SKopelos

By Sofia, Dec 27 2019 07:24PM

On Christmas eve, just before my open house get together, an anonymous well-wisher left a beautiful gift at my door. Who left it will remain a mystery, but it is a real gift to be shared with everyone!


Best Wishes for the New Year from 39 Steps, Skopelos.



A most beautiful Chrsitmas wreath left anonymously at my door
A most beautiful Chrsitmas wreath left anonymously at my door
Now harmoniously adorning the entrance to my home
Now harmoniously adorning the entrance to my home

By Sofia, Dec 21 2019 08:20PM

The festive days, as enjoyable as they are, bring on a degree of displeasure as we overindulge in food and drink, often to the point of discomfort. Along with others in Greece, some of us in Skopelos hold the traditional forty day pre Christmas fast. The Christmas fast is not as strict as the main fast of the year at Easter, as it allows consumption of fish any day, except Wednesdays and Fridays.


These days are perfect for a forage walk! Being out and about keeps cravings for unnecessary eating at bay and the fresh air and exercise generate a ravenous healthy appetite to really enjoy the delicious goodies of these festive days. An additional bonus!





Forage walk
Forage walk
A walk in the country!
A walk in the country!
Edible but too beautiful to pick!
Edible but too beautiful to pick!
Beautiful skies at return
Beautiful skies at return
Foraged wood for the log fire
Foraged wood for the log fire
Nettle soup for the fast
Nettle soup for the fast

By Sofia, Dec 14 2019 10:02AM

They might not be seen in the atmosphere of the traditional kafeneon of Skopelos but women are very much a part of the cafe society in Skopelos. Unlike their menfolk, women prefer an elegant and comfortable establishment to meet their friends for a cup of coffee and a chat, usually in the morning.


An interesting diversion from the traditional kafeneon is the IDEA Emporium Cafe. The owners (a mother and daughter) display the latest fashions which they brought to the island to sell. Part of the shop is a smart elegant clothes shop; the other is the bar, serving all kinds of drinks and refreshments. In early morning there are freshly baked pastry and pies to enjoy with the cup of coffee. The Little Coffee Shop is another establishment favoured by Skopelos women for its atmosphere and seclusion in the lanes of the old town.


The days when a woman was - in the main - around her home and family seem to be fading. Then, women were mostly confined to the neighborhood they lived in. A coffee break was taken between the daily chores in the company of other women of the neighborhood and they would take turns to make the coffee for the whole group. Over a cup of coffee, many a varied problem was solved and the women would catch up with the gossip, usually brought in by the men from their places of work. 'Advice' on the relationships of the younger generations was a further popular theme! One still comes across such traditional coffee group circles in the lanes of the old town (near 39 Steps), usually of older generations surrounded by grandchildren, whilst the young women prefer their choice of a kafeneon.


The modern Skopelos women - be they single or married - is independent and enjoys far greater freedom today. Many young women work, taking up professions, running small businesses or carrying on with a paid job, not necessarily reliant on the income brought in by their menfolk.


Aside from lending life to the historical part of the town, the women's kafenons meet halfway the old traditions of their mothers and grandmothers. As they did in the past, the women of today meet for the same purpose their mothers did. To resolve between them problems and mutual concerns.


A smoke outdoors, whilst waiting for friends at the Little Coffee Shop
A smoke outdoors, whilst waiting for friends at the Little Coffee Shop
A stylish haircut at the IDEA Emporium Cafe
A stylish haircut at the IDEA Emporium Cafe
Heather's student WORKAWAY path volunteers
Heather's student WORKAWAY path volunteers
Rita chatting woith guests at IDEA
Rita chatting woith guests at IDEA
The Little Coffee Shop
The Little Coffee Shop

By Sofia, Dec 7 2019 01:36PM

Coffee houses in Greece are traditionally male dominated, and Skopelos is no exception. Tourism has brought many changes to all the islands of Greece, including Skopelos, but the traditional coffee houses ("kafeneon"), retain their distinctive characters.


Unique amongst them - and modest in appearance - is the municipality kafeneon, which is subsidized by the community for the benefit of all pensioners irrespective of nationality or gender. The municipality kafeneon retains its unique male dominant character and atmosphere and is often referred to by non-Greek visitors as the 'old men's caffe'. It is a place for community and political events, exhibitions, meditation, fiery discussions; a place for a game of tavli or cards, to watch a football game in the company of others.


A kafeneon has its regular customers, usually determined by a shared political outlook, and it is inconceivable to the group that one of them might sit in any other kafeneon, or share any other company. If two kafeneon were adjacent, with only a narrow alley and plastic sheet dividing the two, a regular of one might enter the other kafeneon to deal with an urgent matter, but would then return to have his coffee in his accustomed area. The experienced kafeneon host often has well-timed coffee ready for his regular guests, whose habits he knows well. Customers of the kafeneon cross-engage in conversations and exchange vehement political views. Greeks love political debates and readily enter into these. Over a cup of Greek coffee served with a glass of water, the kafeneon is a place of information for just about anything. The coffee, if you order "elliniko", might remind you of a coffee which you know better as Turkish, but one sip and you will notice the difference!


For traditional smokers, a cigarette is a natural accompaniment to a cup of Greek coffee, and even non-smokers in a kafeneon group tolerate this. The largely outdoor living in Greece has until now made it easy to ignore smoking bans, with more often than not a blind eye being turned to an offender in a group. This week, however, yet another indoor smoking ban was introduced, which is different in subjecting both the smoker and the establishment proprietor to hefty fines, thus ending the blind-eye solution. Is this law going to become yet another political issue to be resolved in the parliament of the kafeneon? Is this law to end the unique atmosphere of the kafeneon? If the example of other countries is a guide, it is likely that the new law will be accepted - but slowly and grudgingly at first. Whatever the consequences, it will undoubtedly be loudly debated in the kafeneon for some time to come!


Municipality kafenon, outdoors
Municipality kafenon, outdoors
Municipality kafenon, indoors
Municipality kafenon, indoors
The little coffe shop; kafenon for young football fans
The little coffe shop; kafenon for young football fans

By Sofia, Dec 1 2019 08:14AM

Cycling on Skopelos is a relatively new sport, rapidly gaining popularity. The landscape and terrain of the island offer beautiful variations of choice for a cycling holiday, from smooth tarmac roads to quiet gravel tracks through the wooded areas - but never far from a sea view.


Cycling is an inexpensive way to get around the island experiencing its beauty from close up and physically enjoy the green forests and olive groves, the coastal views and the mirages of the distant islands. Of course, there is always a beach nearby!


Skopelos Cycling, is a unique bicycle rental shop in the Old Olive Mill. Not only does it rent bicycles (plus helmets etc) for transport (no need to hire a car!), it also organizes cycle tours led by owner Panos and his staff for groups or individuals on the island. Evening rides on cross-country trails have become popular in the summer months, while the ideal times for island exploring by bike are early spring and autumn when the weather is cooler and the traffic light.


Panos outside Skopelos Cycling
Panos outside Skopelos Cycling
Cross-country cycling
Cross-country cycling
Evening cycling
Evening cycling
Inside the bike workshop
Inside the bike workshop
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I'm Sofia, 39 Steps' owner and host. This is an occasional blog to keep in touch with my regular guests, give a taste of Skopeliti life and share my experiences of foraging through the summer season

 

Sofia

 

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