A trip to Alimnia (or Alimia) Island
When I arrived on Chalki one of the first things I did was to join the Chalki Visitors Facebook group. I had hoped to find out what I can see and do in my short 3 nights here. I’m so glad I did because one of the first posts I saw was promoting the day trip to Alimia island which sits just beyond the islet of Nisaki and in view from my balcony.
I had messaged Katerina from the Nikos Express the night before but decided still to hedge my bets until the following morning before committing myself. I think I was still expecting the thunderstorms to come our way after watching them in the distance the night before but again – we have been so blessed!
Just 6 of us arrived at the Nikos Express for the trip. This was nice to go with a small group though I’m sure not particularly cost effective for the family business!
I really wasn’t sure what to expect. I have been on many day boat trips to little islets before and usually it’s all about the beach. This was something completely different.
We set off as the morning sun began to illuminate the picture perfect houses that are set around the port and hill side. There is a good view of the medieval castle on top of the hill.
Katerina began to tell us about Alimia island and how in the past there had been a small settlement of one family living there – her own family. It is an island that had the vital natural resource of fresh water – unlike many of the surrounding islands that have to use desalinated water.
Alimia had been under both Italian and German occupation during the second world war. Katerina pointed out that under the waters surrounding the island there was an Italian submarine and various other casualties of war. Katerina explained to us that the main reason for the families leaving the island was so that the children could go to school.
As we approached the island I could see that it was set in a really deep bay. The Nikos express anchored and one by one we lowered ourselves into a little yellow rowing boat or swam to shore (myself the former!)
The group went off in their own directions to explore the island. I headed down a narrow path to the settlement of abandoned houses. As I approached, a herd of goats made clear their disgruntlement at being disturbed and scarpered up into the hillside.
Before you approach the houses, there is a small saltwater lake that reflects the surrounding landscape. Up on the mountain tops there are a series of watchtowers adding to the eerie beauty of the place.
In front of the village are a series of out buildings that were used for making cheese and other produce. Upon entering the village you can see the signs of life that once was. It looks very forlorn and I’m sure there are many stories told and untold about what life was like here in the past.
The first of the two churches Agios Georgios is open and there are signs that the church is maintained and is visited regularly. Up above the village high on a hill is a castle built by the Knights of Rhodes. Katerina had told us that when marauding pirates were heading towards the islands, beacons in the watch towers were set alight between neighbouring islands to alert them of the oncoming invaders!
I left the little village and headed back towards the other church close to where we had been dropped off. I pass a couple of large building which Katerina said had been built by the Italians during their occupation. They do look quite utilitarian. It is hard to imagine what things were like here during this time. Apparently tanks were driven around the island but I can’t think how they would have got them here in the first place! This has left me with a thirst for more knowledge about this little islands’ history!
The second church Agios Minas sits right next to a decaying jetty and as with Agios Georgios is open and has some attractive frescoes.
The water in the bay is crystal clear with turquoise patches where a sand bed lays below. The water was colder than usual because of the heavy rains elsewhere in Greece though still quite a good temperature. I took a little dip and then perched myself on an abandoned wooden pallet to dry.
At 2.30pm we were rowed back to the Nikos Express and made our way back to Chalki.
This was a very special trip because this is a very unique island with a very interesting history told by someone who’s family has lived through it.
Yes, a lovely island, and really great for wild rambling. However, when I visited by sailing yacht last year, I saw a darker side. First, the beach . . . . I have never in my life, or indeed my worst dreams, seen so much plastic debris, right along the entire line. Truly horrific. Its surprising really that the citizens of neighbouring Chalki, who apparently own Alimia, couldn’t organise a one-day expedition and clean the beach up because it really is an extremely poor advertisment for the Greek Islands as a whole.
The second unpleasant experience we had was that at the bottom of the abandoned village, virtually on the beach, we came upon a large pen full of some 50 sheep, all looking rather distressed in the blistering sunshine and without a drop of water in sight. This was upsetting enough, but then, the next morning, things got even worse. A boat arrived with a trio of locals and they proceeded to slaughter all the sheep in front of our eyes . . . . ghastly!
Thank you for your comment – it’s much appreciated. There have been times when I have seen so much plastic waste that has washed up onto the beach – the worst was in a little hamlet called Kalloni not far from Methana on the Peleponnese. It really isn’t much of a tourist spot but I did find out later that the waste which was primarily plastic cups and straws had come from cruise ships that just dumped their waste overboard which absolutely shocked me. The tides collect it in the deep bays along the coast. I did however see groups of ladies with wide brimmed hats cleaning the beaches a few days later – probably a thankless task considering the vastness of the problem. On Alimnia there is one family that look after the island and in fact they operate the day trips that I went on myself. There is also a large British expat community on neighbouring Chalki that I believe get involved in island clean ups though I must admit when I was there, the island was spick and span!xx
I would like to know the name of the family who runs the day trips to Alimnia, that sounds like some thing interesting!