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Greece (of course)
8th May 2002
I needed to get away, but I didn't want to go to the ends of the earth.....
A few hours from my home, I found a place I would call 'the back of beyond'. A bit like those American films set in the deep South, with the moody Blues guitar background and the tumbleweed rolling lazily past.....
I found it, courtesy of other's websites. They had found it before me and their enthusiasm shone out at me. With photos. And directions (see Kos Links ). Well, I was once a Girl Guide. I thought, 'I could do with some of this'.
So I did.... teddygrant came too
" The problem for me here in Paradise is that no-one speaks English, so that every conversation is a struggle. The Koans are so polite that they don't acknowledge that they cannot understand me, either. They nod, they smile, and they don't understand. Living at this level of friendliness seems to avoid the need for conflict among the Koans. Everyone knows one another in this small community and a lot of 'yassoo-ing' (translation = 'Hi There!') goes on. You get the feeling that they have suffered so many threats from outside Kos over the years that they are bound together by more ties than blood and familiarity. I was impressed by the taxi-driver (number 4 - more of that later) who drove me home when my nerve broke and I couldn't wait for yet another hour for yet another bus for the third time of the day. He informed me that he had never been abroad. He looked about my age - and he does not need to take holidays?
Why would he need a holiday away from Paradise? Good question.
* * *
5 May 2002
Lorna Doone and Winston - Agias Paraskevis - Toilets and Hygiene - Bugs - Lambi Beach - the 3-day festivals
The plane left Gatwick promptly at 10.10 p.m. I was ready for take-off. I'd arrived at the airport nearly four hours earlier.
The only problem with cheap flights (apart from the appalling in-flight 'food') - is that there is no panoramic view of the Greek islands as one comes in to land in the middle of the night. I had experienced the thrill of flying low over small islands dotted in the turquoise sea when I flew into Athens airport two years earlier. There, the plane needs to navigate a wide circle in the narrow approach between the sea and the mountains.
This was the second package tour of my life. I had visited the magical island of Crete 18 months earlier, so Kos had something to live up to. 'Emmi-Lou' was our guide on the coach to my self-catering apartment in Tigaki, 12 km from Kos town. She gave a quick run-down of the attractions not now on view, as we drove through the dark to drop guests off at various hotels. There were balloons on the coach, to greet the newly-weds next to me on their honeymoon. This boded well for my stay - a bride is a good omen, so they say.
We arrived at the hotel as the dawn was breaking over the mountains of Turkey on the horizon. I bathed in my reflective glow. A new day, and my first on the island. I grabbed three hours' sleep before making my way to the General Store beneath my room. When I had booked the holiday, I was told two things. I would be billeted on 'Kos or the neighbouring islands of Kalymnos or Telendos' (three of the Dodecanese islands). No-one at home knew where I would be staying until I arrived and informed them. The thought did cross my friends' minds that I could do a 'Shirley Valentine' and go native, with impunity.The other good news was that I would be arriving on Greek soil on Easter Sunday. I have always wanted to experience the Greek Easter celebrations. I understand that it is a more important festival than Christmas for the Greeks. In the store, I enquired about a church to visit for the Easter Sunday service - where is the nearest one? How long will the service be? And when does it start (bearing in mind that it was now 9.30 a.m. Sunday morning). They confirmed that there was only a small (by Greek standards) chapel in the neighbourhood, but I could go into Kos town for the service at the cathedral. By the way, they informed me, there is no public transport on Kos on a bank holiday. I was not about to walk 12 km, even to church. I took my first taxi into town, costing 10E (about £7). I asked the taxi driver to leave me a card so that I could phone for a taxi home. When I say 'I asked', I actually put into practice my skills at waving my arms about and smiling a lot. This talent came in useful this trip. Few Koans seem to speak English, though many speak German, having done periods of Gastarbeiter work in Germany at some time. I was informed by the Tour Guide that many people in Kos town speak English.
