the pitter patter of little feet

This is Lainee. Her name is actually Lady but I’ve always liked the name Lainee and its so close to Lady… New life, new name, you know?

Lainee was given to me by a friend in Holland. I so missed having a poodle in my life and I miss Montana and Romeo so much… Little Lainee is helping me fill that gap.

She’s the sweetest little girl. 10 years old and so quiet and accepting on the huge changes in her life. Over the last two days she’s left the only home she’s known, been on busses, trams, trains, an airplane and now a ferry.

Today she’ll be in the second home since I got her, first mom’s house in Athens, next the house I’m staying in on Paros, and later (once I’m actually in the house I’m buying) she’ll move yet again.

In a weird way, Lainee is so much like my heart dog, Billybear. Its uncanny how much she looks like him. Same size, same colour even though she’s apricot (or was) and Billy was silver beige with very dark brown pigment.

I love having her, but its funny how quickly you get unused to having a dog. Or at least not having a yard when you have a dog. All the walks I have to take so she can pee or poop. We still haven’t worked out our routines and I don’t yet speak her language so I’m not sure what she’s trying to tell me a lot of the time. However when she grabs her lead I figure she needs to go out!

The quick trip to Holland was great. I have always loved Holland and every time I go there I feel like I could so easily live there.

Lainee’s neighbours included a miniature horse.

Have you ever seen a black and white swan? How beautiful.

Brunch in Amsterdam: cinnamon pancake with raisins and banana. Yum.

So… about the house… when will I move in you might ask… Everyone does. No one knows. Not even God at this stage. I keep following up, asking my lawyer and the agent, but apparently there is still paperwork to find, sort and submit. Really… You have no idea how not organised things are in Greece.

You know how things work in Australia? Well, here is nothing like that! In Australia I’d make an offer on a place with a written contract, the sellers would haggle, we’d settle on a price, I’d put down a deposit which would be kept in trust, we’d have a conditional contract with a time limit on the various aspects included in the contract (ie finance, building inspection, whatever) and once those deadlines were reached it would be unconditional and I’d have a settlement date I would work towards.

Here its done without a written offer or contract, without the conditions, without a settlement date. You basically say you want to buy a place then leave it in the hands of the universe. If I hadn’t pushed to put a deposit on it I would still not be sure the sale is going through.

Anyway, I’m so eager to get into my own place. To start nesting as it were. I’ve already bought some stuff for the new place, already raided mom’s cupboards for stuff I’ll need (she has an entire house of things I can take she says). I’ve filled bags with some pots and pans, some mugs, loads of NEW Tupperware she bought in the 70s… and cutlery. So I’m taking a few things to save myself some money while stocking up the new place.

When I get into the new place…

Cause as I said, NO ONE knows when I’ll get in there.

At least things are moving. I have a place to stay for now. I have a job. A car. And a poodle. All I need now is a home and that’s on its way…

z

the sirocco


Trying to catch up on the blog, I thought I’d mention the sirocco that hit the island of Paros about a week ago. Paros almost got blown all the way to Thessalonki. Seriously. It was one vicious wind, worse than it was even in winter. Not cold. Just incredibly windy.

Trees came down all over the place, leaves and broken twigs filled the small cobblestoned streets, anything that wasn’t tied down was lost. I found clothing around the neighbourhood, blown off clothes lines. My uncle lost the eski off his verandah – it was found in two pieces in parts of the surrounding neighbourhood.

Like anything, its a matter of perspective.

To me it was noisy and annoying, but no big deal. The window in the 2nd bedroom blew open and I couldn’t get it shut, but hey, no worries. I fixed it the next day. The bigger deal was the alarm or phone that rang every 5-10 minutes in a neighbouring house all night long. Timed perfectly so that you couldn’t get to sleep cause you were waiting for the next ring, then just as you were slipping off it would ring again. Grrr.

But to other people, the sirocco was a lot more trouble.

To my uncle Taki it meant a whole lot of work. He complained that all day he was running around with a screw driver in his hand, fixing things which the wind had blown open, blown apart or blown away.

To my uncle George it was a disaster. The wind had broken his apricot tree and he’d lost all his tomato plants.

