Halkidiki, Greece. Day 3

Don’t know what I meant by “whippersnapper”. In fact, what DOES it mean? I was very, very drunk what I wrote yesterday’s entry. After we got back from Phillipa’s Lounge Bar, we popped in to the village pool bar and there was Simon and Kerry. So we stopped for more wines and a free shot of something blue and potent, courtesy of the barman.

We stumbled down the stairs to our room and woke the next morning with raging hangovers. The problem with Greece is you simply cannot avoid being given free shots of random alcohol (and of unknown strengths) wherever you go. Also they are keen for you to knock them back immediately, often with the one who served them which prevents you from executing the “plant drain” (Lisa’s method of discretely pouring the shot into a nearby plant pot).

Feeling like the living dead, I managed to fall asleep again only to be woken by Lisa vomming spectacularly in the bathroom. Such thin walls. About 2pm I finally ended my savage brutal with my hangover. Emerging victoriously, I went into the bathroom and cut myself shaving. There will be NO alcohol today. Definitely not. No.

We stopped off for some fast food on the way to the beach. Lisa managed to flash her pubic area whilst casually trying to adjust her bikini pants. They’re the ones that tie at the sides and are devised to turn innocent girls into dirty strippers whether they like it or not. So, momentarily, the entire beach was treated to a flash of Lisa’s bits.

We found some decent deck chairs and were promptly charged for them by a man from out of nowhere (as is customary). Where do they appear from? It’s like magic.

Incidentally, I am attempting to eat as much fish as possible during these two weeks. Don’t ask me why. I just am.

I’ve already polished off a little book by Philip Pullman about a demon huntsman. Today I’m progressing with Alice in Wonderland.

Alice in Wonderland is boring or too difficult, or something so I’ve stopped reading it. The afternoon was spent lying on the beach still trying to banish the clingy remnants of the hangover and listening to the two nearby greek sun-worshippers speaking at the speed of light. They do though.

I saw a little lizard thing dart across the ground which was quite exciting.

We visited a fish restaurant in Hanioti for tea. After expressing a general interest in fish, the friendly waiter insisted that we go and look at his fresh fish supplies. He had a cupboard with drawers containing fresh fish packed in ice. I chose a couple of “cod fish” (cod?) and Lisa went for the local bream.

Both were very tasty. It was probably our most extravagant meal so far, weighing in finally at a combined 41 euros. We tipped too earning me a robust handshake upon leaving. There is an encouraging lack of zombies wandering the resort selling cigarette lighters, roses and such like. There are also very few insects which is much appreciated.

Dogs seem to be trendier here than cats which is strange and a shame.

Had a relatively early night in preparation for tomorrow’s BBQ cruise (or “BQQ” cruise as Vanessa wrote). Oh goodie, the opportunity to drink copious amounts of alcohol once again.

We have decided that walking up the hill and crossing the badly-lit main road to the Daphne village accommodation is rather treacherous. The brochure said “torches required for late night returns”. It should’ve read “Headlamps essential for guaranteed survival during late night returns”. I’m just glad I’m not into heels. The road seems to be curiously made of sand.

Halkidiki, Greece: Day 2

Sun is out today – thank goodness! Wandered down into Hanioti in search of provisions after not being able to stomach a cup of tea without milk.

It was nice. Lots of nice-looking bars and restaurants and the beach looked good too. However, there seemed to be a distinct lack of holiday-makers. We wondered if perhaps the area had been over-run by zombies overnight. I dipped a toe into the sea and it was not in any warm. Looked inviting though. It’s going to have to get much warmer before this boy submerses himself in it.

Sat and had breakfast on the balcony. From it there is an amazing view down to the sea. It’s very lush and green with sporadic orange roots poking up through the trees, On the horizon, past the sea, you can make out the second finger of the Halkidi. I will refer to the 3 strands from now on as the deformed fingers of Halkidiki.

Whilst buying breakfast in the local supermarket, there was a man behind a meats counter laying into a slab of meat with the world’s biggest cleaver – we may turn vegetarian yet!

