We awoke the next morning at 7am to the dulcet tones of a rooster crowing. By “dulcet tones”, I mean that I leapt from our bed to see if the animal had somehow become entangled in vines and was strangling itself.

Welfare check: Rooster, okay.

I returned to bed where Sean lay grinning. Everything smelled sweet. The sun streamed in through the veranda doors. A nice breeze touched and tickled us. After cuddling for a bit, I got up to take a shower. The water was ice cold. Unfortunately, I’d taken a shower after swimming the day before and forgotten to switch the hot water refill switch to “on”. Oops! After a very bracing shower, we wandered down into town for some nosh.

Kamares Main Street 4The shops were all open and the merchandise stalls set up along one side of the street. Shopkeepers, for the most part, sat on chairs outside the stores, talking with passers-by. Most everyone seemed to know one another, which made sense, since this was off-season on a fairly tourist-quiet island. Everyone we passed raised a hand and smiled, “Ya-sas!” or “Kaleemera!” (“Hello!” – “Good Morning!”)

We passed a number of nice looking breakfast spots and finally came to a pastry shop. In the glass case, which served as a store-front, sat row upon row of tasty looking, flakey tiropitas and other savory sorts of pies. An amazing smell wafted out of the interior and I followed my nose. Inside, another glass case held all manner of sweets, including my absolute FAVORITE dessert in all the world – a pan of gooey, sticky, juicy baklava.

The cafe’s owner, Spiros, absolutely charmed us from the start and would, over the next week, become a face we looked forward to seeing every day. We selected a tiropita (filled with feta cheese), a zambonopita (ham and kaseri cheese), baklava, almond cookies, a hot nescafe (all non-greek style coffee was called nescafe) and an iced unsweetend, no milk, coffee (frappe). Spiros shooed us off to the table and we sat by the sea, watching huge schools of fish swim by beneath us while he prepared our feast.

Καλημρα, Sean!We savored breakfast for two full hours, which barely did the spread proper justice. It was that good. As we sat, we discussed our plan for the day, which really only consisted of swimming. So, after breakfast, we headed back to the villa for our beach necessities and then set off for the rocks to the south of the Kameres beach.

We didn’t see a soul as we walked from our villa down the road through the tiny village of Agia Marina. At the end of the town, we found a small goat path through the stickery brush and followed it to a gulley, which we scrambled down towards the water.

I could have explored the coast forever. Just when it seemed we’d found the perfect rock-lined swimming hole, we’d travel a little farther and find one just that little bit prettier. We only stopped exploring when we were so drenched with sweat, we absolutely had to cool off. We stripped and dove into the beautiful blue sea, which is where we stayed for the next 6 hours. God, I love the water.

Towards the late afternoon, small clouds started to gather and Sean and I decided to head back to the villa. Marie greeted us as we ambled up and we stood and chatted about our day for a bit, before wandering down the flower-lined path to our apartment.

Hummingbird Hawk MothI showered first and then paparazzi’d local wildlife while Sean showered. As I settled down on my haunches to catch a Hummingbird Hawk Moth feeding on jasmine, I head a soft ‘gonging’ noise from the hills above. Camera in hand, I walked up the drive, scanning the hillside. To my surprise, I spotted a huge herd of goats. The ‘gonging’ sound became a symphony as the herd, each individual with a bell around its neck, descended from high in the hills going, well, somewhere. Sean emerged all squeaky-clean and we watched for the next hour as the two hundered some odd goats moved in the general direction of our swimming rocks.

After the goat parade, we consulted our Barrett guide and chose the Giorgos Boulis Taverna for dinner. Arriving at about 7pm, we found the taverna virtually deserted, so chose a seat on the huge veranda, near the outer edge. Giorgos Boulis Taverna isn’t on the water, but rather is directly off the town square, which makes for some great people-watching.

A young and cheerful woman brought us menus and we ordered the house retsina. Having learned our lesson the night before, we didn’t even crack our menus. When she returned, we simply had her rattle off some recommendations and then choose something for us.

Something to note about Greece for Americans – mealtimes move at a much slower pace than in the States, probably owing to the fact that every single food item is incredibly delicious and must be properly appreciated. A typical dinner lasts around two to three hours and there is a lot of time to sip, nibble and look around. It was shocking to return to the states and watch people in restaurants shoveling food in their mouths as if the waitstaff would, at any moment, rip the dishes away and shuttle them out the door with empty bellies. This pace doesn’t exist in the Greek Islands, at least not from what we experienced. The staff at most restaurants seemed so glad to have you there, in fact, it was pretty hard to get your bill at the end of the night.

Giorgos Boulis Taverna CatAs we finished our appetizers – yigendes (fava bean stew), capari salata (caper salad) and keftedes (fried meatballs) – the real dinner hour began and people started to fill the tables around us. The litter of kittens that had taken up residence around our feet and on the chairs beside us dispersed to work the gathering crowd. We noticed a very large group of older women arrive and sit at a number of pre-arranged tables near the back.

It took us another hour to fully appreciate our dinner – Sean had arnee stee carbonah (charcoal-grilled lamb) and I tried the pastitsio, a very dense noodle dish with minced lamb. Honestly, it was probably wonderful pastitsio, but I found I didn’t like the dish as much as I thought I would. You can’t like everything!

As we paid our check, a few of the older women rose and called to the owner. He ran into the restaurant and emerged with a small CD player. Ah, music! Nice! The music started and the older women grabbed hands and began to dance. I became entranced. If it hadn’t been for Sean, I might have stayed several hours more, but when he finally got my attention, I could tell he was half asleep. We ambled back to the Alkyonis accompanied by the fading music and the laughter of the dancing women.