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Day Two: Sami and Melissani Cave

A morning swim in an empty cove, the fishes tickling our toes. We watch another snorkeler stride out of the water holding a spear and his catch – an octopus and six little fish, decanted from his Speedos into a carrier bag. I mean, how else are you going to carry half a dozen wriggling fish?

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We take another drive, first in the direction of Skala, then when we lose our tracks, to Sami – a port on the other side of the island. Nestled in a valley of vineyards, we find the Monastery of Agios Gerasimos. The place is heady with gold and incense; jasmine and roses. A local farmer sells honey and dried herbs on a stall outside, and house martins flit to and from their nests in the eaves of the monastery.

When we arrive at Sami we eat. Sardines for me – their skin charred with oil and lemon. After wine and ice cream, we go to the Melissani cave – created when the earth fell into itself 5,000 years ago. The water blue, and cool, and teaming with eels.

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In the evening we sit on the beach and watch the waves roll in. For the first time I understand why people see galloping white horses in the surf. Dinner is sea bream, bought from the market and roasted with lemon and parsley. When we finish, Stavros brings us more green figs.

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