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 www.shootingstock.blogspot.com where you will find details of my agents. Comments are welcomed but reviewed before publication. Enjoy your visit. Regards, David.

Monday, 12 August 2013

Alonissos (Northern Sporades):

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.

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).

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.

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