Holiday report July/August 2014

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Holiday report July/August 2014

Post by Panic on Tue Sep 02, 2014 9:35 pm

Kefalos 2014

The week had not started well. On the Sunday before we were due to fly I went downstairs to find our hamster, Fifi, dead. She had lived to the ripe old age of two and had been ailing for several weeks, so her demise wasn’t too much of a surprise. I had favoured a Viking style funeral on our local river, build a little boat and sail it out, then set fire to it with a flaming arrow. Grommit however demanded a risk assessment and pointed out my lack of prowess with a bow, so we buried her in the garden.

Wednesday arrived and we set off on the journey north to spend the night at Grommit’s parents before we flew from Manchester the next day. We were about 60 miles into our journey when I saw the road sign that always makes my heart sink - ‘Welcome to Lincolnshire’. Lincolnshire greets you with a sign telling you how many road deaths there have been in the county this year, it doesn’t however, tell you how many of them died of boredom. To me Lincolnshire just cries out to be traversed as quickly as possible. This ambition is always hampered by the A17, if it’s not a cabbage shedding tractor holding you up, it’s the interminable amount of lorries trundling along at 40mph that I’m sure are put there just to frustrate me. I managed to pass one British Sugar lorry to find its twin a mile further up the road, I gave up. Looking across the bleak countryside I saw a windfarm, the windmills turning torpidly in the humid air, as if it was too much effort. I knew how they felt.

After what seemed like an eternity, Newark loomed and the A1 beckoned, foot down and we were soon at Grommit’s parents house, large Gin & Tonic, job done.

We arrived at the airport at around 12:00pm, dropped off our bags and fast tracked through security. Before passing through the security scanners we removed the ipad and phones from my rucksack and put them in a tray, the rucksack went through and was shifted into the inspection area, we had neglected to remove Grommit’s hairdryer and the ipod docking station and had to wait 20 minutes before getting the all clear. A quick but expensive toot through duty free and we were in the Aspire Lounge for drinks and nibbles. Last year in this lounge you could help yourself to drinks, this year they have introduced a bar service, this made it slightly embarrassing to go for another Gin & Tonic 5 minutes after the first one, but hey, a little embarrassment isn’t so bad. We always find the lounge to be good value as we are both Gin Piggies.

The flight left more or less on time and we arrived to be greeted by the lovely heat and smell of thyme that Kos offers. First job was to find the transfer rep who assured me that our bus was going directly to Kefalos, our bags took an age to arrive on the carousel, but we were at our apartments at around 11:30. We dumped our bags and went for a nightcap at Maria’s Bar, we were greeted warmly by Manos and Gianni and settled down to the first of many ouzos. Manos asked how long we were staying this year, when I told him that it would be for 24 nights, he said that we would soon be able to get our Greek passports.

We stayed this year at Stenna as it was half the price of Kontessa where we stayed last year, we were allocated a first floor apartment which gave us a great view of the bay. The apartments are basic but kept immaculately clean, towels and sheets changed every couple of days. The bathroom is in the middle of the apartment and doesn’t have window, only a vent through to the bedroom. Having stayed in these apartments 2 years ago, we were prepared for this, together with the obligatory loo roll bin.

Many years ago I was discussing Greek toilets with a barman who shall remain nameless, he told me proudly that the Greeks invented the toilet; I replied ‘That may be true Manos, but you’re still using the same ones.’

Many of you will know the Greek myth of Prometheus, he stole fire from the gods and as a punishment he was chained to a rock where an eagle would eat his liver, only for it to regenerate overnight so the eagle could come back for more liver the next day.

A lesser known myth is that of Krappios, who stole the toilet from the gods. The punishment for this transgression was for the entire country to suffer from inadequate plumbing for all eternity.

Our first full day dawned and we went looking for some transport, my heart said Quad but my head said Car. We had such a good time on the quad last year, but advancing years and a greater sense of mortality steered us towards an enclosed vehicle. After a trip to a couple of places, we settled on Manolis and hired a Hyundai Atos Prime for just under 25 euros per day for the duration of our stay. We figured that Atos Prime could well be the little sister to Optimus Prime and that she would transform into a killer robot during the night, but there was no evidence that she did and there was no evidence of Decepticon activity either.

Our first trip in Atos Prime took us to the airport to the Carrefour Supermarket for supplies. My only other experience of driving a left hand drive car had been many years earlier when I hired a Fiat Cinquecento for a day. My ineptitude was evident straight away as I tried to change gear with the door handle and kept reaching over my right shoulder for the seat belt and only to find thin air. Also my spatial awareness was the wrong way round and I kept driving too close to the kerb, resulting in howls of protest from Grommit. If my driving skills were in question, then Grommit’s were heart-wrenching. Grommit has for many years been driving an automatic, when she has to drive my car it’s apparent that she’s forgotten how to change gear. Driving on the wrong side of the road multiplied this a thousandfold, she would often change from 2nd to 5th and at other times gear selection seemed to be totally random, which had Atos Prime either screaming in agony or groaning and shuddering along. Luckily we avoided hitting anything or anyone and we gradually became more confident.

