12.09.2013 - 23.09.2013
We managed to get in bed so early the day before that we are wide awake before sunrise. Of course this means I must leap out of the bed and run down to watch the sunrise.
Unfortunately for Matt, this means he must come with me. It’s only our 3rd day on Milos, but already, Matt is grumpy until he gets his breakfast cake.
As we watch the sunrise over the bay at Pollonia, I discover that the beach is littered with the smoothest, largest pieces of sea glass I have ever found.
Most of them are so large and round that they more like pebbles than the slivers of sand washed glass that I am accustomed to finding.
Matt and his grumbling belly eventually drag me away and we find our breakfast waiting for us on our verandah, the views as outstanding this morning as they have been every morning.
We start to wonder if the weather is always this perfect here.
Finally over his jetlag, Matt declares that he’ll start exercising today. My sugar addled brain thinks back to the “mountain of death” that he convinced me to run up and down in the British Virgin Islands and I shudder.
“They have a treadmill inside the gym,” he says.
Hmm. Okay. Gym. Treadmill. Easy, slow, air conditioned. Sure, why not? I don’t want to be the “lazy one,” so I agree.
There is only one treadmill so he goes first while I set up some massages for later in the day. Our plan is to get the beastly run over with some wonderful exercise, go for a swim at a nearby beach, and then get massages before lunch.
I’m on the verandah when Matt comes up and tells me the treadmill is free. I head down to the “gym” and discover that the “gym” is a treadmill inside the room with the sauna.
You’ve got to be kidding me.
It’s so hot, that I am sweating before I even get on the treadmill. The room is at least 80 degrees. What’s that in Celsius?
I’ve set the treadmill for a light jog, but it’s barely moving. I’m going so slow that I could actually be going backwards. I finally realize the problem.
Damn metric system.
After much random button pushing, I get myself going at the proper kilometer per hour and within minutes, I am so hot that I feel certain that a volcano has erupted nearby and the island of Milos is melting into the sea. Or that the sun has just fallen from the sky and landed outside. Or that hell has just swallowed Greece and Satan himself is breathing into this gym.
Seriously. Putting the treadmill in the sauna room???? Seriously?
I declare a mutiny. I am no longer exercising on this vacation unless you consider walking from a sunbed to the bar exercise.
Screw the treadmill. I head for the beach.
Over the weekend, we had discovered that the famed “Papafragas Beach” was barely a mile from our hotel, so we decide to head there to swim off our breakfast.
Papafragas is like nothing we have ever seen before. Considered a “must see” on Milos, I am surprised when there is no one else there when we arrive.
From above, it just looks like a channel of water. However, if you look closely, you’ll see a not-so-obvious path carved into the side of the cliff that leads to a small beach below. Once you are at the beach, the sea extends outward, guided between two high cliffs, facing the open sea.
The water is cold, but incredibly blue and incredibly clear, changing color as the sun moves higher in the sky. As we swim, Matt notices a tiny “notch” in the rock that we can swim through.
We swim through this hole, not knowing what is on the other side. When we come out, we are in deep cobalt water and surrounded by towering caves.
I feel like I could stay here forever.
We swim back slowly, trying to savor what we know is an incredibly special moment and wanting it to last forever.
Unfortunately, my cake belly is pulling me to the bottom and I can only tread water for so long.
We head for shore, still the only ones in this magical place.
Before heading back to the hotel, we make a quick stop at a small pocket beach we had noticed nearby. Like Papafragas, it is channeled between two cliffs, but they are lower and the beach here is wider, sandier, and more beautiful.
We take another swim before heading back to Melian for our massages.
There is only one massage therapist, so we take turns, one of us hanging out at Melian’s small plunge pool while the other has a massage in the spa.
When it is my turn the massage therapist, a very small, pretty young woman who speaks some English, hands me a sheet of paper to fill out. I get to a section that I think asks me what areas of my body I DO NOT want massaged and I see “stomach” on there.
Ick. Do they really include the stomach in a massage here? That’s even weirder than the metric system. I try to imagine someone pushing around on my new cake belly and quickly check the box next to stomach.
That’s a definite “no.”
As the massage therapist comes into the room and is about to begin the massage she asks me why I checked “stomach.”
Really? Like, am I weird for not wanting my belly rubbed? I’m not a basset hound, for goodness sakes.
“Um…well….it’s just not something we normally do in the States,” I say.
"Ah, you're American," she says....like that explains why I am a “don’t touch my belly weirdo.”
“Okay,” she says politely. “Well, it’s always good to try something new. I thought maybe you had problem with tummy. You know. Like can’t go poop,” she says in her limited English. “Some people want tummy massaged when can’t go poop.”
