This blog aims to give a personal and totally biased view of the Greek islands I have visited. It is not intended to be a comprehensive guide to the islands. Two aspects of Greek islands that I love are seeing goats wandering around and the dawn chorus of cockerels crowing. Accordingly, each island I have stayed on will have a Cockerel Count and Goatiness rating.
Unless otherwise stated, all images are my copyright and may not be reproduced or copied. Should you wish to purchase a license for commercial use of my images please follow the link to my stock photography blog where you will find details of my agents. Comments are welcomed but reviewed before publication. Enjoy your visit. Regards, David.

Wednesday, 18 December 2013

Agistri (Saronic Islands):

Milos harbour on Agistri
Little Agistri (or Angistri) was where it all began way back in 2002 -my first ever visit to a Greek island. At around 14sqkm and with a population of some 1100 or so, this island lies only an hour from Piraeus harbour on the mainland. Calling first at the larger island of Aegina, the Flying Dolphin hydrofoil only took a few more minutes to reach Agistri.

Staying at Skala, where most of the tourist accomodation is, my week there was mainly spent on the pleasant but busy beach. Busy, because it's close proximity to Athens makes it a popular day or weekend trip out. The harbour area of Skala is well served with a plethora of tavernas and cafes but during my week I tended to make full use of the excellent taverna attached to my hotel. It was here I was introduced to Greek staples such as stuffed vine leaves and skordalia dip.

I didn't do much walking on this trip but did walk the couple of kilometres up to the village of Mylos. From
The church of Agioi Anargyroi at Skala on Agistri
there you can continue on a further 6km or so to the third centre of population Liminaria. One walk that really demanded to be made though was a visit to the "Rubbish". As many will know most island tavernas generally use paper tablecloths. These invariably come decorated with one of two things - either a map of the island or something involving dolphins. I have known some establishments get really glitzy and have a map of the island surrounded by dolphins*. However, my hotel was a map (no dolphin) establishment. What intrigued me every time I had a meal was the part of the map boldly marked "Rubbish". Villages, mountains etc you rather expect  on a map but this was certainly a first. To be fair, this was clearly a reprint from the local island map which also drew attention to this attraction. It really had to be done so setting out late one afternoon I went in search. This was actually a lovely road walk out of Skala through dense pine trees and certainly a steep climb (that's Agistri essentially -hills with pine forests). Do take note of the many signs warning against smoking whilst in the pines -in Summer it would take very little to set them off. In fact, at one point I was met with a fire engine stationed there to keep watch. The two firemen sitting in deckchairs there were, inevitably,  both enjoying a cigarette. And the rubbish? Well I did eventually reach it and it was exactly as advertised on the map -the islands rubbish dump. Curiosity satisfied.

The beach at Skala on Agistri island
I also took an afternoon trip back to Aegina, which suddenly felt very big and busy compared to Agistri (but, of course, isn't really either of those). What is big there though is pistachio nuts. Trees of them and bags of nuts for sale at every vendor. Obviously some had to be purchased.

I cannot give a cockerel count or goatiness rating for Agistri as, certainly where I was in Skala, there didn't seem to be any -but that may well be different if you venture further across the island.

So little Agistri, my introduction to Greek islands, Greek food, Greek ferries and lots more. That's where it all started. Regards, David.

Dolphin pedalo at Lakka, Paxos

* Dolphins: they are everywhere in the Greek islands. On postcards, fridge magnets, paintings in your apartment, on boats, and even on the aforementioned table covers. You might imagine that it would be hard  to get in the sea for the sheer mass of them. So have I seen one single dolphin? Ever? After numerous ferry  crossings and excursion boat trips? No.  I did, however, see one at Sandgate on the Kent coast in England. The local  media named it Dave (up until the point it turned out to be a female and became Davina). As ever, feel free  to add your comments -including the vast numbers of dolphins you have probaly all seen - by clicking below.

