|Prevelis ferry docked at Emborio|
This was a holiday that nearly didn't get off the ground (literally). For many years now I have been in the habit of staying at an airport hotel (Gatwick Hilton to be exact) for the simple reason that this eliminates the stress of getting to the airport on the day with all the potential transport delays that can occur (and, trust me, I know all about that). With an 9.00am flight and check in from 7.00am all I had to do was a leisurely five minute walk to the desk. The problem was I didn't hear my alarm and woke up at 8.15. A mad dash ensued without even time for a coffee. Thankfully, an airport employee got on his radio and they agreed to get me on the plane (they even re-opened the check in desk just for me). The deal was, though, that I was going but they couldn't guarantee my luggage was. Instead of a four hour flight full of happy anticipation I had a miserable few hours working out scenarios of what to do if my case didn't arrive. To say I was delighted when my case was one of the first few out is something of an understatement. Now my holiday could begin!
On board the Nissos Halki ferry from the port of Kamiros Skala we drew ever closer until that final moment
|Stone sculpture on Ftenagia beach|
One of my favourite short (about 40 minutes) road walks on Halki is the one to Kania beach. Take the main road out of Emborio towards Pondamos beach and then the road to the right just past the school. This climbs steeply taking you past some strange industrial looking vehicles. I've since found out (thanks to the excellent Halki Visiting forum) that these are emergency electricity generators. Brought to the island, parked up and then never used -and never will be looking at them now. Less industrial, you also pass a field containing loads of wooden beehives all painted in the blue and white of the Greek flag. Now Kania was, in 2005 and 2010 a lovely deserted cove where your only company was likely to be a lizard or two. Not anymore! There are now sunbeds, umbrellas and a taverna and a handy bus service bringing Rhodes daytrippers up from Emborio in their hordes. It's not for me to be churlish -everyone has to make a living and I'm sure many more people now get to enjoy Kania as a result (and the taverna is said to be very good). It's just not for me anymore, sadly. But I still enjoyed the walk there and back even if I didn't venture onto the beach itself.
|View of Emborio from the Dorothea Studios|
No visit to Halki is complete without a walk up to the medieval Crusader Knights castle. Passing Pondamos beach just keep going as the road (Tarpon Springs Boulevard) climbs up from Emborio to the (nearly) deserted old village of Horio. In the old days it then involved some scrambling up a sort of path to the castle but in 2015 this was all changing with EU funded restoration work going on. The path up is now much easier and clearer. I found myself in what was clearly a building site with cement mixers and other equipment dotted around. The chapel was in the process (nearly complete I think) of being rebuilt but, sadly, couldn't get inside to take a look. Health and safety also get a look in with a new wall at the cliff side of the castle and proper covering over the very deep well. Back in 2005 you had the choice of plunging down the cliffs if you put a foot wrong or disappearing into the uncovered well. Think I preferred that but as it was very much a work in progress I'll reserve judgement.
New for me this time was a walk to Giali beach. Reach this by entering Horio village and taking a long
|Renovation at the castle on Halki|
Also new this trip was a walk up to the plateau high above Emborio. Just follow the road on from Horio. When I say "Just" be aware that it gets much steeper and harder going and I considered turning back a few times especially when turning yet another bend and seeing the road still going steeply upwards. However, finally reaching the plateau I was rewarded by another charming little chapel and the remains of an old stone windmill and best of all goats. Lots of goats -as I found out whilst passing a stone enclosure and snapped a twig. Cue startled animals bolting out from the enclosure while I stepped back in a hurry. That's as far as I went on this trip but the walk back down gives fantastic views down into the valley and down to Emborio in the distance.
|Tarpon Springs Boulevard down to Emborio|
So there were some changes. Kania transformed beyond recognition. The castle being renovated. The ANEK Lines "big" ferry from Piraeus to Rhodes is now Prevelis and not the Ierapetra L (but still created just as much excitement on each visit). And other things were just the same as they always have been. The chickens were still clucking around in the road by the town cemetery. Pondamos beach has a lot more sunbeds but still the lovely excellent taverna. Costas is still a great place to enjoy a cold Mythos and toasted cheese sandwich while watching the world go by. Above all the peace, charm and tranquillity of a small Greek island (except for the ferry arrivals and the daytrippers -but they come then they go again). Halki is, without doubt, one of my favourite Greek islands and one to which I intend to return many times in the future.