Everyone has a different perspective.

I’m glad those winds don’t happen often but its ok. I’m used to strong winds. I lived in Tasmania where sometimes buildings would lose their roof.

z

ps… still haven’t met my toy poodle yet…

life is full of adventures

Its been an action packed weeks since I last posted. First there was the Easter disaster we managed to come out of ‘almost’ unscathed…

Then there was a whole lot of other things which just happened…

Here’s a small taste of how the entire last week went:

One day I had a plan – I was meeting my mom at 5pm to take her and the 3 aunts (her sisters, aunts # 1-3) to visit another aunt (a sister in law, aunt #4).

(I have a build-up of elderly aunts here…)

Anyway, I set off to meet mom, the 3 aunts and another aunt (another sister in law, aunt #5) is at the bottom of my stairs, limping… She’d fallen down some stairs and needed a lift to the health centre. Please can I take her? Sure, but I have to go get the car (too far for her to limp) and take mom and aunts 1-3 (full car) to aunt 4, but I’d return to get her. Only ‘don’t tell my mom, she’ll worry’. Fine.

Off I go, pick up the mom and aunts 1-3, drop them off at the aunt 4, amidst the flurry of hellos I zip off ‘on an errand, be right back!’ and dash back to pick up aunt 5. Take her to the health centre. Wait a while. She gets bandaged up, nothing broken, rest etc etc. Take her back home. Rush back to where I’d left mom and aunts 1-3 with aunt 4.

Ah. Life is full of little adventures, isn’t it?

Then there was the whole ‘get the dog spayed’ adventure.

See, my uncle (and entire family) has fallen in love with a little mutt which has chosen them to be her family. She’s the sweetest little thing, big body, tiny legs… Anyway, she was in season and I suggested (urged, convinced) them to get her spayed for her own good as well as for the good of my own mental health. I’ve become the defacto keeper of the dog’s health, being, as I am, the family dog expert.

So I booked her in and me and my cousin Peter took her to the vet and waited to pick her up. Took in a frightened little girl, took home a sleepy frightened little girl. She’s fine now btw… she’s fine when the cone of shame is off, but when its on she’s a pitiful bundle of fear. Poor little thing. Still, better than puppies we’d have to find homes for!

While waiting to pick her up my aunt called (another aunt, lets call her #6) to see how she was. A worried mother, you know. Peter said ‘Listen theia (aunt in greek), we went in to pick her up but they have another little girl dog there that’s much prettier. We’re thinking of bringing her back with us instead’…

He’s a cruel man that cousin of mine!

Then there was the Two Lunch day.

Let me explain… Having a ton of elderly aunts on the island means that I have a ton of people I ‘should’ vist. Most years I come to Paros I don’t visit. Who has the time? I mean they’re like mom’s second cousins or her third cousin’s daughters sister in law or something obscure that, frankly, means nothing to me. I won’t even recognise most of them if I see then on the street. Yet mom (and they) expect me to visit and not just once…

So, now I’m living on Paros I thought it only fair to drop in and visit this one particular aunt (#7) I haven’t seen in over 15 years. Now of course she calls me to invite me for lunch or just to stop in for a coffee. Which is understandable. But its like just another obligation in an already busy life, right?

Well, this aunt invited me over for lunch on Saturday. I put it in my calendar and, now I’m not grooming full time and don’t live by my calendar, I promplty forgot about it. Come Saturday I went and picked up a friend to visit the Tao Centre for their clothing swap meet (great idea, take in things you no longer want or need and pick up something new someone else no longer needs. Great recycling). We went, then sat to have some lunch – green curry, YUM.

And the phone rings. My aunt is like ‘where are you? we’re waiting.’

Oh crap!

Two lunches that day.

Now I’m in Hollad. I just love Holland. It was always a place I wanted to live in but never really made the committment to do it. It was always Australia (for my heart) and Greece (for family).

I’m in Holland to visit my bestest friend Inge and her family and to pick up a toy poodle. Yay! I’ll no longer be poodle free!!! I so miss having a snuggle buddy of my own. More on that later!

z

things took a nasty turn

Yesterday was a day of adventure.

