I have been drinking a lot of wine since arriving in Greece. A LOT of wine. In fact, I’ve been thinking that I might want to cut back on my alcohol consumption just a little.
So, when I got invited to the opening party of a rooftop taverna where there would be homemade sangria…obviously I said yes!
Aypa Taverna sits on top of a hillside in the little town of Glossa on the island of Skopelos. It’s owned and run by Marina & Niko, an absolutely delightful couple who are happy to sit down and share a coffee with you if they have the time. (Strangely, Niko seems to find more time than Marina to sit and visit…haha)
While wandering through the stone-paved streets of Glossa one excruciatingly hot afternoon, we stopped in for an iced coffee and within 10 minutes had received a hug and an invitation to the rooftop opening later that night. There would be sangria, plenty of food and, of course, World Cup football.
I was so excited to actually get dressed up, wear makeup, and go out somewhere that I managed to keep my hair dry & reasonably okay-looking during an entire paddleboard tour. Not an easy feat. Most of the time I tie my hair up and forgo makeup when on the boards. There’s very little point in trying to look pretty when falling into the ocean is a regular part of your job.
I arrived at the taverna just before 11 pm still looking somewhat presentable, which I consider a major success. We were ushered upstairs to a charming rooftop overlooking the village and the sea. The tiny islands in the distance were illuminated with an almost eerie glow rising off the water behind them, cast by the nearly-full moon. Somehow the enthusiastic football-related yelling mixed with the eclectic music selection (salsa/techno/Greek??) only added to the ambiance.
Okay, I’ll admit it. I’m not really following the World Cup. I could blame it on the fact that I’m currently living in a tent on top of a mountain which features a stolen and infrequently-working Wi-Fi signal and no TV, but if I’m being honest I wouldn’t really care anyway. My motto when it comes to sports is to pick the team who has the rowdiest bunch of fans and jump onto the bandwagon. I don’t really care who wins or loses; it’s all about the party. (The only exception to this is the Indianapolis Colts. I will cheer for them anywhere, against anyone, at any time.)
It wasn’t long until our gathering grew to include several locals and a few English ex-pats, an assortment highly indicative of Glossa itself.
The best way to describe Glossa is that it’s sort of like a retirement community in the Florida Keys. There are the locals, and the ex-pats who live there all year round, and people who wander in for a few summer months, and some that just come and go as they like. And the tourists, although there aren’t many of them as they tend to populate on the other side of the island in Skopelos town.
Skopelos is the main town on the island and I had spent the day before exploring it. A gorgeous harbor lined with pristine sailboats makes you want to rent one and spend the summer sailing around the islands.
Open, airy cafes with comfortable seating (and free Wi-Fi) are all along the water, inviting you to stop in for a coffee or beer and sit for an hour or two or three.
There’s also plenty of street shopping, and twisting stone paths full of beautiful buildings and hidden tavernas to find as you wander up. The walk to the top of the city may be tiring, but it’s well worth it for the view.
The great thing about Greek towns is that they are all built on hills, so even if you get lost, you just have to head downhill and you’ll eventually get back to the harbor. It’s probably a good thing that I spend so much time being lost, climbing up and down, because oh-my-god FOOD. Pies, pastries, gyros, gelato, frappes…do they not realize I work in a bikini??
Skopelos is definitely worth spending a day in, but it doesn’t quite have the quirky charm of Glossa, which is just big enough to attract visitors but still retains its authentic Greek-ness. Men sit outside the restaurants for hours smoking, playing cards, and discussing the problems of the world. Everyone greets each other with a friendly “yassas” or yassoo.” People stop in the streets to have loud conversations.
It’s also not uncommon to see kids helping their mom waiting tables at the tavernas, or even carrying drinks from the bar. It was a little discerning the first time I was served vodka by a girl who couldn’t have been more than 9 years old, but she seemed to be enjoying herself very much. So, I guess, when in Greece…
This particular rooftop party that I was at featured a young helper as well. Within moments of sitting down our “pint-sized waitress” had brought over plates of sausage pastries, crackers with different spreads & chocolate-cherry cheesecake. And, of course, the sangria, which turned out to be more like mulled wine but still delicious.
Several glasses of wine, plates of food, and vodka-tonics later at whatever-o-clock in the morning the revelry started breaking up. Even the fervent dancers were winding down. All in all, it was a fabulous night.
See what I would have missed if I had cut down on my wine drinking?