Posts for Tag: Pollonia

Wednesday 3rd July 2013 - Leaving the Islands for Athens

This morning we will catch the first bus from Pollonia to Adamas where we will catch the Speedrunner 3 to Athens.

The packing is done and we take five minutes to have a cup of tea on the balcony.  If you want peace and tranquility than I really recommend Pollonia and I definitely recommend Pergola as a place to stay.

Before we catch the bus back to Adamas we go to the Pergola shop to buy some handmade honey products.  Stella the owner greets us and calls to Sami from the back.  Sami talks Peter through the range of products in Arabic- occasionally confirming information with Stella in Greek and then Peter translates back to me in English. There is an amazing range of products - many different types of honey, pollen, candles, flavoured olive oils, fruit preserves and sesame seed bars.  The honey comes from hives up in the hills behind Adamas.

On the back wall of the shop is a glass fronted wooden box with a live beehive on display.  They enter through a narrow pipe on the outside wall.

At the front of the shop is an amazing display of freshly baked pastries which makes us decide to have breakfast in the Pergola garden before we leave.

We say goodbye to Sami - he will be returning to Egypt next year to get married.

Back in Adamas we wait to board the Speedrunner 3.  If I to come back to Milos in the future I would choose to stay in Pollonia or maybe event Plaka.  Even if you are reliant on the bus service to get around the island as we were, it is worth forgoing the more regular service in Adamas for a better location.  Milos is a large island with stunning landscapes and fantastic beaches and to take advantage of this it would definitely be worth hiring a car.  

Here is a bit of Milos Mythology.

Through the salt encrusted windows we sail slowly to the west of Milos - past the huge sharks fin rock jutting out of the water and past Klima the brightly painted fishing village that we didn't get to visit this time.  Above that we know that the catacombs lay hidden from view nestled deep in the hillside.  Farewell Milos!

Tuesday 2nd July 2013 - A Day Trip to the Little Island of Kimolos

Today we are going to visit Kimolos - the tiny island just a short boat ride away from Milos.  We're going to catch the 10.30am ferry but get there a little earlier to eat some breakfast and to walk around the little harbour.

At the port Peter engages in conversation with an elderly Greek lady.  She speaks to him in Greek and he speaks to her in English.  She lives on Kimolos and is going home - that's as much as I can make out though Peter seems to be having a much more detailed conversation with her with the use of lots of gesticulation.

Along the pier wall, fishermen are weighing in their morning catch.

We are fascinated as we watch one of the fishermen debone a monkfish which involves smashing their jawbones with a wooden mallet and cutting the flesh away with a knife.  These are truly ugly fish!

The small car ferry the Pagania Faneromeni arrives and as soon as the cars, bikes and pedestrians disembark we board, pay for our tickets and go up to the deck.  The cost of the ticket is 1.90 euros each, one way.

From the ferry we can see the church on the port of Pollonia and as we sail further out of the harbour we see the Seajet 2 appearing from around the corner from Adamas.  It sails slowly past the huge sharks fin rock jutting out of the water.

According to the official website of Kimolos, the island covers an area 36 square kilometres and has around 600 permanent residents.  The name Kimolos comes from kimolia meaning chalk which has been mined here since ancient times.  It now has large resources of fullers earth which is used in the production of porcelain.  There are a number of opencast mines to the North of the island and there you will also find a sulpher spa however, it is the South of the island where you will find the good beaches and the sleepy little villages that have hardly changed over the years.  There are no natural springs on the island so water is a precious commodity.

As we approach the harbour of Kimolos the first things we see are windmills scattered along the top of the hillside and below a large blue domed church overlooking the bay.
The port is really quiet apart from some repair works being undertaken to the harbour wall.  There is hardly anyone about.  We don't have time to visit any of the beaches here today which is a shame becuase I had read that there are some exceptional ones on Kimolos.  However, we are going to explore the chora and start by following the main road up from the port.  We reach a sign that tells us that the chora is 300 metres ahead - the walk up is about two kilometres in total. It is quite a steep climb and very hot but the advantage of stopping to drink water is that it's also an opportunity to take in the view of the bay.  The higher we go, the better it is.  We keep the large church in our vision so that we know we are going in the right direction.

