Tuesday 30 August 2022

Aliki Beach

 And our second day trip. A taxi boat ride along the harbour and across to Aliki Beach on the mainland.

In days of yore when the tourist business was booming - in the 80's - there were little water taxis plying back and forth from the island to this sandy beach all day long.

Then the little British travel companies started to go bust and anyway it was much easier to book a flight straight to Crete or Rhodes or any island with an airport.  To get to Poros english visitors had to fly to Athens, wait for their travel connection to take them on an hours trip  to the harbour, wait for the boat and then it was 2 1/2 hours  to the island.  Where they waited in line for a taxi to take them to their accomodation.  A long tiring trip.  Slowly tourist numbers dwindled, bars and souvenir shops closed.   It wasn't till about 15 years ago that business picked up as the new road from Athens opened up and greek city dwellers wanting a few days of relaxation started to appear, even on sunny mid-winter weekends.  It's a 2 hour drive from Athens, onto the car ferry and then a park at your hotel.  

The water taxis to Aliki beach, and all the other beaches, stopped running.  There was no money to made sailing without passengers.

In the last few years three new routes have opened up again, subsidised,I think, by the EU.  One of our sons-in-law is captain of the good ship Socrates and he has nabbed the run to Aliki beach.  A sandy beach, shallow and children friendly.  There are two tavernas close by and now one of them has put out umbrellas and sunbeds.  The perfect place for a few hours of fun.

I used to take my kids there for a day out.  My grandchildren went not long ago to see what it's like now.  Still sandy, but too much seaweed they say.  No-one likes that creepy feeling of dark seaweed  waving under the feet and strange shadows amongst the fronds.

On the far side of the beach is a small lagoon where locals gathered salt from the rocks and looked for shellfish.  The lagoon is a bit sad now and the water that is left is dirty looking. 

We didn't go across to swim but to eat at one of the tavernas.  My english friend lives nearby and she came down to join us.  Another day of nattering in English. 

Our son in law has the Aliki Beach run this year.  
It takes about 15 minutes to go across, a nice cruise along the waterfront and then over to the mainland

First stop is Plaka beach.  No one got in or out.
You can see it's a bit choppy but not enough to be uncomfortable

Arriving at the beach dock.  I had a bit of difficulty getting in and out of that little boat.  Lucky my s-in-law was there to help.  It's the step from boat to shore that gets me.  I dither and make a very uncertain step towards land, sure I'm going to land awkwardly or suddenly the boat will drift out and I'll be left susupended, one foot on boat and one foot on land.  I managed to disembark with some sort of dignity  but I won't be taking any of these little taxi boats any time soon.
If I want to go to the mainland I use the car ferry.  Walk on walk off

Looking from the dock along to the taverna we were going to eat.

K and J waiting for kalamari, greek salad and chips

The tables along that back wall were occupied by greek men gossiping between themselves.  K listened in but was not impressed by their conversation and for once did not join in.  Men hiding from their wives and having a furtive beer or two or just moochers with nowhere else to go.  The taverna is out of the way, not so easy to get to from land.  But the locals know.  A great hideaway.

Wednesday 24 August 2022

Ignorance is Bliss

There was a broken sewage pipe in the road behind these beaches with a spill into the sea. My daughter, who lives right there, was told not go swimming.

They didn't tell the tourists though.

What you don't know can't hurt you.   Can it?


Sunday 21 August 2022


 I got a gyno appointment at the rural hospital at Korinth, 1 1/2 hours away, half way between the island and Athens. K had an op there a few years ago and was impressed by the doctors. 

I was impressed by the gynocologist, a woman thank goodness, but with a male assistant . Ho hum 

She actually sat down and explained what she'd found, in simple detail, and gave us a picture of what they can do and what they can't and why.

She says, the rural hospital and also most of the big hospitals in the cities, only do emergency ops  during the summer and everything is behind schedule anyway because of covid.  

I'm not a life and death situation so if I come back in October and see the head of the Gynaecologic department I can probably get a date for surgery, sometime in the future .

Now we just have to find out if we need to 'oil' the Head of Gynocology and how much. I'm sure he will expect an 'envelope' under the table.  

We learned the other day, while talking with a group of friends who had 'been there and done it' that if we had oiled the doctor at Nafplio I would have had my cataract operation by now. If we don't go back and give him 250 euros then forget it. He'll simply 'put us on the list'.   

Quite frankly, though I hate this system, I'd rather hand over 200 or so euros than have to traipse into Athens or Piraeus . 

First the gyno problem then I'll tackle the cataracts .

The going rate for most doctors seems to be 250, plus if you need an anaesthetic  another 100 to the anaesthesiologist.  Doable.

We went on one of the hottest days of summer but left very early in the morning to avoid most of the heat. The hospital was not on duty for emergency cases so it was a lot quieter than usual and cool. We had to have a rapid test before entering, 5 euros at the pharmacy opposite, and of course wear masks.

There were half a dozen other women/girls waiting with me. All pregnant Roma (gypsies to put it bluntly). They usually have most of the family with them but thankfully rapid tests must have kept them out. 

All these rural hospitals have a large Roma clientele. A lot of the menfolk with big cars and dripping in gold. The women still wear the old style of dress, long skirts and long hair tied up in a scarf. 

We came home without stopping at our usual souvlaki place. To hot to eat or think about leaving the air-conditioned car.

We stopped at a big supermarket half an hour from home so I could do some essential shopping and K could get an iced espresso.  The  number of cars parked at this place was amazing. The supermarket was full and at the coffee shop next door the woman who runs it was literally running.  These few busy August weeks help them to get through the winter 

Then it was a dash to get the car ferry. We got there with 2 minutes to spare so no waiting in the heat on the boiling deck. No bad tempers and impatient tooting of horns 

Home to a cold shower and an afternoon nap .

This morning we were down town before 7 am for a blood test.  All well there.

It was wonderful down there at that early hour. There was a crisp coolness, quiet and peace. I haven't been to the centre of town for two months. The noise and crush of people, plus the heat and lack of parking is unbearable.

Empty cafeterias

An empty waterfront.
Only one water taxi

So early the streets lights are still on, the rubbish waiting to be collected

Tuesday 16 August 2022

Festivals and 'Fruits'

15th August is the biggest holiday in Greece. Far more important than Xmas or New Year, maybe not Easter.

It's midsummer, an important church festival and this year, after years of quarantine, it's a 3 day holiday weekend that everyone can enjoy. Greece has gone on vacation and a huge number have chosen our little island.

It's the commemoration of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary, in other words when she died. The Orthodox acknowledge her ascension to heaven with great celebration. The cities are emptied as everyone goes back to their village or island, their family or simply to enjoy a bit of summer fun.  The islands, especially those in the Cyclades, are filled to overflowing.

Little blue and white chapels, large cathedrals, any church  dedicated to the Virgin are decked out in flags and flowers. Festivities continue for days with feasting, music and a lot of sea bathing, coffee and family reunions.

It's the name day of anyone named after her, names like Mary, Maria, Despina, Panayiota and for men Panayiotis and Marios.

Poros is overcrowded with tourists, Greek and foreign. There is a constant stream of quad bikes and cars down to our local beach. The roar of those quad bikes interrupts our siesta. Downtown every tiny space is occupied by a parked car and still the car ferries bring more.

We left the house early to find parking, pick up a box of sweet cakes for our own Panayiota who we will visit this evening.

Today's 'harvest fruits'
Figs, really sweet, and tasty organic tomatoes, local wine and oil and a box of cakes to take to the name day dinner

Coffee time.
 Thank goodness we came down early. The sticky cakes were already disappearing from the bakery even at 9.30am . Parking spaces were limited but by leaving the tail of the car slightly exposed we managed to squeeze into a space under a tree, ensuring us shade and a cool car when we returned.

On the way down a neighbour and good friend stopped us to give us a 2litre bottle of his own olive oil. Before we made the cafeteria another friend stopped and handed us bags of figs and tomatoes. He went away and came back with three bottles of his wine which he left in the back of the car, unlocked of course.

We spent a couple of hours drinking coffee and later beer and when I went in to pay discovered that one of the other friends at our table had beaten me to it.

We were blessed by the Madonna methinks .

The island of Tinos is packed with pilgrims this weekend, waiting to light a candle, give blessing or pray for a miracle and touch the miraculous icon at this church 

Many pilgrims (women) crawl almost a kilometre in the blazing sun from the harbour to this church dedicated to Our Lady of Tinos to touch the icon and ask for a blessing or favour.

Over 40 years ago Panayiota, the mother of our son in law, did just this and carried him up those last steep steps on her back, to pray for his good health. That was over 40 years ago. He's healthy and married to our daughter and has given us all 2 grandchildren.  She thinks it was worth every step, even though her knees were bloody and torn by the time she reached the church.

A Greek mother

Sunday 14 August 2022

Crossing the Sea

 We have actually been off the island twice this month, once by car to visit an english friend over the waters and once by taxi boat where we went out to eat beside the sea, again with my dear friend.

