The harbour was in a mid afternoon stupor, the metal fish stalls were empty, the fishing nets were repaired and neatly stacked and the men who would go out in the boats later were resting in their boats, some sleeping, some drinking coffee and some just idly chatting with fellow sailors. I imagine this is a treadmill sort of life where every day follows the same pattern as the one before and the one that will follow.
The next morning we took a stroll along the harbour to watch the last of the fishing fleet return one by one where family were waiting to take the catch, clean and gut, grade and sort and put out on iced beds under the shade of umbrellas for sale whilst keeping vigil and waiting for customers.
Out all night but there was no immediate rest for the fishermen because whilst this was going on there was more work yet to be done untangling, repairing and storing the nets, cleaning the pots and clearing down the decks.
Posted in Cyclades, Europe, Food, Greece, Greek islands, History, island hopping, Travel, Turkey
Tagged Culture, Fishing Boats, Greece, Kos, Life, postaday
Nice to be Away, Sometimes Even Nicer to get Back Home:
Conditions were really bad and things didn’t look good and the ferry was finding it difficult to even get out of the harbour but when it did then matters took a turn for the worse. Officially, according to the Beaufort Scale, in a force seven, sea heaps up and white foam from breaking waves begins to be blown in streaks along the direction of the wind. Well, it was certainly heaping up today and spray was coming up over the sides and once outside the protective walls of the harbour the ferry started to bob about like a helpless cork.
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Posted in Europe, Food, France, History, island hopping, Natural Environment, Travel
Tagged Cross Channel Ferry, Dieppe, Life, Photography, SNCF Senlac, Travel, White Cliffs of Dover
WordPress seem to go to a lot of trouble to convince users that ‘Freshly Pressed’ is fair, impartial and based on critical selection.
Consider this then from a blog page I chanced upon…
It has been interesting to look back over 2012 to see which posts were the most popular. Bagni di Lucca and Beyond has been Freshly Pressed twice this year, which has been great fun. Thank you WordPress for choosing.
It is a nice blog but it isn’t brilliant (sorry).
I say no more…
Posted in Africa, Arts and Crafts, Athens, Austria, back packing, backpacking, Beaches, Bratislava, Budapest, Cantabria, Cathedrals, Childhood, Croatia, Cyclades, Czech Republic, dubrovnik, El Cid, Estonia, Europe, Food, France, Galicia, Germany, Grand Canyon, Greek islands, Greek Taverna, History, Hotels, Hungary, Iceland, island hopping, Italy, Krakow, Latvia, Literature, Malta, Marrakech, Morocco, Natural Environment, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Prague, Russia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Sorrento, Spain, Suez Canal, Switzerland, The Netherlands, Travel, Turkey, Uncategorized, United Kingdom, USA, Vikings, Wales, World Heritage
Tagged blogging, Culture, Favouritism, Freshly Pressed, Life
In one room there was a pot-pourri of treasures that really deserved to be in a proper museum where they could be looked after properly. She dragged them out of boxes and held them in her frail hands and in a rhapsodical way accompanied by extravagant arm gestures as though she were conducting an orchestra kept imploring us to “look at this, look at this!” At one point she opened an illuminated manuscript and declared it to be five hundred years old but she turned the pages over as though it was a copy of last week’s Radio Times.
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Posted in backpacking, Europe, Greece, Greek islands, History, island hopping, Travel, World Heritage
Tagged Culture, History, Holidays, Life, Museums, Naxos, Photography
“The sea’s curious workmanship: bottle green glass sucked smooth and porous by the waves: wood stripped and cleaned and bark swollen with salt…gnawed and rubbed: amber: bone: the sea” Lawrence Durrell – Propero’s Cell
So, it was an unexpectedly early start that day and so began a routine of a balcony breakfast followed by a morning at the beach where we played for a while, then walked for a while searching for driftwood and other suitable model boat building materials washed up by the sea and then rested for a while listening to the occasional drone of an outboard motor, the flapping of pedalo paddle wheels and the gentle plop or rowing boat oars spearing the limpid sea until it was time to take shelter in the taverna and order a bottle of Mythos.
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Posted in Arts and Crafts, Beaches, Greece, island hopping, Natural Environment, Travel
Tagged Arts and Crafts, Bodrum, Culture, Kos, Life, Model Making, Souvenirs
There was more trouble with the room in the night, this time with the air conditioning unit which refused to respond to the battered and sellotaped together controller and was permanently set to sub-zero arctic temperature and so cold that it would have tested the endurance of a polar expedition team. On the positive side this did prevent the fridge from constantly going on and off which cut down on the noise and there was no trouble with mosquitoes!
