Routinely I woke early but the girls were still asleep so I dressed quietly and left the room and didn’t disturb them. I planned to walk and find the old town but I managed to miss the footpath that was the direct course to the top of the hill and the route via the energy sapping hairpin bending road seemed, after only a short time a bit long and arduous, and it took me past a warehouse site with a big growling guard dog.
It was chained up but I decided not to push my luck and I returned to the hotel where I sat by the pool, had a conversation with the owner and did some reading. The wind had dropped and the weather prospects were very promising.
As I had been walking I passed an old islander on a mule and it was obvious that he was going about his day and his work on his chosen form of transport! I got to thinking about how infrequently you see this now, much less even than when I first started to visit the Greek islands over twenty years ago and I realised that soon this will be a thing of the past.
This makes me sad! When this generation has gone it is probable that no one will continue to use donkeys for anything other than equine amusement. I felt glad that I had been there in time to see this and felt disappointed for those who will come after me and won’t. Soon, I suspect seeing a Greek man riding a donkey will be consigned to the dustbin of nostalgia just like an Austrian man wearing a Tyrolean hat as a preferred piece of headgear and Italians driving manically and buzzing amount like demented wasps in those noisy three wheeled Piaggios. They will be gone and Europe will be the poorer for it.
After the girls finally woke up we walked to the harbour and had a breakfast accompanied by a swarm of wasps. That spoilt it a bit I suppose especially with Sally screaming and dancing around in a demented state that would have won the tarantella heat on Strictly Come Dancing. Anyway we caught some in our jam traps and drowned others in our orange juice so we did get our own back in some small way. After breakfast we took a walk both ways around the harbour, first along the beach that wasn’t very special really and then in the other direction towards the headland overlooking the little town.
We reached another spectacularly white church that positively glowed against the background of a bright blue sky and we stayed a while and watched the boats coming in and out of the pretty little harbour below. I like these little Greek Orthodox churches because they are always well maintained, clean and inviting and are the absolute iconic image of the Cyclades. From where we sat we saw our ferry from the day before coming into the harbour and although it looked more confident in a calmer sea we all agreed that it did like alarmingly small. We walked a little further in search of a well signposted but frustratingly illusive beach (Valmos) and gave up when it was probably only just around the next bend.
Before leaving the town we purchased our ferry tickets for the next leg of the journey to Santorini the following day. There wasn’t a great deal of choice and most were too early in the morning. We decided, against the advice of the booking agent, to take an old small slow ferry that left in the afternoon. We bought the tickets and then I worried about just how small, just how slow and just how old?
We spent the afternoon at the hotel, I drank some Mythos and read some more Bill Bryson and the girls sunbathed and swam in the pool. Later we met some nice people from the USA who were kind enough to point out to me that I was beginning to burn in the sun. They were right, I was, my back was turning a vivid scarlet so I thanked them and covered up. He was something to do with computers and was reading a huge technical manual which didn’t look much fun at all, especially as a holiday read, and she said that she was an artist so Charlotte had a long and interesting conversation with her about pottery.
In the evening we walked to the old town at the top of the hill. This time we found the direct path and it really wasn’t so far after all. The town had looked unpromisingly small from our hotel location but it was much bigger when we got there. We walked to the top in search of another spectacular sunset but the girls were getting bored with them now and I couldn’t persuade them to stay until the sun did its final daily disappearing act so we set off back into the town.
This was supposed to be the party hot spot of the Cyclades but it wasn’t jumping much yet so we found a nice roof top taverna for our evening meal. It was good and for the first and only time we finished off our meal with a big sticky calorie packed baklava. I like tavernas in Greece, especially those that bring complimentary ouzo after the meal. This was particularly good for me because Sally and Charlotte didn’t care for it so I got all three drinks. It was the same again tonight!
It was early and the town was still a bit quiet so we left and walked back down the hill. We lost our way and ended up back on the harbour so we had a last drink before going back to the hotel to bed. Another ten o’clock bedtime, I really don’t know how I managed to keep up with those party girls!