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Published: July 18th 2019
Every morning when we go down to breakfast a man with a clipboard asks us for our room number, so that he can tick us off his list. He then prowls the large and often very crowded restaurant, carefully scanning all the tables, presumably in the hunt for any interlopers who might have managed to sneak in here undetected. I can’t help but think that despite the valiant efforts of clipboard man it wouldn’t be all that hard to get a free breakfast here if you just happened to be wandering past and were feeling a bit peckish. You’d need to be careful not to quote a non-existent room number, and it would probably also help if you got here early to increase your chances of arriving before your chosen room’s real residents. I think I need to eat; it’s a bit worrying that lack of food seems to have got me thinking like a hardened criminal.
I have a coffee and move on to thinking about what clipboard man might be able to do to increase his chances of catching any interlopers before they’d had a chance to hoe into the corn flakes and scrambled eggs. Maybe he could
just ask guests for their names as well as their room numbers; that wouldn’t seem to be all that hard to do. I wonder what he’d do if he did actually manage to catch anyone trying to sneak a free meal. He’s small and skinny, and his only obvious weapons are a pen and a clipboard. I suppose if he got desperate he could always grab some bananas off the buffet, peel them and throw the skins on the floor in front of the miscreants and hope that they slipped over.
I think Issy’s only been to breakfast a couple of times since we arrived here. On all the other days she’s asked me to pilfer food from the buffet and bring it back to the room for her. I’m not sure she realises the risks I’m taking and the mental anguish involved in trying to sneak croissants wrapped in paper serviettes out of the restaurant under clipboard man‘s suspiciously watchful gaze.
The sun has made a welcome reappearance after yesterday’s rain, so we decide to do what we haven’t done at all yet since we’ve been here and relax on some sun lounges under an umbrella by
the hotel pool. The pool water is a bit cool, but it’s very pleasant and relaxing lying in the shade watching the world go by.
Issy seems to have got the hiking bug since our intrepid expedition through Agia Irini Gorge in Crete last week. She says that although her toes have now turned black because they were too long for her shoes on the last hike, she is still now keen to do another one. She says that we should see if there’s a hiking track from here up the cliff to the village of Lakones that we drove up to last night. The Google machine tells me that there’s a ”Donkey Track“ from Paleokastritsa up to Lakones, and it’s less than a kilometre long. This all sounds very manageable until I remember that the ridiculously steep road we drove up there on last night was five kilometres long. I think this means that the donkey track must be close to vertical. I remind Issy that we left our ropes and crampons back in Melbourne, but she’s undeterred, so we set off. The track is steep and narrow, and winds its way through a thick forest of olive
trees, and then through a gorge between two sheer cliff faces, before emerging in Lakones’ main street. We celebrate another track conquered. The views of the harbour from up here are again spectacular.
I drive around the bay next to the hotel to the village of Liapades to try to get some happy snaps of the sunset. The village is a maze of impossibly narrow streets, which all seem to lead to a tiny square flanked by the village church on one side, and a taverna on the other. The square is well populated with some of the village’s older residents who have gathered here in what is presumably a nightly ritual to discuss the day’s events. It is all very cute.
We decide to revisit a taverna that we came close to eating at a few nights ago. That night we walked up the steps and saw that it was nearly empty, so we left again on the premise that if there was no one there then it couldn’t be any good. The reviews we’ve read subsequently however are glowing. This is a perfect example of our theory that people are like sheep when it comes to
choosing restaurants, and on that occasion we were the sheep. Baa, baa.
Our waitress’s name is Irina. She tells us that she is Russian but lives in the Czech Republic, and that she is working here over the summer before returning home to continue her studies. When we tell her that we are from Australia she looks like she’s about to burst; she says “oh my god” and then asks us several times if we are joking. She tells us that Australia is the country of her dreams, and that she has been longing to go there since she was in her early teens. Her enthusiasm is infectious. She says she’s read that there are 34 million kangaroos in Australia, so they outnumber the people. We’ve got no reason to doubt her, but this isn’t a statistic that either of us would have had at our fingertips, and it’s a bit embarrassing that she seems to know more about some aspects of our homeland than we do. She tells us that her mother lives in Los Angeles, but she’s never been able to visit her as she’s twice been denied a US tourist visa. She has however travelled extensively throughout Russia and shows us pictures she took on a trip to the Kamchatka Peninsula in far eastern Russia, which apparently has the highest concentration of active volcanoes anywhere on the entire Eurasian continent. It looks spectacular.
The food is a bit ordinary (this time it looks like the sheep might have been right), but this has been more than compensated for by the delightful Irina.
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