A Greek Odyssey- day 11

New horizons – Sifnos

This morning we bade farewell to Milos – an island we both enjoyed, and would be happy to return to – and sailed to Sifnos, a fifty minute journey aboard Champion Jet 2. Once again, there was no scope for dilly dallying around, as soon as the sleek, futuristic looking ferry docked, we were boarding, and cast off into the blue horizon within minutes. Another comfortable and quick ferry journey, and it felt like that no sooner had we set sail than we were docking in the port of Kamares – our home for the next five days on the island of Sifnos. We arrived at the same time as another, much larger, ferry and passengers and vehicles from both vessels disgorged at the same time and as we strode forth of the boat we passed a long, very long, line of passengers waiting to embark on the two ships. Once again, competence masqueraded as chaos – like everything Greek, it just works, even if to the north-western European eye it looks like it possibly can’t!

Our room at the Aphrodite Hotel was ready, so we hot-footed it across the bay – struggling under the weight of our rucksacks (both of us asking ourselves what we didn’t really need to bring), checked in and headed out for a quick explore …

… and bite to eat, including the most delicious Greek salad I’ve eaten all trip (and I’ve had a few – none of them bad)

The island, and this resort, is pretty and whilst it has all that we need – tavernas, a mini-mart, comfortable, clean accommodation – it does seem years away (behind) the instagram glamour of Santorini. As the sun began to set, we headed up a small hill (not effortlessly, I was carrying an enormous meal in my belly after a very persuasive taverna owner encouraged me to try a range of local dishes – I wasn’t to sure about the chick pea soup, but he was insistent, I’m glad he was as it turned out to be delicious) to a small church to take in the view across the bay in the fading, colour changing light. Very pretty, and very peaceful, the odyssey continues.

A Greek Odyssey – day 9

Kimolos calling – a mini-hop

Today we did a “mini-hop” taking the ferry from Milos to neighbouring Kimolos, and back again. To make the journey we had to get the bus to Pollonia on the north-east tip of Milos, then take a ferry across to Kimolos. We were foot passengers, but the ferry also took cars and motorbikes, but it was a much more sedate affair – both whilst loading and sailing – than our Seajets ferry from Santorini.

On arrival in Kimolos we gathered our bearings and walked up to the Chora (a chora is the main village on a Greek island) and Kimolos’ chora was as pretty as any we have seen. In some areas, behind the whitewashed facade, the buildings were tumbling down, long abandoned as locals will have left the island, but elsewhere the buildings were in good repair and typically charming, an example of the tourist dollar doing some good – we both fell in love with Kimolos and may well return at some point in the future – it will be interesting to see how the island develops, but for now it is perfect.

On our way up to the Chora we spied a lot of cacti, and then noticed it growing wild as far as the eye could see. It seemed to be a theme on the island and we spoke – well gestured – with a lovely old local man who spoke no English (and I (as of now, but have resolved to correct this) speak no Greek) who, I think, grows the cacti, and they use them on the island as an antiseptic when you have a cut but, like many plant growers the world over, he was lamenting a lack of rain. At least I think that is what he said! Anyway, he was a smiley, happy man, and all the locals we encountered seemed happy and friendly.

After a while exploring the Chora …

… we headed back down the hill to the beach (rema beach) in the cove next to the port, and it is a new favourite of mine, eclipsing the moon beach of yesterday. The water was turquoise and crystal clear, and the beach fringed by colourful fisherman caves carved into the rock. Some are still untouched, other than by sea, wind and sun, but a handful have been renovated into small air b’n’b accommodation.

I went for a little explore around the bay, and wondered if it would be possible to jump of this bridge:

… it wasn’t (the water wasn’t deep enough for a safe jump from that height) so instead I swam under the bridge and discovered a sea cave that extended for, say, 20 metres, under the cliff face, the roof of the cave getting ever lower, but never reaching the level of the water. Although the sea in the bay was calm, there was the odd gentle wave and the noise – the boom – as they bounced off the back wall of the cave was something to hear. I will confess, on my first exploration, as the sunlight diminished and darkness developed as I got further and further into the cave, I heard the boom of a wave against the wall and I saw the swell begin to return in my direction, I did allow my imagination to create a leviathan stirring, a kraken awakening, and swimming swiftly from the gloom to take me, the latest foolhardy soul to venture into its realm, as its prey. I beat a hasty exit, pleased to emerge into the glorious sunshine. (Later in the day, having rationalised the sounds and sights of the cave, I headed back in to conquer my fears. I am here, writing this blog, so, for today, at least, rational thought has won over myth and mystery.)

After a wonderful and relaxing day (other than encounters – real or otherwise – with creatures from the deep) we caught the ferry back to Milos, having found a new favourite place.

(For info, the ferry runs from Pollonia on Milos to Psathi on Kimolos, taking about 25 minutes to make the crossing, which cost 2.80 euros each, one way, as foot passengers. I don’t know the cost of a car, but think it was less than 5 euros. The ferries ran fairly regularly, with a hiatus in the afternoon. The ferry timetable can be found here: https://kimolos-link.gr/en/dromologia-osia-methodia/ )

A Greek Odyssey – day 5

All change

Today we made our first “hop” on our island hopping adventure, leaving Santorini and heading for Milos. The two islands are two and a half hours apart by ferry, but a world apart in what they offer.

We’ve pre-booked all our ferries for this trip (I think we booked them back in February) and checking in and getting our tickets could not have been easier: 48 hours before we were due to sail, check in opened, I logged onto the “Ferries in Greece” website (we booked our tickets through them) filled in a quick form (my name and booking number) and our e-tickets were emailed to us. Simple. In true “dad” style, I made sure we arrived at the port in plenty of time – about 2 hours early! – found our loading gate, and sat and waited. I watched a couple of other ferries come and go, and then it was our turn …

It may look hap-hazard and chaotic, but it wasn’t – it was well practised cattle herding and it worked. We were released from our holding pen (the check in gate) and shouted at, whistled at and gesticulated at and some five to six hundred foot passengers were shepherded onto the ship in minutes, and we were sailing before we’d even dropped off our bags in the hold (different zones for different final destinations.)

(Becky has told me that I must now always wear my bright pink t-shirt on days that we sail, so that she can quickly pick me out in the crowd!)

As a boy, we used to regularly cross the English channel by ferry, and I remember roaming these giant ships, often going on deck for fresh air to settle my stomach and fend of sea-sickness; with this in mind, I had visions of taking to the deck, enjoying the wind in my hair and the sun on my back as we sailed over blue seas and past islands rising from the water, so I was a little disappointed to learn that you couldn’t go on deck, you couldn’t go outside at all during the trip. But everyone had an allocated seat (although Becky and I were seated in front and behind, not next to, each other) and although we were in economy class, the seats were spacious and comfy, a very pleasant trip, and I even managed a short snooze before the stern doors were lowered and we were herded off the ship into Ademas port on the island of Milos.

And first impressions are very favourable – what we have seen of Milos so far is picturesque and charming, a typical Greek harbour with beautiful water, bustling yet relaxed at the same time, a very pretty place. I think I will enjoy our time here.

(And for the record, just to place this day in time, we woke this morning to the results of the general election (we had voted by post before we left home) – delighted to see change and a new hope. And who knows, perhaps now we can take our first tentative steps as a country to returning to Europe: believe me, things are better here than at home)