After a somewhat exhausting flight, finally arriving at 10.30 at night having originally got on the plane at Gatwick at nine o'clock that morning and then having had a massive delay at the airport while we and Monarch waited for a replacement plane, we were not in the best of moods upon our eventual arrival in Skiathos. However, despite her own programme being messed around by our non-arrival at the appointed time, we were met and welcomed most warmly by our hostess, Maria, and driven to Villa 2. Having looked forward to an evening in a tavern lapped by the warm Aegean, ham and cheese toasted sandwiches were definitely second choice, but nevertheless a very welcome one at that time of night and we were able to crack open the complimentary bottle of wine which made us feel a whole lot brighter as we glanced round our surroundings and made our way to bed.
The warmth of the bright sunshine the following morning did much to restore our spirits and as we threw back the shutters and saw the inviting pool across the lawn and took in the view of hillsides covered in olive groves sweeping down to the coast, with just a glimpse of the sea from the balcony, the same cerulean blue as the sky above us, we were reminded the Greeks had a word for it.
The facilities at the villa were all one could hope for. The bathrooms (all three) modern, spotlessly clean and with really roomy showers satisfied in all respects - except water pressure became almost non-existent whilst the pool was being topped up. It was a question of timing - that's all. The pool was tended every day most efficiently, an olive escaping being removed from the bottom upon one occasion, but heavens above, one could forgive an overlooked olive and, in the gin-clear water, it seemed an almost exotic additive! The beds were comfortable and large, the kitchen was adequate in every way, the seating area most satisfactory and dining both in and outside on the terrace shaded by a generous fig tree gave one a choice of experience. We didn't use the barbecue, but it was there and underneath proved to be a comfortable shelter during a brief but dramatic thunderstorm one evening for a mother hen and her brood of chicks who became regular and welcome visitors.
Cocks crowed and - yes, dogs barked, as others have mentioned - and the odd goat even had the temerity to bleat and tinkle its bell occasionally, but we were enjoying the countryside setting and not the roar of quad bikes passing under our balconies and the noise of disco music or, even worse, incessant Abba!
It was a pleasant stroll down to the main road and a short step along to the bakery each morning for a selection of fresh breads and croissants and doughnuts for breakfast, the last few yards of the return journey being particularly steep and breath-taking, but the hillside setting was rewarding in so many other ways, and a taxi journey back from the town in the evenings only amounted to seven euros for the four of us and saved us that final climb. One tip - if you do decide to save on taxi fares, make sure you pack a torch for a return to the villa in the dark. The villa itself and the pool are both romantically illuminated at night though.
Skiathos is a delightfully green island, heavily wooded with pine trees and olives and affording many excellent walks with very fine views. "Mamma Mia", the film, was set here and on the neighbouring island of Skopelos, and is even more beautiful in real life than on celluloid.
The word I would use is "Paradise".