The Greek Islands have always been special to me. Back in the heady days of the 80’s, I was there a lot – usually with my partner in crime, Rich, or sometimes just me and my dodgy mullett. . Crete, Rhodes, Zante, Kefalonia, Skiathos, Aegina and others all served a fabulous mix of beach bars, bum bags, ouzo, motor bikes and Gyros kebabs that gave us a lifetime of sun drenched, booze fuelled memories.
You can’t, of course, ever go back. Well…you can, but you can’t expect it to be the same. The days of punching the air at ‘ Living on A Prayer’ in some back street club are certainly fewer, if not gone, but the allure of simple pleasures certainly remain.
Sifnos, an Island in the Cyclades region, is not widely known ( a good thing, in my book, as it keeps the hoards away ). It is beautiful, friendly and welcoming …even if it’s name does spring to mind some kind of unwanted infection. There’s no airport – you fly to Athens and catch a ferry. All very civilised and ‘ stress free’ as it chugs its way across the Aegean Sea, leaving the chaos of Brexit behind us.
Home for the week for us three amigos – Andy, Les and I – was an Air B ‘n’ B house, just outside Artemonas, a sublime, immaculate village that oozes charm. We were told by the host to wait in the main square for her dad, Setos, who would take us to the property.. Setos duly arrived and pointed in the direction of his car. ‘ It ees la voiture rouge’ he explained in an impressive mix of English and French. Just ahead of us was parked what looked like an abandoned vehicle. Between the rust and scratches, however, there was a hint of red paint. The penny dropped …as did our mouths…. here was ‘La Voiture Rouge‘ . Inwardly terrified, we threw our cases in the boot -on top of a random frisbee – and tried to hide our fear. Setos pointed out all manner of things as we crammed into the limited space that was available for passengers, moving old newspapers and dog toys out the way. ‘ Ce nest pas very far from ici’ he declared as he struggled to find the next gear. The gear box, along with the shock absorbers, were clearly nearing the end of their natural lives.
Mercifully, Setos was right. The house was a couple of minutes away. And boy….was it worth the wait. Perched at the end of a short path were two white ( everything in Greece is white ..with a blue top ) square houses on a terrace to die for. The view was something else. One of those ‘ take your breath away’ moments that you just have to stand and gaze at. Setos was keen to show us round the house – probably anxious to rejoin his drinking chums down in the square. The tour was quick and delivered in his inimitable ‘ franglais’ . ‘ This ees le numero pour le wi – fi / Il y des bottles de water dans le fridge’ / Appellez me if you ‘ave un problem’ . I replied in French – pleased to actually meet someone with an even worse grasp of the language than me. To be fair though,, I sounded like a native in comparisson
There were actually two houses. The main one with two bedrooms and a smaller one next door. Simple, immaculate and full of classy little touches . But its pulling power lay in the sheer grandeur of the view – deep blue Agean sea interrupted only by a couple of windmills and the odd goat.
And so the days unfolded. Dilemmas were refreshingly simple. Do we have gin and tonic now or later? Shall we get a bus to the beach or swim in the pool ? Beer or Ouzo? ( sod it …lets have both ) . That’s the beauty of escaping for a while. The rules can change albeit for a few days. We just slow down and breathe it all in. ‘ Carpe Diem’ was never truer.
Greece ….you never disappoint. I’ll be back again some day ….though I may give the red car a miss . No offence, Setos.