Of the parts of the world I have been lucky enough to visit, the one I venture to most is Greece. For various reasons the country is very close to my heart and I am an abject Hellene. Despite, or perhaps because of this, I have never written about my time in Greece. To change this, what follows is a brief description of but one part of that varied, oh-so-charming country.
One of literally thousands of Greek islands, this small piece of rock jutting out of the Western Aegean is perhaps no more or less special than numerous others. To me though, it is very special.
Christina in her natural environment
A Cycladic island, it is a sea-mount, rising from the deep. Sizeable cliffs soar out of the water, protecting a hinterland of steep rolling hills. Unlike many of its neighbors, its topography protects relatively lush valleys of vineyard and olive grove, alongside the sparse, sun-baked mountainsides. At the core of the island, the attractive capital town of Appolonia. From there, windy roads stretch out via cedar and the odd donkey to small white-washed villages and, in a few directions, protected bays, horse-shoed by rising hills, dotted with small sailing-yachts and backed by golden sandy beaches. And that isn't even my favourite part. Directly to the East of the main, well…only, town, the land descends into a narrow valley, spilling over a small cliff on one side and into a narrow smuggler's cove on the other. Between the two rises a small-steep hill, which has been the natural defensive focal point of the island for millennia. Atop is Kastro, the amended remnants of a Venetian fortified town and the ancient capital of the island. Picture-postcard perfect white washed houses packed densely on the summit and cut-across by narrow streets of painted flag-stones, which provide essential shade in the heat of the day. On the inland facing side, cafe's line the edge of the settlement. Bliss to just kick back, catch a refreshing breeze and watch the hills as you gorge yourself on scrumptious Greek food and the odd Alpha bira. At its sea-facing higher elevation, Kastro literally falls into the sea. Hundred foot cliffs fall away to nothing but the glittering Mediterranean, distant islands and one idyllic blue-roofed church perching on a rock protruding into the sea.It is atop that cliff we stayed, in the spare room of Maximo. Day after day, as the sun sank over Antiparos, scarring the sky yellow, orange and red, I sat with the love of my life and stared into the future.