The previous day, while waiting for the bus from Appolonia to Kameres, Sean and I ran into two fellow travelers with whom we had a passing acquaintance. The two ladies, probably in their late 40’s, hailed from Paris. They’d come in on the same ferry as us and were staying in Kameres for a similar duration. As well, the four of us seemed to be on a similar feeding schedule and tended to pick the same restaurants, so we’d seen them every night. Before the bus arrived, we slipped into easy conversation about our day’s adventures. They’d spent the entire day at a beach on the southwestern coast called Vathy and convinced us that we shouldn’t miss it. Done and done!
The bus to Vathy left at noon, which allowed plenty of time for us to eat a leisurely breakfast, chat with Spiros and then roam the quiet paths of Kameres before boarding. Soon, we were on the bus heading towards Appolonia. At the capital city, we turned west and started down the rather breathtakingly steep switchback road to Vathy. It didn’t take long for most of the people on the bus to switch seats, leaving me and Sean alone on the side nearest the rather precipitous drop-off. We had the best view the whole way down. Suckers!
Vathy turned out to be more beach than town, but what a beach it was. The white sands stretched all the way around the bay to the west and drifted right up to the small town’s doorstep to the east. To the north, set back a ways, was a rather ostentatious looking resort – a rarity on Sifnos. Sean and I followed the 20 or so souls down the beach and found a vendor where we procured beach chairs and an umbrella before we stripped and dove into the water. For the next three hours, we swam, chased fish, sunbathed and read.
Sean decided to take a little afternoon nap under the beach umbrella, leaving me on my own to explore. I noticed we were getting low on water, so wandered off to the east for town. Most of the structures in Vathy town turned out to be private residences, but I did find a small general store. Unfortunately, they were fresh out of bottled water, but the woman helpfully pointed me towards the ostentatious resort. Although I looked rather disheveled from hours of swimming, I wandered back down the beach and onto the property. The change in “feel” was instantaneous. The ground went beyond manicured. In defiance of the aridity of Sifnos, the resort maintained acres of lush grass, which, at least to me, looked horridly out of place and unnatural.
About five women lounged around the HUGE pool, all about 7’5” tall – really just impressive sets of legs topped off by prodigious boob jobs and immaculate hair. I didn’t see anyone swimming. A pair of models posed near a giant chessboard painted into a portion of lawn, the man leaning casually against a rook, the woman flirtatiously toeing the bottom of a pawn. I tried not to read too much into that placement.
I felt a touch out of place, but soldiered on, finally reaching the lobby building. I walked in and waved to the desk clerks. They looked up in tandem and identical smiles lit their perfect faces. I looked behind me to see if someone else had come in and by the time I looked back, two of the resort clones were at my side. They both held brochures.
I’m not exactly sure how this happened. I said I needed water. I got a 30 minute sort of high-pressure sales tour of the resort and a bit of an interrogation regarding where we were staying (“Oh, how quaint! But, entirely unsuitable. You don’t HAVE to stay somewhere like that”). Finally, they told me that my husband and I could take a suite at their resort starting now. They would have a driver go to Kameres and retrieve our things. The low, low price? Off-season, so a reasonable 800 euro a night! Wow! Go to hell resort goons! Give me my 10 euro bottle of water and buzz off! If I had that kind of money, I would STILL be staying at the Alkyonis in Kameres.
The goons weren’t particularly reluctant to let me leave. I don’t think I fit their “type” of clientele anyway. I have a feeling they were just practicing on me because they were bored and it was slow – you know, slickifying their slickness. I did get to see the inside of a suite, though. As plush as it was, if I didn’t look out the window, it could have been any luxury suite in the states. It completely lacked any character or local flavor. Just not my type of gig.
So, back I went across the grounds to swim freely in the sea with my husband, who had woken up some time before and was starting to wonder where I’d gone. Interestingly, over the next few hours, we both noticed a number of helicopters would now and again fly in a line across the entrance to the bay. Later, someone in Appolonia told us that there was a helipad for hotel guests. We also found out that the resort was NOT popular with many of the locals. They felt it was built using “black money” (explained later as money from organized crime) and attracted the types of people that might just change the flavor of authentic, non-touristy, wonderful Sifnos if given half the chance. I truly hope that doesn’t happen.
About an hour and a half before the last bus for Kameres was to leave, Sean and I took another Barrett recommendation and sat down at a taverna in town called Manolis. Right smack in the middle of the tavern’s veranda stood a huge clay oven from which the most mouth-watering smells emitted. We simply pointed first at the oven and then to the large house wine keg in back when our young waitress arrived and she laughed and nodded, understanding perfectly. The house red had a very pleasant zing and came to the table ice cold in a rather large pitcher. We shared a plate of fresh roasted rabbit from the clay oven and it virtually fell off the fork. Holy cow, my stomach just growled. Damn, that was good food. We also had a large Greek salad and the cheese tasted completely different from the cheese served in Kameres – both fantastic, but quite distinctive.
Sated and a bit tipsy, we boarded the bus back to Kameres. Our stomachs were too full to eat again that night, so we mostly wandered around town. Every shop was open and brightly lit and there was almost more shopping activity after dark than during the day. It made for a very festive atmostphere. As usual, Spiros waved us over as we passed and we got our ice creams and chatted. I just want to say, Spiros really typified the warmth and genuine nature of the people we met on Sifnos and Milos and I am so very glad we met him. What a neat person.