“It takes a lifetime for someone to discover Greece, but it only takes an instant to fall in love with her” – Henry Miller
Next morning without essentials we took a walk to the nearest supermarket which was rather like climbing Mount Everest, to purchase tea bags. Back at the room – no electricity so no cup of tea.
At least the sun was shining.
After climbing Mount Everest for a second time we took the local bus into the town to purchase more essentials. Tee shirts, swimming gear and a dress for Kim, luckily all over in thirty minutes or so.
As we stopped for breakfast, a cup of tea and a Greek cheese pie I read about some of the legends of the island of Skiathos.
Before I get to that however, I return to the matter of tea. Based on official statistics one third of all visitors to the island are from the UK where we drink lots of tea so, you would think wouldn’t you, that the island cafés and restaurants would be aware of this and have it on their menus. Not so, you can get all sorts of rubbish teas – camomile, green, mint and then almost every variety of fruit in the World but black tea is curiously missing. We had the foresight to bring our own tea bags so we just paid for a cup of hot water each.
Back to the legends now…
Every Greek Island has its own ancient Diety, they are shared out among them in a sort of, appropriate for Greece, democratic process Skiathos has Dionysus, the god of wine and pleasure, which once again is quite appropriate for what is mostly a Summer party island for young people.
These folk don’t seem to be having a lot of fun. Maybe they have lost their luggage as well, they don’t look happy…
But now I come to Saints and as some of you will know I do like an unlikely Saint story.
According to legend, one night in 1650 a monk called Symeon, who led a disciplined and ascetic life was intrigued to see a twinkling light in the forest. Upon approaching it, the light receded, only to reappear and disappear again several times so that he was unable to see exactly what it was.
Intrigued by this he stuck around to investigate and after fasting and meditating for several days (fasting always helps it seems) he finally saw that it was a small icon of the Virgin Mary swaying away in the top of a tall pine tree. As they do.
Convinced that he had witnessed a miracle he rushed back to report the incident to the priest in his village. The next day, the excited villagers followed Symeon back to where the mysterious light had been shining. Legend has it that the light grew brighter and brighter, the closer the people got.
When they all saw the icon hanging from the tree a young priest climbed up to retrieve it, placing it in the chapel where Symeon served. It would later be placed in the Three Hierarches church of Skiathos town for safe keeping.
Here it is…
The Holy Monastery of Evangelistria was built in honour of this miraculous event, and dedicated to the Virgin Mary as the island’s patron Saint and protector.
Once every year the icon is removed from the Cathedral in Skiathos and paraded through the streets and taken on a ten mile pilgrimage to the monastery.
It was possible to take a bus to visit the monastery but with the sun shining, the temperature rising and without suitable holiday attire we chose instead to return to the hotel for lunch.
There is another legend/story about the The Holy Monastery of Evangelistria which concerns the flag of Greece. Leading Greek fighters of the 1821 Revolution against Ottoman rule in the Greek War of Independence met at the monastery in Skiathos to discuss tactics and over a glass of ouzo or two designed, adopted and raised the flag as a symbol of Greek nationalism.
Originally it was blue with a white diagonal cross which was symbolic of the Christian faith but the cross has now been moved to the upper left corner to make way for the horizontal stripes. Being a seafaring nation, the blue of the flag represents the colour of the sea. White is the colour of freedom, which is something that is very important to the Greeks after years of enslavement under foreign domination. The nine stripes of the flag each symbolise a syllable in the Greek motto of freedom – E-LEY-THE-RI-A-I-THA-NA-TOS, which translates literally into ‘Freedom or Death’.
After lunch we simply let the day slip away as we sat on the terrace in our underwear. The electricity supply was restored late afternoon and we occasionally checked our phones for any updates on the missing luggage. It came through late in the evening. The bags would be arriving in Skiathos the following day but it would take the airport another day to sort it all out and deliver them to us but as recompense compensation was now increased to £250 per suitcase.
“There is always a flip side to a dud penny” – John Corden
Kim made plans for a second day of shopping and I wasn’t going to get away with just thirty minutes this time that was for certain.. Oh Joy.
Other Unlikely Saint Stories…
St Edmund, the Patron Saint of Pandemics
Saint James and Santiago de Compostella
The Feast of Saint Paul’s Shipwreck
Santa Eulalia and the Thirteen Tortures