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.