First mom came by work and said I just HAD to go to church to see the taking down of Jesus off the cross. So I got off work early to go cause it was happening at 12pm according to mom and the church Easter program.

People worshiping at the cross.

I stood in the church for well over an hour listening to the chanting (ok, mostly nice), people watching, thinking about things I should not be thinking about in church, breathing in someone’s stinky breath and/or farts (not sure which was worse, actual farts or farty breath)… I swear. I believe the priests print out a schedule and then delay delay delay cause they enjoy having a full church. Either that or they all just have Greek timing…

And when they finally took Jesus off the cross it was a huge anti-climax. I filmed it. It took 23 seconds. One priest climbed on the ladder and unscrewed the bolts holding the figure of Jesus on the cross, another stood below with a sheet, the first guy lowered him while the second guy threw the sheet over him and carried him away…

Wow. I waited over an hour for that…

Apparently it was another hour before they brought Jesus out and placed him in the Epitaphio which they then walk around town at night.

Obviously I didn’t stick around for that bit. I went home for a nap, knowing I’d be out for the Epitaphio procession at 12am.

Yes, you can tell I’m not overly religious. I’m greek orthodox as all greeks are. Born into it, christened into it. But going to church is pretty much something I only do at Easter, rarely at Christmas plus the occasional wedding, christening or funeral.

Yet greek Easter is something special for me. Probably cause the rituals are so lovely, and because we always spent Easter on Paros when I was growing up and its really beautiful here. I’ve tried attending Easter celebrations other places but its never as good as on Paros.

It could also be cause for 2 years I joined the choir and got to know the hymns sung at the procession of the Epitaphio on Good Friday. I was so looking forward to it. Its been many years since I was on Paros for the Epitaphio.

So all was going well last night till we (Zefi, her daughter Marouso and niece Eleni) and I decided we’d go to Marpissa to see the Epitaphio there first cause they also do re-enactments, living art, something I’d never seen.

I must explain here that different regions or villages have different times for their Epitaphio. Marpissa is at 10.30, Prodromos at 10 and Parkia at 12. We thought we could do both Marpissa and Parikia.

Marpissa and Prodromos are 2 small villages on a mountain top on Paros, right next to each other. We got confused in all the traffic and parked in Prodromos (which also does living art) but decided to stick to the original plan and go to Marpissa. So we walked.

Only about 1.4 klm but it felt like a lot more…

Once there, we joined the throng, we didn’t even see the Epitaphio let alone hear the chanting… If there was any! It was not much fun.

The resurrection of Lazarus.

We managed to see 3 of the tableaus before Marouso tripped and sprained her ankle. That was the end for us. We put her in a taxi with some others and got them to drop her at the car while we walked back.

Palm Sunday

Mary Magdalene.

The plan was a good one. Take her to the medical center, which is right next to the church of Panagia where the best Epitaphio in the world is. It wasn’t till I started searching to show you what I mean about what is so special about Good Friday on Paros, that I realised not all Epitaphios have a choir singing hymns… The best example I could find was this and this, not exactly the same…

I was so looking forward to it, it had been millions of years since my last easter on Paros.

We piled into the car and about 1klm out of the village I hit what I thought was an average pothole (they have a magnetic force field I am powerless to resist). Turns out it was a mile deep crater with edges like shark teeth that could have swallowed an entire Volkswagon combi van…

I blew out both tyres on the right hand side of the car.

Flat. Pancakes. The car was sitting on its rims.

Who has 2 spares?

I didn’t have a warning triangle. I didn’t even have my paperwork in the car cause I’d taken it to work yesterday thinking I should have a photocopy of it all for home just in case, then changed bags and left it at home along with my drivers license.

And we were on a hill, on a curve. And greeks drive like maniacs.

So we did the best we could. We took turns signalling oncoming traffic using our mobiles and calling anyone and everyone who might have advice on what to do. I didn’t know if I was covered for roadside assistance with my temporary insurance, we didn’t know if there was roadside assistance on Paros, I know nothing Jon Snow.

