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Greek Island Hopping

GREECE | Thursday, 3 July 2008 | Views [1380]

Chozoviotissa Monastry - Amorgos

Chozoviotissa Monastry - Amorgos

All we wanted was a gorgeous Greek island that wasn't swamped with tourists in July. A tall order, but we had it on good authority that Amorgos was the place to go. However, just getting there from Turkey proved to be quite the journey in itself. The first leg involved getting from Fethyie to Rhodes where hopefully someone could give us some decent information on ferries. Unfortunately we missed the weekly direct ferry by a day we took a three hour bus trip to Marmaris to catch the hydrofoil to Rhodes.

When we got to Rhodes we found out that we had also missed the weekly direct Rhodes-Amorgos ferry by a day. So we decided to spend the night in Rhodes before heading to Syros the next evening where we could catch another ferry to Amorgos. The walled medieval old town of Rhodes (the largest in the world) is a pretty nice place to be stuck for the night really. We managed to get a beautiful room in the centre of town and had a seriously good Italian dinner (it was the best food since France two months ago!!) The next day, after exploring the maze of quaint cobbled streets and battlements we set sail on leg two to Syros.

A gaggle of very keen hoteliers swooped on us as we disembarked in Syros at 3 am. Three in the morning! Business must be tough. We spent two uneventful but comfortable days on Syros, chilling out, waiting for our ferry and hoping that all the efffort to get there was worth it.

Right from the start the signs were encourgaing. A floodlit, postcard perfect, blue domed Greek orthodox church greeted us as we pulled into Amorgos' main port of Katapola in the middle of the night. After a day on the beach to recover from the crazy late night ferries and the hours on noisy, windy decks with continual smoke, we hired a scooter and set off to explore the island.

Our first stop, and for me the real highlight of Amorgos, was the Chozoviotissa Monastery. Perched in the middle of a sheer cliff face 300m above the sea, the stark white building is the centre of attention in an amazingly dramatic location. Despite being 5 stories high, having two chapels and once housing over 100 monks, the building is less than 5 metres across from cliff face to outer wall at its widest point.

At the foot of the cliff below the monastery was the tiny but gorgeous beach of Agia Anna. With crystal clear water and its own tiny whitewashed church it made for an idyllic lunch stop. Think picture postcard Greek Island - this is where they take those pictures. It actually exists! Equally picturesque was the classic wreck of the freighter Olympia that had been washed onto the beach in a small cove on the opposite side of the island.

Away from the cliffs and beaches our camera didn't get much of a rest either. Tiny white and blue churches dotted the landscape all over the place, many of them seemingly in the middle of nowhere. Completely whitewashed, overlooked by windmills, full of wonderful cafes and tavernas, free from traffic, the village of Chora was gorgeous. Walking through the maze of old cobbled streets, past all the blue shuttered houses, blooming boganvillea vines, gossiping locals and sleepy cats, I was thinking that it was a good thing that we had a big memory card in the camera. Another day we took a scooter and headed to the northern end of the island to the villages of Thorlia and Lagkada which were also beautiful and devoid of tourists. In fact considering that it was peak tourist season there were hardly any around at all apart from in the sort of resorty town of Aigeali.

And how could I forget the food! Greek yoghurt topped with Greek honey in Chora... soooo good! Seafood spaghetti on the beach at sunset in Katapola... yum! Chunky Greek salads topped with wild oregano and lashings of local olive oil... mate! Fresh fish! Even the gyros (Greek doner kebab) were really tasty backpacker sustenance and great for the budget at less than 2 euro.

The effort required to get to Amorgos was definitely worth it. Like Olympos in Turkey, we could have easily stayed for longer. It was so beautiful, relaxed and reasonably priced (for Europe anyway). However, with a flight out of Athens in two days time, the Acropolis was waiting for us at the end of our fifth and final Greek ferry trip.


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