Posts for Tag: ano meria

Friday 28th June 2013 - Ano Meria Folegandros then on to Milos

Today we're leaving Folegandros for Milos however, the high speed cat doesn't leave until 19.10pm so we have a fully day on the island and today we're going to Ano Meria. We've already packed as we need to vacate the room by 12.00pm.  One last peek from the balcony before we go.

Evgenia has allocated a space near the reception office for our bags.

The bus leaves chora at 10.00am for Ano Meria.  The journey offers the most spectacular views over the island and as described before, the road runs like a spine along the length of the island and from here you can see the bays down on the east and west side of the island at once. You can really appreciated the rugged beauty of the island from here. 

 There is no village centre as such at Ano Meria.  The village is nothing more than a scattering of stone houses and farmsteads typically Cycladic in style - it has been described as looking as though the houses were thrown up into the air and scattered along the top of the hillside. We decide that the best way to see Ano Meria is to get off at the terminus and walk back along the main road, back towards chora.  

We pass a little taverna with blue painted shutters.  The menu outside lists chicken, rabbit, pigeon and meatballs - All Local!  There is also matsada - a local handmade pasta dish.

Dry stones walls made with the green island slate line the road and also define property boundaries around stone houses.
Further down the road we pass a couple of donkeys laden with hay.  They seem to know instinctively where they are going.  As we approach the bend we see a man wrestling with another donkey who clearly has his own idea of where he wants to go!
We're starving by now as we haven't had breakfast.  Luckily we see a sign for a bakery pointing up towards a low hill. We find the bakery to the right and enter the quaint looking shop where time seems to have stood still.  We purchase a cheese pie and a spinach pie. Yum!
The breeze is fantastic up here and masks the full heat of the day. In fact it is more than a breeze - it is a wonderfully exhilarating wind which you can hear, see and feel - the famous Meltemi!
Next we pass a whitewashed, blue domed church which is calling us in.
A little further down the road we come across another small taverna complete with octopus hanging on a line.  The blackboard menu outside is written in Greek but I do make out the word calamari - this must be the place to come for seafood in Ano Meria.
There are some fascinating things to see on this road - two rudderless windmills, intricate dry stone walls made from the local green slate, large stone circles which look like seating areas but I can't determine what their real function is - Google has been of no use to me with this.  
We approach a whitewashed cuboid house on the left - our attention is first drawn to the collection of objects on the roof including a number of chimney like terracotta jars with with blue stripes painted around their width, small wooden box shaped constructions, a shower head, gas containers set into the roof in concrete and a line of string with plastic bottles hanging from it.   An elderly gentleman sits by the doorway in the shade and raises his hand and smiles at us.  

Along the front wall of the house there are rows of Greek words and along the next wall, childlike pictures of two people and a boat in drawn in blue paint.  At first I thought this may have been the folk museum I'd read about but we later see a sign for this further down the road.  I'd love to know more about this house and why it has been decorated this way - and again Google has been of no use whatsoever.
Wonky parking!
Some of the most spectacular views of Folegandros!
The bus passes us on its way to Ano Meria and we give the driver a wave to let him know that we want to catch the bus on the way back - he nods his acknowledgement.

What an amazing day this has been and what a fantastic way to spend our last day on the island!

Back in the chora we have another walk around the streets and then decide to have a meal at Pounta.  This little taverna is situated just before the first square, adjacent to the bus stop and the town hall.  We had walked past it every day and I was intrigued by the notice outside inviting visitors to come and eat or drink in their garden.

The taverna itself appears to be a small building but once you walk into the garden it has a large covered terrace and the most beautiful space abundant with flowers.
We order our meal - I have stuffed tomatoes and Peter has rabbit.  We notice the unusual pottery that has been brought to our table with the meal.  The owner of the taverna tells us that his wife Lisbet is an artist and she makes the pottery and they also have it for sale inside the taverna.

