Thursday, 26 January 2012

To Metsovo and Beyond....

Pete, Sandra & Alison at halfway brew up time.
 Firstly let me apologise for the many Photos this week but selection was a problem.

Saturday night we went out for a meal with Deb & Jez at the village taverna in Agios Petros.  We waited for them at the end of their road and had been assured the Debbie would not be late so fifteen minutes after the appointed time, Sandra rang them only to find they were currently preparing tea!  They agreed to put this on hold and after a mad dash met us at the restaurant.  In the meantime we had checked the text messages only to find out that they had not been late, we had been twenty four hours early.  Doooohhhhh.
Inside Katoghi winery.

Yogi and Booboo in Metsovo.
 Monday morning we set off on our much awaited "holiday" to Metsovo with Alison and Peter from the Katoghi restaurant at Vafkeri.  I think the seven thirty pickup may have been slightly left of field for them as they looked somewhat bleary eyed when we arrived.

Anyway, we had a good trip up there complete with mandatory pit stop for a brew up.  First time off the island for about two years for Pete so it was a voyage of discovery for him.  The first thing after getting settled into the hotel was to pay a visit to the Katoghi winery, this had been a arranged by Pete and Alison via email but unfortunately we couldn't have a tour as they were cleaning the vats so had to settle for the shop were of course we had to be relieved of some money for take aways.
Our "tardis" shower in the hotel.

And of course our wood fire in the room.

Some pals we met near Meteora.
The weather was pleasantly mild when we arrived in Metsovo but there was evidence of the heavy snow which had preceded us and at least it meant that walking around was not a tricky thing to be doing.  Our room in the hotel was fantastic with a shower to die for with jets from every direction and a built in sauna.  Alison and Peter had a jacuzzi bath in theirs.  For the people who live out here and read this and may want a couple of days in the area it's called the Archontiko Metsovo Boutique and a room is €65 a night with breakfast.  Four poster bed included!
Everyone should have a water feature.

The perfect hobbit homeland.

Wiley Coyote and Road Runner could be around the corner.

One of the many monasteries at Meteora. 

You almost can't help thinking spaghetti westerns. 
 Tuesday looked like being pretty dull and overcast so we decided to take a trip to Meteora which is only a leisurely drive away and it's really fantastic.  The photos don't do it justice at all but the landscape is like a cross between Clint Eastward western country and Lord of the Rings set there are several monasteries precariously

perched on the tops of several of the rock formations which are open to visitors, you really need to get there fairly early if you are to visit them though as it does involve quite a lot of up hill walking, we will be better prepared the next time we visit.
Frozen Waterfalls.

And faster running ones.
 In the village there is a water feature as the photo shows I think someone must put some blue dye into the water though as it just doesn't quite look natural.

We had quite a good meal the first night in Metsovo but not quite so good the second night we perhaps should have tried to get a little further from the town square.  We were very surprised by how quite it was after ten o'clock it's almost as though the Greeks there eat at a different time to all other

Greeks, everywhere seemed almost deserted.  The local wine is excellent although as everywhere else in Greece I'm sure that it'll be variable.
The snow came down before we left. 

Tuesday night felt much colder and sure enough when Sandra and I awoke on Wednesday morning there was snow on the ground and we stood on the balcony as the snowplough was doing it's rounds of the town keeping things moving.  As we were leaving the snow started coming down much heavier and we actually left town heading towards the motorway in convoy with not one but three snow ploughs.  Halfway back to Ioannina we ran out of the snow and into the rain.  This wasn't enough to prevent a visit to IKEA on route though so it was cheap lunch to finish our holidays.

We took the scenic route back from Ioaninna to Preveza across the mountains to via our old stomping ground at Assos, unfortunately the best of the views was obstructed as we were in the clouds at the time, but Pete didn't let that stop him clicking away with his camera - hey ho.

Thursday, 19 January 2012

Birthday week in Lefkada

Big Log - Good fire.
 Many happy returns to me!  I think I managed to keep it fairly quite that it was my birthday this week, either that or no one loves me anyway.  What does it matter another year passes and they only seem like days now so they are nothing to make a fuss about.

Got all our wood finally logged and chopped this week and just in time as there have been several pretty cold (by Greek terms) nights, in fact there have been frosts.  Houses here are primarily designed to keep cool in summer rather than toasty in winter so you have to throw quite a bit of energy in one form or another at them to get them warmed through.  Our's isn't bad in this respect as it's fairly new and got some insulation which is great compared to our old house in Assos which just haemorrhaged heat through every fibre of it's construction.  We just need to get a good fire going and if it's really cold boost it with the central heating and then it's fine.  Heating oil costs now in Greece are at a huge level though, over a euro a litre compared with about half that price four years ago, so we try to use the fire as much as possible.
Lake zero with snow topped peaks behind.

Kev and Linda help me celebrate being old!
 On Monday we went with our good friends Kev and Linda for a ride out onto the mainland to visit the town of Arta and also take them around our old stomping ground to give them and idea of what life is like where us peasants come from.

