Arrival on Chios – Destination Pyrgi!

This trip is going to take me along a well-trodden path.  18 months ago I had one of my most enjoyable Greek island hopping trips to date.  The thing with solo travel is there are so many moments along the way that you wish you could share it with your loved ones.  This time I will be returning to Chios with my husband to take him to the incredible places I’d previously visited.  Yes, there is the blog and my many musings on social media but my husband isn’t interested in that kind of thing.  He’s a simple soul who finds social media an interference in life.  And I get that.

I’d been extolling the virtues of Chios ever since I returned home – the unique hospitality and friendliness of the people, the magical mastic villages, the beautiful mountain settlements and just a very special something that I can’t quite verbalise. So I embark upon this trip with a little bit of nervousness as this trip has some big boots to fill. Will it live up to my experiences of the previous trip? This is the risk that I have to take.

Another added element to our travels is that we will be on Chios during the Orthodox Easter festival.  Easter in Greece is a very special experience and every town and city has their own unique customs.  On Chios they have Rouketopolemos also known as the Rocket Wars.  In a nutshell, this is where the rival parishes of St. Mark’s and Panaghia Ereithiani fire thousands of homemade rockets at each other’s opposing bell towers. Whoever scores the most hits is declared the winner. Whatever the outcome, there is rarely an agreement on the final score so the gauntlet is thrown down again for the following year.

At this point, we don’t know if Rouketopolemos 2024 will go ahead.  I’ve been in communication with the Tourist Office for several weeks, but they are awaiting the decision from the Mayors Office.  This event is not without its casualties. Despite measures to protect the churches and the neighbouring properties, some locals campaign every year to put an end to this event once and for all.  We are waiting for news from the Mayor.


So on Thursday we arrived in Athens and overnighted in Artemida.  As written about in previous posts, this is a great location to overnight if you don’t fancy going into Central Athens.  Artemida, Rafina and Spata are very close to the airport and several accommodations provide two-way airport transfers included their rates.  It must be said that in Spata there is very little in the way of amenities (having stayed there twice in the past).  At least with Artemida and Rafina, you have a good selection of shops and tavernas to choose from as with most seaside towns.

This time we stayed at Sun Day Studios – just a place plucked from Booking.com.  Although a little further out from the place I’d stayed previously, the apartments are very nice indeed. They are set in well-tended gardens in a very peaceful location and a 10 minute walk to the beachside tavernas. Just beyond this is the heart of the town.  Our host recommended that we go to Archontikon taverna – one of the best along the stretch of beach. So this is where we go. 

There is nothing like that first meal and glass of Retsina to get you in the holiday mood!

The following day we are up bright and early for our transfer back to Athens Airport where we have breakfast – that first bougatsa of the holiday is also very special!

The flight over is very good though there is quite a bit of cloud cover. As soon as I spot the strings of wind turbines along the spine of the landscape I know that we are over Evia. Soon after we pass Skyros. The flight is only 35 minutes and as soon as we see Psara we begin to make our descent into Chios. Once through the layers of cloud, we approach from the south and the distinctive mastic villages come into view. Soon after we are over the area of Kampos with its vast acreage of citrus orchards. This island is so lush and verdant. I’ve often written about the excitement of arriving on an island by ferry but this experience can rival it too.

After disembarking from the plane it is a short walk across the apron to the small airport terminal. As we wait at luggage reclaim, just a short conveyor belt inside the terminal building I can sense an air of festivity. Most of the passengers were met by friends and family with loud shouts, strong hugs and plenty of kisses. Home for Easter with their loved ones!

We can get a taxi almost immediately and head straight to Chios Town. Although we will be spending our first four nights in Pyrgi, we need to check out a few things with Sunrise Travel by the port.  A short walk from here is the bus station where purchase our tickets to Pyrgi.

Bus No 4 heads out of the town, past the citrus orchards of Kampos and before long we are driving alongside acres of mastic plantations. We are well and truly in the heart of mastic country now. The bus stops next to the supermarket on the main road and after retrieving our luggage from the underbelly of the bus we heave our luggage up to the entrance to the village. We pass the first small square with its monument and small cafe – a nice place for a coffee if you prefer a little more peace and quiet. Continuing up we now approach the main square shaded by mulberry trees. Groups of locals seemingly denoted by age and gender sit in their favourite cafe or taverna located around the periphery of the square. This place becomes the centre of activity in the evenings and the sleepy village really comes alive.

Just beyond the beautifully painted Church of the Assumption of the Virgin is the narrow alleyway that leads us to To Pounti – our wonderful abode for the next 4 nights.  I do several raps on the iron lion door knocker and a voice from above calls to us.  It’s Toula.  Several minutes later she is at the door and welcomes us in. This medieval house is so unique and precious that I feel privileged to stay here. I will write more about the house later.

There are two rooms to rent in the house and we are staying in one at the front of the property overlooking the alleyway. The antique furniture has been carefully curated and befits the era of the property. An ornately carved sideboard is set off with a vase of freshly picked flowers. The attention to detail is requisite.

Space is tight but with a little bit of rejigging, we make space for our luggage. No sooner are we in the room than Toula brings us up a tray of spoon sweets, two glasses of mastica, a small bag of masticha and some freshly baked cakes. Staying with Toula and Mr Kosta is where you will experience the very best of Greek hospitality. I am so happy to be back here and to share this experience with Peter.

After organising our luggage we go for initial explorations of the village and I am soon reminded of why I enjoy being in Pyrgi so much. Everyone that you pass will greet you with a ‘Kalispera’ or a ‘Yiasas’. You are made to feel welcome, very soon.

We decide to eat at Mastimaxi. The terrace above the square is the perfect place to watch people watching other people and life go by.

After the meal we walk to the smaller square for a cup of tea. As this is brought to our table the lady greets us with ‘Chiarete’ and tells us that the sentiment of the word means ‘we are happy to see you.’ It is so good to be back!

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