Monday, September 07, 2009

Skiathos, Greece, August-September, 2009

Every time I go to Greece, now my third time since 2005, I always get the impression that God must have SPECIFICALLY created this country because it`s simply soooooo beautiful!

We chose Skiathos this time because like many out there, we were taken by the splendid movie, “Mamma Mia”, with a forever youthful Meryl Streep and former James Bond man Pierce Brosnan. Much of the movie was actually shot on the other nearby island, Skopelos, but Skiathos will forever be engrained in my mind as the opening scene of both Brosnan and Colin Firth both missing the boat for Streep`s B and B was actually shot on the port`s pier (one nite, with nothing to do, we went to an outdoor movie to see the movie again, the 3rd time for me, and it was only 100 meters from that very same pier!).

And how was Skiathos? Beautiful beaches and naturally crystal-clear water. I put the town and the island though behind Karpathos (still a rather “primitive” island) and my first, true love, Milos (which I hope to go back and visit soon one day). The Greeks, at least the island folk, are laid back and very, very easy-going, a lot more than the Italians I must say. We rented the usual scooter and like a fool, I hadn`t noticed that at one point it had run out of fuel (it was new and the person who brought it in before me should have filled the tank, which he/she didn`t!). It was an 80cc engine. We got an exchange at the same price (110 euros for 6 days) but with a 125 cc engine. No questions asked! Nice folks the Greeks…

The town itself is quaint with a nice small little port where hovercrafts and ships dock, not to mention the usual magnificent and VERY expensive private yachts. At one point, I thought that David Bowie had showed up (seeing that he has a summer home in Santorini, or thereabouts) because a luxurious British yacht with the name “Duke Town” pulled into Skiathos, and Bowie`s nickname is the “White Duke”! But alas, it wasn`t him unfortunately.

One day was involved going for a boat ride to Skopolos and the tiny island where they shot the final church scene in “Mamma Mia”, the scene where Streep`s daughter after all doesn’t end up getting married (but Streep does instead). On the way there, bombarded continually by our tour guide who kept blasting in four languages over the PA system the words, “Mamma Mia”!, I managed to hear that in the area one of the islands we passed by was to have actually been purchased in the 1960s by none other than the Beatles! In fact, in my many readings on the Fab Four I do recall that it had been John, who on advice I think by their manager Brian Epstein, who had wanted to by a Greek island. The plan though never did materialize. Another island we passed by is apparently the summer home of Richard Gere. We were also told that seals and dolphins were in the area, but given probably that they weren`t paid enough to put on a show for us, they never bothered showing up! And the weather? Except for the first day when there was a very light rainfall, was tremendously hot and beautiful!

But one of the things I get the biggest kick out of going to Greece, or anywhere for that matter outside Italy, is watching the poor Italian tourists who are unable to communicate with the local folk in English. This doesn`t help at all that Italian politicians want to know promote local dialects in Italian schools!

The flight there by the way was via Slovenia`s capital Lubiana. They have chartered flights that go from Udine to Greece but via Slovenia. We drove there from Udine and flew directly to Skiathos. This is the second time we fly this way and I must say that the Slovenian part went off like a Swiss clock (or Slovenian clock seeing that many now say that Slovenia is turning into a small Switzerland!). Hopefully next year we go back to Milos and we see the nearby islands (all pics by M. Rimati).

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