And you know what? I found myself enjoying it.
I realise that a holiday sat on the sand, beneath the boiling hot sunshine with a cocktail in hand, is most people’s idea of bliss. Well for me, most of my life, it has been my idea of hell. But then when I really questioned why, I found absolutely no way of justifying my feelings, for I had never tried it.
When I was younger, I’d wave my friends and family away on typical holiday destinations such as Ibiza, Corfu, Majorca; most of whom would return to the same place year after year. Even at such a young age I found myself yawning at their prosaic mind as I longed for adventure and questioned the need to see something more than once. When me, my older sister and my Mum ever went on trips, they would usually last only a matter of days which left no time for lazing around – we packed in sightseeing and hours of getting lost (which is what I think has led me to become a fantastic map reader over time, so thanks Mum).
When, at the impressionable age of 17, I stepped out into the big wide world by myself, I went in search of the wilds of Africa. No beach to be found in the depths of Botswana. My next big trip took me to South America to do some trekking, followed by Zimbabwe for teaching and then Italy to hide away in the mountains some more. I have been to the seaside of course, in fact I practically lived by the beach throughout my teenage years, but I have never taken the time to just sit and soak it all in.
That was, until I went to Greece. This was a place I had no concious desire to go to, until my two friends kindly invited me to stay. Lefkada, a lush island toward the North West of the mainland, known for its windsurfing, crystal clear waters and comfortable climate is where they said they lived. An opportunity such as that is never to be turned down.
Of course, knowing somebody who lives in the area, means they will know the best beaches to go to. And so, in my tourist ‘I have no idea where I am or what to do‘ state, I followed with blind eyes and open ears.
The last ferry of the season was heading to the island of Kefalonia the day after I arrived. I argued that I needn’t ferry across to Fiscardo because Vassiliki was as beautiful as expected. But I went anyway. A perfect blue sky and the breach of Common Dolphins by the side of the ferry that morning made the trip worthwhile, even if nothing else would. However, I wandered straight out of the bay, around the headland and found this, Fika beach.
Olive trees mazed their way right up to the water, the cliffs either side kept the air still and the 15 people on the stoney shore made almost no noise between them. Wading into the sea was like stepping into a warm bath. I drip dried in the heat as 2hrs were stolen from me unknowingly before the hunger pains broke my contented trance.
A few days later, having walked for what felt like a lifetime in the midday heat, up a rocky track that seemed to lead nowhere, we finally reached this beach that I’d heard was the ‘best beach in the world‘. As I started to descend the steps, I instantly saw the truth in those words – welcome to Agiofili. The towering cliffs had me thinking of Cornwall, smiling. The turquoise water beckoned me and I died to find out what swam around the rocks that sat perfectly protruding the water. Because of the time of the year, the sand lay reasonably empty and in reality, I did not really see the bodies. Instead, I sat calm and relaxed, gawking out to sea, until the cool evening breeze sent us back up the steps.
I thank you Greece for opening my eyes. I’ve always angered at people that shrug off things they have never tried with an assumption that they will not like it, or because they have built up this opinion in their own head based on no actual personal experience. I see it all too often these days, and I’m not just referring to the small matter of sitting on a beach. Why not try things more, even if you’re not sure? You might surprise yourself. And if it means you have to travel to a beautiful island to figure out if its for you? So what, I doubt you will find yourself regretting it – I certainly didn’t!