12.09.2013 - 23.09.2013
After sleeping like the dead for about 12 hours, we wake up to a beautiful sun-drenched morning on Milos. The sky is blue and the bay below stretches out before us like something from a dream.
Our breakfast is brought up to our private verandah where we can eat with a wonderful breeze and an amazing view.
I like the way Greeks do breakfast.
Omelets, a bread basket, cake, cereal, meat & cheese, honey, jam….but my very favorite is the Greek yogurt.
We spend a couple of hours of much needed “down time” relaxing on the rooftop deck before trying to decide what to do with our day.
Milos is less popular with tourists than some of the other Greek islands because it's off the beaten path and has a slower pace than islands like Santorini and Mykonos. Its claim to fame is the famous “Venus de Milo.” The statue was found in a field by a farmer who was looking for stones for his house. He tried to hide her for some time in his home, until she was discovered and seized.
Milos is also home to some of the most beautiful beaches in the Aegean. Depending on who you ask, you will be told that Milos has between 40 and 70 beaches. To me, the combination of few tourists and beautiful beaches sounds perfect.
When the urge to move finally kicks in, we decide we’ll spend our first day exploring the north shore of Milos which is littered with secret coves and pocket beaches, quaint towns and fishing villages. We’ll end the day at Sarakiniko, a white rock “beach” that is supposed to be other worldly.
Before we jump in our dusty Jimny, we walk down to Pollonia town. It’s small and we manage to walk around it in about 15 minutes.
We hop in the little 4x4 and go where the road takes us.
It’s dusty and dry, too dry for any profusion of vegetation, but we see tamarisk, cypress, and juniper trees dotting the hillsides. Square, whitewashed houses with bright blue doors pop up beside olive groves. Everywhere, jagged cliffs plunge down to the turquoise sea.
It is breathtaking.
We pull off to explore coves and beaches, making our way down the highway that borders the north shore of the island, from Pollonia to Plaka.
As we drive, I see a small sign that says, “Splas Bar.”
“TURN!” I shout as Matt nearly plows the Jimny off the side of the highway.
I mean, how can you NOT go to a bar that calls itself “Splas?” Not Splash, Splas.
We find ourselves at Mitakas, a picturesque bay lined with fishing houses.
Next to it is a long stretch of beach with a small beach bar.
To call it a beach bar is like calling the Milos airport an airport.
It’s a counter with 3 stools, about 4 bottles of liquor, a cooler of beer, and some oranges, but with this view, it’s the best place in the world.
After relaxing for a while, we head on down the road to find Klima, a traditional seaside village. The road down is steep and so narrow that at one point, it is closed for 15 minutes while a truck sits idling in the street.
The problem with driving on Greek islands is that the roads were designed for people and donkeys, not rental cars. One wrong turn and you could find yourself trapped in an alley, forced into a dead end with no place to turn around, or, like us, almost plunging into the ocean.
We realize we are there when the road abruptly ends in the water. There is nowhere to turn around, so Matt does an Austin Powers 30 point turn to get us headed back up the hill.
We park and take a walk around. The water is lined with small white boathouses that have large colorful doors. The boathouses are just a few meters from the sea and were originally used for fisherman to escape into when the weather was bad. Now, most of them are seaside homes for local residents.
It is enchanting.
We head back up the hill to Plaka, the capital town of Milos, which is built high on a hill overlooking the rest of Milos and the sea. The narrow alleys in the village are so small, that no cars are allowed. We find a place to park and walk up the hill.
It is dominated by the “Kastro” (or castle) which sits at the highest point.
Higher than I am willing to walk.
We wander around the maze of alleys in the village instead. Enormous bougainvillea are literally erupting over doorways as discarded petals drift lightly on the stone paths. Blue doorways stand open to shops and bakeries and blue and white Greek flags wave in the wind.
Tavernas beckon, with happy tables littered about courtyards filled with sunning kittens, but we have other plans.
We hop in the Jimny and drive to the fishing village of Mandrakia.
It is incredibly lovely, with boats dotting the blue water and more of those boathouses with the large colorful doors lining the shore.
I have heard that the restaurant here in Mandrakia is very good.
We find Medousa easily because it’s the only restaurant in this very small village and it literally sits at the end of the road.
Even directionally challenged American tourists with outdated paper Google Maps and no GPS can find it.
The restaurant is open to the sea and every table has a stellar view.
As we are seated the young waitress asks us if we’d like coffee or beer. We assume that’s all they have, since nothing is listed on the menu. I’m parched and it’s about 2:00 p.m., so the only thing that sounds worse to me than coffee would be a cup of molten hot bacon grease and I don’t drink beer, so I order water, silently sulking on the inside.
She brings Matt a frosty glass of beer and for a moment, I wish I didn’t think it tasted like dog pee. I look at it with longing and Matt reminds me of the chocolate croissant and says something about “karma.”
That’s when we see her bring another table a small glass pitcher of wine.
She brings us a chilled carafe of their house rose as we order a feast: Greek salad, roasted cheese with tomatoes and peppers, grilled bread with tomatoes and feta, and meatballs with fried potatoes.