It's now time to collect our bags from Evgenia and wait for her son to pick us up and take us to the port.  Evgenia tells us that the high speed cat is running a little late but her son will be with us in about 20 minutes.  I'm looking forward to visiting Milos but so sad to be leaving Folegandros.  I will definitely be back here one day - I think it will be quite soon!

Here is a bit of Folegandros mythology whilst we wait!
Folegandros has approximately 700 inhabitants and is only 12 square miles in size but I still feel that there is so much more of the island to be discovered.  It is a great island for walking which enables you to appreciate its exceptional beauty.   I was interested to read about Chrysospylia Cave that sits 30 metres above sea level below the chora.  It isn't possible to visit the cave at the moment as archaeological work is still being undertaken but here is a bit more information about it.

We're now down at the port waiting for the Seajet 2 to take us to Milos.  Au revoir Folegandros - please don't change!
Through the salt stained windows we see the orange sun begin to set behind the island.

Leaving Folegandros

Thursday 27th June 2013 - Up to Panagia Church and Down to Katergo Beach, Folegandros

The alarm clock wakes us up at 6.00am.  This morning we're going to walk up to Panagia Church that sits one kilometre up on the ridge above the chora.  We think that we may go to Ano Meria after breakfast at Molidiri.  First we are going to build up our appetite!

If you turn right out of Evgenia Rooms and walk towards the town hall you will see a small road that leads up behind Evgenia and past attractive looking houses, a few small hotels and little whitewashed church.  

Within minutes you will find yourself on the path that snakes up to the Panagia Church. We imagine we are going to be the only people up there at this time in the morning but walking along one of the upper walls is an elderly man emptying buckets of grain for a donkey and a small herd of goats.

It is quite a strenuous walk (I'm so unfit) but it's made a little easier as the mountain is still in the shade - the sun is only beginning to rise over the mountain behind us and there is a delicious cool breeze.

It is so tranquil up here and the view looking down on the chora is amazing. Over the coastline neighbouring islands surrounded by the early morning haze seem to levitate above the sea.  As the sun begins to cast its glow over the mountain on the other side of the chora, the ridges of the terraces appear more defined.  From here we have a really good view of the Venetian kastro, built in 1210 and now which seems to overhang the cliffs rather precariously.  This is a scene from ancient history that remains untouched.  
We reach the final stretch of the path and walk through a small gate into the grounds of the church.  Panagia is built on the grounds of an ancient temple - in fact you can see the remnants of marble columns in and around the church.  According to

["This church is dedicated to the Assumption of Virgin Mary and was possible constructed on the ruins of an ancient temple. In fact, marble parts of this temple were used as building material for the church and visitors can see ancient inscriptions and bases of statues in the interior and the courtyard of the church. The exact year of the construction of the church is not known. However, a marble sign says that it was renovated in 1687 and it took its present form in 1821.

The architecture of the church is traditional Cycladic and the exterior is whitewashed. This is a one-aisle basilica with many domes and a tall bell-tower. The interior has fine frescoes, a marble throne for the archbishop and a marble icon screen. In the past, the church was the katholikon of a female monastery.

The silver icon of Virgin Mary inside the church is believed the be miracle-working. The legend says that in 1790, 18 boats of Algerian pirates were about to get ashore. The desperate residents of Folegandros went to the church to pray for their lives to Virgin Mary, when a strong northern wind blew and sank all the boats of the pirates, of whom all got drown. Since then, the locals consider Virgin Mary the protector of their island."]
The sun begins to peel back the shadows from the landscape below.  The breeze has dropped and the temperature is beginning to rise.  It's time to head back down to the chora, this time admiring the views from a different perspective.
It took about half an hour to walk up to the church and about 20 minutes to walk down - this includes time to stop and admire the views, catch my breath and to try and temper my vertigo. I notice afterwards that some of my photographs are a bit wonky - I shall blame that on vertigo!

When we reach the chora it is almost deserted, but no better time to explore the picturesque streets again.
  After wandering around the streets and alleyways, we walk over to Molidiri for breakfast.  We receive a lovely warm welcome from Eleftheria and she tells us that her boyfriend is baking pies and recommends that we wait to have the pies as they are their speciality. In the meantime we have a cup of tea and chat to Eleftheria.

