Saturday, 7 November 2009

Greece 2009 - Day 11, Milos to Folegandros

It was an unsociably early start in the morning because the bus and the ferry times didn’t coordinate very well and we had to catch the ten past seven bus to Adamas which left us with nearly three hours to wait for the ten-twenty Speedjet to Folegandros. We would have preferred a regular ferry but unfortunately none were available. It was a sunny morning but to our dismay cloud was beginning to accumulate again and assemble into a thickish smudge over the high peaks and mountains behind us.

We took our time looking for somewhere for breakfast and finally selected a harbour side pavement café with a table in the sun that by now was starting to be obscured by the cloud. There was a friendly waiter who was interested in our holiday and was anxious to learn our opinion of Milos. We told him we liked it very much and he was pleased about that because Greek people are proud and like you to like their island.

By nine o’clock the sun had disappeared behind a cheerless blanket of grey cloud that left us wondering what on earth was going on? This weather was most un-Greek like! By nine-thirty it was very grim indeed and we were suddenly glad that we were leaving today. To amuse ourselves we sat on the quayside and watched the boating holidaymakers. One had a broken gang plank and the temporary replacement looked most unstable and we sensed some amusement if one of the six on board should fall off. After a while there was a visit from the port authority odd-job man who had a good look at it, huffed and puffed a bit but couldn’t repair it so he just went away again.

The pink Speedjet, decorated with dolphins, arrived on time, a few people got off and some replaced them and then it left virtually empty for Folegandros. It was so empty that we gate-crashed the upstairs first class cabin where Kim slept and I watched through curtains of salt spray as we passed by a couple of uninhabited islands that had evidence of disused mines and abandoned industrial activity and then in under an hour we arrived in Folegandros. We were staying at the Hotel Vrahos again, the hotel mini-bus was there to greet us and at the reception Anna, the owner’s daughter was there to welcome us back. It’s a good job that Anna works in the family business because she is the only one who can speak English. Her father is a friendly man but only has two phrases to rely upon: “Anna will explain”, and “Anna will be back soon”.

We were staying at the Vrahos again because we especially liked one of the rooms and we were relieved when Anna confirmed that as we had requested it had been reserved for us again this year. It was just as we remembered it, a simple room with plain furniture and decoration but outside on the balcony a huge personal sun terrace facing east and catching the sun all day long. The weather was much improved now with just a few innocuous clouds passing by and a clear view over Sikinos island with just a little bit of cloud clinging stubbornly to its highest peaks.

The hotel was in the little port of Karavostassis, which is not an especially attractive place surrounded by salt and pepper grey hills, a small stony beach, a harbour and a crescent of white cube houses and holiday lets. Not the most picturesque place in the Aegean it has to be said but I like it just the same. In the harbour the European Union funded work that had been in progress last year had been completed but hadn’t seemed to make that much of an improvement and had the sort of finish that I would call the contractors back to put right if it was my own driveway at home. All over the islands there are big blue sign boards announcing these improvement works and they all seem to be about one million euros in value and this made me wonder just how much European tax payers money is being spent in Greece. It turns out that in 2007 Greece received a net benefit of twenty-five billion euros and that is the second biggest subsidy after Poland at sixty-five billion. Eighteen out of twenty-seven EU countries make a profit out of membership and the United Kingdom of course isn’t one of them because after Germany at eighty-six billion euros the UK makes a whopping contribution of fifty-seven billion. The others that make a loss on membership are France, Italy, the Netherlands, Sweden, Austria, Denmark, Finland and this is a surprise, Cyprus.

We spent the first part of the afternoon on the sun terrace and then later went to the beach and a swim in the sea where I was nervous about the abundance of spiny sea urchins because I didn’t want to get a foot full of sharp barbs. That evening we took the bus up to the Chora for evening meal and after watching the sunset we wandered through the tiny streets and made our way to last years favourite restaurant that still had the same menu and we were glad about that because we really liked it.

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