It was only our second meal, but we picked up on some things quickly that remained true for our entire trip:
1) Feta cheese is on everything.
2) French fries come with everything.
3) There is no Diet Coke, but there is Coke Light.
4) Greeks think Nescafe is real coffee.
5) Fanta Orange is NOT carbonated.
6) True Greek salad has no lettuce and is amazing.
By the end of the meal, I consider just lying on a wall for a nap like this dog. I have already eaten more today than I normally eat in a week.
The sun is still high in the sky, so we stop at the famous “beach” of Sarakiniko before heading back to Pollonia.
I guess it is technically a “beach” because there is a smattering of sand at the end of the long channel of water that runs between two stretches of smooth, rolling white stone.
As we walk toward the water, the scene is surreal. The smooth white rock and the deeply blue water trick my eyes and I feel like I am on some other planet. Some other planet with merengue covered beaches.
The rock is soft and cool beneath my feet, like chalk. The rock is water carved and windswept and it gives the place a lunar feel. I could almost believe I am on the moon.
If it wasn’t for the woman hiking in front of me in nothing but bikini bottoms and a day-glo yellow pair of sneakers.
We learn on Day 1 that you will see lots of topless women on the beach. Sure, I expect topless….we are in Europe, right? But what I expect is “lying on a lounge chair topless” not “running up and down the beach in bright yellow sneakers topless.”
I have to be very careful where I point my eyes or my camera because there are jiggling body parts everywhere and I don’t want to come off as some pervvy weirdo.
Matt and I find a semi-secluded spot and take a dip in the delicious water before deciding to call it a day and head back to Melian for some naps.
We drift out of the soft white nest that is our room in time to see the sunset and have some cocktails at the hotel bar.
We decide to drive to the town of Tripiti (near Plaka) for dinner. I have heard that the restaurant called Bariello is very good. The beautiful hotel clerk, Georgianna, almost talks Matt out of my restaurant while I am still getting dressed in the room.
“Georgianna says that we probably won’t like it. It doesn’t have a view,” he says. “She made us a reservation at a place just down the street.”
Oh no he didn't.
One look, and no words, and Matt knows we are going to Bariello.
We arrive in Tripiti and find a place to park. We aren’t quite hungry yet and we see a cute bar right next to Bariello. We step out onto their back deck, which has an amazing view of the last moments of the dying sunset.
Matt orders our drinks and then decides to walk next door make sure we don’t need a dinner reservation while we wait for them.
After he leaves I can’t help but feel…..watched.
I casually glance to my left and there is a very strange looking man literally turned sideways so that he can stare at me. He doesn’t glance away when I notice. No. He just keeps staring.
Creepy staring. Serial killer staring. I want to wear your face as a mask staring.
I look away casually and can literally feel his stare burning into the side of my head.
Matt gets back and sits down, between me and Mr. Psycho Stare. I whisper, “Look to your left. Slowly.”
He turns his head very slowly and nearly chokes on his caipirinha.
Why? Because creepy man is still staring and didn’t even bother to stop when Matt turned.
“Is he drunk or crazy?” I whisper.
“Both, I think,” Matt says. “And he sure likes YOU,” he chuckles.
Great. Matt gets Georgianna and I get Norman Bates.
We finish our drinks and head over to Bariello. They tell us that they do have seats on an outside terrace overlooking the sea. We can also sit inside if we like.
I take a look inside and say quickly, “Inside.”
They look at me like I have lost my mind. Apparently, NO ONE sits inside.
But it is magical. The restaurant is old and warmly lit and I feel like I have stepped back in time. The walls are carved into stone and wooden beams run the length of the ceiling. Small tables with flickering candles glow against the lush red tablecloths. No one is sitting inside. We have it all to ourselves.
But it’s not the ambience or the privacy that lure me in. No, it’s this little table:
We run down to the little private cave room with its one little table like a couple of kids who just discovered that Candy Land is real. It is amazing.
The restaurant owner is amused by our choice and can’t, for the life of him, figure out why we choose the indoor cave table instead of sitting outside on the verandah.
“Are you American?” he asks.
He shrugs like that somehow answers it and heads back upstairs.
We peruse the menu. So far, all menus have been in English and Greek. I have noticed that the English is very close….but it’s always just a little off.
For example, the risotto with chicken might have been better worded.
(And I never did figure out what the “dark gabbage with little secrets” was)
We have already adopted a method of ordering several dishes and sharing them all, instead of each of us ordering our own meal. For dinner, we a salad with prosciutto, apples, and blue cheese; spicy beef sausage; a traditionally prepared rice dish; and pork loin that has been cooked for 5 hours in beer.
We have also already learned that, even though a meal in Greece lasts at least 2 hours, you have to beg them for a check when you are ready to go. Not only that, but, as though trying to entice you to stay just a little longer, they always bring you a “treat” before they will let you have that check.
As we try to leave, we are brought two delicious slices of chocolate something.
Bariello is wonderful. What does Georgianna with her blue eyes and lovely long braid know? Hrumph.