I thought it would be a good idea to let the sunshine in but after twelve days of blue skies and continuous sunshine it was a shock this morning to open the shutters and to come face to face with a hanging mist and the top of the mountain disappearing into a battleship grey cloud.
Gradually the sun found a way through all these vapour obstacles and as we breakfasted on the terrace the weather began to return to normal and we made plans to use our last morning here to visit the nearby islet of Telendros for no particular reason other than it was there.
The taxi boats left the harbour every thirty minutes so we arrived in good time for the ten minute crossing and sat waiting in the sunshine on the open deck of the boat for it to begin the short crossing to what is little more than a stranded mountain top, a giant grey peak pitted with fissures and caves and thrusting magnificently out of the sea.
All along the lazy harbour there was a ribbon of tiny shops and tavernas. This was a unique and improbable sort of place where the shops left local souvenirs out on shelves with an honesty box to pay for purchases. It was like stepping back in time, a sort of cheesecloth and denim 1960s hippy commune that progress had forgotten to release and left it behind in a nostalgic time warp that everyone here seemed happy about.
The shops offered hand-made souvenirs made from driftwood and sea debris, wood, sticks and shells and the dusty shelves displayed herbs and spices and hand-made soaps and cosmetics. The tavernas were stirring into life and one displayed a recommendation from an English newspaper from twenty years ago. It was wonderful and we walked along the seafront as far as we could before the path petered out into stones and dust and then we returned through the sleepy back alleys to wait for the return crossing at a harbour side taverna where we agreed that if we were to return to Kalymnos sometime then this would be a good place to isolate ourselves for a couple of days.
The taxi boat returned and took us back to Myrties where we packed our bags and spent a final hour on the terrace before saying goodbye and reluctantly leaving the Aphrodite Studios. Our plan now was to take the local bus to Pothia in time to catch the ferry back to Kos and we lined up with several other people and we became collective nervous as the minutes passed by with no sign of the transport at the scheduled time and wondered about alternatives. We shouldn’t have worried of course because the driver was using GMT, that’s Greek Maybe Time and he eventually arrived about twenty minutes late.
There was quite a long wait now for the ferry so we made our way to the pavement bar that we had found yesterday and settled down in the shade for an hour. As Kim read I watched the man working the pavement because he was a genius and a master of his trade. He had an infectious smile that he probably practiced to perfection every morning in a mirror and he had the ability to make people stop and sit at a table and order drinks when they had no intention of doing so. He stood back in the shadows waiting for his opportunity and then with a predatory sixth sense and a perfect awareness of potential customers as they passed he stepped forward and pounced and was almost always successful. It was a pleasure to watch him work and when we left I told him so and congratulated him on his skills.
At the port we sat waiting for the ferry and reflected on two short days on Kalymnos. Despite a shaky start I liked it, it won’t get into my top five Greek islands but it is close and I for one would definitely return. And then the ferry arrived and took us back to Kos.
After two weeks of travelling, using public transport and staying in mid-budget accommodation I thought it might be nice to stay the final two nights in an up-market spa hotel especially as I had found a good rate on an internet booking site. I didn’t think it was appropriate to pitch up at a five star hotel on the bus, dust-streaked and sweating so I broke one of my golden rules of travelling and hopped into an air-conditioned taxi and fifteen minutes later we were booking in to the promising sounding Diamond Deluxe Hotel.
Posted in History, Greece, World Heritage, Greek islands, island hopping, Natural Environment, backpacking
Tagged Kalymnos, Life, Photography, Telendros, Travel
In the morning we took a stroll along the harbour to watch the last of the fishing fleet return one by one where family were waiting to take the catch, clean and gut, grade and sort and put out on iced beds under the shade of umbrellas for sale whilst keeping vigil and waiting for customers. Out all night but there was no immediate rest for the fishermen because whilst this was going on there was more work yet to be done untangling, repairing and storing the nets, cleaning the pots and clearing down the decks.
We were booked on the eleven o’clock ferry to Kalymnos so after a desperately disappointing breakfast at the otherwise excellent hotel Kosta Palace we took our bags and walked all the way around the harbour again to the ferry port. The modern featureless hydrofoil arrived and left on time and we made our way to the open top deck for the short journey. As the island of Kos started to fade into the distance I noticed how it resembled a resting crocodile with its central mountain peaks for a jagged spine and a long tail disappearing into the heat haze to the south and on its flanks brown fields divided into neat squares for scales.
