Magazine article The Spectator

Green Peace

Magazine article The Spectator

Green Peace

Article excerpt

On board S/Y Bushido We're sailing off Fiscardo, Kefalonia, a corruption of the name of Robert Guiscard, the Norman invader who met stiff resistance when he attacked and took Kefalonia in 1082. Guiscard died of the fever on board his ship off the town which bears his name in 1085. Fiscardo is the best-kept secret among the Greek isles. It's a charming little port, cleaner than a Swiss clinic, friendly and very, very green. It lies among lentisk bushes, cypress and pine trees, and is on the northern tip of the island. In my 50 years of sailing, I have yet to see such clean and isolated beaches and so little tourism. The only stinkpot in the bay belongs to Yianna Angelopoulos, the lady who pulled off the Athens Olympics of 2004, but although I spotted at least three jet-skis in the bowels of her boat, none has emerged to ruin the tranquil evenings once back in the harbour.

Yianna and her husband Theodore asked me not to advertise Fiscardo. But in view of the fact that the Speccie is picking up all my expenses -- five crew, eight guests -- it would be unfair to the readers.

Kefalonia lies just to the north of my grandfather's birthplace, Zante, Fiore di Levante, as it's known, but, unlike Zante, which went modern about 20 years ago, the Kefalonians have resisted mass tourism and the hell which comes with it. Mind you, there are tourists, but mainly those who bareboat tiny sailboats and explore the hundreds of creeks and bays that surround this greenest of Greek islands.

What I don't understand are the Greeks.

Mention the Ionian islands and certain people make an onanist gesture, which in the land where onanism was invented means it's no fun. 'Mykonos, ' they gush, 'Paros', or, as my sainted editor Liz dared to suggest, 'Andros'. What rubbish. Andros is the most inhospitable island except for Devil's Island in its heyday. In Andros, foreigners are not welcome and are actively encouraged to move on. I have never set foot on it, despite the fact that the Goulandrises and Embirikoses come from there. I suppose it's because the Andriotes were always sailors, and, having left their wives and girls back home, the last thing they needed was an old Taki type to sail in and start servicing them.

So Andros has an excuse. But Mykonos?

It is windswept, dirty, the natives are terribly rude, crude and dishonest, and the island has a higher rate of full-blown Aids than Fire Island. There are more queens on Mykonos than there are tax avoiders in Monte Carlo, and that's really understating it. …

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