Farewell Sikinos – On to Ios

Peter and I are up and ready by 7.30am and sitting on our terrace enjoying a cup of tea. I give the GA’s (Grandadults) a knock at 8am.  Again at 8.30am.  The room is still littered with clothing and dishes still need washing. At 9.00am I give them a 30 minute warning and at 9.30 they have their cases lined up outside the apartment. They did it! Well done gang. Let’s see how well you do when we have to leave Ios on an even earlier ferry departure!

Peter does his final sweep of the two apartments. I’m pretty sure this is some kind of OCD that he has. He checks drawers and cupboards that I know we haven’t even used. Well we’ve never left anything behind so far so it must be a useful strategy.

Luggage is hauled around the back of the beach to the port where we wait for the arrival of the Artemis. She’s on time and soon we are on our way to Ios!

We’re only aboard for the 30 minute journey – no time for the GA’s to go sloping off.

I’ve passed the island of Ios on several occasions over the years and always thought how beautiful it looks. Not that you can always tell from the deck of a ship. As you look up towards Chora and see the whitewashed churches tumbling down the landscape how can you fail to be enchanted? Ios has for many years had a reputation for being a party island and with exceptional beaches. I’m intrigued.

Disembarkation was busy but manageable. The earlier departure time rewards us with practically a whole day so our three nights will actually feel like 3 days – unlike our stay on Sikinos. Also unlike Sikinos, Ios has a busy thriving port and there is definitely a younger demographic here. 

It is about a 10-15 minute walk to Galini Pension where we are staying.  We head along the back of Gialos beach and take the side street next to a small supermarket.  Another few minutes walk and to the left we arrive to a pretty exterior covered in bougainvillea.  Bernice a lovely Irish lady checks us in and kindly shows us a map of the island. One of the places that I had wanted to visit was Homer’s tomb but Bernice tells me that it is only accessible by car.  Oh well, that’s that one off the list.

Galini Pension is probably one of the most expensive places (apart from the apartment in Santorini) that we are staying in.  The price is not relevant to the quality of the accommodation at all.  The GA’s are staying in a standard room that can accommodate 4 people with a set of bunk beds and 2 single beds – obviously ideal for youngsters coming here to party.  It is just a room with a tiny bathroom – no balcony or terrace.  We have what they call a double deluxe room on the ground floor which has a tiny terrace set into their larger public terrace which is very pretty and shaded.  However, the rooms are standard basic rooms of which in normal times I wouldn’t expect to pay more than 35 – 45€ per night per  room.  These rooms have cost over 100€ per night each.  They were booked well in advance of the trip so not a last minute reservation.  We have definitely seen prices shoot up this year which is an after effect of the pandemic combined with a rise in the general cost of living. Let’s hope the prices stabilise soon.

After the cases are thrown into rooms we regroup and head off for breakfast at Yialou Beach Bar just around the corner.  It is not quite midday so breakfast is more of a brunch. The GA’s decide to have pancakes with Nutella whilst Peter and I have a tuna wrap with tuna, lettuce and capers.  Their capacity to consume so much sweet stuff at any time of the day is astounding.

The lady also takes our order for drinks and I clearly wasn’t paying attention because she came back with 2 frappe’s. Now I know Ebonee doesn’t drink frappe and Peter and I have ordered tea. Unbeknown to me the 14 year old GA has ordered himself a frappe! My mouth falls open with shock. Then I remember that I was drinking coffee at 14. That’s maybe why I can’t tolerate it now. Anyway – I’m not very comfortable with a 14 year old necking back a glass full of caffeine. The girls reckon he will be even more annoying than usual. I daresay they’ll take him to task on any misdemeanours anyway – caffeine fuelled or not.

After keeping out of the sun for the first part of our holiday I can now feel the pull of Gialos Beach. This is where Peter and I spend the afternoon. This is a really lovely beach where you can pay to hire a sunbed or find some shade under a tamarisk tree – we opt for the latter. I think that the GA’s may be here too but are keeping their distance from us. Whether it has anything to do with the memes I had uploaded to the family Greek Holiday Whatsapp group or not I don’t know. I imagine seeing your grandmother in her bikini could be quite a shock to the system!(Yes I still wear a bikini at my age!) These are the tamest ones!

Later that afternoon we drag ourselves off the beach and head to the large supermarket close to the port. As the room at Galini has no facilities such as a kettle or even glasses in the room, we need to figure out a way that the 14 year old can eat his cereal in the morning.  We buy some disposable spoons and plastic cups. If the cups are too small I can always cut a large water bottle in half as I always travel with a small pair of scissors. This is what real island hopping is all about!

Back at the apartments I ask the GA’s where they would like to eat this evening which is responded to with a coordinated chant of “Chora! Chora! Chora!” I don’t doubt in their minds that Chora = Action so this is where we will head.

There is a regular bus that leaves the port for Chora every 15 mins and it runs late into the evening.  After making the short climb past agricultural landscape the bus stops at what feels like quite a modern settlement on one side and the traditional town on the other. I’m sure it isn’t as clear cut as this but this is just my first impression. Everything feels very developed for tourism even with a café dedicated to all things Nutella. I distract the GA’s hoping they don’t notice it.  We head towards the imposing yet beautiful Cathedral of the Annunciation and from there begin to climb up through the steep narrow streets.

One minute you can be passing a small chapel and then the other a night club names Pash, Disco 69, Slammer Bar, Rehab Bar, Scorpion – it all sounds way too hedonistic for me! However, there is no denying that Chora has a lot of charm.

We continue walking until we come to a taverna called the Mills – obvs near the windmills at the top of the town. It is busy but there is a table free for us. The menu is extensive with a modern twist on Greek classics. A waiter carries a clay bowl with flames leaping from it to a neighbouring table and we immediately decide that the flambe sausages (on the menu as ‘sausages on fire’) has to be had! Along with this we have a large plate of dolmades, fava, Greek salad and heaven’s knows what else. The chicken souvlaki is presented on a skewer hanging from a metal rack – the GA’s like this little novelty – perfect for an Instagram shot. I have the moussaka and Peter has the rabbit. The meal was very nice but I must say that the wine from the barrel left a lot to be desired. 🙁

BTW that’s not me looking miserable – just exhausted!

Before we head back to the port I let the GA’s go explore on their own for an hour and arrange to meet back at the cathedral at 11pm. Being tired and the old people that we are, Peter and I have a cup of tea in a small place next to the church. 

The GA’s find us and join us for drink before heading back to the bus stop. Not before long a bus arrives. I could actually hear the bus before I saw it. It was rammed with hoards of rowdy youth (how much does this age me?) who appear to have started their partying on the bus. They spill off in high spirits and head off up into Chora. I think the GA’s may wish they could join them. Had one not been 14 years of age it may have been an option though I suspect I’d have been lurking in the alleyways keeping a beady eye out!


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