Ikaria

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Ikaria, the small island in the eastern Aegean where Icarus supposedly fell to the earth after flying too close to the sun, is a magical island.  Tourism is minimal, the beaches and landscapes are stunning, the produce is fresh and delicious and the locals are laid back and friendly.  Maybe this is why they have one of the longest life expectancies in the world.

We stayed at Dionysius Rooms, a guesthouse in the hills with distant views of the beach.  The rooms were cheap and basic (they also offer beds on the roof for even cheaper), but the warm hospitality of Demetra and Vasili made it one of our favorite places on the whole trip.  A fridge on the rooftop terrace was kept stocked full of beer, wine and water and guests were invited to help themselves and provide a tally at the end of their stay.  Every morning they prepared a breakfast of fresh Greek yogurt (the best I’ve ever had), with fresh honey (also the best I’ve ever had), cinnamon, and an assortment of fresh local figs, grapes and peaches from the trees that line the small pathways to town.  On our second night there, they invited us to come with them to a panageria (small local festivals that are held throughout the summer to raise funds for the villages).  We sat outside under a big tree and ate big hunks of fresh goat meat, Greek salad and potatoes,  drank several plastic bottles of homemade wine, and learned to dance Ikarian folk dances while the band played late into the night.

We decided to rent a small car so we could explore more of the Island.  The driver came to deliver it to us in the morning, left the keys in the ignition and waved goodbye to us up on the balcony without ever haven spoken to us and then he rode back into town on his friends motorcycle.  We were surprised at the home delivery and informality.  We drove north on the island and stopped along the side of the road near a sign for Seychelles beach.  We didn’t really see a beach but decided to keep hiking down the rocky valley toward the coast.  Suddenly, the valley opened up and we were greeted with the sight of a hidden cove and one of the most beautiful beach views I have ever seen.  The water was so crystal blue that it looked like it had been Photoshopped in real life.   Several boulders that looked as if they were made of melted candle wax provided some shade.  After a few hours relaxing there, we were pretty hungry so we hiked back up to the car.  We drove a few more kilometers to the end of the road and came across a beach cafe where we got a mountain of Greek salad and another mountain of mixed “snacks” including fried zucchini, octopus on bread, shrimp, herbed feta cheese, tomatoes, sausages, spinach pies, fried fish fritters, fried sardines, potato chips and grilled peppers (after having asked for something small!).

The following day, we had another great drive, visiting an old lookout tower named Drakanos on the far eastern coast, some “radioactive” hot springs in the ocean that supposedly have healing powers, and some other random beaches along the coast.  We ate a restaurant near our guesthouse called Poppis.  The owner/chef had an English speaking guy take us back into the kitchen and show us what was in all the pots and pans so we could choose what to eat.  He turned out to be from Sebastopol, CA and he was a cousin of the owner.  He ended up having lunch with us and he told us all about the Communist history of the island.  His grandfather was basically the Greek Che Guevara and lived in hiding in the hills for many years.

That night was a special “blue” moon (when the full moon appears twice in one month) and in celebration, Vasili went to the old church/archaeological museum across the valley from the guesthouse, set up speakers, and played classical music down the valley into the night.  We stayed with Demetra and some of her friends at the guesthouse and ate some salads, sausages, and eggplant that she had prepared while listening to the music.  It was a beautiful night.

Eventually the time came to say our sad goodbyes.  We left at around 1am to catch our 3am ferry to Turkey.  We left our car at the port, unlocked with the keys on the seat (as instructed–apparently car theft isn’t really a thing in Ikaria) and made our way to the terminal.  Ikaria was the kind of place that I didn’t think could still exist.  It’s the small fishing island from my imagination where people are unhurried, enjoy life and don’t stress out about the small things.  It is impossible to describe all of the small little moments that added up to create such a magical experience for us.  I’m thankful that we came across this island and although it’s not the easiest place to get to, I can highly recommend it to anyone that is considering a Greek holiday.

+Gallery
  • Waiting for the Ferry in Ikaria
  • Vasilli and Demetra
  • Having Fun with Vasilli
  • View from Dionyssus Rooms
  • Blue Moon Rising
  • Ikarian Church
  • Wet Pebble Beach
  • Tip of Ikaria
  • Ruins in Ikaria
  • Drakanos Tower
  • Drakanos Tower
  • Mandy at the Tower
  • Inside Drakanos Tower
  • Drakanos Tower
  • Incredible Greek Yogurt and Fresh Fruit
  • One of the Best Breakfasts of our Trip
  • Ikaria Car
  • Greek Salad Mountain
  • The Hike Down to Seychelles Beach
  • The Rocks at Seychelles Beach
  • Seychelles Beach
  • Cannonball!
  • Seychelles Beach
  • Approaching Seychelles Beach
  • Dancing at the Panageria
  • Dancing at the Panageria
  • Dancing at the Panageria
  • Homemade wine
  • Homemade wine
  • Dancing at the Panageria
  • Goat Feast at the Panageria
  • Fresh Fruit
  • Fresh Grapes on the Hike
  • Hiking in Ikaria
  • Plant and Sea
  • Ikarian Lizard Friend
  • Ikarian Plant Ball
  • Fresh Sardines
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Posted: November 7, 2012

Author: Adam and Amanda

Category: Blog, Continents, Europe, Greece

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