Sunday, 27 September 2015

Last days - Goodbye, Skiathos, 27th/28th September.


Awoke to a clearing morning. No car, so the plan today was local swimming, sunning, and generally taking it easy.

Although we had our 'own' beach, we walked over and round to the next beach, which bore our hotel's name - Kanapitsa. This is looking back to ours - Tzaneria.

These apartments caught our eye, they hold a great position on top of the cliffs, but of course, it was much further from the bus stop!
Swings and roundabouts.

The beach was mostly deserted. We lay on two sunbeds, and they didn't even bother to collect the money. You could tangibly feel the place winding down.
 We did some swimming and sunning - as I said, lazy day.

After a couple of hours and cocktails, we caught the water taxi. 
We were amused by the drivers tee shirt! 

After we landed, we climbed again, up above the harbours.
This is the Bourtzoi cafe.

The new harbour jetty where the bigger ferries land.

Across town to our favourite rocks.

A panorama of Skiathos town - click on it to enlarge.

Soon, we reached the top, and the clock tower.

 Good views from here, and another tourist kindly took our picture.

We dropped back into town and had the most amazing 'burger' at the lobby. It was a stack of art, no other way to describe it. I was JUST going to take a picture, when Sue decided to adjust it for a better shot. It collapsed!
Still, that didn't impair the flavour at all :-)

Some of the transport we saw looked as if it was coming to the end of it's useful life.

We came back to the harbour for one last cocktail. We watched a local guy fishing, another painting his boat, generally just meandering around, a bit subdued, knowing it was our last day.
A Tom Collins and a Pina Collada helped to soften the mood.

We managed to get a last swim in later on to work up an appetite.

 A last meader up Papadiamanti street later in the evening, and the tell-tale signs that this was it - the end of the season - the last day. Shops and bars were closing early, and signs saying 'last day of sale'. All the hallmarks of another holiday year being over. Sad really.

Sue & I had our 'last supper' - I had beef and mushrooms in a sort of tagine, Sue had the lamb stifado. Again, delicious. 

We walked back to the bus stop under a romantic full moon, with it's beams glinting across the sea. 
This isn't a good picture, but it was a magical end to a wonderful holiday.

At breakfast, we were one of only three rooms left in the hotel.
 All that was left was to pack, and leave this lovely island.

It was SO lovely, even our shadows fell in love.

Saturday, 26 September 2015

Day eleven, relaxing, 26th September.

Start the day the Lobby way - two lovely lattes and a pain au chocolate.

After coffee, we took a steady stroll along Papadiamanti street and just absorbed the chilled atmosphere. No chill in the air though, it was a lovely, warm day. You can see a video of the street HERE  plus one of the infamous mopeds and motorbikes HERE.
We fancied walking to our favorite spot on the rocks. On the way we passed the Plakes restaurant. This was also on the list of places, but for now, it was closed.

The courtyard looks beautiful.

Their menu looked interesting too, with quite a lot more than the usual menus we'd seen in other places.

The ruined bar restaurant. We (and others we'd talked to) could not understand why this prime positioned place was in such disrepair, and why someone hadn't bought it and rejuvenated it. We'll never know, but I just think it looks the perfect place to make a killing as a restaurant. It even has it's own beach.

Sue watches yet another plane coming in. As you can see, the sky was quite overcast now.

The sun had gone in, so we started to walk back to town. On top of the rocks is one of the very many 'micro shrines' that we've seen. They really are EVERYWHERE. This is a close-up shot inside it.

I noticed a distinct line in the dirt below us. On closer inspectiuon, it was an ant track. We stopped to observe them. They are amazing creatures. You can see what they were up to by clicking  HERE

The sun was out again, but we could see heavy clouds coming in, so decided to make our way back.

