September 13, 2010 - September 30, 2010
     Greece - islands of Rhodes, Folegandros, Sifnos and Milos
     After spending half our honeymoon in Greece back in 2000 it took us 30 years to get back.  But this will certainly not be our last time.  Realizing what we were missing we subsequently returned in 2015, 2017, 2018 and 2019 (with a 2020 trip cancelled due to Covid-19)

     While I still struggle between Spain, Italy and Greece, Gayle, while certainly enjoying the others would definitely have Greece as her favourite destination in Europe.

     This trip had us going to four islands - Rhodes (or Rodos) in east of the Aegean, part of the Dodecanese islands, and three of the Cyclades islands - Folegandros, Sifnos and Milos.


September 13 / 14, 2010 - Halifax to Montreal to Frankfurt to Athens to Rhodes 

                                          and finally to Zacosta Villa Hotel, Old Rhodes Town

     What a trip.  We were scheduled to fly from Halifax to Montreal to connect to the overnight flight to Athens, arriving at 10:20 am.  We were then to take a one hour flight from Athens (departing at 12:40 pm) to Rhodes arriving early-afternoon, i.e. 1:40 pm.  Not to be.  There was a mechanical issue with our plane in Halifax resulting in a delay of a few hours.  As the minutes, and then the hours passed we accepted we would not make the connection in Montreal.  Fortunately we were able to get a hold of Katrina who contacted Olympic Air to advise them we would miss our connection in Athens.   She rebooked us on the last flight of the day.  As well she contacted our  car rental company and hotel, Zacosta Villa Hotel to advise of our late arrival.  We eventually did make it to Montreal but not until after the flight to Athens had departed.  We were then booked on a flight to Frankfurt where we connected to a flight on to Athens.  From Athens we did make the 8:00 pm (arriving at 9:00 pm) flight to Rhodes.

     However, as fully expected our luggage did not follow our re-routing.  While we successfully arrived in Rhodes there was no luggage, requiring us to spend an hour trying to trace where it was (apparently it had gone to Toronto and was now back in Montreal) and filling out forms, a further delay.  Fortunately the car rental agency had stayed open (we were the last ones to arrive) but in Greece vehicles often come with a virtually empty tank so the first thing we had to do was find a petrol station - yet another delay.  We finally arrived outside the city walls of old Rhodes town, as there is no parking inside the walls, 10:45 ish.  It was then a tough 15 plus minute walk rolling our suitcases on the rough cobblestone alleys to our boutique hotel Zacosta Villa Hotel.

     We expected a note and a key but John was there waiting for us.  While we were exhausted we were also very hungry.  Finally some great news.  Although being after 11:00 pm the restaurants in old Rhodes town were still open.  Thank goodness.  We quickly made our way around the corner where we easily found one of the tavernas recommended by John - Ta Kioynia.  At this late hour it was not busy be we sat down and were quickly served.  I of course started with a bottle of retsina, the Greek pine resonated wine - hated by most; but loved by a few, including me.

     Ta Kioynia received a very positive review a couple of years later from a reviewer out of London who concluded with "This is a really, really great restaurant".  The restaurant has operated by Michael Koubiadis since 1972.  With regards to the starter or mezzes there is no menu.  A large platter of many options is presented at one's table with explanations as to what each is.  Then, one chooses what they want.  We ordered a number of mezzes / dishes finishing of course with a baklava.  

     After a very long 24+ hours involving four flights and lost luggage those we encountered upon arriving in Rhodes (the fellow at the baggage claim, the car rental woman, John at Zacosta and the servers at Ta Kioynia) were all wonderful.  After what we endured it was great to enjoy some tasty Greek food before heading back to Zacosta somewhere around 12:30 am.

Ta Kioynia late at night (or early in the morning?)               Inside with wine, copper wine cups etc.

Very very tired.                                                                         Retsina - welcome to Greece!

The selection of mezzes for us to choose from.

Greek salad and pulpo (octopus) - decisions were actually quite easy.

Tzatziki                                                                                  and kebabs.


September 15, 2010 - Zacosta Villa Hotel to The Four Elements, Lachania, Rhodes

     Not surprisingly we slept in.  Fortunately John told us to come out for breakfast whenever we were up, no matter what time.  We don't recall the exact time but it was well into the morning.  John served a wonderful breakfast to start our day.  As the Villa Hotel was not busy John graciously allowed us to stay pretty much as long as we wanted to before checking out.  As we will be three nights at our next stop we were in no hurry so took the opportunity to wander around old Rhodes town.  Very impressive.  The history of this place would take volumes.  

     Rhodes / Rodos is the largest of the Dodecanese islands of Greece, along with being the group's historical capital.  The island in total has a population of 115,000 or so, with half living in the city of Rhodes.  The island's nickname is The Island of the Knights, named after the Knights of Saint John of Jersusalem, who ruled the island from 1310  to 1522.  Historically Rhodes island was very famous worldwide for the Colossus of Rhodes, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World.  The Medieval Old Town has been declared a World Heritage Site.

     Rhodes is at a crossroads between Europe, the Middle East and Africa, thereby giving the city and the island many different identities, cultures, architectures, and languages over its long history.  Its position in major sea routes has given Rhodes a very rich history.  Without getting into details Rhodes has experienced many historical periods, they being

  • the Classical period - from 408 BC to 164 BC
  • the Roman period - beginning with the Romans taking control in 164 BC
  • the Byzantine period - to 1307 - a trading post for ships sailing between Constantinople and Alexandria
  • the Knight's period - 1309 through 1522
  • the Ottoman period - 1522 through the late 1800s
  • the Italian period - 1912 - 1947
  • the post World War II period - 1947 to current - under control of the Greek state

     We finally left early afternoon for the hour and a half drive down the east coast, past the archaeological site of Lindos, which we would return to visit another day, and on to the small (1991 population 346) village of Lachania, where we will be staying the next three nights.  Normally The Four Elements only books by the week but we were fortunate our timing fit a gap in their bookings.  As we wanted to experience more than just Rhodes Town this was perfect for us.  After spending over an hour chatting with Wily and Dino - life is pretty laid back here - we checked in to our room - Fire, one of the 4 elements.  Dinner is not served so we were pointed to the only real restaurant in the village - Platanos.  What a find.  A traditional taverna in a square beside the village's church, beautifully lit up at night.

      This is traditional Greece at its finest where one is invited in to the kitchen to examine and choose a dish from the stove or oven - memories of Greece in 1980.  We enjoyed a very traditional meal of white beans with lamb, chick peas in a tomato sauce, a stuffed tomato, and stewed vegetables, including an eggplant dish and lamb chops.  And if that was not enough a selection of sweets for dessert.  Way too much food but it was so great to be back in 'traditional' Greece. 

John at Zacosta Villa Hotel.

The Zacosta courtyard.

Setup for breakfast.

Enjoying the sun, the warm day and a great breakfast.

Some of the sights in old Rhodes town.

Old Rhodes town city walls and castle.

Protection.                                                                             One of the many palaces.

A bridge accessing the town.

Stone towers and elaborate engravings on the walls.

The moat outside the city walls.

Just driving along admiring the countryside when we gave our heads a shake in light of what we thought we saw - yes it was a goat in a tree!

Taverna Platanos for dinner tonight.                                       A stuffed tomato.

Chickpeas and rustic country bread.

Lots of lamb chops.                                                                The church in the square adjacent to Taverna Platanos.

Gayle enjoying her meal.


September 16, 2010 - The Four Elements, Lachania with a drive around south Rhodes

     The Four Elements, in providing cooking facilities is not a Bed & Breakfast, i.e. breakfast is not provided or served.  Rather than buying food and cooking we strolled through the village to Taverna Orizontas where we had a light breakfast.

     In the afternoon we then went for a drive first across the bottom of Rhodes towards the west coast where we stumbled upn the Monastery of the Madonna of Skiadeni, a beautiful ecclesiastical monument that hides a silver icon of the Holy Madonna.  Among the locals, it is said that in the woods near where the monastery now stands three monks lived in a church building when they saw a very bright light in the distance and headed in that direction.  They found a picture of the Holy Madonna on the spot and took it home to their small shrine.  The next morning, so the legend goes, the holy image disappeared. When the monks searched they found the image in the same place as the night before. They understood that the Madonna wanted to stay in its place, and then built a monastery for her.  The exact date of origin is not known but one inscription indicates construction began in 1200.  To this day the monastery continues to be inhabited by monks.

     We continued up the coast to Monolitho's castle - built on the foundations of another, older castle - it is 236 metres high, located near the village of Monolitho on an rock outcropping.  This of course made the construction even more challenging.  The castle was one of the most important fortifications of Rhodes due to its strategic location providing a clear view of the Mediterranean.  The extremely challenging accessibility route and position also made it very difficult for enemies, including the Ottomans, to seize the castle, forcing many attempts to retreat empty-handed.  Today only some external parts of the fortifications remain, albeit in a quite well preserved condition.  As well, making the arduous climb up the steep hill worthwhile are the magnificent 15th century chapels of St. Panteleimon and St. George, each with breathtaking views of the mountain of Akramytis, the village of Monolitho, the island of Chalki (that we visited for a couple of nights in 2018) and the Aegean Sea.

     Having had not much for breakfast at a small taverna we ate a lunch of saganaki, cheese balls and a small bottle of Rhodes wine.  After some time on Monolithos' beach we stopped at another taverna to admire the beautiful sunset snacking tzatziki and a few olives.  Afterwards we returned through Apollakia on to Taverna Pelecanos, recommended by Wily, where we enjoyed a very nice dinner of moussaka, roasted vegetables with pine nuts in a yoghurt sauce, octopus and dessert.

     A very nice day.

The Monastery of the Virgin Skiadenis.

A light lunch near Monolithos of saganaki and cheese balls, accompanied by wine from Rhodes.

Vistas of the countryside in south-west Rhodes - a lonely windmill and a long beach on a somewhat hazy day.

Monolitho's castle - perched high on a rock outcrop.

A steep climb up to Monolitho's castle but worth the effort.

A view through the stone wall to the Aegean.                       A twisted (presumably) cypress tree.

Chapels at Monolitho's Castle.

Smiles x 2.  Quite the background!

The coastline of south-west Rhodes near Monolitho.

Sunset over the Aegean.

Moussaka.                                                                              Roasted vegetables with pine nuts in a yoghurt sauce.

Grilled octopus.                                                                      A 'gift' to finish our meal.


September 17, 2010 - The Four Elements, Lachania with a drive to Lindos

     This morning we tried the other breakfast spot - Chrissy's.  Not a large menu but very friendly service, including being served by the priest.  We returned to the Four Elements were we made use of the pool and relaxed for the balance of the morning

     We then left for the afternoon, first a 10 minute drive to Plimiri Beach, home of Fish Restaurant Plimiri.  Where else can you eat while drying octopus sway in the wind only feet from your table?  Gayle had a nice Greek salad while I the grilled octopus which was superb.  Washed down with a Coke and a Retsina - what a great place to enjoy lunch, right on the water.

     From Plimiri Beach it was 45 minutes north along the coast (a wonderfully scenic drive) to Lindos, the second most significant town and archaeological site on the island after the old town of Rhodes.  Lindos is known for its clifftop acropolis, which features monumental 4th-century gates and reliefs from around 280 B.C.  The Temple of Athena Lindia sits above an earlier temple.  On the site's lower level is a 14th-century Castle of the Knights of St. John.  Among the town's whitewashed buildings, the Virgin Mary of Lindos Church has 15th century frescoes.

    One has an option of riding a donkey up to the Acropolis but we chose to walk.  A worthwhile visit of history along with providing great views up and down the coast.  The town served as the setting for the 1961 film The Guns of Navarone starring Gregory Peck, David Niven and Anthony Quinn.  We enjoyed a nice stroll through the town at the foot of the Acropolis, having a drink of ouzo before returning to Lachania.  


     For dinner we returned to Platanos, set next to a massive plane tree (from which Platanos got its name) in the village square.  Again it was a trip into the kitchen - as it had often been 30 years ago on our honeymoon but the only time we experienced this approach on this trip - to choose our food.  It turned out to be the meal of 'balls' as we had zucchini balls, cheese balls and me meat balls.  Complementing were with stewed vegetables, stuffed green peppers, dolmades, corn rice and sweets.  We chatted with Tom, a Brit who has made Lachania his home, Wily who stopped by, and the friendly serving staff.  Another wonderful meal enjoyed outdoors in a perfect Greek taverna.

     Lachania is most definitely a 'lived in' village with tractors and farm activity a common sighting.  There are only three tavernas and a small mini-market, a small hotel that looked vacant and The Four Elements - that's it.  This is rural Greece - perhaps too remote for some, but perfect for us.  Easy access to the beaches, the beauty of the south of Rhodes and the hospitality of the locals made Lachania a perfect stop for us.

Chrissy's Taverna for breakfast - today served by the village priest.

The priest delivering breakfast.                                              Grandma and a future chef(?).

Vibrant bougainvillea against the white washed buildings of The Four Elements.

A Bird of Paradise.                                                                  ... and a pomegranate tree.

Our unit was the element Fire with lots of orange throughout.

A beer on our balcony - Mythos of course.                            The resident cat.

Watermelon for an afternoon snack.

Enjoying the sun.

The pool.

With Willy and Dino, the Belgian owners.

Our first glimpse of Fish Restaurant Plimiri - this is going to be good!

The fries are certainly not from a frozen package.                   Fish Restaurant Plimiri.

A little too close for comfort.

Was there any doubt what I was going to order?                    Gayle's Greek salad.

Enjoying a light lunch at a beachside taverna.

After lunch we dipped our toes in the Aegean.

We then drove north to the town of Lindos, a small fishing village but significant archaeological site. 

Donkeys are available to transport one to the acropolis (we walked).

Gazing through the castle walls.

Inside the walls of the Acropolis.

View to the sea from the castle.       Castle entrance.                 Interior of the castle.                Rocks and columns.

A replication of the way it was back in the day.

Stopping for a beer and ouzo.                                                 Interesting design work in a walkway.

Ouzo - far from (perhaps as far as one can get) my favourite drink.

Like many similar ones in Rhodes Town a beautifully designed building in Lindos.

Taverna Platanos.                                                                   Some colourful pots nearby.

Vegetables, vegetables and more vegetables.                          Stuffed green peppers.

Zucchini balls and tomato balls.                                                 I believe this is the owner's son.

And in the continuing theme of the meal - meat balls.

Can we go back?

September 18, 2010 - Lachania back to Old Rhodes Town, Spirit of the Knights

     We returned to Chrissy's this morning for breakfast.  There were a number of locals hanging out as we expect this is a village gathering place.

     We left The Four Elements and drove the longer, but very scenic road up the west coast of the island of Rhodes, passing through a number of small villages, in one of which (perhaps Embonas) we stopped for lunch at a small taverna, Al. Agliosta.  We started with tzatziki after which Gayle enjoyed yet another Greek salad and I a plate of lamb chops.   The colour of the sea along the south-west coast was something else - a vibrant turquoise.  As we worked our way further north the road weaves its way through pine forests.  A very beautiful drive.

     For our last two nights in Rhodes we booked into Spirit of the Knights, a boutique hotel in a 600-year-old mansion converted to a stylish, family-run hotel with luxury suites and a gorgeous courtyard garden situated in a quiet spot near the castle walls in the historical city of Rhodes.  In fact Spirit of the Knights is only 60 metres from Zacosta Villa Hotel where we stayed upon our arrival.  To experience the 'spirit' of the Knights does not come cheap, with the nightly rate, including breakfast being 250 euros - the most we had ever spent on lodging (at the time).  Upon our departure we both agreed the stay was very much worth the cost.

     The restoration of this 600 year old Ottoman mansion required close work with the Greek archaeological department and a well known architect.  We were told the restrictions for renovation were more strict then those of a World Heritage site.  Attention to every detail was meticulous in order to maintain the integrity of the building.  Originally built by the Crusaders and later altered by the Ottomans the building has a wonderful mix of architectural influences, so much so that it has been designated as 'a monument of special importance'.   Spirit of the Knights is tucked away on the highest point of the medieval town on a quiet cobbled street, only minutes away from the Souleiman Mosque, the Grand Masters Palace, shops and restaurants.  The 14th century house has a collection of items and art works from many parts of the world, including Greece, Morocco, Turkey, Persia and the Far East.  Carpets and kilims from Persia and Turkey and a wonderful mix of furniture, some hand carved, creates a stunning combination of a historic building with modern amenities.  Every room is architecturally different, still with many of the original features including high wood beamed ceilings and stone fireplaces.  The large, airy public areas include an inner courtyard garden, an outer courtyard with hot tub, lounge, library and bar.  

     We selected the Ottoman suite.  The suite has a five metre high timbered ceiling dating from the Crusaders and a beautiful Turkish fireplace.  The Ottoman suite portrays a combination of periods of occupation.  There is a king sized bed on the main floor and a mezzanine floor that has two additional beds and a seating area.  The luxury en-suite bathroom has a marble basin and bath with shower.  The stained glass windows and artifacts and artwork in the room were perfect.

     We ate a 'light' dinner (after the large lunch) at Oil & Feta of saganaki, cheese balls, grilled vegetables for Gayle and moussaka for me.  

Chrissy's does appear to be the early morning village gathering spot.

Just a sign, but colourful with nice sunlight.                          Our breakfast plate - eggs, cucumber, tomato and feta.

The souith-west coast of Rhodes, and the Aegean Sea.          Note the uninhabited offshore island of Makri.

What colours!

A church and a couple of urns seen during our drive up the west coast of the island of Rhodes.

Bougainvillea bringing colour to buildings and a traditionally blue painted window with fine lace curtains. 

Sure I'll have some of the that logal wine.                               Like Platanos and Chrissy's the local hangout.

A large plate of lamb chops.

Greek salad - heavy on the onions.                                         Tzatziki and feta cheese with olives.

Enjoying lunch.

Typical Greek churches of the island.

Spirit of the Knights.                                                            

Beautiful artifacts throughout the boutique hotel.

The lounge.                                                                          With stained glass windows.

Our Ottoman Suite - hanging lights, copper vases, wood beamed ceilings - beautiful, so tastefully decorated.

Dinner at Oil and Feta.

Olives and hot cheese.

September 19, 2010 - Old Rhodes Town, Spirit of the Knights

     We started our day with a leisurely and filling breakfast in the beautiful and peaceful courtyard.  Lots of fresh juice and fruit, meat, cheese, eggs, bread etc.  Excellent.

     The morning was spent relaxing at Spirit of the Knights, including some time in the hot tub.  We then went out to explore old Rhodes town.  This is a fascinating town with narrow, often cobble stone alleyways, historic mosques and castles around virtually every corner, small shops of all sorts - and no big box stores, all contained within massive protective walls.  With the interior of the castle being more or less one square kilometre, housing a population of near 50,000 it is easily walkable (although be careful of the cobblestones).   We stumbled upon a shop that sold Turkish items - lights, rugs, table coverings, teapots etc.  We bought a small glass candle holder (20 euros) and a fairly large red and gold table covering with a traditional tulip design (not cheap at 100 euros but very nice and we are glad we spent the euros - using it often).  The only thing I disliked about our stroll was the constant pressure of restaurants to stop and eat and shops to stop and buy.  Staff at the entrance were more often 'in your face' than not - I know it is their job but the high pressured sell was not appreciated.  I guess with all the cruise passengers - and there are quite a number - they are all fighting for business.

     Early evening we wandered outside the walls to see the sunset from the water's edge.  We had read that sunsets off Rhodes Town were quite something, and on this perfect night the sunset did not disappoint.  Very colourful.  On the way back, near Rhodes Town Hall we stopped at Agalma for dinner.  Unfortunately being Friday night we missed the live Greek nights (Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays) of dancing, including 'fire dancing!'  Dishes are traditional with a focus on seafood.  I started with shrimp saganaki.  We then shared cheese balls, tzatziki, red pepper stuffed with feta and a Greek plate, all enjoyed with a strawberry margarita and for me retsina.  

     It was a very pleasant 1.3 km walk back to Spirit of the Kngihts.

Our breakfast started with fruit and yoghurt with honey in beautiful glass dishes.

Jams and a fruit tray.                                                                         Cheese, including feta, ham, olives and greens.

An omelette filled to the brim, with a chocolate loaf.

The hot tub and gorgeous grounds of Spirit of the Knights.

More images of the interior.

Sights of the Old Town of Rhodes.

We stopped in a shop selling merchandise from Turkey.  We bought a lovely table covering and the red glass candle light below.

Gorgeous shiny tea pots.

The Turkish light and tulip table covering we bought in Old Rhodes town.

Walls and gates and bridges over moats throughout old Rhodes town.

A minaret and a decorative lantern.

Greece is known for its windmills with Rhodes being no exception.

Sunsets are known to be quite something outside the walls of Rhodes.  Tonight did not disappoint.

Cheese balls.                                                                       A building lit up on our stroll back to Spirit of the Knights.

A 'Greek plate' with a bit of everything.

September 20, 2010 - Old Rhodes Town, Spirit of the Knights to Milos, Hotel Eleni

     Our last morning on Rhodes.  Another enjoyable breakfast (the yoghurt with fresh fruit and honey, or nuts and honey was unbelievably good) followed by another dip in the the jacuzzi, providing relief from the heat and a final short walkabout before heading to the airport for our mid-afternoon flights.

     As far a our lodgings on the island we chose very well.  John was wonderful host at Zacosta Villa Hotel, The four Elements provided us with a taste of life in a small rural village at the other end of the island and Spirit of the Knights oozed with history and class.  Especially interesting were the photographs of the building before restoration began, a must see in order to appreciate the transformation.  As well we asked to see the unoccupied rooms.  Each is unique and interesting to view.

     Old Rhodes Town is a magical place, certainly worthwhile of a  visit.

     The balance of our trip was to the the islands of the Cyclades - the three islands of Folegandros, Sifnos and Milos.  There are no direct flights with a requirement to transfer through Athens.  We took a mid-afternoon one-hour flight from Rhodes to Athens where we then caught a short 40 minute flight to Milos, arriving at 5:10 pm.  We will be staying on Milos for three nights at the end of the trip with tonight being only a stop-over in order to catch an early morning ferry to Folegandros.  

     We booked into Hotel Eleni - a small, very basic, clean hotel and only a 400 metre, 5 minute walk to the port - important as we were on a 7:00 am ferry.  Eleni was very friendly (although her English was limited) when she checked us in.  The room was only 30 euros!  We strolled down to the waterfront and found a restaurant for dinner, where I enjoyed an octopus salad and fish soup while Gayle had a Greek salad with cheese and an eggplant omma.  With the early ferry and the fact we were returning to Adamas in a week we returned to Hotel Eleni and turned in early.

Another great start to another great day.

Designs in the entrance to Spirit of the Knights.                    Some serious cobble stones.

The resident cat at Spirit of the Knights.

The massive castle walls.

The moat strewn with cannon balls.

A fruit vendor just outside the city's walls.

In Greece virtually every flight flies though Athens. In our case we flew from Rhodos, in the bottom right of the map to Athens and then to the island of Milos.

Hotel Eleni, Adamas, Milos with traditional Greek blue doors, windows and trim.

Our host Eleni.

We're assuming the son is in charge of the fresh fish.            Mama in the kitchen.

Papa keeping a watchful eye over the restaurant.                   In amongst the locals.

Greek salad with local soft cheese.                                         A large octopus salad.

Eggplant omma for Gayle.

They bring the plate - add potatoes, then a fish, then broth, de-bone the fish, add some vegetables and ...

... voila, fish soup.

September 21, 2010 - Milos to Folegandros, Hotel Castro, bus to Ano Meria

     An early alarm in order to get out and down to the port for the 7:00 am ferry to Folegandros.  We were treated to a beautiful sunrise as we left the port of Adamas in Milos.   After a 2 1/2 hour ferry trip we arrived in Folegandros from where we caught the bus for the short (3 1/2 km) ride to the main town of Chora/Hora.

     Folegandros is a small island of 24 square kilometres, more or less 8 km x 3 km.  The 2011 population was 765, effectively all in Chora.  According to Greek mythology the name is said to have derived from the son of Minos.  Little is known about the ancient history of the island.  The island was called the iron Pholegandros on account of its ruggedness.  Folegandros was conquered in 1207 by a Venetian and remained under the rule of Venice until 1588 when it was taken by the Ottoman Turks.   In 1770 Folegandros was conquered by the Russians for four years until the end of the war between the Russians and the Ottomans in 1774, when the Ottomans regained control.  The Ottomans then dominated the island until the end of the Greek Revolution of 1821 when Folegandros was liberated and incorporated into the new Greek state.  During the 20th century Folegandros served as a place of political exile, exactly as it had during the Roman occupation some two thousand years ago.  Until 1970 the island, along with several other parts of Greece, suffered a considerable reduction in population due the migration of residents.  Since then that trend has reversed due to the popularity of tourism.  

    The island's landscape is varied with tall cliffs.  The 'capital' Chora (or Hora) is built on the edge of  a 200 metre high cliff.  The port is the small village of Karavostatis while at the other end of the island is the village of Ano Meria which has a small but interesting Ecological and Folklore Museum.  Among the notable beaches is Katergo, accessible only by foot or by boat near Karavostatis and Agkali.

     The main, and really only village is Chora with its meandering streets and alleyways.  There are many squares which are a distinct trait of Folegandros and the Cyclades islands.  The houses are whitewashed and rather well maintained.  Chora is one of the oldest medieval towns in the Cyclades.  The centre is motor vehicle free, with three primary squares, each with plenty of shaded areas provided by trees.  Chora is reportedly one of the most picturesque villages and indeed one of the most beautiful of those we have visited. 

     We had booked into Hotel Castro in the old, original Kastro (castle) area.  Hotel Castro is the patrimonial home of the Danassi family, owned by them for the last five generations.  It is part of the northern side of the medieval Castle (Castro), with its north side, where we were, located on a cliff with a vertical height of 130 metres (425 feet) straight down to the sea.  The south side has views to the town of Chora.  The most notable thing about the location is the wind, howling day and night, creating vacuums that made it very challenging to open the doors.  While we had a balcony on the edge of the cliff for those with any fear of heights it was nerve-wracking.

      We found a place in one of the squares in town that served breakfast.  Fresh juice and a huge serving of yoghurt with either fruit or honey and nuts, along with a coffee was perfect.

     We then spent some time strolling through the alleyways, first of old Kastro and then the rest of the 'down'town.  Afterwards we took the bus out to Ano Meria where unfortunately the Folklore Museum was closed.  The walk back to Chora is approximately 5 kms along a paved road with many elevation changes as it winds its way along the spine of the island.  In both directions one can see the sea.  Along the way there were a number of small churches, locals with their mules carrying hay and dried goods and donkeys and goats in the fields.  The views of Castro, perched on the top of the cliff were impressive.

     We eventually made our way back to Chora and chose a restaurant for dinner.  Located in a side alley it was not busy meaning our server provided us lots of attention.  Unfortunately just after we had ordered the power went out throughout the town - apparently not an uncommon occurrence here on the island.  But 10 to 15 minutes later it was back on and we were good to go.  Gayle enjoyed tomato balls (ok I sampled one) and a dish of aubergine with feta.  I had Greek sausages and moussaka.  A delicious meal of traditional Greek food.

Early morning sunrise.

Leaving the port of Adamas, Milos.                                        An old windmill and a church as we leave the island.

The island of Folegandros with Chora petty much in the centre.

Welcome to Folegandros - at the port.                            Part of our room with a balcony hanging over the rock face.

Nicely engraved Hotel Castro sign.

Fresh yoghurt with honey and walnuts - yum!

Over 400 feet straight down from our balcony - looking north-west on the left and north-east on the right.  No wearing a hat out here.

Narrow alleyways, dried flowers adorning doors and lots of colourful bougainvillea. 

Sights in the old Kastro.

With the Castro Hotel being on the edge of the cliff, and our room having a balcony looking straight down to the sea the wind just howled, being both noisy and doing strange things to Gayle's hair.

Some hair-do.

Two locals of Folegandros.

The Church of Panagia on the outskirts of Chora.

We took the bus from Chora to Ano Meria (1.50 euros each) where we got off and walked the 5 kms back.  A wonderful afternoon enjoying the sights of rural Folegandros - the donkeys, the churches and the spectacular scenery no matter which way one looked.

A number of small churches in the sparse countryside.

Donkeys continue to be the beast of burden here on Folegandros - a common means of moving materials and goods.

Chora town on the top of the cliff - Castro Hotel is one of the buildings literally right on the very edge.

A donkey ...                                                                             ... and herd of goats.

Again Castro on the cliffside.                                                  and in the other direction to Agkali.

We asked a passerby - there were every few - to take a photo of us on our walk.

Land of the donkeys.

Tonight's menu.                                                                     Our server.    

For Gayle tomato balls ,,.                                                       ... and aubergine with feta.

And for me moussaka ...                                                          ... and Greek sausage.

September 22, 2010 - Folegandros, Hotel Castro with an excursion to Agkali beach

     Another gorgeous warm sunny day here in Foledgandros.  That's the beauty of travelling n Greece - you can be pretty much guaranteed perfect weather; at least that has been and subsequently was our experience.

     The same start to the day - down to one of the village squares for more yoghurt, honey and walnuts, eggs, and for me ham.  We then again strolled through Chora with a visit to Anemomilos Boutique Hotel, one of the other options we considered.  We were checking it out for two of our friends who were coming to Folegandros the following year.  In retrospect given the wind, and lack of grounds at Castro Hotel Anemomilos, with its pool, terraces with views, and landscaped grounds would have been a preferred choice.  That said Hotel Castro was inexpensive at 70 euros (I recall Anemomilos was something like 125 euros) so at least we felt as if we paid a fair price.

     Today we decided to go take the bus to Agkali, a small community with a large beach.  There is a further beach, Agios Nikolaos a kilometre up the coast - although there is a lot of ascending and descending over the coastline to get to the beach.  Along the way there were a few small chapels - very attractive set against the blue sea.  The beach was somewhat pebbly but the water warm and calm.  Near the beach, up on a hill with fabulous views is a taverna - not surprisingly named Agios Nikolaos.  A nice place to stop Gayle broke down and had french fries and a coke while I had calamari, with a a glass of wine.

     Rather than walk we hopped on the small boat that ferried us back to Agkali.  Being Greece we had time to pass as we waited for the bus so sat down in a taverna where I had a bottle of retsina.  A perfect relaxing 'Greek' afternoon - sun, a couple of beaches, some food and drink.

     We ate dinner tonight in one of the pretty squares of Chora.  We shared a plate of cheese balls and zucchini croquettes, after which Gayle had stuffed zucchini and me  lamb with prunes and almonds, all accompanied by a bottle of red wine.  A nice end to a nice day.

Eggs, and for me ham, fruit, yoghurt with honey and nuts, fresh orange juice and a latte.

A church in Chora.

Brightly painted balcony railings.

A typical blue painted door in old Kastro.                             One of the terraces at Anemomilos Boutique Hotel.

More views down to the sea from the edge of Anemomilos.

More flowers throughout Chora.

A typical Greek taverna - this one at Agkali beach.

Agkali beach.

Two of a number of small chapels we saw along our walk to Agios Nikolaos beach.

                                                                                                She's too fast for me - actually I stopped to take photos.

Agios Nikolaos is a pebbly beach with lots of shade trees worthy of a souvenir rock. 

Some wine ovelooking a church and the beach.

Enjoying a drink and a bite to eat, including some delicious fresh caught calamari.

