Posts for Tag: evgenia

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.

Tuesday 25th June 2013 - Farewell Antiparos - Hello Folegandros!

It is always sad leaving an island as is definitely the case today.  However, this feeling is offset in the knowledge that we are heading off to a brand new island - one that neither Peter or I have visited before.

When we awake we throw our last few bits into our suitcases.  I decide to shower first but am horrified to see a huge cockroach scuttling around the edge of the shower tray.  I leap back into the bedroom and onto the bed whilst Peter gives chase to the little (huge) blighter.  It runs under the bed, out from under the bed and under the chest of drawers.  It then makes a run for my suitcase and take the opportunity to leap between the open zips and squeeze down the side of my clothes.  Peter flicks it out with a Guide to Antiparos and it runs under the wardrobe.  After levering the wardrobe out from the wall Peter manages to corner it inside a plastic cup and dispose of it outside on the street.

Just as I was hoping to ease myself into the day gently!

Despite this little episode, Villa Harmonia was a nice place to stay, basic and clean and quiet and OK for 35 euros per night.

The high speed ferry to Folegandros - The Aqua Spirit, is due to leave Paros at 11.50am so we are catching the 9.00am boat straight to Parikia.  I much prefer it when you can get a boat in the morning so the agony of leaving isn't prolonged.  We had the leaving trial run yesterday - now let's get on with it.

The boat is much busier today as yesterday was the last day of the festival and many of the Greek visitors will be returning to mainland Greece.  

I'm sure I'll be back to Antiparos for a fourth time - maybe more.  We barely ventured further than the town of Antiparos except to visit the cave - this has been quite a lazy first four days.  I would love to have visited the little island of Despotiko again and also walked to the Northern most point of the island to watch the sunset.  Definitely next time!

Farewell Antiparos - it's been a blast!

Before we leave Antiparos, here is a bit of Greek Mythology:

When we arrive at Parikia we still have a bit of time before the the high speed ferry arrives.  I sit in a cafe opposite the port cattle pens with the luggage whilst Peter goes to explore another church.  

When he returns we go to queue in cattle pens.  It's due to leave in 15 minutes but the turnaround time on the high speed ferries is much faster than the larger ferries.  It must be running late because the Blue Star Paros arrives - and then leaves.  A sea jet also arrives followed by the Blue Star Delos. 

The Aqua Spirit has missed its slot on the quay and Peter hears from the back of the queue that passengers for the high speed ferry have to walk over to the quay on the other side of the car park. Absolute confusion ensues.  We just follow the policeman who'd updated the people at the back of the queue.  Within minutes the Aqua Spirit appears in sight.

Boarding is quick and we decide to go up onto the top deck.  I'm looking forward to this journey and especially to see old friends like Naxos - even if it is from the deck of the ship.  But for now, farewell Paros!

I couldn't find any substantial information mythology about Paros but here is a little bit that I managed to find on Google.

There is a fantastic breeze up on the deck, the sky is blue and we can see for miles.  Blue Star Paros passes us on the way to Naxos - just because you're on a 'high speed ferry' doesn't mean you're on the fastest ship!

The first port of call is Naxos - again this is another island that I haven't visited for nearly 20 years so I'm excited to see it again.  As we approach the island, it's most famous landmark comes into view - the marble Portera standing proud on the little islet of Palatia.  One of the 'must do's' whilst visiting Naxos is to take an early evening stroll across the narrow causeway to the Portera and watch the glorious sunset.

Perched above Naxos town sits the Venetian kastro.  According to

"The Venetian Castle (Kastro) was built by Marco Sanudo after the fourth crusade. 