Eleftheria tells us that they both used to work in Oiea on Santorini - he was the manager of a restaurant and she was a waitress.  They used to work very hard for very little reward so they decided to make the move and open up their own place on Folegandros.  Because they are what the locals on Folegandros call 'strangers' to the islands (she laughs and says "we are all Greek!") they have had to work 10 times harder to be accepted by the community.  They also wanted to have the best quality of everything so they source the best ice cream they could find (Kayak) which is made from real milk and not milk powder like other ice creams.  Eleftheria tells us that they have some new flavours in and she dashes into the cafe to brings use some sample sized ice cream to try.  The pistachio is fantastic!

Eleftheria tells us that she is from Piraeus and her boyfriend is from Thessaloniki.  She says that people imagine that Piraeus is a big city because they just think of the port however, the place where she was born is like a small village.

We told her about our trip up to Panagia church.  She says that she had never been up to the big church but if her boyfriend asked her to marry him then she would run all the way up to it! I hope your wish comes true Eleftheria!
Eleftheria tells us that the salamander has been incorporated into their logo for the business because it is good luck. She also tells us the story of how the Aegean Sea got it's name.  We like a bit of Greek mythology so we listen intently as gives a very animated and entertaining version of the story.  Here is a version from Google:

["According to Greek Mythology, the Aegean Sea owes its name to the King of Athens, Aigeas (Aegeas). 

The story goes this way....... King Minos of Crete in order to punish the Athenians who had killed his son Androgeo, declared war on Athens and won. The Athenians subsequently became subjects of the Minoan Empire. King Minos then demanded that a tribute of honour be paid. At nine year intervals, seven Athenian boys and seven Athenian girls were to be sacrificed. They were to be sent to Crete and devoured by the mythical Minotaur, a monster with the body of a man and the head of a bull, who lived in the Labyrinth.

Thiseas, the son of Aigeas and Aithra, decided that he would slaughter the Minotaur and end the shameful bloody sacrifices. He took the place of one of the seven young men and set sail for Crete. Before he left, it was agreed with his father Aigeas that they would hoist black sails as a 'show' of mourning, but that if they were successful and slayed the monster, they would hoist white sails on the journey home.

On his journey he met and fell in love with Ariadne, daughter of King Minoas. She gave him a ball of string, 'Ariadne's Clue'. The idea was to unravel the string in the Labyrinth, so that after Thiseas slayed the Minotaur, he would find his way back to the entrance. The mission was successful and the Minotaur was killed. 

Under the cloak of night, Thiseas, Ariadne and the others escaped to the port and embarked on the ship for the return journey. On the way they stopped at the island of Naxos. Story tells us that Thiseas abandoned Ariadne while she was sleeping and continued on his journey home, but forgot to raise the white sails as he had promised to Aigeas (some say that Ariadne laid a curse on Thiseas). 

Aigias waited for his son to return. As he stood on the Akrotiri of Sounio, he spied the ship as it rounded the cape - it had black sails. Believing that his son was dead, the king despaired. He jumped off the cliffs into the sea from the temple of Poseidon and killed himself."]

By now the freshly baked pies are ready.  I've ordered a cream pie and Peter has ordered a cheese and tomato pie made with local cheese.  Nothing can beat this straight from the oven.  Ten out of 10 for Molidiri's pies!
Eleftheria, it's been a pleasure meeting you and we wish you and your partner the very best of luck for your new business, Molidiri!
This is our last full day on the island.  We had planned to go to Ano Meria but had just missed a bus so we decide to catch the next bus down to the port (Karavostasis) and then decide what to do from there.

