Ikaria - Paradise in Peril
There are no direct flights from outside of Greece, so a stopover at Athens is necessary. If you want to explore, you have to have a car. There are buses and organized tours, but the island has so many things to see it is not possible to cover it all by bus. It took me 6 full days to see it all.
You can also stroll on the ramparts of the castle which are currently being renovated. It is a huge area where there are 50 or more so called "archontika" mansions or villas. These were built there by the genoese who held the island during the 16th century and kept by the many rich chiote families more on that later.
They take the names of the families that own or used to own them Argentiko from the Argentis family, Mavrokordatiko from the Mavrokordatos family etc etc. There are all built with the so called "kambisia petra" kambos rock that has a very characteristic brown-purple color. Unlike other similar places in Greece, there is NOT ONE house that is built in a "modern" way, making a stroll in the narrow streets of Kambos a really unique experience.
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Kambos is also home to many citrus trees oranges, lemons, clementines , famous all over Greece. There is a very nice Citrus Museum that documents the history of this type of farming in the area. Very impressive golden psifidota mosaic inside the church, a museum, the restored refectory and various other buildings make this a must visit.
Avgonyma is the first of many traditional villages, made of stone houses, narrow streets and archways with very few modern touches. Anavatos is an abandoned old village a few kms outside of Avgonyma. Sometimes called "the Mystras of the Aegean", it is like time has stopped still. No modern touches at all there. On the top of the cliff where the village is built there is a huge house where all the people of the village were gathered during the massacre of Chios at and from where they all jumped to the precipice below when the ottomans stormed the village.
One of the many great beaches of the island. If you like sand this is for you. The village near the beach marks the beginning of the "Mastichochoria" mastic villages. One of the better preserved mastic villages, very underrated in an, anyways, underrated island. You have your first taste of what the villages further south look like.
Archways, stone houses, small towers, narrow streets etc etc. Has some modern touches. Thank you Tassos for the wonderful trip report. Two of my friends just returned from Chios , they loved it and said there were very few tourists and they didn't meet any other British people - it definitely sounds like my sort of place.
A good value-for-money solution for anyone wishing to stay in this incredible place without having to spend a fortune. They were two types of refugees: families with kids decent and respectable, nothing to say there and various individuals some of whom didn't really look Syrian to me I found the price of produce at some of the small markets in Chios Town to be very good and the produce was fresh. Tomatos tasted like a tomato not some hard as a rock bland tomato that looks perfect but has no taste!
The only similarity I noticed with Athens is the traffic in Chios Town, especially along the waterfront and around the town park. However, once you got familiar with the layout, traffic pattern and where you are going it turned out to be OK. Chios's history is not very pleasant, especially during Greece's fight for Independence with the Ottoman Empire. Read about it at your own peril. You get to know Chios' history when you visit the island, anyway. It is a part of the modern reality as well, both the massacre of and the earthquake of Traffic was not Athens -level-bad, but it was present.
Also I don't know if you've seen the exact replica of the famous Delacroix painting in the Byzantine Museum. Really impressive! While nothing can compare to the traffic in Athens the traffic in Chios Town was a bit more than I expected but after driving around it turned out to be rather easy once you knew where you were going.
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And once outside Chios Town the roads were basically deserted especially the more rural areas. Just keep an eye out for goats! By the way, did you ever get to try Souma in Mesta? I found a small taverna there who sold me some. They asked me what size bottle I wanted and I said small and they filled up a small bottle that Ouzo came in.
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Souma is made from figs and it is super strong. But Iiked it and brought back another small bottle. Great report!
We spent 10 days here in June We started in Volissos and it was so quiet we were usually the only diners in the tavernas at night. Then onto Karfas and it was like a different island, busy. The biggest house at the top of Anavatos appears to had renovation started many years ago, all the original windows are stacked inside under a LOT of dust, fascinating. The Blue Star Diagoras that we used to reach Ikaria is a fantastic ferry. Various dining options the Captain was the only one in 1st class dining. Really lovely modern cabins and smart staff.
Parts of this boat are more like a small cruise ship. In total no more than people on board and most left at Samos.
Just had a look at your great pictures, Tassos. Allthough it has been many years I was in Chios , there were lots of places I still recognised. Did you happen to go to the Turkish Baths inside the Kastro? It has been restored beautifully and is a wonderful thing to experience.
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Ikaria - Paradise in Peril
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