Leaving Tinos – Hello Again Andros!

It is fair to say that travelling during a pandemic has been shall we say, “interesting”.

Although lockdown restrictions and travel bans have been lifted there are still of course protocols such as mask-wearing in restaurants, shops and hotels, all the necessaries relating to the requirements for Passenger Locator Forms, vaccination certificates and Covid tests.  Boarding the various ferries on this trip has been a different experience each time.  At one of the scale it has been absolute chaos (boarding the Nissos Chios springs to mind) too well – here at the port of Tinos.

The port waiting room – otherwise known as the cattle shed is extremely organised.  Everyone is directed to a row of seats by ferry.  On the post at the front of the row there is a photograph and the name of the ferry so you are clear about where to sit.  BTW if you are going to be catching one of the Flying Cat’s they dock at the old port.  The image below shows the proximity of both ports to each other with the Flying Cat docked at the old port and the Super Express at the main new port.

Every so often a port policewoman patrols the waiting area and chastises anyone who isn’t wearing a mask.  I give her an internal cheer each time she does this.  It’s not very difficult to comply with this simple rule.

As a ferry approaches someone from the port police tells everyone in that row which documents to have ready.  All the documents are checked BEFORE boarding the ferry which is absolutely how it should be done rather than allowing absolute chaos to ensue on board.

The ship Superferry 2 is on time.  Our row is released from the cattle pen onto the quayside where the ferry docks and I experience the calmest and most civilised boarding of this trip so far!  Well done Tinos!

Up on the upper deck I take in my last views of Tinos – the little island that has exceeded my expectations.

A colleague had told me that to experience Tinos properly I would need to hire a car.  I’m sure that I have barely scratched the surface of the island but not having a car has not restricted me in any way whatsoever.  The bus service on Tinos is exceptional.  Also the opportunity to do a private island tour with a very knowledgeable local guide has given me an excellent overview of the island, its history and its people.  In all my years of travelling to Greece there has only ever been one island where I really needed to hire a car and that was Kythira.  It is perfectly possible to get a good flavour of Tinos by using public transport.  Hoorah for the Greek buses!

I think I mentioned in an earlier post that it feels good to be back on a popular island hopping route again – everything is so easy!  For now Tinos – Farewell!

It is a short journey of about an hour and a half to Andros.  The ship skirts the coast of Tinos and as it reaches the North Western point it seems to be stretching out its hand towards Andros – finger tips almost touching.

I first visited Andros nearly 30 years ago.  It was the first stop as part of my first ever island hopping trip around Greece.  I had visited Greece prior to this but this was my first island hopping, rucksack carrying, travelling without a plan kind of holiday.  I was travelling with a boyfriend at the time who I had met whilst working at Manchester Airport.  I was a mature student studying for a degree in Business Management and I worked at the airport to help support my studies.  I won’t dwell too much on this story as I feel it deserves a post in its own right.  The trip didn’t end well and I ended up being abandoned by said boyfriend on Antiparos.  He had island hopped in Greece before so knew the ropes but I was completely wet behind the ears.  Anyway, I was able to make my way back to Athens where I had a disturbing experience in the Ancient Agora – but I survived and it is yet another story to tell!

Although there were some quite distressing situations during that trip, I can quite honestly say that this trip alone gave me my thirst and passion for island hopping and the rest is history!

So re-visiting an island for the first time in nearly 30 years is practically like visiting an island for the first time.  I can remember that I’d stayed in Batsi and that we had Thomas Cook’s Greek Island Hopping book as our guide, but I have no clear memory of Andros at all.

When I arrive at the port of Gavrion, I don’t recognise it at all.  As much as I’d like to explore this port town further my destination is once again Batsi where I hope some memories will be re-ignited.  A taxi is hailed and I head off around the coast to Elpida where I will be staying for 4 nights – I already feel this is way too shorter time.

My host John is waiting for me as I arrive at the gate.  Elpida is located on a corner at the top of the road where it begins to drop down towards Batsi itself.  I am shown to my room which has a small balcony overlooking Kolona Beach.  I will be honest and say that the room is a little dated and I had even read the same before booking.  However, the overwhelming point that comes through in the reviews on this establishment is that the hosts are exceptional.  It was on this basis that I booked.  If you’re thinking of booking somewhere on Andros please consider booking through the affiliate link at the bottom of the page.  It helps to cover the running costs of this website. xx

Once semi unpacked and showered I head off towards the main centre of Batsi to explore further.

Once onto the main road I get a better view of Kolona Beach which appears sheltered and is set in a deep bay and access by a short dirt track.

The road slopes down towards the main town and soon I reach Batsi Beach which is a gold sand beach backed by tamarisk trees.  The beach slopes gently and has many sections of organised facilities – perfect for the whole family especially if you are travelling with children. Further along I also notice that there is wheelchair access onto the beach into the sea which is the second one I have seen on this trip – the other being on Syros.

The village of Batsi is set amphitheatrically on the hillside with the Church of St Philip taking pride of place above the bay.  The architecture is quite beautiful and I can’t wait to explore further.

Here along the back of the beach there is a good selection of bars and taverna’s.  You will also find a board with the bus timetable which is very useful as I plan to visit Andros Chora during my stay.

I settle on Taverna Cavo Meze for my evening meal and order the house salad and beef stifado and of course the obligatory retsina!

There is great service here and the staff are very welcoming and friendly which is perfect for a solo traveller.

This is a fantastic place to people watch and I stay until the sun begins to set.

Once back at Elpida I sit on the balcony and watch the full moon peak over the mountains.  Soon after I see fireworks being let off down at the little marina in Batsi.

However, deluded this may sound, I tell myself that Andros is welcoming me back after 30 years.  Yay!

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