Published: July 6th 2007July 6th 2007
What about those Wallabies! Consecutive wins. Don't bother yelling down the line about second string Springboks because I've got my fingers in my ears and can't hear a word you're saying. The text messages updating the scores were not encouraging. 7, 14, 17 to nil. But then the mighty Wallabies, oops Penny is giving me that look which means I have to get back to the holiday talk.
The Greek Islands were to be one of those hedonistic sections of our year. That's if it's possible to claim hedonism on our budget. Regardless of budget, the islands do lend themselves to kick back to the point of semi comatosed.
Naxos and Santorini were the two islands we chose for our week of pseudo hedonism.
Naxos touts itself as a "FAMILY" island. A couple of beaches south of Naxos Town might lend you to question some European's concept of "FAMILY" values. These beaches are home to tourists of "naturalist" persuasions. I don't want to sound like a prude (you can sense a "but" coming here), BUT, why is it most European "naturalists" appear to be:
a. over 60
b. over weight
c. over non self conscious.
Gravity has a nasty tendency
Symmetry Greek Style
to cause the excess baggage of (a) and (b) to point dramatically south, which you might think would cause the opposite of (c). If (a) had been under 23 (and female), (b) had been firm and toned, then (c) would have every right , in fact its duty, to remain just as it is. That way I wouldn't have to continually avert my gaze in every direction to avoid visual contact with European "naturalists". Easier to move on and stick to the more demure beaches.
Greek wine has also been an experience. Straight from the barrel and served in all manner of recepticals: plastic bottles, beer bottles, tin cups, to name a few. While these nectars can be on the rustic side, they have complimented the rugged nature of Greek weather and food, merely adding to the ambience. So it was with extreme confidence when we sat down at a rooftop taverna overlooking Naxos Town and ordered a half litre of the "slightly sour local Naxos white." Our optimism was heightened when out she came in a funky little clay pot. The first sup pummelled all and sundry back to earth with a thud. It was unquestionably the most vile
Come on Banno -Is this another sunset! or a photographic gift horse
concoction ever to be squeezed from a grape. The devil peeing on the taste buds. Back to the plastic bottle reds.
STELLA! STELLAAAAAAAAAAA Hostel was where we bunked down in Santorini. (I had premonitions of Blanche du Costopolous as the proprioter).
We had heard a lot of negative reports on Santorini. eg. crowded, hyped, unashamedly commercialised, expensive etc. All true. It is also one of THE most breathtaking places these eyes have ever beheld.
If the Greeks had decided never to habitate Santorini, it would be a big ugly chunk of volcanic rock stuck in the middle of the Aegean. Fortunately they did decide to give it a crack and the resulting towns glued to the top of the caldera are ............., fill in the gaps with your own superlatives. The bluest of skies and water, the whitest of buildings and the narrowest of laneways. We love it.
Three nights on Santorini was never enough but while a year may seem a long time, we had to move on. Through Donna's extreme generosity, we JETTED off Santorini and arrived early enough in Athens to allow us to grab Pepe and shoot up to Litohoro at the foot of Mount Olympus.
The town on dusk
This is another site the Greeks claimed to be the centre of the earth. All these claims were made well before Big Chris proved the world wasn't flat and the Greeks concept of the earth was Byzantine, Ottoman and a few surrounding annoying stragglers.
Mount Olympus is Greece's highest mountain at a tick under 3000m and in a part of the country known as Macedonia. So even though we didn't make it across the border to its namesake nation, at least we got to stay in the Greek version. It was also the abode of ancient Greek Gods. The modern Greek Love Gods prefer the more seductive coastal climes where their hairy torsos and gold chains are more appreciated.
Did we summit? Not quite. We only had 1 full day and from sea level to 3000m is an ask. That's our excuse and we're sticking to it. At least we could see the top and the hike up had all the usual visual oohs and aahs you'd expect of a mountainous landscape, except for snow which has a tough time surviving in 30 degree temps.
Before departing Greece, a little ancecdote. A curious Greek man approached me one day whilst
Chilling out before dinner
wandering around with both Penny and Donna. He asked:
"Hey Mr. How do you manage 2 womans?"
My reply is a summary of how a man should manage all women:
"With a firm hand and let them know in no uncertain manner WHO exactly is the boss."
I'll have to rush off now as Penny is in the shower and I need to finish ironing her pants before she gets out."
Until next time somewhere back in Eastern Europe.
