We left the island of Milos this afternoon, after five fabulous days there. It was a wonderful contrast to Santorini and we really enjoyed being back to a slow pace of life. We are definitely off season – we seemed to be the only tourists on the whole island – and it was lovely to experience life as the locals live it in winter. Discussing why we like these quieter islands so much, we realised it is because although the population is small (5,000 on the whole island), and life is peaceful (as we like it), the towns are fully serviced. Being a “captive” population, no-one is driving into a city to the malls, or the hypermarkets, and hence the small businesses are surviving. This is very different to the small towns we know in France and Ireland, whose main streets are peppered with closed and abandoned businesses. While business is quiet in winter, the summer season brings enough to see people through the year, and the result is towns with life and soul.
We had an incredible welcome everywhere we went; above and beyond what we experienced on other islands. Every morning in the bakery, no matter what we ordered, several other treats were handed to us, or stuffed in our bag. Other customers in the supermarket offered to help us find what we were looking for, and when they couldn’t find it, explained how we could cook it (we hadn’t the heart to tell them we didn’t have a kitchen in our apartment!). But topping off the welcome and hospitality were our hosts for the five days: the lovely Katarina and Perros.
They love to chat, but haven’t a word of English, and they laughed no end at our efforts at Greek. They were so hospitable that whenever we called to their door with a query, they wouldn’t even entertain our question until we had entered the kitchen and sat down. One day I knocked at 4pm, mortified to find them in the middle of their dinner, and despite my attempts in Greek for “I’ll come back later”, they insisted on helping me there and then. A really wonderful couple, expressing the best of the famous Greek hospitality.
We stayed in the town of Adamas, home to a very sheltered bay and Milos’ port.
Every morning we trekked off to a different sight, a round trip of 10 or 15 kms, walking on some of the ancient trails that run between villages or wind around the terraces of olive groves.
Absolutely beautiful paths, and in the first few days there was a real feeling of spring, and a hint of how beautiful these islands must be when the wildflowers are out in force in April and May.
A colourful highlight was the village of Klima, with its fishermen’s huts, whose lower floors are used to store boats while the top floors are used as living quarters.
We also walked up to the village of Plaka, and climbed up to its castle at the top, which at 300m above sea level, gave us sweeping views across the island.
Milos has more beaches than any of the other Cyclades islands – a whopping 71 – and we could see in its brochures many examples of turquoise waters and golden sands. There are impressive cliffs and caves, some of which can be reached only by boat or with a long hike in. Our explorations this time were confined to the small part of the island close to the port, where the major villages are, and we would love to come back in warmer weather to see the more remote side to the island.
One of the villages close by which we did walk to, is where the famous statue Venus de Milo was discovered. Originating from about 100BC, it was discovered 200 years ago by a local farmer, and bought by the French, who now house it in the Louvre in Paris.
After a few days the wind picked up, and seeing this on the upcoming forecast, we considered leaving early for our next destination of Sifnos, to avoid another rough sea journey. However, there were no ferries other than the one we had planned to take 5 days later. It is quite a strange feeling to be marooned on an island, with departure restricted by a ferry schedule. (There is an airport with infrequent flights, but only back to Athens and hence not suitable for us.) When departure day arrived, it was the 2nd day of a gale force warning, and the water in the sheltered bay was a frenzy of white caps. The travel agency that sold us our ferry tickets was unsure whether the ferry would indeed run. Definitely a hazard of island hopping in winter, when the already infrequent ferry service is further hit by stormy weather. However, Daniel found a website that tracks the progress of ferries all over Greece, and we watched as the arrow representing ours inched its way across the screen and into Milos’ port. We could sail after all!