Wednesday, 28 October 2015

The Perils of Taking a Pee

This post is going to be Photo-heavy ..eventually. But there is a bit of a tale behind it too. The pics [when we finally get to them] were shot on Monday October 26th, when I went to a coffee and cake event at Lindos Reception, held in the noble cause of raising cash for the local health centres at Arhangelos and Lindos, which are short of medical supplies. The event raised well over €1000, so well done to Melanie at LR for hosting it. The chocolate brownies too were worth the visit alone.

My better half had originally planned to attend the event with me, but in the end changes in her work schedule mean she couldn't come. So, she dropped me off in the middle of Psaltos Bay with several hours to kill while she went off to earn a few Euros.

With the plan formulated as above, I took along my trusty digital camera and decided that, once I'd spent a while at the event, I'd mosey off on foot and snap some shots, hopefully with some different vistas from the thousands I'd shot in the past. I hope you'll agree that some of them at least came out pretty good. I got to Lindos Reception at around 10.00am, just as the event was getting started. Armed with a frappé and a choccy brownie I retired alone to a table, but was soon keeping company with a couple of old friends. All in all, a pleasant interlude ensued, but I was keen to get started on my trek too, so at something like 11.15am I bade them cheerio, waved to Melanie (who was knee deep in requests for more refreshments from the considerable crowd that had gathered), and started down the hill towards St. Paul's Bay.

Cue the first few photos then...

Psaltos Bay. Ever get that feeling you're being watched?

The famous "Navarone" cliffs just creep into this one.

So, there I was scrambling around beside the little church where all the weddings take place and enjoying the much milder temperature of this time of the year [a very acceptable 25ºC, or 77ºF in the old money], when I was quite surprised by how many tourists were still in evidence at the south end of the bay...

OK, so that's the other end but, still, the same thought applies.

Having snapped enough, I decided that it was time I did a spot of mountaineering and climbed the "mesa" above the church, something I'd never done before. I spotted a trig point up there from the terrace at Lindos Reception, so I thought, "you have to go up there Johhny boy." I had all the time in the world anyway, so off I set, back up the path from the beach to the parking area, then up across the jagged rocky slope that eventually becomes almost vertical in places, in order to put a spot of altitude into the morning. Eventually I managed to reach the trig point, but I tell you, it's flamin' hard going, since the rocks around it for many metres in all directions are deeply fissured and quite sharp, with barely a spot wide enough to place your feet. It's like walking on knife edges. 

Once I got to the trig point, I snapped a few more shots but also began to feel the call of nature. You know how it is, with quite a lot of water and a frappé inside me, the old bladder was in need of some relief. Now, as the crow flies, it's probably half a kilometre from the trig point to the Lindos Acropolis, which I could see was well blessed with sightseers. I wondered if any of them had binoculars about their person and then decided that, what the heck, I needed the relief and I was well in a position to do a "Who's Next" on the trig point. If you're not sure what a "Who's Next" is, then check out the front cover of the album by the same name which the Who brought out as the follow-up to Tommy. It's a much better album too, by the way.

Climb under way.

Nearing the top.

Trig point reached. There it is bottom right. Note the rocks around it. Lacerated the leather surface of my shoes I can tell you. You would NOT want to get an ankle caught in one of those.

Trig point bottom left of shot with Lindos Acropolis in the distance.

Who's Next duly accomplished.
Now, here I was, not having seen a soul for at least half an hour, pretty confident that I could probably have torn all my clothes off and done a rain dance up there, zipping up my shorts whilst feeling decidedly more comfortable within, when blow me if a woman in shorts, singlet and with a ruck sack on her back didn't appear over the rim of the "mesa" not more than twenty metres away. Doing my best to look nonchalant and hoping she didn't look too closely at the trig point, I said "hello" with an innocent grin and, as she balanced her way precariously across the razor rocks toward the far edge in order to take in the view, I scarpered as sharpishly as I could to begin my descent before she came over to stand by the trig point. While I began my descent I couldn't help thinking how close that had been. if she'd crested that ridge one minute earlier. Or what if I'd had a mad moment and stripped off too? Oops.