Another church as seen on our boat ferry back to
Agkali beach. 


A retsina to pass away the time as we waited for the bus.

One of Chora's beautiful squares - empty early in the morning. 

But busier at night - great for people watching.

Finishing our appetizers of cheese balls and zucchini croquettes.

Stuffed zucchini.                                                                     Lamb with prunes and almonds.

September 23, 2010 - Folegandros to Sifnos, Niriedes Hotel

     We enjoyed a final breakfast in the square before packing and catching the bus for the short trip to the port in order to catch our ferry to Sifnos.  

     Folegandros is for the most part a barren rocky island with one of the nicest 'Choras'.  The island is not set up for packaged tourist excursions, discos or nightlife.  Perfect.  But there are a number of good restaurants and cafes on this quiet island  One can walk the hills, or the road back from Ano Meria in solitude, smelling the wild thyme, oregano and the array of colourful wildflowers.  Although they take a bit of work to get to there are a few nice beaches.  The main village of Chora/Hora is one of the oldest traditional medieval towns n the Cyclades; the buildings stand close to one another creating the external wall of the castle (kastro).  Chora, closed to vehicle and motorcycle traffic, has a unique centre of three squares in a row, with trees under which to enjoy a drink or a bite to eat in a quiet, tranquil atmosphere.  It is no exaggeration to describe Folegandros' Chora as one of the most aesthetically picturesque, traditional villages of its kind.  The view is said to be second only to that of Santorini.

A couple of Folegandrosians (?) we passed in Chora.

Our ferry to Sifnos.                                                                 The small port of Karavostasis.

September 23, 2010 - Sifnos, Platis Gialos, Niriedes Hotel

     After breakfast we packed and caught the bus for Karovastasis where we took the ferry to Sifnos. The one and one half hour sailing was smooth.  We easily found our rental car and drove across to the south of the island and the small beach village of Platis Gialos and Niriedes Hotel.

     We were warmly greeted at Niriedes by Thanasis and taken to a very nice room with a separate bedroom, a small kitchenette and a terrace, albeit narrow, with great views out to the sea.   First impressions were that we chose very well.  The hotel, with a small pool, is built on several levels into a hillside.  Very clean and modern.

     Thanasis suggested a nearby restaurant - Lembesis (now known as Chrysopigi Taverna) on Apokofto beach with a view to Chrisopigi Monastery.  The celebrated monastery of the island patron saint 'Panagia Hrissopigi' (Our Lady of the golden Spring) was built in 1650 in a lovely area on a site of an older church.  The monastery is actually built on a small islet joined to the island by a bridge.  Inside the monastery there are cells that serve as guest houses.

     Lembesis (Chrysopigi Taverna)  is situated right on the water side with unobstructed views to the monastery.  This is certainly one of our favourite restaurants of all time.  We loved the views, the sounds of the waves gently caressing the shore, and the food.  No doubt the delicious taste of the food was heavily influenced by the generous amounts of olive oil used.  Gayle had a traditional chick pea soup and a Greek salad with lots of capers, and local cheese.  We shared an equally  large plate of perfectly roasted lemon potatoes while I had lamb cooked in a phyllo pastry.  An excellent recommendation of Thanasis had us enjoying a great meal / welcome to Sifnos.

Enjoying her 'cruise' on the ferry.                                         The (barren) coastline of Sifnos.

Arriving in Kamares, the port of Sifnos.

The tiered Niriedes Hotel.                                                     Our bedroom, with housecoats - a nice touch.

The nice large and very light sitting room.

Enjoying a spinach twister on our balcony.                           The view from our rooms and balcony to the sea.

Not large but Niriedes has a nice pool with great vistas to the bay and beyond.

From our balcony looking out to the sea.                              From the eating area viewing Platis Gialos and its beach.

One of the many churches on rock outcroppings in the Cyclades.

Chrisopigi Monastery.

 The impressive Chrisopigi Monastery.

Eating to the sound of the waves washing ashore, looking out to the monastery, one of the nicest settings for dining ... ever.

Waiting for our meal.                                                             A Sifnos Greek salad with capers and local soft cheese.

Traditional chick pea soup.

Lemon roasted potatoes soaked in olive oil.                             Lamb stuffed phyllo roll.

September 24, 2010 - Sifnos, a drive to Cherronisos in the north of the island

     Pastries, pastries and more pastries.  Thanasis' family owns the largest bakery on the island in the main town of Apollonia, so every morning there are pastries ... and more pastries.   With juice, coffee and fruit it was great to sit outdoors overlooking the bay and Platis Gialos.


Sifnos is an island of 74 sq. kms. (approx. 15 km north to south and 7.5 km east to west at the widest points) with a population of 2,625 (2011).  The main town, near the centre of the island is Apollonia, home of the island's folklore museum.  The town's name is thought to have come from an ancient temple of Apollo on the site of the church of Panayia Yeraniofora.  The village of Kastro on the south-east coast was the capital of the island during ancient times, until 1836.  It is built on top of a high cliff having extensive medieval remains and the is the home of the island's archeological museum. The port settlement, on the west coast is Kamares.


     During the afternoon we drove to Apollonia where we strolled through town and stopped in to Thanasis' parents bakery where we bought a Sifnos doll.  We then continued to the north of the island, first descending on a pretty rough single lane 'road' to a small beach below Troulaki. The beach was rocky but at this time of the year isolated, with a small taverna closed.  What was most fascinating was a school of 'flying fish' that surfaced and en masse sailed through the air.  We enjoyed a nice swim at this isolated beach.

     On our way we saw a pottery shop so stopped in.   A nice design we bought a plate and a number of bowls.  We have since seen this pottery throughout the Cyclades.  In fact we purchased a number of additional pieces in later trips to Chora, Amorgos.  

     We found our way to Cherronisos, a small fishing village on the north end of the island where we ate at Cherronisos Fish Tavern.  For those of us having fish we get to head into the kitchen, pick our fish after which it is cooked.  We started with a Greek salad, zucchini balls and French fries.  I had a fish (I don't recall what type it was) with retsina.  We finished with a nice piece of baklava and coffee. 

     After our meal, while walking along the wharf Gayle shrieked with delight.  Just below was an octopus - very cool.  The photo is somewhat fuzzy but you'll get the picture.

     On the way back we ascended the mountain to the Prophet Elias Church, from which there are fantastic vistas of the coast, and then descended back down to the port of Kamares.  We stopped in Apollonia as we returned to Niriedes where we bought a bottle of Asti Spumanti that we enjoyed on our balcony during the evening.

Bread and rolls, juice, coffee, tomatoes, feta and the local soft Sifnos cheese - Myzithra.

Pastries, pastries, and more pastries!

It is pretty nice to enjoy breakfast with views like these.

Sifnos traffic obstacles.

An alleyway in Apollonia.

Church bells.

More churches in Apollonia.

Jams and pastries in Thanasis' parents bakery.

A Sifnos doll we bought at the bakery.                                    A plate from a potter in Vathi

Our traditional plates and bowls of Sifnos.

Sifnos has lots of donkeys / mules.                                           And these unique chimneys everywhere.

We saw this sign to a beach - Paralia Gialoudia - way way below us; but there was a road - well sort of - so we decided to give it a go.

The thing is once you start there really is no turning back, i.e. turning around, until you get to the bottom.

But it was worth it when we reached the beach - sure it was somewhat rocky but there was no one else there and once you get into the water it is beautiful.  It is a shame we didn't get a photo of the flying fish - we were in the water at the time when they startled us - but we did find a nice souvenir small rock for our Greek collection.

A view of the beach at the end of the cove and colourful water as we drove back up the mountain.

Cherronisos Fish Tavern, set right on the edge of the fishing village's harbour.

Grilling an octopus.

A Greek salad very heavy on the tomatoes - no peppers, no greens and hardly an olive - still very tasty.

My fish being cooked.                                                           My fish being served.

Baklava for dessert.

The pretty little harbour of Cherronisos.

Gayle's eagle eye spotted this octopus.                                    Paralia Gialoudia beach from high on the mountain.

