Posts for Tag: Sifnos

Wednesday 14th May 2014 - Last Day on Sifnos

Today is our last full day on Sifnos.  There is still so much more to see but decide to catch the bus to Apollonia - all destinations depart from Apollonia. We plan to take the bus onwards to Hironissos - just a round trip as the bus only runs twice a day.  The same group is at the bus stop again where us, the Dutch, the Americans and the Greeks discuss which islands we have been to and where our onward trip is headed to.  The elderly Greek man with much gesticulation asks us which is best Milos or Sifnos.  We had visited Milos the previous and although a lovely island, I felt that Sifnos has more character.  The Americans agreed with us emphatically.  He looked a bit disappointed and then I wish I'd bitten my tongue thinking that this may be his home island.

All photographs of the bus trip to Hironissos is taken from the moving a moving vehicle.  The landscape is spectacular - green, unspoilt, deserted - words don't do it justice - not mine anyway!

We get off the bus at Artemonos where we are early enough to still want breakfast.  We have tea and toast in the pretty square with the fabulous bakery.

We take a slow walk back to Apollonia via Pano Petali where we stop to take more photographs along the way.

When we arrive at Apollonia we head to the jewellery shops just off the main square.  I see some silver charms that I like and buy a couple for my bracelet.  The young lady attaches the charms to my bracelet for me and whilst we're waiting we chat to her and her brother.  We tell them about Peter's experience with the snake at the Kastro.  She tells us that he was very lucky because the snakes are very dangerous and only two days earlier a tourist had been bitten and had be taken to hospital in Athens by helicopter.  She also tells us that their father had been bitten by a snake a few years ago and he was very ill in hospital for nearly two weeks.  The brother tells us that when he was a baby, one day his mum came into their house to find a scorpion on him.  I'm a bit creeped out by this now and Peter despite his encounter appears blase and says that this is very common in Egypt too. Peter tells them about the snake stones they use in his fathers village for snake and scorpion bites.  I am told that the stones are from a snakes head but internet research provides several other alternative theories.  I have made clear to Peter that if I ever get bitten by a snake or scorpion in Egypt not to go running off in search for the old snake stones - just get me a helicopter to the nearest hospital!

We find a little cafe where we stop for tea whilst we wait for the bus.

When the bus does arrive we see it is the school bus - we are the only tourists on the bus.  The children are boisterous and a man who appears to be some kind of caretaker keeps them all in check and ticks them off the list when they get off the bus.

We walk to the beach at Kamares.  The wind has picked up again.  Free micro-dermabrasion anyone?

Back at Pension Morfeus we go to see Maria and Kostas and to pay for our stay.  This is truly one of the loveliest places I've stayed at in the islands and Maria and Kosta have been absolutely amazing hosts!

We tell them about the snake - I'm not going to let this one drop am I!  Maria tells us that there are 4 types of snake on the island and the grey one is very dangerous - the yellow one less so.  She tells Peter he is very lucky to not get bitten!

Tonight we are having our final meal on the island at Absinthe in Kamares.  It has excellent reviews and is well located overlooking the bay.  We are the first customers of the evening so get a window seat however, where the restaurant would usually be open to the skies, the plastic sheets are down to prevent the wind from pelting sand into the restaurant.  The wind is even stronger now.

The menu is very extensive and "inspired from the famed Greek Smyrneian cuisine of Asia Minor with a dash of Central Asian spice and texture."

To start we have Lahmatzun which we are told has Lebanese origins.  It is spicy minced meat topped with warm yogurt on pitta.  I then have clay baked lamb with apples and mixed white and wild rice with raisins and Peter has the shark.  The meal is finished with ice cream with confiture and complimentary spoon fruit.

We watch the Adamantios Korais come into port.  The sea is choppy and looks like it will be the same when we depart tomorrow.  I suffer from sea sickness but I do freak out when I am near others that do!

Another full moon falls on our last night on Sifnos island.  Another one that has made it into my top 5 Greek islands!

Tuesday 13th May 2014 - Visit to the Kastro

We head out for the 10.00am bus to Apollonia again.  For the last couple of days there has been the same crowd of people waiting at the stop - two Dutch couples who are on a walking holiday, a middle aged American couple who tell us the snow is still thick on the ground back home and an elderly Greek couple who don't speak English but always greet everyone when they arrive at the stop.

My first mission is to find a shop in Apollonia that can save the photographs on my memory card to a CD as I've already used 8gb's of memory on my SLR.  Maria from Morfeus tell us that we are more likely to find somewhere in Apollonia than Kamares.  Kostas tells us that there is a shop near to the second petrol station - not the first petrol station but the second one!

Using our powers of deduction we work out which is the second petrol station and we come across a photography studio which seems to have a machine where you can download and print your photos.  Unfortunately it doesn't take flash cards.  The lady tells us in broken English to wait whilst she phones her son who is at home. Within 5 minutes her son arrive on a moped.  His English is good and he tells us that he will take it home and download it for us and it will only cost 4 euros.  It cost us 8 euros in Athens last year and I'm sure his petrol would cost that too.  Whilst we wait we go to the bakery next door for breakfast.  This is a busy old bakery and clearly popular with the locals.

