Where did those five days go? It’s as if they have disappeared on the gust of wind that whips around the Armenistis coastline causing those big rollers to smash onto the shore.
The wind is a curious thing. From my balcony at the Daidalos Hotel, I have a view over a small swimming pool which sits above huge rocks that tumble into the sea. The sound of the crashing waves and the upward spirals of the gusts of wind is deafening. I’d mentioned in the previous post that the roar lulls you to sleep – which is absolutely true. However, although the sound of the sea and the wind sounds quite violent, the breeze barely reaches my balcony. Great for sitting and gazing at the endless ocean in from of me (and praying that I’ll see a dolphin or two) but not the best for drying the washing! Anyway, the point is that when you wake up in the morning to this loud cacophony from nature’s orchestra, it can give you a false sense of insecurity and no sense of what the weather is really like. Once you climb the steps of the hotel to the narrow street at the front, there is silence. Barely a breeze. And heat. It took several days for me to realise this and where I’d have to go back into the hotel to change into something cooler.
It is this heat that has compelled me to spend much of my time here on the beach. Well, that’s not exactly true. I had hoped that the bus that runs along the coastline in summer would still be running but it seems the season is really coming to an end here now. Ikaria is a long island split in half by a mountain. Having stayed on the other side a few years ago, during a day tour I got a sense of how treacherous the mountain roads can be. I have only ever driven on the island of Kythera because push really did come to shove – drive or don’t see any of the island. There’s not a chance in hell that I’m going to do this on my own so I resigned my self to the fact when I arrived, that this will be the island for beaches. I won’t see much further than Armenistis and actually I will have seen very little of Ikaria and everything that it is known for – the mountain villages including the 100 or so houses that are hidden and especially can’t be seen from the sea (marauding pirates and all that). The ancient forests and the waterfalls and the wineries and the small businesses making essential oils or the potteries – all manner of artisans live here producing traditional handcrafts and making a living off the land – self-sufficiency is an island trait.
So I’ve spent my time walking either side of the hotel and lying on the beach and occasionally throwing myself into those treacherous waters. I’ve spent time eating in restaurants or eating ice cream in the cafe patisseries in the village. Actually the same cafe I ate ice cream in several years ago waiting for news of my eldest granddaughter who was playing in the Wimbledon Juniors competition. I remember feeling a bit homesick at the time and it has left me wondering if I really enjoy this solo travel anymore.
I was able to connect with a friend called Simon during my stay – we’d made contact with each other during my first stay on Ikaria a few years ago but by then I had already moved onto the next island. We’ve kept in touch and I’ve followed his amazing photography and plans to put on a photography exhibition on the island. We met yesterday for lunch. It was so good to have a conversation with another human being – and such an interesting one too. I think we’d found similarities in our experiences of working in the public sector and how rewarding it can be, but also how the internal politics and narrow mindedness can absolutely destroy you. That kind of complete and utter despair can break you – or make you – or compel you to live out your dream on a Greek island! Unfortunately not the latter for me – but it was for Simon and it seems he is making a good life for himself here.
I’d asked Simon how he ended up on Ikaria. I know it is now well established on the tourist trail but I was curious as to why this island in particular. Simon tells me that he discovered Ikaria over 20 years ago as a holiday destination. He grew to love it and the people – its quirkiness and its famous panagyri’s. It hasn’t been without its frustrations too but even as just an occasional visitor I can understand how that would become part and parcel of the lifestyle – part of the pact you make when decide to come to live in Greece. Besides, we agree that he did right by getting out before the full force of Brexit hits and also made in nigh on impossible to become a resident in Greece . I know Greece isn’t without its problems but life in the UK under this laughing stock of a government has and will become interminable.. I enjoy a moment of laughing and swearing about UK politics and Brexit over pork souvlaki, lots of white wine and a complimentary masticha to wash it all down.
Simon has promised to show me more of the ‘real Ikaria’ next time i am here. I don’t think I would normally come back to any one island so many times within the space of a few years but Ikaria has me intrigued. I know I’ve barely scratched the surface of her and feel there are many of her secrets yet to be unlocked.
Whilst eating at Thea’s Restaurant we take a stroll to view Nas beach from the top – one of the island’s best beaches. I think you need to be determined to try a good beach and have a head for heights to navigate your way down but for now i’m happy to view it from the top of the steps.
Simon tells me about some photographs he was able to capture on Nas beach when a particularly strong storm blew in, taking the waves over natural breakwater and almost to the top of the cliffs. I wondered if the salt water impacted on the terrapins that live in the fresh water lagoon at the back of the beach. Simon explains that he’s not a naturalist or wildlife expert! Anyway, I’m still wondering!
So I have a couple of hours to kill before the taxi comes to take me to Evdilos port. I’ve manged to squash three jars of Ikarian honey into my suitcase and hope that they make it home in one piece. Trying to get the old man who mans reception to understand my request to call for a taxi at 1.30 is a challenge but Google translate to the rescue.
I haven’t taken many photo’s whilst I’ve been here but here are just a few.
I’m currently sitting here on the hotel terrace throwing together a few words before I head off to the port where I’ll be heading to Tinos for 5 days.
Today is particularly windy. I’m hoping for a calm crossing. I don’t get sea sick but have a phobia of the V word to hoping that it’s calmer than it feels here. Think of me!