The hotel complex (which incidentally,is sprawling – we wasted no time in getting lost on the way to our apartment) is swarming with swallows. They’ve even built a nest on our balcony.

Talking of balconies, ours is great but has two minor flaws.

  1. I’m worried that we’re not going to get any sun on it. Time may yet prove me wrong. I hope so
  2. There is no privacy divide between us and the couple’s balcony next door. This means our conversations on the balcony must be quiet, clean and there’ll certainly no moping about in the nude.

I wish I was good at tennis. There is a tennis court down in the gardens below our apartment. It’s free to use too. But I’m rubbish at tennis and would only show myself up in front of guests whose balconies also overlook this ‘court of potential humiliation’. I wonder if Tim Henman’s holiday location choices are based on the availability of a tennis court?

I am growing a beard. It’s one of those slugs that sits under your bottom lip. Respected jazz musicians have them. I wonder if I can gain respect simply by growing one? I’m not Lisa fully approves of this project.

Spent the most of the morning (and, oh what a glorious morning it was – boiling hot and not a cloud in the sky!) basking around the hotel (village) pool. The swallows were at large, swooping down and dipping in and end out of the pool. Crazy kamikazee birds!

Went to a taverna called “Zorbas” which was very friendly. I had grilled sardines and Lisa had the good old Greek Salad. A big group of germans came in whilst we were there and plonked themselves down next to us.one of whom was a tattooed beefcake. He has a tattooed girlfriend too.

We attended the obligatory rep talk in the afternoon. Vanessa was on fine form getting her words all mixed up.and excusing herself on more than one occasion with a “I haven’t got me teef in”. Too right. Simon and Kerry were there and also another couple who were both blonde and quite young from Bristol. They (she) were keen on shopping in Thessalonika. We all decided that 40 euros per person (£26 at current exchange rate) was a go-er for the BBQ cruise on Sunday so we booked up. Should be fun.

Also, found out that Prince Charles is ridding himself of his sins at Mount Athos (top finger) this week. Seemingly he has a permanent pass. Women aren’t allowed on or near Mt Athos so I guess he has left Camilla at home?

We pottered down to the beach at Hanioti which is just a few minutes’ walk. I made my debut in the sea which seemed reasonably painless.

It got deep fast though. There were some quite big albeit blandly decorated fish knocking about  along the bed. Some looked about half a foot long but that could’ve been a refraction trick. Why do I always get a runny nose when I’ve been in the sea? Runny noses are for winter and colds not holiday and beaches. The people on the brochures bouncing around in the sea never have snot running down their happy chins.

I rather fancy a go on a pedalo before our two weeks are over. They’re available for hire here and popular too! We saw one party (there were about 8 people on one pedalo – it was like an immigrant mission for freedom) in the sea. One girl on it shouted to some mates on shore “We’re going to Turkey!”. They weren’t. They were actually going the opposite direction.

Tonight they’re having a special barbecue at the village. We’re snubbing it though in favour of exploring Hanioti’s tavernas. Hope they’re not going to be offended by our non-conformism. We would like to defend our right to keep ourselves a bit to ourselves though at this stage.

The pillow dilemma

Since our room comprises 3 single beds (two of which were already pushed together when we arrived) there are 3 pillows. Unfortunately, we are both 2-pillow kind of people. One just isn’t enough. Hence, we are taking it in turns to sleep with two pillows. It’s Lisa’s turn tonight.

Bought some wine in the supermarket on the way home from the beach which claims to be Halkidiki wine. Does this mean it is made from grapes grown here? It seems quite nice. A good choice says Lisa sipping it from one of the over-sized shot glasses we have been kindly supplied with.

Disaster of the Day!

Me diving into the sea and flamboyantly splashing about before stumbling out and collapsing on my beach towel then realising I’d forgotten to remove the 2 x 5 euro notes from my shorts pocket.

Went out for tea at the Kassandra Rooftop restaurant which was very cool.Our waiter looked like a greek Shane Richie (which was a shame really). I had grilled salmon and Lisa had chicken souvlaki. We then meandered around and discovered the Lounge Bar in Hanioti. It was very chilled out. The bar maid was from Leeds and was called Phillipa. She was a bit of a whippersnapper.

