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The Mermaid of Poros, Greece

Poros 2006, A week in June in Greece

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Day Seven : Tuesday 6th June 2006 -
Love Bay & Greek Politics

  • Ferry Tickets and Bus Tickets.
  • Love Bay and the delightful Sofianna.
  • A lesson in Mixed Doubles.
  • Neorio and the Cafe Vassilis.
  • A gift of Strawberries.
  • Hotel Theano and the Spiros Taverna.
  • Greek and American Politics.

Love Bay from the coast road
Love Bay from the coast road

Ferry Tickets, Bus Tickets - and Love Bay :

We woke up rather late and the solar heating had not yet had a chance to heat the water, so - no shower ! No matter, the digestion in good order and breakfast enjoyed, we walked into Poros to order our Flying Dolphin tickets for first thing departure on Wednesday. At 38.66 Euros for the two of us, not bad for a high-speed ferry to Piraeus. A much cheaper 1 Euro ticket each on the local bus got us from Poros to Love Bay. The charge is the same on the service, so although initially we had thought of Megalo Neorio, in the end we just carried on to Love Bay.

For those who have never been there, Love Bay is a small cove about 200 metres wide with a sandy beach, shady pine trees, plastic sunbeds and parasols. Sunbeds cost 2.50 Euros each per day, parasols 1.50 Euros. There is a beautiful but slightly dilapidated chapel inside a private fence and some spiky agaves on the northwest side of the cove. However, the real fun for me was meeting the lady who ran the business and its snack-bar, a remarkably energetic and charming lady called Sofianna. I had wanted to know if it was possible for me to visit the chapel and found it was on private land. I explained about this blog and my work on Zefi's Saga Hotel weddings and honeymoons site, and my surprise that Love Bay was not more widely considered for a wedding venue. Sofianna laughed and told me that she had hosted the wedding of a young couple who had proposed at one boulder on the beach, so had married there. She also knew Zefi Alexopoulos quite well but had not yet been involved in any weddings with her.

Love Bay turns out to be quite a draw on its name alone, Neorio doing rather well out of the connection, but the local Tavernas there are in competition with Sofianna and are apparently reluctant to see her develop her success further. She would love to host more weddings but would need the Poros Municipality's authorisation if it was going to be more than a quiet beach ceremony. The problem is that noise is unpopular with the Neorio Tavernas, although the houses overlooking Love Bay have never objected. Still, I promised to mention the idea to Zefi and Frances and to put Love Bay into the blog as a good place for a quiet beach wedding or blessing. To my regret, I failed to get a decent picture of Sofianna and her bar, so maybe a reader can produce some.

Jen at Love Bay
Jen at Love Bay
The old chapel, Love Bay
The old chapel, Love Bay
Topless bathing sculpture
Topless bathing sculpture

Sofianna's snack bar has a good range of snacks, so we ordered cheese and ham toasties at 1.50 Euros each, washed down with water and Coca Cola. There is a rather basic toilet, if you're desperate, at 30 cents a go, but Sofianna doesn't cultivate it. There is an amusing statuette of a woman sitting on a toilet to emphasise the point.

We remained at Love Bay until about 15:30, watching as two young women had a very skilled game of shuttlecock, then were joined by two rather less skilled young men. Still, the objective was probably mixed doubles, so the women won on all points. Less happy was a young girl whose father was trying to get her used to the idea of swimming in the sea, although her brother did not appear to mind the water. Most people just like to get to Love Bay to soak up the sun. I was amused to notice a sign allowing nude bathing, although nobody there seemed to want to take advantage of that freedom.

From Love Bay to Neorio was a hot and rather exhausting walk at that time in the afternoon, so I was glad of sun block and a good sun hat. We stopped at the Café Vassilis under shade for tea (me) and coffee (Jenny). The café was very pleasant and its toilets neat and clean. The beach of Neorio was almost empty, unlike Love Bay, but it was early in the summer season. Apparently, Neorio was once the shipyard of the Greek Navy, with frigates and other wooden ships being constructed where now tourists relax and the sea laps the shore. The pine trees on the hills are presumably descendants of those which were felled for the fleet.

We walked back to the Saga Hotel, taking pictures of the local churches, the light being perfect, going for a drink in the poolside bar and a chat with Zefi with the idea of holding weddings at Love Bay and the receptions at the Hotel. She knew Sofianna - Zefi knows everybody, I think - but she was a bit too busy to discuss much. Zefi does not seem to sleep much in the season, even with her agency girls to help her.

