Ten Days in May

Laugh my Assos
18th May 2014

Oh, the pleasure of staying in bed for as long as you feel like is such a wonderful indulgence. Even when on holiday I'm usually up and out as soon as possible to go exploring but on this trip we've agreed to alternate our days. One day out exploring and the next one staying put in Assos. Today was a stay at home day.

We had breakfast out on the patio. It was only a simple spread of toast, cream cheese and boiled eggs but it felt like the best breakfast we ever had. It was just so delightful to be sitting outside.

Our main topic of conversation this morning was the "Do not flush any paper down the toilet" rule that was enforced across the whole island.

At first the thought of it was disturbing. No matter how messy it got you had to place the soiled toilet tissue in the small refuse bin in the bathroom.

We felt sorry for Arianna who came in to clean the villa. It was most embarrassing and thoroughly un-British! (But of course we soon got used to the local ways.)

"I wonder what they do with it all?" asked Julie. "Perhaps it all gets incinerated" I added.

It was difficult to imagine that somewhere on this pristine island they have to deal with a mountain of dirty toilet tissue and other rubbish. But at least it kept it out of the crystal clear water. (It's amazing what information you can find on-line though if you should care to find out! [Waste Management on Kefalonia])

We spent the entire morning relaxing down by the pool until we got hungry. Time for lunch.

We waited for Adrianna to finish cleaning and for the washing machine to complete its cycle (because when we took the key fob out of the reciprocal on the wall to lock up it shut down the power) It was gone 1pm when headed into the village.

The view of the bay captivated us once again as we walked down the hill.

Today there was a yacht moored in right in its centre. We imagined waking up on-board. What a wonderful feeling that must be, to find yourself here, surrounded by the beauty of Assos. We're no sailors though and no matter how idyllic we could never imagine ourselves taking up sailing.

This time we followed the road down to the harbour, ignoring the steep stepped short-cut. It wasn't much of a detour as we came down next to the mini-market (the 2nd one we visited yesterday)

Despite being really hungry we delayed having lunch, and continued to walk through the village, past the ruined house for sale following the road as it followed the curve of the bay. We only caught glimpses of the water as houses flanked on both sides of the street. One of the houses right on the edge of the bay was for sale. Oh what a dream it would be to live there.

All were immaculately maintained, painted in bright colours, most with flowering plants climbing over them. One seemed to have a life size garden gnome sat outside but it turned out to be a real person taking advantage of some shade.

All of a sudden I heard an "Oh my God" from Julie. She was freaking out by the size of the largest bumble bee we had ever seen. "It's like an olive with wings!" she added, which had me giggling all the way up the hill.

At the end of the street we came to a small car park. It didn't seem large enough to service the village, especially during the height of the tourist season.

Today however it only had a few cars in it. The month of May is certainly a great time of year to visit. Not only are the hills greener and flowers are in bloom but it's also much quieter.

We walked over the isthmus onto the island and sat down at a conveniently positioned bench to absorb the breathtaking views back towards the harbour. It was ever so picturesque.

Cars weren't allowed beyond this point but the road continued, shaded by tall pine trees up the hill towards the Venetian fortress.

We were far too lazy to attempt the walk up today unlike a lady who had written in the Palatsina Villa's guest book saying she enjoyed running up the hill twice a day! She excused her insanity explaining she was in training for a marathon.

After spending some time gazing out over the peaceful bay admiring the stunning location at the foot of the hills we returned to the centre of Assos.

On the way back we noticed that someone had left some supplies on top of a low wall. We stopped to have a closer look.

As we did, the old fella we earlier mistook for a garden gnome out of came shade towards us. He was in a sorry state. He had no laces in his shoes, holes in his jacket, dirty hands and a well-worn pitiful face. He had clearly fallen on hard times.

He gestured with his hand towards the three jars of honey, a small bag of apricots and two small jars of seeds. A sign we took that these items were for sale.

We asked how much for the honey, and he drew the shape of a '1' and a '2' with his finger on the wall. €12 for about a kilogram of honey was quite expensive we thought, especially as it looked quite unappealing, very raw, quite dirty, filled with broken wings and other bee body parts.

He must have been in a rush when he collected it. We considered offering him less, to barter down him down a little so that at least he got a sale and some money in his pocket but his desperation made him quite menacing. We left without buying anything.

