Thursday, 22 August 2013

2013 - June: Crossing Amorgos

We chose the island of Amorgos in the 'Small Cyclades' as it sounded very middle-aged: no clubs, no posh bits, no big sites, in fact not much at all.   But this also meant poor transport links, so we had to do 5 hours on a fast catamaran from Piraeus. Fortunately the sea was pond-calm, so we were neither late nor violently sick.

Amorgos - in the middle of nowhere, and just as difficult to get to
Amorgos does have some good walks and some even had markers, and the major 'Route 1' is from the Chozovi├│tissa Monastery to Eghiali Bay, where we were staying.  

Our walk (the black arrows are not marked on the island)

It was a wonderful hot day so we stocked up with drinks. hats and suntan lotion, and got the morning bus down to the start at the car park below the Monastery.  Then a long set of steps up to the stark white edifice stuck onto an almost-sheer rock face - about 7 stories high and one thin room deep.  Nearly 1000 years old, and said to have influenced Le Corbusier.

The trudge up to the monastery
They were doing the Forth-Bridge performance of painting the wall (white).  The painter's platform was suspended by a rope controlled from down below by his mate who simply wound the rope round an iron stake sticking out of a wall.  

 This is my first and only Health and Safety video.

The chapel - you can just see the knees of a real live sleeping monk
There are only 3 monks left out of the 30 or so who used to be here - climbing those steps all dressed in black must have not done them any good.

We got shown into a little dining room, and got given the customary glass of water, louko├║mi (like Turkish delight) and a rather welcome shot of the local firewater, flavoured with honey and spices. 

Winner of the All-Greece 'Best Hair and Hat' competition of1923 

The monks' view - the nude bathing beach is just out of view to the right

Off in the heat up the island
While other visitors went back down to the car park, our path continued up past the monastery and off into the very bare east side of the island.  In fact the west side is bare too - there is one road that goes to the north, and we were following the old donkey path. 

Dry, hot and rocky.
The walking was not particularly tricky, although the path sometimes comprised of largish stones and the risk was in twisting an ankle, particularly as we were both just wearing sandals.  Worth the risk though - boots and socks would have been very uncomfortable and with frequent stops for drinks we did not get too hot.  We sat and had a picnic at the abandoned village of Asfondilitis which was just over half-way.  Then we came over the ridge and started the long descent into Eghiali, where we could see our apartment across the bay.

The last part of the walk goes along the top of this ridge- view from our apartment
It was a relief to get back to our wonderful cool apartment, and throw ourselves into the extraordinarily clear sea.  Then up to our local taverna to see what they had stewing in the kitchen - squid and spinach was my favourite, with cold white wine.  Perfect, and well-deserved.
View of Eghiali from Levrossos where we were staying
This and other walks in Greece are covered in this brilliant website , who said this was a 4-hour actual walking time.  Which was fairly accurate, but our total walking time was more like 6 hours.

Amorgos was a great island - basic, very friendly, and perfect for a real holiday.  We would strongly recommend our Levrossos apartments, which were exactly as they appeared in the advert.