The laughter was so contagious last Sunday as I shared a memory, that I needed to repeat my story to a wider audience….
This was June 2011….
We were leaving London for Faliraki, Rhodes, an island in the Aegean Ocean, known as the Sun Island or the Island of Light. My first time, but an old favourite of my husbands. It would be hot! A holiday place of magic, beach and sunshine.
“You must visit Lindos, and old Rhodes and the valley of the butterflies!” , friends suggested…la la la
“And you must try the local foods on offer! la la la
I needed to relax, see the beach and have less stress!
The plane arrived on time, the transfer coach was late. There was no breeze and about 27 degrees at 11.00pm. We were the last passengers to be dropped off by the coach, when we arrived at our Hotel, starving and thirsty. No welcoming brightly lit signs like the other high rise hotels, a broken pole holding up an aging excuse for an entrance sign. No lights on in the hotel nor around the building. But the driver pulled up and turned off his motor and proceeded to offload our cases from the coach and prepared to leave.
Suddenly a man appeared out of the shadows from a parked car and spoke our names. Very weird.
“You come!” He said, grabbed one case and headed up a set of stairs that could have been borrowed from John Cleese’s set on Faulty Towers.
I whisper to husband: ” I hope there is some food here!”
His whisper to me: “Never mind, Tony will cook for us.” I had heard this all the way from the airport about an old mate of his in the same area who would cook at any time of day and night at his hotel.
“Maria!” Man called out into the darkness.
Methinks: “What, this is 2011! This is a hotel, isn’t it? Internet booked disaster came to mind.”
The smiling Maria, obviously this strange man’s ‘Sybil’, arrived turning on a single light bulb above her head to check that our details were all correct. I looked into the dark room behind us to see if there were crisp or cold drink dispensers, or ‘Hello’ a bar maybe! The dark lounge promised nothing! After asking if there was somewhere that we could get a drink and a meal…..
“As you are first guests this season… we give complimentary bottle of water!” She smiled gesturing towards the man who headed towards what we later knew to be the kitchen.
“He no speaka the English.” But she smiled, Maria smiled all the time! “You have to go out to places at beach for food or drink, and if come back late door is locked.”
It was getting worse!
The room was basic. The mood was slowly turning sour and two ice cold bottles of water empty. We were no longer saying much to each other, and the holiday highs had dropped low into our flip flops. After I refused to spend a night with only ‘Gavescon’ to drink, our luggage was secured in the room, and we immediately went walking down the unlit road to find supper.
Clearly then our hotel was out of town and quite a way from the seaside. A point which we were unaware of at the time.
“I am sure Tony’s place is down this way!” My man said turning right at the first pathway, as I hung back staring at the lights straight ahead near the water in the distance. He went on, and on into the darkness until he found a brick wall. He remained so optimistic.
“Trust me, I could have been a doctor!” His attempt at humour, trying to make me laugh.
“We will never get anything to eat now, it is so late! Why don’t we go this way at least there are a few lights!” Yes you guessed, me talking again.
Finally, we were at the waters edge and it WAS beautiful and all that I wanted my holiday to be if only I wasn’t hungry. There was a beach and loungers but nothing else.
“If we walk to the right we will get to Tony’s place for sure! He’ll be happy to feed us.” My ever cheerful husband tried again.
“No, we are going left towards the lights! At least there may be life!” My anger charged through my veins and I strutted down the beach path hardly hearing the lapping waves to my right because of the blood pounding in my ears.
The place of light did not disappoint us, there was life. But I was sceptical as we stood on the outskirts in the darkness and watched the locals sipping beers under the canopies around tables lit by candle light.
“He took my elbow and said quietly, calming the storm: “Lets go and see.” I was sure he was wrong, there would be no food except weird stuff and raw fish etc.
But amazing, much to my surprise, yes, as he had explained, they would cook for us, no matter what time!!
We found Cavos the first night. Lovely ‘old boat’ themed restaurant, right beside the sea, filled with wood, old rope hangings and a huge blue real squacking parrot, Pedro. I was actually prepared to eat anything that night…. (maybe not raw fish!)
But surprise followed surprise; special greek salad with extra feta cheese, fresh bread and pork chops with chips; above all my expectations. Did he have dry white wine? Yes of course, a glass or a caraffe he asks? Enough said. The man was a HERO.
Our holiday in Faliraki has a sequel, an interesting twist and more…..
Oh, and if we had looked across the bay in the distance we would have seen Tony’s place!!