It sounds like ‘yasis’
After flying to Athens we spent two nights in Rafina. The flight arrives in at 1.30am, so it was a pretty slow start the next morning! The weather was horrendous – they even cancelled the ferries! We were recommended to visit McArthurglen which is a outlet shopping centre. There is not much happening in Rafina with the terrible weather, so we grabbed a taxi (no buses available!) and headed to the mall. OMG!! It is an outside type of mall !! Hmmmmm! They did have courtesy umbrellas! We spent a couple of hours here deciding it was just a waste of our time. It wasn’t really outlet shopping at all. It is a ‘rabbit warren’ of a place, hard to wander about in any logical order and really hard to get to!
I did however find an amazing children’s shop that had the most beautiful things, but when you look at cashmere babygrows that are €160 (NZ$300) you know you are in the wrong place for a bargain!! No baby shopping here for me! I did by chance happen upon a pair of casual shoes that will get me through the rest of our trip. And we also had lunch at a place called ‘it’s all greek’ which had amazing food and service.
We found a place on line [for Andros] that was cheap and cheerful and booked in for 5 days on the island which is the closest to the mainland. I think they were actually closed, but took our booking anyway. They were doing maintenance and everything was in a bit of a mess. Our shower was broken, everything in the kitchen was a bit hotchpotch, the WiFi was like having dial up and the rubbish out the back was well … rubbish out the back, but despite all that we had amazing views on our deck and the owner was super helpful and friendly. We were able to walk everywhere in the village, so all-in-all it was okay.
We met a New Zealand couple (Sue and Doug) who were on the island for 6 weeks ‘house sitting’. It really is a small world. We met them for lunch and shared our stories. They very kindly took us out the next day for a scenic drive around the southern end of the island. The land is pretty unfriendly for farming, and there are only a few beaches here and there. We had lunch in a very small village before continuing around the coast to Chora which is the main town. Had coffee and crepes here … just amazing. They [Sue & Doug] are heading back to NZ at the end of April. Just amazing to meet some other people who have been on the same journey as us, and from NZ!! I am sure that we will catch up with them once we get home.
We did a hike up the hill behind Batsi on a beautiful day. It was straight up! We were very under prepared for it! No hats, no sunscreen, no water and jandals!! What were we thinking!! Anyway, we soldiered on for a couple of hours and met sheep, goats and a donkey who decided he was our new friend. Actually it was a beautiful walk and we were graced with panoramic views. We could have completed the other 96km to the other side of the island but we decided 4km was enough for us 😂. The picture at the top [of this post] is the little church we found on our way back down. Note the snow on the hills – that is on the mainland.
The hills have all been terraced over many years and there are all these small stone ‘crofter’ houses dotted all over the hills. They are mainly just used as shelter for the animals now.
This donkey had broken its tether line and just seemed happy to have the company and decided he was coming with us. He just followed for a short while and then turned back. I think he must have decided that we were mad heading straight up the mountain!
No long after we left the village we walked through this lovely meadow of daises – it was just so pretty. I really should have had proper shoes on … bees, prickles, stones, rocks and poop put my feet in jeopardy! Never mind that it is warming up enough for snakes to be around!!!
Batsi village is a sleepy village. Most of the shops and restaurants were closed. We did however manage to find a hairdresser! Well Colin did actually. I was waiting for the sun to set [picture above] and he wandered up the road to get a bottle of wine … a very long time later he arrived back, having found a hairdresser!! Anyway, he told the hairdresser that he would bring me back up the next day. If you read my post from Cyprus you will know that I had a very short haircut there – I mean that was back at Christmas and I only need a haircut now. Well it turns out that ‘Joseph’ was a ladies hairdresser, so we went back up the next day for me to have a trim. After an hour of ‘talking and drinking’ he finally decided to cut my hair. Every time I said that “yip, that’s good” he would say “I’m not finished yet”. He also told me that I should not worry about any grey hair as I am married!! Only single ladies need to worry about their grey hairs 😂 Anyway I have a short haircut again, but not quite as short as the cut I had in Cyprus!
We decided to hire a car for our last day and explore the north end of the island. The roads are rugged to say the very least. We followed the ‘white line’ roads where we could, but found ourselves on this hairpin dirt road! It was on the highest part of the mountain! It did have some stunning views.
It made for a nervous trip for me, not that I don’t trust Colin but it was a long way down and in most places there were no barriers of any sort AND there were sheep and goats popping out of nowhere. When we got to the bottom of this hill, we went up through the valley on the other side which was back to a ‘white line’ road again. The photo doesn’t really show how precarious it was!! I am just very glad that we didn’t see any cars coming the other way.
So now we have made it to Mykonos (after a short ferry ride) and have three nights here. There is hardly a person to be seen. It is such a lovely place, but very ‘sleepy’ at the moment. We are staying in an AirBnB apartment which is centrally located and is very modern with views out to the setting sun. It is not very quiet at night!! Our neighbours seem to be very social and had us up very late last night, and tonight is not looking any better. Maybe we should join them!!! The other neighbours where up at the crack of dawn, so feeling a little sleep deprived this morning!
We have walked all around the old town, in around little Venice, seen so many churches and have literally had the streets to ourselves. Only a few shops and restaurants are open. There is plenty of maintenance being done, white paint is being slapped on everywhere – houses, churches, footpaths, stairs and a bit of blue and red everywhere else. I think with it not hustling and bustling, it has lost a bit of its atmosphere. Apparently the best time to visit the Greek Islands is towards the end of the season, not the beginning!
Today we decided to catch a bus to Ornos which is just over the hill. We ended up on the school bus and in a place that was closed!! Clearly they are not ready for tourists yet, although we were told today that the first cruise ship of the season has already been! We had to walk back to Mykonos [glad we didn’t go any further!], and there really isn’t any footpaths! We met a lovely young woman and her mum (who were on holiday from India) and they asked for directions. As it turned out they were heading in the wrong direction and walked back to Mykonos with us. Of course we have invited them to stay!!
So we have decided not to head down to Santorini as we understand that it is going to be just like Mykonos – not really open yet! So we will head back to Athens and do a few days trips from there. We still have a week before our Bulgaria assignment. I think it means that we will just have to come back [to Greece] and that is not a bad thing!
See you in Athens 💖
“Stop dreaming … start doing“