The church of Agias Paraskevis looks suitably Greek Orthodox. It sits on top of the hill above Kos Town harbour, a picture-postcard sight in the belting sunshine and an impossibly azure blue sky. As I was wearing t-shirt and shorts in the heat, I walked round the back of the cathedral in search of of a secluded corner to don my long skirt and long-sleeved top for the service. Then I decided that I could longer ignore my bladder, and trudged back down the hill to the harbour, looking for the public toilets. Amid a jungle of Greek and English announcements in varying sizes, colour, scripts and fonts, I could not spot the blatantly obvious familiar WC sign. I walked into a taverna and asked the patron. While trying to think of a gesture meaning 'loo' (he spoke no English), he showed me through to the staff toilet at the back of the taverna. A lady's discomfort is evident without speech. I strolled back up the hill, snapping the views as I went. The Greek postcard makers are fed the views on a plate here - my guess is that the plate is Gauguin's palette. Earlier, I had noticed a smartly-dressed black woman walking along towards the church. She was now sitting outside the front door of the church, fanning herself and chatting away to another English woman. Dressed differently to me, I thought. I did not feel that I looked like most people's idea of your average English woman, in my red top (loud with huge hibiscus flowers), my floral floppy hat and flared skirt. Then again, perhaps I did, as a German in shorts took my picture as I walked by.
The Easter service is long. I learnt that the Greeks like to take life easy, even at church ceremonies. It was an ideal opportunity for my favourite occupation - people watching. I would estimate that over 90% of those present were locals. They were all dressed in their Sunday best - but not all of them in black, by any means. The young people were making a statement in their torn jeans and tops, just like young people the world over. I was touched to see everyone greet each other warmly. The small children were handed from relative to relative to friend, and their feet barely touched the floor during the service. The Koans are a religious people. When I finally managed to catch a bus a few days later, the passengers would make the Greek Orthodox sign of the cross several times over, every time they passed a chapel. The priests at the service almost outnumbered the congregation, and they were infinitely more colourful. Afterwards I lined up and was presented with two painted eggs by a priest in peacock regalia. The red painted eggs immediately started to bleed on me. I hid around the corner to change back into my top-and-shorts gear, and Lorna gave me some tissues and a Safeways carrierbag to put the culprit eggs in. She was visiting from East London with her husband Winston. I joked that she was keeping company with two 'Winnies' today. We went for a beer, along the front. Well, I had beer and they had a Fanta, after a stop-off at the Ladies'. She insisted that I use her soap, because of the current 'virus' scare in Greece. Only 3 casualties confirmed - hardly an epidemic!
By mid-afternoon, I decided that it was time to
brave the waters of the Aegean, for a swim. I said goodbye to my new friends
- hoping that we would meet again in Bodrum market in Turkey,
which we all planned to visit on the Tuesday ferry. I headed for
Lambi beach to the left of Kos town harbour.
Swim, did I say? The sea was freezing. I contented myself with a paddle, on this occasion. The beach was awash with nubile Dutch health-and-fitness types - very brown and un-Winnie-like. What a beautiful beach, though (snap, snap). Leaving Lambi beach, I walked along the seafront (snap, snap).
When I reached the Dolphin roundabout I found a phone box. Inserting the telephone card which is de rigueur in Greece, I tapped in the number. A woman speaking Greek about 100 miles an hour trotted out a lot of numbers and instructions. I tried again. Same result. In the end, I walked along the front until I reached the taxi rank by the old Knights of St John castle. I hadn't realised the castle was an ancient monument - earlier I had taken it for some Victorian mock-up monument. Well, it is cleaner and more intact than our medieval buildings back home, for the most part. The taxi driver told me that I needed to preface the numbers 02420 before the number of the taxi company. This rule had come into effect earlier in the year. So it now takes ten digits to summon a taxi from Kos town to Tigaki.
I had survived the first of my three Bank Holiday
days - Easter Sunday, St George's Day and May Day.
Just a minute - St George's Day is 23 April where I come from (remember, I was once a Girl Guide). I was patiently informed that I was, in essence, correct, but that both May Day and St George's Day had to fall after Easter Sunday, and Easter was late this year. I had arrived in time to find all the (non-tourist) shops shut and the public transport on holiday. I had wanted to arrive at the start of the Easter festivities, i.e. Maundy Thursday, but all the flights were booked. Had I been successful, I would have been greeted by 5 Bank Holidays. Lorna told me that the procession - either on Thursday, or Good Friday, she couldn't be sure - had been great. There was a procession of all ages round the harbour, bearing candles and following the idol. Sorry, the Icon! It seems I'm back in the 'Help!' movie again.