He was part of the family of Enrico Dandolo, doge of Venice and participator of the crusade. 
Venice was the conqueror and Maro Sanudo founded, after occupying, the duchy of the Cyclades with its capital in Naxos (1207). 
The Kastro was built on dense constructions of the Middle Ages. The "Barozzi" House is located at the southwestern gate of the Kastro and is still in property of the family. The Barozzis were one of the 7 families who founded Venice and were barons on Santorini between 1207-1335. One of the houses of "Della Rokka", the old family "Del la Roche", great dukes of Athens and Attica, has a nice shop "Antico Venetico" selling old dishes, furniture and textiles in the backroom, reminding the rule of the dukes. Actually, it is more or less a museum and has 4 columns of classical temples. Della Rokkas still own one of the eldest pharmacies of the Cyclades (end of 19th century) in Naxos town."

I remember the kastro was so atmospheric at night.  Naxos also has beautiful long sandy beaches - some of the best in the Greek islands. The strongest memory of my stay on Naxos all those years ago is of a trip to Mount Zeus.  The plan was to find the cave where the god Zeus is said to have been born.  We took a bus up to the village of Filoti - even though it was hot and sunny down in the town, it was pouring with rain up in this small mountain village.  Before setting off on a the trek up the mountain I popped into a local cafe to use the facilities.  I had never seen such a revolting toilet in all my life!  Anyway, several other groups had planned to also trek up to the cave.  The Germans went one way, the Italians another. There wasn't any signage and after trekking up the mountain and then traipsing across several fields with only the Guide to Island Hopping for company we realised we were lost.  We stopped a farmer to ask the way to the cave communicating mainly by flailing our arms like idiots.  He beat a hasty retreat.  

After hours of walking around in circles we decided to call it a day - we never did find the cave.  It was a nice little adventure all the same.

Passengers have now disembarked or boarded and the ferry is now heading for Ios.  A short time after we are approached by a gentleman who tells us he is from the University of Skavangar and he is conducting a survey on travel in Greece.  He asks us if we will take part in the survey, which we agree to.  I takes five minutes to complete the survey and as I return it to him I tell him that if he ever needs an assistant for future studies around the Greek islands that I would make myself available!  If only!

It is a glorious day, quite hot but the wind blowing across the deck of the ferry keeps it the temperature down.  Before long we arrive at Ios.  What I read about Ios is that it's a party island and has amazing beaches.  As we pull into the pretty little port it's hard to imagine this reputation.  Two hills sit behind the port - one large and one small.  I count five whitewashed churches perched along the ridge of the smaller hill.  A larger church sits to the right of the port overlooking the bay.

We have one last stop at Sikinos before arriving at Folegandros.  

Using the GPS facility on Skitch we track our position and see that we are, at last approaching Folegandros.  I think this is the most exciting part of sea travel.  There is absolutely nothing like the feeling of anticipation as you arrive at a new island.    Standing on the car deck waiting for the back to come down as the new island slowly reveals itself.

We disembark and waiting on the left hand side of the port is a local bus - everyone seems to head straight for the bus.  We however, approach the small group of people holding photographs of rooms.  We know we want to stay in the chora  as we have heard that it is one of the prettiest in the Greek islands.  We have a budget of about 30 euros per night and a young man says he has just the place for us.  We pile our bags into the small minibus and head up the hill to Evgenia Rooms.

The hillside is covered with splintered slate from which purple thyme bursts forth.  The shattered green coloured slate looks as though it could slide down the hillside at any time.  I notice deep ditches at the base of the hillside and assume this is to capture stray rocks - or maybe divert rainfall from the mountains to prevent flooding.

It is a short journey up to the chora - only a few kilometres and we find Evgenia on the main street into the chora.  The young man tells us that the bus stop is 1 minute away next to the town hall, but after today it will be 1 minute in the other direction by the school.  He introduces us to his mother Evgenia and says that we can have a room for 30 euros or a studio for 35.  We opt for just a room.  As well as taking us up to the chora he will also pick us up and take us back to the port - we just need to let Evgenia know what day we are leaving the island.