It isn't long before we see signs of the kastro with stockade type stones walls lining the narrow labyrinthine streets - originally built to keep out marauding pirates around 500 years ago.
The streets are virtually deserted on the way up to the chora - the only other people we see are a group of workmen carrying out refurbishment on an old stone house.  The kastro is really attractive - so unspoilt.

Thomas Cooks Greek Island Hopping Guide says of the kastro:
"The Kimolos stockade type kastro is a younger brother of the better known example on Antiparos.  The basic concept is the same with both buildings: a strong rectangular fortification wall lined with apartments that face into a central courtyard area each with its own external staircase.  There are however, significant differences between the two.  Instead of a large courtyard area and a central tower, the Kimolos kastro has a second inner ring of houses within which stands a church complete with gateways.  It is known as the inner kastro.  It also has a second gate in its outer wall and is built on the side of a hill so each two storey unit is at a different height to its neighbour.  There are dated stones over the gateways - one saying 1650 and the other 1647 however these are believed to commemorate refurbishment or building works after major pirate attacks. It is likely that the Venetiain kastro was built between 1485 and 1537.  Today the kastro is an odd mix of good preservation and total ruin."  You will see examples of this everywhere - decayed stone buildings and the development of trendy bars sitting together in complete harmony.  Unfortunately the Folk and Maritime Museum of Kimolos doesn't appear to be open - it is highly recommended in my guide book and is made up of some of the kastro houses.
It's lunchtime.  There are quite a lot of little tavernas dotted about but we decide to eat in a taverna just behind the large church called Panorama, which as you can imagine, offers fantastic views over the island and right down to the bay.
We order Greek salad, horta, local cheese and tzatziki.  The cheese is a heavily salted cheese that I can't eat.  It is very similar to mish - a type of cheese that Peter's mother makes with milk from their water buffalo - Peter loves it and eats it all!
The remaining time we have is spent walking around the delightful little chora.  We pass through narrow alleyways where the local residents sit outside their back door in the shade surrounded by pots of brightly coloured flowers .  It feels a little intrusive and as though we are walking through their garden but we are always met with warm, friendly smiles and "Kalimera". I wish we had more time to spend here - I'm sure there is a completely different feel to the place in the evening.
We have twenty minutes to walk back down to the port to catch the ferry back to Milos - we can see that it is in the port already.  We walk past an old windmill that has been converted into holiday accommodation.  According to the website it was known as the Doctors Windmill.  It looks like an amazing place to stay on the website:

We have a few minutes left before the ferry leaves - we watch the repair work to the harbour wall before we depart.
The website Miloterranean provides fantastic description several Geo Walks on Milos and Kimolos.  Route 5 on Kimolos includes a bit of the islands history and some great photographs of the island.

Goodbye Kimolos - we must come back and stay longer!
The journey back to Milos seems to pass too quickly.  Tomorrow we're leaving the islands for Athens on the Speedrunner 3 which has fixed seating inside.  We take the time to enjoy our last moments on the deck of a boat.  We are mesmerised by the landscape that passes us by - islands that appear to have nothing but a solitary church on its peak and tiny islets jutting out of the sea, defiant and threatening to all ships that dare to venture!

We pass one small island that looks completely uninhabited except for a large monastery surrounded by high concrete walls.  I know we pass three uninhabited island between Kimolos and Milos -  Polyaigos, Agios Efstathios and Agios Georgios. I can't find any reference to the monastery with any of them so I can't give more information on the monastery at this point.

Back at Pollonia we spend the rest of the day on the beach relaxing, squeezing every last minute out of the beach that we can.
After the lunch we had on Kimolos we have no appetite so we go to Rifaki Cafe bar for ice cream.  We sit and watch the sea roll in and out until late.  Tomorrow we leave for Athens.  No more beaches - but certainly plenty to look forward to!

Monday 1st July 2013 - We Arrive at Pollonia and Find a Little Bit of Egypt

We catch an early bus to Pollonia, eager to find a room for a couple of nights so that we can spend a bit of time relaxing before going to Athens.  I'm not overly concerned that we haven't been able to find rooms via the agents at the port - I will sleep on the beach in Pollonia if necessary!

We had seen a travel agency from the taverna where we ate the other day. We try here first but they hummed and haahed and then said they only knew of rooms two kilometres from here.  I had noticed another travel agency as we arrived on the bus called Travel Me To Milos where the young lady there was more than helpful.  We told her our budget of thirty euros a night and she made several phone calls until she found somewhere suitable.  She told us there was a place called Pergola about 5 minutes away. 