I have my memory card and cd of photographs back in 20 minutes which is excellent! (I will buy more memory cards for our next trip!)

We have a little while before the bus to Kastro arrives so we take the opportunity to walk around Apollonia again and in particular some of the churches that we didn't have time to explore previously.

There are lots of trendy cafe bars and little boutiques amongst the more traditional buildings.  

We catch the bus which drops us at the entrance to the Kastro which sits up on top of the cliff overlooking the famous Seven Martyrs church.  

We enter the Kastro by climbing whitewashed steps.  We pass Cafe bars that can only be described as 'boutique'.

The view from the Kastro inland is as stunning as the views out to the sea

We walk around the Kastro perimeter until we reach the coastal side.  Peter walks down to the Seven Martyrs Church whilst I stay at the top to take photographs.

Peter seemed to take ages coming back up to the Kastro.  When he did come back he looked a bit flustered and then proceeded to tell me about his encounter with a snake.  When he was walking back up the path to the Kastro, he must have disturbed a snake who didn't take too kindly to it's sunbathing being disrupted.  It reacted by striking a threatening pose and rasping it's forked tongue at him.  Peter says his only reaction was to throw himself backwards out of its way but he wanted to make sure that it had moved away before continuing up the stone steps. 

I am now being extra EXTRA vigilent about wherever I walk!  

We have about 2 hours to wait before the next bus arrives to take us back to Apollonia so we walk around the pretty streets of the Kastro.

Cafe Konaki had caught our eye when we first arrived and not only does it have spectacular views over the landscape is has a good vantage point to see approaching buses.  We have tea and ice cream and then more tea. We are the only customers apart from one other couple during the hour or so we were there.
Back in Apollonia we walk to the village of Exambela.  It is late afternoon and light on the whitewashed buildings is perfect.

We walk back to the centre of Apollonia and think it would be nice to eat in a restaurant there.  We find  a restaurant with a lovely (and deserted) courtyard where we are able to watch the sunset on the mountains whilst we eat under a vine covered pergola.  Their garlic sauce is fantastic - one of my favourites.  Peter has the pork and I have lamb washed down with some lovely red wine.

We catch a taxi back to Kamares where we catch the tail end of the sunset.  The moon is full and lights up the town below.

Monday 12th May 2014 - Trip to Panagia Chrisopigi and Platis Gialos

We catch the 10.00am bus to Artemonas via Apollonia where the main bus station is located.  When I say bus station I mean a car park where the buses seem to depart from.  From here we will catch a bus to Panagia Chrisopigi but first we go to the bakery at Artemonis for breakfast.  Pastries and a cup of tea.  Whilst waiting for the bus I go to look at the church Agios Constantinos which was built in the 18th century.  It's architecture is simple but I'm fascinate by the way the small features cast shadows on the stark white exterior walls.

 The bus arrives to take us to Panagia Chrisopigi.  The bus driver gives us the nod when we arrive.  The place is deserted and we are the only people that leave the bus.  At first it is unclear where we go but we remember reading that we need to take a path that starts at the main road.  Before we begin our descent, we pop our heads into the small church by the bus stop.

We find the path and begin the walk down to the church.  I'm already thinking about the climb back up in the midday heat!

"The celebrated monastery of the island patron saint "Panagia Hrissopigi" (Our Lady of the Golden Spring) stands at the south-eastern end of the island in the Faros area. It was built in 1650 in a lovely area on the site of an older church. The icon of Zoodohos Pigi is mentioned in a great many legends which allege that it came from the sea.  According to an inscription, the great Greek poet Aristomenis Provelegios stayed in one of them."

The baptism font sits on the edge of the islet - I can only image what it is like to be here for religious ceremonies and festivals especially the Ascension of Christ where visitors arrive at the church in hundreds of little boats.

The only other people here are a couple of workmen who are carrying out renovations.

No more putting it off.  We climb the steep steps back up to the main road and head off to Platis Gialos the next village along the coast.

The first thing that we see once back on the main road is a freshly squashed snake.  It is spring and the snakes like nothing better than to warm themselves on the hot (yet perilous) tarmac.  From what I've read it looks like the venomous yet endangered Milos Viper.  Do I sound rather blase about this?  I'm really not!  I now find myself walking straight down the middle of the empty road so that I will get advance warning of any oncoming vipers!

As we approach a wide bend in the road we see below the village of Platis Gialos.  First things first.  We stop off at cafe bar La Playa for chocolate crepes and ice cream!

The village is also almost deserted but I imagine it is completely different in mid season.  Platis Gialos is pretty but there isn't much to do (and the sea is still a bit cold).  We have a wander around the streets and pop into several of the potteries where we make a few purchases to take home with us.

We catch the 15.00pm bus back to Kamares taking in the scenery along the way.

