I have been visiting the Greek islands on and off for twenty-five years and island hopping for the last six and I have noticed that things are beginning to alter, and not always for the better either. There are new roads being constructed on the islands and EU funded improvements to ports, traditional mini-markets are becoming supermarkets and the ferries are beginning to change. New roads are fine and improved port facilities are good, personally I prefer the dusty old shops with surprises in dark corners but I have to say that I am really disappointed by the ferry changes.
Tag Archives: Greek Island Hopping
“What is the secret of its charm – the feeling of restful ease it gives you while you navigate those dazzling white streets punctuated with whole balconies and bowers of flowers in bloom?” Lawrence Durrell
The narrow cobbled streets invited exploration and as we walked around some led to surprises and others led to nowhere in particular but all around were white washed walls, blue doors and fences and fading menu boards and the place was filled with the familiar smells of the Greek Islands, heavy incense from behind the church doors, fresh lamb moussaka from the tavernas and Tide washing powder spilling out through the open doors and windows of the houses where people went about their daily chores.
I woke especially early today and I sat with my tea on the balcony to watch the building pantomime. The men arrived early and had their thirty minutes together organising the day’s chaos. Surely it would have made sense to begin work straight away because this was the coolest part of the day but instead they sat around under a tree, a thoroughly disorganised debating society that became steadily louder as more turned up and joined in. One man had most to say so I guessed that he had some sort of seniority but despite expansive arm waving and shoulder heaving the others didn’t appear to acknowledge his authority.
I had a restless night full of wild and vivid dreams and I woke early. I like to start the day with tea so I made some and went onto the balcony overlooking the hotel garden building site. At about eight o’clock the builders started to arrive and were clearly perplexed about where they should move the rocks to today. Without any sign of a supervisor to give sensible instructions this required thirty minutes or so of volatile chatter which became increasingly louder and excitable as the debate continued.
I was so pleased that we had a car and we had planned a trip to Naoussa on the other side of the island. I think the construction workers (and I use this description in the loosest sense) were somewhat surprised to see a room in occupation and I was convinced that this was the reason for the frequent outbursts of mocking laughter.
We had a really early start, it was still dark when we got up and packed for the trip to the harbour. Then I had a panic attic when the transport didn’t arrive at the arranged time but the girls displayed admirable calm. My low patience threshold was tested and after phoning the apartment owner (waking him up!) and just about to drive to the port myself in his car the driver turned up twenty minutes late and reeking of last night’s alcohol excess in Thira.
I spent the short journey constantly checking my watch and we arrived at the ferry with just about ten minutes to spare and that was close because these boats, believe me, don’t wait. Back to Blue Star today so a big boat to take us to Paros.
We had a quiet day today.
Woke to more blue sky. This was becoming so predictable that I was in danger of my first job of the day becoming unnecessary. I worried that I might get a letter of redundancy. I had a cup of tea and enjoyed an amusing incident when a Greek family set up for breakfast around the pool and the eldest son, of about ten, pushed the younger one, of about eight, in the water. Did he howl! I couldn’t help but laugh out loud and his mother thought that it was really funny as well.
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!
On arrival first impressions were disappointing. It was noisy and busy and I couldn’t find our transport. The place was full of pushy, impatient taxi drivers who all wanted to take us to the town. It was clear to me already that we are now on an island with an airport and the ambiance was quite different.
One driver even nearly convinced me that he was our lift but he wanted 10 euros so I knew that it wasn’t right. Sally and Charlotte climbed aboard a taxi van full of beefy Australians and were disappointed when I eventually found our arranged transport and they had to pick up their packs and get off again. I think the beefy Australians were disappointed too! Now that we had our lift things were looking up.
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.
Routinely I woke early but the girls were still asleep so I dressed quietly and left the room and didn’t disturb them. I planned to walk and find the old town but I managed to miss the footpath that was the direct course to the top of the hill and the route via the energy sapping hairpin bending road seemed, after only a short time a bit long and arduous, and it took me past a warehouse site with a big growling guard dog.
It was chained up but I decided not to push my luck and I returned to the hotel where I sat by the pool, had a conversation with the owner and did some reading. The wind had dropped and the weather prospects were very promising.