Skópelos, Alónnisos and a Trip to Athens

 

Two weeks is a long time in the same place and I can quickly become restless and bored and Richard is twice as bad as me but luckily there was quite a lot to do.  The town was always busy and although there were far too many shops for my liking it was pleasant to walk through the narrow streets and explore the back alleyways and paths.  In the centre of the town at the top of a long climb was the dazzling white church and it was worth the effort to get there because there were great views from the top of the red tiled houses, the mazy streets and the busy harbour with hydrofoils and glitzy yachts tied up at their moorings.

On a couple of days we took the local bus  which ran from the north to the south of the island down the east coast main road dropping people off and picking others up at the several pretty little beaches all the way down the coast.  The bus was crowded every time and just like the taxis there seemed to be no limit to the amount of passengers that the driver could pack on board.  The journey to Koukanaries beach only took about twenty minutes but it wasn’t especially comfortable crammed in together in a hot dusty bus without space or air but Koukanaries and the nearby, unfortunately named, Banana beach were worth the discomfort however because they were the best on the island and probably among the finest in Greece.

One day all of the boys went on an afternoon snorkeling trip on a boat to a deserted part of the island but it was a bit of a worry when we found ourselves swimming with men fishing with harpoon guns that looked dangerous and potentially lethal.  The girls went to a Greek party night but we sat that one out and on one day Deanna and I went to Athens on a full day excursion.  This was my first visit to Athens and we visited the Acropolis and the Parthenon, had lunch in Syntagma and a stroll through Monastaraki.  It was a good trip but far too much for one day but I have been back four times and seen most of what I need to see now.

The best excursion of the holiday was in the middle of week two when we went on a boat trip to the nearby green wooded islands of Skópelos and Alónnisos, two more of the Sporadic islands and both quite different from Skiathos.  First we stopped at Patitíri, the main port town of Alónnisos, which seemed strangely quiet compared to the frenetic activity in Skiathos town where we wandered around the dusty streets and had refreshments at a quiet little taverna that had lashings of time to spare as they served leisurely drinks and snacks.

We didn’t stay long on Alónnisos however and soon left and set off to neighbouring Skópelos, which turned out to be one of the best islands that I have ever been to and I have always promised myself a return visit one day.

Skópelos is best known now as the island where they filmed the ABBA musical Mama Mia and that might have made a difference I suppose but on this visit it was practically perfect.  The main town was busy but not hectic with pebbled streets meandering between red roofed houses with fish scaled tiles up to the ruined Venetian castle at the top where the views over the wide bay with its little boats and transparent sparkling water under the full glare of the mid afternoon sun was practically perfect.  Skópelos was more picturesque and less touristy than Skiathos and we enjoyed a late afternoon meal down at the edge of the harbour before rejoining the little boat for the return trip home.

I liked Skiathos but not enough to want to return.  The green pine wooded Sporades with their fertile soils and picturesque fields full of crops were a complete contrast to the barren and rugged Cyclades that have now established themselves as my favourites but one day I will go back and visit friendly Skópelos as I promised.

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