It’s raining this morning in sunny Skopelos, and the sea is the roughest I’ve seen since I landed here a week ago. Sofia reckons it’s Maria, who hasn’t hit the UK yet, but seems to be well on her way to Europe. I thought I’d use the name she has given this house to describe a lovely morning I had doing one of the things I do best, getting lost in a town that is smaller than Gramercy Park.
- Buy a map. That’s right, buy a map of Skopelos and good luck trying to find any house on it.
- Remember landmarks. Wait, is that the church that’s next to the well that’s on the way to my house or is it one that looks exactly like that one.
- Remember which way to go from those landmarks. How am I supposed to do that? There are so many.
- Just keep walking up. I did that, and then eventually I had to walk down.
- Look for the bougainvillea. Maybe this works in June or July.
- Just keep walking up. I did that already, it didn’t work.
- Follow the signs on the walls. That worked! Yeah, but now how do I get back?
- It’s next to the white house. Ha, now you’re just screwing with me.
- You can see my neighbor’s ugly brown balcony from the harbor. Yeah, but I can’t see it up here.
- Ask for “Sofia Czecha.” This would work too, except don’t ask a cute old lady unless your Greek is really good.
- There’s a monastery right in town, you can’t miss it. Wanna bet?
- See that building? It’s just behind that. I know I said “Yes”, but I really didn’t see the building.
- Go past the nameingreekiwillneverremember until you get to anothernameingreekidefinitelywontremember then do something something when you see Ayios Someone. Yeah, I didn’t even try that one.
- There is probably a sign to where you want to go. But I want to go everywhere.
- Just keep walking up. That didn’t work in town, what makes you think that’s going to work in the woods.
I really could go on with 24 more, but I think you get the gist. When I was in Athens, I asked my friend Zeta (who may want to consider a new career in cartography), to draw me a map from her house to the tram station. It was like 3 blocks from her house and dead simple, but any time we either walked or drove from there I was yapping away and not paying attention. Of course I’m going to keep this map forever, took a picture of it too and was going to post it but was worried how easy it would be for undesirables across the interwebs to find her house! I think I really need to learn some conversational Greek (not just food and curses!) so I don’t instantly forget things like street names, landmarks and directions.
So this day of getting lost was a particularly nice day, I was up early, the weather was wonderful and I had a good 6 hours before I had to start work. Skopelos, ancient Peparithos, is a very interesting island historically. There is evidence of neolithic and bronze age settlements, which I still get a little too excited about—there are Mycenanean tombs here in the middle of the island and no one knows how to get there—and there is evidence of continuous occupation and settlements through early Greek and Roman periods as well. There are only a handful of sites that are organized for visiting, one of them is the Asclepieion of Peparithos, the ancient medical center which is right along the harbor and dates to around 4th C BC, but other than an information placard there’s not much there and you can’t enter and walk around the scant ruins. I figured I’d just take a walk around the bay, and go for a nice hike. I looked at my cheap map with pictures and thought I might be able to get lost just enough to find that Minoan palace!