I think over 100 cars went past. Most slowed as we signaled. I swear some either ignored us or sped up at the lunatics waving flashlights in the dark. I was abused by one idiot for not putting out a warning triangle… like “yeah moron, what do you think the waving of mobiles is all about??? We just like playing chicken with traffic on greek mountainsides?”

Only 3 cars stopped to offer help.

Wow.

If I was in Tasmania (I’d have called roadside assistance for one thing) but I’d have had almost everyone stop to give me a hand.

In the end the fire brigade turned up cause the message they got was that we were in a ditch and had one person with a broken ankle… one of the guys was royally pissed off and stormed off in disgust when it turned we weren’t lying in pools of blood.

Two of the other guys stopped traffic and rolled the car to a little spot on the side of the road where we left it and got a ride back to town.

Oh, and the police called. Turns out they got the same message. They wanted to know if we were hurt. They ran the license plate and said the car was still registered in the previous owners name. What fun. Now I have to chase that up too. That was meant to have been done the by the day I picked up the car weeks ago!!!

Upshot? I didn’t get to see one single Epitaphio.

Happy Easter. Hopefully the Anastasi tonight will be uneventful.

I won’t be driving anywhere!

z

its true. i’m moving

I haven’t been on the blog for ages. Some of you may have noticed. For those that didn’t, not to worry. You didn’t miss much. Mainly cause I didn’t post for months.

Well, I’m back. At least I’m sort of back. In a whole new direction.

While I was in Greece I realised that my heart was on Paros, with my mom and my family. I missed them and I missed Paros. I’d always dreamed of living on Paros and now I’m ready to make it a reality.

I’d always planned to retire on Paros, but I realised that I really didn’t want to wait that long. I want to spend quality time with my mom and more time with family. I chose to live far from my family from the age of 23… its time to be back with them.

I knew I was in trouble when I didn’t hate Athens the way I usually do…

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When I got back from Greece I had to make some really hard decisions, have some really hard conversations with Wayne, and look into my heart and make the decision which would be best for me.

Its been a really stressful and difficult time, hence the blog silence. I just didn’t know what to write. Things were confusing and I couldn’t plan anything since every single move depended on something else to fall into place first. It was like the goalposts were constantly being moved. Exhausting. Depressing.

Yet also exciting.

I love Paros. My heart has been there for years. Paros IS Greece to me… to all of us in our family. So the prospect of living there full time is like a dream come true.

Most of my family and friends in Athens have their doubts… Paros? In winter? There’s nothing to do there! You’ll be bored and lonely!

Ha. They obviously haven’t lived in the country in Tasmania…

I look forward to spending a few quiet months ‘finding myself’… making friends, reconnecting with my creative side… living quietly and just being. I believe its the right decision for me at this stage of my life. A new life.

Of course it won’t be easy. I need to earn a living so I’ll have to find a job. I’ll do anything till I find my place.

Then there are the heartbreaking bits to moving. Mom doesn’t want me to take a dog over. Montana is too old for such a trip but I had planned to take Romeo – my living, breathing, poodle security blanket. My support. My very own family.

But with mom not wanting a dog in her house, with me not having my own place (yet) and no job (yet) and not knowing where I’ll be for the next few months… I had to concede that she has a point. It will be better for the dogs to find a new home in Australia and not have to face change after change.

I’m heartbroken. I never planned to be without my dogs…

Ok. Well. I’m trying very hard to think positive right now.

We sold our house. That in itself was a horrible experience. It was quick, but it wasn’t without a ton of stress. The buyers from hell. That’s all I have to say about that. But its done now. And we have a settlement date of November 16.

30 days.

Can you say RUSH?

Can you say exhausted?

I’ve been photographing and listing stuff for sale for weeks but now I’m stepping it up a notch. Or four. I’m having a huge garage sale on the weekend (part of the garage sale trail) and of COURSE today its been thundering and pelting down with rain.

Always happens. I’m a weather system all of my own. Need rain? I’ll move there and bring it with me. All I need to do is plan an outdoor activity. Guaranteed to bucket down.

So… I have 4 weeks to pack up, sell up, clean up and move out.

