Kampi Beach and a Trip to Chrysomilia

Although Kampos is the centre of everything on Fourni, I’m keen to get out and explore.  However, I’m still a bit chicken when it comes to driving in Greece plus I’m not sure that the cost of hiring a car and the stress on my nerves is worth it! 🙂

I know that if I set off early enough I can walk to Kampi Beach before it gets too hot having made it half way there the day before.  I still didn’t know that the main road wasn’t the best route to get there so off I trudged.  You’ve got to be really careful on the sharp bends to keep an eye out for oncoming traffic.

Once at the windmills again I follow the steep path down.  As the path flattens out I notice that the low morning sun throws shadows onto it from the prickly pear plants growing on the roadside.  I have to chuckle to myself because the shadows look like people having a party!  I believe it’s called Pareidolia when you see faces in inanimate objects – well I see all kinds of things in shadows and reflections – it becomes a bit of an addiction!

There is a set of steep steps down to the beach, however, if you continue along the path there is a second set of steps that are staggered and a lot easier to climb both up and down. There is still about 120 steps but it brings you out directly at Kampi Beach Bar.

The beach is deserted and I think I’ve found a little bit of heaven.  The sun beds are free as long as you buy something from the Beach Bar so I order a tea.  After about an hour of tranquillity the day trippers from Ikaria arrive on the beach.  Families also arrive, parking up below the windmills but it still maintains a nice laid back vibe.

I get restless after a while – I struggle to lie on a beach for any amount of time and it becomes tiresome chasing the shade around the parasol.  For the life of me I can’t lie out in full sun – it just doesn’t make sense to me in light of what we know about sun damage and skin cancer.  Anyway, my pale Anglo Saxon skin isn’t meant to be the shade of burn umber so I keep it protected the best I can.

I head back up the steps – counting all 120 of them as I go (not exactly accurate but it was definitely over 100!) and stopping to photograph the views as I go (stopping to catch my breath more like!)

Once at the windmills again I can see a wide path that leads down behind the church which I decide to follow.  This is the much better route to take to and from Kampi Beach Bar and it brings me out at the edge of the village

So that was a nice couple of hours on the beach.  I did ask if there is a water taxi to Kampi Beach and apparently there isn’t so no matter how you get there whether it’s on foot or by taxi there is no getting around the fact that you will need to climb up and down over 100 steps.  Saying that I’m nearly 60 and not the fittest person in the world but I still managed to make it OK.

The following day I’m still feeling a bit restless and walk to the town beach and have a drink at Blue Sea café.  In the afternoon they bring sunbeds out onto the beach underneath parasols which are free to use as long as you buy something from the café.  I’m not in the mood for the beach again however, I’d noticed a taxi van driving through the village on several occasions and I see it coming towards me.  The lady driver stops and I ask her if she is going to Chrysomilia – the only other settlement on Fourni.  She holds up her hand and says “Five minutes!” and passes me her business card through the window. So I wait.

Sure enough she returns and I deduce that she only knows the odd word of English.  Regardless of this I can understand that she is telling me that she will give me a tour to Chrysomilia and back for 20€ but if I want to see the village (she says whilst doing the two fingered eye thing), swim (breast stroke motion)), go to the taverna owned by her mama and papa (miming eating), stay for 3, 4 5 hours (pointing to her watch and holding up her fingers) it is 30€ which she writes down on a bit of paper.

Not very much liking time constraints I opt for option 2 where I am dropped in the village and will be picked up in the afternoon.  All I have to do is ask her mama at the taverna to phone her.  Great – we have a plan!

Her name is Frantzeska Kondyla.  As I get into the minibus I tell her that my name is “Stefania Francesca” which provokes a big laugh and a vigourous handshake from her!

We set off up the main road out of Kampos, up past the windmills and up and around the narrow concrete road.  It is a good road in a fair state of repair but the closer we get to Chyrsomilia, the more rock fall there is on the road – and also the goats that scatter as Frantzeska takes the corners at speed.  She points out various places to me and we see the peaks of Samos and Ikaria pointing up above Fourni.  If you imagine Fourni to be the lobster shape that I mentioned, the village of Kampos is somewhere on the left of the lobster’s neck.  Chrysomilia is located at the top of the lobster’s right claw.

Now although I didn’t float across the sea as Google Maps is showing, you get the gist!

As we cross a narrow straight it’s almost as if we are arriving on another island.  Frantzeska drops me at the edge of the village which sits high above the bay.  I say “three o’clock” with a twist of my hand meaning approximately and we agree that she will come when she received the telephone call.

Chrysomilia is a small settlement with houses and small holdings set all on different levels on the hillside.  There are more of the outside stone sinks that I’d seen in Kampos – I’ve become rather fascinated with them!  The views from the edge of the village show just how high up we are.  The testament to the height of the village is the number of stone steps down to the harbour.  I didn’t count.  There were way too many but I’d guess around 400!  (Update:  I’m told there is over 600 steps from the village to the beach!)  It’s a relatively easy walk down – the steps are in a good state of repair but I wouldn’t like to walk in the opposite direction!

The path brings you out at a small cluster of houses and the O Vangelis taverna owned by Frantzeska’s parents.  The first thing I notice is two groups of people – possibly a couple of families of all ages, sorting out the fishing nets.  Fishing really is the heart of this community too.

The beach is a long, curved, narrow stretch of pebble with several spitakia or more than likely what used to be fishermen’s cottages along the way.  It is lined with tamarisk trees offering shade, some weighted down with piles of stone to stop it toppling over where the soil and sand has eroded away.  The water is very clear and I find a spot to lay out my towel and take a swim.

Once dried out on the beach I think it’s only right that I eat at Frantzesca’s taverna.  I don’t usually eat lunch as I prefer to save my appetite for the evening meal but there are always exceptions!  Of course fish is on offer and I would love to try it but despite being born by the sea with fishermen as neighbours, I’ve never really liked fish.  I prefer to eat my food rather than have to wrestle with it first!

Before I order, I explain that I came with Frantzesca and as it’s nearly three o’clock she may be on her way to pick me up but I’d like to stay for something to eat.  She phones Frantzesca and it is fine – she will come in another hour.

I opt for a Greek salad, tzatziki and fried aubergines with a glass of white wine.  It is really good – and so think a litter of kittens who manage to work their way up onto a chair to the table.  Who knew kittens liked feta cheese?

Frantzesca arrives and we set back to Kampos taking in the views over the surrounding islets as we go.  Frantzesca is a woman of many talents.  One of them I discover is simultaneously driving, eating a sandwich, drinking water, talking on the phone and brushing the crumbs from her ample chest whilst taking hair pin bends at speed.  Not for the faint hearted, but this women transports the children to and from school so I have to put my faith in her!

It’s on this trip that you really get the sense of the sprawling archipelago of islands and islets

Back in Kampos we say our farewells.  Frantzesca is truly one of Fourni’s many characters!

Too full from lunch on the beach, dinner is at Patra’s taverna where they have an amazing selection of cakes and ice creams.  It’s a great place to watch the sun set and the fishermen head off out into the night.




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