What do you get when two slightly hungover American tourists board a flight at London-Gatwick bound for Skiathos, Greece with two rowdy hen parties in matching t-shirts with incomprehensibly British sayings?
I don’t know, I fell asleep.
But when I landed. Wow. Or better, “Mamma Mia!” (sung loudly, with an exclamation point).
We landed in Skiathos and thanks to Europe’s nicest Avis employees we picked up a car, drove it to a secret lot, left our stuff in said car and headed to the ferry. Despite flying over impossibly turquoise surf, I did not yet feel so Greek that I wasn’t anxious about leaving everything we own in a Mini Cooper at a random filling station near the port. That misplaced anxiety was not reduced by a confusing queue and then a startlingly fast ferry ride aboard the FLYINGCAT5 in a cabin so thick with diesel smell I thought for sure we’d faint. Alas, in less than 18 minutes we’d gone from the overcrowded ferry dock in Skiathostown to the ghost town of Glossa . While we waited for Giannis, one of four taxi drivers on the island, to scoop us up at the port, I started to shed the anxiety, the mild hangover, and the “American tourist” feeling.
Giannis zipped us around tight curves and down streets that were sized to be sidewalks in his very clean 1990’s silver Mercedes with reasonably effective air conditioning. He delivered us to the mother of the owner of our Airbnb, who spoke absolutely no English but whose pride in the inn needed no words. Mary showed us the two story home, pointed out the beautiful patio, and left us with homemade strawberry jam and biscuits.
We’d picked up a hunk of feta, a bottle of red wine and some ouzo at the store before our taxi ride. When Mary left, we slathered the feta in strawberry jam and took a shot of ouzo.
Now. Now we were on Greek time.
We hiked down the mountain to explore ruins of Roman baths near the port at Loutraki. The hike was a bit treacherous, better suited for donkeys than humans. The baths? They were a smidge underwhelming (Is that ancient or just a rock? Is this a Roman tile or someone’s trash?), but the views were endless. We came across a handful of goats and chickens, dozens of geraniums potted in olive oil cans, and one very grouchy mustachioed Greek man who didn’t think we should be on the trail through his property.
By the time we explored the alleged ruins and ate an ice cream at the port, we opted to use Giannis’s services again to get up to Glossa. Giannis pointed out the restaurant Mary had recommended, which dovetailed with what we’d heard from our charter boat captain who grew up on Skopelos. We popped our heads into the restaurant, Agnanti, and asked for a table at 9:30. Then we took a little nap – it’s Greece, after all.
Agnanti. Mammia Mia! We started with feta wrapped in phyllo, drizzled in fresh honey. The phyllo in Greece really is something – it seems like a crime to call what I buy at Trader Joe’s here in the States “phyllo.” A salad course followed, per the waitress’s recommendation because all of the vegetables are fresh and local. They were. The delicate green leaves were balanced out with rich corn, juicy tomatoes that tasted like a Greek island, slivers of cucumber and – of course – just a dusting of feta.
Our waitress’s recommendations so far were spot on, so we tried the seafood risotta despite our shared aversion to octopus. She promised it was cooked slowly so it stayed tender, and chopped finely enough that we couldn’t discern tentacles from body. Rich and hearty, finished with a splash of white wine, I felt like kissing my fingers. Then remembered I was in Greek, not Italy. We polished off the Greek pinot noir, giggled over the bill (less than € 80 for the best meal of the summer), tipped too much and went in search of adventure.
We found cats, and a bar with fresh mint and Havana Club rum. So we indulged in one drink more than we needed and savored the mojitos with a German expat, a Floridian, and two Greeks – united by their love of the island and nicotine.
The next morning it poured down rain, ruining my plans to hike to the Agios Ioannis church at Kastri, made famous by Mamma Mia. Instead we opened the windows and got back into bed. We journeyed out after the storm to the tiny temple of Taxiarches, surrounded by fir trees and totally empty. It was a beautiful place, made even more so thanks to the total silence. We only saw each other and four-legged friends on our three hour trip. It was the perfect lead-up to a week with friends in Skiathos-town, where quiet and rest weren’t on top of anyone’s list of priorities.
Recovering journalist who discovered a life outside of news leaves you time for things like getting angry, cooking and traveling. Plus, hopefully, writing. I’m a wife, dog mom and Washingtonian.