Monday, 14 October 2013

Alonissos animal welfare:

Mother and kittens on the donkey track near Patitiri
One of the many features of Greek islands which visitors encounter is the number of stray and feral cats. It's not unusual for holiday makers to adopt a cat (or cats) during their stay and provide some food for them -despite some tour operators attempts to discourage this. The long gone specialist holiday company Laskerina even went as far as warning against putting out milk for cats on the grounds that it would attract snakes "snakes love milk". I like a challenge and felt obliged to trawl the internet for some evidence of that but failed to find anything to back up that assertion at all. It's not even good for them. That said, milk is often not good for cats either (or hedgehogs for that matter) so if you are going to feed strays give them what they need -meat (and water, of course). Cat food is readily available in Greek mini markets just like anywhere else.
But what about the ones you can't help and the winter months when there are few visitors? That is where organisations such as ASAP (Alonnisos Society for Protection of Animals) comes in. Providing year round care and help for all animals (not just cats) this local charity carries out a range of activities including feeding programmes, re-homing for cats and dogs, and importantly bringing in vets to the island to provide medical care and spaying and neutering.
Of course, many islands have similar organisations so if you have a favourite Greek island and want to help the animals there try doing an internet search under "animal welfare" (or similar) to find the
Regards, David.
Edit on 25/1/2018: I have removed the previous links to ASAP as they are no longer valid. It seems that due to changes in Greek law ASAP no longer operates in an "official" capacity. I have been assured, however, that supporters on the island continue to work to help the animals there -look out for them if you are visiting the island.

Wednesday, 9 October 2013

Paxos (Ionian):

Gaios harbour, Paxos
Just a few miles off the coast of Corfu lies the charming small island of Paxos. I visited Paxos in 2003 staying in the village of Lakka at the northern end of the island. The village has a good selection of tavernas and bars and a lovely horse shoe shaped bay.Covered in olive groves Paxos makes for a good walking destination, though for various reasons I wasn't able to explore as much as I would have liked when I was there. From Lakka you can take the island bus which runs to the capital of the island Gaios (pictured) which had a more cosmopolitan feel with numerous boats and yachts moored up. On the way to Gaios you pass through the small fishing village of Loggos. This provides some entertainment as due to the narrow street everyone sitting outside the tavernas has to jump out of their seat and retreat to the side of the road to allow the bus to pass.

Tight squeeze for the bus at Loggos
Worth doing on Paxos is to take one of the round the island boat trips. The one I went on visited some large caves -actually taking the boat right inside. It then went to the very small satellite island of Anti Paxos for some lunch at one of the few tavernas there. There is little development on Anti Paxos although one or two of the specialist holiday companies sometimes offer accomodation there.On another excursion offered by the Friends of the Ionian we were able to visit a farm to watch the goats being milked followed by a demonstration and tasting of cheese making. This was followed by a visit to an old olive oil press and a talk about the history of olive oil production on the island. The trip finished off with a meal at a taverna and some traditional music and singing - including contributions from our coach driver/guide.

Lakka harbour, Paxos
Apart from the goats being milked I can't really offer an accurate Goatiness rating for Paxos due to the lack of off road walks. However the Cockerel Count ranked as high here (in Lakka) with a superb dawn chorus echoing around the valley leading down to the harbour. It came in waves -starting at one end of the valley and working its way round. Right up in my top two (with Symi) Cockerel Counts.
So Paxos, an authentic small island with lots of walking and photographic potential especially at Lakka and Loggos (Gaios was a tad too busy for me) and certainly on my list of islands to, hopefully, revisit in the future** Regards, David.

**Re-reading this post reminded me just how much I liked Paxos, so I am indeed heading back there in 2014! I'll publish a new post on Paxos in the future.

Thursday, 12 September 2013

Skopelos (Northern Sporades):

