Kardamyli

Posted on April 30, 2010

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It’s here again the start of the tourist season and this is where we will now spend most of our time due to the Goddess having her Bead Shop there, so this is where I will be doing most of my blogging from. How to describe it, well firstly I should tell you that it’s on the sea but the heart of the village is the High Street,  one street back from the sea. In winter it’s what you would call a ‘one horse town without the horse’ but at the start of the season it begins to blossom and then slowly comes to life. The first rush of tourists hit at Easter, they are mainly Athenian or well – travelled Brits, French, Italian, German, Dutch and Norwegians who come to experience a real Greek Easter. All the 14 tavernas, 9 cafe /bars (which range from café neon to über trendy lounge bars) , 15 shops and boutiques, 1 bakery, and a couple of hire car companies will be open by then, so we have the lot really.

It’s not long ago that we were named by Conde Nast as the No1 top-secret romantic retreat in the Med, and you can see why as, so the story goes, only a mile out of the village is the villa where Charlie used to bring Camilla when they first got together.

At first glance, you appear to have gone back in time; one moment you can sit in a local cafe where the only sounds are the chirp of the cicadas, the rhythmic knock of komboloi beads and the sound of chequers being moved across a Backgammon board, but if you fancy a change of pace wander down to the sea front and sip a cocktail whilst watching the sunset and listening to cool Latin jazz at a lounge bar. In the  70’s and 80’s this place was very cool but then the islands got trendy and sleepy Kardamyli was left behind, thank God. We still get mobbed by rich Athenians in August when the Ferrari brigade are down, but most of the time we have a good mix of cosmopolitan independent travellers and walkers who come for, what as been called, some of the best walking in Europe. The mountains which seem to rise straight out of the sea climb to almost 2500 meters and are dotted with tiny hill villages where it really does feel like you have gone back in time. As for the beaches in the area, whether white sand or pebble, are Blue Flag. Oh and did I mention how historic it is ? We can date it by the fact that it was mentioned in Homer’s Odyssey and as this was written 2000 years BC we know that it’s at least 4000 years old.

There is a range of accommodation depending on season and requirements, starting at about €30 per night and going up to, well lots. What is unusual is that the prices for food and drink are still a lot less that the islands; filter coffee is €2, a 50cl bottle of beer €2, half a litre of local wine €2.50 to €3.50, a Greek salad topped with locally made feta around the €5 mark, a main dish some where between €5,50 to €9, unless you want fish which is another ball game all together. The small fish are fine, a plate of grilled sardines for example would cost around the €7 mark but anything bigger and you are looking at about €40 plus per kilo. The problem is that they started fishing with hand grenades after the second world war, then when they ran out, moved on to dynamite. This highly destructive practice, though illegal, still goes on today.

I will also be reviewing restaurants as we move through the season, and giving you the low- down on local specialities with, of course, a bit of gossip thrown in. So that’s tiny Kardamyli in a nutshell, I do hope you will all enjoy spending the season here with me.

And what do I do? Ah, many things. I sit in the shade drinking coffee and watching, I also do a lot of wandering around. Sometimes I design and make jewellery for the goddesses shop – my “Gypsy slut” range is going down a storm at the mo, and I also make and repair Komboloi. Now this can be a very serious business. Take the old chap who came in last August with his Komboloi and asked if I could restring it, it was made from fine futorian and I could tell he was very nervous about letting anyone touch it, he practically had tears in his eyes when he handed it over asking me to be very gentle. I asked if it was very old and he told me that it had been given to him by his grandfather when he was a young boy, it had been in his hand when he kissed his wife for the first time, and again when he asked her to marry him, it had been with him for the births of all his children and given him comfort when he had to bury his parents. So you see these things can be a way to relax and a stress relief tool but for some people, people who follow the path of the Komboloi, the emotion invested in them is immense. I was very privileged to be asked to perform the task , “how much do I owe you son ?” he asked when I handed them back, “nothing granddad” I replied, the story was payment enough.

Later the same day I was drinking  coffee in the shade when Spiros roared up on his bike, “can I borrow your strength” he said, “I have been working on my boat and now need to turn it over and put it back in the water, we will need a few, it’s heavy, have you seen Petros?” ” yes ” I replied ” he is at Anna’s  watching the new waitress, apparently she has spectacular shorts”!!  In the end we rounded up, not only Petros, but 2  Georges and a Panayiotis. We got to the port and had an argument about how best to do it, this is traditional in Greece when doing any work with Greek men. This went on for some time until I ended it by saying that if we did not do it now I was leaving. We tried to move the boat but even with six of us could not quite manage it, then Illias was spotted mending his nets at the other side of the harbour. Spiros shouted over to him for help but Illias just laughed and picked up his mobile, when asked who he was phoning he said ” I am phoning my wife and kids to come and do it for you!” We shouted “malaka” (tosser) back, in unison, and gestured to our crotches, this gesture in Greece means ” tell it to my balls”  but his insult  gave us the strength to try again – this time successfully.

We wandered back from the port to our respective coffees, when I got to mine it had been joined by another group of older Greek guys- led by Don Giorgio. Now I myself coined the name Don Giorgio due to his resemblance to a Mafia Don, it’s not only the cravat and the thick over- large gold-rimmed glasses and the bling, but something in the way he carries himself. They were discussing the butterfly effect and generally disagreeing with it, you know the one, the idea that if a butterfly flaps its wing in China it will have some small effect – even here. I said I thought it was true and as proof added that the simple act of a twenty year old girl buying herself nice shorts at the weekend will now result in most of the married men in the village getting a clip round the ear!

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