Tuesday, 25 October 2011

Greece 2011, Amorgos and Egiali


Kim was the first to wake and by now she had perfected the art of making as much noise as possible and opening the shutters to shine the sun in my eyes that it wasn’t very long before I was on my way to the mini-market with a shopping list for breakfast provisions.

On some of the bigger islands big name supermarkets are starting to appear (later this week were disappointed to find a Carrefour Express on the island of Ios) but that sort of unwelcome progress has not reached as far as Egiali and the two local mini-markets were delightfully old-fashioned and traditionally disorganised with shelves full of random items irregularly stacked, dusty corners to investigate and curious items for sale. After a look around I selected pastries, yoghurt and fruit and walked back to the Filoxenia.

During breakfast on the balcony we noticed with some nervousness that there was some stubborn cloud clinging to the tops of the mountains that surround the town like a crescent rock stockade but we were comforted by a stiff breeze that kept dislodging big lumps of it and blowing it away far to the east.

The plan today was to visit the nearby village of Lagadha and there was a bus due at quarter to eleven but having inherited my dad’s aversion to paying unnecessary bus fares, and as it was only half past nine, I persuaded Kim to walk the couple of kilometres by road and footpath instead. I almost instantly regretted this when after only a couple of hundred metres or so the path began to climb and Kim slipped into full whinging mode. Kim’s whinging can come on like this without any warning whatsoever and it quickly reaches maximum on the moan metre and it was at this time that I decided that when we got home I would write to the local rambling association and tell them to disregard our application for membership.

The road zigzagged all the way up and we could see it looping away from us in front so I was glad when we came across a stony donkey track that was a more direct route and we left the road and tackled the steps instead disturbing and scattering the basking lizards as we went. It was uneven and difficult in sandals and Kim found the going tough but it was a lot easier for someone in peak physical condition like myself!

Once inside the whitewashed walls of the village we quickly found a roof top bar where we could rest a while and Kim could get her breath back. A nice feature in the bars and caf├ęs in Amorgos was the hospitable habit of providing customers with a glass of cold water. I was unsure of this at first because I was brought up with a paranoia of drinking water abroad, so bad that I used to wash my teeth in bottled water in case I inadvertently swallowed a millilitre or two. In fact the first time that I went to Greece, to Kos in 1983, I had to have typhoid injections and a certificate to prove it! (This suddenly reminded me of the awful 1974 British sit-com called ‘Don’t Drink The Water’). Well, how things change and now it appears to be safe to drink the water across the whole of the European Union without suffering ill effects or an upset stomach and this was certainly the case in Amorgos

Rested and cooled down we returned to the quaint narrow streets with decorated paving and adjacent buildings all whitewashed and blue. All whitewashed and blue because since 1974 in a law passed by the military government of the time all houses have had to be painted white and church domes blue. Recently a debate has been re-opened between the Ministry of Culture and other authorities about allowing the use of alternative colours but as yet the law remains in place.

In the middle of the village we came across a curious shop and when I peaked inside the gloomy interior an old man invited us in. It was a sort of workshop and he explained to us that he was the village carpenter, the village hardware store, liquor supplier and barber! He obligingly showed us around and explained the family pictures hanging on the walls and invited me to have a haircut but I respectfully declined when I saw the age and condition of the clippers!



No comments: