Monday, May 19, 2008

Holiday in Skiathos

We flew from the UK directly into Skiathos - our first experience of Greece, having wanted to sample Greece for some years. How well I remember the blast of heat and the magnificent blue skies as we got off the plane - glorious!

A short bus ride to our accommodation in Platanias - we had decided to go self catering - and our first paddle in the Aegean. I could not believe how crystal clear the water was (UK residents will understand!) The unusual sanitary arrangements in the accommodation were a very small price to pay for such crystal clear water in which to swim.

Rather than travel far our first evening, we decided to eat at the local tavern and were warmly welcomed by Kostsos and Kristos. The food was superb but the traveling had made Fiona unwell and she was unable to finish her meal - no problem - no charge - in fact more concern as to my wife’s health - to cut a long story short we had many enjoyable times here subsequently both in ‘03 and ‘06. Yia sas Kostos & Kristos -here’s hoping we meet again.

This year I had persuaded Fiona that I wanted to "beach-bum" (spend my days lying in the sun on the beach and going for a swim to cool down). The local beach (4 minutes walk from the accommodation) was no disappointment: plenty of sun beds & shades, a tavern on the beach playing Joe Cocker and serving delightful fresh fish dishes (sadly this was closed but hopefully has been resurrected -no matter - there were other taverns on the beach). Sunbathe, a swim to cool down, an Ouzo at the taverna and a stroll along the beach - what more can anyone want.

The following morning we decided to use the inexpensive, frequent bus service into Skiathos town to explore, on this occasion the buses were reasonably empty - at night it was a different story - a bus would pull up with numerous people already standing (in the UK anymore than 8 standing and the bus would not have stopped) "move along, move along" however they say that in Greek and we were aboard - only to stop at a number of other stops and marvel at how many people would fit on one bus. After this experience we had no qualms about waiting for a bus - in fact we quite looked forward to it even though the local taxis (all Mercedes) were very reasonable.

We would send most of our evenings in Skiathos town, meandering around the back streets just off Papadiamantis St and then stroll along the harbor past the numerous restaurants and shops. At night we would find a variety of street traders, one painting local scenes on greetings cards to send home, one making jewelery - somehow twisting your name into an intricate design with stainless steel wire, one engraving your name on a grain of rice, one selling local caught sponges etc. How we loved to haggle and practise our new found Greek with the sponge trader -he was very good - and we still have the sponges some years later !

We would then be spoilt for choice as to where to eat, but we were never disappointed.

One of the things we loved about Skiathos was the frequent bus service along the south of the island, enabling us to try many of the beautiful sandy beaches along the coast. It was probably because of this and the very good taxi service that we never rented a car and did not get to see inland.

During the holiday we took one of the many excursions to neighboring islands, this particular one was to Skopelos. Even waiting for the ferry was an enjoyable experience - watching the many boats arriving and also the planes landing and taking off.

We took the Flying Dolphins ferry and arrived on the east coast of Skopelos in no time at all.

Unfortunately, because of the language barrier we did not understand what they said and immediately got off ! The absence of any bus service, taxis etc. should have told us something (apparently the ferry continues to the main port on the other side of the island !)

What confronted us was a steep climb through the local town, which in itself proved most interesting if not a little tiring. On arrival at the top we managed to explain that we were looking for a local bus service to take us to the other side of the island, thankfully we were understood and managed to catch a local bus to take us to Skopelos town.

The scenery was fantastic and if we had had more time we would have loved to stop off at one or more of the local villages. Skopelos town itself was charming and we had a delicious lunch before catching the normal ferry back to Skiathos

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