Wednesday 28 November 2018

Pictorial Poros Under Cloudy Skies

Teeming with tourists in the summer this old jetty is usually framed by never ending blue skies and sea churned by boats and humans.
Now the waters are people free, wonderful to walk and contemplate in an easy silence, dressed warmly in shoes and jacket, no blistering sun

The narrow canal linking the two small islands, Spheria and Kalavria which make up Poros

The canal at its narrowest, just big enough for a small fishing boat to pass through

Small church dedicated to the Virgin Mary at the end of Askeli Bay
We have held family church services and baptisms here and attended weddings.  The church is so small that only the priest, chanter and a few bods fit inside.  The services and ceremonies take place in the yard outside the church under the gum trees, beside the sea

Another view of the church
Unused in the winter, except for a rare family service

The way to the two most visited sites on Poros, the ancient temple, not much left to see, and the monastery, with one very strict monk who remains there.  Woe betide if  women should enter in trousers or bare shoulders

Down on the waterfront, one of the few tavernas still open and then only on weekends in the winter

Monday 26 November 2018

Harbour View

My view from the cafeteria. End of month payments done and time for a monthly wine and meze

One of the priests from the Monastery on the mainland hurries for the taxi boat to cross the strait.  He has probably picked up his pension from the bank and paid a few bills too.  

There is an uproar amongst the  elderly heirarchy of white beared Bishops at the moment because the Archbishop of Greece came to a 'historic' agreement with the Prime Minister.  Up till now family priests were/are public servants and get paid by the state.  The PM and the Archbishop have agreed that the 10,000 priests will be paid by the church.  The government will then hire 10,000 public servants from the thousands of unemployed and 'impoverished' greeks.  Sounds like another good election ploy. Will this further step to separate church and state pass parliament?
Will that band of long white bearded Bishops allow this to happen?

We watch and wait.

Not a completely clear photo.  The woman driving the little blue car has one dog hanging onto the steering wheel and another yapping on the seat beside her.  Of course neither she, or the dogs (ha) are wearing seat belts.  But even the police don't bother with seat belts here

The car ferry sounded its siren all the way across the bay and every car on board was tooting their horn as well.  They must have been carrying the groom across to his wedding at the church on Galatas, along with his entourage.   

'Yeah, breaker one-nine............
Mercy sakes alive
Looks like we got us a convoy"

One of my favourite songs

All we wanted was a glass of red wine and an ouzo but our friend, the owner, brought over a bowl of potatoes and kebabs and another of roast pork and potatoes

Our favourite cafe!

Saturday 24 November 2018

November Activities

 a quote from Santa -
Calm down you little bastards
It's only November

But Santa, it's almost December!!

November has been different this year.  It is usually filled with olives, young wine, and a much slower pace of life.  There are few olives being picked this year.  The olive trees produce every two years and last year was a bumper crop.  Olives on most trees now are small and sparse.  Even elderly neighbour Vaso is not picking this year, except to preserve a few kilos for her table, and ours.

Preserved olives in vinegar and brine

Vaso lives simply.  She doesn't often wear her dentures either.  Fresh food is easy to gather, prepare and to eat.  She often says if she has nothing else then a dry rusk dipped in wine, a handful of olives and an onion will be fine for tea. There are plenty of greens out in the fields, especially now that it has rained heavily. The lemon and orange trees are shedding fruit faster than she can gather them and there's always, olives in the jar.

Some have opened their wine barrels.  Our son-in-law went to pick up his allowance from the family vine yards but it hasn't been tasted yet.  Vaso hasn't even sniffed the pungent aroma from her  barrels.  It won't be long,  though there is a saying that wine should not be tasted till after St Nikolas on December 6th and red should be left for New Year. Most dedicated wine makers and drinkers around here don't take much notice of that old wives' tale.

Tourists were around for much later this season but streets are finally freer of cars and bikes and favourite tables at cafeterias are normally free.  

Apples are really plentiful but not grown much around here.  The best come from further north, the city of Tripoli (greek Tripoli, not the capital of Libya) and the area called Zagori.

We buy our apples and other produce from the back of a truck which comes in once a week from Tripoli.  Apples red, apples green, apples big and small.

