Spetses – My Little Slice Of Paradise
Normally, when people write about the places they love most in the world it’s to encourage you to go. However, when I tell you about the beautiful, secret gem that is Spetses I don’t want you to visit it. Why? Because it’s MY little slice of paradise, and I don’t want to share it with anyone.
A Little Greek Gem
For those of you who have never heard of Spetses, it’s a tiny Greek island in the Attica region that has a population of just over 4,000 people. Yep, that’s around the same number of people who live in the Antarctic. Although, the weather is slightly different to say the least. It’s called the Island of the Aromas, thanks to the pine trees that cover the island like a earthy, green blanket. Book lovers may also recognise an island similarly described in the John Fowles’ classic novel, The Magus. If you read the blurb at the beginning (who really reads those?) you’ll know that Fowles based Phraxos, the island in the book, on Spetses. While it may not be as picturesque as Santorini or as bustling as Kos, this Greek island is a little slice of paradise.
An Affluent Island
It’s funny when I do research on the island of Spetses, as there are so many articles stating how affluent and ‘well off’ the place is. While that may be true (after all, the Prince of Greece got married there), I’ve never seen Spetses as that kind of place. Once you get past all of the cocktail bars and boutiques at the front of the island, you see the real, behind the scenes, culture. Past the town are dozens of farms and working houses, filled with little old ladies dressed all in black. If you get past the town square you’ll see older men, sitting outside their homes on wicker chairs, playing with worry beads. There are kids playing on the street or at the only playground on the island. The school – which I attended for a short while – has outside toilets which are pretty much just holes in the ground. So yeah, the facade of the island may be an affluent town filled with cocktail bars, but behind the scenes is the real Spetses.
I was lucky enough, when I was younger, to spend a few years living on the island. After our house was burgled in the UK, my parents decided it would be much nicer (and safer) to go and live in Greece. Spetses was renowned in the late 80s and through the 90s as somewhere English people would live and work. I think all of the Greek islands lured over British workers at this time, with the promise of sun, sea and less stress. While there was no real influx of Brits on the island – thankfully – there were enough for my parents to find a house, friends and work placements. The island became our home. We moved back before I attended secondary school and since then I’ve visited twice more. The island has become more affluent than I ever remembered and all of the English workers have left. Instead they were replaced by wealthy, Greek businessmen and women, making the most out of those posh cocktail bars.
It hasn’t put me off my little slice of paradise, however. In fact, in less than a month I’ll be going back to the island once more. This time to get married, in the one place where I truly felt at home. The only thing that’s worrying me? Bringing all of my friends and family over to Spetses; just in case they don’t fall in love with it as much as I did. Although, one look at the island and they’ll be besotted, I’m sure of it.