Stories from Skopelos


Day 7, Skopelos
Today, we headed to Milia Beach, which is supposed to be the “best” beach on Skopelos. Likely because it’s one of the largest, isn’t too deadly to get to (roads to beaches typically aren’t paved and are barely the width of one small car) and for a mere 5 euro, one can rent two beach chairs. Which, one must, as the entire beach is covered in rocks, so opting to lay on a towel would be quite defeatist. Or quite Balkan. So far, those words seem interchangeable. But more on that later.
Upon arrival, the sun warmly greeted us. For about five seconds. Okay, seven to be fair. Then the winds blew in, boasting, “Pleased to make your acquaintance. Won’t you let me blow until the point where it looks like a seaweed tornado?” At which point the bees chimed in, buzzing, “Won’t you let me fly in your face? And land on your feet? Those red toenails do look mighty delicious, honey.” At which point I slipped into a fleece and leggings, a towel wrapped over me for protection from the elements. An “I hate nature” may have slipped my from chattering lips more than once.

Not exactly the fun in the sun experience I was anticipating, but more memorable, perhaps, all the same. Even Darling Hubby hinted at calling it quits a few times, this after paying 5 euros for beach chairs, something for him that was akin to having his wisdom teeth pulled all at once with no anesthetic. “Why should I give a stranger money for laying on a beach!?”
“Um, so we don’t have to lay on rocks” I replied with reason, and maybe the slightest touch of annoyance.
Yet, I didn’t want to leave. We hadn’t even been at Milia 15 minutes. Surely things would, well, blow over. They did settle intermittently, offering a few brief minutes of respite from the wind, enough even to lure Darling Hubby into the water. Waters that are said to be at their warmest in September — I remember reading something about temperatures in the 80s — yet feel distinctly reminiscent of Norway’s glacial waters, which I charged into (up to my waist) like a Viking in search of Valhalla. Once. And I sure wasn’t expecting the same experience in Greece. I was proud enough of braving the waters two days earlier, all the way up to my shoulders mind you, and that was a brazenly sunny, wind-free afternoon. Plus, I figured if the nudists could do it, so could I, clothed in my demure one-piece.

But, as I lay there in my husband’s fleece, my leggings, hat, sunglasses, and towel for good measure, I noticed I was the cheese who stood alone (I’ll refrain from using any more feta references here). The beach had filled up quite a bit for a Skopelos Beach, bursting at the seems with at least 15 people, 13 of which were in the water, in some capacity or another. The other land-lubber? A slight Asian woman in bright orange pants whom I felt was my kindred spirit. But even she didn’t have a sweater and towel on. Why was I shaking like a bitter leaf?
Could it be my low blood pressure or slow-as-molasses thyroid (so trendy to have thyroid issues, I know, but I’ve had mine for years now, trendsetter am I) that is to blame for my low body temperature? I want to be fearless and brave the beastly cold sea, but deep down, keeping warm is my numero uno modus operandi.
Can I blame Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs? My mother-in-law says that in “olden times” (a phrase we relentlessly and lovingly mock her for — You mean, like, on the prairire? — as she’s barely the age of Anna Wintour) low blood pressure was treated as an ailment just like high blood pressure. The doctor-prescribed remedy? Well, you had three options. One, drink more coffee. Two, eat more salt. Three, and this is the kicker, take up smoking. No, really. Can you imagine any doctor writing you an RX for any of those today? Sadly, coffee likes me just as much as I like her, which is to say not at all, and smoking is something I only do with Lucky Strike candy cigarettes. That, happily, leaves me with my favorite choice: eat more salt. I’ve professed before that I could live on bread, olive oil and sea salt alone, and the bread and olive oil are beards — mere excuses for being able to imbibe large quantities of sea salt.
So I find it quite ironic that the big sea of salt staring me in my blue face could possibly be the answer to my (brrrr) problem. Given that I were to accidentally swallow large amounts of water, that is. And, given my penchant for nearly drowning multiple times in my childhood, that might just be the shortest course of action.
Did I take the plunge?
Ultimately, no. But we did leave shortly after my husband proclaimed, “I hope there’s nothing delicate on the way between the beach and the changing booth because my nipples could cut glass” and I did “smoke” a candy cigarette on the drive to lunch. Lunch that consisted of an ice tea so large it may as well have been coffee, copious amounts of bread dunked in olive oil and, of course, sea salt.

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