  An aging expat left the island, returning to care in the homeland, and left behind many of her belongings, mostly clothes.  She generously agreed for them to be sold, at bargain prices, all organised by my hard working friend J, and proceeds go to the stray dogs.  There are fewer and fewer stray dogs thank goodness.  By law they should now all be chipped and J works relentlessly to find them good homes either here in Greece or elsewhere in Europe.  Any that are left are sterilised and looked after by J and a few other volunteers.

I was fortunate to 'inherit' some very nice tops and jackets.  Most of them are linen and I have been washing and ironing now for days.  Linen is cool in the summer but it does take a bit of ironing and creases easily.  Smart though.

Here are some photos from the car trip

Google has got all the photos back to front so we begin the journey at the end.

Coming back to Poros
The ferry boat worker stands on the front door ready to leap to land and haul a rope to tie to the bollard

We were the first car on this 'roll-on-roll-off' (as opposed to the other back-on-drive-off) car ferry
And this is the way we travelled.  With the door down, well slightly tilted up, and a front row seat of the sea voyage

Again, another photo from the front line
We had to wait inside the car in the boiling sun for 10 minutes before the ferry left.  Once it made open water we had a slight breeze.
K's temperature rose with the heat as we waited and he ended up tooting his horn twice when we were half a minute over departure time.  With me cringing in my seat and looking for a way out.

Here we are on J's terrace in the cool morning air.  We brought coffee with us from La Frianderie, just across from the ferry quay.  They have the best coffee in the whole county.  Accompanied by a cheese pie and a sesame roll for me.
J is very good at keeping K busy with small jobs so he doesn't have time to be bored.  Here he is fixing an old lamp while J and I natter away a mile a minute in English

The view from her balcony
Olive groves and the sea between Poros and the mainland

The little island at the entrance to Poros harbour
On it are the Venetian ruins of some sort of defense fortifications overseeing the passage
Underneath, so we've heard, are far more ancient remains 

Tuesday 9 August 2022

On the Cheap

The Navy school on Poros is where K actually did go to school, at age 13, and then he served quite a few years here towards the end of his service.  During the year it has conscripts for the few weeks of their first training and during the hottest summer months naval personnel or retirees from elsewhere can apply to spend 10 days on holiday.  There is a nicely set-up beach with lifeguard, childrens' playground and cinema, cafeteria and canteen.

We are allowed to us these facilities too.  The canteen food is simple greek, self-service and clean-up and very, very cheap. 

We go down in the evening to eat and drink for just 11 euros.  That's with souvlaki and all the trimmings, a litre of wine and a couple of tins of plain soda so I can 'water' my wine down, making it into a spritzer.

Last night we took some of the grandchildren down to eat.  Four teenagers.  We had pork and chicken souvlakis (meat grilled on a skewer), kebab (which is a sort of meatball grilled on a skewer) lots of tzatziki, fried potatoes, pitta bread, greek salads and ice-cream to finish off.  Plus bottles of water, soft drinks and wine for us.  It cost us 35 euros.  A meal which would have cost over 100 at an ordinary taverna.

A table right beside the sea

The canteen.  A lot of the work on this canteen, especially the lighting and wiring was done by K when he was on active duty and Officer in charge of electrical 'doings' at the base.  A few years ago now

He still knows, of course, all the personnel here.  The officers.  Young conscripts come and go

We will be sitting at one of these beach side tables in a few days watching  the full moon shine  over the water.  

Grandaughter Poppi

Grandson Jamie

And Luli with the remains of the meal in front of her.  Most of the plates and glasses are recyclable.  All of it gets folded up in the paper tablecloth and disposed of in the bin by the bar.  Self service from start to finish

We count our blessings to have this place to eat at in the evening, when it is too hot to cook. They do lunch as well. The rest of the island is overcrowded just now, traffic jams, nowhere to park and the cheapest taverna meal is 20 euros a head

Sunday 7 August 2022

Years Gone By

 Looking back to 2014 and an extended family baptism on the next door island of Aegina.  I have a cousin who was married to a greek woman, lived in New Zealand, who moved to England, remarried and whose son married a Greek.

Cousin John's son, with the Greek wife, had a daughter and they decided to baptise her on the island of Aegina.  The child was baptised Marina.  The baptism took place at a picturesque blue and white church dedicated to *Saint Marina overlooking the village of *Agia Marina. We were invited to the baptism naturally enough, being the greek connection actually living in Greece. And Poros is next to Aegina in the Saronic Gulf.