I’m getting there but there’s still so much to do.

The plan is to move out of here, find a home for my babies (the poodles!), go to Melbourne for a while, visit family and friends in Canberra, maybe even Sydney, sell the car, go to Greece.

You know what plans are, don’t you? Those things we make which we have to change again and again.

I’ve moved back and forth from Greece to Australia and back many times but it never seemed so hard before. Maybe its cause this time I have my own home and years of accumulated possessions to sort through. The last times I’d been a student or living in rentals so never had so much.

Whatever.

Its happening.

Stay tuned for the new adventure.

z

 

beautiful decay

Its been a while since I last posted. I’m back home in Tasmania, back at work (flat out) and up to my elbows in chores to do… There really is no rest for the wicked – I must have been very naughty in a previous life!

So while I catch you up on everything that’s happening in a suitably vague way, I’ll share these photos I took on my last day on Paros.

As part of the Paros Festival there was the opportunity to visit a few of the old mansions in Parikia. Absolutely gorgeous… yet falling apart from lack of maintenance for most of them.

You know how much I love old places and old things.

You’ll notice a lot of window shots. There’s something extremely beautiful in these old windows with their damaged timber, chipped paint and the sunlight streaming through.

Not to mention the floorboards… I’d adore those floorboards in my home…

Even the old concrete sink. A bit more shallow than anything we’re used to these days, but so big and wide.

So, what’s been happening in my life?

Well, its cold… Got back from 30 plus degrees on Paros to single digits in Tasmania. A bit of a shock to system.

Meanwhile I’m mourning my tan, which is fading fast. By the time the weather is warm enough here to expose flesh I’ll be pastey white again. Sigh.

The dogs are all well and happy to see me. The horses, turkeys, ducks and chooks don’t care if I’m here or not, as long as they get fed.

Ungrateful sods…

Work has been flat out. Grooming daily. Of course that means so much less time to do housework and craft projects.

I miss the crafting.

Not so much the house cleaning…

Its good to be back home though. There’s nothing like being in your own space, surrounded by your own stuff and poodles!

Though I would seriously love some free time to create.

No worries. It’ll happen… one day I’ll start something and then I’ll start another thing and before you know it I’ll be sharing new projects!

z

the view of paradise

There is no place in the world where I love the view as much as from the back porch of my uncle’s house at Souvlia – a little hill that juts out into the water at the entrance to the bay of Parikia on Paros.

I always dreamed that one day I’d be able to have this view every day of my life. Its so peaceful, the cicadas, the sounds of the ferries coming and going from the port are dulled by the sea and sun. No wonder I sleep so well here.

When we were kids we used to see Souvlia as a type of prison. Its 3klm from the town of Parikia and there was nothing for tweenies and teens to do up here. We all wanted to be where the action was – the bars and clubs and boys!

Instead we felt we were exiled on this lonely little hill. Sure, we could swim in the bay below and we did that pretty much all day. But at night we wanted excitement and a social life.

Now all I really want is to sit here and enjoy the view with a good book or good company, both of which I have here.

The first week on Paros was full of catching up with old friends and the 2 cousins who live on Paros full time, the second week was just me and mom and now I have one cousin to hang out with and another arrives at the end of the week. I am having a great time.

Though as I mentioned before, I sleep well. I’ve never been able to nap in the afternoon – siesta time. When I was a kid it was the time I’d lie restlessly in bed reading books while mom slept. When we stayed in town at my grandmother’s house my brother and I would sneak out and explore the streets of Parikia.

Now I sleep every afternoon, and sometimes I sleep well into the evening. Unbelievable. Yesterday mom woke me up at 7pm and I thought it was 7am…. I’ve never slept so soundly in my life!

Those were the days… back then farmers would roam the streets in the early morning with their donkeys laden with produce or milk and call out their wares as they wound their way round town. I made friends with every single donkey, obviously.

As for the friends, its funny now to be friends with the guys I grew up around. The thing back then was to walk along the ‘paralia’ (esplanade) arm in arm with a girlfriend and walk past the group of guys who we secretly had our eyes on. They would call out to us to come join them, comment on our beauty and we’d hold our noses in the air and pretend not to hear them.