I was quite relieved (see, I can't help it, a pun a minute, that's me. Not saying which minute though) to reach the car park below where I'd be able to pick up speed and begin my walk back up the hill and off along Psaltos Bay toward Pefkos and beyond. Here are the rest of the photos I snapped as I walked...

Heading off from St. Paul's Bay toward Psaltos Bay again.

Any Pefkos regulars out there know where this is then?

Having talked to the dearly beloved on the phone and discovered that she was going to be longer than first expected with her work, I told her that I'd just continue walking to Pefkos and from there on toward home and wait for her come come by and pick me up. Trouble was, by the time I reached the "Pefkos By Night" junction I was starving and thirsty and the small bottle of water in my rucksack had to keep me going for a while yet. Not one café on that flippin' junction was open so I had to double back along the "main drag" into Pefkos where I was relieved (only figuratively this time though) to find that the Caprice Bar was not only open, but had a respectable smattering of people sitting at the tables too. Janet, the proprietor, approached and took my order for a large draught beer and a plate of chips (here we go again, check this one out, if you haven't already read it a dozen times).

Suitably revived and updated by phone from the better half that she still didn't know when she'd be finishing work, I set off again along the road past the Palm Bay and Coralli and on toward Lothiarika. By the time I reached the Lindos Princess hotel my feet were complaining as I'd been walking for about three hours, plus the large beer I'd imbibed at the Caprice was starting to ask for permission to abandon ship. Even after a whole Rhodean summer of sunshine, my nose and ears were getting a little sore too. Of course, once I'd rounded the bend just after the Lindos Princess and the couple of shops beside it, there were a couple of opportunities to perhaps slip away off the road and into the undergrowth for further bladder relief. The problem was, knowing my luck I'd be in mid flow when the wife would go sailing past and miss me. She'd cover the remaining seven or eight kilometres to home before realising that I wasn't there yet and so I'd be sitting on the roadside crying by the time she came back.

There was nothing for it but to, wait, my phone was ringing. It was the better half. "Just winding up now," she told me, "So why don't you sit down and wait for me. You must be exhausted."

Having decided not to take issue with that understatement of the year, I said OK and we hung up. Knowing how far away she still was and also how long it takes for women to actually say cheerio and part company, I calculated that I would definitely have time to zip along a thirty metre path that I was just passing on my right, take a pee and be back on the road well before she got there. I was not far short of the Lardos Folklore Museum and I know an old cottage where, although part of it has been renovated and is lived in, the part nearest the path is only used as an apothiki (shed, storage room). The cottage is in an olive grove and there is sufficient cover behind a wall at the gateway for one to hopefully avoid another close shave like the one I had up at the trig point above St. Paul's Bay.

I no sooner got behind the wall to be sure that I was not visible from the road when I had the old fly undone and started the business at hand. Not a moment too soon I can tell you. There I was, halfway through my business when I heard this sound. It was a sound I know all too well because I recently bought myself a mountain bike. It was the sound of bicycle gears changing and brakes being applied. There I was, standing just inside this wall by the gate of this old cottage, therefore actually on private property, busily watering the weeds against the cottage wall, when this young chap, who must have been in his mid-twenties and considerably bigger than me in all directions, shot past behind me, not more than three feet from my back, came to a halt beside the back garden gate to my left and I wasn't able to do anything about the situation. 

You know how it is fellas, when you're that desperate and you're in mid-flow. You have to finish the job. There's no alternative. It was pretty evident that the young chap was somewhat taken aback at first. What else was there to do but turn my head toward him and declare weakly (sickly imploring grin adopted too of course), "Umm, signomi, alla, den eiha epologi [Umm, sorry, but I had no choice!]".

