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BS: Postcard from Milos 2014

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GUEST 20 Jun 14 - 07:54 AM
Roger the Skiffler 20 Jun 14 - 07:59 AM
ChanteyLass 20 Jun 14 - 08:28 PM
Roger the Skiffler 21 Jun 14 - 05:36 AM
Ebbie 21 Jun 14 - 11:56 AM
gnu 21 Jun 14 - 01:12 PM
Micca 22 Jun 14 - 09:33 AM
Roger the Skiffler 22 Jun 14 - 10:28 AM
Roger the Skiffler 23 Jun 14 - 12:14 PM
Roger the Skiffler 28 Jun 14 - 06:18 AM
billybob 29 Jun 14 - 05:02 AM
Roger the Skiffler 29 Jun 14 - 08:32 AM
GUEST,Eliza 29 Jun 14 - 11:30 AM

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Subject: BS: Postcard from Milos 2014
From: GUEST
Date: 20 Jun 14 - 07:54 AM

This being one of the years when the mythical island of Dendros doesn't rise from the sea , we headed off to Milos, birthplace of the famous unarmed Venus. We travelled BA to Athens and transferred to a Olympic/Agean De Havilland Dash for the 20 minute flight to Milos. We are used to grabbing a couple of free seats on a charter flight and sitting with our knees under our chin and hearing apologies that half the toilets or the tv screen or both are not working, so that even in Economy having decent legroom and free headphones seemed a luxury, the plane was only half full so we could actually walk around as recommended.
The Olympic/Agean hostess on the short flight barely had time to gabble the safety instructions bi-lingually, pass out a cup of water or juice and a bag of nuts before we had to buckle up for landing. Since Agean took over Olympic there have been some improvements but we were still an hour late leaving Athens.
Our Milos taxi driver handed out a free island guide and map and gave us a short running commentary on places of interest en route to our studio. The owner of our studio greeted us with another (different) free guide book and map and some of his wife's honey and ginger cake.
We had to climb several flights of steps to get to our studio but we had paid extra for the "superior" one as it had the biggest balcony and the best view over the beach and the bay. Extra luxuries provided were robes and slippers and a cocktail shaker ( they obviously had no idea of our usual level of accommodation!) but no non-slip shower mat, no plug in the kitchen sink (we always take one) and we were warned one half of the sliding shower door was wonky! (Shower door? In Greece?). It was a smart shower enclosure but did leak from somewhere as the bathmat was always wet when you got out. As we were quite late we went out for a meal and didn't shop for breakfast essentials but ordered the in-house breakfast for the following morning.
We picked a restaurant from the many lining the harbour (very busy with a range of ferries). I had thought we might have a holiday free from the small dramas that so enliven our days on "Dendros".
Not to be!
Friendly staff, free amuse-bouche starters came, no wine or water. Apologies, waiter brought them, but dropped the tray- wine, water and glass everywhere, luckily, not on us. (No, I hadn't packed the white trousers Sheila talked me into a couple of years ago- I know what I'm like with red wine and tomatoes!). During the clean-up operation each member of the family came up to apologise- like that Monty Python sketch, I expected someone to stab themselves with a fork! Sheila's main course arrived , mine didn't- after reminder it came just as she finished hers. Free cake. Apology that waiter was new (at least they didn't say he was from Barcelona!).    We ate there twice more during our stay with no incident but the waiter always gave us the same table and promised not to spill the wine.
Next morning we got up late and the most enormous continental breakfast arrived on our terrace- it set us up nicely for the holiday but we resolves not to indulge again, just buy our usual juice, 0% yoghurt, fresh fruit and occasionally fresh wholemeal bread & honey.
The nearest beach just across the road was OK, very clean, mixed sand & shingle, a few sunbeds and worn straw umbrellas. There was a beach bar based on a decaying beached kaiki that had obviously closed several years ago and was still for sale. A small beach cafe had not yet opened for the season . A guy turned up on motor bike, gave you a free drink- coffee or soft drink for the price of the sunbeds and then went away again. Most of the other people on the sunbeds seemed to be his family, including, after school, two small boys who used the unused sunbeds to make a "harbour" in the sea for their toy boats. As this group got larger as the day progressed and we were soon surrounded,we walked over the headland to see if the beaches beyond were worth the walk and to look at the French Crimean War cemetery.
