Back to Greece!

As I appear to be unable to leave this country, alone I’m back, again! I’ve been to quite a few of the Greek islands in the South so this time I’ve decided to try somewhere a bit more northern, but still islandy. Thassos is a fairly large, mainly forested island which is nearly the most northerly island in the Aegean and supposed to be beautiful if you can avoid the west coast spa resorts. Last year on a trip to Chios I had some rather unpleasant flight times and an inevitable overnight stop in Thessaloniki which didn’t make a relaxing end to the holiday. This year, we’ve hired a car from the airport. After hiring one abroad for the first time last year, I can’t face going back to approximate bus timetables. Therefore after some unexpected toll roads and unhelpful maps we managed to get out of Thessaloniki where our flight landed and drive down the coast to Keramoti, the port off the mainland which serves Thassos. Here its a greek ‘half an hour’ trip to the island and then the same again to drive to Astris where our studio is.

Boat from Keramoti to Thassos

So we’ve got a nice, quite spacious studio set in some well looked after gardens, they actually have grass that requires mowing which is quite an achievement here. That night we went to a traditional greek taverna in one of the mountain villages, Theologos, which had some live music and dancing and nice food. Probably a good thing we went there first as I’ve never seen anyone advertise quite so enthusiastically, you only have to leave your car parked anywhere for 30 seconds for a flyer to magically appear.

Augostous Taverna - Theologos

So after basic food shopping the next day, next stop was to find a nice beach. As I’m not really into have my beach ‘organised’ for me as a lot of them advertise it takes a bit of searching to find one that is actually just a beach. Still we’ve got one about 15 minutes up the coast from us and apparently we’re in the minority who don’t want preordered sunbeds so it’s normally pretty quiet, beautiful warm clear water and nice, sandy and sea urchin free swimming.

Kinira Beach

Day 2
We’re headed up into a mountain village called Kastro. There’s the usual churches and as always in the most remote place at the top of the mountain. More unexpectedly, we happened to look in a small hut built on top of the mountain presuming it was something to do with goats and discovered that it’s got an awful lot of human bones in it, not sure why, but they do have a lovely view…

Human Remains...

Kastro Village

After a nice cold beer in the local taverna…

Kastro Village Taverna

We headed down the mountain for a walk to waterfall, which must have been lovely in the spring but by the end of the summer is pretty much dried up. I probably wouldn’t have minded if it hadn’t been uphill and I wasn’t been so horribly unfit. We decided to take the scenic route out of the valley along a sort of road that’s certainly not meant for a small Fiat.

Betsy goes offroad!

Day 3
Apparenlty we’ve still not had enough of walking up steep hills in the sun. This time, to Kastri, and old 1100 BC ish settlement that juts out into the valley below Theologos.

View at Kastri

View from Kastri

We’ve both got ourselves some rather fetching tan lines out of it too, as you can probably imagine from the photo, which I tried to unsuccessfully even out on the beach later.

And finally, today.
A change of scenery as we headed up the east coast of the island. Surprisingly different from the west, which suffered massive forest fires in the 80’s and left it looking a bit more like a normal Greek landscape, the east is pine covered mountains which drop sharply to the clear blue sea below. We stopped of on the way to Aliki which is very ‘organised’ as you can see.

Aliki Beach

But instead of stopping on the beach however we went for a walk on the peninsula that comes off the beach and contains the remains of and old marble quarrying site. There is also the remains of some old temple like buildings on the peninsula.

View to Aliki

Old Marble Quarries at Aliki

Continuing on… Driving up the coast is made up of pleasant sweeping roads with often way too much tarmac than there can possibly be a use for and is therefore quite enjoyable, until you get stuck behind somebody who has yet to work out which pedal does what and then decides to try everything in no particular order. Staying on the main road will lead you up into Panagia with small windy streets that I probably wouldn’t have realised the bus went through till I met it coming the other way. From just outside the village is the view out over the islands “Golden Beach” in the distance.

View of the Golden Beach

According to a random sign in town and the map, there is a cave at Panagia and after wandering around aimlessly we did actually find it, obviously not where the map showed it. Worth the effort though, as it is fairly large cave and features massive stalagmites and stalactites lining the walls, ceiling and floor. Fortunately we happened to be going in at the same time as a family who had actually bothered to bring a torch which was quite useful! While the photos don’t do it justice, it has large vaulted ceilings which are home to several hundred bats which fly around your head as they try to escape the light…

Panagia Cave

Panagia Cave

We then headed back to our lovely little beach, stopped only by an escapee goat running away with its tether.

Runaway Goat

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