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

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…

 

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Skiathos

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

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

 

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Am gannin doon toon…

 

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

 

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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

 

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Rain, rain, go away…
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Worlds biggest pitta

 

 

 

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Grey
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Some markings somewhere
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Clouds
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Black

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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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“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.

 

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Arriving at Skopelos
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View from the boat
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Err, where am I staying?!
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Seriously, where am I staying?!!!

 

 

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View from my balcony!
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View from the shower! The shower!!
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Excuse me sir, are you Dimitrius?
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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…

 

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Back to Linaria at last

 

 

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