I was waiting for a thick ear (as my dad used to say) or at least a "What the HELL do you think you're doing!?" when he dismounted, leaned his bike against the cottage wall, smiled at me, winked and went in through the gate. Phew. The man understood.

You know how some people say that things happen in threes. Well, I walked back out on to the road, reached the Mini Golf on the junction, flopped myself down on the low wall that surrounds the "course" and waited. Yippee, ten minutes passed and the wife arrived. No third embarrassement ensued. So there superstitious ones!

Falling into the passenger seat of the car and assuming my very best "I'm sooo worn out, do please feel sorry for me" look, I heard my wife say, "Bet you're relieved."

She had no idea how close to the truth she was.

Thursday, 22 October 2015

A Dream Down a Backstreet

As is our habit, we ended up strolling the streets of Gennadi, just 4km fro our house, the other day. I've posted a few photos of the village before, but here are some more...

As you can see, very crowded...

This and the photo below is the terrace at Effie's Dreams. More about this in the text after the photos.

You could be forgiven for thinking the place is a ghost town at around 11.30am

Time here to throw one's arms in the air and admit, we've lived here all these years and once or twice gazed upon Effie's Dreams from a distance, but never actually gone there. TBH, the main reason was because we'd always heard that it was a bit of a hangout for ex-pat Brits and (sorry to offend anyone here) we dont' "do" the ex-pat fraternity thing.

Anyway, last Saturday we'd walked Gennadi for a while, dropping by to see a few local folk we knew just briefly, when we decided it was high time we partook of a frappé. So, almost by accident we turned the corner and there was Effie's Dreams. It didn't, however, look the same. It looked far more traditional than we remembered and, dare I say, quite inviting, even though it's not a place for people-watching as it's tucked away down a narrow lane that leads out of the village through some olive groves.

As I understand it, Effie herself is paraplegic and can only get around using a motorised wheelchair. You can see her in the second of those photos above. We actually thought it would be nice to have a talk with her, but she had company, so it would have to wait for another time. The family has been touched by tragedy, as her brother (we think, but we'll ask when it's an appropriate moment so time) was killed in a road accident and it was he who used to support her the most in practical ways. Nevertheless, the place looked good and so we sat down and waited to be served. I deduce that the woman is very capable and independent and I take my hat off to her.

I know I've gone on about this before, but this is what's so civilised about Mediterranean countries. You sit down and someone comes to your table to serve you. In a place as tucked away as this one could have easily expected to have to go inside and order but, no, here was a very likeable young bearded fellow arriving at the table, pencil and pad in hand. We ordered our frappés and off he went.

I know, I'm getting long in the tooth and perhaps I'm losing my memory regarding how when you're young you try really hard to fit in, even if it involves following fashions or trends that are simply ridiculous. I still remember vividly though (how could I forget?) wearing loon pants with flairs that were so wide that I actually tripped myself up whilst running to catch a bus in Southdown Road, Bath when I must have been around sixteen or seventeen. I hit the pavement (sidewalk, guys) really hard and was fortunate not to knock a tooth out or break an arm or possibly my neck (some would wish...), but was able to get up, limp to the bus and get on, whilst thirty or so other passengers all looked on with glee. Great eh? I'm sure that such experiences are what have scarred me for life. I can't talk about it any more OK?

Going back to what sparked this off. Trends and young folk. It was while watching the Six Nations Rugby a year ago last February-March that I first noticed this growing trend for young fellas to sport great bushy beards. At first I thought that members of the Amish had perhaps been born in Wales and were thus eligible to play for the national side. Or maybe since the fishing industry is on the wane, eh? 

Anyway, then we were in Naxos in April 2014 and it was as though the whole island was crawling with orthodox priests! Sitting in a café you could have whipped out your pruning shears and shaved enough hair to stuff a showroom full of sofas. It's just me OK? But I hate 'em. Not the blokes behind them of course, but they do all look like sheep to me. Plus I wouldn't want to buy shares in Gillette right now, it's all I'm saying.