Boats in Skopelos town harbour
Skopelos is one of the group of Northern Sporades islands which also include Skiathos, Alonissos and Skyros. I spent a day on Skopelos in June 2013 whilst staying on Alonissos. It's a short journey of 30 minutes or less and as I had caught the 06.40 Flying Cat fast catamaran I arrived in Skopelos Town (Chora) around 07.00 as the sun was starting to rise.
This proved good light for photographing the harbour from all angles. If you follow the quay to the far right (looking inland) of the harbour you are in a good position to photograph boats and ferries coming and going -just be aware that the larger ferries create some wash which is likely to splash over the end of the quay.
Also on the right is the photogenic church of Panagia tou Pyrgou (pictured) which you can access via a number of steps from the harbour front to get good views over the town. Carry on from the church a little way and there are the ruins of an old castle. 
The old town itself is a maze of narrow alleys and steps with numerous churches and chapels to be seen. The usual adage applies here -if you get lost just head downwards and you'll reach the harbour front sooner or later. 
Skopelos Town from the harbour
Skopelos is, of course, a draw for fans of the 2008 film Mamma Mia! Most of the location filming was done in 2007 mainly at Kastani beach on the West coast. Don't bother looking for the long wooden jetty that features so much in the film  -it was built especially for the film and then dismantled. The other location that fans head for is that church used in the wedding scenes of the film. This is Agios Ioannis at the North East end of the island. Of course, if you are just on a day visit you're probaly not going to have time to get to these but worth noting that there are a number of excursion boat tours that will take you to the various locations. These also operate from Skiathos as well.
Church of Panagia tou Pyrgou on Skopelos
There are plenty of tavernas and shops along the harbour front but not so many as to make it feel overly touristy. Whilst having lunch I had a Greek island first when a funeral procession came past - priests, mourners in black and a grieving, elderly widow. Nobody told us what to do but I was pleased that out of natural instinct every person in the taverna respectfully stood up whilst the procession went past. Needless to say my camera remained on the table. It was one of those moments when getting a picture wasn't important and would have been totally inappropriate.
So Skopelos then, a very pretty old town with lots of churches and interesting buildings and, by all accounts, lots of nice country walks to be had inland. It is certainly well worth a day trip if you are staying on Skiathos or Alonissos and very worthy of consideration as a holiday destination in itself. Regards, David.

Thursday, 29 August 2013

Lefkada (Ionian):

Approaching Nidri on the car ferry
As a companion piece to my last posting on Meganissi here's a post about a day trip made in 2008 to the nearby island of Lefkada (Lefkas) to see the Ronies waterfalls near Nydri.
Arriving at the port/town of Nydri (Nidri) after the short ferry trip from Meganissi you are met with a busy harbour front lined with tavernas and shops.
Ronies waterfalls on Lefkada
To get to the falls head back through the town away from the harbour until you reach the modern looking ring road. Now, I had to turn right and follow the road for around 10 minutes or so (though this is going to depend on where you initially joined it). There is then a smaller road on the left which is the one you want. Hopefully, it will be signposted either for the waterfalls or the village of Rachi which is near the falls.
Ronies waterfalls near Nidri
This is a lovely walk through nice countryside. As you near the falls note the dry river bed to your right (well, it was dry in August). The gorge up to the falls is signposted welcoming you to the waterfalls "Ronies". Some sources refer to them as the Dimossari waterfalls -don't worry it's the same place!
When you reach the top of the gorge there are a number of pools and lagoons of water fed by the stream of water coming down the cliff face. Don't be disappointed, this is unlikely to be a vast cascade of water (not in the Summer at least) but all the same it's a novelty to see running water. Some people took the opportunity to cool off by paddling in the pools. Just be aware that there are frogs swimming about in them as well. There was also a bat hanging under the rocks which periodically went for a fly around.
As you head back down the gorge there is a taverna where you can stop for a drink or meal before your walk back to Nydri.
You should probaly allow around 45 -60 minutes for this walk (harbour to falls) and
I certainly thought it was well worth the effort. Regards, David.

Wednesday, 28 August 2013

Meganissi (Ionian):

