Kea-Tzia is a mildly schizo island; to start with, it doesn’t know if it is Cycladic or something else, if it is easy to get to or not, whether to build with stone or whitewash, whether it is a tourist magnet or simple and authentic, it doesn’t know if it is barren and blasted, or lushly agricultural, it doesn’t know if it is sophisticated or simple, it doesn’t even know what to call itself for heaven’s sake, in fact, it can’t make up its mind about anything at all.
Nature has granted Kea bountiful armfuls of produce and a rich tradition of cooking. Tzia on the other hand is a dry and barren mass where nothing grows and a few bent olive trees brave the north wind. Kea has a glamorous little port called Vourkari, where surprisingly smart little shops sell things to the well-heeled yachters who moor here, and some excellent restaurants serve fresh seafood; sea urchin salads and shrimp pasta. Tzia has the port of Korissia which is not very glamorous at all but has a post office and the ferry. Kea has some rather smart new boutique hotels, Tzia hasn’t got round to that yet and has some rather strange ideas about shop displays…
The sense of mild lunacy and dislocation permeates the whole island; we were driving across the mountain (from Tzia to Kea) to see a house, when a little old lady in black , standing in the middle of the road waved to us to stop.
“Have you seen my cows?” she asked. “I had two, and I have lost them, and as I have an artificial leg, I can’t look for them very well – girls, let me get in your car and we can drive up and down the road and look for them”
We did this for a bit, not helped by the fact that I misheard what she said and thought we were looking for her spectacles on the road, so had my nose pressed to the windscreen looking for something small and probably crushed into small glittering pieces.
We passed a couple of farmers in a truck – “Boys, have you seen my cows?” “No, Kyria Constantina, we haven’t,” they politely chorussed, and drove on.
“Never mind” she said after a while, “Just drop me home and let me know if you see them.”
“You do realise,” I said to Evi after we had taken her home and refused offers of coffee and sweets, “that she is probably totally senile, and is well known on Kea ( or Tzia) for standing in the road asking people if they have seen her cows, those boys didn’t seem at all surprised.” Evi just pointed in reply to a sign on the corner of the road saying “Cows crossing”, and creased up with laughter.
As we rounded the next corner, happily grazing by a tiny chapel, and nearby was a rather 18th century looking group of peasant boys resting picturesquely under an olive tree, so we detailed them to round up the cows and take them back to Kyria Constantina, then called her to give her the good news, thought it took a good twenty minutes to get through to her, (“she is calling all her relatives telling them about her cows,” said Evi,) “Thank you for your interest,” Kyria Constantina said, “I found my cows at home.” So now she has four I guess while another old lady is stopping cars asking if anyone has seen her cows.
I am supposed to be writing about villas, not cows, so the point of this blog was really to say that we have added to our portfolio of villas on Kea a truly wonderful home that spills right down to the sea, consisting of beautifully planted, canopied and be-cushioned terraces, a windmill, a main house, a great pool, and a waterfront with kayaks and other toys, exquisitely decorated, and butler-ed by a courtly Indian from Gujarat – a touch of the Raj on the sea.
Guests can go for guided walks; scuba dive from Korissia, water ski from nearby Kountouros; rent bicycles, and take cooking and foraging courses from Aglaia Kremezi; one of Greece’s top cooks and foraging experts, then dine al fresco at her property; we can recommend the local cow’s-milk cheese and the beef – definitely organic and very free-range.
We are still puzzled by Kea or Tzia, but completely enchanted.