Island - another island?

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August 9th 2014
Published: August 9th 2014
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Chillaxing is good - but I can only chillax for a while before I need to do something. Kids emerged from their caves eventually and Eleanor and I went down to the pool.

Water was lovely, sky was clear and it was another beautiful day in Greece.

We spent a long time around the pool and I caught up on my blog and processed lots of pictures, though I still have video to take from the Go Pro and the snorkelling head cam. I've also sussed linking my iPad to the GoPro wirelessly so we can use it under water and see what the kids see.

We had a little bit of Tsaziki and chips (which came as crisps) around the pool and a sneaky beer. Looks like we've been in the sun a bit am going very brown. Went back to the house and worked on the pictures and tried to upload the blog... Eventually got a good enough signal to do so.

Then as mad dogs and English people do I hired a bike for 3 hours for 2 euros. Not the best of bikes, v brakes, full suspension from the 90s but at least the tyres were semi inflated. It's only 35 C so fine to cycle. Went along the coast to Kangeles and then up the hill to Maroneia where we had eaten a few times. It's only when you cycle do you realise what a climb it was. Took best part of an hour in the heat to climb the 700 plus feet into the village and I was hot, hot, hot... Took on board about a litre of water when I arrived and then scooted back down the hill. I did think of having a beer but sensibly didn't as I would have been even more dehydrated.

Arrived back and sat outside to cool down slowly - with a cold beer. Then back in the pool. Lost count of how many times we have been swimming this holiday - but when the weather and water is warm it is easy to get in and dry off afterwards - without even using a towel.

As it's our last night here we went back into the village and to another restaurant in the town square. We tried one that looked very nice but only had menus in Greek - and the only English the owner knew was "Sea Bass" which wouldn't get us very far... So event to a local place right in the centre and had a tank right on the front where we could watch the cats and dogs crossing the road and the cars avoiding them. Load of cats around the tables waiting for scraps and a couple of sad eyed dogs.

We didn't go for the kilos of meat and had Greek salad, Tsaziki, French fries and Souvaliki/Chops. The food is really really good, our chip connoisseur gave them almost a 10 (needed to be a bit fatter) but hi praise indeed. Lovely cold beers, cold Pepsi in bottles.. All for about 50 Euros. Compared to Spain last year eating out is a lot cheaper and in my view a lot better.

Square comes alive about 9.30 - we are just about leaving at this time but I can see that they keep serving until late. We went back to the hotel and packed what we could as we need to leave by 8.30 to get to the Ferry. Finished the bottle of Ouzo. Watched the only channel sort of in English MTV Rock Classics...

We had set the alarms for 7.45 but there was no need as there was a massive thunderstorm. So we loaded the car in the rain and set off by 8.25. The hotel had lost the internet again due the storm so they were unsure of whether we had paid - oh well.. their problem not ours.

Drove over to the ferry port at Alexandroupolis - as it aid about 40 minutes - then bought a ferry ticket for the 10.00 crossing. For some bizarre reason we had to produce passports - which were in the case at the bottom of the Catherine dragged them out.

Chaos at the port - we seemed to podge the queue and were first on - but that will mean being last off. Had to reverse into position and then drive forward with a Greek shipping guy going right, right, RIGHT! Got it eventually.

Ferry not cheap but cheaper than elsewhere in Europe for about £110 we are all crossing including car. That is one way. Nice coffee and cheese and ham toasters on the ferry - and some people caught up with their beauty sleep - even if they did have their eyes open!

Stopped raining as we come into Samothrace but an ominous looking cloud over the island. Looks like one of those Mystery Island clouds..... Brrrr.

As the boat approached the port I went down to drive the car off. We were the very last car of the boat but we weren't in any rush. Went through the town - very small - and took the road out to where our apartment was. Samothrace is not a very touristy destination but being developed. We found the place quite easily and another Vasily showed us around. Big and clean with a pool close to the beach. We had booked 2 rooms but can all get into 1 - so bed and breakfast for 5 for 100 euros.

We unpacked a little (chased a bat out of the room - I kid you not) and then took the coast road to Pahia Ammos. This road was quite good but steep and windy and had been washed away in a few places by the famous "killer" river - see the pictures. We arrived at Pahia Ammos and had a great late lunch - at the start we were the only ones there due to the storm the previous night. We then wandered along the beach and headed back to the port to see if we could find a supermarket. It's such a small place only 2800 people on the island the supermarkets are more like convenience stores - Starlight stores springs to mind.

Some of the roads are truly awful I went up one that I just couldn't get the car up even with everyone out.. I've no idea why I was trying to get up it either.... Goats everywhere, live goats, goats heads on poles - I kid (no pun intended) you not. There are according to Christopher 30+ goats per person on the island.