* Agia is the greek for a female Saint.

So we booked tickets and a hotel and arrived with half the family.

Back then it was easy.  We got on a boat and sailed for an hour to Aegina.  Nowadays we would have to take the hydrofoil back to the port of Piraeus, 1 hour, wait and catch a boat to Aegina, another hour. And the same to return.  Plus the bus ride around  to the other side of Aegina to the coastal town 

Walking up to the church on the hill

Here we are, our family contingent, minus K, the photographer.  Don't worry, he turns up in another photo
Me and daughter with 3 of the grandchildren

The baby held by kiwi grandfather, cousin John, surrounded by english and greek family

And in she goes.  She was dunked right under 3 times

He is, obviously, Scottish.
 Can't remember his name.  I think he is a friend of the english family.  He was very popular as everyone wanted a photo of him and his kilt

After the formalities the kids found huge mounds of dried seaweed and let off steam climbing up the piles and throwing 'chaff' to the wind

A mighty mural of Sea God Poseidon

The reception took place at a small taverna right beside the sea.
It wasn't quite summer but warm enough for small children to enjoy a dip in the waves

Here we are seated for lunch

Party on the sand

And then came the music
The accordionist was the french step father of the greek mother of little Marina.  An international crowd

And naturally there was dancing
Daughter and father kicked off their shoes to dance on the sand

Waiting for bus to do the return trip round the island and down to the Port.  The bus takes the scenic route through the villages which was great for us.

Past this mighty temple
Dedicated to the Greek Goddess Aphaia

And another little white church.  This one is down on Aegina harbour.  One of the first things you see as you get off the boat

Thursday 4 August 2022

Our Funeral?

 Had a late coffee this morning downtown and after an hour or so of K chatting with the locals we decided to have a cold beer before going home.  

2 beers and a snack.  My beer was alcohol free.
When we finished the first round the guy in the background here told the girl to bring us 2 more of what we were drinking and another plate of snacks.

The snacks!
The first plate was enough for breakfast and lunch.  We were going to bring it home in a disposable bowl but more of K's friends stopped by so it got eaten.

And our benefactor?  The local undertaker!
I know he's an acquaintance of K's but it was extremely generous of him to shout us all that.

Methinks he sees us as customers-soon-to-be and he'll make sure of it by feeding us lots of fat and alcohol.  Ftoo ftoo ftoo.  Begone, you evil eye.
He may bury us one day but hope it's not for many years yet.

He's a nice guy, arranges all the foreigners' funerals and any cremations which take place in Athens.  He's got always got a smile and a joke.  Not your grim, gloomy stereotype at all.

He has already buried a few in the extended family. That's a small community for you. Even the undertaker becomes part of the social circle. 

Wednesday 3 August 2022


I couldn't get a decent photo of this guy.
He's taking empty beer crates back to the shop.
Three tied on the back, four at his feet and one in hand.

All this on a little motor scooter

Oh, and no helmet


Monday 1 August 2022

Nothing Much

 Every day is hot, over 36o mostly.   The heat takes away all my energy.  Its amazing how different I feel after a half hour in the air con but we only use that when it really is unbearable.  Today was 2o cooler.  Just 2o but it made a difference.  We had a comfortable siesta with just a fan going . 

 I listen to audio books.  Today it was 'Death of a Nurse'.  A nice light detective series written by MC Beaton.  The red haired Scottish policeman Hamish Macbeth solves a series of murders.  It's the 28th book in the series.  That's an awful lot of murders, all taking place in and around his little Highland town of Lochdubh.  You get to know the characters and enjoy hearing what they're up to while canny Macbeth outwits his dimwitted senior officers and catches all the baddies.  Easy listening. 

25th July was one of the fiesta days of Saint Anne.  There's a little church across on the mainland which is looked after by our son-in-law's family.  Some years we go to the service.  Show our faces.  But this year it was just to hot to trek across to Galatas.

The church of St. Anna
Agia Anna


26th July was the festival of another female saint.

We went to the early morning service at the church  of Agia Paraskevi, very close by
  She protects the eyes

There were loads of sweet Holy loaves and this year I remembered to bring a big bag with a plastic bag inside to stuff with chunks of the bread.  They are flavoured with carraway seeds and other spices

Then we went off down to our new cafe for a freddo espresso.  Perfect for dunking the holy bread 

Dionysos Cafe 
Nice and cool under the leafy canope and just a little cheaper than the other cafeterias.  A lot of K's friends hang out there too.  Easy parking, good internet and the supermarket is right next door.  So we are both happy.