Wednesday, September 20, 2000

Summer 2000 in Greece

In 2000 we spent all our short and long vacation breaks in the greek islands. As you might recall we like to spend some time abroad, too, but this year we couldn't plan anything of the sort, because Maria's (then) new job hadn't made it clear whether she would get any vacation and when. So we started going for short breaks (normal or 'long' weekends) to relatively nearby islands Poros, Kea, Serifos, Angistri.

In the end, our main vacation was from the 11th to the 28th of August. We decided to go to Rhodes, to visit Maria's family. Using Rhodes as our 'base' we also decided to visit two islands of the Dodecanese complex of islands (that has Rhodes as its capital): Kassos and Karpathos. So we flew (45') to Kassos, stayed there for 2 1/2 days, took the boat (60') to Karpathos, stayed there for another 3 1/2 days and flew back (45') to Rhodes.

Kassos is the least 'discovered' by tourism island we have seen. It has about 1,000 inhabitants in 5 villages that are within walking distance from each other, has a completely dry (no trees) landscape and some very beautiful beaches (an exceptional long sandy beach is on a nearby uninhabited island). People were friendly (a lot of people from the island had migrated to the US and return just for the summer, same as in many Dodecanese islands) and all the tourists on the island at the time were no more than 10! Kassos airport is a municipal one! (never saw such a thing before!) and the whole island has just two taxis and no buses!

Going to Karpathos after Kassos was like going to a busy metropolis! Well, to put things in a perspective, Karpathos is an island of about 5,000 locals and far more tourists during the summer season as it's full of hotels. It's a long island (2nd in the Dodecanese areawise) and has some extremely pretty beaches (many reachable mainly or exclusively by boats). One very interesting feature of the island is that, due to its mountainous terrain in the north, the north side of the island is sort of cut of from the south part (there is a non-asphalt road through the mountains but it's rarely used). The north part of the island has just two villages, the bigger one, on the mountain, called Olympos (no relation to the 'mountain of the ancient gods') and the other one, the port, called Diafani. To get to these villages people from the south use boats and not the road. Olympos was built on the mountain, same as many villages of the islands for the fear of pirates in older times. This village was in a sense 'cut off' from modern world until recent years and still keeps alive its particular traditions, as much as it is possible nowadays (women still wear traditional costumes every day).

Back to Rhodes we had fun with our nephew (then learning to walk). We went to the sea (he loves to swim -sort of-) and to an ostrich farm. Much of the time in Rhodes was spent with family and friends, but we managed to find some time for ourselves, going around to remote corners of the medieval city at night or to beautiful pine forests and recreation areas of the island. It's hard to get tired in Rhodes as it's big, diverse and full of life.

So, this is a -not so brief- account of our summer 2000. In future postings we'll tell you more about the next years...