A church as we approached the port of Kamara.

A church spotlighted by the setting sun.                                  Sunset over Sifnos.

September 25, 2010 - Sifnos, with visits to Faros, Fassolou beach and Vathi

     A similar start to the day - a wonderful breakfast of guess what, more pastries and all the other breakfast staples, overlooking Platis Gialos and its bay.  

     Today was spent in the south of Sifnos, first on Fassolou beach near the small fishing village of Faros on the south-east of the island.  We then crossed back to the west to the town of Vathi where we enjoyed a long walk on the beach, a short swim and a late afternoon meal at a tavern on the beach where Gayle had eggplant rolls and stuffed tomatoes while I the village sausage and lamb in lemon sauce, and according to my records a half litre of really bad wine.

     Before leaving Vathi we stopped at another local pottery shop where we purchased a plate.

     On the way back we ascended a mountain to visit the Archeological Site of Angios Andreas, a Mycenaean site first discovered in 1899.  The earliest excavations began in 1970, continuing through to 1980.  The most important finding was the Acropolis or citadel, known as Saint Andrew Castle that lies on the top of the hill.  A wall and large tower, and two gateways were opened during the 8th century B.C.  As well five ruins of buildings have been found of which one is certainly from the Mycenaean Era (1600-1100 B.C.)  The town was supposedly built in the 13th century B.C., inhabited for a hundred years and then abandoned in the 12th century B.C.  It was once again occupied from the second half of the 8th century B.C. through to the 4th century B.C.  Vessels and pottery from the different eras of habitation have been unearthed.

     We then returned to Niriedes for a relaxing evening.

Can breakfast get much better than this?

Yesterday we encountered a man with his sheep on the road; today it was this fellow on his mule.

Fassolou beach.

Typical Greece.

Bougainvillea in bloom and whitewashed buildings.

Perusing the menu. 


Most often in Greece when you order multiple dishes they come together - like my lamb and village sausage.

... and the eggplant rolls and stuffed tomato.                         Both of which Gayle enjoyed.

If you don't like cats Greece may not be the place for you.  Fortunately we do.

Lots and lots of olives.

Once a windmill.                     A roadside shrine.                               A church with grass surrounding the door.

The church of Angios Andreas at the archeological site.

A herd of goats, obviously quite perplexed with me and my camera, on the way down from Agios Andreas.

The church on the top of the mountain.                                The view south from the top of Agios Andreas.

September 26, 2010 - Sifnos, with a visit to Kastro

     Hit reset.  Another breakfast - more pastries. This morning we met a lovely Australian couple on their honeymoon, Lauren and Craig.  

     After breakfast we went to Kastro, one of the most fascinating places in Sifnos. The town has been inhabited for over 3000 years  It was once the capital of the island.  The village is vehicle, and motorcycle free.  The town is rich in antiquities and artifacts scattered throughout.  As well there is an archaeological museum.  There are many sarcaphagus' throughout the white-washed village, sitting upon a domed rock that towers above the sea.  To protect the town from pirates there were only five entrances in the massive walls which enclosed the village, each of which could be locked by iron gates.  When one enters the town one goes through tunnels and passageways into a labyrinth of tiny streets wide enough for only two or three people to walk abreast.  There are cafes, restaurants and several interesting old churches.  Following the main street to the north you will eventually come out at the sea with stunning views of the coast.  As one continues to walk around the village one sees the Aegean below and the ancient walls and the ruins of the Venetian fortress above.  On the sea side are two small beautiful churches - the Church of the Seven Martyrs and then the tiny church of Saint Nicholas, from which  one can see Folegandros, Sikinos, Antiparos and Paros.  In the valley and the hills around Kastro there are several more churches with the remains of ancient columns scattered around.  Kastro, not surprisingly, is very popular with artists.

     We then hiked  north along the coast approximately 2 kms to Panagia Poulati,  The hike was for the most part flat just above the coast line.  Very worthwhile along a scenic coast. 

     We then returned to Chrisopigi where we spent some time on the beach, enjoying a late afternoon swim before heading to the taverna for dinner.  We so much enjoyed the ambiance, including the gentle waves lapping on the shore, and food our first night on Sifnos there was no doubt we were going to return for our last night.   Gayle again had the chick pea soup along with tzatziki and a tomato pie.  I had a grilled octopus salad and then lamb, all accompanied by a Mythos beer, 1/4 litre retsina, 1/4 litre of white wine, 1/2 litre of red wine and water - all for 50 euros.  While eating who should show up but Lauren and Craig.  After dinner we invited them to join us for a drink during which we had a nice chat.  Lembesis was as great the second time as the first - a very romantic restaurant - one of our favourites ever.

Delicious yoghurt with either fresh fruit or honey and nuts and views like this - what's not to love?

Niridies Hotel and pool.

Simply beautiful.

Two of the churches as we approached Kastro.

Church of the Seven Martyrs, perched on a rock on the edge of Kastro.

Sights in the predominantly blue painted town of Kastro - everything looked so clean and fresh.

Doors, gates, railings and chairs.

The village priest.

Now you see her.                    Now you don't.                                                                       A fresh coat of paint.

Two of the narrow, twisting alleyways winding their way through the town.

Some of the ancient artifacts, including a sarcophagus.

A (very) old wheel.                                                                  More door decorations.

Coastline north of Kastro.

Enjoying an afternoon in the sun.

Looking back to Kastro.

Panagia Poulati, at the end of our hike.

Crystal clear turquoise water.

Wonderful coastline.

Hiking through the rock walls.

The historic capital of Sifnos - Kastro.

Apokofto beach.                                                                     Chrisopigi Monastery.

Lembesis (Chrysopigi Taverna).

Chrisopigi Monastery.

A perfect setting for dinner.                                                     Chick pea soup and zucchini balls with tzatziki.

Our table adjacent to the water.

The tomato pie.                                                                      Grilled octopus salad.

Lamb with lemon roasted potatoes.

Craig and Lauren - from Australia, on their honeymoon.      With Gayle.

And either Craig or Lauren were nice enough to take of photo of us.

September 27, 2010 - Sifnos to Milos, Nefeli Studios


     Our last morning in Sifnos.  We were very happy with our choice of lodging.  Niriedes Hotel was perfect for us.  Although 10 km or 15 minutes from the main town of Apollonia, Sifnos is a reasonably small island - one can get anywhere in half a day - it has the benefit of being on the water, which is always nice.  Our superior room was spotlessly clean, bright and spacious and impeccably decorated by Thanasis' wife.  There was a bedroom and a second room that had both a kitchenette (dishes, glassware, cutlery, fridge, sink and stovetop) and a sitting area that lead to a narrow terrace with wonderful views of Platis Gialos harbour and hills beyond.  As you have seen breakfast is great - with a wide selection of pastries, coffee juice, yoghurt (with fresh fruit or nuts and honey), local soft Sifnos cheese, feta and tomatoes, enjoyed overlooking the bay.

     Thanasis, the owner/manager was always available and very helpful, with suggestions of tavernas, beaches, both convenient and isolated, churches, viewing points etc.  It was thanks to Thanasis that we ended up at Lembesis (Chrysopigi Taverna) not once but twice - while simple, one of the most romantic restaurants we have been to, with tables on the waters edge, listening to the water lapping ashore, viewing the impressive Chrisopigi Monastery.

     Four days on Sifnos was about the right amount of time.  We saw the entire island, visited and swam at a number of beaches, and enjoyed a couple of hours strolling through Kastro.  As much as we enjoyed Folegandros and Milos, and we did, if we had to pick a favourite it would be Sifnos.


     We left Niridies immediately after breakfast to return to the port of Kamara where we dropped off our rental car and boarded the 11:25 am ferry for the one hour trip to our next and last island - Milos.

Craig and Lauren enjoying their breakfast.                            One last morning; one last plate of pastries.

Every window has a view of the sea.                                      Gayle                                      Thanasis.

The port of Kamara.

Looking through the wall while waiting for the ferry.          Another 'cruise' on a not so busy ferry.

