Friday, 13 November 2009

Greece 2009 - Day 12, Folegandros

I woke quite early because when I am on holiday the first thing I have to do is check the weather, this is a huge responsibility and although it doesn’t take a great deal of preparation I can’t possibly slouch around in bed too long. Usually this is a pointless exercise in Greece because the weather tends to be fairly reliable but this year was different and when I threw back the shutters this morning it was grey and overcast and it had been raining heavily during the night. It was a very gloomy start and the TV weather forecast wasn’t very thrilling either. While we had breakfast at the hotel we scanned the sky for improvement but there was none to be seen.

After breakfast we went early to the Chora and when the bus arrived in the port it immediately turned round and struggled back up the hill to the top. In the daylight there was a good view over most of the island and it was revealed as dusty, barren and devoid of vegetation with a desolate landscape that had been beaten relentlessly into total submission by the scorching summer sun. We may not have welcomed the rain but the islanders certainly did I’m sure.

In the village we passed by a charming collection of houses, some old, some new and most with dazzling blue doors. Some of the older houses had precarious balconies that I wouldn’t trust and it seemed to be sensible to pass by quickly lest they fall at that very moment. The crooked alleys took us around in circles past kittens playing in a garden and stone walls that looked as though they had been carelessly assembled but had a most pleasing appearance and everywhere vivid red geraniums growing in ad hoc containers of various sizes and descriptions.

There was a welcoming bar in a little square with rattan cane tables and chairs under leafy trees with books and backgammon available for customers to sit and enjoy and idle some of the day away. As we were getting accustomed to this pace of life we drank beer and ordered baklava and stayed a while until it was time to go back. Folegandros is a dreamy timeless sort of place in a sort of 1960s time warp and all around there were were lots of aging beardy hippies with ponytails, wearing white linen and flip-flops and carrying sketchpads. All that was missing was the joss sticks and the candles, the flowers and the guitars.

The return journey was a bit quicker on account of it being down hill all of the way and as we rattled down the mountain I hoped that the brakes were reliable. Back at the port we walked along the coast until we reached a deserted beach that would have been just perfect if it had been even just a little bit sunny. To reach it there was a tricky little path through eroded rocks that were equally as brittle as the baclava but much more dangerous because whilst a baclava can break a diet, one false move here on the treacherous path with tiny stones like marbles under our shoes could easily break a leg.

The weather was so miserable that there was little to stay for so we left and walked back and as we did so it started to rain. Only very gently at first but by the time we arrived back at the hotel it was hard enough to make us shelter in our room. Then the situation got even worse because the only shop in the port was closed for the siesta and so was the hotel bar so we were stuck in the room all afternoon without any alcohol. It rained for nearly three hours and by four o’clock I swear the temperature dropped somewhere close to zero! Finally it stopped and it started to brighten but there was still no sign of the sun and there were still dark and scowling clouds advancing from the east but at least we could see Sikinos again as the shroud of mist began to lift.

On account of the weather Folegandros was a bit of a disappointment this year but unlike last year at least the ferries were running and there would be problem getting to Ios tomorrow.

The rain returned, which wasn’t a big surprise but at least we had wine now and later we caught the bus for the second time today up to the Chora and on the way we glimpsed a sliver of blue sky but before long the rain came sweeping back in. We ate at the same table at the same taverna that was luckily under cover because the main square was a sad place tonight with usually lively tables all empty and getting a thorough soaking. What is usually a colourful vibrant place was wet and dreary and the rain continued to fall. Eventually we could no longer justify occupying the table when other people needed food and shelter so we paid and left but there was an hour to kill before the bus was scheduled to return to the port.

We found a bar that was full of local people watching the quarter-final of a championship basketball match and it was all very noisy and excitable because it was close to the end and Greece were beating Germany and looked as though they were going through to the semi-finals. Eventually they won 75-69 and then it was time to go. On the bus journey back the heavens opened and there was an electrical storm to entertain us. Back at Karavostassis it was absolutely pissing down and by the time we got back to the room we were thoroughly soaked. I had had quite enough of Folegandros and was glad to be leaving the next day.

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