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…

Our suitcase is packed, we are ready to go

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It is a pity to leave this place now. But our feet are itching….

We have taken out the suitcase. We have packed it and we are ready for another trip. Our garden will be left in the hands of God and our automatic watering system. And friendly neighbours.

We are invited by a neighbour for dinner at Bakaliko at The Strip in Skiathos two nights before our next departure. Together with some other friends. The Strip is the road between the town and Skiathos Airport. A road with many restaurants, clubs and bars. Good food. Good wines. Good company. We will miss Skiathos.

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The alarm clock is set for 04.30 in the morning. The flight leaves Skiathos at 06.30. The flight is short, 35 minutes to Athens.
We have a full day in Athens, almost. We will leave our luggage at the airport. Then take the bus to Syndagma Square in central Athens. Walk around in Plaka, the old part of Athens, just below Akropolis. A lunch at a taverna. Then back to the airport again. Our next flight leaves late in the afternoon. Our first leg on this tour, between three and four hours in the air.
We are on the move again!

Sunrise over Skopelos, early morning on Skiathos

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In just over a week’s time, we are going travelling again. We will miss the island.

The best things here are the early mornings. The first cup of coffee of the day. Sun rising over Skopelos. Walking barefoot into the grass in the garden, sipping coffee and looking out over the calm sea. Fishing boats slowly moving out to sea for a hard day’s work. The quietness. The solitude. A light western wind.

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Our garden is doing well. The roses look great. We will get a lot of nectarines and plums this year. The oregano is coming along fine. Rosemary. Lemon grass. Mint. Thyme. Basil. All our herbs are seem to thrive.

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When we came to our house this year, everything worked. The electricity, the water, the satellite TV, the internet, the telephone. First time in over twenty years. Usually, you have to spend the first week on the island chasing people to come to fix what has broken down during the winter. Not this time. But nothing lasts forever. Yesterday, there was a big bang and a fuse in the water heater was gone. Today we have to shower in cold water. It is bearable, reminds me of my days in the military service. Later today, I will call Akis. Akis is our electrician. Hopefully he can come tomorrow morning and fix the problem.
Last night, we had friends over for dinner. Three people from Holland, one Brit and a couple from Zimbabwe. Some live permanently on the island, others are sunbirds just like us, coming for the warm time of the year. We had Indian food. Dosei, bhajji, lamb kofta, chicken curry, chutneys. Wine and beer. A very enjoyable evening. First dinner with friends on the island this summer.

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I am having my second cup of coffee. Two cups of coffee. My starter dose for the day. Then, the cold shower is waiting….

Lamb, pork loin and half a kilo of red wine

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It has been a good day. We have got a lot done. New plants planted in the garden. A new shelf put up in one of the bath rooms. The timer for the automatic watering system has been changed. It had been broken by the cold and ice of last winter. The lawns have been mowed.

We drive into town for dinner. Bakaliko is one of the few tavernas on the island that has been open the whole winter. We take a table inside. It is too chilly tonight to sit outside by the water front. Only a few tables are taken. It is 19.30 in the evening, our normal dinner time but much too early for most Greeks. We eat lamb and pork loin. Lamb and pork loin done the Greek way. Bread and olives. Half a kilo of red wine. After an hour, the locals start to fill up the taverna.

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Over in the harbor, we see the ferry leaving for the mainland. The last link to the outer world is cut for the day.

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Greek wines have improved a lot over the years. Bakaliko’s red wine is good. It is served in the traditional way, in small glasses from an aluminium carafe. Traditionally, you order wines in kilos, not in liters. There are ash trays on the tables. Some people smoke. Yes, this is inside and, yes, it is illegal to smoke inside. But the laws were made in Athens, not on Skiathos. Let the Athenians abstain from smoking. On Skiathos, Skiathians do what Skiathians want to do.

It is getting dark outside. More cars are being parked outside the taverna. More people enter. Lots of hugs and kisses on the cheek. This is a small island and most people know most people. The noise level is increasing. The waiters are running around, serving more food. No one is in a hurry to leave. Another glass of wine. One more ouzo. Another cigarette. One more story to tell. Crisis or no crisis, Greeks know how to enjoy life.

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We are the first ones to leave the taverna this evening. We drive the four kilometers on the coast road back to our house on an empty road. This is the calm before the storm. In a week’s time, the first charter flights of the season will arrive to the island. Soon, the tourist invasion starts and the island is changing from its sleepy winter face to the busy summer mode.
One more week of peace….