Ten Days in May

March me up to the top of the hill
23rd May 2014

 

After two days gallivanting around Kefalonia today was going to be a gratuitously lazy day at home.

Breakfast in bed was followed by coffee on the patio where we spent much of our time contemplating the antics of this huge ant. It was a fine specimen. We called him Adam.

After he fell off the bannister we relocated. There were deck chairs by the pool with our names on them. It was yet another beautiful day here in paradise. I can't put into words how lovely it was.

The morning drifted gently by as we sat back and switched off. Boredom didn't once raise its ugly head.

I came to the conclusion that you must only feel bored when you wish you were doing something else instead and at that precise moment I couldn't think of anything more appropriate I could be doing with my time than sitting down in the sun drifting in and out of consciousness.

Eventually, of course, that restless feeling did arrive but only because we were getting hungry. As we didn't have much supplies it justified lunch out.

Once Adriana had finished cleaning our villa we prised ourselves off our sun loungers and went for a stroll down into the village.

Even though we followed the same road down as usual we were struck this time more than previously how colourful the houses were in Assos. Perhaps it was the clear blue skies that made the hues more vibrant today.

It was great to see the care taken by the residents. Most houses were just small humble homes, nothing fancy but they were proudly painted and well-maintained. It's because of their colour that Assos has such a charm.

After reaching the harbour front we continued following the road up and out of the village until we reached a tiny cemetery.

It was only a small plot of land and unattached to any church. It was so peaceful and the view overlooking the bay was wonderful. Who could ask for a better location to be laid to rest?

Whilst the dead may not appreciate the view at least when their family come to visit they do so in such a comforting place.

Back down in the square we only had one place in mind for our lunch. As we enjoyed our meal so much the last time we ate at Platanos we returned.

Panos gave us the menu and then talked us through the daily specials. His vivid descriptions made each dish seem so tempting. We didn't bother looking at the menu and went with the specials.

I had an artichoke and pea dish which was so rich in flavour. The sort of dish that you simply didn't want to end. Incredibly satisfying.

Julie had a grilled chicken with a lemon dressing. It was served with wild greens, similar to spinach and was perfect. She was equally as besotted as I was by the food.

We must have been hungry as we also ordered a side salad and some stuffed vine leaves. Then before we left we were given a complimentary dessert. It was a small milky vanilla custard pudding topped with sugary crunchy vermicelli.

The entire meal was delicious.

I asked Julie to remind me to review them on Trip Advisor. "So I can give it 5 stars" I added.

The supermarket wasn't open until 4pm so we loitered around the harbour for half an hour.

We walked down the quayside where a tiny little fishing boat had docked. There was no fisherman nor his fish to be seen. It was late in the day I suppose.

All we saw were the wings of this black and white bird floating in the water, but only the wings which I found strange.

Julie found it strange that I was so fascinated by the dead bird! "What happened to it?" I kept on saying.

"There's no body. How did that happen?"

Anyway I gave up trying work out the mystery of the wings on the water and moved on.

It was still a beautiful sunny day and once again we noticed the brilliant colours of the buildings much more than we had done before.

Blues, yellows, greens, even pinks and lilacs were on display. It reminded Julie and I about our trip to Burano near Venice (nine years ago now!) and how colourful it was there. Clearly the Venetians liked their bright paint!

By time we walked to the end of the quay and back again we still had another 20 minutes before the shop opened.

Instead of wandering aimlessly as we had done we sat outside the Agios Giorgios church just off the square. It was so peaceful we found ourselves staying longer than was necessary.

Eventually we shopped for what we needed for our dinner tonight. It had to be a well-planned shop as we were leaving tomorrow. Well, more accurately, we were moving to a hotel in Faraklata and certainly didn't want to arrive carrying bags of groceries!

Back in the villa I spent an hour preparing food for our supper. Some tzatziki, skordalia, briam and kolokithokeftedes were all knocked up as quickly as possible.

As soon as they had cooled down and I could put them in the fridge we left for our sunset walk. It was our last night in Assos and we had promised ourselves that we would walk up to the Venetian fort to watch the sun set.

We packed a bag with some wine and snacks and made our way back down to the village following the road around the bay to the point where cars were no longer allowed.

We had originally thought about taking the more direct route which followed a path that only goats would have preferred but we decided to take the rather gentler incline of the official paved path. Also Julie's sandals had developed a faulty strap and were more of a flip flop and a hindrance.

The ascent was steady and not at all challenging. At first we could only catch glimpses of Assos through the pine trees. At one point we were almost directly opposite our villa.

About half way up the first section we came to the Chapel of the Virgin Mary. It looked a simple very basic chapel but it was a proper Greek Orthodox church and popular for weddings.

There was a bench outside the gate so we took the opportunity to take a break. It hadn't been too strenuous of a climb, it was just nice to relax and listen to the silence. It was beyond peaceful.

After reaching the end of successive dog-leg bends the path straightened, although it continued at the same moderate gradient. Along this section we were quickly above the tree line which gave us some stunning views back over Assos.

It made us realise how surprisingly small the village was. It wasn't exactly a sprawling metropolis.

There was one more bend in the road as we double-backed on ourselves. The path then continued straight onwards and gradually upwards until we reached the entrance to the Venetian fortress.