So, as kind of expected, our "waiter" sported his regulation bushy beard, thus placing him in the under 30 age-group. Plus he was far too good looking (that part of him you could actually see of course) for his own good and it's at times like these when I wish my wife looked her age. See, my insecurities again. Goes back to my teenage years. Curse whoever invented loon pants.

Here she is on an evening stroll just last week...

Stop it, woman, for goodness sake.
So, as our waiter deposited the coffees on the table we asked him a question or two about Effie's Dreams. Why did it look different, for example? Was it just us? No, he told us, they'd recently refurbished the place and made it look much more inviting and traditional and by the time we'd concluded the chat we not only liked the young chap very much, but we were going to return and take a meal there very soon.

So, if you've checked out the links in the text above, you'll have discovered that the place has a very nice website, which shows that they have some exceedingly well-maintained and tastefully decorated studios, plus there is a gallery showing photos of the taverna and the area around the building. Click this link for the history of the place.

In short, I'll say without fear of contraception (Brits of a certain age will remember dear old Hilda Baker when I say that. It WAS an intentional slip by the way!), that if you're looking for an out-of-the-way place for a really "Greek" holiday, you could do a lot worse than stay at Effie's Dreams. Y'know, as we walked away from the place I almost wished I didn't live here so I could come and have a holiday at Effie's Dreams!

We shall imminently be eating there, so I'll most definitely report on the experience.

As a final word about Gennadi. There was a time a few years ago when it was a popular holiday destination for those looking for the "real" Greece. It still is and I'd thoroughly recommend you check it out next time you're planning a visit. Do it yourself, it's rewarding and life-enhancing.

Phew, got a bit lyrical there. Sorry.

Thursday, 15 October 2015

Comings and Goings

Well , it looks like I've done my last excursion for this season. I've really enjoyed myself this year and met some very nice guests from upward of nine or ten different countries. You do get a kind of "feel" for the different nationalities in this job. Whilst I'd be the first to say that one should never "group" judge, there are definitely characteristics that certain nationalities display.

For example, whilst I've met some really nice personable Russians, by and large they're quite stern and not too ready with a smile. The Scandinavians virtually all speak English and the Germans, whilst not dressing exactly like the British, do have about the same level of taste in the apparel department, which isn't much. The Italians nine times out of ten wear something white or navy and always look chic. Plus they're generally little of stature, totally disorganised and yet always chirpy. The Dutch are usually intelligent and also speak very good English and the French will never use the "hello" word, which is universally recognised when greeting someone who you probably won't be able to communicate with too well. No, the French will always respond with a "Bonjour". I wonder if they ever heard about that UK comedy TV series set in France during the war, "Allo Allo," probably not.

I have to say that the country that wins hands-down for me this season is, wait for it - Poland. I've had loads of guests from there and virtually to a man (woman, child...) they've been happy, courteous and appreciative. I've had some boat excursions where 50% of my guests have been from Poland and right from the first, when the coach pulls up outside their accommodation, they've come out smiling. By the time we get them back at the end of the day and I've made a feeble attempt at ingratiating myself by saying "Jin Koo Yeh" [my phonetic spelling! Means thanks] and "Doh visania" [Bye!] they're hugging me and telling me how wonderful the day has been and all full of how helpful I'd been, even though sometimes some of their number had had to translate my information for the others who didn't understand any English.

And the women! I tell you, every woman under about 40 in Poland is drop dead gorgeous. Why is that? I can't explain it but it seems to be the case. Now, of course, I'm a happily married man of some decades now and have absolutely no plans to upset the apple cart in that department, but were I ever to find myself on my lonesome, I'd be purchasing a ticket to Poland to window shop.

