Late Summer and early Autumn has been a very busy time for us – island hopping in the Dodecanese, a ten day trip to the UK, a visit from Sheila’s family and then sailing in the Ionian with friends from Australia. It never stops!
Last year, we had such a good time island hopping that we decided to repeat the experience and ‘tick off’ the remaining islands in the Dodecanese, which we had not visited. We didn’t quite manage that but we did have a great time visiting Agathonisi, Patmos, Arkoi and Kalymnos in the company of our friend Phil from the UK, who usually comes every year to check up on us in Crete. This year, we thought we would give her a different experience.
We met up in Kos and the next day took ferries (two) to Agathonisi which is very close to Samos and the Turkish Coast in the north of the Dodecanese. It is a small island, with few tourists and even fewer cars. Our accommodation was right on the beach
and there was absolutely nothing to do except, swim, sunbathe and walk! In the mornings, Sheila and Phil yomped around the roads and tracks,
while I took to the beach and met up with them later for a beer and Greek salad. Then it was back to the sea and sand. Even stumbling to the taverna in the evening was a bit of a struggle!
It was the ultimate antidote to stress – not that we have a lot of that!
Next up was Patmos
which is larger and more devoted to tourism, largely because of the imposing monastery which dominates the island.
It is reputed to be the place where St John the Divine wrote the Book of Revelations and we duly visited both monastery and the cave where the muse struck. Personally, I think he must have been high on something to have lived in that cave but it perhaps explains why he had such an imagination!
We hired a car one day and tried out various beaches around the island which were extraordinary simply because they were all so different.
After Agathonisi it was good to stay in a bustling town and one night there was even live Greek music at the taverna where we ate.
Our next stop was tiny Arkoi, which was my personal favourite island venue.
Amazingly, it was even quieter than Agathonisi and Sheila and Phil had a problem finding anywhere much to walk because there is only one road and very few tracks (which might account for their expressions!).
I had no such problem with the beach – my only complaint being that I had to walk a kilometre to get there!
We had a choice of three tavernas to choose from in the plateia, which made for a difficult decision each night but otherwise life was simple and uncomplicated!
The highlight was a meal at the port taverna while we waited for the ferry
with great banoffi pie!
Finally, we visited Kalymnos which was different again from the others being busier and more touristy. We stayed in the small village of Emborios in the north west
where the highlight was our last evening when the owner of the local taverna, Giorgos – an ex-professional musician – and his wife, performed solely for us.
Phil is a singer and was able to join in for a number of the songs and it was the kind of magical experience that will remind us of Kalymnos for ever!
We had time for some sight-seeing
and then it was time to return to Kos and head our separate ways. The sun had shone brightly for the two weeks, the sea was warm and just the blue that Sheila likes and the company brilliant. It was, in short, an excellent holiday!
We were home for a week or so and then it was time to go to the UK separately. Sheila went first and I followed a couple of days later. Sheila went to Scotland to stay with good friend and fellow tennis player, Chris and husband, Mike in Kirkcudbright, where we used to live before moving to Crete. She caught up with the gossip, played tennis and met up with a number of friends from the tennis club and former colleagues. Then she went further west to Wigtown to the Book Festival where she joined friends from her youth, Liz and Mairi in a rented cottage for four days.
It sounded a busy programme with the usual format of talks by various authors but also included a play performed in the smallest theatre in Scotland, poetry reading and a Persian supper! She then had a couple of nights in Dumfries with David and Bev before returning home.
Meanwhile, I was in Cornwall visiting our daughter Rosie and trying to progress the proposed new bathroom. The weather was not great but we managed a visit to the Lost Gardens of Heligan which was special.
The highlight was Rosie’s birthday meal (a week early) and although I didn’t manage to make much progress on the bathroom front – this was mainly because Rosie had it mostly in hand – I did have a lovely time with Rosie and also met up with my old childhood friend Joe, for a good natter.
Then it was a brief visit with Liz Turner in Wiltshire where we had out usual trips to the Outlet Centre in Swindon and to ‘The Silks’ for supper and finally I had a night and day in London. I caught up with James and Graham in a wonderful old pub in Kentish Town and the following morning saw Jane for a coffee before getting the flight back to Crete where I met Sheila at the airport (she had flown in a little earlier from Manchester).
We were only home for a few day , when Sheila’s brother, Sandy and his wife, Winnie arrived for a short holiday. The weather was still warm so a number of swims at Tholos were managed as well as visits to Gournia and Spinalonga.
Unfortunately their trip had to be cut short because of a bereavement in Winnie’s family, which meant that flights were changed and they went home a day early.
We stayed in Heraklion and celebrated Sheila’s birthday the next day, visiting CretAquarium
which was surprisingly enjoyable, particularly the 3D experience and even had time to order our new car. The birthday meal was not quite what was intended but delicious nonetheless at a local (to the hotel), very Greek roadside taverna.
The final piece of excitement in this busy schedule then followed when we flew to Kefalonia to meet up with Judy and her husband David from Brisbane, who had kindly offered to take us sailing for a week.
We first met Judy in Kenya over thirty years ago, lost touch for a while and reconnected when I found an old letter as part of the de-cluttering exercise when we left Kirkcudbright. Since then she and I have become friends on facebook.
Still, it was a little anxiety provoking, wondering how we were going to get on after all these years not just with them but also another Australian couple whom they had invited. We needn’t have worried though – Judy is one of those people who is naturally inclusive and we were soon established as a ‘group’!
Sheila, in addition to being assistant fender girl and galley wench, was also appointed ‘Ship’s Story Teller’, while I never got beyond Assistant Cabin Boy! We also won a million dollars three times on ‘Who wants to be a Millionaire’!
It was a memorable trip as every day we seemed to visit even more beautiful spots, in Kefalonia, Meganisi, Antipaxos and Paxos as well as Preveza and Parga on the mainland.
The weather was brilliant for the whole time, so we were able to swim and sunbathe. The good weather did however mean light winds, so actual sailing was limited, which in some ways was a rather welcome relief for this landlubber, although Sheila would have been up for more excitement (as usual)!
We finished up in Corfu after a memorable week and sincerely hope it will not be another thirty-three years before we see Judy again! Hopefully, she and David will come and see us in Crete next year and who knows, one day our travels may take us to Queensland.
Now we are home in Kavousi and back in the swing of things here. Greek classes have started again, We have met up with Pauline and Chris and Hans and Hanneke, inspected Stan and Jann’s new house and have said goodbye to Walter and Brigitta, who have returned to Germany for the winter. Sheila has also been playing tennis. Now we await our new car
and wonder what is happening in our close, where it appears that we may soon have new neighbours if the preparations for building work actually materialise. The weather is a little colder and autumn is upon us, so it will soon be time to light the wood burner and hunker down!