Before I arrived on Andros I realised that 4 days wasn’t really enough to explore the island. I also didn’t know how good (or bad) the bus service would be. With this in mind I made some preliminary enquiries about doing a guided tour of the island as I had done on Tinos.
Now if you put any island name + ‘tour’ into Google it will more than likely take you to Get Your Guide or Viator websites. Whilst on Tinos the only tour I could find were for people coming from Mykonos to tour Tinos. Get Your Guide negotiated on my behalf with the local tour guide and adapted the tour so that I didn’t have to pay for the ferry tickets from Mykonos to Tinos- obviously because I was already there.
I’m in a similar situation here on Andros where most of the tours seem to be for people who are in Athens. Unfortunately Get Your Guide were not as amenable and weren’t willing to adapt the tour for somebody already on the island. However, I could see on GYG the name of the travel agent facilitating the tours so I decided to contact them directly. At this point I have sent them an email and and a message through their Facebook page and I’m still waiting to hear back.
I can’t guarantee that the tour of the island will happen so today I decide to take the bus to Andros Chora – regardless of the fact I may visit again over the coming days.
I pop into one of the cafe’s for breakfast and then loiter by the bus stop until the bus arrives.
It is a pleasant bus journey where the bus ascends the hillside soon after leaving Batsi. The first part of the journey is along a coastal route and then across land to the eastern side of the island where you get glimpses of lush greenness. The journey take around 50 minutes.
After being dropped at the bus station I follow my nose and head towards the main street. My first reaction was “Wow!”. I knew that Andros had a lot of wealth primarily from its maritime industry but this town is magnificent! The first thing that you notice is the grand neo-classical buildings painted in various pastel shades. The second thing that I noticed is that the street is paved in marble – now if that isn’t a sign of affluence and prosperity I don’t know what is!
You know when you arrive at a place and it instantly grabs you? Well Andros Chora grabbed me!
The architecture is so impactive with Venetian, Byzantine and Ottomon influences everywhere. Large plane trees line the streets giving much needed shade and narrow alleyways lead you to viewing points across the valley and to hidden gems at every turn.
I take a slow amble down Faneromenis the main street and before I know it I spot a door knocker. Anyone that knows me, knows that I’m a sucker for a door knocker. Wherever you have grand neo-classical houses you will always find a good door knocker – and not one door knocker but a whole array of door knockers. I start photographing them like some crazy person – Oh my gosh I’m in my element! If you like door knockers too, then check out our Facebook group here:
If you missed my post about the history of door knockers you can read about it here:
Once sated from my door knocker frenzy I continue down the street which leads to the tip of the peninsula. Here you will reach a small square where you find the Andros Maritime Museum and also the very striking statue of the Unknown Sailor. Unfortunately the Museum isn’t open but it is still worth visiting the statue.
If you take the steps down from the square there is also another famous landmark called The Fish, a simple white painted fish onto a platform that leads to the remains of the Venetian built Kato Kastro.
Not much remains of the Kastro but in the past it was of strategic significance in the defence of the island. In the 1500’s the island was conquered by the Ottomans and although less used, it remained in good condition. It was during World War 2 when the German’s bombed Andros that the Kastro was almost completely destroyed. What remains of it is not much more than a folly but a very picturesque one of note.
Before I know it I realise that I have been here for most of the day. I make my way back through the now deserted streets, noticing the beautiful Cycladic chimney pots (another fascination that I try to restrain myself from). I fall into a café for some refreshments.
I check my phone and see that I still haven’t heard back from the travel agent. I check their website and I see that they are located in Batsi so if all fails, I can go and knock on their door!
The town begins to slow down. Shutters are pulled down on shop frontages and the streets and the picturesque square are practically empty. Siesta time I guess. I head back to the bus station to make my way back to Batsi.
As we reach Batsi, instead of entering the village along the same road that we left, the bus stops behind the church of St Philip which sits above the town. I don’t question it when “Batsi” is shouted down the bus – that is my sign to depart. What’s more it give me the chance to give the exterior of the church closer inspection! Stone steps and narrow alleyways lead the way down to Batsi Marina.
I thumb the travel agency’s name into Google maps and see that they are located very close to where I am. As I enter VLM travel agency I’m greeted by a young lady called Adamantia. She tells me that Savvas is out of the office at the moment but that he will respond to my messages shortly.
Savvas does respond to me later that evening and tells me that he can offer me a half day private tour for the following day. I have to be at the office for 10:40. This is great news and I message him back to confirm the arrangement.
I feel relieved knowing that I will get to see parts of the island that the bus won’t get me to. I celebrate with a nice meal and a drink at Cavo Meze.