* * *
Chris and Helen - A London Museum Director meets A Social Planning Civil Servant, and falls in love
In the evening we had a 'meet and greet' with our tour rep - just the three of us. Well, it is the first week of the season. On Crete, I had managed to steer clear of organised activities, but I did want to go to Turkey, and I understood it would be sensible to let the established tour company organise my booking/visa. Almost the first thing he told us was that he had booked us onto the Greek night 'tomorrow at Zia' up in the mountains, because 'places were scarce'. Of course, when we arrived at the venue the following evening, it was more than half-empty - being the start of the season. I broached the subject of the day trip to Turkey, but was first led through a list of all the available trips. We could take a 14-hour boat-trip to Rhodes, or another boat to Nisyros (extinct volcanic island), or another boat, which covered the Kalymnos/Leros/Patmos island cruise. Or there was a trip to Paradise Beach and Thermae spas, in the south of the island. Or, if we fancied it, how about a one-day course in scuba-diving? I thought it best to pass on that one. I agreed to the Greek night and signed up for the trip to Bodrum.
Chris and Helen had not been to Greece before and were in awe of the plumbing. Nothing should be 'placed' into the bowl except pee and motions. There is a bin provided for used toilet paper and 'other toilet necessities'.
The tour rep seemed eager to please, and said that he would answer any questions.
"Where can I dry my towel?"
"There is a laundromat in Kos Town." he replied. Not really the answer I was looking for.
We sat in the bar nursing our Mythos beer after he left. We talked about books, life, the Universe and everything - as you do on holiday. Suddenly I needed my bed - I had only had three hours sleep in the past two days.
* * *
6th May 2002
Tigaki Beach - Christonomou says 'All the world should live as one' - the Fisherman's salad is yummy - Zia - the sunset - the dancers - the food - the crak
The travel and all the excitement of the past two days had caught up with me. I decided to stay local on Monday.
I would be going to Zia later for the Greek night, and then up again at 6 a.m. the next morning to catch the ferry to Bodrum. I went for a brief swim in the sea at Tigaki beach
before wandering back up the road to find somewhere to eat lunch and to write my postcards. The Fisherman's Salad consisted of octopus and prawns and other seafood - but the huge King Prawn leering over the side of the dish and lording it over the proceedings was unmistakeable (and delicious). Everything was smothered in two types of highly fattening dressing. Bread and Butter cost extra. Everything seems to be 'extra' here, and meals cost about twice as much as they do on Crete. The Mythos beer is very gassy.
The waiter was hovering as I was writing my postcards. I thought, "He can scarcely want my table", as there was no-one else eating in the restaurant. His English is non-existent, so we got to talking in German. He informed me that he spends the winters working in the Austrian Tyrol. Things got slightly more bizarre when he informed me that he is a Socialist and he felt that 'all the world should live as one'. I now believe that politics and philosophy originated in Greece.
The Greek night was a pleasure. Zia is perched on the mountainside above Tigaki. It reminds me of the Black Forest in Germany, in a funny sort of way. The houses are different and the Greek coach driver took the precarious bends up the mountain at a far more circumspect rate than the German driver had, back then. This is just as well, as I notice that there are an alarming number of mini-Chapels - signifying a road casualty - along the route. The most impressive chapel I saw during my stay was a full-sized white/blue chapel on the road from Tigaki to Mastichari and miles from the nearest village. A much-loved and lost child, I should think.
Zia is famed for its spices and I bought a mixture of packets @ 1 euro each, together with a paperweight made of the colours of Kos (Azure Blue, Apple Green, and Air) for about £6. We took photos of the spectacular view before toddling off to the taverna for the food/Greek dancing and singing. My camera almost caught fire that evening. I ran back and forth, snapping the dancers, and avoiding the agile waiters with their plates of Tatsziki (yoghurt, mint, onion, garlic and seasonings). The dancers were a local group - three girls and three men. The youngest girl dancer told us in the Ladies that she was sixteen and had been dancing since the age of six. They had about six changes of costume, including the traditional Greek skirt/pompom shoes gavotte dance (I'm talking about the men here) and a belly-dancing routine from the girls.
