Monday, April 19, 2010

Milos, Greece

While we were in Santorini, we met some Canadians from Vancouver. In our discussion, the wife asked Lynda how she was coping with being away from home for so long. It wasn't until these last five days in Milos that the answer came to Lynda. We have been staying at the Nefeli Sunset Studios in Pollonia which is located a mere 80 feet from the Aegean Sea. We spent many hours sitting in the garden or on the deck, enjoying the sunshine and the warmth. From our room we could hear the waves crashing against the shore. We have thoroughly enjoyed the peace and quiet of Milos in the off-season. More than that, we have been blessed by the friendship of our hosts, Roula and Makis. For us this year, it has been making connections with people that has enhanced our trip. It is why we loved Turkey so much. In the short time we were there, we made many friends. So in Greece, we felt like something was missing. We have liked it, but we have not loved it. When we came to Milos and stayed at Nefeli, we finally found the connection we were looking for. After months on the road, it is difficult to leave a place that feels so much like home.
Milos is approximately five hours from the port of Piraeus by high-speed ferry. It is volcanic in origin and has traditionally relied on mining to support its economy. The three main towns are: Adamas (the port), Plaka and Pollonia, all located in the north, and on the east side of the island. Although we rented a car for most of our time on the island, we only managed to see a fraction of it. We spent several hours at the ancient city which is located on a very steep hillside near Tripiti. There we found remnants of the city walls and a Roman theatre. From the top of the hill, where a small church now stands, the views are spectacular. We also toured through the nearby Catacombs which are thought to be the earliest Christian site in Greece. They date back to the 1st century AD, but were not discovered until the 1840s. We were able to go in two of the three tunnels. The chambers are light with floodlights which give them an eerie feeling, especially when you realize the niches in the walls were for burials. After lunching in Plaka, we climbed a couple of hundred stairs to view the remains of the Kastro. Along the way, there are a number of little churches built into the hillside. At the top we were rewarded for our efforts. It is the perfect defensive position - you have a 360 degree view, for miles around, from the top. This is where we spotted the beautiful beach at Plathiena. We had to go and check it out. We headed back to the car and drove the winding, potholed road to the beach. Along the way, we passed a snake on the side of the road. Even though it was clearly dead, Lynda gave it a wide berth, while Craig moved in close to take a photo (we later found out it was not poisonous.)
We puttered our way along the coast visiting more churches, more beaches and to Craig's delight some little fishing villages called Firopotamos and Mandrakia. We were surprised by the white rock formations at Sarakiniko. It is very much like Capadoccia with caves built into the rock walls, however, it is also a great swimming spot. Craig finally succumbed to the temptation and dove in. It was a hot day and the water wasn't very deep so it had patches of warmth, and he found it very "refreshing." Afterwards, we walked further along the cliffside and viewed the remains of a shipwreck.
We cannot forget to mention our favourite taverna in Pollonia. (Many thanks to Roula for suggesting it.) It is called "Gialos" and it is run by the very charismatic owner, Christos. You will have no trouble finding it. It is located on the waterfront. It is very popular with both tourists and the locals. We had several excellent meals there - in fact, it was the best food we ate the whole time we were in Greece. So if you happen to be in Milos, stop by and see for yourself.
How did these five days zoom by so quickly? We have had a chance to sit and relax, but we have also enjoyed touring around the island. We would definitely return to Milos and Nefeli Sunset Studios. Now we are on our way to Athens. It is a bit nerve wracking for us since we are not fans of big cities, but we couldn't come all this way, and bypass it. So we are going to spend three nights there and do as much sightseeeing as we can. It will also give us a few days to figure out how we are going to get to Croatia. Apparently, it's a bit difficult from Greece. Combined with the airport closures due to the abundance of volcanic ash in the air, air travel is not an option. Who planned this route anyway?

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