She tells us that the owners of the rooms have a cafe and shop next door and they are expecting us.  We walk up a narrow street leading away from the beach until we find Pergola.  A young man comes out of the shop to greet  us - within seconds there is an instant recognition between the man and Peter as fellow Egyptians - like long lost brothers!

The man is called Sami and he tells Peter that he has been living on Milos for a few years.  He works for the family who own the rooms, cafe and shop and he lives as one of their family - by that I read that he works every hour God sends.

Sami shows us a couple of rooms to choose from and they are all very nice, each with a blue pergola covered in fuschia pink bougainvillea.  We choose one that has a view of a field to the left and to the front, a tiny chink of the view of the sea.  Even if we had not met Sami at this point, there are clues in the room that an Egyptian works here with the typical towel art you'd find in many hotels or cruise boats in Egypt.  The room is really lovely, bright and modern with a small balcony.

One of the main reasons we're here in Pollonia is for the lovely little beach - so we head down there as soon as we can.  Just beautiful!

What a lovely peaceful day it is, just a few families on the beach - so tranquil.

By mid afternoon we are hungry.  We decide to try another restaurant on the beach and choose Αρμενάκι (which I think translates to Armenaki).  The meal is absolutely delicious - I have pork stuffed with apricots and prunes and Peter has octopus cooked in sweet wine and honey.  This is first class food!  The wine is so cheap - half litre jug of white wine is the same price as a glass - it would be silly not to!  

Back to the room to shower and change.  We sit on the balcony and admire the view.

The sun begins to set on Pollonia.  The fishing boats are moored up by the harbour, fishermen prepare their nets for the following morning. Now this is what I missed in Adamas - the sunset!

We end the evening in a small cafe bar called Rifaki right on the beach. Frappe with ice cream and Chocolatini with Baileys!

Sunday 30th June 2013 - The Stunning Lunar Landscape of Sarakiniko, Milos

We had only booked three nights at Giannis.  The room was already been allocated to someone else for tomorrow - we can move to a side room without a kitchen but I think this is the excuse we are looking for to move on from Adamas.  We had planned to go on to Serifos or Sifnos but I think both Peter and I could do with a couple of days where we don't have to get on a bus and we can just stroll to the beach and swim, or walk to a taverna to eat.  Pollonia we're on our way!

As I mentioned before, the big benefit of being based in Adamas is that you can reach the key parts of the island easily by bus.  This is particularly useful today as we are going to visit the lunar like landscape of Sarakiniko!

 The bus only goes to Sarakiniko twice a day - 11.00am and 13.00pm.  It's still too early for the 11.00am bus so we decide to explore the streets around and above Adamas.

The bus journey gives us some more fantastic views of the island.
As soon as you arrive at Sarakiniko you are struck by the unusual landscape.  The contrast between the white chalk rocks and the deep azure blue of the sea is stunning.  The small bay below is very picturesque but already quite busy.  Over to the right you find the typical picture postcard views of Sarakiniko with the unusual chalk formations.  If you want to take a photograph of the view with only you or your companion in it, or equally without anyone in it, great patience is required!
A little further around the coast there is another well photographed landmark - a shipwreck which is said to have come aground during a terrible storm.
This Youtube video by Jasonsensations1 shows amazing views of the shipwreck from underwater.

Thyme sprouts from the chalk rocks in huge clumps, littered with tiny brightly coloured butterflies.  The scene of the small beach below us reminds me of a postcard from the 1960's.  The beach is untouched and natural but the colours are incredibly polarised - it almost looks photoshopped and as though the colours have been over saturated.
After we clamber down to the beach I find some shade at the side of a cliff.  The bus back to Adamas is also only twice a day - 13.10 and 17.10.  There isn't a taverna here and we haven't had breakfast so decide to get the 13.10 so we can have some lunch.  There isn't enough time for me to have a swim and dry off but Peter decides to go for a quick dip and then to explore the natural caves in the cliffs.  I take in the surroundings and do a bit of people watching.  A cat comes to join me in the shade.
Back in Adamas I'm dying to throw my body into the sea. Milos has fantastic beaches all around its coastline so you can guarantee that you'll never be far from one.  The beach just to the west of Adamas isn't one of the most beautiful but it is completely satisfactory and close to a couple of beach front tavernas. 