Once at the port we take a look at the port beach (called Port Beach).  There are a couple of taverna's in the port and also one or two on the beach itself.  Although a small beach and not particularly busy, it is quite stony and we can't find anyway that would be comfortable enough to sit for any length of time. 
There are a couple of tourist boats in the port so we go to see if there are any trips to other beaches.  The 5 beach trip only runs on a Monday, Wednesday andn Saturday however, we do see that there are daily boat trips to Katergo Beach, supposedly one of the best beaches on Folegandros due to its crystal clear, emerald waters.  
We are told by the captain that the beach is quite isolated and there is nowhere to buy water so we nip to the supermarket to get a few supplies.

We set off from the port, out past rocky outcrops until we make a short stop at a little cave.  The boats pushes it's nose into the cave and after a minute or two reverses out and resumes the journey to Katergo.
Soon after, we arrive at a small bay.  Katergo is a long strip of rocky beach - it can be reached by a bit of a trek from Agali (the opposite direction to the one we took yesterday).  The boat seems by far the best way to get here as we see later on when a we are startled by rocks bouncing past our heads caused by a couple who have been adventurous enough to go via the coastal path - just a minor avalanche!  They do apologise to us - I just hope their journey back is less precarious!

The beach is barren and rocky - very beautiful and has very little shade or shelter.  The midday sun is already upon us so we attempt to construct a makeshift shelter from a sarong and a Tshirt draped over a rock and anchored by big stones.
The beach itself shelves steeply as seems to be the nature of the beaches on this island but it certainly lives up to it's reputation - the sea is absolutely crystal clear! 

The heat is now too much to bare, even Peter is struggling a bit.  Further down the beach we see so many people lying out in the sun with no shade absolutely frying their skin (and for the nudists even more!) - I just don't know how they do it!

We decide to catch the boat that returns at 14.15 rather than stay the whole day.  The boat we arrived on has remained anchored 
a short distance from the beach all this time.  Another boat arrived sometime later and we return on the boat we came on.  I'm assuming this is for health and safety purposes in case someone is taken ill and needed to get back to the port quickly.  Back in the day I remember being dropped off on remote beaches and the boats usually didn't stay - only returning for the pick up.
Back at Karavostasis we have lunch in one of the tavernas overlooking the small harbour.  Peter has fish and I have sausage accompanied by Greek salad, tzatziki and of course - retsina.  I think the retsina was a mistake as the sun has really made me feel a little lacklustre. It is ages before the next bus comes and we find ourselves changing tables twice to keep in the shade.

When we arrive back at Evgenia, I collapse on the bed feeling dehydrated and weary.  As much as I love the sun I'm not very good in strong heat.  Anyway, I soon get my second wind after a little nap.  We wander around the chora and then go to the viewing point looking over the terraces.  For the last time we watch the sun set on Folegandros.
If you visit Folegandros I promise you, you will never tire of walking around the chora.  It really is picture perfect and I've found the local people some of the friendliest I have come across.  Neither Peter or I are hungry but we do find a quiet little taverna where we sit and drink tea before returning back to Evgenia to pack.

Wednesday 26th June 2013 - Folegandros - a day on Galifos Beach

Our first mission of the day is to discover one of Folegandros's beaches.  We've decided to get the bus to Agali and from there decide which beach to visit.

We remember that today the bus stop has moved to down the hill instead of up the hill - still only 2 minutes walk from Evgenia.  The bus arrives and after boarding it makes its way onto the road along the back of the chora which leads onto the road to Ano Meria.  After a few minutes turns left onto the road down the western side of the island.  

The road to Ano Meria runs like a narrow spine  from the chora.  If you were to stand in the middle of this road you could take a few paces either left or right and you would be able to see all the way down to the bay on the west or the east side of the island. 

You can see in the photograph below taken from Ano Meria how the chora and the road is located on a narrow sloping ridge with Panagia church about a third of the way down from the peak..

The descent is steep and and the driver stays in first gear with this foot on the brake all the way down!

Again I'm struck by the purple shrubbery that manages to thrive so abundantly in such rocky terrain.  It is a short journey to Agali which is an attractive beach but we are keen to explore a bit further around the coast.  We walk in a clockwise direction up the steep coastal path to the right past a couple of tavernas.  Some parts of the path are a little precarious but offers some great views over the bay.

