Farewell Koufonissi and a Revisit to Amorgos – Le Grande Bleu!

NB This is part of a trip that I started writing up in 2015.

I’ve got that sinking feeling – woooah that sinking feeling. I’ve got that sinking feeling and it’s time time time, time to pack my bag!

Anyway, bags are packed and we just have time to have a final mooch around the village before catching our ferry to Amorgos.  I’ll let the photo’s do the talking!

The Blue Star Naxos is here to take us on our way to beautiful Amorgos.  Farewell Koufonissi – it has been an absolute pleasure.

Now Amorgos.  I was last here in 2002 so 13 years have lapsed since then.  Not that long ago in real terms but some memories stand out more than others.  I remember that we stayed in a place very close to the port.  Which port you may ask as Amorgos has 2.  Well it was definitely Katapola because we used to hang out at Le Grande Bleu Bar a little further along the harbour.  We – who is we you may ask.  Well at the time I was travelling with a former boyfriend and at the place where we stayed we met a lovely pair of Australian girls and an American guy who’s names I’ve unfortunately forgotten.  I remember several drunken nights with these guys which on at least one occasion resulted in a semi naked midnight swim.  Blimey – what a rock and roll lifestyle I used to lead! (joking).

I literally only have 1 photograph from this trip.  You know as relationships split up and then of course I’ve lost thousands of photographs since my recent hard drive failure but here is the photo – very grainy, very wonky but I think it says it all.  What the hell was I thinking with that fringe!

The other memory I have of Amorgos is a treacherous walk to the Monastery of Panagia Hozoviotissa of course famously featured in the film starring Jean Reno and Rosanna Arquette – Le Grande Bleu.  Technically the film was set in Sicily but they filmed the monastery on Amorgos as part of the backdrop.  Great film if you haven’t seen it.

Anyway, instead of catching the bus like most normal people would we decided – or rather the boyfriend decided that we could walk down the mountain from Chora.  He seemed to know what he was talking about and was quite good at researching these things so I went along with it.  I remember noticing how pretty Chora was but then it all went a bit down hill after that – literally.  It was midday and the sun was at its hottest.  We found our way onto this path – if you can call it a path which zigzagged down the mountain side in a not very safe way at all.  I do remember it being quite precipitous and slipping on shifting gravel underfoot.

We reached the entrance to the monastery grounds and I was done in – dehydrated and I felt like I was about to spontaneously combust.  I wasn’t having fun at all.  The boyfriend went on to visit the monastery and I just sought refuge in the shade of the bus shelter.  Anyway,  I didn’t get to see inside the monastery on this occasion so I’ll be making damn sure I do on this one!

All of these memories played through my mind as we reach the port of Katapola. For our short stay we will be staying in Chora but as we disembark I scan the buildings to see if I can recognise the place where I had stayed previously.  I remember there was another photograph of our little gang sitting in the arched entrance to our lodgings.  It was a burgundy colour with pillars.

We walk off the boat and I’m busy swinging my head from left to right like a demented meercat – trying to recognise anything I possibly can.  I’m caught off-guard as a lady comes running up to me with her arms outstretched and it took me by surprise.  My mind was elsewhere and I couldn’t fathom what was happening.  I said hello to her and smiled whilst desperately trying to think why she would know me.  God knows in usual circumstances I would have engaged more openly but she really caught me whilst transported to another planet.  She walked away from me and the BF and I had to move to make way for offloading lorries.  It was only later once I’d got a grip of myself that I realised that she was the lovely Swedish lady (married to an Englishman) that stayed in the same place as us on Iraklia.  God I still kick myself today when I think of this.

I’ll be honest.  Amorgos was a bit of an afterthought on this trip and kind of squeezed in between the other islands but we have enough time to see the highlights.  If I get to see the Swedish lady again I can make an apology and explain my momentary loss of memory.  However, I suspect that she was waiting to depart the island on the Blue Star.

We are staying in Chora so catch a bus from the port up to this pretty little village.  We are staying at a place called Panorama Studios and Pension.  It’s located on the edge of the village and offers great views across to the kastro, the sea and the windmills.  It has been very tastefully refurbished and I highly recommend it as a good budget place to stay. We are well impressed with the modern bathroom in particular!

Conscious of our very limited time on the island we throw our bags in the room and head out again. We have an initial walk around the village and it is gorgeous! I’m really glad that we took the decision to stay in Chora. Although not on the doorstep of a beach it really does have a lot of charm. We’re not here for the beaches anyway.

The day is still young so we decide to catch the bus to the monastery which is a short ride from Chora – and a far more sensible way to go rather than down a cliff face! It’s a nice bus ride down – the bus takes a few hair pin bends and of course there’s a fantastic birds eye view of the Le Grande Bleu (not the bar).

Once disembarked from the bus we walk towards the staircase that takes you up to the entrance of the monastery. This really is a feat of architectural genius and of course dedication.

Before we climb the steps to the entrance I try and figure out where the path is that I’d previously taken down the mountainside from Chora. There does appear to be a fenced off path which is probably now classified as a dangerous route. As I look up I do wonder what the hell were we thinking!

Once in the monastery we are offered a welcome drink and then invited to look around. We are one of the last visitors of the day so it is very quiet. It’s a highly recommended visit.

The bus takes us back to Chora. Later that evening we decide to take a pre-evening meal walk to the windmills. This is a spectacular spot in which to enjoy the sunset and practically in solitude! The view from the little chapel and the windmills is of distant mountain ranges and the kastro.

The light is a golden. That very special hue that makes you and everything else in the world feel right. As we walk back into the village, I note how the chimney pots cast geometric shadows across neighbouring houses. We pass through vaulted alleyways which bring us back to the centre of the village.

We decide to eat at Kath’ Odon taverna set close to the Amorgos Museum. It’s a lovely little taverna serving traditional fare just a short walk from the windmills.

During a short stroll back to our lodgings, we decide that the following day we will catch the bus to Aegiali and Tholaria.

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