Saturday, 24 August 2013

A Walk to Vlychos

I haven't had much time for writing in the past week; full time employment and blogging seem to be incompatible in my case. But it's my father's 87th birthday today and I know he likes to see what I am up to so Happy Birthday, Dad - I hope you have been able to spend the day out flying.

Last week I turned right at the harbour in Hydra, this week I turned left. Probably the more popular route as the road passes the famous swimming platforms which remind me more of the Italian Amalfi Coast than Greece.  I haven't ventured down yet as I know that by the time I've climbed back up the steps, the cooling effect of the swim will have been totally reversed by the hike up the steps. 

The road took me through the middle of two tavernas to Kamini Bay, a tiny harbour with a small beach and a posh restaurant which is I think the only place serving Sushi on the island. Why anyone would want to eat Sushi on a Greek Island is a mystery to me. 

After the impressive restaurant terrace, the paved road ends and the track starts. Anyone who has read this blog for a bit knows I am not the most sure footed individual so I was making a real effort not to trip as the edge seemed a bit close for comfort. Most people take the taxi boats to this beach so I only met a couple of fellow walkers.
The sun had almost gone down by the time I got to Vlychos so I just had time to take a photo and turn around. It didn't seem a good idea to negotiate the path back in the gloom without a torch. 


I couldn't resist taking a  photo of this imperious moggy enjoying the golden light of the sunset from his perch on the cliff-side. Good job I didn't have Jake with me or we would  have both been over the edge. 

Sunday, 18 August 2013


Photo from The Green Optimistic

Once, many years ago, Teo and I tried to pick prickly pears that were growing around our garden in Bitez. If you've ever done it yourself, you'll know it's not something that's worth a second attempt. We spent the next 3 or 4 days covered in itchy spots where the hair-like fibres had imbedded themselves in our arms, legs and faces.  Any attempt to remove the fragile prickle is fruitless as they are so thin they break at the touch of the tweezers. If  I've ever felt like eating the fruit, I've bought them from the kerbside sellers near the market, who use a knife and fork on a long stick to pick and prepare them. So,  I'm feeling particularly hard done by today. As I was walking up the endless steps, a bright red plastic bag drifted in front of me and I bent down to pick it up to take to the bin at work. Within seconds I knew what this bag had held as my fingers starting pinging. Despite being apparently empty, this bag was a time bomb of future discomfort and I'm cursing the cruel individual who carried a load of prickly pears in this bright red plastic bag and then discarded it for some "do-gooder" to pick up.   I couldn't drop it immediately; some inbuilt middle class ethic won't let me drop litter.  So I now have a handful of tingling fingers which will make chopping onions and squeezing lemons just that bit more uncomfotable. 

Rant over!

Saturday, 17 August 2013

A Walk to Mandraki

On my last trip to Hydra I didn't have time to venture far from the port, but this time I've a few evenings to wander and  explore.  Last night I turned right at the harbour entrance and followed the coastal road for 30 minutes to Mandraki Bay.  I really missed Jake as I feel a bit odd strolling on my own, aimlessly stopping to take a photo or two. I wonder if there are any dog owners in Hydra with pooches  in need of exercise. 

 I arrived  puffed as the road goes up and down, to find a very small public beach with a few beach umbrellas that had seen better days and a taverna that looked like a set for Shirley Valentine.  It made me determined to find out where the "Boy on a Dolphin" with Sophia Loren was filmed. The majority of the bay is part of the Mira Mare Hotel, which is open to non-residents but was staging a kids swimming contest with belting disco music so I didn't bother to stop.  A brisk walk back clocked up a 90 minute walk and gave me license to enjoy a beer on the front.

The cliffs are quite steep and swimming places few, so it was sad to see this little bay littered with rubbish and people swimming and relaxing next to it.  Hydra needs a rubbish boat like Bodrum's that goes around the bays collecting litter from the seashore. 

Here's a quick blast of Sophia  She really was stunning.

Thursday, 15 August 2013

Bodrum to Hydra

My trip home from Hydra to Bodrum started at  07:15am on a  sea cat, followed by a bus, two planes and a lot of waiting around between flights, with an eventual arrival at home at 10:30 pm. Looking at the map, I'd spent  most of my journey going in the opposite direction to Bodrum. For my return trip I decided to travel all the way by sea.  I booked a 4 pm ferry from Bodrum to Kos, a 7:45pm ferry to Pireaus and a 10 am sea cat to Hydra.  I admit the overall journey took longer than flying but the trip was much more enjoyable. I had a nostalgic wander around Kos town which hasn't changed much since I was a weekly visitor in 1982. I'd booked a cabin to Pireaus so had a meal watching the sun set over Kos town, then an early night with a good book. I woke up at 6 with plenty of time to have a shower before disembarking.  I did have to take the free bus from one side of Pireaus harbour to the other but it was only a five minute trip then just an hour to wait for the sea cat. Total cost 181 Euros, less than it cost me to fly.  I could have saved 88 Euros and not taken a cabin but as I emerged fresh as daisy my fellow passengers who'd spent the night in the lounges were looking grumpy and dishevelled.  I'm not a great fan of ferries but this one was spotless and on time, helped of course by the calm sea. 

