After a hectic few days transiting from the UK via Dusseldorf to Samos – now on Agathonisi it is nice to awake at my own pace with no ‘must does’ playing on my mind. The port village of St George is small. Talking to a fellow guest at Mary’s Rooms this morning she told me 25 years ago there were 2 taverna’s and just one or two pensions – but things haven’t really changed that much in this time. Now it has a mini market and a Creperie come cafe and a few other hostelries but this gives it the small intimate feel that is hard to find on other islands.
I had been told at Taverna George last night by George’s wife that the beginning of June had been good but now the weather is keeping people away. The island is a popular destination for the sailing fraternity and the winds are being a bit troublesome at the moment – good for me but not for the businesses here.
I aim to work my way around as many of the taverna’s and cafe’s that I can and even in 5 days this is possible. I start the day with breakfast at Cafe Creperie Memento.
The arrival of the Dodekanisos Express this morning saw the village shake into action – as much as it can. From my balcony I can see that about 5 people board and a handful disembark – 2 of those soldiers returning to their base up in the hills. The curious thing I see is the Papas catching the mooring ropes from the boat and then releasing them before it departs. I find out later that this same priest also mans the ferry ticket office which is confirmed when I go to purchase my ticket later that day. Complete in full regalia he sells ferry tickets from a tiny little booth on the harbour. I wonder how that got added to his job description? I love this Greek Oddity!
My first exploration of Agathonisi is to Cave Beach. If you follow the port road all the way around past Mary’s Room’s it will bring you to a tarmacked road. At the junction I take the road to the left and in less than 15 minutes I am at Cave Beach. The beach is deserted. It sits in a deep, narrow bay which is sheltered by the low rolling hillsides on either side. On top of the hills is a smattering of trees all wind bent to one side like a hipster’s quiff. And sure enough there is a cave – a heart shaped cave!
The first thing that strikes me is the shrill sound of the cicada’s echoing up the hillside. I can also hear the occasional clank of goat bells and the whistle of the wind in the trees. Nothing else – and it’s heaven!
The beach is shingle and not particularly comfortable to lay on for my old bones but I do decide to take a swim. The first few feet of the water’s edge are made up of stones ranging from huge to tiny pebbles – the type that isn’t conducive to an elegant entry into the sea. Good job nobody is watching! Small fish shoot out from underneath the stones to see who is invading their territory.
The water is freezing or just feels like it against the contrast of the heat. However, I inch into the water slowly, mindful that if I go into cardiac arrest there is nobody around to resuscitate me. Not the kind of “swimming with the fishes” I’d like to contemplate! Nothing like having a few irrational fears is there? Like what if snakes comes down from the mountains to bite me when I’m lying on the beach. I have no qualms about travelling on my own – I love it and I’ve been doing this for years but it doesn’t mean that I don’t have strange thoughts – something to do with age I think – Oh to have that naïve confidence of my youth back!
The Nissos Kalymnos pays Agathonisi a visit at lunchtime. To get a better view of her I take the road at the side of Cafe Memento which ascends quite rapidly.
There are just the two villages on the island – Megalo and Micro Chorio – before I know it, like the other ‘Mad Dogs’ I walk up to Micro Chorio in full midday sun. I was sure that the gentle breeze whisking its way around the port would continue the higher I went. I was wrong but I made it!
If you want to know where the source of the clinking goat bells and cockerel calls are coming from – look no further than this village. A couple of goats that were happily chewing on the dry bracken as I turned the corner but they scarpered as I approached.
When you arrive in the village you are first met by a tiny square – Plateia Micro Chorio. I walk left and right to see where the road takes me. Beyond the village there is a path that disappears over a hill. There are just a handful of small traditional dwellings here. I can smell cooking and decide to follow my nose. Several of the houses have external kitchens consisting of three sided stone walls and a corrugated tin roof. Pots of food are being cooked on an open fire and I can’t help but wonder if the bathroom facilities are as rudimentary. I’d love to stay longer but it’s hot and I need to go back to some shade.
I end the day with a meal at Cafe Yetoysa which my balcony at Mary’s Rooms overlooks. Souvlaki and Sunet – can life get any better!