Fourni wasn’t what I expected. I imagined it to be much more low key – maybe not as quiet as Agathonisi but from the moment I arrived on the chaotic ferry journey on the Nissos Chios it was clear that this is a lively island.
Saying that, we’re not talking Santorini here –nor anything like it, as by lively I don’t mean overly touristic. It’s predominantly Greeks here and it has a very local feel where everyone seems to know everyone else. More than anything, it’s this liveliness that gives Fourni its character. In the evening by Patra’s coffee shop you’ll see a group of kids – up to around 20 some nights, just hanging out, teasing each other, play fighting and running amok. People of all ages do their promenading in the evening too and it’s a great place to people watch.
I found the people of Fourni to be very friendly and welcoming and for a solo traveller that is a bonus. On my first day there was a scheduled power cut from 8 o’clock in the morning until mid afternoon. I went to a café come bakery on the main street. I can’t tell you the name of the place because it isn’t apparent anywhere but they bake their own pastries and have a fantastic selection of bougatsa – meat bougatsa, cheese bougatsa, chocolate bougatsa – but it is the cream bougatsa I was craving with a nice cup of tea! The bougatsa was still baking and would be ready in 15 minutes so I was invited to sit and wait. The man jumped on his moped and ten minutes later returned with a portable gas stove on which to heat the water for my tea. Now that’s the kind of thing I’m talking about!
There are lots of great places to eat and all of the ones I tried invited you into the kitchen to see what they had on offer. There are several really good bakeries and plenty of cafe’s with some fantastic desserts. One I went back to a couple of times was Ta Tsirnikakia for the friendliness of the staff. I also loved E Kalo Kardia and of course Fratzesca’s taverna on Chrysomilia beach. Of course the sea food restaurants on the front are a fish lovers paradise! Whatever you want you will find here!
Getting around on Fourni can have its challenges. I didn’t find it necessary to hire a car and was quite happy to use the services of Fratzesca the local taxi driver and definitely one of the island’s characters! However, even if you do go to the village of Chrysomilia, from the village down to the beach there are 600 + steps to navigate. The steps are in good condition and easy in a downward direction and Fraztesca will pick you up at her parent’s taverna close to the beach. The pebble beach here is narrow and not organised so unless you are comfortable lying on large pebbles, bring a beach chair but plenty of tamarisk trees for shade!
You can walk or get a taxi to Kampi beach. Walking up on the main road is one way but you must watch for oncoming traffic on the bends. The other way is a set of steps and a path that goes behind the church. To access the steps, take the street to the left of Tula’s Studios (with your back to the sea) and when you get to the school in front of you turn right. At this point you will see a sign for Kampi Beach Bar. There are a lot of steps – I didn’t count but best accessed when it’s cool rather in full midday sun! Kampi Beach Bar to offer refreshments and access to sun beds on a beautiful, sand beach. However, even if you arrive at the windmills by foot or by taxi there are still over 100 steps to walk down to the beach – very easy but the walk back up a little more challenging.
The day trip to Thymena was another ‘must do’ but again, the settlement is set ampitheatrically on the hillside and there are lots of steps up from the port. However, you can easily break these up by turning left at the kafenion and work your way around gradually. There are several beaches close to the port – none of them organised. The best beach which I didn’t get to I believe is organised but is a bit of a walk from the port.
Another nice walk to do is a walk up to the windmills to the right past Psili Ammos beach (which is organised but also with a lot of steps down). The sun sets over in this direction so very nice to walk to in the early evening though don’t leave it too late so you have to walk back in the dark as the road is narrow with a sheer drop on one side.
The town beach in front of Tula’s Studios is very nice – a good sand beach with patches of pebbles. Blue Sea Café bring out the sunbeds during the day and are free to use as long as you make a purchase from them. This is definitely the most accessible beach and there is plenty of shade under tamarisk trees and you also get to watch the comings and goings of the fishing boats and also the passenger boats when they arrive in port.
Any big ferry coming into Fourni is an event as I found out the evening I arrived. But the night I left, I was able to witness this from the other side. At least 60 of the locals came to meet the Nissos Chios as she came into port – some just to watch but lots were queued up with trolleys and wheeled crates waiting for whatever goods had been shipped over from Athens. The scene is frenetic but boarding is a much more civilised affair than when I disembarked.
In all I’ve really loved my 7 days here. Don’t let my comments about the number of steps to and from the various beaches put you off – I’m nearly 60 and not fit at all but I managed it fine – the steps were all in good condition so nothing precarious to worry about. There was enough to keep me occupied with being able to explore quite a bit on foot. The village of Kampos is interesting especially once you go further back into the village where in parts it looks as though time stood still.
If I was go come back to Fourni again I wouldn’t do it as part of a solo trip. Fourni is a sociable island where eating out with friends and family are part of the fun. Just one of the payoffs of solo travel is that sometimes you just feel like an observer on the periphery of everything that is going on.
I’ve loved the fact the Fourni is ‘old school’ from the pension owners meeting people at the port with photographs of their accommodation to being invited into the kitchen to choose your meal instead of menu’s! This is the Greece that I love!
Patra’s Rooms has been a great place to stay, literally within a stones throw from the port. Good, clean, basic accommodation at a good rate. They also have some studios close by which have very pretty terraces and fantastic sea views however – there are a lot of steps up to the higher studios – again the payoff of a great sea view. Patra’s Café in front of their rooms do a fantastic array of desserts and ice creams and also a fantastic breakfast. Dimitris and his family have been very friendly and hospitable making this a lovely stay.
I’m now on my way to Patmos – a last minute decision – but that’s what’s great about having six weeks and not planning anything too far ahead!
For now Fourni Korseon – Farewell!