Back then my nickname was Australia for obvious reasons and so we’d stroll by and the boys would call out ‘Hello Australia! Come join us for a drink’.

Now I catch up with these guys I’ve known since I was 10 years old and they’re like old friends though we never really hung out together.

Its all one big family in a way, everyone knows everyone or knows your family. Like any small town. I used to want to move away from a small town where everyone knew who I was and what I was up do. Now I find comfort in it.

Plus now I just don’t care what anyone thinks of me. Not that I did back then, but my parents did, which meant I had to care too if I wanted to ever be allowed out again!

Hence quite a bit of sneaking around happend back then…

I think I better get going. The sea is as smooth as glass and it beckons…

z

i love my mother, i really do…

A typical little cobblestone street in Old Parikia, Paros

But seriously…

This is how conversations with her go:

“Have you seen Yianni yet?”

“Which Yianni?”

“Your cousin Dimitris son. He works at the bar next to the chemist owned by Fragisko’s daughter.”

“No. I haven’t had a chance to see him yet.”

“The poor thing. He’s suffered so much these last few years.”

“Who, Yianni?”

“No, Fragisko. His daughter got married and divorced and her aunt got sick and now they’re all living out of town. But he’s lost all his money you know.”

“Who? Fragisko?”

“No. His aunt’s son.”

(names have been changed to protect the innoncent)

The Evinos bar overlooks the water

How on earth am I supposed to follow an entire conversation with the woman?

Firstly, she knows everyone on Paros. Secondly, she’s related to half of them by blood and the other half through marriage or divorce or proximity. Which means I’m related to them all and therefore I should not only know them all, remember them all, but care about what they’re doing, what their children and grandchildren and cousins and neighbours are doing.

While some houses have been restored, some are falling apart

Sigh. My father had his own way of dealing with it. When out with mom and she’d start her extensive explanations:

“Did you see that guy over in the corner with the blue cap on? That’s Anna’s husband. You remember Anna, she brought us some figs last week. They live on the same street as Marina, opposite Vassili and Filio, you know, the big house with the blue windows and the palm tree in their yard. Well… Strati, Anna’s husband had heart surgery last year and he was forced to retire. Now he spends his days fishing. He gave Artemisia the biggest fish to cook for dinner last night. You remember Artemisia, she’s the one you met when we got married, of course she was only a girl then, now she’s got grandkids. Two of them are studying in university now. I think one is studying to be a lawyer, like his father. Artemisia’s oldest son. He’s the one that helped my brother Nicko with his troubles with the land he owned. The land on St Peter’s, next door to the area where my 2nd cousin Stellios grows olives. And they’re such great olives! I must remember to ask his daughter Maritsa for some. She works at the bakery on the top road. The one next door to Babi’s shop…. you know the one…

Dad would say “may god be with him” before mom could get too far into her ramblings and cut her off. Yeah, rude, but I think I get it…

The Castro in Parikia

I swear I can’t keep track of the people and its impossible to follow cause she jumps from one subject to another, from one person to another without warning.

I’ve always been able to talk “woman”. That’s when you get together with girlfriends and you talk incessantly, changing subjects back and forth as you go. No problem. But even I can’t keep up with mom.

Taking the boat across the port to the beach

But… she IS my mother and I love her. And she makes me fried red peppers, which I love, and she bought me the best home made cottage cheese (mizithra) in the world. I really wish she hadn’t. I just ate a ton of it on Elite rusks (a greek brand) with honey. I’m so full…

Sunset at the Meltemi Bar on Paros

My favourite beach, Krios

And another thing. Its been 5 years since my last trip, and 8 since the one before. My blog from that first trip has disappeared cause it was with Shine and I wasn’t able to save it. But there was a whole section on that about the clothes being on the line.

Mom loves to remind me about things. Like the clothes I washed and left on the line to dry. She’ll tell me to put them on the line. Then she’ll tell me to take them off the line later. At least 5 times.

“Don’t forget to take the clothes off the line” must be one of her favourite sentences in the world. Well, at least it was 8 years ago.