There was a longer, sandier beach at the other end of the harbour with only a few sunbeds opposite a lone taverna. This became our usual haunt on sunbathing days.   These days settled into a pattern, iced coffee, served with water and free biscuits, as the price of the sunbeds. Long leisurely lunch in the tavern, hoping the stroll back to our studio (20 minutes) would counteract the effect of the food on our diets. (I only put 5lb on while we were away, not bad). It was called O! Hamos (Chaos) but apart from one day when we nearly got someone else's meal and bill (and we joked about the name!) it became our favourite lunch spot. They served lots of interesting dishes, a lot from their own gardens. They also had recipe postcards freely available- we liked the sound of Ibex in lemon sauce to serve 10. Sadly, Ibex are unknown to Ascot butchers. They also offered piglet in molasses and lambkin in tomato sauce- for the A.A . Milne readers, I suppose.   Also Pork with Aborigines – for the Australian visitors I expect. The waiter spent his winters in UK as both his brothers had married English girls. They also served a beer from a microbrewery in Piraeus. My doctor says I should drink 8 glasses of water a day for my health. I like to make it even more healthy by adding hops and malt to as many as possible. Their portions were large so we got used to having 2 starters instead of mains for lunch. I particularly enjoyed the artichoke and egg dish.
However, we didn't spend all our days by the sea or eating. The bay at Adamas is one of the largest in Greece. From where we were you couldn't see the narrow sea entrance so it was like living on a lake. There were lots of small fishing jetties and fishermen selling their catch right off the boat. Several of the fish we saw in local restaurants were unfamiliar and very local, including large langoustines. The fish were not too expensive either, only adding about 10 euros to a meal bill that would be about half what we would pay in UK. No fish farms either. I also had the best Octopus stifado I've ever had (saying so got us an extra couple of glasses of wine!) Other after dinner freebies included mastic spoon sweets and mastika liqueur.
Milos was well served by ferries of all sizes and an amazing number of luxury yachts, some the size of small liner,s also visited so Adamas had expanded to serve this clientele with luxury jewelry and clothes shops as well as tacky gift shops (Venus de Milo in a snowstorm globe, anyone?). We looked some of them up on the internet, they were all available for charter if you have nearly 200,000 UK pounds per week to spend!   One was refuelled from a shore-side bowser one evening. When we walked past next day there was a boom round it and a clean-up crew but luckily no sign of pollution.
There was an excellent bakery with a tempting array of cakes and pastries and an ice-cream and a cake shop so popular you had to put your name down at birth to get a table in the evening. There were also 3 bookshops. Oddly, the only post office on the island was in one of the smaller inland villages. There were two big churches in the port, one above where we were staying, its clock permanently ten minutes fast and an older one with nice pebble mosaics, converted inside to an Ecclesiastical museum with the usual jewelled icons, worm-eaten gospels and threadbare vestments. We were aware of a large party of Greeks in the hotel behind our local beach who had come from Crete to celebrate Pentecost at this church, Ayia Trianda. We went along after dinner on the Sunday. The port police cordoned off the roads and the church procession with priests, civic dignitaries and coastguards (in dress whites) made their way to the church courtyard where the assembled multitude, including us clung to every vantage point. There was a brief blessing, baskets of hunks of bread handed out, prewapped plates of salad and cups of wine emerged from the crypt. Speeches were made and gifts exchanged between the visitors and the Milions , and then Cretan dancing began. All accompanied, of course, by people on mobiles and cameras, smoking, kids and cats running around .
Milos has been a centre of mining for millennia so it is not a pretty island- the harbour is ringed by low hills scarred by workings. Obsidian and kaolin mined in antiquity, later sulphur and recently manganese, perlite and bentonite. There is a modern and very informative mining museum just outside the port. The current mining companies are working to reclaim some of the scarred land. Half of the island is now a nature reserve. The vocanic tufa rock has traditionally been used for cave houses, (syrmata) some of which were being restored next to our studios and literally below them wartime tunnel bunkers extended by the Germans have been reopened as an art gallery.
