It is with great sadness that I leave Ikaria today after 6 wonderful days. I can’t understate the part that the Oinoi Hotel, in Therma has played in making my stay here so special. When you stay at this hotel you become part of a family – the guests will chat to each other at breakfast in the morning and Filipos aided by Mariana will ensure that you have a wonderful stay. The breakfasts they provide here are really special – heaven knows what time they have to get up in the morning to make sure that their freshly baked bread and cake (a different type every day) is ready for us at 8am! I will also say that their Greek yoghurt is definitely the best I have tasted anywhere – and I eat it every single day! The ‘piece de resistance’ is their homemade preserves of which the lemon and the sugar free apricot were my favourites and all eaten in their lovely shaded garden. I’ve just loved it here and I’m not going to lie – I struck lucky getting this hotel at domatia prices!
There are a couple of walks that I did from Therma. The first is a walk along the cliff, over past the old abandoned spa hotel and beyond. You access the path from across the road from the Oinoi Hotel – look up and you will see the orange signs attached to a tree pointing you in the right direction. The path can be a bit precarious at times where there is loose slate shingle and it does take you along a cliff edge. My plan was to walk to the secluded beach but my vertigo, the wind and the fact that I was on my own made my self survival instincts kick in which told me to turn back. Anyway, it was enough to give me a nice view over the main Therma beach.
The second walk takes you up a very steep road up and above the other side of the bay. The road feel like a 2:1 incline – the type of steepness that gives you cramp in your calves but this road if you go all the way will take you to Agios Kyrios. Again a great view over Therma beach.
One day I caught the water taxi to Agios Kyrikos to visit the archaeological museum there. Ignore what Google Maps tells you to do. From the town of Agios Kyrikos access one of the paths that leads up to the Metropolitan church and it is just beyond the back of the church on your right. It is free entry and it is a really lovely little museum – small but perfectly formed with well laid out exhibits.
The water taxi I’m told doesn’t run at weekends and is one of the last water taxi’s to operate between Agios Kyrikos and Therma. You will know when it arrives at Therma as you will hear one of the brothers (I’m assuming their brothers because they look alike!) shout Agios Kyrikos but it sounds more like “Ayooooh Yeeeeyooooooooh!”. It costs 1€ one way and takes less than 10 minutes. It runs into the evening until sunset.
The restaurants that I sampled in Therma have all been really very good at excellent prices. Everything was well cooked and well presented. For something a little bit different and a modern twist on some Greek favourites you can’t to go wrong with O Kritikos under the large tamarisk trees on the beach. For something well cooked and traditional – try any of the others – you won’t be disappointed.
Regarding Therma beach, it is divided in half at the pier where the water taxi departs from. On the right you have a mainly sand beach and on the right it is mainly large pebbles with a bit of sand. There are metal and palm leave parasols along both halves of the beach offering the only shade there. Because Therma is popular and there are only a limited amount of parasols you need to get up pretty early to get one. Even if you do secure an umbrella, don’t imagine that you have sole occupancy of it. I was only one person so didn’t need the whole area and throughout the day, a number of Greeks would come and greet me with a cheerful Kalimera and plonk themselves in the shade next to me and not with the usual Northern European standards of personal space either! Now if you can embrace this it can be a really sociable experience – even if you don’t speak the same language. As the sun moved around – I was on the leading side and as I moved my chair, my Greek neighbours would shuffle around with me. You’ll never struggle to get that sun lotion on your back again!
Talking of sun lotion I bumped into the lady who I’d shared a shade with a few days earlier as she came out of church and she greeted me like an old friend. Her name is Sofia and she is on holiday from Athens. She laments sadly that Athens is no longer the place that she grew up in as a child but we swing the conversation around to how wonderful Therma is.
I very reluctantly have to mention something a bit negative about Therma beach. If you visit the beach or one of the taverna’s overlooking the beach in the evening you will see the stray cats – of which there are many – doing their business on the beach – mainly the right side which is sand. This you can smell when you are there but because of the potential health risks to children I feel that I should mention it. The pebble side on the left is OK.
On my last night here I opened my balcony doors to see musicians sitting in the garden of a house across the road from me playing some wonderful music. Lots of “Agapi Mou’s” and “Sagapo’s” filled the street for a couple of hours. It was hard to leave my balcony despite being ravenously hungry – but I did in the end! How magical this was!
My ferry leaves at 8pm and Filipos very kindly lets me keep my room until I need to go. Not only that he gives me a lift to the port as his wife and children are arriving from Athens on the same ferry that I will catch to Fourni.
As I wait at the port the clouds begins to roll in over the mountains. It has been windy all day but this evening it has whipped up a bit. I can sail in all weathers – the rocking and rolling of a boat doesn’t affect me but as I’ve said before I do suffer from emetophobia and can’t be around anyone being ill. Anyway, the Nissos Chios is a huge beast of a ship so I don’t doubt that she will be steady on the sea.
Just as she comes into port we are all herded into the cattle pen. The wind is whipping up dust to the point where it’s almost giving me a free exfoliation treatment. There are a lot of people waiting to board and many times more disembarking. The lorries, the cars, the foot passengers just keep on coming and it is quite uncomfortable standing in the middle of a dust storm.
Eventually we get to board. This ship has escalators – a nice luxury on some ferries. I’d forgotten that on this ship there is an upper garage level where you leave your luggage This is half way up the escalators but I inadvertently sailed past it. Unfortunately there aren’t escalators going down so I had to hoik my very heavy and overpacked luggage plus a parasol and a beach chair down the stairs. I go back up to the deck just in time to see the sun set over Ikaria to wish her a farewell.
The journey is quick – just 30 minutes. I have no sense of direction so wanted to make sure that I found my way to the luggage store without getting lost. By the reception desk, a crowd of people were being held in waiting until the signal was given to make our way down. The crowd were all jostling for position and it was uncomfortable – and I’m sure particularly for a couple of elderly people that I saw looking a little distressed but everyone seemed to ignore.
I picked up my luggage from the garage deck and began heaving it down the stairs again which was one step at a time. I can’t believe how over laden I am and why such a huge modern ship like the Nissos Chios makes this so difficult. On most ferries you can leave your luggage on the lower car deck as soon as you walk on. I’ll give the Dodekonisos Seaways their due – not only do they meet you and take your luggage from you as you board, they also have it all line up waiting for collection before you disembark!
The disembarkation was chaotic – a lot of people getting off at Fourni and everyone pushing and shoving their way through whilst also trying to avoid the ongoing stream of traffic too. It’s the type of thing you see in Santorini and I definitely didn’t expect to see it on this little island. I just try to get off the quayside and to a place where I can thumb in the name of my accommodation into Google Maps – I know it’s very close. After a walk along the harbour front just as I arrive at Patra’s Rooms, Dimitris finds me and says that he was waiting for me at the port. Oh well – I’m here now. Dimitris carries my suitcase up to the room for me which I’m very grateful for as I’m shattered!
I just have enough energy to unpack, shower and make my way to one of the taverna’s – Taverna Niko’s where I’m invited to the back to see what’s on offer – just like the old days! I have chicken souvlaki and a Greek salad and some much needed vino and am joined by a new friend!