I am sitting in Zurich, glass of wine in hand, after a hectic 3 months spent, largely, as a fancy traveling salesman. The Bungey “girls” arrive tomorrow. This means some luxury alone-time to ponder the logistics, route and timing of the BWT 2018. As I look at the current route-plan thus far, (we are in Vienna having come via South and North America, South Pacific, Antipodes, South East Asia and Russia) and start researching next stops and steps, I can feel the excitement and anticipation build. It makes the all the hard work seem that much more worthwhile. My employer has been incredibly fair and flexible in agreeing to this sabbatical year. Karmically, I know it means I need to give them 150% until I go. In case you are wondering, that doesn't come from some warped sense of obligation, the truth is I really love what I do and want it to succeed beyond my tenure, or build it for my return.
Back to the all important BWT2018. Current thinking has us arriving in Europe in late August, early September. We will be coming off the back of some serious back to back traveling having not settled anywhere for a while. This leads me to think we need to make the best of the last of summer and put roots down near the sea, somewhere. The Bungey’s are all water-babies, at heart, so I think post the trans-Siberian express and Eastern European capitals, we may be landed-out. Where better and more idyllic way to solve this problem than a two week stay in Greek Isles? This is a more complex problem than it may seem. The last time I was in Greece was in 1992, on my after-school, gap year and suffice to say, priorities were different then and memories are hazy. (There is somewhere called the Pink Palace on the Ionian coast where I lost my name amongst other things, I digress...) There are, of course, also the Aegean, the Peloponnese, the Cyclades and the Sporades groups of islands. Each one has their die-hard fans and critics.
Much research has ensued, aided and abetted by the seasoned Greek traveler, Ginny. It all stopped when I found this quote from the Telegraph’s article entitled – Is Skopelos the Perfect Greek Island?
“The taverna is integral to every Greek holiday. But to pass muster it must fulfil certain criteria. It should be family-run – ideally fronted by some fearsome, unapologetic matriarch and her henpecked husband. It should be home to several cats – one of whom may be heavily pregnant. The table should be covered in a giant disposable napkin, held in place using ingenious clips. The salt shaker should have rice in it. Stale bread should be served. Menus should feature most, if not all, of the following: tzatziki, dolmades, fried zucchini, souvlaki, kleftiko, stifado, Greek salad, calamari and cheese pie. Oregano should flavour everything. Experimental dishes are forbidden. Hot food should be served lukewarm. The quality should be middling. House wine should be worryingly cheap, served by the litre, and taste off-putting at first sip, before improving dramatically with every mouthful.”
I'm SOLD! Let's start planning the European leg of the BWT, beginning with a good break in Skopelos to put our suitcases down, unpack properly and integrate ourselves into village life. We will know it’s ready to come to a close when we have clearly ascertained, by regular experiment, behind which eye the “worryingly cheap” wine, creates a dull head-ache. Then it will be time to move on….