As the coastal path descends we walk past a couple of stone single story buildings advertised as summer houses, no electricity, light powered by gas.  The last few steps down onto the beach manufactured stone steps which take as straight onto a tiny beach called Galifos.  There is only one other couple who settle on this beach, others  remain at Agali or continue up the coastal path around to Agios Nikolaus.  Galifos is a mainly stoney beach with small patches of sand.  The beach shelves deeply and quickly on the shoreline.  The low, shingle cliffs curve out into the sea in a horseshoe shape acting as a natural sea break.  We stand and watch the waves crash violently across the rocks.

We like the small intimate nature of this beach so decide to stay here.  There is one small tamerisk tree offering shade underneath a small raised bed of rocks.  Although not particularly comfortable with only a beach towel for padding, the benefit of the shade far outweighs the cons of a lumpy place to sit.  The stone summer house adjacent to the bottom of the stone steps advertises postcards for sale and these are displayed on a piece of string attached by wooden pegs.  Also for sale are hand printed tshirts which are not displayed outside - not is there any sign that there is anyone manning this little shop - not until much later on in the day when a young woman emerges with a plastic bowl full of wet washing which she then hangs on a line strung between two tamarisk trees.  Is this the life?  I think it's definitely a life I could live - for a summer anyway!

We lay in the shade on this relatively deserted little beach.  Although the sea appears very calm, the tide is powerful.  The waves roll gently onto the shoreline but as it exhales you can hear the rocks being ripped from the bed back out into the sea.  Later on in the day when we decide to go for a dip we feel the strength of the tide first hand.  The first challenge is to manage to walk over the large pebbles on the beach.  I have rubber beach shoes which makes it a bit easier - Peter has concrete feet which enables him to walk on sorts of terrain. Even in the shallow waters it is very difficult to remain upright and within one minute the strength of the tide has pulled my feet from underneath me. 

I am now at the mercy of the tide which pushes me up to the shore on the in-breath and then drags me back out on my bottom on the out-breath - this is over a distance of about 2 meters.  My bottom takes a real beating as it is dragged over the bed of large cobbles!  Just as I try to stand, the sea grabs me and pulls me down again.  What an unseemly spectacle this must be - not particularly elegant at all!  Peter has to rescue me before my backside is pounded further - anyway - thank heavens there's plenty of padding in my derriere!  

Later in the afternoon Peter decides to go for a walk to Agios Nikolaus, the next beach along.  When he returns he tells me that it is a bigger and sandier beach - it probably has much more comfortable places to sit but there are more people there - but by no means are we talking busy like some beaches you may find on more touristy islands.  It also has a little taverna.

The other couple that were on the beach earlier have left and another group of three people arrive.  Up until now there had been no indication that Galifos was a designated nudist beach but it seems it is has been adopted as one.  I looked up from my book and saw the group of three, running naked into the sea.  Now they have my utmost admiration for two things.  One for having the ability to run over the huge stones without doing damage to their feet - and remaining upright under the onslaught of the tide.  Secondly for having no inhibitions about stripping off and baring all.  I could just imagine the exhilaration of running naked into this choppy sea - maybe a few years ago I'd have done it myself.  I can only think of two reasons why I wouldn't do it - I don't have the sylph-like figure I used to have and the other is that although Peter is not as typically conservative as many men from north African and middle eastern countries, I know he wouldn't do it so I probably wouldn't want to do it on my own.  Those aren't very good reasons I know.  I still think I'd like to do it though.

Anyway, even though I hadn't read anything that said Galifos was a nudist beach, the sheltered nature of the beach, the fact that the undercurrent is strong and not suitable for children should give some indication however, there was even more of a hint that had at first escaped my attention!

This has been a wonderful day on rugged little Galifos beach.  It's a shame the tide was so strong and we didn't have a chance to have a really good swim but it's been very enjoyable and I really recommend it if you like a quiet beach.  We packed up and walked back over the cliffs.

