Karpathos! It has been a bit of a shock to the system after my 8 nights on Kasos. My arrival didn’t start well as Google Maps sent me on a merry old dance trying to find my hotel. Pigadia is busy and it is steep! Google Maps sent me dragging my suitcase up at least 100 unnecessary steps. I eventually found the hill that led up to my hotel and it was so steep that at one point both my suitcase and I nearly rolled back down to the bottom – not a good introduction to the island! It became easier taking the 40 steps on the side of the hill than trying to remain vertical on a 2 in 1 slope!
When I did reach the Amarylis Hotel I was met by Margarita, the owner of the hotel’s mother, who greeted me with a tray of cakes and biscuits and two glasses of water – she could clearly see I needed it after my trauma! Funny – the hill doesn’t look that steep from the bottom!
My first impressions of Pigadia is that it is very touristy. As I ventured out on my first evening, waiters tried their best to usher me into their restaurant or bar – it was just like being in Rhodes town or Kos! There doesn’t seem to be very much to do or see in Pigadia apart from the bars and restaurants so I decided to check out the bus service and see what else the island has to offer. I discovered that there is a very good bus service that covers most of the popular beaches and villages including Olympus – except at the weekend when the service is reduced to practically non existent on Sundays.
The weekend was the opportune time to stay in Pigadia and try and see if it had any redeeming features.
Pigadia feels like an ordinary working town behind the harbour front – I even found a dressmaking shop to take up a pair of trousers for me. The focus of the harbour is on its many bars and restaurants alongside a multitude of tourist shops. From the port you can take some steps up to a church and cemetery that overlooks the harbour. I made this my starting point and then followed the road back down to the port passing old town houses with interesting doors and windows to photograph.
If you continue walking past the harbour front you will eventually come to Pigadia’s beaches which were fairly busy – though not an example of the best beaches on Karpathos. Circling back on myself I passed the Archaological Museum which unfortunately was closed – I made a mental note to visit it again but didn’t get the opportunity.
One of my favourite restaurants in Pigadia and one I went back to several times was Mike’s Restaurant which was located down a side street just behind the main drag. I had spotted it a few days earlier and found that this family run restaurant had a really good varied Greek menu and the hospitality was wonderful – really good for the single, female traveller. They do an excellent stifado provide you with a lovely complimentary olive tapenade.
When I first arrived in Pigadia I thought that I had made a serious mistake in choosing this as my base. However, after staying there for a week I came to the conclusion that Pigadia was in fact a very good location to stay – primarily because of the bus station and its links to other parts of the island. The only downside is that this is obviously the rationale for staying in Pigadia for thousands of other tourists too and at times the morning wait at the bus station became quite stressful. The bus station had a number of buses from small vans to large coaches – nobody knew which vehicle was going to which destination until the very last minute – the number of tickets sold would depend on which vehicle would be allocated. Most of the buses were scheduled to leave at around the same time each morning so as soon as the drivers would indicate which bus was leaving for a particular destination you would be in grave danger of being trampled to death in the race to get a seat on the bus – not a pleasant experience! Apart from that I can only praise the bus service which was well priced and enabled you to get about to most parts of the island.
After a few days Pigadia did begin to grow on me though I think I would struggle to have stayed there every day for a week – the bus service really was a Godsend!