Navigating Thirassia – Step 1 – 270 of them!

After a good night’s sleep, I feel ready for action – the single bed that reminds of my childhood days is surprisingly comfortable. Babis has given me clear instructions on how to navigate the island. Most of the villages on the upper plateau can be accessed on foot, however, this morning I’ve hauled on my big girl knickers and aim to descend the track down the cliff to Korfos – after all, it’s these steps that piqued my curiosity about Thirassia in the first place. This walk doesn’t really require much bravery. For those who attempt it in the opposite direction – they have my utmost admiration. I do have to summon up a bit of courage because I suffer from acute vertigo which is the bane of my life. I’m also still suffering with the lower back problems that blighted my recent trip to Chios. Every so often my back will ‘jar’ sending me into acute spasms of pain and I never know when it will strike. (Yawn!) It’s like a game of Russian Roulette!

Anyway, today I will walk down the scary steps to Korfos before the sun gets too hot. This heatwave is draining!

First things first – breakfast. I had planned to go to Be Kalos but as I enter the village, a waft of a sweet yeasty aroma creeps into my nostrils. It’s a bakery which I can never resist so I’m tempted in. A set of stone steps lead me down to a small courtyard and the entrance to the shop. There isn’t any bougatsa today (my favourite) but a couple of big fat chocolate croissants will most certainly suffice.

Now to navigate my way to the steps. In doing so I do discover that there are several levels to the village. The path that leads through the centre of the village is on the higher level. The other parts of the village cascade down from it on either side. Just past the school, there is a turn to the right and a set of steps takes me down to the main street overlooking the caldera rim. Here there is a pharmacy, an ATM and the main entrance to Be Kalos which is on three levels. There is also a little gem in the form of the pretty Church of Agios Ioannis. Cute I’d describe it as – just plain cute!

As I walk past Be Kalos, the lady waves to me from the roof terrace. Oh alright then – I’ve been tempted in. This may just be a delaying tactic on my part but I succumb to their scrambled eggs and toast. I love the mug – do you think that she’s trying to tell me something!

I can’t procrastinate any longer and set off before the temperatures rise any further. At the top of the steps is a sign for Panorama Rest0. I soon discover that the steps are where all of the tavernas Babis had recommended to me are located. No wonder I couldn’t find them last night. Each of them offer the most magnificent views over to Santorini – a perfect reward for those brave souls who make the ascent.

I know that once I begin there will be no turning back. I did have a flashback to last years walk down from Pallamidi Kastro in Nafplio. It was very vertigo-inducing and at points, I could have openly wept in fear. At least these steps have a wall that protects me from the view of the sheer drop on the other side. With my eyes firmly on the steps and my feet, I continue to make a slow and cautious descent. I occasionally stop to take a few pics and check that my back is still intact. The steps are on the slope and although there are 270 of them, some are up to 4 metres in length.

About halfway down I hear a clatter behind me and I turn to see a man on a motorbike free-wheeling down the steps. How the hell does he get back up?

I don’t know in all honestly how long it took me to reach the bottom but once on the flat, my legs turn to jelly. Certain muscles in my legs have been awakened from their dormancy. I settle into a small cafe for some much needed reydration but as fast as I drink, liquid oozes from every pore in my body. It’s like tipping water through a sieve! Here’s a little video ‘wot’ I made whilst recovering.

Just before 12.00, I make my way to the small jetty where the Chania I is moored. I pay 1€ for my ticket to Riva Cove. This boat journeys between Korfos, Riva and Amoudi on Santorini three times a day. Several locals head back to Riva and a couple of tourists make the onward journey to Amoudi.

I take a seat inside the cabin with the locals and I enjoy listening to their animated chat about politics and local issues. Although I don’t understand everything they are saying, the subject matter is obvious.

As we leave Korfos, the steps come into full view. I’m now rather disappointed that they don’t look as impressive as the walk had felt! What is impressive is the construction of the steps and the skill and manpower that must have gone into building them.

