling a cheese pasty in each port of call. Not a bad life really.

I managed this morning to check-out, waving my friendly landlady who speaks no English away and I’m pleased when I get to the bus stop that there are a couple there with suitcases: excellent, I mustn’t have missed the bus! I then start to panic as I realise I’d been so focused on trying to say ‘I had a lovely stay’ in Greek to the landlady that I’d forgotten to get a receipt and as they have my card details and I’ve basically just handed over a whole wad of cash, I could be charged twice and would have no proof of payment…

S*** s*** s***! What to do, what to do?! The bus is due (as due as Greek buses ever are anyway) in about 10 minutes looking at my watch…but if I get charged twice that would cost me a whole lot more than a taxi fare would…I leg it back to the apartment.
Given my noisy decrepit case disrupting the silence of the ‘busiest resort on the island’ the landlady is waiting for me outside before I get there, looking confused as to why the strange-woman-who-she-doesn’t-actually-know-who-she-is-but-smiles-a-lot has suddenly reappeared. I shout ‘receipt’ and make the little sign you draw with your hands when requesting the bill. She looks confused. Fortunately there is another lady there at this point who speaks excellent English and I explain to her what I need. She translates to the landlady in Greek then before I know it three old men with giant moustaches have appeared out of nowhere with a load of papers and a massive log book from about 1975; a flurry of activity follows and there appears to be some confusion about what is needed on an actual receipt. There’s much talking in Greek and I stand there looking perfectly clueless as I’ve perfected it so well lately.

The English speaking lady asks where am I going. I tell her I’m going to Skopelos then Skiathos then…she stops me and asks ‘but where are you going now, how are you getting there?’ I explain I’m getting the bus from here to Linaria then the ferry to Skopelos… She stops me abruptly again: ‘A bus? Here?’ One of the men barks ‘Taxi! Taxi’ as though he’s got taxi tourettes. No… not taxi, bus…Oh crikey people don’t make me panic! Surely you should know these details running a bloomin’ hotel and living here! There’s only about five buses on the whole island and one each day at this time in the morning that goes through Magazia to the port! I know this and I’m the idiot tourist! Please don’t tell me I’ve misread the bus timetable?!

I tell her what time it leaves and where from and she frowns at me. I’m right I’m right I know I am, I’m sure of it…but now I’m doubting myself given that all these locals appear to think a bus is about as likely as finding a fisherman with a blue shirt on a wall whose eyes change colour like the sea… Anyway the receipt is finally produced and presented with such a flourish you’d think it was a piece of fine art (I may well frame it when I get home) I’m then told only ‘RUN!’ which I do.

I ‘run’ as fast as I possibly can over bumpy streets in sandals with a case that has no rubber left on its wheels. Come on legs, faster, faster! I figure if the couple are still there with their cases it means the bus hasn’t yet been and I’ll be ok. I’m at the end of the street and pleased that no buses pass while I’m still slapping my feet along the cobbles. Out of breath I round the corner to the bus stop and…the couple have gone.
Arghhhhhhhhh!

I look at my watch. It’s still before 9:45…but it could have come early…I’m not sure? But where could the couple have gone? There are no other buses? The locals didn’t even know about that bus…I’m cursing myself now. The bus must’ve came, there’s no other explanation. Unless the couple were going elsewhere? But where? No, there’s no where else to go at that time with cases. Unless they got a taxi? No, there’s no taxi’s that pass this way. Dammit I must’ve missed the bus that’s the only explanation. I consider walking up to Chora to get a taxi but rule that out on the grounds that I’d probably cause such a racket I may trigger an earthquake; or I could ask the woman in the supermarket to call a taxi but then she’s probably still on the phone to her mate. I couldn’t possibly go back to the hotel again, taxi tourettes man would have a field day. But the bus still isn’t technically due yet so maybe I’m ok?