As we walked up the road, we witnessed a magical moment. An old man was serenading his wife from the chair next to the fence. A neighbour was listening, along with us. No, he wasn't X factor material, but the passion and the simple act were very moving. You can hear him singing HERE

With thunder rolling, and the odd flash of lightning, we made for the shelter of a bar. We JUST got there, when there was the most almighty CRACK! of thunder, and the rain started.....
You can see a video of it HERE and HERE

The barmen were running around, gathering up the cushions that were getting soaked in the deluge. We sat and patiently waited, assisted by a couple of drinks. It abated quite soon, and we were able to walk into town, have a meal, and take the water taxi back to our hotel.

Friday, 25 September 2015

Day ten - Cinema, Banana beach, Skiathos back streets & Gravisi, 25th September

Last night, the re-showing of Mamma Mia was on at the cinema. With our re-scheduled tickets, we were able to get in to see it.
The seating was 'interesting', with movable seats (which lots of people did) and tables thoughtfully placed between the seats here and there to put drinks on.

They got the audience 'in the mood' with some traditional Greek dancing before the film. 
You can see a snatch of that HERE

There you see the moon above the cinema with no roof!

At various points, the staff rushed onstage and joined in. It all made for a very good performance, and not at all detracting from the film. You can see them HERE
Of course, this sort of thing is always better when you're actually there.

Today, we decided on a lazy day. We went to banana beach, a long, super-sandy stretch that, I would imagine, is very touristy in the summer. To be honest, I don't think we'd use it in the season. Even now, with only a few people on the beach, the small beach bar kiosk (not at all rustic like previous ones, more a prefabricated place) was belting out music, completely spoiling the place. Also, there was hardly anywhere to sit, unless you wanted to hire a sunbed set.

 There was a place at the far left of the beach called 'bananista' - a bar, 'resort' area, and further collection of sunbeds and parasols, plus a more swish beach bar (with swish prices to match). It was all geared towards getting your cash.

This is the view of the beach from the bar.
Note, all the 'cool' cushions scattered around.

We did hire beds and a parasol (grudgingly, on my part) and did exactly what we intended - nothing, apart from swimming and snorkeling.

Afterwards, we drove over to the Amaretto bar at the end of the airport runway and watched a couple of more hairy landings on the infamous airstrip.

We explored the back streets of the hillside Skiathos town, and it's well worth a look. Lots of 'locals only' cafes, bars and shops. Not that they wouldn't serve you, just that not many visitors seemed to venture up this far. 
We found this super little coffee and spice shop. He had a special piece of kit that roasted and ground beans. He then sold the coffee, about 40 varieties. We would have had a cup, but the strange thing is, he doesn't sell it to drink??

We had a very enjoyable meander around, before setting off into the other side of town to find 'Gravisi', a pizza place. Now, we make some of the best pizza you can get - the guy who owns Gravisi said HIS was the best on Skiathos, so we just HAD to 'go compare'.
A beautiful little hidden gem, complete with 'Romeo and Juliet' balcony, and romantic outside tables with candles & gingham tablecloths.

I'm glad we only ordered ONE cheesy garlic bread as a starter!!!!!
Our is 8 pieces of baguette!
This one was HUGE, and stuffed FULL of cheese.

We really couldn't compare, as this was a totally different animal from ours, but we have to say, it WAS good - thanks Konstantinos :-)

Tomorrow, we take the car back, warm but cloudy, they say.

Thursday, 24 September 2015

Day nine - the Kastro and Kastro beach, 24th September.

Awoke to a VERY hot day - the beach was calling. We'd heard that the Kastro, and Kastro beach were really good. A bit out of the way, but that didn't bother us. 
After assesing the rain damage to the road, we parked the car and started to walk down the dirt road. You can see the sort of damage. You really need a 4x4 here.

But - to our astonishment, within only about 200 yards, the road turned into this!!!!

It was like this all the way to the car park above the beach. But, as we'd already set off, we continued.
Another of those little chapels was halfway down, so we went in (if only to get some brief shade from the sun).