Later that evening we decide to walk along the bay to Agia Marina and hike those 2000 steps to the church.  Early evening is a perfect time of day for this.  Although a bit challenging we are rewarded with fabulous views over the bay of Kamares.  

Walking down those 2000 steps did kickstart the old vertigo a bit!  I need a drink! Not far from here is Cafe Folie where we stop off for a cocktail.

The wind is still high and the sounds of the waves crashing against the rocks is deafening!

Before we go for dinner we buy our ferry to tickets back to Athens (Piraeus) and book 1 night in Hotel Arion.  Unfortunately our favourite Athens hotel the Attalos is fully booked. We didn't intend to stay so long on Sifnos and had hoped to get a day or two in Syros but we have absolutely fallen in love with this island.

Sunday 11th May 2014 - Exploring Kamares Bay

This is what holidays are all about - a late breakfast on the beach! 

Today we're going to explore Kamares a bit more and decide to walk along the bay path past Agia Marina to Agia Ekaterini.  We decide not to climb the 2000 steps up to Agia Marina in the midday sun but decide to do it one evening instead. 

 The little church at Agia Ekaterini is wonderful. It seems to be surrounded by a small monastery complex. We think we are completely alone but it appears that this monastery buildings surrounding the church has visitors.  They appear to be packing to leave so we continue to explore (despite their efforts to ignore us!).  The church is so photogenic from any angle.  Painted white steps lead down to the sea edge.

 After our brief exploration of the area we take a slow walk back.  Before we reach Agia Marina we stop to watch an oil tanker come into port.  It is completely fascinating to watch the furore of activity that ensues when a large vessel comes into port.

We spend a lazy afternoon on the beach at Kamares.  Despite being backed by a dense bamboo wall, the small narrow beach is still subject to the wind which is still making its presence felt.  The sea is still cold but Peter braves the waves and goes for a swim - too chilly for me!

We eventually head back to Pension Morfeus  to get showered and changed before heading out for our evening meal and stroll around the port.  First things first - we take the path that leads up above the port to see if we can catch a good view of the sunset.  Not the most romantic setting - we end up at the water treatment plant - nonetheless a great vantage point for the sunset!

This evening we eat at taverna Captain Andreas which is next to the Captains Bar on the beach at Kamares (and just a short walk from Morfeus).  I can categorically state that these are the best dolmades I have  ever tasted!  I have meatballs and Peter has  lamb in lemon sauce.  This is finished with  lovely spoon sweets (glykó tou koutalioú) -this time lemon.

After a stroll along the beach, back to Pension Morfeus which is so pretty at night.

Saturday 10th May 2014 - Sifnos - Exploring Apollonia and Beyond

From what we have deduced - most buses depart from the islands capital Apollonia so we catch the first bus up there.

First stop for breakfast is the cafe in Hotel Anthousa and Patisserie right in the centre of the town.  Before we leave we given a biscuit each from the patisserie.

We follow the path out of the village to Pano Petali.

The path continues on to the village of Artemenos where we stop in the pretty square for a cup of tea.  We can smell the freshly baked produce coming from the nearby bakery.  The pottery chimney pots are really something!

We continue down an almost deserted road towards the windmill which now provides accommodation for tourists.  

It is a bit overcast today but that doesn't detract from the amazing view of neighbouring islands.  I'm sure the islands we can see are Anti Paros, Paros, Naxos and maybe even a bit of Sikinos and Ios (pushing it a bit!).  I don't think I have ever seen so many islands from one vantage point like this before - it was pretty amazing!  

From here we can also see the village of Poulati

It is very hard to resist to keep on walking to keep discovering what is around the corner.  We do keep on walking along the coastal road until the road almost grinds to a halt.  Down below we can see what we think is the Kastro but it looks so far away.  To get to it we need to start walking through farmland and down winding paths that look quite labyrinthine from where we are standing.  Peter goes on ahead to explore and I wander around photographing the wildlife!

So close and yet so far - but we decide to call it a day anyway.  We head back through the same little villages again in reverse.

As we pass through Pano Petali again, an elderly lady waves her arms to Peter to attract his attention.  She beckons him to climb the steps to her little balcony and through gestures asks him to unpeg her washing from the washing line (like being at home eh Peter!).

We have just missed the bus back to Kamares and it is 3 hours before the next one.  We decide to go to the bakery near to the bus stop to have a cup of tea and some baklava and Kanaifa to warm us up - it is getting a bit chilly.  

There is no way we can spin out 3 hours in the bakery so catch a taxi back to Kamares.  The sun is already beginning to set on the surrounding hillside.  The lovely warm orange hue bounces off our walls back in Pension Morfeus.  We are then treated to the pinkest sunset I have seen in a long while.

After a shower and change we head out for cocktails on the beach at the Captains bar on the recommendation of Matt Barrett's Travel Guide.

We then take short walk to one of the beachside restaurants to eat.  Peter has goat and I have stuffed tomatoes - all washed down with a bit of ouzo!  I'm in love with Sifnos already!