So the tourists will soon be gone. Another week or two and Kiotari will return to its winter state of slightly more active than comatose, exactly how we like it. As the last tourists depart so too do the bee eaters. they've been here all summer, from about early May and we always drop everything to gaze at them when we have the opportunity. Usually during the summer months they'll be circling overhead in the early evening, dining on anything with six legs and wings that they can catch on the fly (wot? eh? Call me Mr. Pun if you like).

They tend to be flock birds, although not in huge numbers. That is except for when they're gathering on the wires in preparation for their flight across the Mediterranean from north to south, in order to winter in Africa. When they're preparing to leave they can be seen in huge numbers and it's always a marvel to behold. I thought that they'd all gone by now, so I was surprised yesterday, when doing a spot of gardening, to hear one and then spot it sitting on the electricity cables coming up to our house. I grabbed my camera from inside and managed to snap this...

OK, so it's not that great a shot, but it's the best that a modest point-and-click can do.
I confess to having felt somewhat sorry for the bird, because it was quite alone and thus I concluded that maybe it got left behind. No sooner had I snapped this, than it was up and away, so I hope it catches up with its mates.

The comings and goings of the animal population really help us feel the rhythm of the seasons. For the past few weeks we've had wheatears in the valley. Every spring and autumn they're here for a while, evidently passing through. But if you see them you're reminded of the fact that it's either April/May or September/October. Then there are the larger raptors. During the "winter" months we usually have a few resident buzzards here in the valley. In fact I'm fairly sure that they're very similar to the species of buzzard one sees on the UK. But here they tend to disappear for the hotter summer months, retreating as I theorise at least, to the higher ground up around Embona and Siana, near Mount Attavyros, the highest peak on the island at around 1,215 metres [just a little under 4,000 ft]. There is already a buzzard who's taken up residence in the valley below us, although the daytime temperatures are still pushing 30ºC. The golden eagles will usually arrive during November, having too stayed higher up for the summer months.

The goats of Manolis and Felitsia (who get several mentions in the Ramblings books) are once again in evidence, their bells clanking across the forested hillside below and their sneezes and farts noisily announcing their presence across the lane from our front gate where they're discovered some lush nosh amongst all the green garden waste that we deposit there on a regular basis. For them I'd imagine it's like eating rusks for weeks on end and then being confronted with a plate of green salad and vegetables. The vegetation they've been dining on has steadily dried and stiffened throughout the summer and they're to be seen chomping on tough, yellow straw quite frequently by this time of year. Oh how they must long for the rains to begin turning the landscape green again. No sign of that happening any time soon as yet though. Under an old fig tree on a hill down toward the valley floor there is once again to be seen a battered old patio chair. That gives away the fact that Manolis or his wife will have placed it there so that they can sit and pass a few hours keeping a beady eye out for their charges and doubtless contemplating the vastness of it all while taking advantage of the shade offered by the huge fig leaves, which even now are beginning to turn brown, since a fig, of course, is deciduous and by the time the end of the year arrives will be totally bare until the new leaves begin to shoot in March.

We often don't see hide nor hair of the goats during early to mid summer. Then, usually in August, the goatherd's pickup will be in evidence down the valley and the sound of clonking bells will announce their arrival and we'll begin our months of nervousness over whether the perimeter fence has developed any weaknesses of late. It'll be some time in February when the winter rains will have finally produced enough resulting green vegetation for the goats to no longer gaze longingly through our fence at the veritable feast that awaits within.

The lizards are still very much in evidence too, as they sun themselves during the daylight hours. Once the shorter days really kick in and the temperatures drop to the upper teens during the day, they'll slip away and not be seen for a few months. 

