A chronicle of Alison and Ron's trip around the world in 2009-2010.

"Not all those who wander are lost"
- Tolkien

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

And then there was Anafi...

This is the Greece I dreamt about. Small idyllic island out in the middle of nowhere. No people to speak of, a population of about two hundred and only a couple dozen visitors. One port with one road leading up to one town. Beaches you discover like Cortez and can call your own. In a word, perfect.

We arrived at 8pm at night with no room but heard there was a hotel at a nearby beach so we hiked over a little mountain in the relative darkness hoping we could find a room but preparing ourselves to camp on the beach since we declined the last bus to town. There was a four room bungalow run by a guy named Artemis and as luck would have it the couple booking it were delayed by a day and we could have it for one night. We threw our stuff down and headed to Margarita’s for dinner, a great family-run restaurant about 12 steps away overlooking Klissidi Beach, and ordered chicken with roasted potatoes and fried meatballs seasoned with spearmint.

The next morning, I awoke to the window thrown open to the sea air and the sound of crashing waves only a short distance below. I found myself lulled by the tranquility of it all like I was living inside one of my meditation cd’s but this was no studio recreation. This is my actual life.

One of these days we will hike up to the monastery far up on the hillside. I will summon the rains and play the gongs loudly and see what its like to live out track 2. No pause. No rewind. Just hit play and sit back and relax for a week. At least. Or maybe forever? There’s an old hippie guy who sits at the same table everyday. Drinks beer at 10 in the morning. Looks like he showed up here one day and just never left. I can see why.

We took the bus to the hora and the driver recommended a hotel named Iliovasilema and when we saw the cute lacy room with wooden poster bed and garden patio overlooking the ocean we didn’t hesitate a second. The sweet women who runs the place even brought us fresh flowers and a bowl of apricots.

Once we settled in it was really,….quiet. No traffic, no tv, no noise, nothing. And there was nothing to do. Well not nothing exactly. That may be a little exaggeration. But nothing much. Sipping coffee on the patio overlooking the ocean. Reading. Napping. Washing clothes in the sink. Laying on the beach. Drinking beer by the sunset. Walking the MC Escher-esque alleways. Watching the kids play kickball. Saying “Yassas” to the locals passing by. Playing cards into the night. Whoever said you get bored doing nothing doesn’t deserve the luxury of nothing. Nothing sure is great. I could nothing for the rest of my life!

We went to get groceries and Ron comes up with a plastic water bottle filled with what? Raki…this from the man who won’t drink milk one second after the expiration date is now buying unmarked bottles of booze. “It’s homemade, it must be better.” Usually I concede that’s the truth but in this case it was wrong wrong Ron. Luckily we learned of an elixir called Rakomena and heated our strange brew with copious amounts of local honey, improving the taste and making a quasi-dessert too!

One night we ate at Liotrivi which serves up fresh fish everyday caught from their family boat. We had Sebring which came out as a whole grilled fish (the first whole fish I’ve ever eaten) and it was pretty delectable. We also had a traditional dish called Gemista which was zucchini and tomato stuffed with rice, that we both Loved with a capital L. Overall the food has been very good here, we tried a greek salad that came with some local caper leaves on top that was also delish. Maybe I’m just hard up for veggies, I’m used to eating greens everyday but my diet has been more of the 2 euro pie followed by the 2 euro gyro, so a fresh lively salad is a real treat.

Around day 4 of our new island life we rented an ATV for a couple days and explored the island which was much bigger than we originally thought. We drove out to the monastery (no gongs though) across the brown mountainous landscape dotted with bright purple bushes.

Then we found a totally secluded beach to spend the afternoon swimming, tanning, and reading. It was so relaxing and luxurious having our own private inlet of sand sky and water. Quite the opposite experience of glittery Santori.

The next day we went to another beach that was larger and busier (meaning maybe a dozen or so people) which as we hiked in closer turned out to be clothing optional beach (with everyone taking the option). Surprisingly I’ve been pretty comfortable going topless when socially appropriate but on this occasion, even Ron braved it without his skivvies! In times like this, you look and more personally feel far weirder all bundled up, and it is pretty liberating with nothing between you and the cool aqua ocean.

Overall, we've thoroughly relished our week in Anafi. The seclusion and slow pace of a little rock in the Aegean sea is exactly what we've craved.


emiko July 4, 2009 at 1:46 AM  

Hey, Ali & Ron...
Love all the photos!
Anafi looks heavenly & peaceful.
What fun you guys must be having!

ron_diane July 4, 2009 at 3:30 PM  

What a great description of your Greek Isle. I want to get-away and do nothing in the quiet on the sea! Wait....that's exactaly what we are doing. Tomorrow we leave for 8 weeks on the water in British Columbia, in the quiet, staying in secluded coves and hiking deserted beaches. So maybe next year when you return you might want to do some Northwest cruising with us in memory of your trip in the Greek Islands? Let the dreams continue!

suntea July 7, 2009 at 7:29 AM  

I've really been enjoying your writings and photos. Thanks for the frequent updates.

Oh, there was a pretty well-known Phoenix artist who died recently from drinking homemade liquor while in Bali - so maybe avoid.

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