Boats moored in Spilia Bay
I visited the charming Ionian island of Meganissi (Meganisi) for two weeks in 2008.  Arriving at Preveza airport on the Greek mainland it is a short coach trip to the island of Lefkada which is so close to the mainland that it is simply reached by a road bridge. From there to the port of Nydri for the 30-40 minute ferry journey to Meganissi. On the way over, look out on your left for the small island of Skorpios which is owned by the famous Onassis family.
Meganissi has three main areas of population - Spartohori (where I was staying), Katomeri and Vathi. Spartohori stands high above Spilia Bay (pictured) where the ferry docks before continuing on to Vathi. To the left (looking inland) of the small harbour is a popular beach with a taverna. Be aware that to get to the sea from Spartohori there is either a steep road or a steep pathway, so plenty of exercise to be had here. Spartohori itself has a few shops and tavernas (including an excellent Pizzaria which even offers a take away service). Pretty pastel coloured buildings and narrow streets make up this small village where you will often see elderly Greek women wearing traditional black clothing.
The beach at Agios Ioannis
About 45 minutes walk from Spartohori is the shingle beach at Agios Ioannis (pictured) where there is also a taverna. Beware if you see a helpful painted notice on the road saying "shortcut to beach" - I followed this diversion, missed any shortcut (if it exists) and ended up walking for hours before finally backtracking and following the original road down to the beach. The ensuing lager at the taverna was very welcome, so welcome that I virtually passed out after a few sips. One of the few times I have been affected by the heat in Greece and a good reminder to take the time to acclimatise when you first arrive (this was my first morning there).
Another walk took me to Atherinos bay (pictured) where there were a number of fishing boats and private vessels moored up. Several old derelict stone buildings stood above the bay.
Looking down to Atherinos Bay
From Spartohori you can walk the main road to the administrative capital of Katomeri. Just head out of Spartohori, pass the petrol station, and carry straight on. The road is high up above the sea and offers excellent views along the way. There's a handy bench at one of the highest points roughly at the half way point to Katomeri. When you reach Katomeri, look out for a house on which the owner has painted various political messages relating to PASOK (Pan Hellenic Socialist Party). It's quite eye catching and makes for an unusual photograph.
It is only a short walk downhill from Katomeri to the harbour at Vathi. This is the liveliest of the three villages with a good number of tavernas and boats coming and going.

Politics in Katomeri
Sheep (equipped with tinkling bells) seemed to outnumber goats on Meganissi though there were some to be seen. Cockerels were certainly heard but not in a mass dawn chorus way. It is, of course, all dependent on where you are staying. A number of donkeys were also dotted around the Spartohori area.
Meganissi certainly had the shortest ferry transfer to get there but, nethertheless, I found it a peaceful and tranquil little island (excursion boats at lunch time excluded) with some lovely walks through pine and olive trees. Regards, David.

Monday, 19 August 2013

Skiathos (Northern Sporades):

The old harbour at Skiathos town
Not an island I have stayed on but for anyone heading for Skopelos or Alonissos there is a good chance that you will coming via Skiathos due to the presence of a commercial airport. The alternative route, of course, is taking a ferry from the mainland.

I transited through Skiathos in September 2012 and June 2013 - both times on route to Alonissos. The first thing you'll notice about Skiathos is the airport runway. Or, rather, the lack of it. One of the shortest commercial runways in Europe -with sea at either end- you're in for a quick landing. Expect vigorous braking, wing flaps fully down and jet engines roaring in reverse thrust (or combinations of these) before rapidly reaching the turning circle at the end of the runway. I must admit I loved it but can see that for nervous flyers it won't compare favourably to the sedate trundle when landing at Gatwick. Likewise, expect take offs to be fast and steep. Larger planes take off with limited amounts of fuel on board to keep the weight down and then make the short trip to the mainland (in my case Volos) to be fully fuelled.

Monarch Holidays jet descending into Skiathos
The chances are you'll have some time in Skiathos before your ferry departure and will have the chance to explore a bit. The harbour was where I started, getting photographs of the moored boats. The main front harbour is where the ferries dock and there are also a large number of private boats. Round to the left (looking from the sea) is the Old harbour where you will find fishing and excursion boats. This was the location for one of the early scenes in the 2008 film Mamma Mia!.
Agios Nikolaos clock tower on Skiathos
One of the local landmarks is the church of Agios Nikolaos and its stone clocktower. This stands high up above Skiathos Town and can be seen from the harbour front. Just work your way up a series of narrow steps and alleys until you get there  (there are some signposts here and there to help). What you get from Agios Nikolaos is a panoramic view over the town and harbour and it is well worth the few minutes it takes to get up there.

Aviation enthusiasts can stay on the harbour front and watch/photograph the planes coming in to land. In fact, Skiathos is a bit of a magnet for plane spotters due to the public road right at the end of the runway where planes pass low overhead. You can also expect to be waved at when taxiing before take off!

Certainly, from my limited time on Skiathos (and only in Skiathos Town)  it certainly feels bigger and busier than the other Sporades islands with a plethora of tavernas and shops and even an open air cinema showing, inevitably, Mamma Mia! Regards, David.

Wednesday, 14 August 2013

Symi (Dodecanese):

Looking down on Yialos harbour on Symi
Symi, 41km from Rhodes, is often described as having the prettiest harbour in Greece. That's certainly some claim but there is no denying how charming the pastel coloured neo-classical buildings around the Yialos harbour look.
I spent two weeks on Symi in June 2011 (well it would have been two weeks but flight/ferry timings meant an overnight stay in Rhodes both ways). Dissapointing because this is the only Greek island trip ever where I did not reach my destination on the same day.