We stop at a taverna called Arodo overlooking the harbour.  We order Greek salad, horta and garlic sauce to start along with a jug of white wine.  Unfortunately the white wine is a little 'rough' and not very nice.  Just as we get halfway through the jug the owner brings us another one "on the house" telling us that it is very good wine.  This is very kind of him (or maybe not!).  
I definitely can't drink any more of it besides, I can see a ferry docking at the port and I want to go and see if there are any rooms in Pollonia.  I leave Peter for 15 minutes whilst I go to speak to the people outside the tourist office with rooms to rent.  Unfortunately none of them have rooms for Pollonia.  A lady with rooms for Plaka tells me to go into the tourist office and ask the lady for the phone number for Maria from Pollonia.  I do this and get the phone number but I think we will just need to go over there tomorrow and see what's on offer.
By the time I get back to Arodo Peter has finished the second jug of wine!  I didn't expect him to drink it but a typical Egyptian - he hates waste!  After paying the bill we take a short walk to the stretch of beach beyond the row of tavernas.  We find a spot just by the shoreline under a pair of tamarisk trees.  Their tangled white roots reach out to the sea, seemingly in a desperate attempt for survival.  Here Peter falls unconscious and I lay in the shade with my book listening to the waves trickling in and out.  We stay there until the sun begins to set.

Saturday 29th June 2013 - Exploring Milos - Catacombs, Venus de Milo and Pollonia

When we arrived at the port of Adamas on the Seajet last night, there was plenty of choice regarding rooms - there were at least a dozen or so people were waiting with photographs of rooms for rent on the island.  Peter and I still hadn't decided where to stay but we had thought that it would either be Adamas itself because of the good bus service or the old town of Plaka up above and north of the port.  I'd had a look on Trip Advisor earlier and there had been very good reviews for a place called Giannis.  As soon as I saw Giannis himself the decision was made!  Similar prices to Folegandros, 30 euros for a room and 35 euros for a room with a kitchen - we went for the latter.  The room was very spacious with 3 single beds, a table and chairs, a dressing table and a small separate kitchen.  The balcony overlooked Giannis garden which was full of basil and marigolds.

We start the morning with breakfast in a cafe overlooking the harbour.  The port of Milos reminds me of the port of Kos - a little nondescript. There's nothing particularly endearing about it until you start venturing up into the streets above the old town towards the large church.  Because Milos has been relatively late in developing as a tourist destination, the waterfront bars are modern and lack personality. I don't know what I'd expected of Milos but whatever it was, I felt as though I'd been hurled back into reality after our stay on Folegandros.  This is  a much bigger island - just compare the population of 5000 to the 700 on Folegandros!

The bus stop is only a few minutes walk from Giannis so is certainly handy for getting around this large island. Today we are going to visit the catacombs so we first have to catch the bus to Tripiti.  We have plenty of time before the bus leaves so we start the day with breakfast in one of the cafe's overlooking the harbour.  Although these port front cafe's lack personality, the staff don't and the service we receive is very friendly indeed.

We walk back to the bus stop and board the bus - there is still 5 minutes before it leaves.  An elderly Greek gentleman with a cheery smile, takes a seat adjacent to us.  He gives us each a sweet and then asks us in broken English where we are from.  After a short conversation he turns to a group of Italians at the back of the bus and in Italian he asks them the same (I can piece the bits of Italian I know together enough to make this out).

The driver boards the bus and sets off out of the town which is scheduled to stop at Plaka before we need to disembark for Tripiti.

As the bus begins to climb up the side of the island, I notice the bright white chalk in the hillside with large holes that have been worn away by wind and time.  Milos, a volcanic island has an unusual geology in the fact that it has good resources of chalk, obsidian, bentonite, sulpher and flint.  I had read that Milos is the only Greek island where flint has been found naturally and that records of flint found across Greece has demonstrated how extensive sea travel was even in ancient times.  It is because of the mining industry on Milos that it has well developed roads and although the mines scattered around the island don't look particularly attractive, it is still a thriving industry and a major part of the economy today.

The bus stops at Plaka and Peter asks the old man how far it was to Tripiti to which he replies "Ten minutes is too much".  Ah - less than 10 minutes!

