When my nieces were small Mr T and I took them to the zoo for the day. Our youngest niece was about five-years-old and she loved seeing all the animals. Each animal we saw was the best and her conversation went like this: I love the bears they’re the best. Oh no, I really love the penguins, they’re the best. Oh I loooove the lions and they’re the best. It’s a leopard. It’s the best I really love the leopard. Oh hang on, there’s seals. No, they’re the best, I really love the seals. I feel like that every time I visit another Greek island and it’s the best and I love it more than the rest, but I really think I love Spetses the best. But, I’ve not been to Andros yet and there’s still Paros and so many others to come. But for now Spetses is the best.
Spetses put on its best clothes for us with sunshine, blue skies and enough visitors to ensure an adequate number of tavernas were open but quiet enough to feel, once we’d wandered off the main drag, that we may have the island to ourselves. We’d decided that we were going to try to find the Villa Bourani and thanks to the internet we didn’t have to do any difficult workings out as to where it was. I knew it was on the other side of the island to the main town but that would still have left about 12kms of coast line to search so I was grateful to Tim Lott for describing where the Villa is.
But good as his description is, the maps we had for Spetses were the equivalent of something scrawled drunkenly on a napkin and they included only the main road going around the island and a couple of tentative lines that appeared to end abruptly. The bus that would have taken us around to a good starting point for walking won’t be in service until people want to use the beaches later in the year. We decided that we’d at least start off by trying to find some tracks out of Spetses town and get to to the top of the hills.
It was purely by chance that we followed a road that ended in a rough track that continued all the way to the top without any walls or gullies that would mean us turning around. Once we left the town behind we were passing small, ramshackle farms, seemingly put together from remains of older buildings. Corrugated iron roofs were now being used as walls and pieces of plaster board were tied together with chicken wire to make pens for sheep and goats. As we passed each of these farms several dogs would bark and then more dogs from further up the track would bark in response.
Eventually we left the farms behind and the only noise came from the gulls circling overhead but they must have found something else to interest them and flew away. Finally, it was just the two of us walking when we passed through a line of trees to the top of the island.
And there was nothing other than trees, sea and the snow-capped mountains far into the distance. We walked along the top of the island for several kilometers looking for tracks that would lead down but we had no idea where we were. From time to time we got views from the main track to the town side of the island so we had a vague idea of where we were on the island but we couldn’t get anything to match up to the feeble map we had. Now and again we could hear a church bell and our one Magus moment was when some bouzouki music drifted up from one of the hidden houses on the hillside. Finally we decided that some things are all the better for only knowing about and don’t have to be seen to be believed so we could turn around and go back to watch the carnival in town. Maybe it is better to stumble across something than to look for it. For today there would be no tea table waiting for us on the balcony, no overturned music stand or magical tableaux being played out to confuse us. Or would there?