Ahh Sifnos, the quaint little island two hours from Athens, small enough and high enough (682m) to welcome you without an overwhelming sense of feeling swallowed or lost rather, a feeling of coming home.
We arrive early morning and find a taxi, “to Kastro please” as we move across the island, our driver points out Apollonia, the capital and talks of the weather. Taxi drivers the world over surely must study meteorology forecasts to have enough material to supply their clients.
We stayed in Kastro; the old city, the old capital to escape the hubbub – little did we know this would have been possible the island over.
We check into Motivo apartments and Flora (the lady who always smiles) shows us the room, she marches everywhere – never walks. It’s perfect. The balcony door opens to reveal the mountain slope of terraces. Farmers and gardeners have been hard at work on these slopes for many, many years. Terraced country side begs for curious minds to question their intent. I stare purposefully, as if looking for Wally.
The slopes the island over are perfect for hikers. In fact, there are 100km worth of hiking trails around Sifnos. Not that many of them loop in circles, which reminds me – you’ll need to rent a car or ATV if you want to get around. The local buses were frequent enough (a few a day), and by the speed they took on those hairpin bends, they tend to stick to the schedule. Rain, hail, wind or shine. The best part about driving in Sifnos is; you don’t need a map, the signs (actually) mean what they say and besides, there’s only ever one road to follow.
Sifnos, like much of Greece I’m sure, enjoys religion. Here, there are 365 churches, one for every day of the year. Kastro, home to the church of the seven martyr’s is my favourite, a close second to the Panagia Angeloktisti (built by an angel) near Chrissopigi in the south, in case you were wondering.
Our four-day itinerary, looked a little something like this:
Day 1. Kastro
Upon arrival into Kastro, we walked in and around the ancient wall, along cobbled streets paved with stone and traced with white. All the buildings are white, the only difference between them is the colour chosen to paint their doors. Blue is the obvious favourite, but we also witnessed yellow, red and grey.
There are cats everywhere and I love them all. Even the mangy ones.
Flora reminds us ‘you are the first’ for the season, thirty minutes walking around and I start to wonder if we are the only people in Sifnos?
We walk through the town and only once get redirected when a tiny yiayia points us away from her front door and towards the path to the coast. We lap full circle and take special time along the coast. In all its rugged beauty.
And yet, what’s this by the ocean, an olive tree? Olive trees play an eternal war with the elements, holding on for dear life and somehow remain.
Day 2. Apollonia,Vathi & Faros
The alley ways, the jewellery stores, the café bars. Coffee and everything in Greece. Coffee and books, Coffee and pizza, coffee and chocolate, we half expect to see coffee and whatever you like, we have it.
“Kalimera” everyone trills as you pass (yes, good morning indeed.)
Then off to Vathi, it was here we ate the most delicious, fresh grilled baby squid I’ve ever eaten, I look over Moo’s shoulder, to find the French couple we sat opposite lunch yesterday, “small town” she offers with a smile. The winding roads, the hairy corners, thankfully the speed limit is only 40. The switch backs, so tight, we’re pleased the traffic is light.
The wind, the wind, the wind.
Lastly onto Faros, there’s a coastal path that leads all the way to Chrissopigi. The path is lined with wild flowers and wild sage that flavour the wind. The flowers of purple, yellow and red from those floppy, poppy petals colour the way.
The path takes us round to view the Panagia Angeloktisti church, which has steps that lead all the way to the ocean, for whomever, to tread all the way back from whence they came.
Day 3. Artemonas, Cheronisos, Platis Gialos, Chrissopigi & Apollonia
The biggest tease of the day was not being able to jump in the water at Cheronisos (other side of the port) due to; many visible sea urchins, zero footwear appropriate for sharp rock descent and ascent. Devastated.
It reads like a lot of places, but on this small island, it’s no trouble at all to beach hop – or rather to plate hop! Refer to the day of 3 great meals. Nothing quite so whimsical as the day of 3 great meals.
My impression of Greece thus far is: I’m not convinced anyone but tourists eat at restaurants – this is yet to be confirmed.
Day 4. Kamares
We sit in the sun – SUN! – where have you been? And wait for the ferry. All aboard, we’re off to Milos!
Until next time, Sojourn Farewell!