Saturday 9th July 2022
On the Move Again
After two weeks on Paros, I was finally on the move again, this time to a new island that I’d never visited before: Astypalea! I had wanted to visit it last year, but when my plans came unstuck in the middle of the trip, I ended up sacrificing several islands including Astypalea.
My ferry, Blue Star Naxos, wasn’t due to depart until 11:25 so I didn’t have to rush around in the morning. I decided against a final gym session though – I’ve been training hard all week and was definitely feeling the effects, so I did the sensible thing and went out for a nice breakfast instead!
I had already packed most of my belongings before I left my room at 9:25 – remembering that Symposium cafe didn’t open until 9:30 – so I could have a relaxing breakfast. It was fairly busy despite it just opening and I was lucky to get a table. I ordered a waffle with yoghurt, honey and fruits plus a fresh orange juice. It was delicious and very filling, just what I needed as my ferry ride is nearly 6 hours and I didn’t want to waste money on over-priced ferry food.
Feeling pleasantly full, I strolled back to the hotel to finish packing and have a cool shower. I checked out at 11 and made the short walk across the road to the ferry port – a nice bonus of staying in a hotel just opposite. It was very crowded, but a lot of people seemed to be queued for a different boat, so I managed to squeeze my way through and end up close to the front of the queue for my ferry.
Despite Paros’ popularity, it seems the port is only large enough to handle one big ferry at a time, so when Golden Star Superrunner 3 arrived just ahead of Blue Star Naxos, we had to wait until it had unloaded, loaded and departed before our boat could dock. Boarding was pretty fast, though, so we only left about 15 minutes behind schedule. I stood on the top deck and waved goodbye to Paros. It’s been a good two weeks.
Naxos, Donousa and Amorgos
On our way to Astypalea, the ferry made three stops: first at Naxos, then at Donousa and then Amorgos. I had mixed feelings about skipping Naxos as it’s always been one of my favourite islands, but I was happy to be heading somewhere new this year.
Donousa is another island I had wanted to visit last year, but never quite made it. It’s a pretty small island and with limited accommodation so booking early is essential in order to stay here, in high season anyway.
Amorgos, however, was an island I knew quite well having visited twice before. I’ll also be staying here overnight later in my trip as a way back into the Cyclades from Kos, just as I did last year. Unlike my ferry, though, today we docked in Aegiali which I think is the nicer resort and it was good to see it again:
The ferry journey itself was pretty smooth. I spent a bit of time on my laptop trying to put together a YouTube video about Paros, but I’ve got so much footage that it’s providing difficult to turn it into a concise and useful guide. I also chatted with a couple who were heading to Amorgos for the first time, giving them some advice on hiking paths and good things to see and do.
Astypalea Arrival and Going to the Wrong Accommodation…
We finally pulled into Astypalea harbour at 17:40. As always, I had checked directions to my next accommodation, Viva Mare, before getting off the ferry. Once I’d collected my suitcase, I began heading towards where I thought I needed to go, which turned out to be up rather a steep hill most of the way to the top of Chora. The view was impressive:
Unfortunately, when I arrived at the studios shown on Google Maps, there was nobody around so I tried calling the number shown on Booking.com. At first, this didn’t work at all as my mobile didn’t want to call a non-UK number, but I managed to get past that issue by enabling international calling on my provider’s mobile app. When I finally got through to the accommodation, I discovered that I’d walked to the wrong place! Google Maps shows two places called ‘Viva Mare’: one is ‘Viva Mare Traditional Studios’ which is the place I’d walked to, and the other is just ‘Viva Mare’. Worse still, the correct place was right back down at the port so I had to retrace my steps most of the way back to where I’d gotten off the ferry! Lesson learned: always double-check the accommodation location is correct before walking up big hills!
I did feel a bit stupid because I’d actually been called by the accommodation last night to confirm my reservation and the guy had mentioned directions from the port and how close it was. It was quite a bad connection though and for some reason I just dismissed his instructions as I was convinced my map marker was correct and I would easily get there. The second lesson learned: when the people who run the accommodation give you directions, they probably know better than you!
Settling in and Dinner
When I finally arrived at the right location, I saw the funny side and had a good laugh with the manager about my unfortunate detour. He showed me to my room, which turned out to be a nice, spacious apartment with a kitchenette, double bed and good-sized balcony.
Best of all, they had included a lovely little welcome hamper with water, wine, fruit juices, jams and some crispbreads:
Resisting the temptation to get straight onto the wine, I put most of the bits into the fridge, then jumped straight into the shower to freshen up after the sweaty hike and then unpacked a few bits of luggage. I’d seen a mini market just down the road from the apartment, so I popped out with the intention of getting some breakfast bits and more water for the next few days. I couldn’t find any small packets of honey, so I didn’t buy any yoghurt but I managed to get water, orange juice and biscuits.
By this point, it was nearly 8 p.m. and I was pretty hungry, having only eaten a croissant on the ferry since breakfast. On the way from the ferry earlier, I’d spotted an Italian restaurant down at the harbour, so I figured it was an easy choice for dinner. It’s called Aiolos and I had a very tasty pizza:
On the way back to the accommodation, I spoke to the manager who also runs a travel agency and asked about renting a moped and which parts of the island were worth visiting. He gave me a map and marked off the nice beaches, also telling me that the north side of the island was pretty barren and not really accessible so it was best to stick to the lower halves. For the moped rental, he suggested Vergoulis which is just next to Viva Mare and said to come and see him in the morning and he would take me there to get a good price.
Feeling excited to get out and explore a new island over the next few days, I went back to my room and off to bed.