Having made fun of the map book of Paxos we bought a couple of years ago, and written about how much we disliked it in previous blog posts …..I have to concede that it isn’t quite as bad as I might have led you to believe. Although the book itself reads like something a low grade geography student might have written as a homework assignment, and our edition is printed in that dreadful comic sans font, the fold out map is slightly better. At least it bears some similarity to the roads on Google Maps on my IPhone. You are supposed to use the map and book together, but I have concluded this would be impossible to do, as the book makes many subjective and ridiculous suggestions like ‘turn left at the abandoned car’, or ‘watch out for the brambly hedge…’
So the intrepid explorers once again set out on their quest to conquer another Paxos path. This time we got off the local bus at the village of Fontana, a short distance after Loggos. I was pleasantly surprised as the first thing I saw after the bus disappeared into the distance, was a taverna, which we kept in mind for our wait for the bus on the return trip.
We peered into the local graveyard behind the church. Very different from British graveyards which tend to be overgrown with unreadable toppling gravestones, the Greek version is a vision of white marble, gold inscriptions and artificial flowers. Not to mention the little photos in ornate frames, and the tiny lamps which are kept constantly alight.
After admiring the impressive stone campanile next to the church, complete with two old bells, we walked up the road at the side of the churchyard and came across an Olympic standard tennis court! The artificial surface looked brand new, the net was ready for play. A very surprising thing to see, in middle of a Greek hilltop village. No one was playing though. They had probably obtained a grant from the Greek government for some sporting facility, and ended up with a court that Andy Murray would be proud of….
Our route wandered through the olive groves, and we came across several restored stone houses which were being turned into holiday villas, complete with beautiful infinity swimming pools. They were definitely the sort of places in which I could happily spent a week or two, although Tim won’t give them a second glance, and sneers at swimming pools as though they were a hideous weeping carbuncle. “Why would anyone want to stay on land, in the same place for a fortnight, with a pool, when you could be on a boat and swim in the sea?” Bang goes my chance of a luxury villa holiday then…….
We later came across a marble workshop, which was actually referred to on the map. No, not those cute little round glass balls you used to play with as a kid, but huge great slabs of pristine white stone, of all shapes and sizes. It was everywhere. In typical Greek style, the whole site looked like an earthquake had recently taken place, with piles of rubble, rubbish and tools covering every surface. But I’m sure the workers knew exactly where everything was. I picked up a smallish book-sized cube of solid marble, or at least attempted to, but it was so heavy, there was no chance of slipping it into my bag as a souvenir.
We also discovered a blacksmiths, which also on the map. But obviously not many horses had ever been shod here, if at all. Another typically Greek yard, with machinery and pieces of abandoned metal strewn everywhere, oil drums, old cement mixers, pipes, grating everywhere. It was clearly still functioning though, and all the new villa owners probably ordered their ornate garden fences and window bars from here.
In the nearby village of Makritia, the impact of new villas was also evident as there were several upmarket cafes and bars along the main road. Tim uttered those immortal words – “…that looks like it would be expensive in there……” which he repeated every time we walked past one of these attractive places. I’ll cross those places off my list of possible venues for a coffee then. But Tim did like the sound of a very ordinary scruffy Greek kafenion which was advertising a free meze with every drink. Luckily it was closed….
I’m happy to report that we didn’t get lost, we didn’t have to retrace our steps, and we had no arguments about which direction we were heading or whose turn it was to hold the map. We got back in plenty of time for the bus, and had a cold beer while we waited, at the nearby cafe, which was almost half the price of beers down by the waterfront, much to Tim’s joy……