Categories
Greece (Skopelos)

Stafilos Beach for the win

IMG_9888

…Stafilos had a dog, so that pushed it ahead of the pack

We visited four beaches (Glisteri, Glifoneri, Panormos, and Stafilos) during our three weeks on Skopelos Island and they each were clean, comfortable, and drop-dead gorgeous.

However, Stafilos Beach had a dog, so Stafilos for the win.

IMG_9902
Follow the signs down the hill after you exit the bus.
IMG_9895
The beach is big and beautiful.

When we visited Stafilos last Friday afternoon, a brown, wiry-haired dog made its rounds to the various beach-goers settled on towels and blankets. It greeted each visitor it met and then flopped down, soaking wet, and wriggled in the tiny pebbles. It was truly this dog’s dream come true, apparently.

IMG_9881
The dog cooling off in the water.

Never one to ignore an animal, Mitch and the little dog became fast friends. The dog sat with us on our towel and surveyed the kids and adults sunning, swimming, and snorkeling around us. And then she returned to the water and swam out to her owner anchored out in the cove. With her head just  a tiny brown dot on the surface of the water, she amazed us by soon returning to the beach for another dose of interaction with strangers.

IMG_9887
Mitch and man’s best friend

Stafilos is just a ten-minute bus ride from downtown Skopelos. Check the bus schedule board at the bus kiosk, arrive at the designated time, board and pay your 1.60€ when the attendant comes to you during the ride.

We headed out in the late afternoon and returned about two hours later.

Make sure you wear good shoes when you go, since you’ll have to walk about 500 yards or so downhill.

IMG_9875
The road down to Stafilos Beach looks like this…

The walk is steep, so watch your step. However, pause to catch the gorgeous views.

IMG_9877
…and this…
IMG_9880
and this.

Once you arrive at the beach, you can just spread out a blanket or towel at no charge or 2) pay 7€ for a beach umbrella and two wooden chaise lounges. You can see the umbrella section at the far left edge of the second photo in this story.

When it’s time to go, don’t forget you’ll have a hike back up the hill.

IMG_9898
The road back up the hill from Stafilos Beach looks like this…
IMG_9899
…and this.

There are a couple of tavernas you can visit on your walk up. These are casual cafes that serve fresh seafood, salads, and drinks.

IMG_9901
You may see some tiny churches on the hillside…

As you walk up, look around at the hillsides to see the occasional private Greek Orthodox churches. Here’s another one across from the bus stop:

IMG_9907
…or at the bus stop.

Also near the bus stop: chickens pecking underneath an olive tree. What a great scene!

IMG_9906
Chickens feeding beneath an olive tree.

We stood across the street in the shade and waited near this sign for the bus. It was right on time!

IMG_9908
And finally… the bus stop.


Thanks for reading again today! We are en route to Mycenae today via Athens. In fact, I’m writing this post in the Skiathos Alexander Papadiamantis Airport. Click like, leave a comment or follow my blog for more stories on the daily.

Categories
Life lessons Memoir & Narratives

Cats Were Another Story

FullSizeRender (1)

Mildred Sneigel liked dogs. She had always owned at least one dog, even before her husband had died. Her dogs tended to be lapdogs, smaller, terrier-sized breeds that she could easily care for, groom, and converse with. Cats were another story and the two little girls who lived across the alley knew it.

One morning, on the kind of lazy summer morning that allowed them to stay in their pajamas longer than they should have, the younger of the little girls was playing with her older sister in their backyard when they heard the old woman across the alley talking.

They dropped their spoons into the mud and crawled on the damp grass each to the base of a skinny poplar tree. They listened.

The old woman said “Good doggy,” and “Be a good little doggy.” She carried a shovel and took small steps around her own backyard in her gray rubber rain boots and long, floral raincoat. Her head bobbed among the wisteria and rose bushes and was enveloped in a clear plastic headscarf, the kind that folds up into the size of a business card and then has a little snap to keep it all together.

The girls, who were not naturally inclined to torment others, nevertheless chose to torment Mildred Sneigel on this particular morning. If only they had known her better.

Their plan: crouch beneath their respective poplar trees, send meows into Mildred’s backyard, wait for her response.

At first, the sounds they made were the tiniest, tenderest of mews, the sort you might hear from a three-day-old kitten. Mildred gave no response, continuing to scrape at the topsoil to the right of the iris patch with a rusty, claw-shaped hand rake. No fun.

Then, their mews became bolder, less tender, akin to the sounds one might hear from a gangly, mildly dissatisfied teenage cat. With this, Mildred paused and looked into the branches of the elm tree above her. That was better. The girls’ eyes met and they stifled their mouths into shrugged shoulders.

Then, the older sister took the lead and lobbed the final grenade. What began as a tiny kitty mew lengthened into a quite realistic, prepubescent meow, which evolved into the gruff, gravelly howl of a geriatric feral tomcat. The duration of the meow was impressive. Its tone rose and dipped and curlicued around the older sister’s tongue, into her chest and then out through her mouth, which guzzled with silent laughter as she collapsed into a ball on the dewy grass.

By that time, her younger sister was also engulfed in secretive, red-faced laughter. Her cheeks streamed with tears. Dirt plastered the two sisters’ knobby knees and legs, grass clippings mingled in their bangs, and tears and dew dampened their pajamas.

That final lob did the trick. Mildred’s eyes tore over her shoulder, she raised her claw, and she stomped in her rubber boots to the back edge of her yard, headed directly for the girls’ poplar tree seclusion.  She scanned the length of the lot, and stooped to peer into the darkened rows of shrubbery, weeds, and decrepit lawn ornaments frosted with molds and lichens.

“Out of my yard, you cats!” she barked. “Out.”

Seeing no feline trouble-makers, she stood back up, transferring the hand rake to her other hand. “Just leave,” she spoke quietly into the shade.

She returned to the iris bushes and settled to her knees. She patted the soil with her hands, and leaned into the earth.  The girls, who had by then righted themselves to their spying positions, watched Mildred pull two wooden paint-stirrers  from a nearby bushel basket. She arranged the slats into a cross and then held it together with one hand, while the other rummaged through the basket and pulled from it a length of wire and a pair of wire cutters. She wound the wire around the center  of the cross several times to secure an “X” and then with a click, snipped the wire in two. She gently submerged the base of the cross near the far end of the little plot of soil. “Good doggy,” she said. “You were such a good little doggy.”

The girls watched in silence, then glanced at each other. Their glee turned to regret, and grief, too, since they had remembered seeing Mildred’s little dog prancing about the yard following its owner.

They stood, brushed off their dirty knees, straightened their pajama tops, and went back inside their house to change. They left their spoons in the drying mud.