Halkidiki, Greece: Day 1

Flight at civilised time of 3pm. It took 3 hours. Landed at Thessalonika airport, flew over the Austrian/ Italian alps which looked amazing covered in snow. In front of us was an annoying woman with 3 kids and one in the oven (where’s Dad?) demonstrating a confusing mixture of provocation and discipline with her brood. “I’m dying for a fag” she exclaimed loudly at one point, then later “Tucka” and “Cur’iss” were missing from the transfer bus.

It was 24 degrees C when we arrived – pleasantly cool, but worryingly cloudy. De-hydrated on the coach for a while hoping that despite the 2 aft hr transfer, we’d get to our resort in time to have a drink or two before bed.

Some guy (who we would later befriend unbeknown to us) lost his wallet so we all had to wait whilst it was located. A few minutes later he arrived with the missing wallet. It was a guy with his arm in a sling. No swimming in the sea for him!

Whilst we were waiting another dilemma surfaced. It turns out two elderly couples sitting near the front of the coach MIGHT have been given top floor rooms when they requested ground ones. After much faffing (a phone call to the hotel) it turns out their rooms WERE on the ground floor after all.

With only two “no shows” we eventually left.

No we didn’t

We stopped again because the rep had lost her list of people’s room numbers apparently. The rep was called Vanessa who introduced herself with “Well, hopefully that was the end of the wevva”. It had apparently been rainy and cold.

First impression of the accommodation (called Daphne Village) are that it is quite nice. The man showed us around. He was nice but his English was poor. He pointed to the kitchenette area and said “for the lady”. Bless him.

Very thirsty so went straight to the pool-side bar which was run by a friendly man. The pool was lit with underwater lighting which very much appealed to me. Simon and Kerry joined us (they were also from East Midlands Airport) for a few beers and wines. Simon worked for a timeshare company and Kerry was a “deputy manager” at Adams.

The hotel resort seems very nice but awfully quiet. Oh well. We like it like that so I’m not complaining. Looking forward to waking up tomorrow and seeing what the view is like from over the balcony as we seem to be perched up on a hillside somewhat.

We went back to the apartment and I walked straight into the anti-mosquito shield which was embarrassing. Lisa stripped off and paraded around naked in the bathroom before realising it had a window which was perhaps even more embarrassing.

Rosie Thomas and Sufjan Stevens @ The Polish Catholic Centre, Sheffield (12/05/04)

Sufjan came on first wearing a Michigan cap (both artists were from Michigan) and opened with REM's This one goes out to the one I love. He alternated between songs sung with guitar and banjo with some interesting stories thrown in between songs (including one about a guy they used to make fun of at school who died whilst they were still studying and how that affected him). He was a competent and modest musician and was very much like Rosie in his relaxed and friendly attitude.

Sufjan did the mitten-pointing routine which according to him and Mary Lee Cortes is what everyone from that part of the world does to describe where they're from. He added a wolf's head to the top corner. I got confused.

Rosie was wearing all black. The only detail was a little bo peep design on her front. She came across as a very shy person and seemed to giggle through her song introductions which was strangely indearing. She told us how someone at a previous gig had recently told her to talk more inbetween songs so this was what she was attempting to do. However, once she had launched into a song we saw a completely different person with a very strong voice and total commitment.

She alternated between piano and guitar both of which she seeemed to play with minimum effort. She and Sufjan are touring together and apparently someone in a hotel got the wrong end of the stick, assumed they were a couple, a booked them a double room. She laughed as she told us this and said they made the best of an awkward situation.

I felt this was a very special and private, at an unusual venue too. The venue thankfully had a bar, albeit an expensive one. Also the hall had stacks of chairs at the back and you had to unstack your own seat. It was just like being back at school assembly!

Myself and brother Tom hung around afterwards to meet Rosie and have a chat. She was very nice and was cool about me having me photo taken with her. Check out the photo!