Five Days/Five Greek Photos Day 3: Once in a Blue Moon

S0227081My favourite routine each evening was to have dinner on the front patio looking out to sea, watching the sun’s orange glow slowly  dip and disappear.   For a short while, as the sun descended, the horizon displayed fantastic shades of purple,  which sadly faded as the light gave way.   The orange moon ascended and turned white.  This year the municipality turned off half the island’s street lights to save money, so the moonlight  featured even more above our darkened view of the town below.  Every night the lunar show was repeated but every night it was a little different.

As the days passed and our evening moon became fuller and fuller, media chat started about the forthcoming blue moon, which was just an expression to us before.  We learnt,  like the rest of the planet,  that its the rare second full moon in one month, and we decided to spend it on the beach.

I loved how brightly the blue moon burned and lit up the rocks on the beach.  We barely needed the lamp.

Five Days/Five Greek Photos Day 2: Harrods


Fifteen years ago when we lived year round in Greece, if you needed thread, pillows, tableware, fabric…just about anything really…you went to Harrods to see if they had it in stock.  If it was on the island at all, Harrods was often your best bet.   The British community had affectionately dubbed it after the famous Knightsbridge store in part because it was the was the general largest store on the island and had seemingly be around for ever.  And in part, I think, because it highlighted just how limited our shopping options were at that time.

Inside the store was a fascinating mix of old style retail design with funky old Greek products and modern items from all over the world.  The main sales counter also doubled as the haberdashery section with bolts of cloth on spools lining the wall behind the cashier.  The main floor was covered in motley displays of everything: men’s, women’s and children’s clothing, lingerie, bathing suits, pressure cookers and reels of floral plastic sheeting that Greeks love to use to cover dining tables.   Above,  a traditional narrow mezzanine floor stored boxes and dusty old promotional posters for 1970s L’Oreal products and Sloggi underwear.  It was a time warp, and there was nothing else like it.

Twenty years before I remember several similar department stores in Athens.  Some still had wire or cash carrier tubes to carry  cash and receipts and the same old-fashioned mezzanine floors.  They are all gone now as far as I now, but Harrods lived on, at least until about five years ago when I returned one summer to find it closed.  One summer soon I expect to return again to find it gutted, characterless and selling $400 designer jeans.  Its the way the world turns I suppose, but I would love to get another peek inside at its faded glory and its glimpse of another time.


Beach Life

The other kind of beach life that is… I thought this would be the best way to close all the stories from Greece this Summer: a short glimpse at one of our favourite beaches, Kounoupi. There’s plenty of other kinds of beach life going on with beer and friends and food. But if you step away and find a quiet spot, here are a few portraits of life on a beach… Bye Spetses…see you next year!









Hike to Zogaria


The peaceful wide trail at the start of the hike

The trail to Zogeria is one of the longest on the island and has been on my hiking to-do list for years. Zogeria is on the northern tip of Spetses and starts with the usual hike up to the ridge road, and then takes a right-hand turn towards the Church of Agias Ilias, the highest point on the island.   Latham and I stopped there for a small breakfast and enjoyed the views from the row of red chairs that look out to the sparkling early morning sea.  From the sterna of Agias Ilias you can see out to both sides of the island (reminding you how small the island really is), but our peace was broken by the bees were up early too, so we grabbed the map and figured out the start of the new northbound trail that we hadn’t taken before.