Waiting for passengers at Bodrum harbour
A bike lane and a strange train are new, but unlike Bodrum, Kos hasn't changed much in 30 years.
Lots of boats advertising day trips to Bodrum.  30 years ago, the ferry to Turkey was a closely guarded secret.
Sitting on the aft deck with a beer has to be better than waiting in an airport.

Monday, 12 August 2013

From Bush to Basket

I finished Thursday's post with a picture of two baskets woven by our friend, Raşit. While I was in Greece, he'd kindly brought over a large supply of fresh vegetables from his garden to make sure my husband wasn't starving in my absence and over a tea or two, Teo and he had perused some art and craft catalogues to get ideas for basket designs.  He'd just made these two out of fresh olive branches and wanted our opinion.  Explaining the concept of "less is more" we got him to agree to ditch the plastic beads and I was keen for him to describe the weaving process. Now I am back in the land of "no problem - everything is possible",  I shouldn't have been surprised when Raşit said he would be at our house in the morning to show me how it is done. 

By the time we surfaced the next day, Raşit was installed on our terrace having collected his raw material and stripped it of leaves.  I just had time to throw on some clothes and grab my camera to record the first incisions.

It soon became obvious that two hands are not sufficient for the initial stages and at least one foot has to join in.

Jake couldn't believe his eyes as visitors don't usually turn up with an armful of sticks. Luckily for our basket, he was content with stealing just two.

I had to be content with watching and taking photos as having a go myself wasn't an option but as the basket took shape I was already imagining myself weaving garden chairs, bird cages,  trellis work and  and plant holders.

I can't wait to get started on my own baskets but as I'm off to Greece again on Wednesday, I'll have to be patient until September. 

In less than 3 hours, this bush was converted to this fruit bowl which is sitting proud on my dining table. 

Thursday, 8 August 2013

Back on the flat.

After five weeks travelling, it is lovely to be back home.

After three weeks climbing stone steps, a flat path is very welcome.

After cooking on an island where all the water is delivered by ship, free flowing irrigation channels are a joy to behold.

After being "Nobby No-mates" in a cafe with my Kindle, a Greek salad and a glass of wine every evening, it's nice to see friendly faces.

After struggling with the Greek language, phrase books and translators - it's a relief to be able to say "please don't cut your thumb off while posing for this photograph" and be immediately understood.

But if I didn't keep going away, I couldn't carry on calling this blog
Back to Bodrum

Monday, 5 August 2013

Not all work and no play

After my last post my mother rang me, worried that I was on my last legs, so I thought I'd better reassure everyone that I'm still standing and a lot fitter than I was this time last year.  The many varied and uneven steps of Hydra have provided a great physical work-out.  My days on the island haven't been all slog and I took the opportunity of a lull in guests to take the ferry over to Metohi to meet up with Kath and Dave of campervan fame. An early ferry got me to the mainland by 7:30am and with almost military precision, as I stepped off the gangplank, Dave drove into the harbour,  (I say "harbour" because I'm not sure what to call a very large car park with a jetty).

By 9:30am, we had parked up in the enormous car park at Epidaurus, eaten breakfast and were primed to beat the Italian tour party to the ticket kiosk. By 10 am, I was spending my day-off climbing up stone steps. But it was worth it, just look at the view. Kath has already written about the site on her blog and I suggest you click here to see better photos and a description of the Ancient World's answer to Lourdes. 

An afternoon swim at an almost deserted beach after a lunch overlooking the island of Poros capped a fantastic day-off and primed me for the next two weeks.  Sadly this will be the last I see of Kath and Dave for a while as they drive back to resume life in the UK and go back to being "proper parents" in the words of their younger son  (who left home 2 years ago). 

Farewell campervan - every home should have one. 

Friday, 2 August 2013

My poor knees.

After nearly three weeks of carting groceries up stone steps, my knees are crying out for mercy. Thank goodness I got into the exercise habit at b-fit in Bodrum over the winter and had at least built up a bit of muscle.  The first few trips from harbour to house nearly winded me but I'm almost used to it now. The early morning jog is not too bad but the afternoon slog with temperatures in the mid 30s needs a specially adapted headscarf to stop the sweat running off my forehead blinding me. After all my years living in Turkey, it is a hilly Greek island that has finally got me to cover my head with a scarf.