I’m happy to report that its still her favourite sentence. I washed one load of washing yesterday and heard the sentence at least three times.

Good to see mom is still in fine form!

z

syros for 3 days

This is not a pool, its the mediteranean sea!

One of the best things about coming to Greece this year is that I’ve been able to catch up with my old school friends from high school. I’m one of the luckiest people in the world to have gone to Campion School (an English school in Athens) and that our group has been having reunions once every couple of years on the greek islands.

How many high schools do you know that do that?

Galissas beach on Syros

Of course, living in Australia (and Tasmania no less) I’ve only been able to make it to 2 of the reunions so far. I believe the first was in 2007 on Egina, and its been a different island for each one since. I first found out about the reunions on FB just in time to miss the one on Paros. Bummer.

But I was able to put in my 2 cents worth and the next one was on Naxos where my cousin Zefi (the non-Famelis one) had the Mojito Bar. We had the best time ever. We spent our time on the beach out the front of the bar, or in the bar. I remember one particular night, drinking mojitos and dancing on tables with a bunch of Norwegian guys. Actually, I don’t remember all that much about that night, but I do have photos…

Anyway, when I found out there was a reunion planned on Syros this year, and that I’d be in Greece at the time, it was GREAT! I’m there!

Saint Stephano – a church built in a cave

I’d never been to Syros before and I was curious. Syros is a unique island for one of the Cyclades as its half catholic and half greek orthodox. Its also got the most amazing history and architecture in the old city of Ermoupolis as it was settled by the rich who built beautiful venetian style mansions. Ermoupolis is the capital of the Cyclades islands.

Despite that, getting here was a whole lot of trouble. Since I’d booked the hotel well in advance – like 5 or 6 months ago – I figured I could get ferry tickets from Paros to Syros easily. I mean you can see Syros quite clearly from Parikia, how hard can it be!

Well… turns out there are only 3 direct ferries from Paros to Syros a week. Even in summer. And not on the day I needed to travel. Naturally.

See the blue rocks? Its called Serpentine. Click on the image to read about it.

Syros is the seat of the local government, where the big hospitals are, where the court is… you get the picture. Yet, if you want to go to Syros from Paros (1 hour trip by ferry) you have to take a ferry to Mykonos or Tinos (the ferries stop at both, its up to you where you want to get off and wait to catch another ferry) and from there to Syros. A one hour trip, which would cost you about 7.5 euros direct, ends up costing a minimum of 32 euros (cause we found the cheapest option) and taking a minimum of 4 hours including your stopover.

Only in Greece.

Maybe. I can’t speak for India, Egypt or Uzbekistan.

Speaking of Uzbekistan… I did an Ancestry DNA test! I was so excited cause I’m convinced that my mother is a decendant of Ghengkis Khan. (I’m not talking about her child rearing methods, mind you, just her ancestry). And I was right! But I’ll tell you more about that in another post…

So, back to the fun in the sun and crazy antics of middle aged high school buddies.

Firstly, I was joined on the reunion by my good friend Inge from the Netherlands. And her daughter. They have now been given honorary Campionite status and are welcome to join in future reunions, which is great cause they really enjoyed it.

The best part of the Syros reunion (apart from seeing friends and all the catching up) was the day we chartered a boat to visit some of the beaches only accessible by boat. We had a floating bar and a BBQ on the beach. What more can you ask for?

The incredible blue waters of the Aegean Sea.

The hotel we stayed at was great, really pretty decor, great breakfast buffet and a lovely pool where we spent quite a lot of time.

Unfortunately we didn’t get a chance to explore Ermoupolis due to bad timing and forgetfulness (mine) so I’ll have to visit another day. Quel dommage! (showing off my high school French…)

Oh, and you know how the world is going to hell in a plastic bucket? Its true. There is so much plastic rubbish in the sea that it seems that even on the most pristine beaches, you’ll fish out the odd bit of plastic bag. It really sucks. It makes it so much more obvious that we really need to make an effort to recycle and consider our choices.

One of the bars on Paros is using spaghetti with holes in it instead of plastic straws. What a brilliant idea. You can drink your cocktail through it, then eat it… We bought ourselves a packet and carried it everywhere with us.