Most of the entrance gate was in shadow except for the actual entrance itself, which glowed warmly with the setting sunlight. The sun must have been in the perfect position to shine through like that.

It looked magical as if walking through it would transport us into another realm, a fantasy world of castles, dragons and kingdoms. Of course nothing happened when we walked through. It wasn't even sunnier on the other side with the low sun hidden behind the trees.

Above the arch as we entered was the winged lion of the Venetians. There was also a sign explaining that building started in 1593 under the supervision of Ambrosius Cornelius.

Immediately to our left were ruins of an old church or at least it looked church-like. There wasn't much of it left.

We followed the path down in search of somewhere for our sunset but there wasn't anywhere suitable. So we kept on going down the hill despite Julie struggling with her flip flops on the cobbled path.

We soon reached an open space with a row of ruined buildings running along the left side. Most of them were fairly modern. The island was used as a prison site up until 1953 and we assumed these were something to do with that function.

The perfect location to watch the sunset was still evading us. There was no clear view of the Ionian Sea from here. Then, as I turned back to check on Julie who had fallen behind a little, I noticed high above us some ramparts!

"Aha, there's the perfect place!" I shouted "but how on earth do you get up there?" I asked myself a little less triumphantly.

Before turning back up the hill I quickly went ahead to explore some more modern buildings. They were in good condition but clearly abandoned.

When I was out of Julie's sight, she could have sworn she heard someone (or at least something) fall. She called out but got no reply. I was also out of earshot.

She called out again, this time with more of a shrill of panic in her voice. She was so worried she had already started to run as best she could along the path.

I eventually heard her and called out back at her. By the time we were reunited she was overcome with relief.

I explained to Julie what was down the hill. She had read that the old prison buildings were in the process of being renovated into a museum and visitors centre. Perhaps the financial crisis put a stop to that.

As we slowly made our way back up the hill we tried to find a path that would lead us to the castle walls that we saw earlier but we couldn't find any other than the yellow brick road we were on.

Having returned to the gateway through which we entered we thought it would be worth carrying on up the hill. It seemed to lead to the highest point where there was a lookout tower!

Now that was an even more perfect place to watch the sun set!

And so it turned out to be. With our beach towels draped over the ruined walls it was an ideal spot to sit down and enjoy the uninterrupted view down to the sea.

We unscrewed the lid on our cheap plastic wine bottle and opened a bag of crisps. It was so romantic!

It wasn't the best of sunsets but that didn't matter. It just felt so lovely sat there, just the two of us, alone, with only the birds and the waves breaking the silence.

The sun dropped quite quickly behind the distant clouds gathering somewhere over Italy. Having stared at the sun for the last half an hour it suddenly felt dark without it.

I was never a Boy Scout but the older I'm getting the more prepared I seem to be and out came our pocket torch. Despite its guiding light I still managed to stumble as we made our way back to the path.

Once our eyes had adjusted to the dim light there was no need for the torch anymore.

We followed the same path down. It was a comfortable stroll down. Often walking downhill can be painful on the knees but the gentle gradient made for an easy trek.

We walked hand in hand along the path, below us in Assos the street lamps were beginning to flicker, sparkling like fire flies.

As tempting as it was to stop to admire the view we marched on in a race against the fading light.

By the time we were coming down into the bay it was properly dark and the torch was called upon once again.

Although from the light that it shone we probably would have benefited more from simply holiding up a candle! The path however was wide and well maintained so we could walk with confidence.

We made it safely off the path without a stumble or fall and reached the safety of the street lamps.

As we stopped to admire the house that was for sale Julie suddenly spotted a peculiar coloured gecko.  It was the shape and size of the usual lizards we've seen before but it had splashes of bright red all over its back and tail. I've searched many reference sites on the internet but have yet to identify it.

Perhaps it was only a standard gecko with literally splashes of red paint on its back from a house that was recently being painted!

A little further along we came across another creature with deep wrinkles like a tortoise. It turned out to be our honey salesman. He was fast asleep on the wall with his jars beside him. It looked like that was his bed for the night.

Back in the "square" we chose to spend a little longer in the village before returning to our villa. It was our last chance after all and we realised that we hadn't spent any evenings out in Assos.

Our favourite taverna Platanos was buzzing but all we wanted was a drink so we sat instead by the beach at the Seaside/Blue Cafe.

It was such a romantic setting. The cafe had what looked like small paraffin lamps on each table (they were electric) and the harbour looked so wonderful with the street lamps reflecting in the water.

We had some crisps to nibble and a glass of wine/beer which we slowly sipped to make the time last longer. There was a slight sadness in the air because it was our last night. Our stay in Assos had been one of the most pleasant and relaxing trips we had ever enjoyed.

We consoled ourselves as we still had another three nights on Kefalonia. It wasn't the end but a new beginning.  It was 10pm by the time we got back to Villa Palatsina. We were hungry and fortunately we had plenty of food prepared.

It didn't take long to reheat everything and we were soon enjoying our late supper out on the patio.

It was a most excellent way to end our stay here, sitting outside, eating delicious home-cooked Greek food, washed down with some lovely Kefalonian wine.

Before we knew it midnight had come and gone and we were still sat outside. We felt so relaxed. We knew we had a mountain of dirty dishes in the kitchen, we hadn't even packed our suitcases but we didn't want to spoil the moment with such petty things.

They all could wait until tomorrow.

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