* * *
Bodrum - 'Ist sie Deutsche?' - The Noise - The Bustle - The Bonhomie - The Spending spree
On balance, Turkey is not for me. I hate heat - and it's hot. It's crowded - and I hate crowds. I hate moaners - and they came out in force. I hate to be a nuisance. And I hate to be pestered! Hold on to your hats. The whingeing is about to commence....
I ran up the road at 7 a.m., having woken early so as not to miss the bus. There were two coaches waiting - neither of them were for me. My coach arrived at 7.30, and we spent the next two hours picking up other members of the party from various hotels in the area, before heading off to the harbour.
The next three hours were spent among the melee of hopefuls waiting to catch a ferry to Turkey. An assorted crowd of nationalities and ages waiting to have their passports and visas checked, before boarding the ferry. We waited in the harbour car park as the officials were two hours late in arriving to open up - it was a Bank Holiday. But it was nothing like a wait such as you might experience in Tesco's carpark. We stood beneath the walls of the Knights of St John citadel towering above us, the swallows wheeling overhead and the winking sun promising another glorious day in the Aegean.
After two hours on the coach, I was desperate for a wee , but Paul was averse to letting me wander off through the crowds to the entrance to the harbour car park, where the only toilet facilities are situated. I assured him that "a) I am a seasoned wanderer and b) I am desperate". As I forced a way through the hoards of Germans who had been the first to arrive and were thus clustered around the entrance 'to the boats', I heard one of them say, "Ist sie Deutsche?" (Translation - 'Is she German?' Rough translation - 'Who does she think she is, pushing to the front of the queue, when we have been here since 7 this morning, despite the fact that it is a Bank holiday and the man didn't get here until 9 a.m. instead of 7.30 a.m. which is when he is supposed to open up and what sort of a way of this to run a country anyway?') His crowd did not seemed inclined to mob me - for which, many thanks.
When we arrived in Bodrum harbour, the heat met us like an oven. It was far too hot for me to do my usual gadfly impression. So I sat by the old harbour and watched the world go by, until an hour before the ferry was due to leave; at which time, I rushed round buying souvenirs and the obligatory Turkish (Polish, actually) silver jewellery for myself. I bought a large (Large!)amber and silver bracelet and a large (ditto)amethyst silver ring - both together cost around £80 . (NB I wouldn't say they are ostentatious, but people - including my dentist's receptionist and other strangers - have admired them since my return).
* * *
Back with the Greeks - The Aesclepieion - Kali Karia - The Anticlimax Tree - The Dutch again - Marianne the taximan - 'Flirt'! - Happy Easter!
Today I visited the Hospital where Hippocrates gave his students the rule (Hippocratic oath). I had seen pictures of this antique monument while still at home. It is up on the mountain above Kos town and you can take the blue 'toy' train for a few Euros, or cycle up. Chris and Helen decided to cycle when they visited and they ended up saddle-sore. I took the train. Today, I had planned a spot of 'island hopping', catching the ferries to my dream island . However, I woke up at 9 am, just as the ferry would have been leaving Mastichari, so my dance card was empty for the day. Waiting across from my hotel for the bus into Kos, the hotel owner pulled up in his car and offered me a lift into town. I used hand signals in the car to indicate how much I liked his music and how our house is always full of different kinds of music, with two teenage boys (and me). He smiled and touched his chest and said 'Kali karia', pointing at me. I think he meant that I have a kind heart. A Greek phrase worth remembering. He dropped me off on the main road leading to the cathedral. Observation: one has been in the same town too long, when dropped off somewhere that is familiar. I walked through the town to the Knights of St John castle. On the way, I passed the ancient plane tree, reputedly 2,500 years old, that Hippocrates is alleged to have taught under. I rushed on, worrying that I may have missed the toy train. It only runs once every two hours, on a Greek timetable (it'll be here when it comes).
The site of the hospital is very impressive. It perches on a plateau on the mountain, looking down on Kos town and the wide expanse of bay. I made my choice of ancient stone to sit on and listened to two tour guides translating from Greek - English - Finnish for a group of students. I heard that the woods surrounding the hospital site are holy woods. This meant that no-one was allowed to be born or to die at the hospital. Hence no graves were found there. They must have had some sticky moments there, ferrying patients up and down the hill 'in extremis', one way or another. When the Turks invaded, most of the stones were removed from the hospital to make mosques and houses. I now understood why my hotel proprietor (an ex-taxi-driver) called the place 'The Turkish Ruins'. I walked towards the woods and sat on part of the boundary wall. The atmosphere was very calming. The birds were singing and the wind rustled. A therapeutic spot. The views were a bit special, too.
