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Shock horror in Kardamili, will Paddy Leigh Fermor be spinning in his grave?

Tom Winnifrith
Friday 9 July 2021

I have noted before that despite its beauty, I am not a great fan of Islington on Sea, Kardamili, the small Greek Town where Paddy Leigh Fermor built his home here in Greece. It is not the town nor the locals that offend me so much as the hordes of rich North European tossers who go there each year, especially those from Islington and similar places back in Blighty. Rich, remoaning, patronising superior sorts.

With a poor beach, this is not a place for a family break so it is largely older couples and this was the place where I overheard some Islington loser complaining that the olive oil was not as good as that she had enjoyed in Tuscany the previous year. Such hardships darling. Do you know what backbreaking work olive harvesting is? Oh, I forgot, manual labour is for other people.

I suppose my views on the town are not helped by the time I spent in its local Police station thanks to a bent cop and the vile hotelier Valia Papanestoro.

With such a clientele, prices in Kardamili are shocking. But how shocking? Joshua and I went to the town as it is our nearest ATM and I was running low on the readies. We thought we would have lunch at a café near the pier. There are two restaurants near the pier. One has white starched sheets on the tables and is pricey, the other was a cheaper café. But Quelle horreur, as they say on the Liverpool Road, there has been a change of ownership.

Joshua said he wanted Octopus. I stared at the menu. 15 frigging Euro. And that was as an appetiser, a small bit of flesh decorated with a fish egg mousse. You must be joking.

I looked at the kids’ menu and Joshua said pasta was fine. 4 Euro. I went for a pork steak at 10 Euro. To be fair, the waitress was charming. She asked if we wanted bread. Joshua said “garlic bread”. It was not on the menu so he said “that’s alright then.” A few minutes later, the lady came out with some garlic bread “especially for you sir” and Joshua was over the moon. And to be fair, my pork steak was enormous, forcing me to share it with not only Joshua but the local cats.

On the next table were some effete Americans from the embassy in Athens. He swiped his smartphone to check out the wine list.

Paddy was a total snob so maybe he would have enjoyed the wine list which was impressive. And he would not have objected to fine dining. But this is not the old Greece he loved. Up in Kambos, Joshua and I will share one plate of whatever is on offer, I will have an ouzo and he an orange juice and the total bill (with bread) is 10 Euro. The food is simple but good. That, surely, is the Greece we love. No doubt there will be many Greeks who see fine dining and 15 Euro appetizers as progress and who am I to deny them that “progress”. Equally, I cannot deny the Vlach villages in the North the “progress” that sees them enjoy cheap beer as an alternative to locally produced wine, TV and roads, though that all threatens their ancient culture. However, I can regret the passing of the older Greece I have known for so many years and from Kambos, a place off the tourist trail and the Greek Hovel, in the middle of nowhere, that is what I shall do.

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About Tom Winnifrith
Tom Winnifrith is the editor of When he is not harvesting olives in Greece, he is (planning to) raise goats in Wales.
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