Tag Archives: Blue Sky

Travel Memories – Greek Island Hopping

Backpacking Greece Paros

“Somewhere…I once found a list of diseases… and among these occurred the word Islomania, which was described as a rare but by no means unknown affliction of spirit.  These are people…who somehow find islands irresistible.  A little world surrounded by the sea, fills them with indescribable intoxication. – Lawrence Durrell – ‘Reflections on a Marine Venus’

Island hopping with a bulging rucksack strapped to my back was an immediately brilliant idea when Sally mentioned it in May and invited me to bring my credit cards along and join her for a week or two in the Greek islands.

Sun drenched beaches, friendly tavernas, Mythos and ouzo, I knew immediately that I would take up the offer but at first I was slightly wary of committing to a holiday with two girls addicted to the internet and who sleep with their mobile phones but I have always wanted to be more imaginative about my holidays and to take control and make my own arrangements rather than rely upon a holiday rep from Thomsons or Airtours and those tedious welcome meetings that seem to go on for ever in a dingy hotel lounge when all you want to do is get outside in the sun.

So the chance to do things my way was a real opportunity and I signed up.

Naxos Back street Cyclades Greece

Preparation involved booking the flights and finding suitable hotels on line. This, I later had to concede, turned out to be a bit of a cheat because proper back-packers, I am told, take their lodgings chances when arriving in port, but I just wanted to be certain of a basic level of accommodation.  I was fifty-two years old and had certain standards to maintain! I wanted Olympic size swimming pools, air conditioning as fresh as the mountain air and at the very least a minimum standard of bathroom facility.  Most people go backpacking in their teens or in their twenties – I had left it all a bit late!

Packing the rucksack was quite a challenge! There wasn’t a lot of room in there and it took a number of clothing/essentials trial runs before I achieved the perfect combination of items. I needed my snorkel and essential bathroom items and some books of course and after that I had room for some clothes. It was like doing the hokey-cokey, in, out, in, out and shake it all about until I got it right.

Blue Star Ferry Athens to Naxos

Like most people I always take too many clothes on holiday, that extra pair of shorts, another shirt just in case, and usually some items just go for the ride there and back and never get worn, this time I was sure I had got it about right but for some unexplained reason I took some socks along for the trip. I didn’t wear them of course because all I had for foot attire was two pairs of sandals including my favourite gladiators.

I had the gladiator sandals since 1999 when I went to Rhodes and they accompanied me abroad on every single beach holiday after that – always the first item in the bag.  They were showing signs of wear and not expected to see through this adventure. I  made it my mission to see how long I could make them last.

Gladiator Sandals Naxos Greece

Footnote (please excuse the pun):

The Gladiators made it through the holiday and lasted another two years when an important part of the shoe infrastructure failed (one of the straps snapped) and they had to be thrown away soon after.  I left them in Greece, I thought that was appropriate – a little bit of me is in a landfill site in Athens!

Have you been to the Greek Islands?  Which is your favourite?

Oia Santorini

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Weekly Photo Challenge: Relic

Acropolis Parthenon Athens

“We climbed up the hill to the theatre whence we overlooked the splintered treasures of the gods, the ruined temples, the fallen columns, trying vainly to recreate the splendour of this ancient site.”                                                                Henry Miller

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Island Hopping 2006, Santorini, Oia and Thira

Oia Santorini Greece

I had a great nights sleep and woke early as usual. I carried out the early morning weather check and satisfied that the sun was shining already I made everyone a cup of tea and I then went to the village to buy some fruit for breakfast.

There was a mini-market with a good selection of  curiously shaped fruits. Although ugly they looked interesting and I bought plums, peaches, grapes and oranges none of which would have made it through fruit police quality control at Tesco. Having selected my breakfast purchases I encountered a problem. It is difficult to buy €5 euros worth of groceries with a €50 note so early in the morning. The till was already almost empty and after scratching around for my change it looking as though Dick Turpin had paid a visit and left his calling card!

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Island Hopping 2006, Leaving Ios

Ios Greece Cyclades

I woke early and checked the weather.  It was good again so I slipped out without waking the others, which was difficult because the door locking mechanism was clunky and made a lot of noise and then I sat around the pool reading again.

There you go I had established a routine again in only two days.  Later when everyone was awake and I had taken food orders I slipped down to the harbour to a busy bakery to buy breakfast.  Croissants and donuts on the balcony and I had a beer to wash it down.  Then during the morning I had two more beers while Sally and Charlotte went to the pool and I sat in the sun with Bill Bryson.

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Island Hopping 2006, Naxos

Arriving in Naxos

I did my only important job of the day and got up early as usual, checked the sky and satisfied that the sun was shining sat on the balcony waiting for the others to join me.  I didn’t have to wait long and we had a breakfast in the hotel that was substantial and very good value at only €3 each. Joining us for breakfast this morning was the loudest cat in the world with a really shouting mew.   It liked the ham that Sally insisted on feeding it but not the children from across the road who kept on chasing it around!

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Island Hopping 2006, Piraeus to Naxos

Blue Star Ferry Athens to Naxos

I was aware that we had to get up very early and consequently I had a restless night and woke prematurely sometime before the alarm because it was on my mind that we had to catch the seven thirty ferry to Naxos.

It was still dark when I got up first at about six o’clock and then used my banging about and switching the lights on technique to wake the girls. Not very sophisticated I have to concede but it worked well enough. Packing a rucksack is quite straightforward and the girls had already perfected the back-packers art of cramming without folding so it didn’t take long to get ready.

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Island Hopping 2006, Athens and Ancient Greece

Acropolis Parthenon Athens

“We climbed up the hill to the theatre whence we overlooked the splintered treasures of the gods, the ruined temples, the fallen columns, trying vainly to recreate the splendour of this ancient site.”                                                                Henry Miller

I woke quite early because when I am on holiday the first thing I have to do is check the weather, this is a huge responsibility and although it doesn’t take a great deal of preparation I can’t possibly slouch around in bed too long. I freed myself from the creaky camp bed and banged about the room in a disorderly fashion in an effort to make sure that I woke the girls up as well.  My mission was thoroughly accomplished when I threw back the curtains and a blazing light flooded into the room and revealed a gloriously sunny morning with a big bright sky so magnificently blue that it made me squint just to gaze up into it.

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