I spent an hour and a half in the picturesque car park,
waiting for the bus back, reading 'The Beach' and watching the tourists. As I walked towards the bus, I noticed that I was being filmed by another tourist. In my red shorts, floppy hat and halterneck top, I tend to compliment the background, rather than blend into it?
Back in Kos town, I had an hour's wait for the bus. I thought I would sample the local processing services with the film I had just finished . A sign by the cathedral announced 'digital lab'. I went in and informed the tall distinguished looking Greek behind the counter that I wanted to 'sample their service'. He did not look impressed, but told me that my photos would be ready in one hour, in time for my bus. When I returned an hour later, my film was still sitting on the counter, and the processing technician was not in the shop. There was only one thing to do. I assumed the laid-back hippy stance, and said, "My bus is at 3 p.m. but I can catch the next bus." This had the effect of galvanising my Greek aesthete into action. Within ten minutes my film was ready, together with a free photo album and a Greek 'Easter egg' (which looks like a school project - a chick sitting on a bed of straw in a caveman type half-egg) for good measure. He was all smiles and wished me 'Happy Easter!' as I left the shop. Sometimes it pays not to complain? Naturally, I missed the bus, and phoned for a taxi. The taxi-driver spoke little English, but asked if my name was Marianne (at first, I thought he meant that his name was Marianne) and asked me whether I liked to flirt. I had gone from being the Madonna ('Kali Karia') to Marilyn Monroe ('The Flirt') in one day. Welcome to Greece.
* * *
9 May 2002
BBC World - what's the weather like in Canada - parrots in the street - the Greek TV dancers are still going
"I am missing my wall-to-wall music at home. Not to mention my boys' music. It is too quiet here. I have the TV, of course. A choice between Greek TV or BBC World.
I can give you an up-to-the-minute account of the weather in Canada (still freezing) and that it is dangerously hot in Pakistan, but that rainstorms are expected. Rainstorms? What other kind of storms can there be in Pakistan? Surely not hail and snow? I have watched a few interesting programmes. I resist the urge to watch the tracking of sperm up the canal to fertility. Robert Winston is earnestly advertising this programme all day, every day, it seems. Look, there is dear old Ewan McGregor with the polar bears. How did I manage to miss that programme back in England? I remember the one of him braving the heat and the deprivations of the Amazon with a smile on his face, last winter...
Where was I? Oh, yes. I turned on the telly this morning, to find rioting in the streets - somewhere (I couldn't follow the commentary). Policemen in full regalia, nubile females on the shoulders of their men, waving flags, flares (the flaming variety, not the trousers). What is going on? The peasants are revolting. Suddenly, the scene switches to a football match. The Arsenal v Everton match. The 'peasants' are football supporters. So that's the news! It makes a change from wall-to-wall Greek dancing. Must be because of the Bank Holiday. Then there is the Greek advert with someone enthusiastically singing 'parrots in the street'. Turns out it's a new range of - Greek sandals. Made by 'Parex'. Just makes you want to rush out and buy a pair...."
* * *
The Land of Euphemism - Kalymnos and Telendos
The allergy returns - the 'New-Yorker' in the butcher's shop - 'calor' from the monkey nut lady - Wilma and Margaret - the taxi driver explains my tears
Today I finally made it to my 'dream island'. I didn't miss the boat. I was up at 7 am and ringing for a taxi at 8(10E to you). Once we reached the deserted Mastichari quayside, the taxi driver told me to wait by the ticket office. I was there for quite a while, before realising that later arrivals than I were trundling up the quay towards the ferry. There was a kiosk next to the ferry which sold me my ticket. 3.50 Euros return (one hour each way). That's about £2. Last of the big spenders. I was dressed for a day's Island Hop in halterneck and shorts. It had started to rain, and the Greek lady ahead of me in the queue asked me if I wasn't cold? Well, she was dressed for a chilly wet day in the Scottish Highlands, in full waterproofs.
