A rushed drive from Delphi to Athens, deliver the car and and get to airport to fly to the island of Skiathos started our time heading for our Greek island experience.
In all we will spend near three weeks on the three “postcard” islands of Skiathos, Santorini and Naxos.
First Skiathos, a typically Greek/Mediterranean island, (really, the second of the 4 for us including a short visit to Hydra), is a relaxed and popular place for tourists.
As always there are some thrills, some issues and some fun and lots more of photographic images to share than can be included in these blogs.
Walking the streets, lanes and beaches of these islands provides lots of photographic opportunities.
A few facts, Skiathos is one of the northern Sporades group in the Aegean with a current population of abut 8,000, is recognized as a party island with tourist numbers said to reach up to 70,000 at a time. Its known for its beaches, olives and is very green compared to the mainland.
Walking the streets for a meal you’ll come across large trays of whole fish packed in ice, ready for your selection for dinner. This was along waterfront restaurants on Skiathos.
Though some of these shots show empty streets, July & August are the hot months, both from point of view of tourists and temperatures which have been well up into the 30’s.
The sky’s have never had a cloud in them and the sunrises and sunsets are intense, especially on Santorini. The Greeks are on holiday too, and swelling the numbers of tourists and those returning home from the mainland, so hectic is the way here at this time of the year. Many heading to the beaches to hire a deckchair and umbrella, bare some flesh and darken their skin a little as well as bathe in the luke warm Mediterranean water and sipping the odd cocktail in between.
Dining on these islands offers great variety. From the rip sh.. and bust fries with everything including your Greek salad (excuse the mild exaggeration)to really lovely “fine dining” restaurants.
Luckily we spent our time here with a group of great friends who ensured we dined in splendor.
Our hotel at Santorini, our next stop, deliberately chosen to be out of the two main touristic hotspots of Ia and Fira is just the best. The Ampelonas Apartments, it turns out is situated at the highest point of Santorini. And it it is a lovely comfortable and well run property. Sunsets and sunrises without moving (other than to wait 10 hours and turnaround that is), quite unique.
And turnaround – 10 hours later;
Another Santorini sunset, with silhouetted thistles
This is an island in the Cyclades group. Has a resident population around 16,000 before tourists arrive. Grow grapes and olives and is comprised essentially of the 2 cities (Ia and Fira or in their alternative spelling Oia or Thira) built on the caldera.
From our hotel in Imerovigla its only about 20 minutes walk to Fira, one of the 2 postcard style towns and the capital of the island, and about 30 minutes bus or taxi (a story about this later) ride to Ia (or Oia).
So to Naxos on the ferry. Hell just getting on and off this this thing is an experience. The mayhem of Greek organisation seems at it peak in this exercise. No signage for the hordes to work out when or where to move, just people shouting unintelligible instructions, men in uniforms blowing whistles and waving their arms while the aspiring travellers rush about in some form of unmitigated confusion and chaos. Somehow most seem eventually to make it. A bit like the bus timetables, a lower level of chaos, but then often the bus will depart 5+ minutes early, so don’t arrive bang on time and expect to be on. That it seems to me is high -risk strategy.
Like the others the island of Naxos comprises historic buildings and not so historic presented for the tourists, separated by narrow stone paved lanes with those white painted mortar patterns.
Along with the flowering bougainvillea, the oleanders, the wild figs and olive plantations cats abound. Little wonder there’s no birds or wildlife to speak of. They are everywhere and if you look, they are usually in multiples.
But our find in Naxos was in form of a very pleasant and helpful guide, Stuart Thorpe,
There’s little sign of any industry that’s not tourism or olive related, but this old abandoned industrial building just out of Chalki (or Halki) caught my eye as we walked between a couple of villages with Stuart.
Thanks to Stuart, we got to out of the way villages, a Byzantine church in a paddock somewhere and an authentic lunch up in the hills at a family run taverna. The owners quickly prepared a range of dishes we shared. All the produce was grown on their own small farm. A great experience and one to be recommended if you are seeking a bit more than the typical tourist.
Below, the remains of our multi course meal.