We bounce and bob towards the headland. Along the way I spot something along the shoreline. It looks like some kind of resort and with the cliff towering above it must only be accessible by boat. A quick Google search tells that it is a resort called Perivolas Hideaway. If you want peace and quiet and are happy to spend a couple of grand a night to stay here, it sounds perfect. However, I have the same for around 50€ per night so I know where I’d rather put my money!

https://hideaway.gr

Once disembarked at Riva I do a little recce. Following the bay around to the left is a small settlement of houses and a marina with brightly coloured fishing boats and traditional boat houses. A narrow strip of volcanic stone beach lays at the far end. A concrete pontoon that may have once been a cafe, now lies broken and half collapsed into the sea. Despite looking a little forlorn there are signs that Riva once supported some tourist activity. Lying in an unorganised pile are a number of parasol frames – the really large and well constructed ones. They don’t look as though they’ve been used for years. Next to that is a stack of kayaks again seemingly abandoned. I may have got this wrong but I sense that this used to be a thriving yet small-scale tourist spot but has fallen into decline. I wonder what happened. There is no doubt however, that this is a traditional fishing village.

At the other end of bay, it goes from one extreme to the other with two upmarket hotels on offer (one with a pool) and the distinctive lava built church of Agios Nickolaos.

In the middle of Riva sits Agistri, the ports only taverna which also sports a couple of sunbeds on the beach. Whilst I contemplate my next destination the owner of Agistri approaches me and tries to encourage me in. It doesn’t need much of this on my part and order a cold drink. He puts his best upselling skills into action and tells me I can have a Greek salad, chicken, fish. fava all for a “very cheap price”. I have no appetite at the moment so the cold drink will do.

Now the sales pitch is over, George introduces himself to me and tells me that he used to work in London and Liverpool in “oil”. After an interesting chat he tells me that I can sit on the sunbeds on the beach. Perfect. Now for a bit of that R&R that I’d come here for and I have the beach all to myself.

I while away the afternoon watching the ferries sail along the straight between the two islands – a couple of Blue Stars and a number of the Seajet fleet all make appearances. I am a ferry geek so this alone keeps me entertained. The Kato Nisi passenger ferry shuttles between Athinios and Riva several times. It seems to be used by locals more than tourists. Maybe a cheap and handy way to transport vehicles and cargo between the islands. One man approached on a motorbike and stopped to chat to two of the crew. An impatient Captain shouts to him over the tannoy telling him to get a move on “Pame! Pame!” he called impatiently. He obviously has a schedule to keep to.

My phone pings and I receive a message from a hotel on Santorini asking for confirmation of the arrival time of two of my clients. Although I’m not technically working during this trip I do keep an eye on my work emails whilst away. I had already sent this information to them but I double-check the details anyway. Amazingly the boat that my clients were arriving on me had just sailed past me. I was able to tell the hotel in all confidence that they would be arriving shortly!

I’m not very good at just sitting on a beach so I decided to walk to the Church of Agia Irini which is just a 10 minute walk up the hill above the port. Santorini was given its name by the Crusaders and named after the Church of Agia Irini (Saint Irini). However, there is one school of thought that says it was named after the church in Perissia, Santorini and another that it was this chapel on Thirassia. I’m sure that the residents of each island will fiercely claim the namesake as their own.

After the walk back down to Riva I now have an appetite. The empty taverna now has a handful of overall-clad men partaking in after-work drinks. What’s on offer is good basic Greek fayre that’s not exactly a cheap price but what I’d call a fair price. George tells me that if I can wait until 5.30 he will drive me up to Jimmy’s as he is dropping someone up there anyway. With the cost of the taxi at 10€ that does bring the cost of the meal down!

Having been sufficiently fed and watered, I spend the evening watching the view from the terrace. It really is one of the most incredible views I’ve seen anywhere – and almost in absolute solitude!

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2 Comments

    1. Thank you Carol. Thirassia is very beautiful and the perfect place to relax. I’m on Anafi now and I think both islands would be right up your street! ❤️

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