I suddenly realize she thinks: 1) I WANT my stomach massaged and 2) She thinks I am constipated.
This situation demands immediate rectification.
I clarify that I, in fact, DO NOT want my stomach massaged and she laughs and tells me the question was asking areas I DID want massaged. That’s what I get for not reading carefully.
I’m glad we got that cleared up. That could have been awkward.
My stomach is left untouched, the massage is wonderful, and I exit into the sunshine around noon to find Matt sleeping by the pool.
Ah….life in Greece is hard.
Before we relax ourselves into a coma, we drive toward Paleochori Beach to find nearby Sirocco Restaurant.
We find the restaurant easily, about 30 feet from the water’s edge. The restaurant sign says, “volcanic food,” and warns us to be careful because the sand is hot.
Sirocco has a pretty neat gimmick. The ground underneath the restaurant is so hot that they literally cook the meat in clay pots buried in the ground. I have read that this place is a tourist trap by some and others say it is a great restaurant. We like the looks of it, so we decide to give it a whirl.
I’m easily sucked in by things like promises of cooking my food in a sand pit.
The salad we have at Sirocco is the best of the trip, and we have some incredible salads on this trip. The greens are topped with a variety of grilled vegetables and shaved cheese.
We also order the fava dip, pork filet, and grilled fish. And, like most of the restaurants we have encountered in Greece, they can’t bear the fact that we might leave before eating more food, they bring us little squares of something like honey-soaked cheesecake.
We move down to another section of Paleochori Beach where we find Deep Blue, a sprawling music bar that is scattered down the hillside above the most colorful beach I have ever seen.
We grab cocktails at Deep Blue and carry them down to the beach to find a sunbed.
The cliffs surrounding the beach are deep red, tan, and stark white. The sand is golden. The water changes from deep blue to green. The colors are striking.
We manage to spend the rest of the afternoon doing absolutely nothing.
Back at Melian, we clean up and head out for dinner just as some clouds move in. I guess that answers our question about whether the sky is always blue on Milos.
Our plan is to catch the sunset from Plaka, the highest city on Milos, before heading to dinner, but as we grab a table at Café Utopia, we see the sky growing dark.
We order drinks, thinking our sunset dream will be a bust, not knowing just how wrong we are.
When the sun finally reaches the horizon. It bursts through a sliver of cloudless sky and the world literally explodes in golden color. It is a spectacular sight, and once again, Greece leaves us speechless.
Once the sunset has cooled to a faded purple, we head out on a quest to find the mythical “bset restaurant on Milos.” We set off in the dark toward the port of Adamas in search of Oh! Hamos.
Oh! Hamos has its own beach, makes its own ceramics, and grows its own food. The setting is beautiful: flowers in big clay pots, vines growing on the fences, walls covered in poetry from previous guests, the menus handwritten in colorful handmade notebooks, and crusty bread served in a thick, cotton bag tossed casually over the back of a chair.
Before ordering dinner, we finally work up the nerve to try Ouzo.
There should be a warning label on a bottle of Ouzo.
WARNING! IF YOU DON’T LIKE BLACK LICORICE, YOU WON’T LIKE OUZO.
They should also tell you that it is common to drink it with water because it is extremely strong. Like idiots, we drink it straight.
It burns all the way down and makes me feel like I have been sucking on gas soaked black jelly beans.
I figure out quickly why it is served as an aperitif – before dinner drink. Because after drinking it, you will eat anything put down in front of you just to get the taste out of your mouth. It is truly horrible.
We have a feast for dinner: Greek salad, potatoes in tomato sauce, pasta with creamy cheese sauce and caramelized onions, and pork spare ribs.
After dinner, they do not fail to bring us something we didn’t order. It’s becoming fun to see what “mystery surprise” will show up at the end of the meal.
Tonight’s surprise is a small glass of water with a white ball of goo in it.
I look at it and wonder if maybe they are out of cheesecake.
I look at the waitress, trying to figure out if this is something I should drink, or if it’s like a little hand rinse like they bring you at the Chinese restaurant back home sometimes.
“Ypovrichio,” she says.
We just look confused.
She tries again. “It is sap. From tree.”
She has given us mastika, a white gummy syrup that is, indeed, tree sap. It looks like a ball of Elmer’s Glue inside a very small glass of water with a tiny spoon. Matt shakes his head "no." He draws the line at a glass of tree sap.
I am on board for anything sweet, and I use my little spoon to wet the sap with water and suck on it until it is all gone.
It is so sweet and so simple. Greek tradition at its very best.
It is time to head back and, after a few ouzo induced wrong turns, we make it back to Pollonia for our final night on Milos.