Knowing me.. knowing view; LAWRENCE WEBB admires the sights on the beautiful Mamma Mia! isle of Skopelos.
MY daughter had insisted on climbing to the top of Agios Ioannis - better known as the chapel featured in the movie blockbuster Mamma Mia! - for a second time during our week-long stay on the Greek island of Skopelos.
So 198 steep steps later, we were there, looking out over the Aegean, wondering where Meryl Streep, Pierce Brosnan, Colin Firth and the rest of the cast had stood, and adding our names to the visitors' books.
My daughter Anna was delighted with her pilgrimage to one of the places on the island that featured in her favourite film. I was just desperate to get back to our villa with its panoramic view of the sea and neighbouring island Skiathos.
The Mamma Mia! chapel was just round the corner (OK, several corners, many of them hairpin bends) from Villa Maria O where we were staying.
There are several other Mamma Mia! pilgrimage sites around the island, including Kastani, Amarandos and Limnonari. At Glysteri there is an arch that makes a guest appearance in the film. Otherwise, the sets are all gone - but it's easy to imagine Meryl, Pierce and Colin wandering around this beautiful island.
Meryl is known to have eaten at Agnanti in Glossa, which was also near where we stayed.
It has been praised by TV chef Antonio Carluccio, and it's not the only top-notch restaurant in this townthat's-really-a-village. A few doors away from Agnanti is the slightly cheaper Maistrali, where four of us ate for EUR50, including wine and free desserts.
Much of Glossa hangs off a hill, with winding narrow streets accessible by foot, donkey or moped.
Tiny vans can just about squeeze by...
though they might face the wrath of an irate donkey owner trying to go the other way. Glossa was a famous hangout for pirates a few centuries ago - which led us to one of the more bizarre sights the island has to offer.
Along a bumpy track we headed towards the pirates' graves at Sendoukia. Eventually our Fiat Panda could go no further and we trekked up a hill, directed by white arrows to three ancient graves, carved deep into solid stone, marked by huge boulders. They are deep in the countryside, overlooking a monastery below and seem an odd place to bury a pirate (what's wrong with Davy Jones's locker?).
Quite a good place to hide pirates' treasure though. We also ventured to the other end of the island - to the capital, Skopelos Town, which had more beautiful winding narrow streets - and far more traffic than we'd become used to in a few days. There's good public transport but you'll have to walk up or down to wherever you hope to end up, so hiring a car is sensible. And despite my urge to get a meaty 4x4, the Panda coped admirably with the hairpins and was narrow enough and tough enough to whiz round the bumpy lanes that led up to our villa. But much of the time it was hard to drag ourselves away from the breathtaking views from Villa Maria O, with forests to our left, the Aegean and Skiathos in front of us, and Glossa to the right. Not to mention its small pool that's perfect for a family. All three bedrooms upstairs had air-con (as did the huge living room) and balconies - two rooms had adjoining balconies and room for a table and chairs, so we spent many evenings watching the sun go down. There's a great kitchen at the villa and you can get most fresh produce at the Glossa supermarket - and mouthwatering Skopelos cheese pies and pastries at Glossa's bakery, though we did once drive to a Carrefour supermarket at Skopelos Town where there was a bit more choice and many items were a bit cheaper. On our last day on Skopelos we were waiting for the ferry to arrive at Loutraki port (below Glossa - there's no airport on the island, the nearest is Skiathos) when I decided to do my last bit of sightseeing and check out some Roman ruins from about 200BC. Obviously I got lost looking for them and was directed by a Greek family having lunch.
As I walked back from the ruins they offered me calamari ("We fished it last night") and as I tucked in, the lady of the house whizzed inside and came out with an ice-cold can of Mythos beer to wash it down with. Greek hospitality at its best... Do I want to go back to Mamma Mia! island? I do, I do, I do, I do, I do.
GET THERE BritiSh Airways heathrow to Athens return from EUR165pp inc taxes www.
SKIATHOS Alkyon travel has combined coach/ferry return to SKOPELOS Amarandos Amarandos Skopelos from EUR238 for a family of four www.alkyontravel.gr.
5 miles Villa Maria O, near Loutraki, costs from EUR562 to LimnonariLimnonari EUR1,685 a week.
co.uk Time zone: GMT +2hrs Currency: Euro EUR1 Best time to go: Take a chance on May
HIGH POINT nLooking over stunning Skopelos Town YO HO HO JLawrence at pirate's grave VISITOR n Pierce Brosnan filmed Mamma Mia! on Skopelos PILGRIMAGE JLawrence and Anna REFRESHING nPool at villa CLIMB nAgios Ioannis