I’ve had the idea of this trip for some time. Chios so far, has always eluded me. It has never been quite close enough to visit from other islands or I have been travelling in the opposite direction. Chios is closer to Turkey than it is to Samos or Lesvos, the larger islands to the North and South of it. I have had single destination holidays before but my preference is always to mix it up and see as much as I can in however long I have allocated – or how much money I’ve saved. So with Chios finally in my sights I need to see what else I can explore whilst there.
Sitting either side of Chios are two small islands. Psara to the West and Oinousses to the East. Oinousses is an island that we feature as part of the Hidden Greece portfolio and yet it isn’t one that is talked about much or that we get much interest about from our clients – unlike Chios. I’m on a mission to find out what all three islands have to offer.
Finding accommodation on Psara and Oinousses wasn’t without its challenges but I’ve managed to book somewhere. There is limited accommodation on both islands (unlike Chios) and not much is available through Booking.com. Time to dig deep and route out some contacts to find somewhere. I discover that the accommodation on Oinousses is made up of 1 hotel and a number of rooms and apartments. From September to June these are booked up by teachers and students attending the naval academy on the island. I did however, through some sleuth-like work find somewhere with availability. Using the same tenacity I also found somewhere on Psara which has all been confirmed via a Facebook or Whatsapp message.
On Sunday I flew to Athens. After an hour’s delay I arrived at 11pm and had pre-booked an overnight stay close to the airport. Apartments Tina in Spata is not only in a great location but also provides free airport transfers both ways. Great if you want a faff-free travel experience. I’d like to say that it’s set in a quiet neighbourhood – well apart from the overhead planes it is, but listening to aircraft has never bothered me. By the way – the price also includes breakfast. The hosts here are very friendly and I recommend it as a place to stay for an overnighter such as this especially if you are a budget traveller.
As my host showed me to my apartment she tells me how busy it has been and they are ready for a break. She goes on to tell me that she has a friend on Santorini who has a hotel and they will be closing next week as they have “had enough”.
The room and especially the bed is comfortable and I have a great night’s sleep. This is how I rate a room now – comfort of the mattress and whether I wake up refreshed or in need of a good session with my chiropractor.
Breakfast is ready from 4am. I’m not up quite that early. I will be taken to the airport at 9.30 so am up and ready by 8.00. The garden has a lovely waterfall feature and breakfast is simple but an adequate start to the day.
I was a bit twitchy about getting to the airport just over an hour before it departs but my host reassures me that when I get there I will think that I am early.
And do you know what – he was right. Check in was very fast and I have plenty of time at the airport before we depart.
I have seat 1a on the little prop plane. I do my duty and make sure that both of my bags are in the overhead locker. The flight attendant asks me if I am English and then goes on to tell me that if anything should happen during the flight it is my responsibility to open the emergency exit next to me. She tells me to read the instructions on the door. Gosh I didn’t know that having a front seat came with such responsibility!
We take off and head out across Evia. The dark green landscape is crossed with high peaked ridges that play host to strings of wind turbines, barely visible on the photographs. Tufts of cumulous clouds cast their shadows onto the hills below. I must visit – but where to begin on such a large island? A question for another day.
After Evia, there is nothing – just sea. I know Andros and Tinos are down there somewhere but maybe to the right of the plane. The pilot tells us that soon we will see an island out of the left window and that is Psara. Shortly after that we are over Chios and begin our descent. Chios also looks incredibly verdant and a thriving agricultural industry is apparent.
Thankfully our flight went without mishap and I wasn’t required to be on emergency exit duties. Soon we are entering the small airport to reclaim luggage. With only around 30 people on the flight this takes no time at all.
I take a shared taxi the 3km to Chios town at a cost of 10€. I am staying at a place close to the port called CityZen Studios located just behind the harbour front. Again I am only here for 1 night as I will be heading off to Oinousses for 7 nights. But I will be back!
CityZen Studios has a contactless system for picking up the keys but there is a also a reception next door during office hours. Eleni gives me a warm welcome and shows me to my room. It is small but modern and clean and I think is quite newly refurbished (or very well maintained). I would say that the only down side is that the town in busy with lots of traffic and unfortunately this noise does permeate into the room. However, no problem for an overnighter.
My first mission is to buy my ferry ticket for my journey to Oinousses tomorrow. There is just one agency that sells tickets for the local boats and that is Sunrise Travel located on the main harbour front before you take the bend where the Oinousses III and Psara Glory are moored up. The Oinousses III departs tomorrow at 12.00.
I make a half hearted attempt to explore the town. The harbour front isn’t particularly attractive but venture further back and and it has a modern shopping centre which I think is worth a visit. It reminds me of so many ‘ordinary towns’ that I’ve visited in Greece will elements of Patras and Sparta and the motorbike noise of Pothia on Kalymnos. I know that the hidden gems of this island are further afield but this will have to wait.
I’m looking forward to travelling to Oinousses tomorrow.