We had just missed a bus - in fact one of the naked ladies (now clothed) had run past us on the cliffs and shouted at us "the bus!"  We decided to eat a little something at one of the tavernas at the bottom of the coastal path which overlooks the beach of Agali.  We order Greek salad and tzatziki with half a litre of retsina.  No matter what time of the day, retsina is so easy to drink!  The waitress brings the food and wine on a tray and as she settles it on the table a little of the wine spills from the top of the carafe.  She tells us that spilling wine is good luck but if you were to spill water that means someone will take money from you!

I must say at this point that I don't appear in many of the photograph for a reason.  Back in Paros Peter inadvertently broke the Panasonic Lumix which is great for taking videos too.  I'm more interested in photography than Peter and don't often let him have hold of my precious DSLR - result being that I'm the one taking the photographs rather than being photographed!

The bus arrives for the return journey - this time the strain is on the engine rather than the brakes as it heaves its way up the steep incline back onto the main road to the chora.

The views from the main road over the bay and along the ridge to the chora are spectacular!

After showering and changing we decide to have the obligatory glass of Pimms and lemonade on the balcony.  I sit on the balcony in the late afternoon sun to dry my hair.  Two minutes later I hear a large smash.  I know exactly what it is.  Smashed bottle on ceramic floor tiles.  When I walk into the room it looks like the crime scene of a bloody murder - Pimms splattered over the floor and the walls.  Now thinking back to what the waitress had told us earlier that spilling wine is good luck and spilling water means someone will take money from you, I'm not sure what the outcome will be for smashing a nearly whole bottle of Pimms.  Let's hope it sits in the same group as wine spilling rather than water spilling!  Goodbye Pimms my old friend.  We're so sorry your journey has ended so prematurely! - we had so many more balconies to share with you!

It is now early evening and we walk to the travel agency near the kastro to find out what days and times the ferry's go to Milos.  At this stage our plan is to stay on Milos for three days and then travel to either of Sifnos, Serifos or Kythnos for a few days, giving us a few days in Athens at the end of the trip.  It's mainly high speed ferries that operate on the western Cycladic line and they are more expensive than the other ferries.  Usually when travelling to a group of islands I'd make my way to the island furthest away from the return destination point.  This way you are always working your way back in the right direction.  It hasn't happened like that on this trip so we have to ensure that we are able to get back to Athens with at a least a day to spare.  

We decide to leave Folegandros on Friday on the Seajet 2, the high speed catamaran which leaves at 19.10pm - not sitting on the deck for this journey!  

The cost of the ticket is 27.5 euros.  Our tentative plan is to then leave Milos on Monday 1st July for Serifos on the 15.30 pm Agios Giorgios - this trip would cost 14 euros (that's a bit more like it!)  and then leave Serifos for Piraeus on another high speed ferry at 18.00pm - cost of ticket 27 euros.

Neither of us are particularly hungry after our meal at the beach taverna so we try to build up an appetite by strolling around the chora.  I could walk around the pretty squares and narrow alleyways for hours.  Along the back road of the chora we stumble across a little cafe called Molidiri that sells ice cream and we decide that this is a nice place to end the day.  We order ice cream and hot tea.  We try to check Molidiri in on Facebook - it isn't on there yet so I set it up under 'cafe'.
Molidiri is a charming little place and it isn't long before we strike up conversation with Eleftheria who owns the business with her partner.  She tells us that they have been open for 10 days only.  They are not from Folegandros and so the challenge has not only been to get a business up and running, but to befriend the local community too.  We tell her that we have 'checked in' at Molidiri on Facebook and given it a good rating.  She is interested in this and asks us some questions about Facebook.  We have a chat about social media and how it is an excellent tool for promoting businesses.

It is getting late now.  We have to be up early tomorrow as we are going to walk up to Panagia church before it gets too hot.  Eleftheria invites us to come for a cup of tea in the morning which we say we will do after visiting the church.

Here is the bus timetable from chora to Agali - correct as of the 26th June 2013.