I have baked apple cake, apple pudding, apple pie and made apple sauce.   We're just about appled out.  A real treat was the one lonely pear which had fallen into our bag of apples last week.  I think it will be pears from now on.

Wednesday 21 November 2018


While the sun was still shining we actually got our act together and sorted out the garden, with a push from a friend who dug out the weeds and brought us lettuce, leek and spinach plants.  Thank you universe for friends who love to dig and plant and prune.

Picking up a pile of wood from the olive groves in preparation for winter fires

Yeh, a truck load of 'garden' rubbish gets hauled away

Here's our young Pakistani helper
He gathered a stack of 'treasures' from around the perimeter of the yard and piled it up ready for the truck to take it away

Sob, a clear back yard.  It's the first time in ten years I've seen the wall behind that grapefruit tree
Lettuces planted in neat rows
Anyone want a bag of grapefruit.  We'll try once again in the spring to graft a branch of a mandarine and orange tree onto the grapefruit.  They didn't take last time we tried

Now we've got neat rows of spinach and leeks as well and after two days of rain the lettuces have shot up and soon will be big enough to eat.

Monday 19 November 2018

The Sun Doesn't Shine Every Day

Sunday - one of the few days in the year we didn't have hot running water. After 2 rainy days the solar heater has shrugged it's shoulders and taken a few days off

Wet paving stones, grey sky but the rose bushes are loaded with flowers

Our first fire  this winter

Meatball soup - Yiourvalakia
To warm the cockles, though some say raki or a few kilos of wine does a better job
Meatballs made with rice and lots of garlic and parsley in an egg and lemon sauce with bread toasted in the oven of the wood fire, with olive oil, oregano and an extra shake of salt

A rather sad photo.  Brown grape leaves along the wall, a BBQ in need of some paint, mist over the hills. I'm sure the sun will be out tomorrow and then I'll be noticing dust on the shelves and cobwebs in the corners.

Each day has its 'charm'

Saturday 17 November 2018

The Wind Doth Blow

A very short video of what happens when the fierce north winds blow across the harbour.   Hope the video plays.  I am taking a new step, from photos to videos.  

 In high winds most yachts will pull anchor and run for shelter in the curve of the bay where they will rock in choppy seas out of danger of collision with other boats and the concrete wharf.

This video was not shot during the medi-cane (as in hurri-cane) in September but a few years ago when sudden gale force winds whipped the seas, damaged half a dozen anchored boats and sunk two others.  The winds came out of nowhere, at dinner time, when most yachties were happily esconced in tavernas drinking a few kilos (not litres here) of wine.  There was not time to react, tighten ropes or splice whatever you splice on a boat.  

The following day was fine and sunny and divers went down to rescue papers and belongings from the yachts which sank.  The municipality gave them food and shelter.  Just hope they were insured.

The picturesque island of poros in Greece is perfect for cruising, says this magazine about their cover photo.

So it seems here. This photo is of our friend's little fishing boat anchored in  tranquil waters at the end of the harbour.  A perfect summer picture.

Poros harbour on a perfect winter's day.  Blue sky, deep blue sea

Thursday 15 November 2018

St Phillip

13th November was a Tuesday this year, a most inauspicious day for greeks, the equivalent of Friday the 13th in the western world.
It was Tuesday 13th April 1204 that Constantinople (Istanbul) fell to the Turkish empire.
The end of civilisation said some back then.

14th November the fiesta day of St Phillip 

Ayios Filippos.  Name day of all Filipps and the female Filippia. Filipp with a double 'p' as opposed to the double 'l' of Phillip. 

St Filipp's feast day comes in the middle of the 40 day fast before Christmas.  During this fast you can eat fish, until 17th December, but not on Wednesdays or Fridays.

On the day of  St Phillip (Filipp) you can also eat meat.  There is a fable about starving peasants and two oxen.  St Phillip slaughtered one and fed the starving masses even though it was the middle of an important fast.   When he went back to the stable he found the ox alive and well.

A Miracle!     

I went to visit women of the extended family across the straits on Galatas on the 14th.  One household were preparing to eat roast chicken while on the other side of the yard the maiden aunts were cooking homemade macaroni with lots of fresh browned sheeps butter and grated cheese.  