The first part was easy to follow but finding the turn off was harder.  When we found it, it looked very narrow and rarely used.  Pricker bushes grew over the path or threatened to catapult across your legs, armed with thorns that looked like they could pierce leather.  It was easy to believe that we had taken a wrong turn, but we moved carefully onward and it brought us to the right place, an obscure point on the main ring road which I had never noticed  before as a trail head.  Had we been on a motorbike, we would have turned right and taken the wide dirt trail directly down to the sea and followed the path a bumpy 1-2km to the beach at Zogeria.  Our pedestrian map told us to turn left and walk a short way along the concrete road, turning right on to a long narrow trail that paralleled the lower coast road.  It kept us high up forever, winding back and forth. Now three hours into the hike,  the sun was getting higher and hotter in the sky.  I was starting to wilt and the most challenging part of the walk was upon us: spiders!  Lots of them.   Strung out across the path from tree-to-tree.  You couldn’t see the threat of their invisible webs until they were upon you. If your attention waned for just a few moments, suddenly there would be the caress of an elastic web string pulling across your face, a pregnant pause, and the veil of the web would land in your hair with the promise of a very large spider in the middle of it!   We tried to tread waringly.

Latham grabbed a stick to serve as the Spidermaster 1000, and waving it ahead of us Harry Potter-style, he caught almost all of the invisible webs before they caught us.  A few slipped through the wand’s magic powers and we batted our heads and waved our arms, screaming the spiders out of our hair.   After forty five minutes of this, I was exhausted and wobbly,  but happily the path started to descend towards the sea.  All I could think of was how I was going to  throw myself in the ocean headfirst.

We cooled off in the sea for a blissful 20 minutes, then started the final, easy hike along the coast road to Zogeria Beach.  It had been a 4.5 hour hike with the swim stop.  I’d do it again, but next time I’ll be turning right!


One of the terrible spider beasties – out to get us!


Wielding the Spidermaster 1000 against the evil spider army


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These people arrived by boat on Zogeria beach.  No spider-battling stories for them!


The reward of a greek salad at the end of the hike.

Hara Chapel


Leading from the side of the Hara home are the remains of a pretty mosiac path that winds through the pine trees.  The trail clearly promises some kind of discovery at the end, although we didn’t know what.  With curiosity, we followed it to discover a small chapel that was is need of some TLC but was pretty good structural condition otherwise, but it had no front door.  The paint was peeling off the exterior walls, but the inside was still a blaze of colour.


And inside someone was still tending the place. Candles burned at the icons of mother and child, the floor was swept, and garlands of olive branches decorated the walls. An old plastic chair in the corner must have been the caretaker’s private spot to enjoy the quiet and peace of the place. We sat a while and looked up to the ceiling. It was a blaze of blue with stars looking down on the pretty ochre walls and wooden carvings.





So sad that the chapel sits there so lonely most of the time, but its I’m glad to see someone still takes care of it a bit. Wonder what happened to the doors?

Greek August Nights


I love sitting at night and look out to sea from our home. On a hot August night its hard to imagine why we don’t do it every night of the year.


This night we were waiting for the harvest moon to rise and it took a few glasses of wine to accompany the wait..


…and finally it rose and shone so brightly that it casts moonshadows in our garden. Beautiful!

For more stories of the night see:

A Word a Week Photo Challenge: Rust


Every summer for about the last ten years, I’ve tried to retrace steps to the other side of the island where we usually don’t visit very often. The reason is that getting back is difficult because there’s no bus to take you back and its usually too hot or too dark to walk both ways in August.


This year we worked out the logistics with motorbikes and Latham and set off early evening to find an old abandoned house that I remember from years back, Hara.  It’s distinctive gate has its name written above in rusting letters, “Xara” (Hara) meaning “joy” in Greek.  I hadn’t seen it for about fifteen years and remembered little except that distinctive gate.  I did recall though that it had an intact roof and locked doors and windows, which wasn’t the case when we visited this time.

The roof had collapsed in many places, some rooms were filled with broken rafters and tiles, but a few still remained recognizable as their original function.  We wandered around, exploring the nooks and crannies of what was once someone’s home.  The house once belonged to the poet sisters Mary and Irene Botassi, and Irene’s husband Herman, after they retired from living in Switzerland.  As far as I can figure, the house has been abandoned for over fifty years.  It  was both fascinating and sad to see it slowly crumble.

Click here for other rust submissions







“Xara” in pebble mosiac, buried under years of pine cones.