The whole point of having any transport for us is so that we could get to the beach. We discovered Polemi beach last year and dared to get our kit off, this year would be no different, just more days to get that all over tan. The beach is run by a chap called Panos who charges 8 euros a day for a couple of sunbeds and a parasol, he also has a stock of cold beer and water which we sometimes took advantage of. Most days were spent idly reading, occasionally I would cast around the bed for small stones and bits of pumice and make little cairns to pass the time while I got the sun on my back. One day Grommit asked me if I could find a bit of pumice to use on her feet, after much searching I eventually found an industrial grade rock that was up to the job, for which she was thankful. Swimming in the sea was delightful, a gently sloping shelf and warm water, lots of fish too. Grommit did some skinny dipping this year despite her fish phobia.

The only days that we gave the beach a miss were on a couple of occasions when we were too late up, or too hungover to be bothered to go. On these days we would wander up to Kontessa’s for a bacon and egg roll and a cup of tea from Caryl who runs the pool bar there, she always greeted us with a smile. We’d spend the rest of the afternoon on a sunbed, although feeling overdressed in my speedos.
Back to the beach and you cannot help but people watch from time to time. One afternoon we saw a group of Germans standing in a circle near the seashore looking down at something; it turned out to be an Octopus, which they helped back into the sea. Quite what the Octopus thought about being stared at by 8 naked Germans is beyond me. If it was me I’d have been bashing it on a rock and looking for somewhere to cook it for my tea.

For reading on the beach, I’d downloaded the first couple of Game of Thrones books. Grommit had watched the TV series and raved about it, but I’d not seen it. As I got further into the book Grommit would ask where I was up to, I’d say ‘I’m at the bit where the little boy is climbing all over the castle.’ Grommit would say ‘Oh, he’s not been crippled yet then?’ Or ‘I’m at the bit where whatshisname has been made Hand to the King.’ She said ‘Oh, he still alive then?’ After this, I refused to tell her where I was up to. I finished the first two books and promptly downloaded the next, courtesy of the free (but rather slow) Wifi at Stenna.

After returning from the beach, we would usually sit on the balcony and have a few snacks and maybe a Gin & Tonic or two and watch the world go by. The first floor balconies at Stenna provide the perfect vantage point for looking out across the bay, watching the comings and goings of the expensive yachts, fishing boats and windsurfers.

Shower, shave and aftersun and it was time to hit the town. Being creatures of habit we usually started the evening in Maria’s Bar for a couple of Ouzos whilst we decided where to eat that evening. As we were in Kefalos the same time this year as last, we’d bump into people we met last year, renewing past acquaintances and making new friends. It was good to catch up with Lainey and to meet her family, we shared a couple of late nights and early mornings together, always good company.

Every other night for dinner we found ourselves in Stamatia, this has been our regular haunt for a number of years and we were greeted warmly on our first night there. Highlights included the fresh fish, the Soutsoukakia and the house Rose. As ever we were tempted by the Spicy Cheese Mouse, but with this year being particularly poignant following the expiry of our own rodent, we didn’t order it.

Other nights we went to Sydneys a few times, they do an excellent burger for the nights when we needed a junk food hit. One night we had the steak which was very good, together with a bottle of Amythestos Red Wine, which was excellent.

One night we ventured to Gallinis, we hadn’t been in for a few years and thought it was time we went back. We had a lovely meal and nice wine. At the end of the meal I asked for a Tsipouro only to be presented with a tall glass half full of this evil liquid. I managed to finish this (much to Grommit’s disgust) and when we paid the bill I was given another one, on the house. Needless to say, I didn’t get back to the bar that night and headed straight to bed. The next day we decided to go back to Gallinis to have the meze. At Stenna there is a chair propped up against the bottom wall which serves as a short cut, you go over the wall, through a couple of olive trees to emerge Narnia-like on a path that takes you to the road that Gallinis is on. The meze consisted of a number of small dishes, spinach pie, sausage in tomato sauce, butter beans, meatballs, vine leaves, etc. It was very good, but far too much for both of us to get through.

We went to Faros a couple of times, first time I had Mackerel and Grommit had Moussaka, she was disappointed that they didn’t have the Goat Kleftico on the menu. Faros is nice, but beware there are cats galore stalking between the tables. On our second visit the Goat was back on and we both enjoyed it.

Other foodie highlights included the Rabbit stew at the Stop In, very tasty. I was determined to have it again before we left, but somehow we didn’t make it back.