One day we took a local bus to the hill town of Plaka and climbed up to the Kastro that dominates the view from all around. The original castle remains were mostly invisible under later defence works but the chapels, including the one at the summit destroyed in WW2, have been rebuilt and restored.   We had coffee at one Plaka cafe with a floppy cat we weren't sure was alive until someone tipped it off a chair and lunch at another, while motorbikes weaved past our tables (and the "no motorbike/no entry" signs!). As we had missed the next bus back (food came first!) we walked down to the next village, Tripiti, and after exploring it and another cafe stop, caught the bus back from there at no extra cost. Some places in Greece you get on at the front of the bus and get off at the rear. In some cases you pay the driver. In others, you get tickets from a shop or kiosk before boarding, in others a lad forces his way through the standing passengers to collect fares while the bus is going. In Milos you pay as you get off. I'm not sure why they bothered to give us a ticket then though! It doesn't matter where you got on as the fare is the same except a few cents extra for the village at the far end of the island. The fares were clearly posted in the bus and the timetables in the town seemed accurate which is just as well as the tourist information office remained closed throughout our first week. By the time it opened we'd found out everything we wanted to know.
The other day out we had was a boat trip round the island and stopping for lunch at neighbouring Kimolos. There was a replica "trechandir" sailboat available for tours but the thought of spending 10 hours sitting on a hatch coming (been there, done that) didn't appeal so we went on a more sturdy wooden Capitan Yangos with a saloon below for snacks. It was a lovely calm day so we got really close to some of the amazing coastal geological features. Peter Jackson should have come to Milos for strange location filming. One rock we saw was called the bear locally- we thought it looked more like a rabbit. We also passed the uninhabited islets where a rear sub-species of goat/chamois/ibex (choose your translation) is protected. We never saw the rare (and also protected) Milos Viper but we saw lots of lizards with bright emerald spots on the side.
The second Sunday we were there was to be marked by the visit of an archbishop. Large posters up detailing his itinerary , bunting up, church flag at the harbour. His arrival was marked by all the coast guard in dress whites, many times the usual number of port police, regular police directing traffic at every intersection with much whistling and local priests gathering in greeting with local dignitaries.   Having seen a local UK bishop arrive at a church driving his own eco-friendly car I was surprised (no I wasn't!) to see the entourage of 13 limousines carrying the archbishop & priests with police cars and motor bike outriders and foot police saluting. Most of the working Greeks didn't even bother to stop to watch them go by. It was the same when he left, police in place waiting to block roads a good hour before he came past. It was no coincidence that the rash of permanent No Parking signs, that we saw being installed, were put up just in time. We heard locals complaining about being fined for parking in their usual spots. We also noticed that the disabled parking bay always seemed to be occupied by a motorcycle.
The beach road had a notice warning of radar speed trap but we believed it was a myth like the No Motorcycle sign in Plaka.
The other walk we did was to a village that was evacuated in the 1800s when noxious gases from the extinct volcan0 poisoned the population.   The walk went past a couple of boatyards a yacht club, a thermal energy plant and the unlovely outlet for the china clay exports. Right next to this, someone had built a very smart house!
The village, Zefira, was obviously being reoccupied, XroniaPolla greeting painted on the road and strung above the street, white painted pavements and trees but little sign of life. There was a restored church with remains of the old preserved outside, a couple of dogs, a tavern with no sign of life except for music blaring out and a shop that had closed years ago. The only person I saw was an old lady mending fence netting outside her house.
Other things that spring to mind, the usual Gringlish- "baked in wooden oven" seemed a fire hazard to me. One sign was painted on both sides but the painter in copying had put some of the letters back to front.
My limited Greek still gets me by. I said (in Greek) I was dying for a beer, the waiter said "Here is Resurrection" (in English). I replied "I have Risen" in Greek ( anesto!
Each evening an old couple who lived just beyond our studio came out to take the air on the steps down to the road. As we passed them we exchanged greetings. One evening I said: pano, kato, pano, kato (up and down, up and down). OK it wasn't Jack Benny but it raised a laugh.
Sheila has suggested that now I'm in my 7th decade I should hang up my clipboard and abandon my annual survey of the most popular colour for female swimwear. What do you think? My interim findings from what is apparently my inappropriately close study of my fellow sunbathers this year is inconclusive. Primary colours are beating patterns and unmatched halves are common. Black is strongly represented but not as predominately as in the past. Perhaps more in September when we go to Tinos, an island we visited briefly for a couple of nights on our first island-hopping visit to Greece over 30 years ago. We never got to visit Delos then as it was foggy. We hope for better things. We'll be travelling via Mykonos which should be interesting and our accommodation won't be as nice as on Milos!
RtS


