Imagine the greyest autumn day possible. It’s 4.20 am and it’s dark, the chill is in your bones, the air is so thick of mist your lungs fill with water when you breathe. Your exhausted beyond words, overworked. It’s easier to step on a grenade and manage to save yourself in one piece than prohibit your mood switching from “calm” to “raging”. You’re in an airport, stuffing your face with donuts, cheese and coffee while judging people having a beer at the bar, secretly wishing you were one of them. You enter the plane, fall asleep and drool Lake Michigan on your jacket (luckily it’s waterproof), you have a vague dream about a bear, but it’s probably just you snoring loudly. Then somebody gently taps your arm saying “madame, we have landed”. Once you get outside the warmth hits you, along with unfamiliar sunshine and the beauty of white houses gathered in tiny groups in the mountains. For the first time today you smile. A careless, relieved, smile.
Greece greeted me with warmth and beauty and as I took both drooly jacket and knitted sweater off, I jumped, light like a feather, on to a boat to continue to the island of Alonissos. I wasn’t alone, we were three people, all in the same original state. It was easy to take the ferry from Skiathos (where we landed) to Alonissos, and cheap as well. The boat ride took about two hours but time flew as we enjoyed the beautiful Greek archipelago and soaked in glittering sunshine. Two hours at sea was enough for our pale Nordic skins, which we determine once we landed at Alonissos Harbour. As the crayfish coloured vikings we had become, we chose a place to have lunch while deciding the best way to get to our hotel, further up the island. In rear view we made the right decision – renting a car. Without a car on this island you’re very bound to walking distances or trying to catch the local bus… Which I suspect runs whenever it feels like running. With a car we had the freedom to have dinner on the other side of the island, discovering new beaches, going higher to enjoy the view and go into Patitiri – the capital and biggest town of Alonissos – to shop and look at the boats and go to the local supermarket.
Alonissos is a gem in the Greek archipelago, with its incredible beauty. The blue, sometimes turquoise Aegean sea meets the green mountains and red cliffs in an earthy, warm, palette of calmness and laid back atmosphere. I love travelling, but there are few places where I can see myself living. Strolling the narrow yet open cobblestone streets in Chora made me think “It could become my reality. Living here. Selling my life in the North. Buy land here. Build a house on a hill. Run a vineyard. Open a small shop. Raise our son in the sunshine, surrounded by salty seas, happy people and the love for life. It could become my reality. ” It just felt so much like a home.
Really good and price worthy restaurant. We had both lunch and dinner here, but it might be better as a lunch restaurant. Not that the food was better at lunch time, but it’s placed in the harbour, half a stone throw away from the water. In daylight you can have your delicious Alonissos tuna salad with a glass of sparkling water (or sparkling wine) while indulging the people, the boats and the sparkling sea.
Favela: We took the car down to Patitiri and scouted our way up by foot. After passing lots of sleeping cats, sad violin music and arguing lovers in the warm, mysterious back alleys, an oasis opened up behind a corner; A small favela with umbrellas hanging in the ceiling, Spanish music playing, a view good enough for Monet and all furniture individually designed. Maybe not very Greek, but their pizzas were A-mazing. This was a very fun place to have drinks aswell, and we tried Greek specialities as Ouzo and Metaxa. My suggestion is that if you’re staying in, or in a walking distance to Patitiri – leave the car and enjoy this restaurant the whole evening.
Meltemi: We were incredibly lucky to get a table at this place on the shoreline. Not because it was busy, but because they were closing for the season. Despite being the only guests there, we received impeccable service and fantastically well cooked food. My icy, Nordic heart melts when a chef puts their soul into the only ordered meal of the evening. My heart got even squishier when we got a perfectly made chocolate fondant for dessert, not ordered and on the house. We might have been alone at the restaurant, and the very last ones of 2019, but it sure couldn’t have been any different from having a full house in mid-August.
Astrofegia: Door to door to our hotel was a really cosy Greek restaurant. The food here was a bit more pricey, but it was worth every penny. It was so good we came back for dinner twice. The menu was Greek with an international twist, the surroundings were gorgeous and the staff was really sweet and service minded. The “interior” (quotes because it was all outside) was rustic with its wooden furniture, checked table cloth and ceiling consisting of hanging grape vines. Definitely worth a visit, if so only for their home made hummus.