I was lucky enough to have an apartment directly looking over the busy harbour which certainly provided plenty of entertainment watching the boats come and go - not least the Blue Star Ferries ship Diagoras (a vessel so large it manages to block most of the harbour off when in dock).

Yialos/Gialos (take your pick) has plenty of tavernas and shops and even an excellent Italian pizzeria and is certainly at the bigger end of what I define as a small island. It is, of course, all relative. Somebody used to the bigger islands such as Rhodes, Kos, Crete etc would regard Yialos as tiny. Things certainly got busy during early afternoons as numerous excursion boats pitch up with day trippers from other islands. There was even a burst of nostalgia when the Tilos Sea Star arrived - I had last been on that in 2006 (it broke down)*. However, after lunch and a look at the umpteen souvenir stalls that take up one side of the harbour they were all gone again.

High above Yialos lies the older village of Chorio.  You have three choices for reaching Chorio: the Kataraktis -a steep and rather slippery cobbled path/donkey track up the hillside (I had to sit down in the shade after tackling that one). Better to take the Kali Strata a series of some 350 steps which start in the town centre and twist and turn up the hillside with old houses (shade!) on either side. There are even a couple of handy tavernas on the way up if you fancy a rest.
The third route is to simply follow the main road up. Not, on the surface, very appealing but as you get higher there are great views (and photos) to be had looking down onto the harbour. There is also a bus available (timings varying).
Chorio, is a mass of little alleys and paths amongst the old houses and great fun to explore. You'll probaly get lost at some point but you are never far away from civilisation. There are also a number of tavernas up there as well.

From Chorio you can walk the road down to Pedi Bay, a pretty little harbour with a few boats and several tavernas. The bus calls there as well.

Yialos at night on Symi
Back in Yialos, I walked round the left hand side of the harbour where there is a boat building/repair area with a number of old boats piled up. I was fascinated by a fairly large sized former excursion boat called Lazy Days. It seems it has been beached there for years due to some kind of ownership dispute and is slowly falling apart. The signs on the boat advertise Moonlight Cruises and trips to Lindos (Rhodes). If it hasn't totally collapsed by now its probaly still there.

Continuing on from Lazy Days you can take the coast road passing Nos Beach (the small "town" beach) with a taverna and sunbeds. The road gives good views of the rocky coastline and after around 30 minutes you reach the beach and harbour of Nimborios. Again, there is a taverna here.

Looking down to Yialos village on Symi
For a change of scene you can take a day trip to Turkey (offered by various boats in the harbour). Symi is only just off the coast of Turkey so it's a short journey. Sadly, I missed this opportunity as I only had a few weeks left on my passport. You are required to have at least six months validity to enter Turkey. I'm not sure why this matters for a day trip -but never mind.

There are lots of boats/water taxis which will take you to beaches further along the Symi coast and to the monastery at Panormitis. Now, this is where I missed out and didn't take any of these. I'm not really a beach person and didn't want to be stuck on one all day waiting for the return pick up. Poor research was my mistake here as I failed to realise that these beaches would have been a good launch for interesting walks and worse still, this is where all the goats are. Lots of them. On the beach. My Goatiness rating for Symi would have been extremely low based on just one goat (in a paddock at that) in Yialos. But I would have been wrong. Not wrong on the Cockerel Count though - Symi ranks as high with a truly spectacular dawn chorus of crowing echoing around Yialos. Possibly the best I have ever heard anywhere (we'll overlook the one that couldn't crow properly and just issued something akin to a scream). Regards, David.
Tilos Sea Star at Yialos harbour

* The Tilos Sea Star is actually a superb fast catamaran of which the island of Tilos are rightly proud. It didn't break down for long and actually we were just relieved we hadn't ploughed into a dolphin or something.

Tuesday, 13 August 2013

Nisyros (Dodecanese):

Table for one at Mandraki
Nisyros isn't an island I have ever stayed on but have made two day trips to in 2005 and 2010 - both while staying on Halki island. Nisyros is readily reachable from Kos, Tilos, Halki and to a lesser extent from Symi and Rhodes (you can get there and back but my 2010 timetables for Dodekanisos Seaways fast catamaran service wouldn't allow for much time on the island - that could, of course, have changed).

