Tag Archives: Mythos

Weekly Photo Challenge: Adventure

Naxos Terror Vehicle

Terror Drive in Naxos

This morning we had to come to terms with our rash decision of the previous evening and after breakfast on the terrace we set out for a planned full day drive in our hire vehicle.  This wasn’t a regular car or a jeep or even a quad bike but rather a sort of easy-rider roadster dune buggy.

It looked cool and it looked fun but this was to be a full day of terror.

Read the full story…

Corfu, My Family and Other Disasters – Arrival

Corfu Postcard Map

Corfu: ”this brilliant little speck of an island in the Ionian”                           Lawrence Durrell – ‘Prospero’s Cell’ 

In 2004 I celebrated my fiftieth birthday with family on the Greek island of Santorini.  On the final night I treated everyone to a birthday celebration meal in a taverna and drank far too much Mythos Beer, Ouzo, and Metaxa Brandy and rashly declared that we would do the same thing in ten years time when I would be sixty.  I went to bed and promptly forgot all about it.

My children didn’t forget.  As 2014 got ever close they kept reminding me about the offer that I had made that night and so eventually I had no option but to deliver on the promise.  Sadly the Boss Bar in Santorini  closed down sometime between 2004 and 2006 and so I needed to find a suitable alternative and decided upon the village of Kalami on the island of Corfu which we had enjoyed a couple of years previously.

We were allocated seven seats on the plane, six altogether and one a row behind.  Kim thought she was being clever by bagging the solitary seat so she could stay away from the children and read her book in peace but I had to laugh when someone turned up and claimed the seat next to her with a small baby in her arms!  Luckily the flight passed by without incident.

The landing and arrival were just as I remembered them as the plane approached Cofu, shaped like a ballerinas balancing leg and over Pontikonisi Island, the home of the monastery of Pantokrator.  Then over the ‘chessboard fields’ of the Venetian salt marshes before landing on the freshly ploughed runway which gave everyone on board a rough welcome to the island and through the window I could see the same hopelessly inadequate buff coloured and tired airport terminal as the plane came to a gentle stop as the engines slowed from a high pitched whine to a gentle hum.

Passport control  was surprisingly chaotic with an unusual diligence not normally a feature of Greek border control and the line shuffled forward agonisingly slowly as the official at the desk took his time checking passports and ID until a second man came along, opened a gate and ushered us all through with only the customary glance at the documents that I am more familiar with in Greece and then, reunited with our luggage, we found the transfer coach ready to take us to Kalami.

At first the driver made slow progress through the growling traffic of the outskirts of the busy town with boxcrete apartment blocks with peeling facades, sagging washing lines and precarious balconies all decorated with satellite dishes and television aerials but eventually he nudged his way through the traffic and we were on the scenic coastal road that took us through Gouvia, Dassia and Ipsos and towards the mountainous north of the island where the road climbed in extravagant sweeping hairpin bends up one side of the coastal mountains and then dramatically down the other side.

It was late evening by now and the journey seemed to take forever, not helped by having to make a twenty minute detour to drop just two people off at a swanky hotel before having to double back to the main road to complete the journey.  Ordinarily this wouldn’t have been a problem but I was beginning to panic that as the minutes ticked by that the hotel shop might be closed and I would be unable to purchase essential supplies like milk for the children and (more importantly) Mythos for me!

Kalami Bay Corfu White House

I really shouldn’t have worried because we arrived a few minutes before ten o’clock and as we checked in the receptionist assured me that the shop was going to stay open for some time yet so we settled into our rooms and returned to the street to make our essential purchases.

Having been here before I knew what to expect – the rooms were basic with furniture held together with blu-tack and string, dodgy plumbing and only very basic facilities but this was more than compensated for by the magnificent view from the balcony which overlooked the crescent bay, shaped like a Saracen’s sword, pine fringed with limestone layer cake rocks, boats lolling in the languid water and the White House ‘set like a dice on a rock already venerable with the scars of wind and water’ of Lawrence Durrell.