Althea Armonia Suites is where we stayed. We had a really nice room with breath taking view and a small pool of our own going with that view. Unfortunately there was no sun shining directly on our little patio, so off season a dip in that pool felt very similar to taking a dip at home, around Christmas. Anyways, it was very soothing to put your feet in at the end of the day, and I can imagine it works magic during high season.
The hotel was like a tiny community – just a few rooms, all with a front view and an entrance to a shared, open space area. That’s where breakfast was served and where we had our pre-dinner-daiquiries. The staff was super service minded and took care of us as if we belonged to their family. They did everything to cater for you and made sure you were satisfied with your vacation. At breakfast we always ordered a cappuccino, off side from the included menu, because the guy who made them were ace at using that coffee machine. We put the cappuccinos on our room and at the end of our stay we payed for them. 75 euros of cappuccino, it landed on. If that doesn’t say how superior our guy (yes we became so found of him we called him “our” guy), was at making a killer coffee, I don’t know what would. If Alonissos is a gem of the Greek archipelago, the guy working there was a gem of Althea Armonia Suites. Always smiling, always caring and always making sure we were happy.
The rooms were small, but in a place like Alonissos you don’t need bigger. You shouldn’t be inside more than to sleep, anyway. They were clean, light and airy, with enough space to hang your clothes and stretch your legs.
Alonissos itself is the main attraction of Alonissos. Rent a moped, a quad bike or a car and explore! It’s a wondrous beauty going up- and downhill. You’re driving in a thick forest when all of a sudden the sparkling blue ocean reveals itself, far below raging cliffs. I could have rode around in a car the whole trip, only enjoying the endless variation of villages, beaches, ocean, leaf forest, pine forest, muddy terrain, bumpy terrain, just terrain, tiny lakes, caves and olive gardens. One of the things I did really enjoy was The old Church of Chora and the beautiful graveyard on a hill by the sea. Maybe that impressed me because I’m a sucker for churches and I find an immense amount of peace in graveyards.
Tiny cobble streets up in the village of Chora was my personal favourite shopping area on this island. Here you can find lots of arts and crafts, very Greek clothes and jewellery. I found a shop which I could easily have emptied by myself, but I had to choose… I bought some jewellery for myself, weird vegan, Greek fruit crackers for Shaun Vegaun, and a toy car (or ornament which he’s allowed to play with), for Igge. The shops in Patitiri, the capital of Alonissos, were also filled with interesting things. These shops were more expensive and catered for tourists, but still nice to go through, if you enjoy shopping.
Rent a vehicle:
Yes, absolutely. There is a bus that goes around the island, but it seemed to go whenever it felt like it. If you’re dependent on a bus, you can’t go places outside the bus map either, and it’s outside the bus map where the treasures lie. Just be ware the status of the vehicle you rent; we got a mini-jeep which didn’t have a working hand break. Which makes parking tricky in a landscape shaped like scrambled eggs.
We went here in the end of September, which clearly was off season. Most places were closing up during the tie we were there, but I didn’t mind at all. We got to know the tourists in the Village where we stayed, because there were so few of us. Anywhere we went we never had to wait in line or reserve a table or be without a sun chair on the beach, which was fantastic. As I’ve realised, Greece can be very crowded in the summer, so having a lot of space around you was worth having slightly fewer options, as places closed down. The weather is another uncertain factor at this time of year. The first two days we were there it was a bit chilli, then there was a tropical-like storm and after that we had 28 degrees C and swam in the ocean every day. Still worth it, rather than having to share a towel on the beach with a glazed, slippery fatso in a thong with the skin of a Thanksgiving turkey.
It was quite amazing to witness a tropical lightning storm over the Aegean Sea. Actually, that lightning show was the reason I realised that I had been stressing and working too much. It was the reason why I decided to dedicate my blog to the beauty and magic of our world and to celebrations of life. It was, to say the least, very enlightening.
Chrisi Milia. One of the few sandy beaches, with a good restaurant by the water. You can also order ice coffees, club sandwiches and daiquiris from your sunbed, a self destructive behaviour which I highly value.
I had never been to Greece before. Long ago an old boyfriend and I were planning on island-hopping in the Mediterranean for a summer but he brutally dumped me as we were planning the trip. Therefor I’ve had some kind of abstract resistance towards the country. Not any longer, though. This was the first vacation I had without husband and child, so I got time to sleep. No work, no stress. I actually read a book. I changed the layout of my blog. I started a company (that’s a far as I’ve gotten, but you have to start somewhere, right?). I got so much done without thinking about it, because I enjoyed every second of Alonissos. I’m sold. I’m completely sold and I need to go back.