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The Mermaid of Poros, Greece

Poros 2006, A week in June in Greece

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Day Two : Thursday June 1st 2006 -
A Tour Around Poros - And Over-Indulgence


  • Morning Walk through Kanali and the White Cat Taverna
  • A Greek Supermarket and the Water Problem
  • The Second Mermaid of Poros and the Naval Academy
  • Machismo and the Painted Trees
  • Siesta at 39 Degrees Centigrade
  • The Cinema Cafe and the Motos
  • The Posidonis (Poseidon) Taverna
  • A Lesson Not to Over-indulge...

Saga Hotel, Poros, Greece, from southeast
Saga Hotel - our base in Poros

Up at 9-ish and went to Saga Hotel dining room for breakfast. Zefi makes sure there are three types of cereal (muesli for me) then tea (PG, resolved to use my stash of Lady Grey) bread, butter, ham and jam. Jen had muesli and milk, coffee and some jam and bread. Afterwards, went for a walk round the hotel, discovering Dennis watering some tomato plants, touched oranges growing on a tree and found two metal mermaids near the pool.

Out mid-morning and walked along the front of Kanali towards Neorio Bay. Saw the Theano Hotel & Spiro's Taverna, and the White Cat Taverna, then onwards past good view of Poros and the Naval Academy, both impossibly tourist postcard views but a reality we never expected to enjoy. Amused by an advert for a moto and quad bike hire business, but wondered if it would be a good idea. Passed the Villa Gallini (Lawrence Durrell was there) and looked out across yacht anchorage from Mikro Neorio - beautiful pine trees, a reminder that modern Greece built its first Navy at Neorio. Looked towards distant Daskalio Island and resolved to get hold of some transport.

Went to Fotis motor-bike hire and enquired about prices from the owner Dimitri, who has three dealerships in Kanali, Askeli and Poros. Priced the quads at 25 to 30 Euros for 24 hours, less per day for a week's hire. 24 hours rather than a day, because so much in Poros is done after 5 p.m.

Orange tree in Saga Hotel garden
Orange tree in Saga Hotel garden
Saga Hotel mermaids near the Pool
Saga Hotel mermaids near the Pool
T/S Poros (Naval Academy) from Kanali seafront
T/S Poros (Naval Academy) from Kanali seafront

Food, Water and White Trees in Poros :

A bit hot and tired so stopped at the White Cat Taverna for some water and cake, confirming that most Taverna staff speak some English. Jen had an orange with her cake.After that, we walked along to the bridge and down onto Kanali Beach, a surprisingly clean and quiet place. As the current (no tide, folks, this is the Med) comes from the south, this means that the beaches on the south east side of Kalavria east of Poros Island are clean bathing water. Thankfully, none of the beaches west of Poros Island are actually dirty, but Love Bay and Russian Bay possibly have the edge over Neorio in terms of cleanliness. The Greeks are more sensible than Blackpool and Morecambe.

Now feeling most confident, we consulted Dennis and Frances on where to go to buy some food for lunch and were guided to a little supermarket run by a cheerful and very helpful family. They reminded me a little of the father, mother and son, in the 'Big Fat Greek Wedding', but quieter and more sensible. We bought one large beef tomato, some bread, feta cheese, olives (black, unstoned), apricots (naturally ripened and good) and six bottles of water. Back to the hotel, where Jenny organised a very pleasant Greek salad in the peace and shade of our room.

Poros is famous in the Aegean as a place with reliably drinkable tap-water, so much so that the yachts wandering the Aegean back their sterns up to berths in the harbour, grab a hose and fill their fresh water tanks. Unfortunately, on the 27th May 2006 the borehole supply became contaminated and we were warned not to drink the water. The municipal authorities immediately posted notices in Greek and English warning of this problem and promising to deal with it. They then set to work to try and provide a replacement supply, with results I witnessed during my visit and later in this blog. Again I was impressed by their ethics, better than Cadbury Schweppes and its rumoured wait till June 2006 to report salmonella contamination that occurred in January 2006. So, the problem had to be resolved, although it took almost two and a half weeks before the Greeks were certain they had cured it.

One feature we noticed whilst walking about Poros and to Neorio was the Greek habit of painting trees white. Dennis and Frances have told us that this was so that birds had a better chance of seeing and eating ants on the trees. Jenny and myself were less certain; on our way to Neorio, we had noted that it was only trees within a metre and a half of the road which were painted this way. We guessed that it was a visibility feature, to reduce the number of dead enthusiastic young men whose motorbikes or cars crash into the said trees. Machismo is a big problem in Greece, the disease occurring soon after puberty and only ending in the graveyard. Even then, you can't be certain.