Back in the square we stopped for lunch at Platanos. The owner Panos came out to greet us. He was such a genuinely pleasant man. He gave us the menu, explaining some of the choices available. It had an excellent range of vegetarian dishes.

 The way he continued to enthuse about the dishes on the specials board you could tell he cared deeply about his food. He didn't simply read off a list of dishes but instead explained in detail how it was cooked, which ingredients made it that little bit special and offered a guarantee that it would be absolutely delicious.

His passion for his food was infectious. He whipped us up into a culinary frenzy as we chose the aubergine moussaka and the slow-roasted suckling pig, both dishes from today's specials.

"I don't normally eat food without meat" said Panos "but when I do it is this dish." he explained about the vegetarian moussaka.

He then explained that the pig was of impeccable provenance, that they were reared here on Kefalonia by his veterinarian brother-in-law. They were a cross breed between the British Gloucester Old Spot and another heritage breed in order to avoid the genetically modified pig of the factory farms.

We were so excited to meet our dishes and we weren't disappointed. My aubergine moussaka was so full of flavour, each mouthful was a joy to swallow. Even the side salad and warm pitta bread covered with oregano were delicious.

Julie couldn't believe how tasty her pork was. It melted in the mouth except for the crackling which was of course perfectly crisp.

She asked how long was it cooked for and the answer was that after being marinating for only half an hour in salt, oregano and garlic it was then cooked for an astonishing 8 hours, first roasting the whole pig over a charcoal fire pit for six hours and then finished off in a wood-fired oven for a further two hours.

They were served on smaller plates than average but the portions were still plenty large enough.

To finish we were served complimentary shot glasses filled with ice cream and a fragrant sweet date chutney.

At €29.50 for lunch including a half carafe of wine and a bottle of beer it was worth every drachma. We left Platanos, promising to return.

Our thoughts turned immediately to supper, not for our return visit but for supplies. We called into the really mini mart.

Loaded with a bag of potatoes, garlic, lemon, oregano and a bottle of Kefalonia's very own Robola wine we made our way slowly back up the hill to our villa.

It was a much warmer day today and the pool area was a perfect sun trap. When it got too hot I flopped out of my lounger into the pool to cool down before drying off again back in the sun. This wonderful cycle continued all afternoon.

We past the time reading the comments in the guest book. It was quite entertaining!

"beware of the goats on the road, they are not fastidious keepers of the green cross code, if you drive with the window open however you will be assisted by aroma that follows them acting as an early warning system"

"the woman in the mini market up the street could freeze you with one look"

"avoid the bar at the end of the pier, the staff are rude and sullen"

There were many more slating Molos, the bar on the harbour and rave about one called the Northern Bar which we hadn't heard about before.

The day past us by as we drifted in and out of consciousness, feeling the most relaxed we had been in a very long time. The sun set around 8:30pm once again painting the cliffs a beautiful shade of fire.

Once the light show was over we started on supper. We hadn't planned it very well. I had been too focused on getting ingredients to make skordalia, a garlic lemon potato dip that I had forgotten about anything else. All we had to eat were potatoes. (oh and one tomato!)

Julie was perfectly happy. She always said that if she had to eat one and only one ingredient for the rest of her life it would be potatoes.

So tonight, sat outside on the patio in the cool evening air listening to the waves wash against the coast we had a trio of potatoes, plain boiled, sautéed with oregano and the stunning skordalia dip. Perfect!

Whilst it was plenty warm enough to sit outside Julie could feel the presence of little mosquitos buzzing around her legs. She reacts badly to insect bites so we thought it best to go inside.

We had switched on the air-conditioning. It was cleverly connected to the patio doors so that if they were left open the air-con would stop. What a genius idea!

Sprawled out on the sofas, we had one each, we put the telly on and flicked through the channels. There was absolutely nothing to watch.

Obviously it was all Greek to me! (Hee hee ... I'm surprised that it took me almost two days to find the opportunity to slip that one in!)

I eventually settled on an election special because it was a clear image and vaguely interesting. From what I could make out I think these were the first round of local council elections taking place across Greece.

I turned to Julie and was about to ask "I wonder if they have a Monster Raving Looney Party here in Greece?" but she had fallen asleep. The UK have this tradition of having someone completely bonkers standing for election. It's often an anti-vote vote.

I thought I had found my answer when I saw the Pirate Party of Greece but sadly they campaign for changes in the copyright law rather than dressing up like swashbuckling renegades!

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