We couldn't find an open supermarket in the port so headed to the main town Samothraki or Chopra... Lovely old town we will need to eat here before we leave. Found a small shop and got some provisions - diet coke, snacks... Then headed back to the hotel. Take the main road round next time - small roads are not good. Loads of military bunkers here - with photography prohibited all over them. We are very close to the Turkish border.

Back at the hotel/apartment we unpacked and went swimming. Great pool lovely temperature of the water. Then snacks and cards round the pools before retiring at a reasonable time...

Tomorrow it's the other side of Mystery Island..

The next day it's back to sun and blue skies - just Catherine and I for breakfast as there was much grunting from the other end of the cave when breakfast was mentioned.... Breakfast was a typical buffet with cheese, ham, eggs and bread - coffee was at least strong. Had a few cups to top me up for the day.

After breakfast we went into the town and stocked up with some supplies at the supermarket - which does look like the biggest shop on the island. All the basics you could want. Took out some more money as the hotel/apartment owner wants paying in cash 😊 it's very strange but we've bought very little with credit cards this holiday - in fact far less than we did in Costa Rica - but then again that does cater for the American market.

Got moved on by the island police as I'd parked on the opposite side of the road and they wanted one side clear so that the people from the incoming ferry could get off quickly. Just moved up the road. Then we drove to the museum/sanctuary - Sanctuary of the Great Gods - cost 3 Euros to get in and the museum and sanctuary are stunning - in fact we enjoyed it here even more than Philipi. I think the pictures show how big it is but very few tourists - maybe a couple of hundred a day because getting to the island is limited to the one ferry - no flights. Thasos has really opened up because it has 18 ferries a day at peak times. Samotharki has 2 if you are lucky - it's an important site and there has been some EU money's but not enough - it's here they discovered the statue to Nike the winged god that is now in the Louvre and was the image used on all Rolls Royces. There is a replica in the museum here but I think they want the original back! Wandered around the 12 to 14 acre site taking lots of pictures. As we got back to the car a German mother and daughter we're having trouble starting their scooter so we looked at pushing it but it was fully automatic. It was then I spotted the kick start - popped it up on its standa and kicked it twice and it fired up - good deed for the day done.

Then as it was approaching lunchtime we drove along the road towards Therma and then onto Kipi which is as far round the island as you can go. When they mean coast road - they mean coast road as half of it overhangs the sea... We got to Kipi and it was hot with little shade so we came back via Therma and stopped at the beach/harbour at Soaki - we eat on the beach from the supplies we had got from the supermarket in Kamariotissa and then went in for a dip. After we'd dried we drove back to the hotel and swam in the pool and had traditional Greek coffee which was very nice.

We showered and headed to Chora to eat.

Good drive up to the village and we parked in the same little car park on the outskirts as we had before. We then visited a few souvenir shops before eating at a very Pizza/Pasta place that was recommend I think on TripAdvisor. Excellent Pizza and cold beer. We then wandered though the town and visited the folk Museum which had re-opened at 7 until 11.45. A whole 1 Euro to get in - very interesting it was too. Then back through Chora to the car park and home - the town was humming as we left about 10.15 ish. An un eventful drive back to the apartment/hotel. We had made a decision while we we're out that we would head back to the mainland tomorrow rather than they and find somewhere else on the island - particularly as it's quite small and apart from the waterfall/Thermal spring have down just about everything on it. Nice island.

Next morning the 9th we got up, Catherine and I nipped into the town and booked a slot on the 14:00 ferry. So we breakfasted, packed up and left the hotel about 11.45 - after paying Vasily in cash (no receipt either...) which gave us some time to look around the Ferry port, skim stones, get Orange juice etc.

Boarding the ferry was pretty straightforward though the normal controlled chaos. I was backed to the far end with literally inches on one side and a real struggle getting out on the other. It was about 40 C down there as well. As it was a far nicer crossing than on the way out we sat outside on the ferry - the only downside is that just about every adult seems to be a chain smoker - the government reckons 42% of adult Greeks smoke - I think it's higher. Seems like 50 to 60 %.

Crossing was calm and peaceful - people snacked on the myriad of snacks that we have. We need to finish them off as we won't be bringing them home. The internet in the last place was not brilliant but Catherine did manage to book us a hotel in Xanthi which is our next stop - about 60 to 70 miles from where we dock at Alexoupolis.

We only took an hour or so on the excellent E90/A2 and we were at the hotel. Checked in to the Z Palace and we were in the pool by 18:00 - it closes at 19:00. Then a quick shower and we tried to find a place recommended by TripAdvisor but I think we waled straight past it! Anyway we had a nice meal in one of the many restaurants in the old town which was holding birthday parties and started a music performance. Then a drive back through a humming Xanthi to the hotel - which is really empty and a great internet which has given me the opportunity to upload some pictures.

Really really fast Internet - and then a power cut... and back...

Tomorrow we are going to Kavala - we think.

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