Karpathos: Tour #2

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Dramountana Taverna: Good food and good times.

Yesterday (Saturday), we again drove north to see several towns: Aperi, Spoa and Mesochori. Aperi is only about 10km from Pigadia, but tucked into the hills, away from the coast. It has a very charming feel to it, with all the buildings perched up on the hillside and very narrow streets. Driving through the town is an exercise in trust that you wont hit either parked cars or cars attempting to come the other way. I felt relieved that Thomas was driving–his nerves of steel and finely-tuned spacial awareness helped us avoid bumping into things.

Communal orchard in Spoa

Communal orchard in Spoa

From Aperi we went to Spoa. Although the day had started off quite sunny on Karpathos, we could see dark clouds starting to gather ahead of us. Hmmm…I had intended to swim at some point during the day, but those clouds seemed a bit forboading. We reached Spoa and wandered through this small village, which you must walk through as there are no roads but instead cobblestoned walking paths.

Church door in Spoa with image of St. George slaying the dragon.

Church door in Spoa with image of St. George slaying the dragon.

Spoa seems to be built around communal orchards and gardens, and there is an amazing, pervasive herbal scent in the air. There are vegetable plants and fruit trees of all sorts: pomagranite, orange, fig, lime, apple and quince trees. Squash, eggplant and tomato plants. Also gorgous, heavily laden grape vines throughout the village, and what I think were hazelnut trees. And of course many olive trees. Always lots of those. Over the time we walked through Spoa, the clouds seemed to diminish. “Ah, I will be able to swim afterall,” I thought.

We got back into the car (one definitely needs a car to tour Karpathos properly) and began to cross the island to Mesochori. Over the brief 7km from east to west, the clouds again started to gather–even darker than before, and a few light drops of rain hit the windshield. To swim or not to swim, thought I.

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“Hmmm…do those look like rain clouds to you, Tom?”

Arriving in Mesochori, the rain had stopped, and we could see blue patches of sky in the distance. Clear weather was on its way! Yahoo! Like both Aperi and Spoa, Mesochori is built on a hillside, in this case up from a steep cliff that falls to the sea. One parks at the top of the village and walks down through the winding walkways past residences and small cafes and shops. In the five minutes it took us to walk from our car down to a small lookout point across the town, strong winds started blowing over us and the air became chilly. No more rain fell as we walked, but it was clear that the weather was being quite temperamental. We continued exploring the town, finding a very sweet and beautiful church that was highly decorating with frescos of biblical stories.

Fresco from Mesochori church.

Fresco from Mesochori church.

As we entered the church we quickly realized we had happened upon a German tour group, led by a lovely woman who needed to lock the church after the group had seen it. So we snapped as many pictures as possible in the short time we were allowed, and then sadly watched her lock up the building.

Frescos in Mesochori church

Frescos in Mesochori church

It was lunch time. There was a sweet, beachy-themed taverna called Dramountana next to the church that had open folding windows, pastel-painted tables and chairs, and a canvas canopy serving as a roof. The woman running the place was the only one working, but there were only 10 of us in the restaurant, and she was confident in her approach to serving us all. We sat watching the sea as clouds again started to gather, obscuring the blue patches of sky we had seen only 15 minutes before. And then a thunder clap rang out through the town! And another one! We suddenly heard raid drops start to fall–heavy, large drops, pitter-pattering on the canvas roof that (rather minimally) protected us. Within about three minutes, the rain became so severe that the restaurant started to flood! Customers, along with our hostess, rushed to close the windows as rain water blew into the restaurant, but even with the windows closed the roof leaked significantly. We could see the walkway in front of the taverna turn into a rushing stream as water ran downhill.

Battening down the hatches at Dramountana.  But it still flooded.

Battening down the hatches at Dramountana. But it still flooded.

Those sitting near the windows had to move their tables back towards the back wall (which was actually just the rocky slope the restaurant was built against) as the front of the restaurant became increasingly flooded. The woman running Dramountana had the most amazing, lighthearted attitude during the situation–she kept laughing as she tried to take orders, make meals, and keep people dry. She presented us with our lunch, which was very, very good (I had a Greek omelette with feta and ratatouille; Thomas had chicken souvlaki and fried potatoes with herbs–delish!!). We ate our meal somewhat quickly as there were drops of water leaking through the canvas roof onto our table as we ate. After another few minutes, our host came through the dining area and gave a particularly deep laugh and said, “The power is out! I’m working in the dark now!” She told another group of diners, “I have to make your moussaka the old-fashioned way, so it might take a bit longer than usual.” She brought out feta spread and baskets of bread for people to eat while they waited for their meals. Despite the dripping roof and lack of electricity, everyone in the restaurant was perfectly content to wait out the storm with good humor and patience.

After about 20 minutes, we could tell the rain was tappering off, so Thomas and I quickly paid our check (and left a substantial tip considering how fabulously our host had handled the whole situation) and walked quickly up the hill back to our car. And as we approached the car, the rain again started to fall, so we (laughing so hard we could barely run) scampered as fast as possible and managed to get into the car before the really heavy rain returned. I have to count this meal as among the most memorable of our trip so far. And if you come to Karpathos, you HAVE to go to Mesochori and eat at Dramountana.  Especially if it’s raining.

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