We had a great day visiting Limni Zhero (Lake Zero) and also our Greek friend in Assos plus a small diversion around "Jumbo" whilst we were in the area.  Topped of with a lovely meal in Festino's in Lefkas town.  Sandra and I didn't get home until one in the morning but fortunately the car didn't turn back into a pumpkin.
Preparing to de-mast "Izola".
 We had a great meal on Tuesday night with Alison and Pete who have the Katoghi restaurant in Vathkeri at their home at the top of the village.  This was ostensibly to discuss our up coming trip to Metsovo but that topic ended up really just being an after thought at the end of the evening.  We did get it sorted though and are really looking forward to next Monday when we go.  Thanks for the great food and company you two.

This morning it was back to Lefkas Marina for the de-masting of "Izola" prior to her being taken out for her refit which will hopefully take place at some point in the near future.  Managed to get it down without too much incidence but unfortunately the mast step casting got damaged.  It'll get repaired along with all the other bit's and pieces though.  I'm looking forward to getting my hand dirty with that one.
She's ready for taking out.

Thursday, 12 January 2012

A little dip perhaps...

Swimmers "rescuing" the crucifix.
 Last Friday was Epiphany and is celebrated hereabouts with the tradition of blessing the waters in Lefkas harbour and then the dipping of this years oranges to ensure a fruitful season to come.

Liz & Sandra dipping oranges.
The weather was absolutely bloody awful, pouring with rain and blowing a bit as well.  We got parked up near the Chinese bridge in town and waited for the  priest to turn up, there is usually a parade of the local marching band also but given the weather we did not expect them.  And then we witnessed what could only be described as a minor miracle or at least a touch of divine intervention.  As the priest arrived in a car, the driving rain stopped!  This lasted for the entire duration of the service and then promptly started again after he had got back into the vehicle.  Anyway there was still a good crowd to witness the event but obviously not as many as there has been in previous years.  Liz and Sandra managed to get our oranges dipped so we will be expecting another bumper crop in 2012. 

The winning swimmer taking the crucifix around town.
The four of us went into town for a drink and something to eat and whilst there the swimmer who had retrieved the crucifix was taking it around all the tavernas and getting donations, I assume for charity but our Greek and his English didn't quite extend that far but never the less we made a donation, after all he had taken the plunge for the cause.

Our new delivery of firewood.

Linda & Sandra 10 pin bowling.
On Monday, Spiros, our local painter, decorator and purveyor of quality firewood delivered us a truck load of olive wood.  We had just about used up our supplies which I chopped up last year and it will be needed for the next couple of months as the nights are now a tad chilly.  Needless to say it'll take me a few days to get it logged up into English sized logs and stored away but I suppose it keeps me out of mischief.

We went out ten pin bowling last night which had kindly been arranged by Kev & Linda and nineteen people managed to get there. We had a great night and a good laugh.  The worst thing is I came out as the winner, it can only have been beginners luck I think!

Thursday, 5 January 2012

Out with the old...

Sandra and I would just like to thank all our family and friends for making this Christmas such a memorable and enjoyable one back in the UK.  It was great to see all those people who we dearly miss and a shame we couldn't get around all of them in the time we had available.  Having said all that I think it probably confirms that we are in fact doing the right thing by being out here especially in the winter months.  Although by last years standards the weather in England by and large was mild for the time of year it really does get you down with being almost permanently dark and dismal.  In fact our two overriding and negative memories of the trip are the dark damp days and the water tasting of chlorine which is a bit sad really.
Morning coffee out in the sunshine.

Our journey back consisted of leaving Sandra's dad's house at 8:30 pm on new years eve for the train from York to Manchester where we had a wait of forty five minutes for the connecting train to the airport.  Five minutes into this latter journey saw the clock hit midnight and we celebrated with a small bottle of champers and a tray of sushi which we had taken with us for the occasion.  Along with a very cosmopolitan group of people, mainly Asian, on the train we toasted in the new year, and watched all the fireworks going off around Manchester.

Last of the daylight at 6:10pm a bit of a change.
Being new years day the airport procedure was somewhat different.  Generally with Easyjet when you do on-line check in, you can just deposit your hold luggage at the special check-in desk and proceed through to the departure lounge but not on this occasion.  The departure lounge was closed and no one was allowed through until 2 am, and our baggage deposit area didn't open until 4am.  This meant we were lumbered with either sitting on the floor as there are no chairs in the check-in area or going to the arrivals hall where there are some but not many.  This stopped us getting any sleep in the airport as we had planned but hey-ho what does sleep matter.

We had a good flight to Athens which was twenty minutes shorter than normal due to a back wind and we managed to get a couple of hours "shut eye" on the plane.  Picked up the car from the long term car park at Athens airport and on for the five hour drive back to Lefkas in the glorious sunshine, beautiful!  Got home at 7:15pm and unpacked and to bed in no time flat.

For the next couple of days we had our daytime meals and coffees etc. outside to try and get back some of the vitamin D which we seem to have lost in our time up north :-) 

Sandra and I would just like to wish everybody, everywhere a very happy and healthy 2012.