The room is lovely, absolutely spotless, quite spacious and an immaculate bathroom.  Some little extras that we really appreciated was a large plastic bowl in the bathroom for washing and a drying stand on the balcony.  We didn't have anywhere to hang washing on Antiparos so had only washed small bits of clothing as we went along.   We stand and admire the gardens surrounding Hotel Polikandia across the road from us.  It has been landscaped with tall palms and potted plants which provide a backdrop to the pool and waterfall.  Fuschia pink Bougainvillea drapes itself over the little whitewashed apartments.

First things first, we unpack and shower, chucking all of our dirty clothes into the bathroom.  I wash the clothes in the large bowl and Peter rinses and squeezes.  It isn't long before the drying frame is completely full.

Now it's time to introduce our friend Pimms to the balcony!

I''m desperate to explore the chora after everything I have read about it.  Just  two minutes walk from Evegnia and next to the town hall is the most wonderful viewing point with fantastic views over the sea to Paros and Naxos.  Set into the cliffside, medieval stockade type houses hang precariously over the bay below.  This is part of the ancient kastro.

Looming above us, positioned almost directly above Evegnia is the Panagia church.  A whitewashed stone path zigzags its way up the hillside to the foot of the church - about a kilometre in total.  The view from up there must be spectacular so we make a mental note to put this on our itinerary.

We continue to walk further into the chora, expectations high - and we aren't disappointed.  The chora consists of a series of little squares shaded by mature plane trees, little tavernas each identified by the patterns on their table clothes of the colour of the painted furniture.  My first impression is that it is very 'boutique' - a little contrived but nonetheless very pretty and atmospheric - think Mykonos and Santorini but less busy.  Each square has its own picturesque whitewashed church providing a focal point.  The green slate is set into the street in traditional Cycladic style.  Folegandros chora really is picture perfect!

On one of the church walls we see a poster advertising the Folegandros Chora Races 2013.  We see this takes place tonight.  Runners from all over the world are invited to take part in one of three categories - the Folegandros Extreme Chora Race which starts at the port, goes up to the chora and then around the Angali Bend which is described as hard going with a 10 degree incline in stages, then back to the chora -   12 kilometres in total.  The second category is the 4.2 kilometre Marathon Light and starts at the Angali Bend and winds down the slopes to the chora.  The final category is the Team Competition where groups of three from the same family or community can take part in either of the races and fastest times are combined to determine the winning team.

We continue walking from square to square and spot a couple of tavernas that take our fancy for dinner tonight.  Just on the other side of the square is another fantastic viewing point that overlooks deeply set terraces.  This view takes you over to Ano Meria, the only other settlement on the island.  From here we can see runners zig zagging down the hillsides - the races have begun!  We spot runners at different points across the way - this must be the Angali Bend.  This is a perfect evening for running.  The sun is beginning to drop and there is a glorious breeze pushing in from the sea.

We think this is a good spot to watch the sunset and it isn't long before the sun begins to drop behind An0 Meria.  The terraces disappear into the darkness.  The sunset, the silence - the feeling that all is well in the world!

We walk back into one of the squares and decide to eat in Restaurant Chic.  Peter has goat in lemon sauce and I have lamb with almonds which is followed by apple pie and buscotina all washed down with lots of dry white wine.  During the meal we see small groups of people including families with children that have taken part in the Folegandros Chora Race - still in shorts and vest and wearing medals around their necks gathering around big tables in restaurants across the square to eat.  

After the meal we walk through the squares and down pretty alleyways where we find beautifully designed art and crafts shops.  We also come across tiny little cafe's that you may mistake for a little house during the day but seem to transform themselves into chic little bars in the evening.

As we walk back to Evgenia we can just see the top of Panagia Church lit up on the hillside, glowing like a beacon in the dark and in the foreground we can just make out an old windmill.  In front of us we see houses scattered on the hills overlooking the chora, sparkling like white jewels in the night.
Back on the balcony of our room we can see that Hotel Polikandia by night, really comes into its (Disney) own!

Peter talks about Egypt and the demonstrations that are expected over the next few days in Cairo.  His brother Michael has taken his mum to Cairo for medical treatment - our thoughts are with them.