Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Meeting New Friends in Paros, Greece

By Claire
I didn't know it could get any better. I am sitting on our front porch enjoying the tiniest of breezes gently caressing my neck. We have arrived to perfect weather in paradise.

But let me go back a few hours to this morning. We woke at 5 am in order to meet our taxi at 6. We had arranged this the day before. It was a big decision because of the cost but the bus and metro would have been too stressful and delivered us to the port just before the ferry departure, if we were lucky. We walked out to the road and waited. And waited. By 6:15 I was beginning to hyperventilate. We moved up to the corner at 6:30. Now, I was beside myself. I was convinced that the taxi was not going to come so I started flagging down cars, going up to the window and begging a ride. I even offered to pay. One guy told me he was only going 2 km. but if we walked over the overpass and turned right we would come to the center of town and find a taxi. It was now 6:45 and our ferry was scheduled to leave at 7:25. We tried hailing the few taxis that sped past but they all had passengers. Chuck raced into a bakery and managed to get the woman behind the counter to call us a taxi. He was told it would arrive in 5 minutes. It arrived at 6:55 and we took off.

I can't begin to describe my anxiety. All I could think of was what it was going to cost us to get there by taxi, and the ferry would be just pulling away from the dock. The next ferry was at 5:30 pm. Chuck remained outwardly calm. Traffic was in our favor but we had no idea how far we had to go. I tried not to steal a glance at my watch every 30 seconds. My neck was starting to seize up and my great joy and excitement about meeting Karin and Michael was turning to terrible frustration and disappointment. But wait, what's that in the distance? I think it says, yes, it's Blue Star Ferries and it's still there! We came to a stop, Chuck and I jumped out, grabbed our bags and ran. We were among the last to arrive, handing our tickets over, then dropping our bags in the luggage storage area Karin had told me about via email. As we fell into our seats, the ferry took off. Whew! We'll never know what communication error kept our reserved taxi from showing up. The ferry ride was a smooth, relaxed 4 hours and gave us a chance to regain our equanimity, or mine anyway. Chuck seemed to just glide into relax mode, opening his book and settling in.

Karen and Michael were waiting for us with huge smiles as we stepped off the ferry. We recognized them instantly and with camera in place, it was clear that Karin did too. Hugs all around, all talking at once, we made our way to a stone bench in the shade to sit and chat for a few minutes until the bus was ready to take us to their village, Aliki. They followed on their motor scooters and were a happy sight at the end of the ride.

Arrival photos courtesy of Karin Shepard

The village is small, charming and the Greece we've been looking for. Everything is blue and white, it's quiet and we can walk everywhere. We arrived at Maria's Village and Karin and Michael showed us our new quarters, including kitchen, bedroom and bath. There is even a washing machine. The patio has views of sheep and goats and the beach.

Our apartment



Patio, flowers courtesy of Karin


Church across the road

The four of us walked back into town to do some shopping and Chuck and I stocked up on the essentials—yogurt, honey, olives, tomatoes, bread, etc. Oh, and some beer. This is beer weather. After unloading our things, Karin came back on her scooter and she and I zipped off to the bakery on the other side of town for bread. She helped me pick out a treat for Chuck: chocolate cake with chocolate frosting. He was delighted with her choice.

Gin and tonics on Karin and Michael's porch was next on our non-agenda. Their friend Louisa, from Amsterdam, was visiting and we had a good time talking about the Bibliothek, travel, living in Greece, Paros and much, much more.

Later on, Karin and I went on a walk, admiring the flowers, the view, and the houses, stopping in to visit with Brian and Bruce. They live in a wonderful place and I was given a tour by Brian. The view from their fabulous deck up above is just spectacular. I could see the water, the farm fields and the hills behind us in the distance. Below, is their remarkable garden, a feat they created together. I even found out that Bruce is following our blog. Hi Bruce!

Later, the four of us got together for dinner at their place, 2 doors down (very convenient) and we enjoyed a very relaxed, cozy evening together. They have a nice fireplace that Michael had “fired” up and Karin served homemade minestrone soup and bread, passing around some grated Greek kefalotiri cheese to top it off.



It was great to really get to talk, rather than email, and Chuck and I both enjoyed hearing their stories about living and running a business in a tiny village in Ireland. We have so much to talk about! Thank goodness we have 4 more days!

The finale was Karin's lemon cake, the best I've ever had. As usual, I started eating before I remembered to take a picture (this is becoming more and more of a problem.)

What a completely perfect day it turned out to be. We are thrilled to be here and can't believe our good fortune in how this came about.

Friends are the most important part of your life. Treasure the tears, treasure the laughter, but most importantly, treasure the memories. ~ Dave Brenner


Kim said...

Lemon cake looks divine....will Karin share her recipe?

Steve Reynolds said...

Ah, to have the problem of eating cake before remembering to take a picture of it. Thank you for giving a desk jockey some dreams.

Elisabetta said...

Cari Zingari! (Dear Gypsies!)

I awakened to the view of your old Kursal campsite here in Passignano, viewed from a room above the restaurant (Vecchi Tempi)across the street. The owner is a friend & former student of mine.
I see sweaters in ur fotos; I'm resting under down comforter here. (Apt will be freshly painted and inhabitable by Tuesday night:-D)

I believe there's an extra guardian angel on duty when one travels; I felt ur acute anxiety re: the taxi no-show, intense minutes, indeed. Am curious too, just why the snafoo b/c they need that fare as much as you need the ride... guess we'll never know.

Is there any chance Karin might part with that lemon cake recipe?

I think I've gotten visual "contact cravings" from ur blog! Was just considering if vanilla or pistachio gelato wuld augment or detract from its bright flavor..you tell me!

Agreed: this is the greece which inspired me to paint my dining room mouldings a certain shade of blue seen in Matala ceramics. 1997. I also came back with a Cretan spaniel that a Chania artist gave me "for better life in amerika!" She made me promise not to neuter him, so later he fathered puppies w/ my border collie ~ reports from their owners suggest that he passed on "Cretan genes!"
My advice is to be selective as to the animals you might import.

Can't wait to read ur next adventure, be it heart-pumping or lizard-in-the-sun. I'm a personal fan of the latter.