I had to sample the dinner on both sides.  They were so insistent that at one stage I was being chased from one house to the other by an elderly aunt with a loaded fork.   Their hospitality is incredible.

From the beginning of November till the end of January there is one name day after another, Christmas and New Years in the middle and in our family more Scorpian, Sagittarrean and Capricorn birthdays than you can shake a stick at.

The government is 'talking' about returning some of the money 'stolen' from pensions of the armed forces and police in 2012.  We'll need it to get through all these festivities, plus having the 'necessary' to pay all the end of year taxes. We won't be celebrating till we see numbers in the bank and manage to withdraw it before it is withdrawn for us.  We have elections next year, so , you never know what little tidbits may be thrown our way as enticement to vote.

We've already had a dozen fiestas this month including
Archangels Michael and Gabriel
Local saint Ayios Nektarios

Coming up are 
Plato (the martyr, not the philosopher)

19th is International Men's Day.  First time I've heard of it.  Men celebrate everyday!
Ha. it is the same day as International  Public Toilet Day

21st is the Celebration of the Greek Armed Forces
 - a day of 'socialising' for retired officers 
Name day of any unwed (virgin?) 'Marias'

25th is Katerina
30th Andreas (St Andrew)

and those are just the most well known

'Kronia Polla' to all those feasting and rejoicing

Many happy returns
Long life to you all

Monday 12 November 2018

Sunday....the rest of the day

You can never tell in the morning how the day is going to pan out.
The warm autumn Sunday turned out even better than expected.  We didn't get to eat rice and rooster after all.....too bad!

We got a call from family and went down to the 'green chairs' for a 'coffee'.  Great surprise when we arrived.  Everyone else was already there and the table full of odd dishes and serving plates full of everyone's Sunday lunch.

The cafeteria provided the wine, a meze plate with olives, tomatoes, cheese and some bread and we tucked into an impromptu feast sitting beside the water on this warm and sunny day

Sunday lunch on the waterfront

Smile for the camera

Offal, chicken, pork chops, fried rice and potatoes
Plenty for everyone

And if that wasn't enough our friendly butcher brought over a plate of his Sunday dinner for us to sample as well
Being known, and liked, by (almost) everyone on this small island has some advantages. Or being related to them!

A free Sunday afternoon to sit and chat, and enjoy a glass of wine

Boys will be boys!
Some of us were in short sleeves, some of us were wearing jackets
and small boys stripped off for a dive into the harbour

The clean harbour waters  ( one hopes )

Elsewhere it was Armistice Day. There didn't appear to be any ceremonies here. Greece didn't come into  WW1  till 1917

I don't remember much about Armistice Day in days gone by.  It was my mother's birthday so we marked the day in a slightly different fashion.

I learnt a lot reading everyone's blog posts on this day of remembrance
The numbers of dead and wounded are staggering and the actrocities shocking

We shall remember them at the 11th hour on the 11th day of the 11th month.

And so we should

Sunday 11 November 2018

Sunday in the Sun

A beautiful autumn day today. 

 A tough old rooster is slowly stewing on the outside gas stove.  We'll boil rice in the juices.  The tastiest rice you can imagine , full of flavour with a  little olive oil, lemon juice and lots of pepper added to the mix.  

The, hopefuly by now tender,  meat gets liberal squirts of lemon juice, a sprinkle of good fresh olive oil ( the first press of this years olive harvest) , and lots of fresh ground pepper.  A rustic meal with local sourdough bread and liberal doses of last years wine (it's Sunday so we can drink an extra glass or two).  The rooster was almost local. He came from a small rural 'farm' with goats and rabbits, just down the road, up the hill and round the corner .   Oh and a typical greek cabbage salad with a couple of cloves of garlic, carrot, celery and our own lemons.  The garlic will keep vampires and loved ones at bay for a few days.

Enough of the food.  Being a blog written in Greece the food always come first. Or almost first, behind the wine.