As usual, there a plenty of deaf guys selling trinkets in the restaurants. We always buy a torch or two. I have a theory that the torches we buy in Kefalos have a homing instinct, as soon as we get home, they disappear, only to be bought again the next year.

Normally we’d just stay in Kefalos for the duration, but we decided that it would be nice to visit Zia. We booked the trip with Joyce at Askeplios Tours for a Monday night. Joyce advised us to book a table for 7:30pm at the Oromedon Taverna as soon as we arrived, but obviously she had advised everyone else to do this too, so there was a mad rush from the bus. The restaurant were reluctant to take so many bookings and advised us to return at 7:30 to see if they could accommodate us. We trotted off and Grommit asked ‘Where are the ruins?’, I replied ‘What ruins? Only me and thee dear.’ ‘Oh, I thought there were ruins here,’ she said. ‘No ruins’, I replied, ‘Only tat shops and tavernas.’ We wondered up the hill to have a look at the church, had a couple of beers up there before returning down the hill. Of course you cannot visit a tat shop without buying some tat. We bought a couple of Greek donkey eggcups, mainly so I could say ‘Eeyore then’ when serving Grommit her boiled egg in the mornings.

At 7:20 we returned to the restaurant and were given a table on one of the higher terraces where we had a spectacular view of the sunset. Grommit had a Goat stew with mashed potatoes and I had roast pork, both of which were really good. We washed this down with a bottle of Red wine from Kos which was surprisingly good, if rather expensive. We took our photos, got back on the bus and were back in Kefalos in time for a nightcap.

Our only other foray was when we decided to drive to Plaka to see the turtles and the peacocks. I’d briefly looked at a map and saw that the road to Plaka was up near the airport, when we got there it was closed for resurfacing. Grommit claimed that she knew another way, having been told so by an ex-pat. She directed us down a track, which led to another track, past some goats onto another track. Atos Prime bumped her way along merrily until we reached a sign that said ‘Beware firing range’, the troubling thing was that it appeared we had just driven through the firing range. We headed towards a main road in the distance with all possible haste. We never made it to Plaka.

Days followed days, we got browner, I reduced from my original factor 20 to end up on factor 6 and ended up a nice colour all over. Grommit must have some lizard DNA as she started on factor 6 and ended up on lard.

All too soon and our time was nearly up. During our last week Grommit drove me up to the chemist to get some ear drops to alleviate my blocked ear after swimming in the pool, I’d been half deaf for over a week and had difficulty hearing people in the bar during the evening, not to mention being unable to hear Grommit. She claimed it was selective deafness, I deny this. Grommit administered the drops and there was an almighty fizzing in my ear, like having it full of Champagne, not at all unpleasant. The drops appeared to have some effect; the amount of wax that was dissolved was quite incredible in a disgusting sort of way.

We spent our last day on the beach, said our farewells to Panos and thanked him for the many happy hours we had spent there. We had our final meal in Sydneys mid-afternoon, had our final drink at Maria’s Bar early evening and headed for the airport. Usually it’s disorganised chaos at Kos airport, but this time we were through very quickly. I managed to slip a bottle of Tsipouro past Grommit in the duty free. The flight left a bit late but arrived in Manchester on time. We’d booked into the Radisson at the airport for the night and were upgraded to a business class room, very nice.

24 days in Kefalos had gone so quickly, we keep saying that next year we’ll go somewhere else, but Kefalos keeps drawing us back. We were supposed to be going to France with Grommit’s family next year, but I have a sneaking suspicion that 28 days in Kefalos might be on the cards…

Till next time.



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Re: Holiday report July/August 2014

Post by Lainey on Wed Sep 03, 2014 4:39 pm

Hi Panic

That was a great review, I laughed quite a bit. Nice seeing you both again, and for also letting us see your apartment. We may take this up next year if we come back to Kefalos. Listen to me if, ha ha when.

Till we see you next year....


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Re: Holiday report July/August 2014

Post by GG ™ on Wed Sep 03, 2014 9:28 pm

Very Happy

great report
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Re: Holiday report July/August 2014

Post by Panic on Thu Sep 04, 2014 4:15 pm

Lainey wrote:Hi Panic

That was a great review, I laughed quite a bit.  Nice seeing you both again, and for also letting us see your apartment.  We may take this up next year if we come back to Kefalos.  Listen to me if, ha ha when.

Till we see you next year....


Lainey

If??? We're already looking at dates, done deal I think.

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Re: Holiday report July/August 2014

Post by iggy on Mon Sep 08, 2014 10:31 am

Very enjoyable report - got me thinking about another trip already!

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Re: Holiday report July/August 2014

Post by Debs 14 on Tue Sep 23, 2014 10:48 pm

fabulous report Panic and it made me laugh too Very Happy
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Re: Holiday report July/August 2014

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