Out on deck the wind rushed through my shirt, tugging at the sleeves and clawing at the buttons and it was most exhilarating even though I prefer the older slower Greek ferries which due to a combination of age and economics are becoming increasingly scarce as one by one they are removed from service and replaced with a modern fleet of ferries which sadly lack the romance and the adventure of the old boats.
After a while Kalymnos came into view and as we approached the harbour town of Pothia I thought it looked rather like Symi with Venetian mansions clinging to the sides of the hills and I could make out delicate arches, iron balustrades and bright pastel shades and I imagined that this is how Kos may have looked before the calamity of the 1933 earthquake. As we got closer I could see that it lacked the charm and grace of Symi but it was nice enough and I was glad we were here.
It was larger than I expected as well and the hotel was farther away than I had imagined so, slightly disorientated and weighed down with bags we broke the no taxi rule and climbed into a cab which surprisingly turned out to be good value, a pleasant journey and a helpful and informative driver, he told us proudly that Kalymnos ‘is not touristic’ and that we were sure to enjoy our short stay.
Lawrence Durrell described Kalymnos thus: “The hills are shaven as smooth as a turtle’s back, the bare rock has the slightly bluish terracotta tinge of volcanic rock. There is nothing much to see except the fine harbour” and on the drive across the island to our accommodation I was beginning to understand what he meant. Kim would have agreed with him because on arrival I could tell that she wasn’t particularly thrilled with this choice of location or the studio room which could only really be described as basic. On the other hand I liked it immediately, it was Cycladic blue with a large tiled balcony and there was an old-fashioned mini-market close by.
After a walk to the seashore and along the sand we choose a bar and once again a couple of Mythos provided a whole new perspective and we located a bus timetable and established that there was a service to the port and Kim began to cheer up and agree with me that this was a perfect place for two days of relaxation and I was pleased that she came to reassess the place in a positive way because it suited me perfectly and I looked forward to two days in a simple room, swimming in the crystal clear sea, salt streaked sunbathing, long afternoons with a book and a beer and then an evening meal and an ouzo or a metaxa to finish. This year’s adventure needed a beach break and this was it.
On the balcony the ferocious heat of the late afternoon sun chased us inside but we ventured back outside as the sun began to drop over the adjacent island of Telendros and I felt a sunset moment coming on so grabbed a camera and dashed to the seafront to capture it. On the way back I re-examined the bus schedule and discovered that there was only a reduced service on a Sunday so there was only one thing for it – I stopped and arranged a car hire instead.
Early Morning Sunrise and Boat
We woke early to the most stunning sunrise that was pouring like liquid amber through the open shutters and into the room. The sun was only a few minutes old and was a ball of white light with a yellow halo rising through a fiery sky that was sizzling with anticipation for the new day. A bright yellow slash of solar reflection sliced through the surface of water and the whole bay was so intensely bronze that it was as though the sky had ignited and poured its flames into the sea. Slowly the orange sky retreated and was replaced by a reassuring blue and the sea turned from umber through purple to its more natural marine blue and everything was prepared and ready for another perfect day.
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Sunset Playtime on Greek Island of Amorgos
As the sun begins to set, light must travel farther through the atmosphere before it gets to us and more of the light is reflected and scattered. As less reaches us directly, the sun appears less bright and the colour of the sun appears to change, first to orange and then to red and this is because even more of the short wavelength blues and greens are now scattered and only the longer wavelengths are left in the direct beam that we can see.
What makes it even more dramatic is that the sky around the setting sun takes on a lot of different colours and the most spectacular shows occur when the air contains many small particles of dust or water because these particles reflect light in all directions and then as some of the light heads towards us, different amounts of the shorter wavelength colours are scattered out and we get to see the longer wavelengths and the sky appears red, pink or orange.
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Dash for an early morning ferry from Koufonisia
It was still dark when we made our way down to the harbour and joined a line of passengers flocking onto the Blue Star Paros and we made our way to the partially covered seating area on the top deck of the boat. As we watched from the deck rail we watched what resembled a sort of Pied Piper activity as people emerged from rooms and spilled out of little side streets all heading in the same direction and making their way to the boat.
It left on time and slipped out of Katapola into a surprisingly rough sea and as the sun rose behind us the wind whipped up the waves and sent them high enough to crash over the sides of the top deck, the ferry lurched alarmingly from side to side, the Greek flag was cracking like a whip in the wind as though trying to detach itself from its pole and we were rather glad that this was only a forty-five minute journey. The Blue Star arrived in Koufonisia on time and it was a bit of a concern to us that there was a large crowd at the ferry terminus because it seemed as though everyone was leaving the island just as we were arriving. Did they know something we didn’t?