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Poros 2007 -
Our September Fortnight in Greece

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Costas's House and Spiro's Taverna -
25th September 2007


  • An Abortive Visit To The Library.
  • Galatas, Costas and the 4x4.
  • The House that Costas Built.
  • Legal and Illegal Houses.
  • Spiro's Taverna and the Cinema Cafe.

Kostas's House and the view across Bourtzi Island to Kalavria
Kostas's House and the view to Kalavria

An Abortive Visit to the Library...

Got up at &;30 a.m for a 9:15 a.m. visit to the Library, in high hopes of meeting Iannis Maniates again. Very unhappy when I got there, for the young lady on duty knew nothing about me or the three Journals Iannis had offered to me, so I returned sadly to the Hotel to write up my blog, as Jenny sunned herself on the patio. I got a good (if distant) view of her, but was aware that the weather was turning cooler, although sheltered near the pool. Frances arrived at 11:45 a.m. to find me tea-mug in hand, but otherwise ready to accompany her and Jenny to Galatas; she assured me that Professor Maniates had not meant to slight me, it was just that, as with so many Greeks, the will is often mistaken for the deed. Dennis was not wioth us, on this occasion, as his artistry had been triggered and he needed to paint whilst the mood was upon him.

Galatas, Costas and the 4x4...

Off to Galatas, feeling slightly happier, to walk to where we were to be collected by Costas (no, not the taxi-driver, the other one). He arrived in a 4X4 and I had the slightly ominous feeling that the abilities of this vehicle would be needed, as I got into the front seat. We set off for a drive up roads/tracks (of a kind) into the hills behind Galatas, to arrive after many twists and turns at a house overlloking the Limonodassos orchards and the distant Island of Bourtzi. The last part of the arrival was in 4x4 mode and low gear, down a 45 degree slope to a parking area by the house. I admit that I was expecting a controlled crash, but Costas got us there OK, though it was a white-knuckle time for Jenny and Frances in the back seat and prayerful hands for me.

Jenny and Diana beside the Pool
Jenny and Diana beside the Pool
Kalavria, Bourtzi and Modi from Kosta's House
Kalavria, Bourtzi and Modi from Kosta's
Pat & Kostas, Sean & Bob on the terrace
Pat & Kostas, Sean & Bob

The House that Costas Built...

The weather weas definitely cooler and I was regretting that Jenny had talked me out of wearing my fleece, as a jersey was less comfortable. The company was warm-hearted - I met Bob and Sean again, our friends of Poros 2006 days, also relatives of theirs and Costas and his wife, who made us an excellent bean soup with a host of buffet extras. Costas turned out to be rather a lad, flirting with the women even whilst in his 70s. It turned out that Sean had actually been a great help to Costas when he had had an operation for bladder cancer, so she has a deep heart to her. I took only a few pictures, but the cold drove me down to the sunlit patio from the terrace soon after lunch. Costas, bless him, realised I was actually interested in gardening and showed me around his 'estate', showing me some problems and asking my advice. The basic problems were that the topsoil was almost gone and what remained was cruelly dry, compacted and deficient in humus. The irony was that in a gorge beside the house I could see rotted vegetable matter, but it would have needed ropes, buckets and spade-work to bring it up. Costas is just too old to do heavy gardening, although he had had hopes of an apple tree that was badly heat stressed and in need of humus, loose soil and water; I did explain the need and that apples needed to be planted as pairs or in threes, to ensure pollination. Frances later told me that she considered conditions in the garden unsuitable for temperate zone apple trees, and I fear she was right. Costas has to consider spending money instead of effort, so there is a point at which a garden can be too hard to achieve.

The olive trees on Costas's land are in surprisingly good condition, because he tends for them, but those in an adjacent plot beyond a fence and a wall looked miserable. The reason was that the owner of that land lives in Athens and thinks of the land for building rather than cultivation, the land ownership itself being under dispute within a family. Costas had made the mistake of erecting a wall to consolidate land he thought was his, only for that to come under dispute, so he and the other owner agreed to divide it down the middle rather than let the Athens lawyers profit. There was the sad sight of a ruined cistern, reminiscent of some of the structures I had seen in Troezene, but now of no use so Costas is gradually filling it in. He discussed land, houses and ownership, at some length, astonishing me with his revelations.

Legal and Illegal Houses...

Greek Law states that any house in the country should stand in four hectares of land, a measure intended to encourage smallholding, but the facts of Greek development are such that landowners quietly sell small plots for cash and the new owners erect technically illegal properties. In Britain, the local authorities would send in the bulldozers, but in Greece as many as 40% of new housing is 'illegal', and is 'illegally' linked up to local utilities by offduty staff, so it would need every policeman in Greece to enforce this. The utility companies charge the 'illegal' houses as they do the legal ones, so see no reason to change the system. Rather than reform the law to recognise realities, the Government occasionally fines the most blatant 'illegal' home owners and makes it impossible to raise a mortgage, but as Greeks do not trust mortgages, the situation is unlikely to change. Costas is more concerned about the fires in the Olympia area, which devastated grazing land and which he suspects to have been mainly arson. Unfortunately, Costas does not see the arsonists being caught, as the landowners were probably behind it. I recalled that tin stuffed with inflammable rubbsh seen on our walk to the lighthouse (sorry, sewage works) and still wonder if it was an aborted piece of arson.

Spiro's Taverna :

The return from Costas's house to Galatas and Poros left me ion a thoughtful mood, lifted by the presence of Dennis at the Saga Hotel. We freshened up a bit, then I and Jenny took Frances and Dennis out for a meal at Spiro's Taverna in Kanali. I had my fleece, but although the eating area was mostly enclosed in a sort of plastic tent, the cool night made it a bit chilly. Mind you, the chill was relative; a temperature of 18 or 20 degrees Centigrade is good in Britain but is cold in Greece. The meal itself was good; Dennis had a steak, Frances had a vegetarian meal, Jenny had lamb cooked in foil and I had pork in wine sauce. The portions were very large so we were all overfaced, Frances getting a large blue plastic doggy-bag to feed her two semi-wild cats. After that, we trotted down to the Cinema Cafe for hot chocolate (Dennis preferred beer) and fruit cocktails (I had a fruit juice) before going to bed at nearly midnight.

Main Course at Spiro's
Main Course at Spiro's
Jen, Frances and The Long Hand of Dennis
Jen, Frances and Dennis's Long Hand
The Doggy Bag for the Cats
The Doggy Bag for the Cats

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