Week 2 of Greece and we head for the islands. Gary is in his element with two women under foot and plenty of remarks from the locals. Our days on Naxos are spent in search of the perfect beach experience. The requirements, clear water, pristine water, no pebbles- sand and white sand preferred, deck chairs , umbrellas and drinks delivered to us!! Why no pebbles. Well after week one we have mangled Donna's perfectly pedicured feet. They arrived looking pristine, painted and pure, but after one week we have managed to give her blisters, sun burn and heat rash all over them. She has given us and the the locals plenty of laughs as she has tried to
Fresh batch of tourıst arrıvıng
navigate her way from the path to the beach across the rocks in a crab crawl. But I think another week and her feet will look more and more like my seasoned calloused feet. We find our ideal swimming relaxing spot at Parakus Beach complete with a drink and a massage for the 2 girls. Heaven, except for the sand that is getting rubbed in and also escalating Donna's heat rash. We have loved our days on Naxos, each a different beach or adventure including our final day with a hire car (Pepe is resting in Athens) and exploring the island. The island is full of nudists, white sand beaches, high winds (not Gary) and the odd squat toilet. We leave our small apartment complete with kitchen in Donna's room with its one pot, plates and no cutlery and head by ferry to Santorini (may I add whilst the Wallabies played Sth Africa - bad timing, since the bars on Naxos were showing the game live).
We arrive on Santorini, more magnificant that I could have imagined and check into Stella's. We have wised up and have an air conditioner and pool - it is our last few days with
A quıck coffee stop
Donna, so we spoil her! Santorini is truly a beautiful location, words and photos can not explain, so I will return to see more of this romantic island. With my red frogs all eaten and my clothes all repaired, it signals the end of our journey with Donna. We bid her farewell from Stella's and check her into the Belvedere where she will spend 7 luxury nights complete with lap pool, ocean front room, personal sauna, 2 bathrooms, bar and concierge on tap. The most magnificant spot for sunset. As Gary and I say goodbye to Donna, I can only wonder, will she really and truly be happy at the Belevedere or will she miss Stella, or more importantly will she remember forever her parting moments from Stella with Stella's 89 year old toothless mother kissing her goodbye. Now she won't get that at Belevedere! We have had a fantastic 2 weeks together and it has been wonderful having a little bit of home around us, so don't forget Donna our aussie girls in Athens who were having a troubled day - dead set that's the personification of patronising bla bla bla or our 48 degree penthouse / hothouse in
The old port - long trek back up wıthout Donkey rıde
Nafplio and our stolen smoked salmon - but I do hope your feet recover otherwise every time you look at them you'll remember Greece.
With a late night behind us and an early morning flight we pick up Pepe and head for Mount Olympus. We have had a tiring but exhilerating 6 hour trek to refuge A, and I look forward to some Dolmates, retsina and an early night ready to start our next adventure tomorrow, Bulgaria.
It all started with an email that said "help, my pants hem has come down, can you come to Greece !!" of course I said. So I packed up my sewing kit along with 3 giant bags and headed for the airport. I arrived at Athens airport to be greeted by a very tanned Penny & Gary. Welcome to Athens Donny we are staying in Aminos (the Kings Cross of Athens), yay I said and and just one more thing it is 45 degrees. So the adventure begins, we go on all the rides, climb all mountains and photograph anything that doesn't move.
Nafplio, words cannot describe how enchanting this place is, even though we ended up in a
With places of worship like this, the church could drag a few more pagans into the fold
room with no aircond (how the hell did that happen ?) and a shared bathroom, but it had a magnificent vista. Then the blisters,nose bleeds, body rashes & sweat pimples started, its all part of the experience Donny they said. Still I no complain. We had a wonderful time there and constantly laughed, Gary planned everything to a tee and life really is good and my running track was indescribable, very sad to leave but we must move on to another adventure. OH not before I mention our smoked salmon was stolen but that is another story.
Monemvasi, once again Gary has not failed to plan a wonderful itinerary, we had a gorgeous room with air cond (yippee) and our own bathroom, life is good. We enjoy exploring and swimming the area and have wonderful sunset apreritifs by the sea each night. Nothing stolen here and once again we must move on. We now drive back to Athens and Penny insists on a pit stop along the way, it turned out to be piss stop, but that's another story.
Back in Athens we revisit our old stomping ground and are not disappointed.
Naxos,a fab island halfway between Athens & Santorini,
I can't believe Donna gave up "Stella" for this - The Belvedere
we end up staying an extra day, superb !. We enjoy drinks by the water each night and walk everywhere, and the running track again has not let me down. Food is good, wine a tad scary. Used my 1st SQUAT Toilet (yikes, splashback).
We are all relaxed and alass we must move on.
Santorini, we made it and it is spectacular, the weather is amazing. I am now burnt to a crisp and my skin rash has increased. Let's go to the Chemist Penny says, they will have something. So we call in to see a Chemist in Oia (other part of island) only to be told off for being in the sun and to make matters worse then accuses me of trying to look like my friend (Penny) "You dont have the same DNA" DER!!!!. Deadset, its a personification of patronizing if I ever heard so, (in joke). Also something is in the water and suddenly I have shrunk and now look like Gary & Penny's child (what's that about??)
Greece....... you must go there before you die.
There are more photos below