September 27, 2010 - Milos, Pollonia, Nefeli Sunset Studios


     After another very smooth sailing we arrived in the port of Adamas at 12:30 pm, easily found our arranged rental cart and drove the 20 to 30 minutes to Pollonia in the very north end of the island and Nefeli Sunset Studios where we will be staying.   The studios are in a small complex on the west side of tip of the island - ideal for sunsets - a 650 metre (10 minute) walk to the harbour and restaurants of the quaint fishing village of Pollonia. 

     After checking in we took a drive to the village of Plaka, the present capital of Milos.  Founded in 1800 the village spreads on the sides of a hill, uniting the villages of Plakes, Triovassalos, Pera Triovassalos and Tripiti.  The village has traditional Cycladic architecture with whitewashed houses, coloured windows and doors and balconies full of flowers and greenery looking over the narrow streets.  From Plaka one can enjoy a magnificent view of the Gulf of Milos.  The village began to develop after the destruction of the ancient Hora, when the increasing number of refugees could not fit within the walls of the Kastro.  The new village was built from materials brought by the new settlers from their ancient houses and the ruined city.  It was named Plaka because the land on which it was built was really flat (plaka means flat stone).  There are a number of old churches as well as a folk and an archaeological museum in the village.

     Before returning to Pollonia we stayed for dinner.  We started with saganaki (fried Milos cheese) and then some very large, very stuffed mushrooms.  Gayle enjoyed the grilled vegetables with cheese while I lamb in lemon sauce.  A very good meal to welcome us to Milos.

An effort to be artistic.                                                           Nefeli Sunset Sudios is set right on the edge of the sea.

The view from the small beach in front of Nefeli.

Some of the various studios at Nefeli Sunset.

Windmills on our drive to Plaka.

A very attractive village.                                                           Late evening light casts shadows on the church.

Impressive stone designs in the plaza next to the church.

Finishing all her veggies.                                                        Saganaki Milos, i.e. local fried cheese.

Stuffed mushrooms.

A glass of retsina to start the meal.                                          A huge plate of grilled vegetables with cheese.

Lamb in lemon sauce with roasted potatoes.

A Milos sunset.

September 28, 2010 - Around Milos


     We were up early to drive the 20 minutes across the island from Pollonia to the port of Adamas where we boarded our boat for an 'Around Milos' tour - and that's exactly what we mean.  We decided to take the wooden-hulled Captain Yiangos entirely around Milos on a day-long (9:00 am to 6:30 pm) trip - cost 30 euros each.  The trip provides an opportunity to explore remote and colourful beaches, sea caves, and rare geological formations  Lunch on the small island of Kimilos and a couple of swims in warm and amazingly colourful waters made for a rewarding day.

     We sailed counterclockwise from the port of Adamas. passing the colourful fishing village of Klima on the way out of the harbour (more later) and then some very interesting rock formations on the south-west corner of the island near Sykia.  Then a couple of swimming stops as we continued along the south coast.  As we rounded the south-east corner we passed an abandoned sulfur mine.  The beach here is covered in yellow pebbles, remnants of the old sulfur mines and factory that worked through 1956.  There remains machinery including wagons on the tracks, spare parts in the storerooms, tunnels and various excavations.  Furniture, along with personal effects such as shoes were left behind.  Apparently not much is known about the history of the sulfur mines although the infrastructure implies a brisk operation at the time.

     We stopped for lunch on the small island of Kimilos, rich in history.  According to tradition the island is named after its first resident.  The island was also known as Echinousa in ancient times, likely because of the snake Echidna (viper) that is still common today.   The unique rocky lands provided valuable materials for trade, making the island a major trade hub.  It was ruled by the Ottoman Empire until 1829 when it was annexed by the Greek state.  The island's population is now less than 600, mostly elderly.  We ate at a small taverna right on the beach, starting with tzatziki followed by saganaki and meat balls, with French fries and some wine.

     After passing our lodging - Nefeli Sunset Studios we then enjoyed the 'moonscape' views of Sarakiniko beach, apparently one of the most photographed attractions in the Aegean Sea.  Even though it is categorized as a beach, Sarakiniko is far from typical.  There is a small sandy area but 90% of the surface is a combination of various geological materials, including eroded volcanic rock, sandstone and pumice stone with ash, giving it a white 'lunar' landscape.  Perhaps not the most comfortable beach on the island, but certainly the most unique.

     Nearby is a shipwreck, now all but disappeared due to the surf and weathering,  On December 17, 2003 the tanker 'Africa' was near the island of Hydra when it incurred a mechanical breakdown.  The wind drove the ship, out of control, to the north coast of Milos.   Most of the crew were evacuated by helicopter with the captain and a few others remaining aboard until it finally ran aground off Sarakiniko in the dark.  Residents of Milos drove to the site and lit up the coast with their car headlights, allowing the remaining crew to swim ashore unharmed.  Fortunately the tanker was empty, avoiding an environmental disaster.

     Finally, just before returning to the port of Adamas we passed the colourful seaside village of Klima, arguably the most picturesque fishing village in Greece.  Apparently Klima's inhabitation dates back to around 1100 B.C. when the first settlement at Fylakopi was destroyed.  Due to its strategic position in the Aegean Sea, Klima flourished, reaching its peak from the 7th to the 5th centuries B.C.  

     A long strip of multi-coloured traditional fishermen houses, known as 'syrmatas' lie along Milos Bay.  The village is divided in half by the only seaside restaurant.  The two-story design was very practical - with the bottom serving as the boat garage and kitchen, while the second floor was the living space.  Apparently, being virtually identical the houses were painted different colours in order to be easily recognizable by their owners.  Fact of fiction?  The syrmatas are for the most part no longer used by local fishermen, yet they still serve as an ode to its history.  Some have actually been converted to rental properties.

     After arriving back in Adamas we returned to Pollonia where we ate at Yialos, one of the harbour restaurants recommended by Makis, the owner of Nefeli.  Having had lunch on Kimilos we ate light, sharing a Milos / Greek salad and spaghetti with small tomatoes and fresh basil.

     It was a long but very fulfilling day.

Our nine plus hour around Milos boat tour left from Adamas, circling Milos counter-clockwise with a stop for lunch on Kimolos.

We drove from Pollonia to arrive in Adamas in plenty of time to stop in at a taverna where we picked up a cheese and spinach patstry as well as coffee before boarding our boat.  No this is not our cruise boat but rather another in the harbour.

As we leave the harbour at 9:16 am (assuming the church clock is accurate).

A ferry off to a nearby island.

Some of the stunning scenery near Sykia on the south-west coast of Milos.

The colour of the water against the white limestone was striking.

We stopped a couple of times for a swim.

Simply stunning all along the south coast.

Sulphur mines on the east coast of Milos.

Remnants of the mine's operation.

Saganaki, meatballs, tzatziki and a 1/2 litre white wine during our stop on Kimilos.

The taverna on Kimilos.

Our boat - the Captain Yiangos.

We sailed directly in front of Nefeli Sunset Studios.               One of the many churches along the coast.

Some of the interesting geology of the north-west coast of Milos.

Sarakiniko beach on the north shore where waves driven by the north winds have shaped the greyish-white volcanic rock creating a 'feel' of a moonscape.

More scenery during our trip around Milos.

The remnants of the tanker 'Africa' that ran aground in 

An offshore rock 'island'

Churches appear pretty much everywhere.

More coastline highlighted by the late afternoon sunlight.

Fishing huts hugging the coast.                                              Churches perched on the hill.

Each home brightly painted - and coordinated such that no two adjacent homes were the same colour.

Klima, known as the prettiest fishing village in Greece.

A light dinner of a Greek salad and spaghetti.                         Enjoyed with the setting sun over Pollonia's harbour.

Spaghetti with small tomatoes.

September 29, 2010 - Milos - Sarakaniko, Firopotamos and Pollonia


     Our final day on Milos was a bit more relaxed than yesterday.  As Nefeli Sunset Studios has some cooking facilities and therefore does not provide breakfast, other than the 'coffee' available 24/7 we wandered into Pollonia for breakfast.  We enjoyed coffees, yoghurt - one with fresh fruit; one with honey, a spinach twister and another loaf, all overlooking the harbour and fishing boars.