Once onboard, I made a beeline for the toilet, to add red tee-shirt and hibiscus top to my outfit - it was a bit nippy. I was worried about flashing my red opera glasses about, as six young Greek soldiers boarded and I began to wonder whether I would get arrested for spying. There is a large armed force on Kalymnos, due to the close proximity to Turkey. The Koans do not say "If the Turks come" but "When the Turks come".
Kalymnos and Telendos did not disappoint. The ferry docked at Postia at 10 a.m. I spotted a young woman with dyed blonde hair, jeans and leather jacket and thought she might have a few words of English to direct me to the port on the opposite side of Kalymnos. She wrote a few words on the flyleaf of my ' The Beach' paperback, for the benefit of the bus driver - 'Myrties for Telendos ferry'. Apparently.
I had trouble finding the 'bus station'. Noticing a sign saying 'Internet Cafe - 300 yards' I trundled up the main street in the heat, hoping to find someone with enough English to show me the way to the bus station.
Still lost, I went into a butcher's shop. A man with a good New York twang told me that he works in the Hotel Astoria in Manhattan.
"So what are you doing on Kalymnos?"
"I'm visiting my sister".
Everyone was very friendly and very foreign. A lady of ancient years sat down next to me at the bus stop. She was muttering "Calor. Calor." This means hot. I think she had noticed me smearing my limbs with sun-tan lotion against the sun's rays and downing litres of water (0.70E - about 50p - for 2 litres of spring water). She offered me some monkey nuts, and I recognised a like soul. When she got off the bus a while later at her stop, the other passengers were shouting at her to come back and collect her cardigan, which she had left on the seat. Before the bus had left Postia I enquired after 'the toilet'. A man talking to the retired female shoppers on the bus (they come into town to buy their bread and half-kilo of tomatoes, it would appear) told me that 'there isn't a public toilet in Postia'. The bus driver directed me to the Municipal offices of the bus company, and I used the staff 'Ladies'.
Telendos is unmistakeable. A volcanic landmass evocative of 'Planet of the Apes', it was my view from the bus window for most of the journey along the coast.
When I got off the 'taxi-boat', I followed the two (Finnish? German?) female trekkers ahead of me. I had all ready the printout of the directions off the Net, i.e. "When you get off the ferry at Telendos, follow the dirt track round to the right, past the chapel and on to 'On the Rocks'."
By the time I got there, my eyes were already streaming, so that I could barely see. The same condition I suffered the day I went to to Bodrum. By the time I had finished admiring the view from 'On the Rocks' the two ladies were nursing their drinks. I went up and asked if I might join them. Well, I had hardly spoken to a soul in five days (in English, anyway). It transpired that they were from Glasgow - Wilma and Margaret.
Both worked in GP practices (doctor's surgeries) where they had met. It was wonderful to chatter all day, except for a break when we swam in the clear rock-bordered sea, and we gossiped about everything. Travel and husbands and children and work and Greece - most of all, Greece. They were island-hopping. They had a room at Lambi Beach but they had come to find the place where they had stayed the previous year. Unfortunately, like me, they had arrived on a Bank Holiday and the proprietor had to trek over from Postia to open up for them. They told me that I could get a room for 1 Euro at this time in the season and, had it not been for my streaming eyes, I was ready to book a stay at the end of the world. I knew that the only way my eyes would stop leaking would be to leave the island. We had lunch at 3.30p.m. 'On the Rocks' and I remembered that I hadn't eaten all day. The meal more than made up for it.
They told me a funny story about their adventures the previous year on Kalymnos. They had wanted to do some island-hopping, and the man running the mail-boat said that he would take them to the island where he was to deliver papers. There was no room in the hold on the small boat, so they crouched behind the bows at the front. The boat was travelling further and further out to sea as wave upon wave broke the bow and drenched them. The journey took almost an hour. They had not realised that the man was headed for an island too far away for their purposes and that there was no ferry to take them back, so they asked him if he would take them directly back to Kalymnos on his return. He conceded, with grace, and they felt very foolish.
We caught the 6 p.m. taxi-boat back to Myrties, after viewing the local sights.
I waved Goodbye and good luck to my new friends at Myrties. I thought that I had missed the last bus back to Postia. I was directed to wait in the 'square' (a euphemism) at the taxi-rank (another euphemism). After fifteen minutes staring at this beautiful house I went and asked in the 'exchange shop' if taxis actually used the rank. "Not always" came the reply. Believing that I would spend the night under the stars, I asked the smartly-dressed woman if she could phone for a taxi for me, as I had to catch the last ferry home in 45 minutes. As I sat back down on the bench to wait, the bus to Postia zoomed past me.
