Folegandros | The Land

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The view of Panagia church on the cliff, the most classic photo of Folegandros!

I know, it’s not the best time to speak about greek summer – in Athens it’s deep Fall, we start to feel some cold weather expressions and a lot of us think about Christmas already! But not me! hehe…I’m gonna torture you a little more.
I think that greek islands are never off season! Especially now that a cousin of mine is planning to open her own shop at Folegandros (next summer the island will have a high quality stylish voice, keep in mind!).

I’ve already wrote about Folegandros’ beaches and clear blue waters here, now is the time to show you some of its land beauties!

Folegandros has 3 let’s say villages: Karavostasis (where the port is), Chora (its basic settlement) and Ano Meria. If you visit you should stay definitely at Chora, its where everything happens. The beauty there is impeccable! Laying at the edge of a cliff, having above you a high ridge with a traditional church, a traditional and very old settlement named “Kastro” on the inside and everything built with local architecture, all quite well preserved keeping a low and original profile offers you a very unique experience of living and memorable summer vacations!

Of course, we visited the island at early September where everything is quieter and less touristic. It’s said that is very popular on high season and maybe you won’t be able of feeling all the flavors of the island.
What I liked the most was that local people and owners have kept the local characteristics of the buildings and keep them simple so that you receive a quite original impression. Also, the existence of a lot of squares so that different kind of corners grow here and there depending on the use. I loved exploring new spaces as walking by, hidden shops and restaurants, as if life there is shown to you little by little.

Another characteristic is that people use the public area the most of it, like sitting on mantels and church’s precincts, tables are laying under a tree’s shadow and habitats hang their laundry on the streets adding their personal style!
Also, the whole Chora is very dense built because of the wind and that’s why all the houses are next to each other creating a very interesting organism all together. If you feel the wind there you’ll know what I’m talking about!!

And now some of how we were spending our time there!
We were starting our day with a nice breakfast every day at a different cafe. We wanted to try all of them and also to find where it wasn’t very windy! It wasn’t everywhere the best but we made some good choices eventually. One of my favorites was at the balcony of “Lontzia” cafe next to the entrance of Kastro. It was very peacefull, we had a nice view of the square on one hand and we had the Kastro on the other, we were sitting at built benches next to hibiscus, what else to ask for?!
My second favorite was strangely “Nicola’s place”. At the first glance I could hate it, very touristic, but we ate a very decent breakfast there (except coffee though, which was the reason for not going again) and it was so cult that you couldn’t not lough! However, the best thing there I think was the gaming options that you had. A lot of games, traditional, puzzles to solve, backgammon and of course …chess. We stayed there one morning for 3 hours playing chess with G. where fortunately I won!!! hooray!
Usually, after breakfast we were passing by the bakery to take some local cheese pies (yummy) to keep us for the day.

At the end of Chora is the Kastro settlement. Kastro means castle, citadel in greek and it was the first settlement of the island, where people were living on the old days. That’s why the houses are very close one to the other, the roads are very narrow so that they are mostly protected by the wind. It’s still inhabited, it has 2 entrances and it ends exactly at the edge of the cliff!! So scary to see that. The beauty of Kastro is incomparable, strolling around is a great walk, I loved imagining how life must have been there.

Night life was also limited for us because of the wind. Most of the days we were hanging out at Astarti bar, sitting at the church’s precinct next to it, drinking rakomelo (hot raki with honey and spices) to warm ourselves! It was the hit of Chora and we saw why. I loved that place for its intimacy and coolness.
One night that the wind wasn’t so bad we went to Beez bar for a summer cocktail and it was very nice also! One day there was a wedding on the island! And they had the party at a tavern on a square where all the passers by could stand for a while and watch. Quite special for a wedding party to happen on the open like that, it was really something.

Usually, at night we were dinning at a restaurant/tavern where unfortunately I have no photos because my mind was only at the food in front of me! I’ll make a list, from some places we liked for you at the end of the post, though.

One of Folegandros highlights is of course the sunset! But not from anywhere, you climb the zing-zag path towards the Panagia church (what you see from everywhere on Chora and on the cover photo of the post). From there the view is amazing!! It’s not so difficult to go there, but I was tired enough…there are some donkeys also to get you there if you want. So you pick a rock to sit and wait…and as you wait the sun to dive in the sea you enjoy the island changing in so many colors!! Very romantic 😉

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The first lights of the night that comes at Chora

We enjoyed the sunset at Ano Meria too, we were lucky enough to be at the right time there! This settlement had/has the rural facilities of people of Folegandros, creating at the end of it a very interesting scenery to enjoy the infinity! We were walking towards it that day just to get closer to the sunset and have a better view and we discovered this place like forgotten for many many years…until a pig tried to communicate with us! Then we saw also a cow standing among ruins and huge rocks so we kept them company for a while, admiring all together the sunset!
It’s also very interesting to see the rural facilities because you learn about how life could be the old times and how these people were working there. I was impressed by the “tree house” a built circle with a tree on the center, usually a lemon tree, to protect it by the wind so that they rescue the fruits, I saw some of them myself! Now there are mostly taverns and traditional restaurants there where you can try some local delicacies you shouldn’t miss!!