I decide to ignore the couple, wherever they have gone it’s none of my business and has nothing to do with my journey. Buses in Greece would potentially be late but not early surely? I resolve to hang fire and trust in myself. I’ll give it 20 minutes/half an hour, if it hasn’t turned up by then I’ll…do something…don’t know what but… something… it’ll be fine…
Five minutes (that feel like ten hours) later the big green bus that transported me here reappears. I flag him down, it’s the same driver that dropped me off; thinking about it he’s probably the only bus driver on the island, the Mr Big in the bus world. ‘Linaria?’ I double check. He nods. Get in!!!!! I make a mental air punch, throw my case in the hold and jump on board. As we start our journey I remember a valuable lesson: stop with the self-doubt and trust yourself, you’re an intelligent person…apart from where ferries are concerned, then you’re a bit ridiculous.. but in general terms, believe in yourself woman, you’ve got this.
I ease into the journey…having only a slight panic when he turns away from the road pointing to Linaria to instead follow one to Pefkos, until I realise he just has a few diversionary stops on the way to the port (you’re not on the X11 to Newcastle now dear) As I’m pulling my bag off the bus at Linaria who should I see but the couple from the bus stop! Aha they must’ve decided to walk to the bus stop at Molos I figure, possibly worrying themselves that the bus may not stop at Magazia. Damn you couple why couldn’t you just stay put rather than freak me out, I’ve a few more wrinkles because of you, Dimitrius will not be impressed!
I kill time at Linaria with the cheese pasty for breakfast (remember this is what the locals do, I’m not just a pasty addict…yet) and try some Dimitrus spotting activity…nope no sign here either and to be honest I’m quite relieved; for one I’m leaving now and quite frankly I’m not prepared to miss any more ferries and two, I think living here may be pushing it even by my rustic vision of donkey rescuing and selling olives: there’d be no tourist bus for me to sell things to after all and Mr local bus has enough on his hands. Yep my pasty is good enough company for me right now.

The Skyros Shipping Company ferry arrives, again playing 2001: A Space Odyssey as it docks and I once again ask more people than I need to if this is the right boat. Once on board I notice a man on the other side of the ferry (port side?), he has shoulder length hair and a blue shirt… could this be?! It’s hard to tell his features from a distance and he has sunglasses on so there’s no way of knowing if his eyes change colour like the sea but this is the only blue shirted, boat related, hairyness I’ve seen so far. He wanders off deck and I decide to follow him to the bar where the barman who kindly watched my case for me last trip when I had to nip to the loo is at work again.

He turns to me before he sees ‘Dimitrius’ and asks me where my bag is. I tell him I’m being super brave today and have left it on its own on deck: anything could happen to it today (like someone could decide to pick it up and throw it overboard or anything!) I’m feeling reckless and wild. I remember the barman is from Lesvos and does not like passengers taking suitcases into the loo but other than that I know nothing else about him. I know his name isn’t Dimitrius (well actually maybe it is? I don’t know at this stage!) and I know we never had this conversation last time but I figure if I can just say the name out loud, the other guy may register if it is his name and look up; as you do when you hear your name even if you’re miles from home and there isn’t anyone around that you know who might say it. Here goes, most ridiculous conversation of my life but it’s the name I need to say loudly, the context doesn’t matter…
Me: Did you say your name was DIMITRIUS? (I look over at the man with hair, not a flicker) err I can’t remember..I’m errr rubbish with names?!
Barman from Lesvos who is now looking very confused: Excuse me?
Me: Err, I’m trying to recall…did you say your name was DIMITRIUS? (I look at the other man but no flicker of recognition so I don’t think that’s his name, dammit)
Barman from Lesvos: My name is Lefteris.
Me: Oh of course! Lefteris from Lesvos, how could I forget! (embarrassed laugh)
He looks at me as if to say ‘probably because you never knew in the first place you raving lunatic?!’ and asks what I want
Me: Oh just a beer is fine please Lefteris…not DIMITRIUS Haha! (well it was worth one last shot)
He passes me a beer saying nothing else, I grin like the idiot that I am and pass him some cash. He brings me my change saying nothing else and I decide my work here is done.

As I’m putting my change away Barman-from-Lesvos-not-called-Dimitrius-but-Lefteris goes to serve ‘man who isn’t called Dimitrius’. In the campest voice ever ‘man who isn’t called Dimitrius’ asks for some water. Oh well, just as well he isn’t called Dimitrius, I’m pretty sure I’m not his type…

 

20170715_105008
Back to Linaria at last

 

 

20170715_103758
Just to show I was definitely there in the right place for once

 

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.

 

20170714_105413 (1)
My new love
20170714_105419 (1)
Isn’t be a beauty! Love a male with long hair…
20170714_112009 (1)
Just a beach with a parasol and Greek flag in the water, as you do
20170714_132440
The pie that defeated me
20170714_141749
Giz a kiss!
20170714_141745 (1)
And my heart belonged to a horse
20170714_103609
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!!

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