Mandraki, the port town, has a number of tavernas (mainly on the seafront) and there are lots of little lanes and alley ways to explore. Standing high on the cliffs above the town is the Monastery of Our Lady Spiliani together with the ruins of a Crusader Knights castle.
However, the main thing of interest on Nisyros is the still active volcano. The last significant eruption was in 1888 but the volcano is far from extinct.

On arrival at Mandraki you should find one or more stands offering trips to the volcano. This wasn't expensive (circa 12 euro last time) for the 30-40 minute coach ride and an expert guide throughout
Attempting to fry eggs in a volcano
offering a wealth of information on the volcano (and Nisyros in general). Outside of peak season you could, I suppose, hire a taxi there and back (but do research this beforehand).

When you get there you can walk down into the moonscape like Stefanos crater and explore at will. Yellow sulphur deposits cover a lot of the base of the crater and the smell is pretty strong. Large fumaroles (fissures) are dotted about and have bubbling hot mud in them. The whole base of the crater is warm and from time to time jets of steam suddenly emerge from the ground catching the unwary visitor by surprise. The first time I went there somebody brought along some eggs and cracked them open on the ground. Well, it's not so hot that they fried - but did provide a good photo opportunity for everyone there!
Tourists walk in the Stefanos volcano on Nisyros
Near the crater is a small cafe where you can get drinks and a snack before heading back to Mandraki.

It was certainly a fantastic experience and well worth the effort to visit, especially knowing that the volcano could/will erupt again in the future - an organisation called Geowarn keep it under constant monitoring both on the ground and from space. Regards,

Alonissos shipping:

Achilleas ferry docked at Patitiri
Oe of the fascinating things for me on Greek islands is watching the endless coming and going of shipping of all kinds. Ferries, in particular, always create a stir as people and vehicles gather on the quayside as the time of arrival approaches.
Cargo ship Ioanna Chrisoula at Patitiri
In these pictures you see the Skyros Shipping Company ferry Achilleas docked at Patitiri harbour. This was making several trips a week between Alonissos and Skopelos and its home island of Skyros during my June visit. This opens up the possibility of a trip to Skyros, though you would need to stay there for a few days before your return. I didn't see this ship when I previously visited in September so I am guessing it may only run during the peak season.
The second ship is the cargo supply vessel Ioanna Chrisoula which operates out of the mainland port of Volos -bringing supplies and cargo to the various Sporades islands.
Hellenic Seaways Flying Cat 5 catamaran ferry
Finally, we have the Hellenic Seaways fast catamaran ferry Flying Cat 5 moored at Patiri. This image is from 2012 when it had this vivid red Vodaphone livery. When I returned in 2013 this had changed to the green livery of Greek telecommunications company Cosmote. Personally I would recommend the journey on the slightly slower regular ferries Express Skiathos and Express Pegasus (also operated by Hellenic Seaways) as you can be out in the fresh air and enjoy the view during the journey. The Cats do have a small outside area at the rear (upstairs) which the crew may let you out on while docked -you'll be ushered back inside
once under way.
A useful tip for anyone interested in ships and shipping is to note the IMO (International Maritime Organisation) number of the ship (it's painted on somewhere). Then just search that number on the internet to get the ships history and details -always useful for photo captions. Ship Spotters can even get real time details of its current location and destination! Regards, David.

Monday, 12 August 2013

Alonissos (Northern Sporades):

Three mules posing by the donkey track
I must admit until I booked my first holiday there in 2012 I had never even heard of Alonissos - despite being a self confessed Greek island lover. A week in September 2012 and two weeks in June this year have put Alonissos right up there in my favourite islands list. Probaly the word "authentic" is the one I am searching for. Unpretentious might be another.

From the harbour at Patitiri (arrival point for most visitors) to the dense pine forests, everything about this lovely island feels slighly understated - the 3000 or so population know what they have here and don't seem to feel the need to shout about it too much. Of course, in season there are some concessions to tourism with a few excursion boats advertising their trips (mainly to the National Marine Park of which Alonissos forms a part) but otherwise that's about it.

