Merihas is where you’ll be staying
Merihas is a beautiful village, and still untouched by commercial tourism. Merihas has a bank, an ATM machine, two or three supermarkets selling clothes and footwear and all sorts, two or three ferry ticket outlets, two car and scooter rentals, a couple of bookshops and stationers(bibliopoleia) and, as my late mother would have said (she was born in 1915) more cafes and restaurants than Soft Mick…
Right next to Cafe Merihas is a big cheerful sign saying Kalos ilthate sto Merihas or ‘A Big Welcome to Merihas’. A sentiment echoed throughout the village.
There are many other people and places in Merihas I would like to introduce you to:
Just down from Cafe Merihas is Cafe Akrogiali. It is good for crepes, waffles, breakfasts and late night drinks and has a vast terrace up above. It is run by Zafiris who is a world class bouzouki player. Maybe if we ask him nicely he will give us a virtuoso bouzouki performance one night. Be aware though that he tends to start at around 1am and carry on till around dawn, just as the great sitar players of India do. Great musicians tend to be diurnal, but for great writers, it is, I would say, optional rather than compulsory.
The cafe is also run by his wife Fani , who is from Cyprus and thus has excellent English. Go to Fani if you have a problem that needs a translator and she is always kind and helpful.
Their daughter Anastasia starts studies at an exclusive cookery college in Athens, but there is a chance she might be home at the weekends. She is also a keen musician and regularly jams alongside her Dad, again usually in the small hours.
Finally, the family dog is called Ira and she likes to snooze at the entrance to the cafe.
Further down the way is Cafe Aigaios, good for drinks, sandwiches and snacks. The front line waiters are two brothers, Manolis and Giorgos. Giorgos is the village wit and comedian. He and I are often to be found having uproarious possibly puerile hysterics together. He once advised me to cure bad sunburn by applying giaourti meli, yoghurt with honey, whereas the true remedy is giaourti horis meli or yoghurt minus honey. Fortunately gullible as I am, common sense does prevail.
Next to Cafe Aigaio is Cafe Maistrali and here the front line is an Albanian woman called Linda. Linda is the most cheerful and optimistic person that John Murray has ever met in his 62 years. She speaks excellent Greek, English and Serbian. There are a fair number of Albanians living in Merihas and working in Kythnos, usually in construction and in the restaurants, though the number has dropped off in recent years.
Moving down to the harbour front, you come to the legendary Byzantio restaurant. It has been run by Iannis and his wife Anna for some 20 odd years. Iannis and Anna have another restaurant back in Trikala on the mainland. Their son Konstandinos is an expert on how to explain to monoglot foreigners all about domata keftedes, bekri meze, yemistes, paidhakia and garides saganaki. Which reminds me. The three great gems on their menu for me are shrimp saganaki, piperies yemistes(red peppers stuffed with cheese) and simple fava or mashed broad bean doused in olive oil. I eat them on average twice a week and can never get enough of them.
Then at the top end of the bay right on the corner is the perfectly sited Veggera Cafe. It sits right by the sea and specialises in waffles, crepes and ice creams and is an ideal place to waste an hour or so. They have tavli (backgammon) boards available for anyone who wants to use them. Here is a picture of Anna of the Veggera who is sometimes run off her feet when the place is busy.