We disembark from the bus at Tripiti on a street lined with residential properties and tavernas.  Our guide book tells us that we need to walk to the T junction and from here take a right down the sloping road to the ancient Christian catacombs.  It also tells us that if we want to see the spot where the Venus de Milo statue was discovered and also the Roman amphitheatre, we will find a path forking off to the right.  We decide to do this first.

It was a little confusing at first, but we did find the site where the Venus de Milo statue was discovered.  It is a rather forlorn place marked only by a road sign and just off the road, there is a plaque under a cluster of trees next to where the statue was exhumed.
Very close to the Venus de Milo discovery spot is the Roman Amphitheatre which looks as though it is undergoing some remedial works.
The view from up here is stunning.  I can see windmills atop terraced hills and in the distance a white church sits on a large mound overlooking the bay.  If I've read the guidebook correctly I think this is where the kastro can be found. 

The land that we can see across the water is Milos where it curves around on itself.  Imagine if you will the shape of a horseshoe.  Tripiti sits on the inside edge of one tip of the horseshoe and is looking at the tip on the other side of the horseshoe.  Deep in the middle, on the inner edge is the port of Adamas.  I remember as we approached Milos the day before, the catamaran slowed down considerably to navigate around the rocks sprouting out of the sea - one looked like a huge sharks fin.  Because we were following the GPS position of the boat we could see it had yet to enter into the deep bay - everybody else had leapt to their feet, grabbed their luggage and positioned themselves in front of the doors.  We enjoyed the remaining fifteen minutes sitting from the comfort of our seats!
It is also extremely hot today and the breeze sporadic.  We continue down the hill to the catacombs - I try to catch bits of shade cast by trees along the roadside but they are few and far between.  At last we're here.  We walk down paved steps to a small kiosk where we purchase our tickets. A guide takes us and two other couples down a few stone steps into the catacombs.  According to the catacombs website these are thought to be the most important early christian catacombs in Greece.

It was incredibly humid inside the catacombs.  When we emerged into the albeit light breeze, it was like taking a cold shower after a sauna!
I had really wanted to continue the walk down to Klima to see the brightly coloured fisherman's houses along the sea front.  Although I think I could have walked down, I just couldn't imagine how I would have been able to walk back up this steep hill in the searing heat.  Well - I believe you should always leave something to visit in case you return to the island another time!

I really should stop winging about the heat but the climb back up to Tripiti village is a killer.  However, once back up on the main road the narrow winding streets offer some fantastic and much appreciated shade.

We see a sign for a bus station and follow the road around until we find a bench with a shelter sitting in a small lay-by.  I have a desperate urge to go to the sea so we check the timetable to see what time the bus leaves for Pollonia.  We have about two hours before the bus leaves so we find a little taverna where we can re-hydrate ourselves and, although I have no appetite we decide to have a little something to eat too.  We find a quaint little place on the main street that overlooks a small garden.  We order Greek salad which comes with a huge loaf of bread that we are unable to finish.
After killing some time we walk back to the bus stop and the bus arrives shortly after.  The bus heads back into Adamas before heading out of the town along a different road to the one we came in on.  As we head back down towards the coast again I can see signs of the amazing geology of the islands, caves carved into chalk rocks.  Little did I know that this was nothing compared to what I was to see the following day!
The bus arrives at the little fishing village of Pollonia.  As soon as I stepped off the bus I felt like Milos had just redeemed itself.  I realised then that we were just staying in the wrong place.  

Just beyond the bus stop is a small row of tavernas skirting the edge of the beach and along the shoreline.  Tamarisk trees provide natural shade and the beach is narrow and sandy - perfect!  Instead of settling down here though we walk past the row of tavernas towards a whitewashed church.  Past the church is another small bay where the water is shallow and crystal clear. (as if it would ever be anything but crystal like!)  Every so often we see a small car ferry shuttle between Milos and Kimolos.  This is definitely where I want to be and I now really want to go to Kimolos.
We spend a couple of hours here reading, swimming and sunbathing before choosing a taverna called Araxovoli to eat.  Peter has fish and garlic sauce and I have meatballs.
We stay in Pollonia until it is time for the last bus to return to Adamas.  When we arrive back at the port the Agios Giorgios ferry is in and a little while later the Seajet 2 arrives - we stay to watch people board and disembark and imagine the respective emotions of sadness and excitement but never boredom!