Friday, May 23, 2008

Samos - another day in paradise

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.How often in life do you get a glimpse of heaven? I’ve been lucky enough to see sights that have taken my breath away. I’ve also seen poverty and hopelessness.
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But I have just returned from a week on the island of Samos where every day I awoke to a sign in my hotel room which simply said ‘another day in paradise’. I couldn’t have put it any better myself.
'Samos is a small island – just fifty miles by eleven. It sits in the Aegean Sea, a stone’s throw from Turkey. It’s the birthplace of Pythagoras, home of Poseidon, god of the sea, Dionysus and Apollo – and me of course for eight days!!
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It is rich in ancient archaeological sites. At every turn one comes across another treasure, from the amazing Roman bath houses to important early Christian churches and burial grounds.
'Samos is a lush green island which suffered a devastating fire thirty years ago. The result has been a re-growth of flora and forna the like of which is unequalled amongst the other Greek islands. The deep brown soil land is rich in olive trees, fruit and vegetables. Butterflies and exotic birds abound.
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I don’t think I’ve ever seen wild flowers like those I saw on Samos.
As if God had splattered
flecks of yellow and red
on a canvas of green
And released a thousand butterflies
to fancify the scene
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This was my second visit. I wrote at length about my first trip in my article ‘Samos – an unspoilt Greek Island’ some time ago. So this time I went to relax – chill out! Do nothing! So you will be relieved to know that I’m not about to launch into another two thousand word epic!

Last time I went I found myself in a hotel so close to the airport runway that I swear I saw passengers waving at me from their little round windows! At that time I noticed a beautiful new hotel being built a bit further back, and part way up the mountain slope. It didn’t have a name at that stage. Imagine my surprise when I found that I had unknowingly booked myself in there! The airport was still there, but quite a bit more distant, and with only a handful of flights a day in and out, it actually provided something of an interesting diversion.
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A couple of days ago I overheard a funny conversation at the reception desk. A guy said to the receptionist “I want to hire a car” The girl said “Ah – you want Nico’s”. The man laughed and said “I don’t want knickers, I want to hire a car!”.”Yes” said the girl “Nico’s”. The bloke looked at me and shrugged his shoulders. I then pointed him in the direction of a rack of leaflets advertising Nico’s Car Rentals.

Friends recommended a fish restaurant in the tiny fishing village of Possidonian. Despite my intention not to travel around this time, I thought I’d give it a try. I’m so glad I did. The trip took me on winding roads through mountain passes, and i found myself in the prettiest little port imaginable. Not much was going on. Elderly ladies sat in the porches embroidering, and weather-worn gentlemen of the sea, sat around passing the time of day. There was just one restaurant with a seating deck out across the sea, and a couple of fishing boats moored alongside. In one sat a fisherman – just two eyes peering out from a mass of black hair as he sat cracking open shells and eating the raw contents.
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I had a wonderful yet simple meal of grilled silver snapper fresh from the sea. I sat with a couple of ever present cats to my right, whilst to my left a shoal of tiny fish appeared to be looking up at me, unaware that I was tucking in to one of their less fortunate relations!
.I took most of my meals at the Pegusus Bar. You may remember I spoke about in my last post on Samos. I was so pleased to find genial host Leftiris still very much in charge along with his wife and daughter. I was even more surprised with the wonderful greeting I got when I arrived on my first day! It never occurred to me that I would be remembered. So once I again I dined on mossaka, stuffed vine leaves, kleftiko, kebabs and of course Greek salad, tzatziki and tarramasalata. I left with a promise to return another year.
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I really didn’t do much else. I sat, I read, I ate, and I drank! I took a couple of hundred photos and read four books!

On my last night I sat in an overstuffed armchair outside Gregors bar and looked out across the still water in the harbour

As I looked out into the night
memories of days before
played out in my mind


A full moon looked back
I’m sure I heard it say
please come back another day.
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Ps. Just after takeoff, the pilot told us we would be flying over Greece, the foot of Italy, Rome, Venice, Paris and Bexhill on Sea!

I always knew that it was just a matter of time before my home town would be mentioned in the same sentence as such exotic destinations as those!
I have put my best 36 photos of Samos on my Keiths Images site.
Want a look? Click Here
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14 comments:

  1. Sounds like you had a lovely time. Thanks for sharing, I found your travels quite interesting!

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  2. That sounded like a worthwhile break. Hope you're refreshed.

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  3. Hey there Cheffie,

    So glad to have you back with us but most of all so glad to hear that you were remembered and had such a fantastic time. I love all of your posts cause they are so detailed. I love Greek salads and zatziki. For those who do not know what it is it is Greek plain yogurt strained which you can find in the supermarkets and it is cucumbers mixed in and some minced garlic truly wonderful. I am glad you had a good time.

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  4. what a beautiful travelogue. beautiful stories and pics. its like taking us there, the details had me as if im with you. its always good to be back to a place we once belong..

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  5. Hi Keith, Welcome back!

    I didn't even know you left, I am too busy myself with work thay my time visiting and reading posts is becoming limited these days.

    What a grand vacation you had ~ but what interests and draw me more to what you shared is the tranquility you had in your vacation as you told them. There is a certain quietude and calmness in your words. Oftentimes, vacations instead of relaxing us exhausts us with too limited time or with too busy iteneraries and long to do lists. But your recent travel is different, its descriptive of how relaxation is all about, of how simple things gave you subtle bliss. I wish I could have the same vacation soon. work is imposing too much in me that I need a break like that.

    Reading your piece is like experiencing the same bliss and I'm recharged myself.

    I like the poems you wrote in between, place and moments like that indeed are great source of inspiration. The result are this lovely little poems.

    I wish you well.

    ~ Jeques

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  6. Brings back happy memories of times I spent on the island of Paros. Similar in ways, but very different.

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  7. Keith -- Next time you go somewhere cool like this ... do me a favor! TAKE ME WITH YOU!!!!!!!!

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  8. Sounds wonderful. Islands have such a magic to them - at least once you get away from the runway!

    I love the image of wildflowers as thousands of butterflies. Lovely indeed.

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  9. Sounds wonderful and the pics are amazing. I missed ya hun x

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  10. What a lovely place, and how well you described it. I almost felt like I was there, too. (Almost because at the moment the kids are arguing, so it's not as idyllic as it might be.) Thank you for letting us in on your wonderful trip.

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  11. Seems like you had a great time. Great photos too. And it so good to see you back!

    end of the world for me

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  12. Welcome Home Keith! YOur photos are amazing. Sounds like you had a relaxing wonderful time!
    I hope you DO get to go back another time.
    thanks for your Card! that was exciting and oh so thoughtful. xox

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  13. i really enjoyed reading your ramblings which i stumbled upon accidentally.it brought back such great memories for me and my wife.we went in 05 and again in 08.we stayed in the villa anna studios right next to the evelin hotel which you stayed at.man, i cant wait to go again!

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  14. Samos is the one that got away. I fell in love with Greece in the early seventies and my heart aches that we can't go there any more.
    I'll be back to see your photos again.

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