Back in the land of ancient gods I felt immediately home and opened a bottle of Mythos to reassure myself that they hadn’t changed the brewing recipe and then we all wandered down to the seafront to our favourite beach side taverna, Thomas’ Place, where we plundered the menu for Greek specialities and began the holiday as we meant to continue before climbing back to our rooms and taking a last look at the night time vista before retiring to bed and looking forward to the next day.

During the night we experienced the downside of having a cheap and rustic studio apartment – it was incredibly loud!  The air conditioning chattered like a cicada, the fridge kept switching on and off with an ancient motor mechanism that sounded like a battering ram and every so often the shower head in the bathroom filled with water and discharged with a splash into the tray.  This was bad enough but worst of all were the beds, Kim’s croaked like a frog every time she turned over and mine quacked like a duck every time I moved and eventually after a disturbed night we were very glad that it was morning and we could start the holiday.

Thomas' Place Kalami Corfu

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

Read the full story…

My Favourite Pictures of the Greek Islands – 16

There followed an excellent meal of traditional Greek plates and interesting conversation, first with an elderly couple from Hunstanton who visit Symi every year and then a couple of walkers who gave us some tips on trails and sights.  We shared our whinging story about the accommodation and lamented the lack of air conditioning in the room.  They were sympathetic but he explained that he found it easier to sleep without this modern comfort and tried to reassure us that if we kept the windows open then we were sure to be nice and comfortable regardless.

Three hours later and stewing in our own sweat in temperatures of over 30º centigrade in an inappropriately pine paneled bedroom I was fairly certain that Kim did not entirely agree!  And to make matters worse, sleeping with the windows open simply invited the mosquitoes to drop by and  we discovered that the problem with lying on top of the sheets with no clothes on meant that we were laid out like an all-you-can-eat buffet table for creepy-crawlies.  I don’t like all-you-can-eat buffets much myself because I invariably overload the plate and eat too much and the mosquitoes suffered from the same lack of self restraint because in the morning Kim was suffering from fifteen irritating bites.  I had only a couple and considering how many Mythos I had drunk the previous day took pleasure from imagining that the little blighter that got me would most likely be suffering from a monster hang-over!

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.

Read the full story…

Greek Islands – Paros

With Sally and her friend Charlotte we arrived at the apartments in Parakia on Paros and things immediately went badly wrong!  What a DUMP! newly built the web site said.  Newly built, my arse!  The Parthenon Museum will be finished before this place!  There was also an intimidating huge dog and an owner with a severe b.o. problem.  This was the Greek equivalent of the Bates Motel and as we checked in I made a mental note to remember to sleep with one eye open tonight.

Oh, there was more.  The apartments were not just next to a building site, they were a building site! The room was adequate but nothing special, the shower didn’t work and neither did the fridge so I had to call the owner in to make repairs. It was one of those rooms that had electrical sockets in unusual places, some close to the ceiling and uselessly out of reach, and others with wires dangling alarmingly from the wall. The view from the balcony was not the sea as promised but a construction site with a mechanical digger moving rocks from one side to the other and then returning them back again to their original position again for no apparent reason!

I won’t be recommending the Capricorn Apartments to anyone! That’s the Capricorn Apartments on Paros!

The girls were good and tried to cheer me up and we went to the beach, which was a really very nice beach but it was very, very hot and I couldn’t settle down so I walked back to the apartment to get my snorkel and then went back to the beach for a bit of a swim and then I walked back to the apartment again to get my book and went back to the beach again for a bit of a read.

To keep going back was a big mistake because each time I just got more wound up about the place. Then I had a brilliant solution, there was a hotel just down the road on the way back to the beach so I’d book in there and move out of this substandard dump. I walked there and swept through the lush hotel gardens, past the fabulous Olympic sized swimming pool and the well stocked poolside bar and into the air-conditioned reception and enquired about the price of a room for three. One hundred euros, brilliant, this was a seriously nice hotel and my spirits were lifted immediately. “OK I’ll take one” I said and then my spirits were immediately dashed when the desk clerk said “sorry no availability”. What a jerk, why didn’t he say that in the first place? With no result I had to return to the beach defeated.

