Friday, 11 July 2014

Moscow, I'm Russian (There IS a joke there, keep trying!)

It's been an OK week. Bit hot, but not as hot as usual for July, so that's a bonus. We had a free day on Monday and so, several-hundred-yard-long list of things to do in town tucked into the back pocket, off we set.

The town chores went fairly well, as long as you don't count discovering a distinctly strong pull to the right on the steering wheel (after returning to the car and almost dying from the furnace-like temperature within - now that's when I do appreciate air-con) as we pulled away from the parking space we'd shoehorned the car into earlier. No sooner had we turned a corner or two I had to find a place to pull over, right in the thick of the town traffic, and see what the problem was. Yup, sure enough, almost no air left in the front right tyre. Ger-reat! It's always when you've got your half-decent casual wear on that you have a flat tyre isn't it. Of course, living here it's almost a hobby getting punctures. We've probably averaged a couple per year ever since we moved out here. But I could have done without one in 36º of Celsius heat beside a busy road in Rhodes town. Out came all the stuff in the boot (trunk - fellas) and that all went on to the back seat and then out came the tyre-changing kit. 

Why do car manufacturers do that? I mean, place the spare under the floor in the boot? I found myself musing over all those classic cars of the twenties and thirties that had the spare in a wheel-shaped compartment situated outside on the rear of the vehicle. That's such a good idea, don't you think? As my hands became ever blacker, so did my mood. Bless her - my dearly beloved offered to help, but I couldn't bring myself to let her. She couldn't have done much anyway and so she retired to the other side of the pavement (sidewalk!) to gaze into a shop window or three, under the awnings and out of the blazing sun that was adding to my misery by the second.

It had all gone OK up until then. We'd even had a good frappé in the People and People Café beside Mandraki harbour and mused on how pleasant life can be occasionally. A good spot of people-watching always sets one up, eh?

Spare tyre now on and flat tucked away under the floor of the boot, we decided we needed a pick-me-up before confronting the food shopping. So we decided to go somewhere we hadn't been for several years, the last time had been during the wintertime too, to Kallithea Springs, between Koskinou and Faliraki, a few kilometres south of town on the east coast.

Kallithea Springs is an oasis of "cool" (that's "cool" as in chic) in a little stretch of wild and forested coastline between two rather built-up areas. Once you arrive and pay your 2 Euros each (worth every cent I say) to go in, it's like you've arrived on the French Riviera - there are that many elegant people around, usually dressed in very little, but it's very little that nevertheless smells of money. Yes, there are a few local youths about too, they'll have a coffee and make it last for hours, and that's good, but the overwhelming feeling one gets is that the slightly more well-heeled leisure-seeker plonks his or her rump on these loungers or café chairs once you've made the short walk to the waterfront café/restaurant.

There is a small beach, about the size of a hankie, but most of the tiny secluded bay in which the resort is set is rocks and stone terraces, all of which are well equipped with umbrellas and sun beds. The only building not yet fully renovated here is the Rotunda (and they're working on it now), which is the one right on the bay where the hot springs used to rise, even though they're scarcely more than a trickle these days. Check out the rather good website, where you can learn all about the history of the place, here. Mind you, the site's English isn't much to write home about.

So, to the snaps we took as we partook of cold drinks and tortilla wraps at our table in the shade...

The Rotunda, rarther fetchingly swathed in a half-hearted curtain-wall and scaffolding, since they chose the summer season to carry on with the renovations. It doesn't detract from the environment at the Café though.

Approaching the café, which is run by a local company called Pane di Capo

Yea, OK, so I don't quite get this "looking cool" thing. Don't you dare refer back to a "spare tyre" at this point!

The food's rather good. A little more pricey than elsewhere perhaps, but pushing the boat out now and then doesn't hurt, eh?

I took a swim  right from the café's terrace and returned dripping to the table. The staff don't mind.

The pavillions are so beautiful they're in danger of eclipsing the brides at the weddings that take place here, of which there are many during the summer season, and understandably so.

A member of staff "hangs tough"

The ice creams were a freebie from the two guys who served us. Good eh? It worked, we tipped them generously!

The only piece of beach in the place, not that it matters.

On the coach for the Bay-to-Bay excursion on Wednesday, I was remarking to the driver (also a Yianni) that we had a few Russian families to pick up and I didn't have a clue how to communicate with them if they didn't understand English. This driver, whom I've worked with several times already this season, is a big guy who I'd have said was about 70 years old. I decided not to react when he told me he was in fact, 55, and had to wait a further seven years before he'd be getting a pension. This guy's younger than me and he felt like he could have been my dad!! Gawd knows what kind of life he's led. But then, read on...

The main things is he's very nice guy and we get on really well. He likes to chat away as he wipes the sweat regularly from his brow whilst we're trundling along and I thought I'd found out all there was to know about him that was of interest, when he came out with...

"No problem, Yianni, I understand Russian."

Now, I've met a lot of Greeks and I'd say that apart from the odd professor or two, none of 'em speak Russian! You'd have been intrigued too, agreed?

Well, it all has to do with what happened in 1967 here in Greece. It was then that a right wing Military government took over which lasted until 1974. Under this regime left wing supporters either fled, were banished, or risked imprisonment. One high profile victim of this regime was the prolific composer and highly esteemed Greek musician Mikis Theodorakis.

My driver's parents were communists and hence they fled to Russia, with of course their 8 year-old son, who was now sitting beside me driving the coach. He told me they'd spent a couple of decades in Russia, hence his ability to speak the language. He's been back in his native Rhodes for well over 20 years now, but still understands the language, which of course he'd used when in school.

The only trouble was, he came over all shy when I waved the microphone under his nose and asked him to say a few words to the Russian guests once they'd climbed aboard. Of course, I needn't have worried, since most Russians under about 45 years of age speak at least a smattering of English anyway. Nevertheless though, after we'd boarded the coach for the return following our immensely enjoyable cruise up the east coast as far as Stegna Bay (where we go ashore to take lunch) he was able to tell me that the Russians had expressed their ecstatic thanks and appreciation for a day well-spent on board the "Lindos" after I'd asked in French and English "Did we all have a good day?" The Russians had replied:

"Это было замечательно!"

...Yea, I thought so too.

Walking back up the steep path from the boat's mooring in St. Paul's Bay to meet the coach, I snapped this...

Go on, you do wish you were here, eh?

On the cruise this week I had guests from France, Italy, Poland (where the women are all gorgeous), Russia and, oh yes, ...the UK!! Last week I'd had a very nice young couple from Holland too, who were euphoric about their teams' progress in the World Cup, whatever that is.

Anyway, Moscow now, I'm Russian (You do get that, don't you!?)


  1. Good shot of St Pauls...

  2. Now your title is misleading. No-one rushes anywhere in the summer heat on Rhodes. Or in the winter for that matter, it's a Greek thing!