A Greek Retreat

Last Tuesday, I packed my bags one last time to go hunt a bit of summer sun in Greece. One of my closest friends, the amazing Angeliki Vourdaki, had just moved back to her home country a month ago, and she was more than keen to go explore the Cyclades.

 Having landed early morning on Wednesday, we decided to spend a day walking around Athens. I was lucky enough to have a local as a tour guide, and so I followed Angie around the old town and the acropolis, stopping at Gyristroula for its world-renowned pork Souvlaki with Tzatziki. Later, we got lost in the narrow, colourful streets of Plaka, a bohemian neighbourhood of Athens and found ourselves at Anafiotika, or little Anafi, a magical place build to ressemble a Greek Island Chorra.

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We ended our day watching the sunset and sipping passion fruit martinis at 360, a rooftop bar on Monastiraki Square with a view on the acropolis. Later, Angie and her friends were keen to show me Avli, their favourite hangout spot in Psyrri for mezzezaki and raki. 

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The next day, we woke up early and decided to pack our swimsuit, tent and sleeping bags, and head to Pirreaus to catch the ferry for the little island of Serifos, part of the Cyclades.

20170922_082301 (1).jpgAlthough we had planned to go to a Greek island, Angie and I only decided the night before on this destination, after hearing that it was a bit less touristy than the rest, and had amazing hiking trails. The ferry there took us about 3 hours, which gave us plenty of time to find a camping ground – wild camping is strictly forbidden in Greece, and the local authorities do not hesitate to hand offenders hefty fine – and a few hiking trails. Once at the port, Costas from Coralli Camping-Bungalows picked us up in his van, and drove us to Coralli, off Livadi, the harbour town of Serifos. The place was empty – the tourist season was coming to an end. Instead, we made friend with the very playful kittens that were running around our bags.

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After finding creative ways to put up our tent – we had borrowed it from Angie’s friend, and she had forgotten to give us its cover! – we headed for Vagia beach, a little gem tucked in between cliffs, and spent the afternoon there, swimming and relaxing. After sunset, we made friends with a local cabbie, who showed us around the western part of the island before dropping us to the port. In the evening, we headed to the port to have seafood at thalami, which our new friend had recommended.

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Our first night was interesting – with only one sleeping bag, an open air tent, and a lot of cats running around us ! Morning found us half-asleep, half admiring the beach in front of us. After running to a local bakery to grab a few morning pastries made with feta and spinach, we set off for our little hike, following the route described in Cyclades.be. After going up the many stairs that led to the Chorra, we walked around the little white houses, getting lost on our way to the highest point, the Castro. The village was just waking up to the smell of fresh coffee and wild honey. Old women were cleaning their frontyard, a few tourists were having breakfast by their windows, and the many cats were lying on the streets, recovering from their nightly escapades.

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We then made our way out of the Chorra, and down into the backcountry of Serifos, walking on narrow hiking trails that took us in between oregano bushes and abandoned churches.

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We unfortunately got lost on the way, and instead followed the path to Kallítsos, until we found a dirt road that would lead us to Psilli Ammos – our destination for the day.

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We spent the rest of the morning and most of the afternoon on the beach, enjoying the fine sand and the azur sea, and made our way back to Coralli beach, following the main road by foot.

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In the evening, we took the bus to the Chorra and had mezzezaki and raki in the main plaza, while making friends with a few Lebanese visitors! Although the place was slightly busy, locals told us that most tourists had already left, and that Serifos would soon enter its hibernation mode.

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The following morning, we started our day with a jog along the beach, and swam in Livadi – which, unfortunately, was not very clean – before heading to the port for one last meal. We were so engrossed in our seafood dishes that we almost missed our ferry – and only managed to make it on time thanks to Costas, who drove around to try and find us !

 

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