So we decided to go back to Parikia by the water taxi to try and cheer me up. Parikia it has to be said is not the most picturesque of Greek island towns, it has a very functional appearance and the first and lasting impression is a harbour front predominantly given over to ferry booking operators and car hire offices.  But the streets leading off the busy front were much nicer and we found an agreeable bar with twenty minutes Internet free with every drink so we bought three and the girls amused themselves for an hour.

Well, the situation did start to improve I have to confess, I had a Mythos or two and sort of got used to the room and when I reflected upon the state of affairs this place did have a very good beach and the snorkelling was the best yet. It wasn’t that bad after all and things always seem more cheerful viewed through the bottom of a beer bottle and this state of unfortunate affairs was no exception. We drove out of town, stopping to buy some supplies, and we found a beachfront taverna that looked very nice so we pulled in and went inside. It was a pizza restaurant with the compulsory cats for company. The food was very good; we had a substantial meal and free drinks to finish and then went back to the apartment.

The next day we took a drive to Noussea and dropped down into the village and into the bustling harbour. It was a lovely place, a genuine combination of tourism and local industry with fishermen mending their nets and preparing last nights catch next to their gaily painted fishing boats of assorted shapes and sizes that were laid up bobbing gently and resting against the harbour walls. This was a much nicer place than Parikia with lots of charming little streets and hidden nooks of interest.

Next we drove out of Noussea and found a beach on the northern tip of the island. The beach was wide and sandy and we found a spot in the sand dunes to put down our towels and sunbathe.  I went into the sea and when I was far enough out to be discreet I slipped off my swimming trunks and enjoyed swimming without them for a while.  After a drink at a beach side taverna we returned to our apartment stopping on the way back to buy some drinks.

We walked back to the beach, past the nice hotel with no vacancies, and spent a leisurely afternoon swimming, snorkelling and sunbathing and at one point I spent thirty minutes at the bar with a beer.  Back at the apartment Sally and Charlotte completed their post card diaries and gave them to me to post to boyfriends and families when I returned home.

Later we went back into town to return the hire car and to have our last evening meal together before I had to go back to Athens to return home.  We walked through the town and the girls used the Internet once more.  I checked the Easyjet site again, just in case, but the airfares remained stubbornly high and I was resigned to having to return home according to my original schedule and not enjoy the enticing two extra days that had been beckoning me.

We had dinner on the sea front in a friendly little taverna and I had my first and only moussaka of the holiday, the girls tried the vegetarian versions and then they shared mine with the cats.

Koufinisia Greece Ferry Terminal

My ferry was due to leave at 10.30 and against my better judgement I was talked into relying upon the water taxi that was scheduled to start its shuttle service at 10 o’clock. I was a bit nervous about this but went along with Sally’s arrangements. We walked to the taxi quay in good time and arrived with a lot of it to spare. I anxiously scanned the sea for any sign of the little boat crossing the bay but it stubbornly refused to appear. After a while, ok actually only a short while, I began to panic especially when the Blue Star steamed into port bang on time!

By ten past ten I was certain I would miss my boat and even when the ferry finally appeared at quarter past I remained deeply pessimistic.  Of course it was full of the slowest people in Greece who took ages to disembark and we finally set off for the ten-minute journey at eighteen minutes past. Sally was cool and tried to persuade me that my watch was fast but I was not convinced and it got very, very tight and I paced the deck nervously.  Finally the boat arrived and tied up and I made a dash for the ferry with the girls shouting encouragement from behind and imploring me to run faster.  I made it but I was disappointed that I didn’t get the chance to say goodbye properly. And then the boat was ten minutes late leaving anyway so I needn’t have panicked after all. I waved goodbye to Sally, Charlotte and Paros and then settled down for the three and a half hour journey to Piraeus.

Terror Drive in Naxos

Naxos Terror Vehicle

This morning we had to come to terms with our rash decision of the previous evening and after breakfast on the terrace we set out for a planned full day drive in our hire vehicle.  This wasn’t a regular car or a jeep or even a quad bike but rather a sort of easy-rider roadster dune buggy.  It looked cool and it looked fun but this was to be a full day of terror.

Read the full story…