Saturday, 21 December 2013

no Turkey for Christmas

In between wandering around the myriad pathways of Molyvos and relaxing in our luxury suite or socialising (a rare treat - the Pascales invite us for dinner and there's the Saturday night movie at the community centre too) we look at our onward route across Turkey and consider our timing.  We want to be in Baku in February because our friends Pam and Joe have invited us to stay with them.  We're looking forward to seeing them, but not to the ride across Turkey and through Georgia and Azerbaijian.  We know it's the wrong time to visit these countries but we have to be somewhere in winter.  We decide we'll head to Istanbul and then take a bus to one of the towns along the Black Sea coast, to save time.  In the meantime we're still waiting for our parcels to arrive.

Jeff arrives after a few days.  He's on another European winter sojourn.  Last time we met we were in rainy Palermo at the beginning of February.  This year he wants to visit some of the Greek islands and we've arranged to meet here.  He too is very happy exploring the town.  When the cold wind blows from Anatolia the streets are quiet.  "I've seen more cats than people" he jokes.  It is very peaceful and the rhythmn of the days gently draw us in to a hypnotic relaxed state.  We take a walk out to the hot springs just along the coast.  The baths are simple and the water is hot - about 46 degrees and the guardian takes pains to explain we should get in and out slowly. Three minutes and then out.  He thinks it's too cold for a dip in the sea but after twenty minutes soaking we give it a go. It is cold but with the radium levels being as they are we come back glowing.

Evenings are spent cooking and eating and talking.  Days are spent walking or, if the sun comes out, sunbathing.  In December.  Where's the ice-cream? As we walk around with Jeff we see everything again with fresh eyes.  The town has not been spoiled by development.  There are a few new buildings on the edges of town but they are clad in stone to fit the traditional aesthetic.  It's rare to find this in Greece.  The next village down the coast, Petra, seems more typical with a mix of new and old.  In the middle of the village, on a steep-sided rocky perch sits a church lording it over the residents.  Down a lane, one metre below street level, an 11th century church sits dwarfed by a huge plane tree.  Inside are some well-kept frescoes from when? Long ago.  The tourist shops are empty and closed up for winter.  A few old men sit in the sunshine talking bollocks as usual, I bet.  In the fields the sheep are kept close to the fold.  Lambing is in October - but it looks like some have already gone for the chop.  At a small-holding two pigs are lying dead on the ground, freshly slaughtered.  A man is expertly butchering one.  In an olive grove a woman and her daughter are gathering olives into sacks.  A man is stood on a low branch and beating the other branches with a stick to shake the olives off onto the nets spread out on the ground beneath.  As it ever was.  

We say goodbye to Jeff after a week as he heads on to other islands.  Maybe we'll see him on his home turf one day..... One parcel arrives from my mum and dad with bits and pieces we've ordered, thinking that since we needed stove parts we might as well get some other things sent out.  Ironically, everything but the stove parts had arrived so my mum and dad sent the parcel anyway.  Christmas comes early for me - a new saddle.  No more duct tape sticking to my crotch. Tent pegs for hard ground.  No more standing on our old ones and bending them in half. A new water bag.  No more fretting over spilt water.  Cases for our e-readers.  Ah, a bit too late for me - I discover the screen on mine is smashed.  I curse my carelessness and stupidity in not getting a case sooner. If only Santa had known...... Still waiting for the stove parts, we decide to stay here until after Christmas seeing as we're enjoying ourselves so much.  

1 comment:

  1. What a divine week in Molyvos with the two of you! My social life since then has been limited to hotel staff, drunk former sailors and a tawdry date I won't discuss further. I have yet to find digs as nice as the beach apartments we stayed in, or a town quite as pretty as Molyvos, but this is one stunning set of islands in a gorgeous blue sea. Winter is turning out to be a lovely time to visit. Bon voyage!