Friday, 11 November 2011

Greece 2011, Antiparos

The hotel Kastro was excellent, we had stayed there before and had requested the same room but the owner insisted on upgrading us at no extra cost to a superior room and we were not going to argue with that!

In the morning we had an excellent breakfast under a gazebo in the garden where we planned a leisurely day in and around the village and the beaches.

We walked down what I suppose was the main street with plastic bollards to stop vehicles passing but which delivery vehicles simply ignored and drove straight over anyway, past quaint old mini-markets and twisting streets running in every direction and local women sitting chatting to their neighbours in front of the doors to their houses as they have done forever.

The main town of Kastro is a traditional Cycladic settlement, full of whitewashed cubic houses with little flowered balconies and blue painted doors and windows. My favourite doors are in the Cyclades where, next to the white that we all associate with the islands, the prevailing colour is blue. It turns out that the widespread use emanates from an ancient belief that the sky-blue shade of turquoise has the power to keep evil away. It is believed that the radiation of the colour composes a sort of invisible shield, which prevents the approach of bad spirits. Blue is used everywhere in the Cyclades, church cupolas, windows, doors, walls, staircases, fences and also as blue ‘belts’ around buildings, which supposedly provide protection against evil.

The road took us down to the harbour and we walked around it and to a gritty beach that was lined with armirikia trees with whitewashed trunks that provided welcome shade from the hot sun and we sat for a while and dangled our feet in the cool water. About an hour on a beach is more than long enough for me so just before boredom clicked in we left and wandered back to the village along the harbour side where there was a sudden frenzy of excitement when a fisherman landed a huge fish and set about gutting it and preparing it for the dinner table there and then by the side of the road.

On the way back we visited the ancient kastro that has a quaint but neglected mix of houses, some inhabited but others abandoned and crying out for refurbishment. There were some little shops and a folk lore museum that didn’t take long to look around and by mid morning it was time for a first mythos of the day and after that we ambled back to the hotel for a swim in the pool and a drink on the terrace. The terrace was blue of course with tubs of neglected geraniums, a crooked olive tree and pink bougainvillea tumbling down from overhead trellising.

While we sat and read our books on the balcony of the room the only thing to disturb us was the constant calling of the cicadas which are at their most noisy in the heat of the day. Apparently a single insect can achieve a sound level of one hundred and twenty decibels which is the equivalent of a pneumatic drill or a chain saw which is a very impressive ratio of sound to body weight. A human shouting like that would probably sound like Krakatoa erupting and the only man who can get remotely close to this is Brian Blessed.

There was happy hour at the poolside so before we went out in the evening we took advantage of that and after the sun disappeared walked all the way back down to the harbour, which was busy again. In the morning the little town seemed to have an end of season quietness about it but by the evening it had really livened up and restaurants, tavernas and chic boutiques had all opened their doors for business and the main street had a sense of vitality about it.

Anti-Paros felt very cosmopolitan and with no riff-raff about it felt just a little bit special. We poked around the shops but I have to admit that I do not have the same amount of enthusiasm as Kim for sparkly things on chains, baby clothes or sun tops and so quickly became bored. Kim sensed this of course and so we moved on and found a seat at the same taverna on account of the fact that we had really enjoyed it there the night before.

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