The men are outside in the sunshine happily fiddling with men-things 

In Athens the 'Authentic Marathon' (Classic Marathon I think we would call it)  has started.  42 odd kilometres from the town of Marathon, site of the 490BC battle between Greeks and Persians, to the Kallimarmaro (beautiful marble) Stadium in central Athens

The marathon finish line

Marathon start line

Thousands and thousands of runners from all over the world.  The first Kenyans and Ethiopians have already crossed the finish line in just over 2 hours.  
28 kilometres behind are hundreds of runners, many of them walking after their first 14ks but pushing on hoping to finish whatever time it takes.  We just saw a lady from Rotorua NZ with nordic sticks.

Marathons and triathlons are popular all over Greece.  Even Poros has it's own Triathlon.  The longest 'marathon' is the Spartathlon. This is an Ultra race, 250kms, from Athens to Sparta following the path taken by Pheidippides who ran from Athens to the city state of Sparta . 

If you're an athlete then put Greece on your running calendar

Kali sas mera
Good Sunday to you all

Thursday 8 November 2018


Korinthos (Corinth)
Big city half an hour north of Athens

site of
- the ruins of the city of ancient Kornith
- Apostle Paul  preached here and wrote his 'First and Second Corinthians' to the Christians of the city

Corinth Canal  6.4kms (4 miles) long.  You can bungy jump off that bridge (or one of the others), if you wanted to.  

Corinth is just under an hour an a half from Poros but not one of our favourite cities.  We go there if necessary to visit the hospital or shop at the big store called Jumbo.  Both are on the outskirts thank goodness.  We don't have to navigate through the one way streets and new pedestrian thoroughfares, a skill which even our GPS hasn't mastered.

We had to take a friend to the train station outside Corinth one Sunday and decided bravely to drink a coffee in the town, somewhere.  Sunday morning,  Shouldn't be too much traffic, no problem finding parking.  Yeh, right.  After glimpsing the sea at the end of one dead end street and the central square over the centre isle of trees and going round in circles we finally went the wrong way down a one way street and found parking near a street of coffee houses.

Fisherman's wharf
The little fishing boats had just come in and the catch was being sold on the wharf with a small crowd of onlookers

one of the squares has a huge fountain complex and a bigger than life size statue of Pegasus, the pure white, winged stallion of the greek myths
That's me sitting there

Ancient Greek on a grassy knoll
I didn't get close enough to find out who he was
and was surprised there wasn't an obvious plaque to tell me
So many ancients

Boat repairs on a vacant lot

After coffee we drove up into the hills to a small village taverna in search of a rustic Sunday lunch.

Village in the hills 
Tiny village, huge church and the sea on the far horizon

Not quite what we expected however.  The meat seemed to have been roasted at least a day before and warmed up.  The homemade sausage was full of gristle and an overwhelming herb.  We ate the cabbage salad, tzatziki, toasted (bread is toasted when it is stale) and washed it down with a litre of local wine (drinkable)

28 euros and a free dessert
The price was good and the semolina cake was free and fresh 
It wasn't a complete washout but we won't be returning

Too close to the edge  after a kilo of wine

Monday 5 November 2018

Early morn

Poros Harbour early on an autumn morning

I never miss a photo opportunity.  We were clambouring up narrow steps  at 7.30am to give blood for our annual tests.  The results were excellent.  Everything well into the normal range.  No blood sugar overload, no cholesterol problems.  Here everyone is a medical expert.  We don't wait for the doctor to give us a call and tell us to come down to 'discuss' the findings.  We give blood at a 'mikroviologiko' (microbiologist) clinic and next day go in and receive an envelope with the results.  Maria, our friendly blood-taker gives us a brief summary and then we go off and study the numbers ourselves and sometime we will probably take the papers to our doctor so he can see and 'tut-tut' or praise.

Coffee is the next necessity of the day. Soon the whole of Poros
knows  where we've been and there are long discussions on health and welfare which continue onto grumbles about the economy, pension cuts and the size of the fish caught recently. 

This shows the width of the strait between Poros and mainland Greece.  Photo taken from the balcony of the blood clinic

Looking the other way we can see the visiting naval vessel
The crew are mapping the coastline

The back streets up above the harbour

There is no access here for cars or bikes of any sort.  Everything must be carried up and down some quite steep steps and along the alleyways.  

A narrow passage

Steps leading down into the harbour and the cafeterias

                         At last we can drink a morning coffee