After my birthday weekend in Budapest (*note: I ate my birthday dinner alone at the bar of an Italian restaurant), and a month of busy work, I wanted to find a nice quiet place to live for a couple of weeks. And after looking at apartments from all over Europe, I finally found the perfect one. The apartment was in Greece (conveniently my favourite country in the world), on the slow-paced island of Chios, in an old crumbling village called Volissos; it was by the sea, and, more importantly, away from the throngs of tourists.
2 days later, 5am: I stagger off the overnight ferry from Athens like a zombie, to be greeted by Luna, the very Greek and very lovely woman who I would be renting my flat from. We got into her little car adorned with flowers and books, and drove across the island. As we did, I had my window rolled down and I breathed in the island (yes, like a dog), I could smell the olives, the rosemary, thyme, mastic and sage in the air. I could see the little goats bounding about the island – everything about the island blew over me like a earthy kiss. An hour or so later, the car turned away from the sea and I could see Volissos, perched in the distance, on top of a hill, underneath a crumbling castle – “Wow” is the only thought I could muster.
Luna sped up the hill, in her little car, zipping around some of the smallest streets I’ve ever seen in my life, and we finally reached the top. She parked the car and I hurled my suitcase up and down steps, and I noticed that most of the places seemed uninhabited; although the clear absence of human inactivity was replaced by the overwhelming presence of cat activity. The cats followed us meowing, until we arrived at the front door – the cutest, Mr. Ed-esque, light-purple front door you could imagine. I walked in and immediately knew that that spark I had felt when I had first looked at the flat through my computer screen had been real. The apartment had old stone exposed walls, creaky wooden floorboards, a small stair case leading up from the bottom level where the kitchen was, to the upstairs bedroom, reading room, and balcony. The balcony had double-sided light-purple doors that swung open towards the Aegean Sea, and beside the balcony was a stone fireplace, an antique blue couch, and further down the room was my bed next to a vase of fresh honey suckle – filling the room with the sweetest scent. It was light and clean, old with character, charming, just lovely, just perfect.
Every morning, I would get out of bed and my feet would pitter-patter over to the window where I would lean against the window frame, mindlessly staring off to the sea, and I would feel my soul sinking into sheer happiness. I often wondered how it was possible for me to be so content. I read beautiful books and cooked beautiful food. I walked past lemon orchards, vineyards, abandoned crumbling stone houses, I picked flowers, and stood watching hundred year old olive trees blow in the wind. This was my life for 10 days, and I simply cannot possibly convey to you completely how impossibly happy I felt each day.
The truth is, I had fallen in love right away – with the island, with Volissos, with all its cats, with my apartment, and shortly after with a man who looked very much like a young Adam Sandler, but with shaved legs and a receding hairline.
To be continued…
Below are some more photos of my life on the island: