It’s funny how circumstances can affect your frame of mind. My arrival on Fourni didn’t start the best way after a chaotic journey from Agios Kyrikos on the Nissos Chios amidst a dust storm at the port. I must admit I was shocked at the amount of cars and people that disembarked at Fourni that night. It isn’t quite peak season yet the island seems to be busy – not at all what I expected. Everything I had read about Fourni, had always described it as ‘remote’. Anyway – that was 5 days ago and it didn’t take long to settle and acclimatise on Fourni.
Fourni – or Fourni Korseon, is one of twelve islands and islets that make up a stunning archipelago shaped like a lobster (in my mind anyway!) At points it can be mistaken for one continuous landmass with low rolling hills that seem to surround you, but then out of nowhere a yacht or ferry boat will materialise between the narrow straights. No wonder this was a haven for pirates. The Corsairs (Korseon) is the name given to the pirates and rogues that roamed the Aegean seas. They would lie in wait amongst the hidden fjords for merchant ships sailing between the surrounding islands of Patmos, Samos and Chios and plunder whatever they could with the utmost audacity.
I had read that 53 sunken ships have been discovered by marine archaeologists here – more than anywhere else in the Mediterranean and some dating back to 2500 years ago. However, not all of that may have been due to piracy. The Eastern Aegean is known for the vicious storms that can whip up without notice. Fourni has many natural, safe harbours but the unpredictability of the storms would put any ships at risk – even in a safe harbour.
On my first day on the island, there is a power cut across the whole island. It is expected to last until the afternoon so I decide to go out and explore on foot. My starting point is the main street which is marked by the two flags close by the port. This is a beautiful street lined with mulberry trees and the place where you will find almost everything you will need. On the right is the Alpha Bank and next to that the ferry ticket office. A bit further down on the left you have the pharmacy and the bakery and a selection of little mini markets and tourists shops selling local produce. This leads up to the main square where the focal point is the church of Agios Nikolaos and a huge, old plane tree that provides dappled shade for the cluster of taverna’s and kafenions and oddly, an ancient Roman sarcophagus.
If you are a door and window enthusiast as I am, this street and the surrounding alleyways are paradise! Yet – like Ikaria – door knockers just ain’t a thing here and after much scouring of alleyways I find just one! The Door Knockers of Greece Facebook Group
The main part of the village of Kampos is flat but once you hit the edge of the village, there are houses and small holdings set amphitheatrically on the hillside. Long flights of concrete steps will take up and around the alleyways but before you know it, you will hit a dead end or come across a sliver of a hidden alleyway. It makes me wonder if the village was built to accommodate the pirates or to evade them! The higher you go the better views over the village and bay you get.
One architectural feature that I noticed in the upper part of the village was the old outside stone or marble sinks, made with steep angled sides and raised ridges on which to scrub washing clean. I have been back to these streets several times to explore them – each time discovering something new. That is the benefit of travelling solo – you can do exactly as you please without any negotiation!
Despite the village being a mass of concrete (of course this is what the houses and street are made from) there are several little plots of land amongst this where grapevines, fig and lemon trees and small allotment gardens thrive. In addition to this many of the residents grow brightly coloured flowers in pots and containers and arches of bougainvillea frame the entrance to several alleyways.
Keen to explore more I decide to head back to the port and take a right up to the windmill. There is a strong breeze blowing today so even though it is nearly midday, the strength of the sun is lessened by the cooling of the wind. I remember to double up on the factor 50!
It’s a steep walk that starts at the shipyard. It is hard to ignore the fact that the mainstay of this island is its fishing industry. Fishing boats come and go throughout the day and when not out fishing, the fishermen are engaged in untangling nets in preparation for the next outing or descaling fish or slapping octopus on rocks.
It is a narrow tarmacked road that takes me up past Psili Amos beach which can be accessed down a stretch of around 100 concrete steps. I continue up to the windmill. Google Maps shows that the road comes to a dead end further down so after admiring the view over to Thymena I return back the way I came.
I stop for a cola at Patra’s taverna and watch the Dodekanisos Pride arrive with more tourists. Old school style, hotel owners are at the port holding up descriptions of their accommodations. I haven’t seen scenes like this since the arrival of Booking.com! The owner of one of the fish taverna’s holds up his very best lobsters – the best form of promotion you can give!
After the sugar boost I set off in the other direction to the windmills to the left. I follow the main road – which I discover later isn’t the best route to take. Anyway, I follow the main road up, stopping to take views over the port as I go. Along the way I discover abandoned machinery that has been there so long it has almost become part of the shrubbery. This roadside is where all manner of machines and equipment are laid to rest. There is some nice artwork along the way too.
Once at the windmills I walk to the top of the road that overlooks Kampi Beach. After assessing the steep road down and the hundreds of stone steps to the beach (thinking of the walk back and how tired my legs already are) I head back up and make a note to come back once my energy has been restored.
That evening I decide to eat on the picturesque, mulberry line street and choose Ta Tsirnikakia. The waitress is very friendly and makes me feel very welcome. Another ‘old school’ way of life here that I love is the absence of menu’s. Almost every taverna will invite you into their kitchen to see what is on offer – just like back in the day – and I love it!
As the sun sets and dusk falls this pretty street of mulberry trees comes into its own.