We found there’s one minor flaw in our plan. You actually have to remember to order your drink without a straw. Otherwise you may as well just use the plastic one they give you and save your pasta for another time… We’ll get better at it, I’m sure.

z

chicken rolls and other beach stuff

This is a photo of my view as I sat here this afternoon, after a nice lunch with the ‘oldies’. That’s the aunts and uncles, though now they don’t feel as old as they did when we were all younger… when they were my current age and younger.

I’d done my ‘auntie’ dip – an hour or so in the water swimming and meeting people, cause of course you strike up friendships in the sea. Or at least I do. Then I came home, had lunch and sat a while to enjoy the view. After that I went to bed to read again and fell asleep…

And woke up at 8.30pm.

Just in time for dinner.

I’d had plans for tonight, but I was still feeling too dopey to go into town. Its about a 3klm walk which is great exercise but I’m still feeling zonked and now its fully dark and the view is still great with all the glittering lights of town and distant Syros visible. I think I might just stay here…

So much for going for an afternoon swim. I mustn’t ever go to bed in the afternoon again!

Meanwhile I’m sunburnt and itching like I have fleas. Thankfully I didn’t get the painful sunburn, I skipped straight to itchy. Its really annoying as scratching hurts but oh man, I need to scratch badly.

I got a call from my cousin, Zefi* this afternoon saying “Hey Fuzz**, next time you blog don’t forget to mention chicken rolls”. Well, I’m nothing if not responsive to the demands of my readers. At least it proves that someone reads my blog, even if it is just family and people I guilt into it…

But before I tell you about chicken rolls and what on earth they’re doing on the beach, let me deal with the pesky asterixes.

*There are only 3 Zefis in our family, unlike the amount of Peters, or the amount of Nicks in My Big Fat Greek Wedding. I’m the original Zefi, there’s one living on Crete currently who has a different last name, and then there’s the little usurper, aka newspaper reporter, aka Little Zefi. When we lived in Griffith, NSW, I was THE Zefi till the little usurper came along and took over my name and peed in my shoes cause we wouldn’t play with her.

A few years later she came to live with us in Athens and earned the nickname ‘newspaper reporter’ cause everything she heard or saw she’d report back to my mom. As you can see, she really knew how to make friends and influence people.

**Two Zefi Famelis sharing a room (and two Peter Famelis sharing a caravan on the roof (that’s a whole other story) in the house in Athens got a bit confusing. So I was big Zef and she was little Zef. I never liked what big Zef implied, but what can you do?

Anyway, we played around with our names, as you do, and for a while I was Ifez and my brother was Retep. In the spirit on backwardness I went through our room while little Zef was out reporting on some other unsuspecting person and played a joke on her.

I went through every single thing she owned and every bit of her side of the room and switched things around. The order of her drawers was swapped. The sides of her desk were swapped. Her books were reversed on the shelves. I even went through and undid all her neatly folded socks (cause she was an annoyingly good little girl) and did them up again with unmatched partners. I left a note saying ‘beware, Ifez was here’.

She was still finding mixed up things months later. Best practical joke ever.

Anyway, Ifez morphed into Fuzz and my aunt still calls me Fuzz now. In fact when Zefi and I get together we call eachother Fuzz and Fuzzywuzzy. I love that girl.

Now back to the beach and who put out the chicken rolls.

While in Athens Zefi took me tankini shopping cause I don’t wear bikinis any more. As you may remember if you read a previous post on the subject. During that time she introduced me to the strappy bikini, aka, the chicken roll.

Look:

You can see the similarities.

Anyway, rest assured I did not get anything like that. Though now I’m thinking about getting a bikini. Those tankinis are nice but they sure take a long time to dry! And they’re so hard to change when you’re wet.

I am now convinced that there are three stages in life: 1. when we’re young and pretty and wear bikinis, 2. when we get older and care what people think so we hide our imperfect bodies with full swimsuits (or burkas), and 3. when we no longer care what anyone thinks and go buy another bikini.

I’m at stage 3. I think. Its a close call.

z