Monday, 16 April 2012

Igoumenitsa, Greece - The silence of the lambs

Let’s get some things straight. I don’t do fashion or make-up; I don’t do babies and small children; and I certainly don’t do dancing. But somehow, at some point cycling somewhere in Turkey, I promised Bart that I would do traditional Greek dancing once we got to Greece. As we neared the ferry port for our boat to Italy, I thought I had got away with it!

As soon as our ferry from Crete had docked at the port for Athens we jumped on our bikes in the half light of early morning and started cycling north, eager to make a bit of fast time. But the weather had other plans and again and again over the next few days we found ourselves cycling through heavy downpours when we couldn’t even see the road for torrents of muddy water. We warmed ourselves in dark, smoky roadside cafes where the old men of the little villages we cycled through gathered in the mornings. We even checked into cheap hotel rooms a couple of times to escape the wet. As we cycled on through misty mountain towns we noticed many households were killing and skinning sheep as gunshots rang out across the valleys, silencing another poor sheep or lamb. We soon learned that Greece celebrates Easter one week later than Western Europe and that mutton is the traditional dish served on Easter Sunday. We also learned that on Easter Sunday every shop and every gas station and every restaurant is closed! And of course … we had no food … only the smell of roasting mutton drifting across the road. On empty stomachs we pedalled north then took a quiet road along the coast where we lingered over the map beside a campground that looked closed, trying to decide our best options for finding food and a place to pitch the tent. Within seconds we were being ushered inside to join the family for a traditional Easter lunch!

A whole sheep was roasting on the barbecue and the stereo was belting out Greek music as bottomless glasses of wine were pushed into our hands. Then the traditional meal was served - the sheep entrails were difficult to stomach but the mutton itself was delicious. And, of course, the Easter celebration wasn’t complete without some traditional Greek dancing and, with a bit of tuition from our hosts, I was able to fulfill my promise to Bart! As we board our next ferry across the Ionian Sea, I’m now looking forward to picking up some Italian fashions!

More photos on Flickr – not many but it’s been too wet to get the camera out!


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