Peter isn’t an early riser so I pull on some clothes and leave the hotel alone, seeking out a good vantage point from which to observe the sunrise. There is a refreshing cool breeze which lifts the sound of the chugging fishing boats in the harbour below. They disappear out into the open sea for the morning catch. The cockerels begin to crow as the sun peaks out from the top of Schinoussa and swooping swallows dot the sky. I can also hear the low hum of bees which are coming from a cluster of beehives located on the hillside above.
I must say that the outward views from Iraklia are some of the most beautiful that I have seen. The close proximity of Schinoussa and the small islets that surround Iraklia give it an added dimension. Being located up the hill at the Aiolos Hotel has been such a good choice.
Once the sun is fully risen and begins to paint the island in a golden glow, I make my way along the path back to the hotel ready to pack and to have breakfast.
At breakfast we get talking to a couple who live in Lake Magiore and tells us they have the best of both worlds – the organisation of the Swiss and the fun of the Italians. The day before they had walked to the cave and they tell us that they had seen several snakes along the way. Their advice was to stomp loudly so that they know you are coming and they will soon disappear! They said that the cave was interesting and definitely worth a visit. You crawl through a narrow entrance and then it widens out but it isn’t particularly deep.
We have an hour or so before the ferry takes us across to Schinoussa. We are thrilled to be going on the Express Skopelitis after so many years. Michael tells us that if we bring our bags to the restaurant he will bring them to the port as soon as he sees the little Skopelitis coming into harbour and he adds that he doesn’t have time to gossip with the locals!
We walk down the hill taking in the last views of the hotel and the surrounding landscape.
In a final reflection I’d say that Iraklia has no pretensions. It is confident in its ability to remain low key in the very touristic region of the Cyclades. If you want a really relaxing holiday then I’d say Iraklia is the perfect place to visit. My one word of caution is that if you have mobility issues, maybe choosing a hotel at the top of the hill isn’t the best choice. At the time of visiting there is no bus service on the island and no taxi’s but of course this could change. There is very good accommodation available close to the port and the beach of Agios Georgios so this would be a good option if you can’t face the climb. However, I’m not the fittest and middle age has passed me by and I found the Aiolos Hotel the perfect choice for our stay and would definitely return again.
At the port we meet a couple from Sweden. The husband is an English man who has lived in Sweden for 27 years. They are also staying on Schinoussa.
Within minutes the Express Skopelitis appears around the corner tooting her horn to let everyone know she is here. It is fantastic to be on the little Skopelitis again even though it is only for the 10 minute journey over to Schinoussa.
Farewell Iraklia. I really hope to visit you again one day!
It is a short but bumpy ride across to Schinoussa as the wind has picked up. You really feel the nuances in the weather on a small boat like this. Not many people disembark here which is yet another good sign.
We are staying at Grispos Villas about 3 kilometres away from the port and discover that so are the Swedish couple we met on Iraklia. We are met at the port by Georgios with the hotel bus who takes us the short journey up over the hill (another one!) down towards Tsigouri Beach.
Grispos Villas are made up of two villa complex’s in which they have rooms. We are staying in Filoxenia closest to the beach and the Swedish couple are staying at Villa Armonia above. There are also two stone houses which can be rented for exclusive use.
Our room is very spacious with a massive terrace with views over Tsigouri beach to the left and overlooking the hotel’s restaurant. What a perfect location!
After unpacking we walk down tot he beach and spend and hour or two relaxing before returning to the hotel for dinner. Grispos Villas are a fish restaurant so Peter takes full advantage of this. Georgios brings out a selection of fish on a tray of ice for Peter to choose from. We have horta and chickpea balls for starters and I have Greek sausage. (apologies for the out of focus photo’s).
We are going to love our stay here.