Something that reminds us of the UK too, is the fact that at this time of the year those rather unwelcome beasts with eight legs put in an appearance. if I understand it correctly, it's because during spring and autumn spiders go looking for mates. Quite often too, once they've done the deed the female will eat the male. Remind me to put in my order not to come back as one in my next life. I mean, what can be much worse than being a spider? Not only do you risk getting splatted at any moment while you amble along someone's living room wall or ceiling, but assuming you're lucky enough to dodge that fate, you find a female, you think "whoop de doo!," get it on and instead of laying back for a smoke [I know, it's bad for you and I don't approve, but it adds a certain something to this story, agreed?] you look down to find that half your body's already been devoured while she chomps away. Zip, that's you done mate.

The difference between here and the UK though is that the eight-legged beasts here can be seriously large and lightning quick. I, as you probably know, tend to be up and about a lot during the night. Just this past week I've had an "encounter" no less than three times. It makes one shudder to think what could be going on around one while one's dreaming of all kinds of nice things in the land of nod, laying there in the dark. The night before last I was just about to turn off a table lamp quite near the front door when the arachnid version of Lewis Hamilton shot across the floor and under the chest of drawers on which the lamp sits. There was nothing for it. I had to pull out the chest, then go find a duster to clear away the dust and cobwebs anyway. Where the hell was that fiend now? Oh, there he was, cunningly hiding on the transformer from which emerges the cable for the cordless telephone. I gingerly thrust the tickling stick at him (you have a lot to answer for Ken Dodd, I can't for the life of me call it anything else now) and he dropped to the floor and again set off at a pace. There was no way I'd be able to go back to bed until the situation had been resolved and it was already about a twenty to four.

As luck would have it (this has happened before too) he headed toward the front door. Quick as a flash (as I was conscious of the possibility of other "livestock" making an entrance at the sight of some light) I whipped open the door and he ran right over the sill and out into the night. 

Phew. There was no way I'd be opening that door again until daylight returned.

So, there we are. My musings over another summer drawing to a close. As we begin our eleventh winter here, we're thankful for what we have. Rhodes has had some refugees, but nothing like the numbers that have arrived on the shores of Kos or Lesbos. When we watch these poor wretched people and feel for their plight, we can only be grateful for our lot in life. By the time we reach next March we'll be looking forward to the tourists, the bee eaters, the lizards and various migratory birds arriving again. The raptors will again disappear for the summer months and the goats will make themselves scarce. The first time we see a big black lizard sunning itself we'll doubtless be gearing up for, in my case another series of excursions with some lovely people (hopefully lots from Poland again!), and my better half will be chafing at the bit to start doing some real work for a few days every week.

All in all, apart from the prospect of meeting those eightlegged guests again, we'll be in seventh heaven.

Tuesday, 13 October 2015


Sorry I've gone a bit quiet. Lots of people to see, plus I've actually begun work on a new book. Here's a photo of a gecko in our shed out the back (wow, eh?)...

These guys are ideal residents of a shed. They tend to dine on creatures that have 8 legs.

Plus, just in case you haven't been recently, the final piece of the restoration jigsaw at Kallithea Springs (if that link doesn't work, I think the website is undergoing reconstruction. Try again another time. Or, maybe try this one), the Rotunda building at the back of the inlet, has finally been completed. It's rather splendid now in my humble opinion...

Yes, that's the dearly beloved posing.

The rotundas is just visible above the circular seated area with the parasol.

Rather nice location for a soirée, eh?

I shall endeavour to write a new post soon, honest!

Thursday, 1 October 2015

All That Glitters

When we went to Naxos in the spring of 2014, we enjoyed a particularly wonderful day out taking the bus up to Apollonas, way up on the northern-most tip of the island. Something that happened just a couple of weeks ago got us to reminiscing about that trip.

Apollonas - oh, my poor heartstrings.

My wife's niece Chloe came out to Rhodes with her boyfriend Elliot, who's a thoroughly nice chap, which is just as well because he's 6 foot 7. I'm over 6 foot tall and he makes me look like one of Snow White's 7 pals. Not the grumpy one though, all right?

