Sunday 10th July 2022
New Island, New Routine
Having failed to buy all the items I needed to prepare my own breakfast, I decided to treat myself this morning and eat out. I strolled down to the port and visited a cafe called Kolokytha, which happened to be next door to last night’s pizza restaurant. I ordered yoghurt with honey and fruits plus a double cappuccino, which was pretty good although I’m not a huge fan of fruit in yoghurt as it ends up all getting a bit mushy.
The view of the harbour was very pretty and it was noticeably quiet compared to Paros, which made a pleasant change.
On the way back to my room, I stopped at reception and caught up with the manager to sort out the moped hire I’d discussed with him the previous evening. He walked me down to Vergoulis rentals and I was able to hire a 125cc bike for a pretty reasonable €15 per day. I chose to take it for two days initially but was told if I wanted to keep it an extra day I could, I just needed to let them know.
My First Time on a Moped
Although I have a motorbike licence and owned a bike for a while in the UK, I’ve never ridden a moped. Usually, I hire cars or quad bikes, but they’re always pretty expensive (between €25-50 per day) and for one person it seems like an expensive way of getting around. I’ve been wary of renting mopeds in Greece before, as their roads aren’t the best and their drivers can sometimes be a bit on the aggressive side. As Astypalea is a small and fairly quiet island, it seemed like the ideal place to give it a try.
I was a bit wobbly on the moped when I first pulled away from the rental shop, so I decided to have a ride around the port area just to get comfortable on it before heading back to the accommodation to get my bag. It was pretty easy to ride, though, especially having no gears, unlike the motorbikes I’ve been used to.
After a few minutes, I was a lot more comfortable so I rode back to Viva Mare, parked up and went back to my room for my camera gear, water and beach towel, then got back on the bike ready to head out for the day.
Exploring the Western Side of Astypalea
For no particular reason, I decided to explore the western side of the island first and then go further east tomorrow or the day after. With my rucksack on and a beach towel and water stowed in the moped’s under-seat storage, I set off towards Livadi and onwards to Tzanakia beach, my first stop of the day.
Not wanting to get lost, I tried using Google Maps on my phone to navigate me via a wireless earbud inside my helmet. However, my phone’s compass is a bit broken and this, combined with some patchy signal, meant that it was more a hindrance than a help. Given that the island’s road system is fairly simple, I gave up on Google and did it the old-fashioned way, using road signs and intuition/guesswork.
Tzanakia is a small and secluded beach located down a moderately steep path just south of Livadi.
The beach is small and made up of coarse pebbles, so it’s not the nicest but the pebbles are smooth and not quite as uncomfortable as they may appear. Having made the effort to walk down to the beach (it only takes about 10 minutes but the path is quite steep), I stopped for a while to sunbathe and have a quick swim.
Perhaps the best thing about the beach is its view across the bay towards Chora.
Agios Konstantinos Beach
About 10-minutes further south from Tzanakia lies Agios Konstantinos. A much larger and partly sandy beach, it’s a fairly popular spot and does have sunloungers and a beach bar.
The beach is still quite stony near the shoreline, though, so it isn’t quite as nice as it looks from the photos but a definite improvement on Tzanakia. Feeling a bit hungry, I stopped at the beach bar for a club sandwich and a beer. I asked about using the sunloungers to see if they were free for customers of the bar but was told it’s €10 for an umbrella and two beds. Not wanting to pay that kind of money for a short visit, I walked towards the northwestern end and set up my towel under the shade of a tree instead, then went for a quick dip.
There is a small church on the hillside to the southeast of the beach (pictured at the top of the post) which is a nice short walk and offers a good view of the beach and back across towards Chora.
I decided not to push on to any of the remaining beaches on the southwest coastline today and instead turned back north to Livadi. On the way down this morning I had ridden around the outskirts of the town, but this time I headed toward the beach and parked up to walk around and explore.
Once again, the beach here is a mix of coarse sand and shingle, but it’s very wide and has a nice spacious feel to it. There are sunbeds at the southwestern end, while the rest is undeveloped for those who want to lay out on the sand.
I decided not to stop at the beach but did find a supermarket on the road behind it so I used the opportunity to stock up on breakfast supplies and then rode back to the hotel to relax for a bit.
I was keen to see Chora as it’s meant to be very pretty and has amazing views of the surrounding area. I set off late in the afternoon on the moped, which was a bit lazy on my part since it’s just a short walk, but it’s up a steep hill and since I’ve paid for the moped I figured I might as well use it!
I parked up not far from the iconic windmills and got a few photos as I walked past them.
The narrow streets of Chora are very beautiful and I spent some time walking through them on my way up to the castle.
At the very top of Astypalea Chora lies Querini Castle, a Venetian castle or Kastro built in the 15th century AD. Mostly ruined now, it houses two Byzantine churches within its walls and the outer walls are still quite impressive. It’s also a great place to shield from the wind!
The views from the castle are quite impressive:
I was surprised by how quiet it was in Chora, though I suppose a lot of people were still resting and relaxing in the late afternoon sun. I did get to witness a wedding photographer taking photos of a bride and groom, though, so I decided to get in on the action!
My original plan had been to go back to the hotel for another shower and to change clothes before heading back out to eat. However, by the time I finished taking photos and videos up at Querini castle, it was almost 7 pm and I was getting pretty hungry. It didn’t seem worth going back to the hotel and coming out again, so on my way back down through Chora I began looking for somewhere to eat.
Most of the tavernas are towards the windmills. I checked a few menus before deciding on a place called Barbarossa. For food, I had creamy mushrooms followed by chicken in a hot orange sauce. The starter was nice, however, the orange sauce wasn’t very orange-tasting or spicy but was pleasant enough.
The ride back down to the hotel was quite chilly in just my vest top as the sun had gone down, but didn’t take long. I spent a bit of time reviewing the photos and videos from the day, then went to bed.