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Subject: RE: BS: Postcard from Milos 2014
From: Roger the Skiffler
Date: 20 Jun 14 - 07:59 AM

Sorry forgot to reset my cookie on return!
RtS


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Subject: RE: BS: Postcard from Milos 2014
From: ChanteyLass
Date: 20 Jun 14 - 08:28 PM

I thought it was you! Once again, I can only comment: Wow! What a great trip!


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Subject: RE: BS: Postcard from Milos 2014
From: Roger the Skiffler
Date: 21 Jun 14 - 05:36 AM

Looking at my photos I am reminded how green the island was, unlike many of the Cyclades. They had had a week's unseasonable rain before we arrived and there were lots of wild flowers about and the hills and older mine remains were covered in low scrub and herbs. As well as the usual garden flowers the public spaces were ablaze with oleanders in full flower and all colours (unlike the 2 we have in pots at home which rarely get enough sun to flower).
I mentioned the Monty python moment at one taverna- there was a Two Ronnies moment (for UK 'Catters) in another where old utensils was the decor theme and the doors to the loos had...fork handles!

RtS


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Subject: RE: BS: Postcard from Milos 2014
From: Ebbie
Date: 21 Jun 14 - 11:56 AM

Great stories!


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Subject: RE: BS: Postcard from Milos 2014
From: gnu
Date: 21 Jun 14 - 01:12 PM

Echoing Ebbie. I have enjoyed you travel writings in the past and this is no different. Wonderful. Thank you.


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Subject: RE: BS: Postcard from Milos 2014
From: Micca
Date: 22 Jun 14 - 09:33 AM

Roger Please continue with these bulletins and your excellent pics, they are like the old " Look at Life" shorts in the Cinema!! ".... and now as the sun sets into the wine-dark Aegean we bid you Frewell from Milos...."


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Subject: RE: BS: Postcard from Milos 2014
From: Roger the Skiffler
Date: 22 Jun 14 - 10:28 AM

If I weren't so tanned you'd see me blush!
Still trawling through the pix. One of the locals said- "You will take LOTS of photos" and he was right. I'll put some of the odder and better ones on Photobox for the usual suspects next week.
RtS


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Subject: RE: BS: Postcard from Milos 2014
From: Roger the Skiffler
Date: 23 Jun 14 - 12:14 PM

Photobox link sent to those who've asked. I forgot to make it "private". When I do it will be usual password.
RtS


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Subject: RE: BS: Postcard from Milos 2014
From: Roger the Skiffler
Date: 28 Jun 14 - 06:18 AM

Any more feedback before I let this slip away off the bottom of the threads?

RtS


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Subject: RE: BS: Postcard from Milos 2014
From: billybob
Date: 29 Jun 14 - 05:02 AM

I look forward to your Greek postcards so much, Billy and I were trying to visit a different island every year, but looking after mother has meant we have not been to Greece for some years now. Your postcards are the next best thing, thank you.

Have you thought of putting them together and publishing as a book?

Wendy


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Subject: RE: BS: Postcard from Milos 2014
From: Roger the Skiffler
Date: 29 Jun 14 - 08:32 AM

Thanks Wendy but there are far better writers on Greece (Brian Church, Ton Stone and the late John Ebdon and Patrick Leigh-Fermor among others).
Glad you enjoy my ramblings, we've got a few more years in us to visit a few more islands.

RtS


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Subject: RE: BS: Postcard from Milos 2014
From: GUEST,Eliza
Date: 29 Jun 14 - 11:30 AM

I was last on Milos in 1968. I sat near the sea and a delightful old lady came up with a scarf and put it round my shoulders, indicating that I would burn if I sat there. Then another one came out with a small plate on which she'd put feta cheese and some grapes. Greece was all so unspoilt in those days. I do remember well the wild flowers. I hesitate to go back to Greece in case my lovely memories are ruined. I liked Thera (Santorini) but I've heard it's changed a lot. Also Crete and Rhodes, Corfu and many other islands. Paradise all those years ago, but I'm afraid some are resorts for drunken youngsters and loud music nowadays.


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