Anyway, we took a day to give them a tour of the "scenic South" of the island and we began with a drive down to Prassonissi, where the two seas meet. Having satisfied their curiosity there and taken a walk up on to the "green island" and, of course snapped the obligatory holiday photos, we decided to return to the tiny village of Kattavia for a drink before continuing up the west side of the island towards Apolakkia. Kattavia is very sleepy, as in almost comatose, and thus you would expect the two hostelries there to be far from commercial and to offer good value for drinks and food, right?

Hmm, well. I like to be positive most of the time as regular "Ramblings" readers will know, of course. But I've decided that I'm going to name and shame this place for a reason that I'll explain further down. My wife and I speak pretty fluent Greek these days and thus pride ourselves on not often becoming victims of rip-off merchants. Well, this time we failed abysmally. As you enter the "square" from the south there are two restaurant/bars facing eachother, one to your left and one to your right. They're staring across at eachother in a permanent face-off and we really ought to have known which one to go into. Having our two young charges with us I suppose we allowed ourselves to be influenced by charm over practicality as the one on the left exuded visual allure, whereas the one on the right looked decidedly basic. Here's a tip from me (which you probably don't really need) alway go "basic". We usually do, but in this case, well. I'll continue...

Thinking about how the photos would look of the four of us enjoying a drink in a quaint little Greek village, we soon found ourselves seated around a table in the one on the left. 

Yea, see? Looks nice doesn't it. The hostess is visible in the background.

Note the name, Restaurant Penelope. There she is again, sitting by the wall. Not surprized she has a smart grin on her face.
We asked if we could just have a drink and they said fine, no problem. Let me say at the outset that there was an old bloke there who was OK. Probably in his sixties, stocky, wearing a straw stetson and exuding geniality. He doesn't, though, wear the trousers. We put two and two together and surmised that he, though obviously Greek and doubtless descended from a family that originates in the village, had married Madame Penelope, who we're pretty sure wasn't Greek, but Russian. The fact that a lot of the signs hanging off of hooks around the place were in Greek and Russian was a pretty big clue. Now, I don't want you to read anything into this about Russians. I have played host to lots of Russians on my excursions this past summer and by far the majority of them have been very nice people. OK, so they can be a little stern, but by and large they're humans like the rest of us and I've had many a nice conversation with them.

This woman, however, was born in "Rip 'em offs-ville" and no mistake. We hadn't been sitting there more than ten minutes when she arrived at the table with a tray of bougatsa, about a dozen of them, all baked in the same shape as your average spring roll in a Chinese restaurant. Bougatsa, as you'll probably know though, are sweet custard-filled pastries and - since we were rather peckish - they looked extremely interesting to us.

Now, before I go on, I'll refer back to our trip up to Apollonas on Naxos. We repaired to one of the two or three water-front tavernas once we'd got off the bus and asked if we could just have a drink. So I had a Fix beer and the better half a Diet Coke. Just the two drinks which would afford the establishment a very small profit indeed. This, however, didn't stop the lady who'd served us bringing us this plate of nibbles to go with our drinks:

Ok, so she had no idea we were veggies, but - impressive or what?
When we came to settle up, the nibbles were not on the bill. They were a "freebie" in expression of one woman's welcome to their modest little village/harbour. We were well impressed, although not altogether surprised, of course.

Something similar happened at Haraki just the Saturday before last. We usually go to Bottoms Up, but decided just for a change to re-visit Maria's taverna, which is, as it happens, right next door and it's the first taverna you encounter on your right as you arrive at the very pretty waterfront promenade.

This photo of TAVERNA MARIA'S is courtesy of TripAdvisor

We'd eaten here a long time ago and so couldn't really remember what we'd had or how much we'd enjoyed it, but the abiding memory was a positive one and we do remember having had quite a nice conversation with the woman who'd served us and we recalled that it is a family-run establishment, which is often a good sign. Anyway, in we went and had a superb meal, including a half litre carafe of the house white and the bill came to less than €21. A result. Plus, in keeping with this post's theme, they brought us this when we asked for the bill...

