Scotland, Europe, the world

Poros is three hours from Athens

It’s a Greek to us

It might have been a hit, but My Big Fat Greek Wedding wasn’t much cop. So we decided to

check out a real big fat Greek wedding on the beautiful island of Poros. Words: Paul Dale

ostas. can I drink the water from the tap here'." I ask. cautioUsly. (‘ostas replies: ‘What are you

trying to say man'.’ We were building water

treatment plants when you lot were still up in the trees behaving like monkeys.‘

Costas Triantitillou is a grade-A pain in the arse. a Greek nationalist and one of my oldest and funniest friends. He. 1 and his older sister Katerina shared decrepit student flats in West London in the early 1990s.

Katerina survived two relationships with English boys before realising her heart lay in Athens with a beautiful boy called Dimitris. Six years later and I‘m barging my way into Costas‘ house in central Athens at live in the morning. It‘s Friday and the wedding is on Saturday on the island of Poros. roughly a three hour ferry journey away.

Our ferry is from Piraeus port at 6.30pm. The party is about to begin. ()n the ferry I meet them all: some faces I recognise from London. some I don‘t. We laugh and joke. drink beer and I try to follow the giddy emotive conversations. Athens disappears and we start to smoke cigarettes in that way that only the (lreeks can: by the carton full.

lt‘s dark by the time we arrive in l’oros. (‘ostas~ and Katerina‘s parents meet us at Akti Tselepi pier. (‘haos ensues and we are bundled into various cars and checked into the simple but lovely (‘hryssi Avghi Hotel. At l()pm we wander downtown. ()n a long table by the harbour we eat fish and drink ou/.o while stray cats weave patterns between our feet and the greasy marks of leftover food.

We move on to a waxy island bar owned by a friend of the family. It is to be central to much of the action this weekend. The music skittles from reggae to classic house anthems and everyone. young and old. dances till they drop. cocktails

112 THE LIST ‘r' Tr.‘ k

fortifying weary bodies. We leave the bar at 5am the wedding is to take place at (rpm.

2pm. I awake with one of the worst hangovers in a long time. the sickness intensified by the realisation that l have forgotten to pack any Alka Seltzer. By 4.30pm I am in my suit and out on the landing looking to see ifI can help out with anything.

‘Paul. come quickly. we have something we have to do at the church.‘ Costas and I jump into a beaten up old Datsun and head for the bills. Agia Zoni is a forested hillside chapel in Poros. beautiful in its simplicity and remarkably tiny. No one has arrived. I want to take photos. but Costas thrusts a box of cut-down Tuborg cans. some rough cotton wool and a plastic bottle of lamp oil into my hands. ‘()K. we have to make torches that lead from the road up to the chapel.‘ he says.

‘But Costas. it hasn’t rained for ten days and we‘re in a forest.‘

‘Yes. I know. That‘s why you have to stay here and make sure we don’t have a forest lire.‘

The torches are all laid out. some are burning better than others. and people have begun to arrive. The (ircek ()rthodox priest sets up his altar with his gold- covered prayer book. almonds and a small glass of what looks like Metaxa. A table full of chiffon-bag favours takes up one corner of the chapel‘s courtyard. Relatives. friends and children swarm all over the place. some dressed up to the hilt. some not. and then we wait. liven by (ireek standards Katerina‘s inability to be on time for anything is legendary.

The groom arrives looking handsome and relaxed with his best man: a slightly older man. who has the appearance of a wise old hippie who has seen the beauty of a Greek island sunrise one time too many.

Agia Zoni, the hittsidéphapei

lgetsoaked, drink lots of wine and eat plates of food that are bigger than my head