     Unfortunately Milos has a significant issue with stray animals - primarily cats, but dogs, and other farm animals.  We came across a British couple who created Milos Friends of the Animals.   They arrange for periodic visits by veterinarians who spay and neuter stray animals.  We were impressed with their efforts, making a small donation.  If you love cats and animals great, but if not Milos may not be the place for you.

     During the afternoon we drove to a couple of the beaches we had observed on our boat trip yesterday.  First was Sarkaniko, the 'lunar' beach, and then Firopotamos where we enjoyed a nice swim.  

     We then returned to Nefeli before back to Pollonia for dinner, again at Yialos.  Having enjoyed our meal and the service the previous night we decided to return for our last meal of the trip.  We were early enough to get a waterside table - tres romantique.  We started with a large serving of tzatziki, along with some tomato balls.  Gayle then had a layered vegetable dish while I, being unable to decide between the octopus and shrimp, caved and ordered both - hey did we mention it was our last night.  And given that, we ordered a full bottle of wine,  Although the cloud cover precluded much of a sunset our waiter did take a nice photo of us as we were about to have our after dinner 'gift' drink.

As we said for those who are not crazy about cats Milos may not be the place for you.  Fortunately we love cats.  While there are many stray cats this guy was the house cat at Nefeli Sunset Studios, and very friendly.

Breakfast in Pollonia.

Coffee, a spinach twister, yoghurt etc..

The pretty harbour of Pollonia.                                              Arrival of the morning catch.

Separating the fish from the nets.

Brightly painted row boats in the harbour.                          It never hurts to let the public know one has rooms to let.

Set up for lunch and dinner on the dock.

Boats in the harbour.   

A church in Pollonia.

Water provided for dogs and cats by Friends of the Animals of Milos.

The landscape at Sarakaniko.                                                 Looking out to sea from Fitopotamos.

Colours of Milos.

We again ate at Yialos tonight - our last meal of the trip.  We enjoyed a table right on the water side of Pollonia's scenic harbour where we started with a large serving of Tzatziki - yoghurt, cucumber, dill, lemon juice and olive oil.

Our last night, and no driving as we will walk back to Nefeli Sunset Studios warranted a full bottle of wine.

 Tomato balls.

A layered vegetable dish for Gayle.

I couldn't decide between the octopus and the shrimp ... 

So I had both!

We forget his name but our waiter was very friendly, telling us about his life on the island.

A pretty special setting for our last meal of the trip.

September 30, 2010 - Milos => Athens => Montreal => Halifax


     Our last morning.  We had a scheduled 10:45 am departure from Milos to Athens - a short 40 minute flight - to connect to a 1:15 pm departure to Montreal.  However the plane from Athens to Milos was nearly an hour late  resulting in us arriving in Athens after the check-in for the Air Canada flight closed.  There was no agent around.  As we were standing there trying to figure out what to do someone fortuitously came by and agreed to check us in, although not guaranteeing we would make the flight.  But luck was on our side as the flight to Montreal was a bit delayed resulting in us getting to the gate and boarding. 

     After the problems we had getting to Greece we were not looking forward to missing our flight on the way home as well.  But in the end we made it, and arrived in Montreal in time to make our connection to Halifax.  All was good.

One of the benches at Nefeli Sunset Studios on which to relax, gazing out to the sea.

Views from the benches.

Adios Milos.

Memories of Greece:

  • the hospitality of John, at Zacosta, waiting up late into the evening for our delayed arrival; the gift of an apron
  • dragging our suitcases on the cobble-stones of old Rhodes Town
  • the history, the buildings, the alleyways etc. the town
  • the Rhodes sunsets
  • eating under the Plano tree at Patamos Taverna in Lachania
  • being invited into the kitchen at Patamos to choose our meal
  • goats in trees
  • the town and acropolis of Lindos
  • the coastal scenery of Rhodes, especially the north-west coast
  • the history, restoration and hands-on family service at Spirit of the Knights Boutique Hotel
  • shopping, particularly for Turkish good in town
  • the wind in Folegandros, particularly at our Castro Hotel
  • the three squares in the centre of Chora
  • the walk from Ano Meria
  • the afternoon on the coast at Agkali and the walk to Agios Nikolaos beach
  • the rugged geography of the island, including the sheer cliff below our room
  • the rural beauty throughout the island of Sifnos
  • the ambiance, food and views of Chrisopigi Monastery at Chrysopigi Taverna
  • the steep drive down to Paralia beach; swimming with the flying fish
  • Gayle seeing the octopus
  • the abundance of pottery on Sifnos
  • the town of Kastro and our walk up the coast to Panagia Poulati, Sifnos
  • the many opportunities to swim on Sifnos
  • chatting with Thanasis about his family back in Athens and the breakfast pastries at Niriedes
  • meeting and chatting after dinner and at breakfast newlyweds Lauren and Craig from Australia
  • the interesting geological features seen during our around Milos boat tour
  • Friends of the Animals of Milos looking after the many stray cats on the island, 
  • the pretty Milos fishing village of Klima
  • our last dinner on Pollonia's harbour
  • generally the Greek food, including Greek salads, lots of grilled vegetables, octopus and lamb

Expenses (based on average exchange rate 1 euro = $1.35 Cdn):

Here are the costs of our trip:

$ 2,122           airfare to/from Athens

$    816           airfare within Greece - Athens <=> Rhodes and Athens <=> Milos

$ 2,543           lodging ($159 Cdn. $ per night)

$ 1,341           food ($84 per day - dinner etc. including wine and some breakfasts)

$    929           car rental, fuel, ferries, taxi and buses

$    371           souvenirs

$    218           miscellaneous, of which $97 were tours (Lindos and Around Milos)

$ 8,340           for 16 days

The average cost per day excluding airfare to/from Greece and souvenirs, i.e. for lodging, food, entrances, vehicle and miscellaneous was $365, quite a bit higher than any subsequent trips to Greece.

  • $249 in 2015 (24 days)
  • $291 in 2017 (26 days)
  • $330 in 2018 (18 days)
  • $285 in 2019 (30 days)

Also interesting is to compare costs by major category - lodging, food, travel (car rental, fuel, ferries and internal flights) and miscellaneous/other.  The following have been converted from euros to Canadian $ generally more or less at the exchange rate indicated.  Whether or not the food on Rhodes and the other islands we visited was more expensive, or we simply ate particularly well we're not sure but it does appear we enjoyed our meals during this trip.

Year        Euro Exchange         Lodging               Food               Travel             Other             Total

2010             $1.35                      $158                   $84                  $109                $14                $365

2015             $1.45                      $113                   $65                   $ 67                $ 4                 $249

2017             $1.50                      $142                   $68                   $ 76                $ 5                 $291

2018             $1.56                      $164                   $70                   $ 88                $ 8                 $330

2019             $1.54                      $148                   $59                   $ 69                $ 9                 $285

It is strange that as the exchange rate increased the total costs generally decreased.

Lodging ranged from a low of 30 euros ($41 Cdn.) to a high of 250 euros ($336).  Zacosta, Spirit of the Knights, and Neriedes included breakfast; the others did not.  Here is a list of where we stayed, the amount we paid and a link to their website.  

Cost*        Lodging                            Town                     Island                Website

$ 173        Zacosta Villa Hotel           Rhodes town          Rhodes    

$ 155        The Four Elements           Lachania                 Rhodes           

$ 336         Spirit of the Knights        Rhodes town          Rhodes     

$   41         Hotel Eleni                      Adamas                   Milos       

$   99         Hotel Castro                    Chora                     Folegandros

$ 177         Neriedes Hotel                Platis Gialos            Sifnos       

$   95         Nefeli Sunset Studios       Pollonia                  Milos          

* per night 

     As is our practice we communicate and book directly with each place, and in doing so save the establishment the booking commission and are known to the staff when we arrive.