Tuesday 25th September 2012
At spiti mou “Gitonia tis Irinis”.
“Gitonia tis Irinis” , it means Irini’s Neighbourhood or Neighborhood of Peace, I’m not sure which, is a small complex of traditional and independent small houses characteristic of the Cycladic islands, on Koufonisi island. The peaceful houses are all built within a large courtyard filled with flowers. They were all designed and built by Andonis (Black Anthony) himself, a selftaught architect who managed, starting from a basis of pre-existing buildings, to create a unique complex of autonomous villas, small cool patios and relaxation areas surrounded by gardens, and all with a view of the sea. The materials used are mainly local, as is the building style. The roofs of the houses are traditional for coolness, the ceilings are of beams and reed thatch, while the patios are covered by thatched tops of reeds collected from the ravines of the surrounding islands.The doors are decorated with old latches with great big iron keys , while the doors are painted blue and green like the windows.
OK, that’s the blurb you get from the website…buts what is the true situation? …… Well….happily enough, thankfully, the description does not come anywhere near to doing the place justice.
I am so pleased that I found this place, and a special bonus is that Yineka-Mou is also very happy and impressed with it….not an easy task, as those of you who know her well can attest too!
Our slow express ferry the Skopalitis Express arrived at approximately the scheduled time of 4:45pm, and awaiting on the dock for the disembarking passengers were the usual mob of Domatia Kamaki ( a Kamaki is Greek for harpoon, so Kamakia are the harpoonists waiting to catch someone to rent one of their domatia , rooms ) We were expecting Andonis himself, so were looking for a large ( I’m now being tactful) dark man….on asking around for him, we were instead directed to a tall skinny youngish looking guy…cigarette in mouth, and waiting beside a clapped out mini van…. ” you’re obviously not Andonis” I asked in Greek, to which he replies, in English, ” no, I am Florian”. ” Για σου Florian, Από που είστε; ” I ask….where are you from? …
” Albania” is the curt reply… It’s obvious that Florian is not one who indulges in small talk..or indeed any talk…” we go now” he says… Heaving our two heavy suitcases into the back of the van ( did I mention that both Yineka Mou and I have both brought along twice as many clothes as we probably will need) we set off for ‘GTI’ . Sample of conversation on the 2 minute journey, via a short cut across the town beach…
“Where is Kirios Mavros, is he at home ?”
” No, he sleeping”
” how far is it to the Villas?” ”
We here now” he replies, as we turn sharply off the main road ( ha,ha…the main road!!) and up a slope into the grounds of Gitonia tis Irinis” . ” leave bag, I show you rooms” says Florian, who, while respectfully had not smoked while driving in the van, but now, after two minutes without one, he hurriedly lit up again. He showed us through three different rooms, ( fag in mouth the whole time, of course) starting at 35 Euros and going up to 55 Euros….. After Yineka Mou hummed and ah’d with him…we decided on the larger of the rooms and the most expensive at 55 euros a night… ( approx A$62 ) However, after sweet-talking poor Florian into submission, she haggled him down to 50 euro a night, on promising to stay for at least 5 0r 6 nights.
” What you like drink? ” he asked…” we go to bar” Yesss…a bar…I didn’t realize that the GTI even had such a thing.
” What’dya have ? was my reply .
” ouzo, raki, beer, wine….everything maybe … what like”
“” Maaate, a really cold beer would go down a treat”
” I ‘ave, but no cold…fridges turn off for end of season…you like hot, I have?”
” Mmmm, I might give that a miss…. anything cold will do, what about a soda, or some wine”
” yes…have…but no cold…fridges all off for end of season…I shut down bar”
“When did you shut down the bar?”
” Yesterday shut…why you don’t come sooner…now end of season”
With that he pulled two large bottles of (warm) beer off of the bar counter and handed them to me…” here…you take to room…make cold” and with that, he then grabbed another two bottles of beer, and thrust them at me also …” you, ave more…you like. ”
He then turned to Yineka Mou, who had shown a preference for a glass of white wine…warm or cold, didn’t matter… Florian emptied a 500 ml plastic bottle of spring water into the sink, and replaced the original contents with Rose wine….” here, you like very much too …I can tell” What, is he a clairvoyant? Yineka Mou did actually ‘ like very much too…! ‘
Anyway, we are happily ensconced in our very own little bit of paradise. The room is actually built in traditional style, in a little seaside village of 15 villas that Black Anthony made himself. It has a bar (ok its not open, its out of season… ” Why you no come sooner “) and it has a tiny church in the middle of this little peaceful “village” …and that is open. When we first arrived, and while being helped to our room with our luggage and warm beers, Florian pointed it out to us… ” is Church”
” Yes, and is open ” I said. ” maybe it would be better if you kept the bar open and shut the church instead”
” Ah ah, you very funny man” smiled the Albanesie…
Still haven’t met or seen Black Anthony yet…. Maybe he no exist…( I gotta stop speaking with an Albanian accent…. But it’s catching…and you don’t waste unnecessary words…. I like !)