Friday, September 12, 2014

Bus and boat and bus and boat and bus and plane and bus and plane and bus....

Athens Sofitel lounge is usually a midway pause on the homeward journey from Skyros island, the double-ferry, triple-bus trip behind me and only the flight to London and onward train or bus journey southwestwards to go. This time I'm poised for another outward flight as soon as I get back to the UK as, for logistical reasons I won't bore you with, this is the only way I can get to Malaga in time for my next writing course. So in order to arrive fully focussed at the gorgeous venue of Cortijo Romero, I'm checking in with my final posting on the fabulous Atsitsa Bay venue en route, while Greek memories and mosquito bites are both still vivid. 
So many high spots, like the nine mile walk to Skyros town with its labyrinth of narrow cobbled lanes with its authentic local nightlife in the bars & tavernas and long beach below the jutting crag covered with sugar-lump buildings, a sickle of sand stretching from the gaudy little harbour right round to Dimitri’s ouzo bar where you can watch the southern rocks darken into violet at dusk. About midway is Juicy Bar, 14 years ago when I first came here the only beach bar with loungers and reed parasols and still a favourite place for mellow music and smoothies and shade. 

Back at the camp the tempo changes again as like Prospero’s isle Atisitsa is full of strange noises: massive drumrolls of thunder & battering downpours that seep into our bamboo huts and turn the red earth paths into muddy moats, and later the swooshing of floods swept from the Magic Circle for Kym Suttle's unmissably fantastic early morning yoga. And there’s music everywhere, Susie’s choir, the ad-hoc guitar-&-keyboard band, Kym’s dance music, discos in the bar and songs around the site. Saturday night resonated to the chords of Richard Wagner at the Greek premiere of Julian Doyle’s movie Twilight of the Gods, an examination of the composer’s quarrel with his erstwhile friend Frederick Nietzsche which lasted until his death, after which the philosopher went “brilliantly and ferociously mad” to quote one of his last utterances before becoming catatonic. 
A week of fascinating evening activities, great food, and a daily saunter down to "20-minute Taverna" for an afternoon swim on the sandy beach there, but for me the main event was the morning and twilight writing workshops held under the pine trees of Marianna's cliff top bar: mutually supportive writers sharing some stunning pieces of work, a real privilege to know you all. 

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