White painted trees, Mikro Neorio
White painted trees, Mikro Neorio
T/S Poros - Mermaid Fountain
T/S Poros - Mermaid Fountain
Venetian-style houses in Poros
Venetian-style houses in Poros

The Second Mermaid and Venetian Buildings :

Thursday afternoon was the hottest time of our stay in Poros; we were later told that the temperature had shot up to 39 degrees Centigrade, although this might have been in Athens. We had a pleasant siesta in bed with the air-conditioning labouring away, emerging onto the balcony around 4 p.m. I wrote up the blog as Jen sunbathed cautiously. Visitors to the Saga Hotel might like to have a siesta or a second honeymoon. The rest is up to you.

There is a second mermaid in Poros, as we discovered when we ventured out at 5 p.m. to walk into the still-baking town. She is in the Naval Academy gardens near the main entrance. I confess I broke the rules with a quick picture of this rather florid mermaid's profile through the railings. Then onwards to take some pictures of my favourite mermaid and various monuments. One commemorates the naval base - an almost mediaeval four-pronged grapnel anchor, an 'Admiralty' pattern anchor and a modern design. We also took pictures of the war memorial in Heroes' Square. The buildings around Poros remind me very strongly of some seen in Venice in a visit in 1976; this is not surprising, for Venice did control many Greek islands after the Byzantine Empire collapsed.

Finally found the Poros Tourist Office hidden behind some shop displays, so went in to see what there was - two officials playing cards and a bound printout of the town's website, www.poros.com, which I must add to the Saga Hotel's Poros links page.

Back to Hotel at 6:30 p.m. to refresh ourselves and share a drink with Dennis and Frances before walking to their apartment. Jen had a gin and tonic whilst I had a fresh orange and ice which Zefi made with a juicer behind the bar. The MacCallums' apartment is in the ground floor of a block just a street away, plain and elegant in the Greek manner. They decided that this time we would walk into Poros with them to a different Taverna or two and I must admit that I wondered in my mind how much further I could walk.

Cinema Cafe Taverna, interior
Cinema Cafe Taverna, interior
Cinema Cafe - Rita Hayworth as Gilda
Cinema Cafe - Rita Hayworth as Gilda
Terrier riding a moped
Terrier riding a moped

The Cinema Taverna

The Cinema Taverna was on the first floor of the old town cinema, a block now turned into shops and with a rooftop open-air cinema. Jenny thought it made the best coffee and tea in Poros and I enjoyed my tea, whilst Jenny had a white wine. Dennis took me in off the balcony to look the at reproductions of cinema posters and stills of actors that are on the walls. The best ones were of Rita Hayworth in 'Gilda', Boris Karloff in 'Frankenstein' and Vivienne Leigh in 'Gone with the Wind' in its French title.

The Cinema's balcony tables are a perfect way to watch the world go by, which on Poros is very often on a motorbike, moped, scooter or quad, rather than the car that chokes Athens. All the young men (and not a few older ones) ride their choice with a bravura worthy of Italy, definitely as an aid to court/pull all young women. The young ladies often prefer a scooter, but like the young men seem to delight in riding without a helmet and with hair aswirl in the breeze. The real surprise was to see grandmothers and grandfathers riding with speed, dignity and maybe a thought or two of past times. When one sees an elderly Greek lady in a black dress and headscarf zipping along the streets like a teenager, one starts to wonder if there is something in this business of olive oil being good for longevity.

Pillion riding by young women behind young men was inevitable, but the real surprise later that evening was a young women at the handlebars and her boyfriend straight-backed riding behind her. The impression was that he was being chauffeured, not humiliated by being driven about by a woman. Dennis and Frances told me that they had seen whole families (mother, father, kids & the dog) riding one motorbike. The real joke they saved till last, pointing down from the balcony at a little terrier on its owner's (parked) moped. A much larger dog was trying to interest itself in the terrier, which had its front paws on the handlebars and was barking its protest. Alas, though I got a shot of the terrier on its own on the moped, I failed to get one of owner and dog riding away together.

Posidonis Taverna and Over-Indulgence :

Frances and Dennis left us to choose and eat out own meal at the nearby Posidonis Taverna, where we chose a mixed grill and salad at 23 Euros. To our dismay, it was another huge meal and Jenny was faced by a large carafe of white wine! I stuck to water and did my best with the food. It was delicious, the accompanying chips rated as amongst the best we had ever tasted. But I'm a Yorkshireman and there was no sign of a doggy bag or doggy bottle to take away the excess, so I regret to say I was a bit greedy and Jenny, poor soul, rather did her best with the carafe. Jenny had already had a G & T and a large glass of wine, so she felt a bit squiffy when we left.

Back at the Saga Hotel and poor Jenny vanished into the bathroom, rather unwell, unable to go to bed and sleep before 2 a.m. I kept awake with an effort and tried to help Jenny, aware of some discomfort myself. Reflected that the food had been great but my preparation had not been; a doggy bag and a doggy bottle were needed, if Frances and Dennis agreed.

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© 2006 Richard Edkins, Dalbeattie Internet.