Our hotel is in Katomeri which is the capital of the island. Why it is the capital we do not know because it seems to be the smallest of the three villages on the island.
Viewed from a passing satellite, the largest feature of the village is the football pitch. The hotel is adjacent to the blue square (the swimming pool) in the top of the above photograph.
The “main street” which twists through the village is not wide enough for cars to pass but since there are so few cars, this rarely becomes a problem except when a lorry
The Village Baker
decides it has to go through the village and gets stuck at the Baker’s house.
As with many Greek villages, the Church is at the centre of the village.
The village is full of alleyways, and lovely old houses (plus a few modern less attractive ones). The red house here is even more of a charm to see when the sunblind is not there – painted bright red with lots of flowers on the patio. This alleyway is also on the main bus
route because just past the house is the main square (also the location of the public phone).
The white house above is also on the main street and when the family came into money they built the larger house behind the original white house.
Rather biblical looking olive orchards fill in the space between houses – no doubt in future years they will be built on.
On the edge of the village is a field full of rather scraggy sheep wearing traditional sheep bells which clang as they move around.
and this one (the white tower on the crest of the hillside) overlooks Atherinos Bay. When the windmills here were being used, they looked very similar to those on Mykanos.
To describe Katomeri as “enchanting” is to do it a dis-service, it is more than that. Whilst it has its fair share of concrete and partially completed buildings, it also has a lot of older looking buildings or images which remind you that this was how the whole of Greece must have looked years ago.
Some forty years ago we were in Sitia in Crete (then very isolated) and whenever we walked through the town, we were greeted by people or included in a conversation (although we speak no Greek) – the same happened in Katomeri this week.
We will always remember the baker’s discourse on football (no idea what he was saying but he was very passionate) and his distain for the accuracy of the bus timetable displayed in his shop. We will also remember the widows working hard at old looms making lace in the old style for sale to tourists and the old man we came across beating an octopus with a large piece of wood in order to tenderise it for supper (at least we assume that was the reason rather than a general hatred of octopi).
There are two ports on the island – Vathy (above) has two visits a day from the inter-island ferry and is the most “port like” of the two ports.
Quayside seen from the ferry
a view across the harbour
cleaning fish in the harbour water
The quayside looks like a Greek quayside should look with boats, fishermen mending nets, numerous quayside cafes and a number of sailing charters which moor in either the bottom right or top left of the photograph above – the cafes and general town life stretches between these two points.
At night, the village is full of tourists eating at the tavernas along the quayside – fresh fish is
guaranteed since it is landed only a few metres away every morning.
In June the town is quiet, and when we were here it was hot at 37C and not a cloud in the sky. The town has numerous views which
are exactly like those which one expects to find in Greece.
This is in fact a bus stop in Vathy and the red chair is for the use of an old lady who waits for the bus each day.
Greece does not manage its rubbish very well and here there seems recycling. Litter abounds even though there are numerous large bins along the roadside.
Stray rather flea ridden and thin looking cats are everywhere.
This old store in on the quayside and the herbs in the pots growing against the wall are used by the adjacent taverna.
Spartochori and Spilia
The other port on the island is at Spilia which is directly below the village of Spartochori (below) which is also the location of the other hotel on the island – a recently built modern hotel designed for the safe-traveller.
Before austerity, the ferry sailed from Nydri (on the mainland) to Spilia then around the coast to Vathy and then back to Nidri. Now it sails from Nydri to Spilia five times a day and goes on to Vathy only twice a day. Times given on the ferry website are different in Greek to those given in English and neither seem to be the same as what actually happens.
Spilia hardly qualifies to be called a port, it is more of a jetty and a seaside taverna.
The ferry trip from Meganissi across to Nydri and back is a great slow boat trip with wonderful scenery and is worth doing just for the ride (it is also cheap at €3.80 return). Because the weather was getting increasingly hot and there were cooling winds out at sea, one day we decided to get the 1045 ferry from Spilia to Nydri, have lunch there and get the 1400 ferry back to Vathy and another day we got the 1215 back from Nydri, got off at Spilia for lunch and then got the 1425 ferry round to Vathy.
To get from Katomeri to Spilia there are two choices – walk the 5 kms (about 1 hour in the very hot sun) or take the slightly erratically timetabled bus (the bus usually tries to meet every ferry arrival) for only €1.20 from near our hotel. The bus stops in the village are
clearly marked but when we asked “which direction will the bus come from?” we were given the relatively unique answer of “well, it all depends on where the bus driving is living that day. If he is living is Spilia it will come from the left and if he is living in Vathy, it will come from the right”.
Today the driver was living in Spilia and so we
drove down to Vathy and then along the coast, back up into the hills and then at an occasionally alarming speed, through narrow alleyways which in numerous places were literally only 2 cms wider than the bus once the driver had folded in the wing mirrors. From experience we deduced that the bus will stop anywhere if you hail it as it comes towards you.
Spartohorri village is above Spilia “port” and you get down to the port by driving down a narrow winding road.
The ferry runs to a surprisingly on-time timetable and when it has berthed on the run - loading ramp lowered as it approaches the quayside, use the loading ramp scraping on the ground as a brake, cars off and on quickly – passengers ditto, it then immediately goes off again. A turn-around time of five minutes is even quicker than RyanAir!
The ferry not only carries passengers and vehicles, it also carries freight, food and
perishables. It seems that if there is no one at the port to collect these items when the ferry arrives, they are left in place for collection the next time the ferry returns in a few hours time – we determined this based upon what we saw happen on the deck below us. We also saw someone selling food to people who quickly got on the boat when it docked, bought what they wanted and then got off with their purchases before it set sail again a few minutes later.
As the ferry sails to and from Nydri, it passes very close to Skorpios – not that you can see
very because it is very heavily wooded. There is a statue of Aristotle Onassis on
the esplanade in Nydri and quite a few Greek families seemed to be stopping there to have their photograph taken with him in the background
The boat also passes some beautiful seaside
Seaside Villas near Nydri
Nydri Harbour Mouth Church
villas and as it approaches Nydri, is passes a traditional Church at the mouth of the Harbour intended to protect departing sailors.
Nydri has developed a bit since we were last there but in our opinion (to borrow a phrase from one of our Rough Guides) “there is little to detain the traveller”. It is very much a long
strip road with the occasional nice house but
also with numerous restaurants offering
similar cuisine (more expensive than on Meganissi), shops selling tourist souvenirs and night clubs which (sorry if we sound rather fuddy duddy) do not interest us. It is still
popular as a sailing base for yacht charters and lots of new renters seemed to be on the water practising sailing in circles or in reverse.
Just before we left, we found out there is also an evening ferry to Leftkas but we did not
have the time to try it out – next time perhaps.