Published: July 2nd 2011July 2nd 2011
Warning: The following is a blatant advertisement for the island of Poros!
After doing some research about Greek islands that were close enough for a 1 year old to survive the boat trip, yet far enough away to provide a 'real' island vacation, we decided to take a 3 day trip to Poros. Since many things are closed on Mondays in Athens, we decided to leave Monday and planned to return Wednesday. Right before we left we found out there was a 48 strike planned for Tuesday and Wednesday so we figured it was a great time to leave Athens as the strikes tend to involve teargas these days. We double checked and the ferry unions were not planning to participate.
Monday morning we made our way to the port and boarded the high speed catamaran to Poros. The trip takes just over an hour. On our way we passed a submarine, which was a pretty strange sight! On arrival in Poros we hopped in a cab for the 5 Euro trip to the hotel we had booked, Magda's Kamares. We picked the hotel based on its giant waterslides, extensive playground, poolside bar/restaurant, and efficiency rooms (all for 45
Euros a night!). The owners were super friendly and the island seemed rather empty (we later found out that 'season' for Poros doesn't start until July). It was just what we needed.
We dropped our stuff in our room and headed to the poolside restaurant. It was all we could do to scarf down our food before D had jumped in the pool. After letting her play for a bit in the pool, we made the two minute walk to Askeli beach. Askeli is a great little cove with sandy beaches (most of the Greek beaches have been quite rocky). We pitched our umbrella and took turns accompanying D into the water. She is really loving swimming these days. Guess we'll have to buy a baby pool when we get home!
There were a lot of tavernas along the beach, so Pat made his way to Taverna Romanza to pick up dinner for the evening. He ordered an amazing stuffed aubergine as an appetizer. It was served in a ceramic dish and the owners had no problem letting him take it and bring it back the next day. Everyone on Poros was super friendly.
The next day
we made the 15 minute walk to Poros town to hit the ATM (there are no ATMs anywhere on the island except the main port). Poros is what I pictured when I pictured Greece. Narrow alleys with whitewashed stairways. Colorful flowers and stray cats. Turquoise seas. Yachts. Perfect. We climbed to the top for a better view and tried to figure out how we could afford a yacht on a professor's salary (we're open to suggestions).
We lunched at Panorama back in Askeli. The young girls of the family loved Delaney and served as free babysitters so mommy and daddy could sip beer and look at the sea for a few minutes. The menu was very unique: there seemed to be an Asian influence on the traditional Greek dishes. We started with feta wrapped in Phyllo, but unlike other places it was covered in a ginger honey with sesame seeds. It was absolutely fantastic (we had it again at dinner!). I eyeballed my dinner selection as well: leg of lamb stuffed with ginger, honey, cheese, and carrots and wrapped in grape leaves. Best thing I have eaten in Greece! The only drawback was that the mosquitoes were quite bad
at night (nothing some spray didn't fix the next night)
The next day we watched the coverage of the riots in Athens: media vans set on fire, tons of teargas, general anarchy. We were glad to be far away. We also noticed a picture of the giant ferries at the port and hordes of sad looking tourists. Every channel is in Greek here, but we figured that it wasn't good news.
We spent our days lounging at the beach and pool and walking to nearby beaches. We met lovely people each day at lunch. Every business seems to be family run and we spent most meals chatting with the friendly owners. In one of those conversations we found out the ferry strike would prevent us from returning on Wednesday as planned. We had no problem staying another day :)
As it turned out, the ferry strike went on longer than the general strike and our 3 day vacation turned into five. There are far worse places in the world to get 'stuck'! In our extra time we took the 1 Euro, 2 minute ferry ride to the Peloponnese. Galata didn't have much of interest, but it was
worth it for taking pictures of Poros from the mainland. Plus, D loves a boat ride.
By day 5 we looked terrible in our dirty clothes, but we were all happy and relaxed from our time on the island. I can't imagine that there is a better Greek island for small children. June is considered shoulder season so Poros was decidedly uncrowded. I can't imagine that it is ever as packed as some of the better known islands. As such, it retains the small town, 'real Greece', feel we had been looking for. Highly recommended!
There are more photos below