THASSOS ISLAND – cakes, surf and dishy Greeks all to ourselves, 1976

Thassos Island and Keramoti on the Greek mainland were to be the inspiration for a disturbing incident in my novel THE VANISHING OF RUTH

http://www.amazon.com/THE-VANISHING-RUTH-enthralling-ebook/dp/B0041KL6NA/ref=sr_1_13?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1350512603&sr=1-13&keywords=Janet+MacLeod+Trotter

Ferry to Thassos Island

FRIDAY 15TH OCTOBER, 1976

Boat building

“Got the ferry across to Thassos Island – half hour trip (calmer than Skye crossing).  Fairly cloudly over island.  Landed at small town.  Wandered around streets with Neva and Sally – headed straight for cake shop.  Worked our way through apples, bicuits, pastries too!

Various ruins in town – bits of pillar lying around.  Walked out along front, began to clear.  Saw men sorting their fishing nets and further along there was a timber yard with 3 boats being made – just the skeletons so far.  Lovely smell of freshly treated wood.  Also passed a shed with boy scout emblems on the walls – they get everywhere!  (Boy scouts not walls).

Nosed round small crafty shops, selling clothes, pottery, belts, jewellery etc.  Walked along past ferry landing, sat by the sea.  Met 2 English blokes who had been on Island for 2 or 3 weeks – we were quite an event as most tourists had left by now.  The really fat one said there were no jellies today – I nearly split myself when I saw his flabby belly – a bit incongruous!  They directed us in the direction (good English) of a nearby beach; so we stocked up on more food (a real piggy day!) – bread, toast, honey, cheese, yoghurt – Neva had another cake!

Neva and Sally on Thassos Island

We walked out of the village, up a lovely wooded hill road – great forests covering all the mountains.  Lovely leafy, sunny walk, very quiet and deserted.  Came down to a group of chalets, passed various open air dance floors and bars – everything closed down, so didn’t have to pay, but made our way down to the private beach.  Fantastic breakers, so dashed straight in, whole beach to ourselves (only 1 little man in the distance).  Picturesque island just off the headland – Neva said looked like the Whitsun Islands.  Ate picnic and I snoozed in the sun.

Walking back, a taxi suddenly appeared and a man offered to take us in to the harbour – so got a free lift and reached the ferry in good time.  Met us with Bill and Shirley, Adrian, Chris and Hans.

Coming into Keramoti again – looked like South American swampy village, very flat.  Sally and I wandered around Keramoti – lots of hens and rather shabby plots, though houses were quite gayly painted.

Lovely sunset early evening – played with a football with a little local boy and Adrian – ball kept going into the flooded areas – my white trousers got an even worse coating of grime!

Keramoti beach bar

Most people had a meal out at the nearby bar – took ages to come.  I had 3 small fishes, tomato salad, chips and bread – washed down with plenty Domestica!  Bar filled up with Greeks – eventually we were all dancing.  I went and sat with some Greeks – 2 really dishy.  The Thessalonican medical student was a bit persistent, suggested a swim – eventually escaped saying my husband was waiting for me!  Hid in the bus.  Felt a bit down again – Mark cheered me up.
New girl finally caught up with bus – Mary (New Zealand).”

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METHONI, GREECE – SWIMMING, DANCING, ‘SMASHED’ 1976

On cooking duty in Greece – went over budget and overboard with the garlic and sustained a blister courtesy of the bubbling Smash (does anyone else remember that distinctive industrial taste of powdered mashed potato?)  Had my first and last encounter with the mind bending substance Ouzo – now I understand the warning: beware of Greeks bearing gifts … 

SATURDAY 9TH OCTOBER, 1976

“Left early for Greek border.  I was doing cooking with Nikki and Chris.  Stopped at small town to shop – lots of sign language in the market (all 4 stalls!).  Overspent money.  Crossed border making butties!  Beer at border a rip-off.

Made for east coast, camped in afternoon at Methoni fishing village.  All went down to the beach (tents a stone’s throw away from sea), swam in the Aegean Sea! – very slimy and shallow!

Prepared meal with frisbies flying everywhere – got one in the back of the neck!  Fantastic spicy, garlic etc stew (La stew as opposed to Le Stew.  Drew up stupid menu – wide-mouthed frog and caterpiller pie, les afters, tic tac a la Robert etc!)  The smash (volcanic) spat at me and burnt finger – gorgeous blister.

Then all went down to nearest bar – some people been there since very early.  Tested out ouzo – only drank half bottle (too many).  Other Greeks there playing instruments – so some got up and did Greek dancing with them – Shirley being one of course.  Adrian keeled over – took 4 of us to get him to tent where spewed up.

Other group – 2 Scouse, I Irish and girl who is getting lift to Athens with us.  I thought I was OK but got to bus and memory is a complete blank!  Apparently I was feeling awful, hanging out of bus window and sounding upset.  Remember heading for sea at one point and sitting there – Rob came and rescued me, got things out of bus and found my tent.  After that I escaped again and headed for bus because heard music playing.  Apparently nearly murdered tape deck and shouted obscenities at Fred and Jan about the noise – vague recollection – Fred said that’s last time I get to choose music!”