Don't judge by appearances, all right?
Yea, I know, doesn't look all that appetising in this photo, but that's because I took it with my phone, which is one of those you wind up and emits a cloud of steam when it's working. Yes, they may look like little chunks of pork sausage in this photo, but the true colour was decidedly more cream-yellow than pink on the night and they are in fact Loukoumades, which are a kind of fried dough soaked in sugar or honey and cinnamon. OK, all right, you wouldn't want too much of that, but in this quantity after a healthy vegetarian meal of traditonal Greek fayre, served still hot they slid down very acceptably. 

Oh, and as you've already concluded - they were a freebie. 

So then, to return to Restaurant Penelope in Kattavia. Since we hadn't ordered the bougatsa, we gratefully accepted and three of us, apart from Chloe who's a vegan, tucked in. Imagine our surprise when, on asking for the bill, the rather-too-friendly Penelope approached and placed it before us with a flourish. Reading it we discovered that we'd been charged (with slightly higher prices than we'd expected in such a location for the drinks) for the bougatsa as well. 

I know what you're thinking. We should have kicked up a fuss. OK, there would have been occasions when I'd have wasted no time in doing just that. The thing is though, we were giving our niece and her fella a tour of the island on their very first visit. What kind of memories, not only of this day out, but of their all-too-brief week here on Rhodes did we want them to go home with? So a couple of words exchanged in Greek with the better half and we decided not to make a scene. As I whipped out my purse, as did Chloe, to see what change we had, the rather too helpful and better described as interfering Penelope hovered over me and with her finger began separating Euro coins in my purse among my own fingers whilst saying "That's a Euro, and that's a..." whereupon, at this juncture I most certainly did say something.

"I KNOW what a Euro is!" I said, "We TOLD you, we've lived here 10 years." 

I don't think I ever recall going somewhere where they didn't retreat to a respectable distance after presenting the bill. Plus we'd been speaking to her and her hubby, who by now was hiding behind a potted plant, in Greek for the whole duration of our visit. The total came to something like €18 and we had already decided that our way of expressing our deep dissatisfaction would be to never return to this place in the future, which invariable means that they lose out in the long run. Plus I have a blog don't I?!

Before we got up to leave, the hubby, no doubt quietly ashamed of his wife's less than subtle methods with customers, did bring us a plate of water melon chunks for free, plus he handed my wife a peponi (honeydew melon) from his garden to take with her. But both he and we knew that the damage was already done.

Thankfully, our experiences in Naxos, plus in Maria's taverna, Haraki, plus indeed what happened when we took lunch later on in the busy tourist village of Siana (Panorama taverna, very good), plus myriad other places where we've eaten or taken a drink in Greece all reflect much more the usual treatment one can expect from a traditional taverna in this country. 

To cap off this tale, just a couple of days ago we called in on some friends in Pilona and so began the usual chat over a coffee, catching up with what we'd all been up to since the last time we spoke. We hadn't even got past the point of telling them that we'd gone into Kattavia when the wife (that wife, not this one, got it? Think so...) interrupted and said, "I think I know what you're going to tell us."

Yup, they'd had precisely the same experience at the pretty little taverna called Penelope as we had. They'd never been back.

"Shame we didn't have a chance to talk before you went," she continued, "I could have warned you not to go in there."

Seems that taverna Penelope hasn't changed its customer charm-offensive [offensive being the operative word] in quite a few years. Our friends had been there about four years ago.

All that glitters, eh? If you ever visit Kattavia, sit in the plain-looking one. In fact we hope to return there some time soon and we'll make a point of sitting opposite. Hopefully it will be a very different experience and, either way, you'll hear it here no doubt.

Plus, if you ever visit Naxos, I can't recommend a visit to Apollonas enough, it's one of our favourite places in the whole world.