The Mrs arrives tonight. So last night was the last one of the boys’ holiday with Joshua, the longest time he has ever been parted from his mum, three and a half weeks. There have, surprisingly, been no tears although it is clear that he cannot wait to see her again. And we have had a good time on our road trip and here at the hovel. To celebrate the end of part one of our break, I took him to Kitries for supper.
Whichever of the two routes you go, Kitries is about eight miles from Kambos but it is slow going down windy roads as you descend to sea level for it is a small fishing village which, these days, bustles with tourists in the summer. The treat for Joshua was Octopus which he loves and Tzatziki which he is also very keen on. Shortly we shall have Tzatziki and bread for breakfast.
There are two restaurants in the village itself, about 100 yards apart at either end of the small harbour. I cannot fault the setting. We sat on a table on the pebbled beach with the water just a couple of yards away as the sun set. It was not that crowded. So what can I possibly resent?
For starters, the service was awful. I literally had to beg to get my bill at the end. Waiters were not rushed, they just sat there not getting the bill I had asked for. And then the bill itself: 31 Euro. That is three times what lunch or supper would cost us in Kambos. An ouzo in Kambos is 1 Euro, here it is 3. In Kambos, a basket of bread comes with your meal. Here they sting you for 1.5 Euro for a few slices of bread. It is not optional – it is just added to the bill whether you eat it or not.
I accept that, in winter, Kambos stays open and this place is shuttered. Make hay while the sun shines and all that. But it is done with such lack of grace. And sadly this is the Greece most folks see, a Greece where one overpays for squid from the freezer. Joshua loves his Octopus and he likes the sea at Kitries as does his mother so we will probably go again but each time I go, I come away seething with resentment. I know I have been ripped off and those doing it know that folks will just come back for more.
If you sit by a Greek beach this year and pay 3 Euro for an ouzo or 1.5 Euro for a couple of pieces of bread, just know that this is not the real Greece. The cartel or duopoly that exists in Kitries allows such behaviour. It is just seedy. I want to be the grumpy old man who stays in the hills thinking of a Greece of Homer or Byron or of Maniot warrior Kyriakoulis Mavromichalis not of these tawdry little men in Kitries, but I fear that my young family will not allow that.