I went to the Supermarket for bread, apricots, olives and water, for a snack on the flight on Wednesday, regretting that I would be unable to do so for another year.. I stopped on the way back at Frances and Dennis's flat to tell them about Love Bay and Sofianna. To my surprise, they gifted me a huge punnet of strawberries, assuring me that as this was the picking season, the locals were almost giving them away. Jenny welcomed and washed them, had a few but kept the rest for later in the evening.

Jenny on Neorio beach
Jenny on Neorio beach
Cafe Vassilis at Neorio
Cafe Vassilis at Neorio
A Church in Kanali
A Church in Kanali

As we were leaving soon, Frances and Dennis decided that we would go out together to the nearest Taverna to the Hotel, the Hotel Theano's Taverna Spiro. It was a nice place on the Kanali waterfront, with a good view of the Academy across the harbour. This time, I found I was feeling cold, so had to run back to the Saga Hotel for my fleece, which I was grateful for later in the evening; it seemed that the heatwave was at last pausing a bit, which was good practice for returning to Scotland.

The meal was the usual tasty starter of a 'Meze', with stuffed vine leaves and dips and other hors d'oeuvres, followed by Arigna, which is lamb, oregano, rice, chips and so on. We finished with some melon slices as a refresher. I was strongly reminded of the Rota, more so when local cats and ducks started to beg (successfully) for scraps; the ducks and cats seemed to have an agreement of co-operation and non-interference, rather to my surprise.

Dennis gave me a bit of education that is worth repeating, when I mentioned the Greek dislike of American foreign policy (although not Americans as individuals). He explained that it dates from some blunders during and after World War 2, by which hangs a tale. In 1940 the Greeks beat off an Italian invasion only to be invaded by Germany, with the Greek Navy escaping to Alexandria after Greece fell. Britain was Greece's only ally, so Greeks do not forget that British troops fought and died beside the Greeks during the invasion of Crete. At the end of World War 2, the Greeks who had fought and suffered under the Germans found the Americans and British imposing on them a government composed of expatriate Greeks who had not been involved in the fighting. That is why it is not a good idea to discuss the Second World War with the Greeks, and to leave criticism of their government to the Greeks themselves. As against that, the Greeks loathe the Turks and Muslims, partly because of centuries of Turkish occupation and more recently because of the Turkish invasion and occupation of northern Cyprus. I did reflect at that point that persuading Greece and Turkey to remain together in NATO must have been a remarkable victory for diplomacy and Greek integrity.

Zefi's family church
Zefi's family church
Frances, Jenny and the writer at Spiro's Taverna
Frances, Jenny and the writer at Spiro's

Cats at Spiro's Taverna

Another and tragic-comic account from Dennis concerned the forced repatriation of ethnic minorities to Russia and Yugoslavia at the end of World War Two. Apparently, a large group of Cossacks faced repatriation (and execution by Stalin) after having fought against the Russian Communists on the side of the Germans. A British Army officer, Doctor Wilson, was told that he had to certify the Cossacks as not being infected and so fit to be repatriated. He met the Russian Army doctor and decided to make him too drunk to sign the Cossacks as fit, so pulled out the whisky and the vodka and - to his surprise - found the Russian equally determined to drink him under the table. Fortunately, the Russian doctor confided in Doctor Wilson that his own intention had been to get Wilson to sign the Cossacks as unfit whilst drunk, so the two medical men inspected the Cossacks, together deemed them unfit to send back and so saved their lives. Both men showed integrity, but that unknown Russian doctor was also risking his own life.

Back at the Saga Hotel for evening drinks and chat, I brought down the strawberries and the four of us finished them off. I was so tired that I kept nodding off, to Dennis's amusement and Jen's dismay. We checked with Zefi that she had ordered the taxi for 7:20 a.m. sharp, Zefi arranged for food to be left for us in the Dining Room next morning, then went up to Studio 15 to pack up for the departure. No jacket for me, this time - I laid out short sleeved shirt, cargo trousers, pants, socks, sandals, camera pouch and my belt travel pack. I set my watch, clock and mobile alarms for 5:50 a.m. then showered and went to bed.

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© 2006 Richard Edkins, Dalbeattie Internet.