I spent three days in Vravrona, which was close to the Athens airport, enjoying the ocean and eating plenty of grilled octopus and Greek Salads. In the evening I researched my island destination of Samos. It was a relatively small island in the Eastern Aegean at points as close as six kilometres from the Turkish coast. It had a long history of peaceful enterprising inhabitants more interested in commerce than in war. It had been occupied by the Turks for over 200 years and then the Italians and Germans in the Second World War. It was a prize tourist destination for Germans and the Dutch many of whom had been coming to the island for years each summer. Most importantly there were few Italian tourists visiting the island. Not that anyone would recognize me but my mission was to be a forgotten individual.
I took the overnight ferry from Piraeus to the capital town of Samos called Vathi. I arrived at 09:00 in the warm spring sunshine. The island was mountainous and from a distance looked parched. In Vathi I rented a car just outside the port from Nicos Rent a Car. A small Citroen. I headed off to a small town called Mytlini a 20-minute drive from Vathi. It was up in the hills and with a population of little over a thousand people. The entire village was on a hill and the streets were sloped. One small supermarket, a bakery, a convenience store and a few small shops up the hill including two tiny restaurants.
I had rented a small house from two spinster schoolteachers. It was dated and really required extensive renovations but I was lucky to have found a house to rent. The locals were a bit aghast at a half Indian half Welsh character in their midst but were welcoming. I was often invited in for coffee and vanilla on a spoon in cold water or a small plate of quince jam. It didn’t matter they spoke very little English or I almost no Greek although I was picking it up quickly by watching an awful lot of Greek television. After my afternoon nap I would head down to one of the restaurants and have a beer and some mezze which usually were slices of octopus, tomatoes and a bit of feta cheese. I would try my Greek with the patrons and they usually had a laugh at my pronunciation but a friendly and not mocking laugh. I would try my best at Greek food in my kitchen and after a few disasters I could even prepare roasted stuffed vegetables. I loved stuffed zucchini leaves.
I had three months to spend here on Samos which would include June, July and August. I wasn’t planning on sitting on my ass. Small as Samos was there was plenty to see.