As you can imagine Folegandros is a very very beautiful island, very simple yet so interesting, with so many aspects and stories where you can find peace. Rough beauty but in a chic way, definitely a place to remember!

Places we ate and suggest:

Pitokamomata at Chora, for the most delicious street food!
Eva’s Garden at Chora, for a nice, romantic dinner
O Kritikos at Chora, grill tavern in a very picturesque square
Zefiros Anemos at Chora, for fresh seafood
To Zimaraki at Chora, for italian cuisine-yummy pizzas
I Sunantisi at Ano Meria, for local cuisine and the famous matchata!

Also, there is a very usefull app about everything of Folegandros, check it out if you ‘re about to visit: INFolegandros

Check out the previous post: Folegandros | The Sea for having the whole picture!

 

Folegandros | The Sea

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A tiny beach next to Agali, beautiful to look from above

As the temperature in Athens is still hot -despite the first days of October- I take the opportunity to post about my main summer vacations! And get some of the vibes that are so precious!!
The first days of September we went at the small&distant yet magical island of Cyclades, Folegandros! I’ll make 2 parts of it because there is such beauty that I simply can’t limit the photos. At this part we’ll have our jaws dropped by the clearest and tempting waters of the island! If I should distinguish one thing from Folegandros would definitely be the beaches. At least for my taste that I love pebbled beaches, blue and deep waters and calm and isolated-if nudist even better, this was a paradise. You should know though that you’ll have to get supplies with you definitely and an umbrella because usually there is nothing there.

However, we were unlucky with the weather. It was SO windy these days that couldn’t go at any beach whenever we wanted. And because of the cold wind I felt really chilly sometimes! Brrr… I’m not famous for my tolerance to cool water anyway!
So, to get an idea of what Folegandros was for us the first days you can take a look at the following pictures and see: The wild situation of the see! The dry and rocky land that dominates (with some goats here and there) and the Karavostasis where the port is. When we say port though don’t think of what you’re used to, check it out to understand!

One of the most accessible and easy beach was Agali, in the middle of the island. Its name means “hug” as the land subsides like one so that the weather isn’t such a problem. However because of that there is always crowd which I don’t love…It was very nice in general but I liked more to look at it from above!

 

As I told you all these days the wind was pitiless! After asking some local people we started exploring some more “secret” beaches that you had to walk through pathways. The first day we attempt exploring  Fira beach which is 10′ from Agali. Along the way we were very surprised sometimes by what people consider “pathway”!!! After all, we took the right way every time but I think it was only a matter of luck! I was of course fearless….
Besides the view from there was magnificent, so I was only impatient to reach the beach. And we were very well paid off as you can see!

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Happy swimmer

To find a quiet beach, with rough beauty, after all the wind and crowd was such a delight! All the beaches from that day on were amazing. I was swimming for hours, sunbathing after the cool water to get the right temperature, reading my book (‘The woodpecker’ by Tom Robins which I finished there and totally loved it!!) wearing my mask and seeing SO many fishes underwater that I enjoyed it a lot!!!! Also, as you’ll notice, I was very proud of my pedicure 😉

Some other beautiful beaches were St. Nicolas, Galyfos and Livadaki, on the south part of the island. Again by foot or by boat. Quite small all of them if you are used to large, endless beaches and I imagine if someone visits the island on high season they can be very very crowded.

On the following picture we can see some old guys trying to pull a boat out of the water with no good results…As I was waiting for G. to help them I was taking photos…

The best beach in my opinion was Katergo! It was our favorite by far and thankfully the wind stopped for one whole day (wow) so that we could see it. I mean, magnificent…We didn’t want to leave that beach. A high cliff behind us, a large beach so that all the people can spread out and clear, refreshing waters for swimming for hours. Beautiful scenery.

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Katergo beach – the best!!!

Another, rather quiet and small beach was Ambeli. Very rocky in general, wilder as an environment, but what I loved the most was the way until there. Not so the driving part-which was very atmospheric indeed- as the walking part till the beach. You have to pass through small paths under trees so that the beach is revealing itself at the end and you feel like you found a treasure!

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Heading to Ambeli beach, seems like we’re gonna find a treasure!

It’s also nice to catch a sunset there or on your way back and stop at Ano Meria, a small village, to see the sunset and eat local delicacies as matchata pasta with rooster…yummy!! The best closing for a day at this beach!

If you want more from greek summer/islands of Cyclades see my older posts:
Sikinos here and here 
Kimolos here , here and here

House in Nisyros, Greece

1As the weather is getting better here I got in the mood for mental traveling to a Greek island again. This house attracted me at the very first sight and it got me daydreaming again!