I caught the ferry - so did this priest, who was earnestly discussing scripture (?) with his travelling companion on the way back.
Once we docked in Mastichari, I raced up the quay to the nearest phone to phone for a taxi. I was told "Look for Taxi number 58", which arrived almost before I could get out of the phonebox. This taxi driver told me that his brother also suffered from streaming eyes at this time of the year. It is an allergy. The pollen on Kalymnos is so potent that they export bees from Kos to feed on the nectar from the flowers. That was the sweet smell I could smell in Postia harbour as we were waiting to leave - it certainly was not the usual fishy smell of a harbour. He told me that I must not leave Kos without visiting Kefalos, 45 kilometres away at the other end of Kos island. The views are fantastic he said.
And so I did....
* * *
10 May 2002
Kefalos - Lambi Beach again - The Dutch Boy - argy-bargy with a taxi - Paradise beach
On the Friday, I caught my first bus, into Kos town. Then I made my big mistake. I assumed that the bus to Kefalos would leave from the bus station where I had caught the toy train, so I walked down to the harbour. I was told that the Kefalos bus left from the bus station I had just come from. I climbed back up the hill to the original bus station, to be told that the bus to Kefalos had just left and there was not another one for three hours. I walked along to Lambi Beach for a swim. I asked the taverna proprietor if he could phone a taxi company for me and ask how much it would cost to take a taxi to Kefalos. He said that it would cost about 25 Euros (about £17). This was my last good day on Kos and I sat and waited for the taxi in the taverna. When the taxi arrived, the driver tooted his horn at me insistently, as though he didn't have time to stand about waiting for me to get in.
"Where in Kefalos are you going?"
"I don't know Kefalos. I want to look at the view. Can you take me to the view?"
"So...do you want the bus station in Kefalos? Do you want the beach? Do you want Kefalos town?"
The conversation was getting heated, and we were barely underway.
"You DO know that it is 45 kilometres to Kefalos?" he asked me. At this point, I thought, "I do not want to be stranded with this guy in a taxi at the other end of the island." I told him, "You do not know where we are going. I am getting out." and out I got. He got out and followed me. He was running after me up the street, shouting at me. It was like a cheap melodrama. I went to chill on the beach, and sensibly waited for the next bus.
The beach was as idyllic as before - the views, the sun, the sea - I was sun-blessed and sun-soaked. A Dutch boy sitting with his father was debating whether to go in the sea. Few people were in the water, although I had found it pleasant enough today. There was a tanker leaving the port. Through my opera-glasses, I could see three souwester-clad men at the stern, raising the anchor. I offered the Dutch boy the use of my 'bins'. He was very shy but his father persuaded him.
On the way to catch my 1 p.m. bus to Kefalos, I stopped off at the exclusive jewellers by the church. I had been admiring my amethyst ring in my room the evening before when the amethyst lozenge came shooting out of its setting and across the bedroom floor. I thought, "I can pack the ring away in my suitcase and take it home to a jewellers for repair. On past experience, they will send it away for six months and then lose it in transit. Or - I can do what I did on Crete with my faulty watchstrap, which was repaired on Crete for 30p, in 10 minutes".
The jeweller informed me that it was no trouble to repair my ring. I waited for ten minutes, listening to him sawing and banging away in his workshop, and he charged me 2 Euros (just over £1). I felt confident to wear my sparkler on the bus to Kefalos.
We nearly ran over a herd of goats on the way.
On the way back from the view, I missed an ace shot. Goats littering the hilltop and squatting in every available nook and cranny in the craggy hillside. When we had reached Kefalos, there was a view, but nothing else to see. I had a cold drink in a roadside taverna.
Greece. A small boy came over to me and silently admired my stick, which I had found on the hillside, adjacent to some free-range chickens. He was clearly puzzled that I was sitting in the sun in public with my shoes OFF. I gave him the remainder of my sour gummy sweets. Well, I wasn't going to need them.
I was flying home tomorrow. WMC
copyright 2002 winnie caw (amended 7 December 2002)
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