Tag Archives: Karpathos

Karpathos Day 3: Meeting the Neighbours, plus Photo Blog of Lefkos Beach

Pomegranates on a tree
There were pomegranates on a tree just near our house.

There is a house right next to ours in Pyles, with a large courtyard out the front, where the children and I have just been entertained with pomegranates, chocolate wafer bars and stories of the owner’s grandchildren and his renovation woes. He is currently renovating the house (and not, I think, living there), and was waiting there today for someone  to come help him with the kitchen, but he had not arrived.

He told me that getting work done on Karpathos is very slow. “Greeks in Greece don’t like to work,” he said. He said the Greeks in other countries – Australia, America, Germany – work very hard. But here in Greece they want to play cards, go to the cafeneio, talk.

He also said that the economy here on the island is not too bad, but in Athens, in the cities, very bad. Lots of people without work. Of course, that’s what then launched him into his spiel about Greeks in Greece not liking to work, but then I’ve frequently heard people in Australia complain about ‘dole bludgers’ who (supposedly) don’t really even want jobs. It was interesting to hear his take on things though.

He broke up two pomegranates for us to eat, scraping all the segments into a bowl, and cut up two or three small apples – all grown by him I think. I gorged myself on pomegranate because the children didn’t eat much (Mikaela tried only one tiny segment), and I suspect the polite thing here is to eat everything you are served, though I must look that up the next time the internet cafe is open. When I had to go to get Elli to bed (when we could hear her crying – she and Chris were still at home), he made me take the rest of the pomegranate with me, tipping it into my hands, and said to leave the kids who were busy playing on his grandchildren’s toy pedal quad bikes. They came home not much later though. I hope they said proper thank yous!

Written later on:

Today has been filled with gifts of traditional or homemade Greek food.

First there was the visit next door, with the pomegranate Liam had been so wanting to try.

Later, while I was nursing Eliane to sleep, I heard someone come to the door. It turned out to be someone Chris had met at the mini market the previous evening, bringing some of his homemade wine, that he thought had come out too dry, but that Chris might like, since he didn’t like the sweet wine they sold at the shop.

In the afternoon we went to Lefkos Beach, but then in the evening we went down to the local cafeneio, owned by one of our host’s nephews (the father of the woman we met yesterday who lives behind us). It appeared to be a bit of a boys club, with the nephew who had met us at the airport sitting outside on the veranda with a group of men, including his brother, the owner, and not a woman in sight, however they invited us to sit down and chatted on.

After a while their sister, who we had met a couple of days earlier, but who had only a little English, came by. She didn’t sit down but stood on the stairs chatting animatedly with her brothers and asking us what we’d been doing and how was the water (at the beach) and making much of Mikaela, in particular, with her ‘beautiful eyes’, which Mikaela withstood stoically.

She then brought out a plate of small cakes/biscuits smothered in icing sugar, and passed them around, insisting on giving Eliane a second one, then getting a wet cloth to clean her up as the icing sugar spread all over her! Her brother explained to us that her daughter had been accepted into law school today so she was treating everyone to these cakes in celebration. While she was there our backdoor neighbour came by and gave us a bag of baklava her aunt had made that day ‘for your breakfast tomorrow’ – when we got home we discovered there were 20 of these treats! Luckily they have no nuts or sesame paste, just the pastry with the sugar/honey syrup, otherwise it would probably just be me and Elli eating them! (Edited to add: we managed to get through them all over the next couple of days, and they were Yum!)

Next thing the mother of the law student (another of our backdoor neighbours aunt’s, now I think of it) wrapped up the remaining cakes and told us to take them for breakfast too, but not before taking back any cakes she had made the men take that were still uneaten, which she then also pressed on us!

Luckily Liam, Elli and I all liked them, but I had to quietly eat Chris’s when no-one was looking, because it had nuts in it, and Mikaela had two lollies (off the same plate), but didn’t try a cake.

While I am sitting here writing all this on my iPhone, drinking the (I’m sorry to say) pretty awful homemade wine we were given, I’m listening to a bazooka player who is just across the lane way from us and feeling properly grateful to be here. It seems like half the town are related to our friends back in Canberra, and the rest all know who we are. They have been incredibly welcoming and have gone out of their way to take care of us. It’s been really wonderful. Only two days left!

Kefkos Roman Cisten
As well as eating a lot we took ourselves off to another beach today, this time at Lefkos. On the way we saw this sign to some Roman Ruins, and couldn't resist investigating.

 

dry stone walls, falling down
Unfortunately, the signs kept directing us to go further, eventually on foot, and all we found were lots of these falling down dry stone walls - definitely not from Roman times!

 

Lefkos beach, seen from the road above, lots of beach umbrellas, but not many people.
Eventually we decided it was too hot, and headed down to the Lefkos beach.

 

Two children play in the sand on a seemingly empty beach, the water behind them.
Once again the water was crystal, and the beach practically deserted - a completely different experience to being here a few weeks earlier, when the beaches were all packed (or so we are told).

 

The sunset colours the waters of lefkos beach, as seen from above on the road coming in.
By the time we left the sun was setting...

 

Looking up at the moon just above a rockscape
And the Moon was rising.

 

Two goats walking along the side of the road above pine forests
On the way back from Lefkos we passed these two goats walking along the side of the road, the bells around their necks clanging in time with their steps. It was a lovely end to the afternoon, as we headed back to Pyles to have dinner and then head down to the cafeneio.