Again, far more ostentatious than you would expect.

The road steepened downwards, and the views started to open up.
Ahead was 'The Kastro', where we were going to visit before going down to the beach. The Kastro has a LOT of history. The people of Skiathos town upped sticks and moved here en masse to avoid plundering pirates.
You can read all about it HERE and HERE

Near to the car park, and just before the path splits to the Kastro and the beach, we came across this bizarre building. There was no-one manning it, but this guy was playing DARTS!! Apparently, his girlfriend worked in the beach cafe, and he was just killing time until she finished.
Click on this picture to read the wooden sign in the roof.
Clear blue skies, and white stone -  a recipe for HEAT!
The path is well-walked but the brush was very sharp to the legs.
Looking over to mainland Greece.
The promontory was protected by walls, and access was only via a drawbridge (now disused). We started to see the remains of some of the ruined buildings, but some had been restored, along with one or two chapels.

Information on the drawbridge. (Click on the picture to read).
Remains of the drawbridge.

The very well protected entrance gate.
 Canon to repel would-be invaders.

Info' plaque.
It was now getting uncomfortably hot to be clambering about on rocks. The sea beckoned, but we knew we had to do all our exploring now, as it might be the last time we come here. We went around, looking in the restored places and enjoying the history of the place.

How the houses would have looked inside.
 Serious set of keys!

What, what??? Never seen a canon in a kitchen before!

A boat came into the beach. 
I REALLY hope he's not got a sound system playing :-(

This was the end of the Kastro. When we got to the beach, I donned my fins, and swam between those rocks.

We went to the very top of the Kastro, marked by a flag, and took the touristy pictures.

All over the place, remains of the houses could be seen. When you think around 3,000 people lived here, it must have been 'cosy'.

Inside another chapel.
There was an old Greek guy in here, a really nice bloke. He was very willing to talk - he even offered us a drink of Ouzo - and he told us his name was William. I remarked this was a strange name for a Greek guy, then he told us how his family were related to Kaiser Bill (Wilhelm). Fascinating stuff!

The clouds today weren't at all threatening.
Just beautiful.

So, sweating, we left the Kastro and dropped to the beach.

 A couple of small boats were in, but not noise or bustle. I think it took about ten minutes before we were in the water.
 Another beach shack/taverna.
Time to get beach-ready!

The beach was fine shingle, but very pleasant.
These rocks made for good snorkeling in among the crevices.
Little boats bobbing made it all very photogenic. There were several sun beds on the beach, all in poor repair, BUT they were free! We dragged two over to our spot.

Sue was in first, and I got the call; 'come on in - the water's lovely'.

How could I resist (as if I WANTED to).
We spent a lot of time in and out of the crystal clear and warm water.

We found this little chap sunning too.

But soon, lunch called (and cold beer).

We drank their beer and relaxed, taking in the view and conversation going on around us.

We weren't ready to eat, so I asked what time they closed. She said about five, but she would give us a shout. She said she had some fresh local fish, which we'd seen going out of the kitchen to other guests.
A strange decoration on the counter - three canon balls!

So, we went back to the beach for more sunning and snorkeling to work up an appetite.
This is the tiny kitchen, from which wonders come!

And this was the fare - still wriggling about.

Fried local fish, cold beer, Greek salad (just LOOK at the size of that slab of Feta on top), and we had to say, some of the BEST chips we've ever tasted!!

Two very happy customers.

I often wondered how they get supplies down to such places as this.
The answer is simple - donkey work!

Reluctantly, the time came that we had to leave :-(
Sue crossed the rickety bridge (no trolls underneath) and we set off in the dying sun, back to the car. It's a good job it was relenting, as the climb back up was very steep.

The reason we had to leave early(ish) was tonight was the re-scheduled trip to the cinema to see Mamma Mia. So, after a shower and change of clothes, we set off on the water taxi to Skiathos town.