Friday, October 9, 2009

Going Greek

Traveling off season in Greece can be a delight. For around 20 euros per night we ended up with a deluxe room in Antiparos complete with a large terrace overlooking the harbor. Not bad!

Of course, this is Greece, and luxury can have a different meaning here when away from the four star hotels and glitz of the high end resorts. In our bathroom, a sign kidly posts in Greek and English, "Do not put paper in the toilet". Instead, one should toss it in the garbage, so as to avoid clogging the plumbing. Our hotel proprietor, Vassilas, also made sure to let us know that we should not drink the tap water. And our shower is little more than a showerhead that hangs waist high on the wall next to the toilet. There is no curtain, only a small raised tile border to let you know where the theoretical shower walls would go. Of course, the spray covers almost the entire bathroom floor when showering, nevermind the tile border. But since the entire room is encased in tile, it doesn't seem to much matter.

The town of Antiparos itself is in process of shutting down for the winter. While the weather is still lovely, tourists are few at this point, and a walk through town finds entire streets devoid of any life other than the occasional cat. A select number of tavernas open in the evening for business. Last night we did dinner the Greek way, and headed to a place far off the waterfront that Gary had recommended. As we enjoyed our mezes of Greek salad, tsatziki, and saganaki, Vassilis and his wife came and took a table across the patio, and not too much later Gary and his Bulgarian girlfriend also stopped by for a leisurely meal. On the way back, we spotted Andy and Leonie, our diving buddies, at another bar. Here, in the course of one night out, we managed to run across every person we know on Antiparos without even trying.

It is nice when most of the people out and about are locals rather than tourists, though. Late this afternoon, we watched as the old men of the village made their way to the tables outside the cafe of the town square. Talking loudly and playing backgammon, this appeared to be the Friday night ritual. Or - who knows? - perhaps it's every night's ritual. The pace of life is slower here, and I could easily see the Greeks taking the time for a regular chat in the evenings.

In the mid-afternoon, all but a couple of small markets and waterfront restaurants are closed tight. It's siesta time (the Greek equivalent, at least). In the heat of summer, of which I've been fortunate enough not to experience personally, I'm sure this is a welcome respite from the overbearing sun. Everyone age two to ninety-two can be seen out after the sun goes down, as late as midnight and beyond.

We've adapted pretty well to the laid-back lifestyle, I'd say. After today's dives, we took in a slow lunch, showered, and ambled down the road for a walk around the northern tip of the island. Other than reading on our terrace and heading out for another two hour dinner, not much else is on the day's schedule. We are temporary Greeks; all we need is to learn how to play backgammon, and I think we're set.

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