Pigadia & Small Amopi Beach, Greece Day 2

Today was our second full day in Greece, and the 12th day of our trip, and the tension was a little high. The kids were a bit ratty – grumpy and fighting – on and off all day, and perhaps we were too. I think part of it, especially for Liam, was probably that they’re missing the kids we were staying with in Barcelona. It’s like the typical first week of school holidays blues.

Nonetheless we had a great day. We went into Pigadia, the capital of Karpathos, which is also called Karpathos itself and which is really quite a bustling town by comparison to the surrounding villages, like Pyles, where we are staying. Plenty of cafes and lots of shopping, though it was all a bit empty at this time of year. There are 7000 people on the island (more like 35000 in the summer months!), and I’d guess a lot of them either live or at least work there.

Looking back to Pigadia from part way around the bay
Pigadia, looking back from part way around the bay.

We went in there primarily to buy some washing line and sunglasses, since I broke mine on the plane trip here. We got some for both kids too, who have been complaining of the glare a lot. We walked around a bit though, down to the harbour, and around some of the tourist shops.

Then we went to the beach recommended by a woman in the supermarket (who had lived in Geelong, Australia for many years!), Small Amopi, which was awesome. The water was clear and turquoise – it was exactly the sort of beach you expect from a Greek island. There were umbrellas on the beach, many with banana lounges set up under them, and most of the people on the beach were sunbaking on similar lounges. It was only after someone came down and asked us to pay fit sitting under one (€2) that we realized the umbrellas were someone’s business (what did we think? We didn’t, I suppose), and also realized that the empty banana lounges could have been ours for the asking too – €5-6 for two, plus an umbrella. Next time, maybe.

It was a small beach and just lovely for the kids. Quite a steep drop from toe deep to knee deep, but gradual after that, and no surf at all. I took Eliane in for a good swim, then I spent the rest of the time swimming out deeper with Liam, while Chris supervised Mikaela and Elli playing at the edge and in the sand.

Looking along the small amopi beach - umbrellas on the sand, water crystal clear
Small Amopi Beach. Large Amopi is just around the bend, in the direction the camera is looking.

Tonight the great-niece of our absent host popped in to visit us and see if we need anything. She just lives right behind us, with her husband and toddler, but she works in town (Pigadia) during the day. She said we should have a family meal with them on Sunday night – she’ll consult with her mother and let us know the details. Most everyone we’ve met here in the village knows the family who own this house, and I think a good half of them are related!

Karpathos, Greece, Day 1 (or, Hopping to a Greek Island)

Two little girls, one a toddler, , seen from behind on a blue and white balcony.
Eliane and Mikaela on 'our' balcony in Pyles

We spent the entire day yesterday in travel, leaving our friend’s house in Barcelona just before seven in the morning, and getting in to the house here in Pyles on Karpathos a little before 10pm.

I was a little dismayed to find the mattresses still in plastic when we arrived – I’d been warned, but had completely forgotten. The house is still a bit of a work in progress, its master having spent three months here last summer (he lives in Australia, but grew up here), which turned out to be not quite enough to complete renovations.  However, we had sheets and quilts (some sent over with us, some already here), and we had all the children tucked in bed by around 11pm, with ourselves not far behind.

We were met at the airport by the lovely godfather of the friend who ‘lent’ us this house (the latter being the son of the ‘master’ I mentioned), and he has now taken Chris and the big kids to hire a car and hopefully do a little shopping, showing them what’s what. He gave us a little bit of a tour on the way from the airport, but it was dark and we were tired, so we didn’t take much in, though it was exciting to see all the tavernas and the boats on the harbor at a little Greek fishing village and think “Wow, we are really in Greece!”

colourful boats in clear blue water with mountains in the background
This is not the little fishing village we saw that first night, but the busy harbour in Pigadia, the Island's capital, often itself just called 'Karpathos'

This morning we’ve been able to get a better look at the house and the view – the house we are in is the traditional Greek white with blue trim, surrounded by similar houses. The view from the balcony is of a church immediately below us and the sea in the distance, in one direction, with rocky mountains in another. Pyles is not a seaside village, but like most Greek islands Karpathos rises steeply from the sea. I suspect we will drive down to a beach this afternoon.

White church with red rooves
The church we see looking down from our balcony.

The tourist highlight of Karpathos, aside from the beaches, is Olympos/Olymbos, which is still very much a traditional  Greek village, where most of the women, at least, still wear traditional dress. However Olymbos is on the other end of the Island, which almost makes it like a separate island altogether. Access is by ferry (some two hours) plus bus, or by four wheel drive, as there is still no paved road joining the two ends of the island (though they’re working on it). The car hire company said we could swap over our family car for a four wheel drive for one day for an extra €15, but they are only four seaters. We could take the ferry, but expecting the kids to sit through a two hour ferry ride each way for something that will be, let’s face it, at best of passing interest to them, is probably not really the best use of one of our five precious days here. So no Olympos for us.

Happily, I think there will be no shortage of things to do at this end of the Island, between the beaches and the capital, Pigadia, and the people here in town, half of whom seem to be related to our absent hosts.

white two story house with blue door and shutters, partially obscured by neighbouring buildings, with terraced laneway leading up to it.
Because the houses are so close together with only these narrow lane-ways between them in some cases, it was impossible to get a clear photo of our house in Pyles. This was the best I could do, but it does show the lovely crisp blue and white paint-work.