15th century chapel at Agii Anargiroi
One of my highlights on both visits was to take the walk to the two small chapels at Agii Anargiroi. From Patitiri take the road to Votsi. Go past the turning on the right that takes you down to the beach and a few minutes later there is a turning on the left signposted for Agii Anargiroi. This is a small road that traverses the island from coast to coast. After about 15 minutes you will see a road on the left signposted for Tsoukalia beach. Turn down that then almost immediately take the smaller track branching off to the right. This is a wonderful walk through a dense pine forest (note the numerous containers attached to many of the trees for collecting pine resin). You will eventually reach a house with a great view down to the coastline framed by olive trees - an excellent spot for photographs (pictured). Pass the house and climb a few steps and you are now on a woodland footpath which will lead you to Agii Anargiroi. The two chapels (one 15th century the other 1940s) are perched right above steep cliffs dropping to the sea. This was for me an incredibly peaceful spot to sit and enjoy the view along the coast. There is also a stand alone church bell here which, again, makes for good photographs.  Best allow around 45-60 minutes for this walk.

Another good walk is to take the Donkey Track up the hill from Patitiri to the Old Village (Hora). Again, allow about 45 minutes for this one. There are two roads leading out from the harbour -you need the left hand one (looking inland). Pass the shops and a few minutes later you will see a signposted track on the left. It's quite steep in parts but not too hard going. Some way up you pass some pens of assorted farm animals and later a paddock with some mules and a Shetland pony (or something looking very like a Shetland pony).
The track comes out onto the main road and just follow that for a few yards into the Old Village.

The Old Village became one of my lunchtime destinations with some tavernas that had seating under trees to provide some welcome shade. A good place to enjoy a cold Mythos and something to eat. If you like dogs you're in luck here as two village dogs liked to do the rounds of the tables. One sitting at my feet and the other licking my arm at regular intervals. The village itself has lots of narrow streets and lanes to explore and a number of churches. There is also a good observation spot where you can enjoy the view down to Patitiri.

After lunch one day I took the walk to the summit of the Kalovoulos Mountain. Just continue to follow the road that led you into the Old Village and past the village cemetery. Carry straight on until you get to a signposted track on the right. A few bits of this walk involve a bit of a scramble but otherwise it is easy going as you gradually ascend the mountain along a good path through pine trees. As you get higher there are some great views and photographs of the Old Village to be had (late afternoon is the best light for this). Eventually the track comes to an end and you will just see a lot of rocks with a sign pointing to the summit. This bit is a scramble as you negotiate the rocks but you will quickly reach the summit which is marked with a concrete post. If you then head towards the cliff edge you will find a wooden shelter with seating where you can enjoy the view of nearby Skopelos island. On leaving the shelter you will find that the scramble over the rocks wasn't required -there's an easy pathway back to the track down (bear left at the Summit sign to find it).

View to the coastline near Agii Anargiroi
A good option for an excursion whilst on Alonissos is to take the Flying Cat (catamaran ferry) back to Skopelos or Skiathos. Be aware though that to have any worthwhile time there you will need to get the first ferry of the day (currently circa 6.30am). I took this to Skopelos -returning on the 3.00pm Cat (giving enough time for plenty of photography and lunch). Make sure you have a return ticket, I got sold a one way one in error. Well, I hope it was in error! Luckily I realised before departing and was able to get the return added.

Cockerel Count on Alonissos is ranked as Medium. Where I was staying there wasn't the en-masse dawn chorus of crowing but there were,nethertheless, plenty to be heard generally. Unusually, Ducks and Turkeys featured quite strongly here as well.

Goatiness on Alonissos also ranked as Medium. There were some in a pen on the Donkey Track but, much better, a couple in the Old Village had a small herd which they walked down the road to feed on bushes. I also encountered a family of goats wandering on the Kalovoulos mountain. I'm told there are more to be seen at the other (less inhabited) end of the island.

Alonissos - a little star of an island and right up there in my top three favourites. Regards, David.

Saturday, 10 August 2013

Building this site:

Greek flag on a ferry off Lefkada
This site is currently building with future posts planned on Lipsi, Halki, Symi, Ithaca, Meganissi, Paxos, Skopelos, Skiathos, Agistri, Tilos, Lefkada, Nisyros and probaly some others I've forgotten for now. Plus, of course, new islands I hope to visit in the future. I'll also be posting general items and experiences about small Greek islands as well as some of my favourite island photographs. I hope you enjoy reading them. Regards, David.