Month #9 … So Far, So Beautiful

So much for my summer of blogging and catching up on travel posts! I’ve been in Greece for over a week already and still haven’t found the time or mental energy to post, so going to kick off September and October right now and hope I can keep it up!  These posts act as a sort of journal for me and I’m so disappointed I haven’t been more diligent.

Kalimera Athens!

Anyway, arrived in Athens last Friday and spent a few days with my friend Zeta and her family in their lovely home in Paleo Faliro. It was so great to see them, always feels like coming home!  And they were so nice to let me work from their apartment! I’m not taking vacation at all on this trip, so all my adventures have to take place before work or on weekends.

I am definitely not as organized as I was last year—for instance this time last week I still didn’t know if I was going to Folegandros or Skopelos.  It could have been my pre-occupation with my swollen right cheek, but I just couldn’t make a decision!  Yup. I had the weirdest swelling on the right side of my face and I still don’t really know what the f&#k it was.  At first I thought I got bit by a mosquito.  Because they love biting my face, eyes, lips, whatever they can sting to make me look like Sloth from the Goonies. But we couldn’t actually see a bite, I thought I felt one, but nah, probably not.  Then I thought maybe it was a re-reaction to a bee sting I got on my right eye a couple of weeks ago. You know, like the bee venom was just lying dormant in my face for a week or so and the high altitude of my flight reactivated it—this was my favorite self-diagnosis by the way, a very very close second to my niece giving me tonsillitis of the face.   Then we thought it could have been a reaction to flying, like facial water retention (you should really see my google search history.  I haven’t typed “edema” so many times since my obsession with high-altitude pulmonary edema!) Then I thought it was an abscess.  And then it just went away.

And then I just came to Skopelos!  Skopelos is one of the islands making up the Sporades in the north Aegean, I haven’t been to this part of Greece and have always wanted to visit this group of islands.   Skiathos is the largest and seems a bit too touristy for my taste, Alonissos is the smallest and I would probably love it but was worried about wifi connections so I picked the Jan Brady island.  There are no direct ferries from Athens, so I took an early bus to Volos to catch the 2:30 pm ferry so I could be in my Skopelos office just a little after 9am NYC time.  Well, I should have known something would happen when the day started at the wrong bus station, and when my bus was detoured from the main road through some truly lovely Greek village roads but making the 3+ hour trip a 4+ hour trip and cutting it a little close to ferry time.  I did really enjoy the bus ride, very dramatic scenery full of mountains and sea.  I did make the ferry and thought I’d get some work done on the 2 hour journey.  But, of course, no wifi on the very modern Flying Cat 4.  That was okay, I had some offline stuff I needed to get done and was extra happy I probably wouldn’t get nauseous.  The Flying Cat was 10 times bigger than the Flying Dolphins, which are like small, claustrophobic, speedy, vomit bags.

I accidentally erased my pics of the stranded Flying Cat 4, but this is the Flying Cat 4, when it’s working and doesn’t have flotsam in the port jet.

About halfway into the journey, the A/C broke too.  I should have realized when the crew opened the door to a restricted area that something was up.  It took us the full 2.5 hours to arrive in Skiathos and then the boat just sat there. First the crew told us we had to wait for the Coast Guard to let us continue the journey, then around 6pm the crew told us that there were mechanical problems and that another boat was going to be dispatched from Volos to take us to our destinations.

I was actually pretty impressed with that.  I thought we were all definitely going to get stuck there overnight.  So with another 2 hours to kill, I had a lovely meal at one of the port restaurants, and was able to hop on their VERY SLOW wifi to get in touch with work and my new landlady.

Speaking of my landlady, her name is Sofia and she was waiting for me at the port with a sign and some more info about the mechanical difficulties.  Seems it was the talk of the town. And apparently it got stuck here the next morning as well according to news from a Skopelos blogger “Running late today due to flotsam caught up in port jet, rendering it inoperable. Only averaged 19 knots instead of 37 from Volos to Skiathos. They’re trying to clear it before we depart to Skopelos. Fingers crossed!!”  I’m not 100% sure what “flotsam” is, but it doesn’t sound good.  Isn’t there a heavy metal band called Flotsam and Jeff?   I hope they get the flotsam out before I leave, I really don’t want to take one of those Flying Dolphins back.  I want a t-shirt that says “Running Late Due to Flotsam”.

I’m staying at Sofia’s lovingly restored traditional house at the top of the town called 39 Steps.  I couldn’t believe I had the energy to lug Stanley AND my work bag up what was clearly more than 39 steps. Sofia named her home after the novel The 39 Steps by John Buchan (more famously known as a Hitchcock film), which she credits as the first book she read in English.  She’s eccentric and interesting, I’m thinking early 70s, spry and energetic, speaks English and Czech fluently, has a blog about foraging and an intimate knowledge of the island and all its mysteries.  Today she told me “I’m off to the mountains Tricia!” before I had my first Nescafe!

Okay, going to watch the sun go down from the Kastro so will post more about beautiful Skopelos tomorrow, but here are some pics of my digs and my first morning at a nearby bay. Enjoy!



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