Summer of 2017

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The summer if 2017 has gone by fast. We came to Skiathos in early April, just in time for Greek Easter. And then, days passed by at an incredible speed.

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We did some travelling in the summer. Enough for jet lag to interfere with our days of sun, gardening, boating, socializing. And of course, sleeping, eating, drinking and lazying around in general.

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It was a mixed summer for our gardening. Our new vegetable garden, with tomatoes, green peppers, cucumber, hot peppers did not do particularly well. We must improve the soil for next summer. Our new compost should produce good soil. But as usual, our herbs grew abundantly – oregano, rose marine, thyme, mint, basil, lemon grass and trees with bay leaves. Some of our fruit trees have done well – plenty of lemons in the early summer and a record crop of apples now in September. Our new fruit trees, pears, plums and nectarines have all given us small crops. As well as the fig trees growing into our garden from the land outside the wall. We also had plenty of grapes this year – not enough to make wine but enough to pick a few bunches of grapes in the morning to make fresh grape juice for our breakfasts.

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It has been a record tourist year for the island. There is no Greek crisis on tourist islands in the country. People no longer travel to Turkey, Egypt or Tunisia – instead they come to Greece or Spain. We have had a fair share of family and friends visiting us – always enjoyable. All of them say that their visit has been too short and that they will stay longer next summer! Some of them even call this place Paradise…

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I consider September the best month of the year on the island. Cooler temperatures, not so many tourists any longer, the water in the sea still warm. I never get tired of walking bare foot into the grass in the early morning, carrying the first cup of morning coffee, watching the sun rise over Skopelos Island, the sun rays slowly moving over the sea giving us a new day of hope and pleasures…6c (2)
Yesterday, we went to the uninhabited island of Arkos, not far away from Skiathos, for a swim and lunch in the summer taverna on the beach. As we arrived to the beach, a fisherman was cleaning his catch of fish and calamares, selling it direct to the taverna for people like us to enjoy the fresh catch in the taverna a while later. You cannot get fresher sea food than this! As we had our lunch, with our feet on the sand under the table, a small group of dolphins passed the island.

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But our summer is soon over. In a few weeks’ time, we will start our drive back to Sweden, staying a short while there before returning home to Malaysia for the winter. Well, in Malaysia there is no winter, summer surrounds us…

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Another summer has passed by. We are one year older but we are richer with more memories, more ideas and more hope for the future. We are already looking forward to the summer of 2018….

After the storm, dinner at the top of Skopelos Island

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The weather can change quickly at the Agean Sea. Most of the summer, it is hot and the sun shines from a clear blue sky. But when severe storms approach, the Greek Meteorological Service will send out warnings. These are times when we see the clouds building up, when we take down garden furniture and umbrellas and put aside flower pots that may come crashing down in strong winds.

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A few days ago, we had such a storm. Dark skies, heavy winds, heavy rain, lightening. For hours. For a day and a night. A fall of six degrees in the temperature. These are storms when the poor tourists are forced to stay in their hotel rooms or in the bars. The local people on the islands do not mind the weather. The rain is good for the gardens.
And then, a day later, heavy clouds are fighting a losing battle to clear skies. Finally, the sun is chasing away the clouds and Greek summer is back again, the type of summer that every tourist expects to have here.

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Today, the weather is great again. Neighbours have invited us to their boat and in the late afternoon, we are heading for Skopelos Island. The boat is big, the two strong boat motors take us to the small little harbour of Loutraki in fifteen minutes. We are heading for Glossa, the little town on the top of the mountain. We have prebooked a taxi to the harbour. The taxi driver is not there. As could be expected. We call the taxi driver. Yes, he knows that we are coming. He will pick us up in less than ten minutes. One telephone call and twenty five minutes later, the taxi arrives. The driver skillfully takes us up on the small, curvy road. Finally, he stops and we have to walk another ten minutes to reach Agnanti, the restaurant where we are having our dinner. The view from Agnanti is stunning.

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The food is great. We share everything. Fried calamares. Fried cheese with honey. Vegetables. A few other starters. A Greek lamb dish. A pork dish. Chicken. Bread. White wine. A well tasting dinner!7

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After dinner, we walk down through the small town, not bigger than a village. The path down is more straight than the road we came up on. It is an old stone path, a path for pedestrians and donkeys. It is a beautiful walk, a good exercise. Finally, we get down to the water, resting for a while on a bench before we walk back to the harbour for the return trip to Skiathos Island.

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As we arrive to Sklithri beach, the sun is setting. We anchor the boat and get ashore. We are sitting down for a while at “our” Sklithri Taverna, sipping a glass of wine before we walk up to our houses.

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This was one of those days when the world beyond the horizon does not exist. A day when the world consists of the sea, green islands, friends, good food and wine. A day of total relaxation…

Road to Mont Tremblant

Mountain 1
We drive northeast on 321, leaving Ottawa behind us.

Most big cities in North America look the same. Skyscrapers in the city centers. Streets crossing at 90 degree angles. Traffic lights in every crossing. National monuments. Important buildings. Museums. Office buildings. Lots of taxis. All cities have substitute nature called parks. People come to the parks, bringing coffee in disposable cups from Starbucks across the street, lying in the sunshine in the grass, enjoying what they think is nature. Looking around, they don’t see mountain ridges. They see high rise buildings wherever they look. City life. City nature.

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The road is good, single lanes. We pass through forests. We pass through small villages. Lakes. Rivers. Rapids. Sometimes small farms. I get flashbacks to my roots. The landscape is so similar to where I grew up, in northern Sweden.  This is real nature.  Real Canada.

Mountain 3

The landscape is changing forms. Hills. Higher hills. Small mountains. We stop by a lake. Fishing must be good here. The water is very clean. I stick my hand into the water. It is cold. Just like my childhood water in northern Sweden. We come to Mont Tremblant village. Clean, organized, well managed and maintained.

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I would feel at home here. Here in the real Canada.