So, we are in a village of Nisyros, Emporio abandoned for many years, as its residents had become immigrants. However, the last years something is stirring again and the village gets some life. In its highest point, where the castle is situated, the first house that was restored, a building of 17th century is a piece of admiration. I would love being there right now…

The renovation was undertaken by Dolihos company with i.LANDarchitects who used all the morphology, typology and structure elements that had been found during the excavation. The building was named Sterna Nisyros Residences because of  the biggest cistern (sterna in Greek) that was found in the village. Every work in this restoration was made with great respect to the traditional forms and types of structure, as well as of local architecture.

2 3The house is 128 m2 and has two levels. The ground floor is an open space where the kitchen and living room are separated through a height difference. The concept was that daily needs of its residents will be satisfied but also it can be a modern art place through Time Capsule Art Project. It was one of the owners’ ideas, that the house is available as a guest room but mostly as a creative, inspiring and relaxing space for artists where they can create and exhibit their work that was inspired by their stay in the island. 4On the first floor there are the bathroom and 2 bedrooms with wooden balconies. The materials that are used are region friendly, cement, glossy oil painting for the ceiling and wood of course. All of them in white colors that highlight the Greek island style! In the bathroom bronze faucets and the stone sink catch the eye! This sink was found during the excavation and thankfully they decided to keep it. I love that these bathroom elements are so humble and original.

5 6 7In the end, outside of the house we find a yard of 40m2 with a big iron couch and a wooden table that gaze the sea. This is where the cistern, which collects the rain water supplying the house with water all year long, is situated. Through this yard you can take the stone stairs and go to the roof where a cozy seating area is created with a 360o view available. From the Turkish coasts to the volcano of Nisyros!
Very charming in every detail! Don’t you think? 8 9 10Photos Panos Kokkinias

Kimolos – Part 2

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This time I have some photos from our afternoon/night strolls on the island that I forgot to upload them the other day… (shy)
These photos show better the atmosphere that the village had this time of day. So beautiful, calming, nostalgic and real.. Oh how I miss my days there!
Enjoy 🙂

View of the port at dusk. This boat reminds me my when I was little and used to go to our summer house with grandparents :) Nostalgic

View of the port at dusk. This boat reminds me when I was little and used to go to our summer house with grandparents 🙂 Nostalgic

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The main market of the village, semi-closed, makes a beautiful night scene lighting indirectlry the street

Imagine plus 15 little kids running and playing around!

Imagine plus 15 little kids running and playing around!

Kafeneio at night! We also ate amazing food there..yum!

Kafeneio at night! We also ate amazing food there..yum! One night I ordered a traditional (delicious) dish and 3 tables around me asked me (really impressed) what was this!

 

Kimolos – Part 1

"Kimolos, my paradise"

“My Kimolos, my paradise”

At last I found some time to write about my summer vacation in Kimolos island!! I’ve returned two days now and I feel like it was a hole in time. I had such a wonderful time I can’t describe it! I fully charged my batteries, if only I had more time. Though you can never have enough time I think, right? That’s what comforts me.

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Welcome in Kimolos

Kimolos is a small island in Cyclades offered for quiet holidays. So if you want to party all the time maybe you shouldn’t go…but for me it was perfect. I needed to relax and that’s what happened! I only wanted to be all day at the beach, then go eat somewhere 5 steps near that and then go for a drink/stroll other 5 steps from there!

Kimolos horio_mbfKimolos has a raw beauty sometimes because it’s like it’s been forgotten from the 21st century. You leave behind the hectic life for good. There is only one village-town, that is a characteristic of small islands in Cyclades. Normally cars aren’t allowed to get in the village and a lot of roads are just dirt roads. Unfortunately, that makes it difficult to go to the north side of the island where the wildest beaches are.
In the village you can find traditional cafes and restaurants where native people are hanging out near you. You can hear the stories they say to each other, where usually you’re trying not to laugh! There aren’t a lot of tourists in a massive way. So you can really relax and let yourself free, connect to the environment and the people. I love that when it happens.

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“Kafenia” the traditional cafes

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Laundry on the street

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Kimolos donkey_mbf An example of the dirt, rocky roads – Except church bells that were ringing all the time we had donkey brayings and rooster crowings as well!

Also, there are a lot (a lot!!) of churches that are ringing every half an hour to remind the time!! At first I was terrified that I would never sleep but eventually I had no problem! Instead I found it quite funny. Even in 4am for example the bell rings four times, crazy!

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One of the many churches of Kimolos. 17th century

The beaches are just dreamy! Deep blue see and white sand, nothing more to say…Chalk is mined in Kimolos, that’s why the rocks and sand are almost white. Besides, that’s where it had its name, “kimolia” in greek means chalk. We also went during an off-season period so the beaches were almost private! In another part of Kimolos dedicaded posts I will show you some places that we swam and I still can’t believe it. Blue lagoon without exaggeration!

Another cute characteristic was that all the paved streets were painted by locals or kids (i suppose…) where they also write how much they love their island. “My Kimolos, my paradise” is like a moto there.. And in some entrances on the traditional town you are welcome by words on the street, like the 2nd picture of the post. Such a warm welcome 🙂

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Navy style!

PS. If you click on the photos you can see them in large size!