Wednesday, 11 November 2015

Two more blue days

1. Wednesday, 4th November- Many Happy Returns

Last year we were in Benicassim on Gill's birthday, and the Spanish resort was big enough to find quite a nice restaurant to celebrate it in a modicum of style. It was clear that most tavernas in Tolo were closed, but we found one - the Thalassa - that had a great view and tables on the beach. It was. as Gill put it, "all a bit Shirley Valentine."

Birthday girl!

The view was lovely, the day sparkly blue, and there was enough beach life, with people swimming. the occasional surf paddler, little fishing boats chugging by, to provide 'watching the world go by' style entertainment. Lunch was OK, but the main courses so meaty and substantial that we both felt a bit floored afterwards. Something lighter, liked stuffed tomatoes next time, we agreed.

a substantial lunch....
I wonder where we will celebrate your birthday next year?" I ventured.

"Or yours, in May" Gill replied. It's true, we do have this freedom, no more Shirley Valentine talking to the wall, well until we become so befuddled that the nearest wall provides seemingly interesting conversational possibilities.

On the way back to the van we stopped at the beach near the ruins of Asini, and I tested out the water that had looked so inviting yesterday. While I splashed about Gill was befriended by a small, porcine looking mutt, belong to a couple who had come down to watch the sunset. 

Phoebus had retired early behind the bulk of the Asini citadel a little before 4.30pm. Well, if you can't throw in a ridiculous Classical personification here, where can you? Plain English sometimes just won't suffice; and if you are camped next to some run down beach bungalows called 'Argolic Strand', then I think all kinds of rhetorical flourishes are permitted. Put more simply, the days are getting noticeably shorter, though we will gain at hour at the end of the afternoon when we cross back into Italy a week on Friday.

2. Thursday, 5th November - Poros, "Nearly a jigsaw puzzle"

Instantly I knew what Gill meant, the scene in front of us, picture postcard pretty village, white houses stacked-up the steep, cypress-wooded hill, golden sunlight, white yachts reflected in the mirror still harbour, Poros was a definite candidate to be chopped into 2500 tiny pieces and boxed up for an unwanted Christmas present.

That being said, this was far from being the first jigsaw moment of the day. The coast road south from Epidauros snakes along cliff-tops affording a series of stunning views across the Saronic Gulf, deep blue, with pale grey islands, Agistri and Aegina, lying beyond the wooded promontories nearby. Seven years ago we watched the mountains we are driving through right now from those nearby grey islands, thinking, perhaps one day we will visit the Peloponnese, and we have, and it's great.

It's the kind of view from the windscreen that you dream about...but its real.
The Camperstop near Poros is at Galataras, on a piece of level waste ground just to the south of the village, past the football pitch. Poros is an island, but only just. We have a great view of it 400m away across the water. A small car ferry and a bunch of water taxis trundle back and forth. We hopped on the ferry and wandered around the town for an hour or so. It is beautiful, an up-market weekend destination for Athenians. However, unlike Napflion, it has not yet entirely succumbed to being designer shop heaven, it remains small scale and charming.

Camperstop with a view
Poros town from the ferry

Cafe stop - Pete cultivates his 'Father Jack' look.

Not a brand we've seen before, it sounds German, but in fact is from Trieste (Hapsburg influence!)

Gorgeous Poros

On the way back to the van Gill stopped off at a local mini-market to see if they had any local olive oil for sale. I watched the kids at the all weather pitch opposite doing some football training. Gill seemed to take ages (it turned out the shopkeeper could not change a 50 euro note, so had to send his son for smaller notes). So I ended up becoming a bit of an expert on Sporting Poros' youth squad. Most of the players were aged 9 to 11, and there was one girl. The kids were split into a blue team and an orange team and were playing six-a-side. For the most part they were equally matched in their levels of incompetence, apart from a diminutive player on the orange team. The kid was brilliant, like those video clips you see of the young Michael Owen. In the space of three minutes team Orange were two up thanks to little Stavros Owen's tenacity and dribbling skills in front of goal. I was just about to go, when the Poros Oranges gained a corner. It was lamentably taken, but one of the Blues defenders screwed up and somehow the ball dribbled through to little Stavros lurking on the edge of the area. There was a wall of bodies between him and the goal. Cool as a cucumber he dinked the ball over the head of a defender, scuttled past him and scored with the side of his foot. What proves that this youngster has his eye on future greatness was his goal celebration, which involved tearing around the pitch arms out like aeroplane wings, then a quick burst of high fives. I am sure in a decade's time we will be hearing about an exciting young centre forward from Olympiakos lighting up the transfer window; some intrepid sports journalist may even discover how the young chap's talents were spotted at an early age by a sports coach from Poros.


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