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Written by Aaron Brigatti  
Tuesday, 08 May 2007

Saturday, 5th May – Monday, 7th May:
Based on my work assignment, I have to work based on my home country holiday schedule, meaning I have to work on the host-Countries Bank Holiday’s (e.g. Tuesday, 1st May), but take off the UK May-Day Bank Holiday, Monday, 7th May.  Well the UK has to be different, never have a Bank Holiday on any day apart from a Monday (and apart from Good Friday – for obvious reasons!).

About my plans, was aiming to go for a long weekend away in one of the ‘further afield’ Greek Islands.  I was recommended for about 5-6 folks to visit Skiathos – and so as this was towards the North-East of Greece, I decided that this opportunity was as good as any, and makes the best use of the ‘extra’ day off too.

I knew you had to take a Coach & Boat-ride (yes another one!) or Plane-ride from Athens, as I actually enjoyed the boat journey last-time, and you can see the landscapes around the other islands on-route, I decided that the boat-ride was the best way to relax and be “part of the break”.  Coach ride was €13 and the Boat ride was €26 (for each leg – journey leg that is) – not bad at all.  This was via the Alkyon Travel Agency, which I was advised to use to book the trip.

One of the Alpha Bank work colleagues, managed to book me on the Hellenic Seaways Flying Dolphin to Skiathos Town Port (from Agios Konstantinos).  It was only about 5 hours in total (including the 2 hr coach ride) – arriving in Skiathos Town @ 12:30EEST.  I did try to book a Hotel – initially a place just outside of Skiathos Town called Eye-Q.  Had a few reviews from people at work and also by the looks of the website looked pretty good.  However, having booked via booking.com, I received a call noting that they were closed for maintenance (probably preparing for the long Summer period), so I had to book somewhere else.  As I was already en-route, I decided to gamble and go to the island and then find some accommodation once there.

Once I arrived, I visited the Flying Dolphin booking office and arranged for a journey back on Monday @ 08:00EEST, I also asked for recommendations on a couple of places to stay, and I visited the first one, called Hotel Akti, and decided it was suitable for me.  Only cost me for €39 per night.  It was quite a nice location, slightly outside of the main part of the town, but walking distance from the hustle and bustle. 

And the Island itself?  Well it was quite surreal, very quiet and relaxing.  I can, however, imagine it being incredibly busy during the busy summer months, but it seemed to be a great time to go now in my opinion! 

I spent the first half-day (Saturday afternoon/evening), simply walking around Skiathos Town and finding my way around (aided by a map of course!).  Actually, by the time I found of the nice Greek Tavenas, I actually had walked around pretty much the majority of the town.  At the eating establishment, well it turned out to be really nice.  Again, not too busy, but very friendly staff and pleasant food (decided for the mixed Appetizers to start with (bit of everything Greek) and then decided to go with well that was the problem I didn’t really know, so told the Manager/Owner that I would leave it to his recommendation.  Had lamb in the end, and it wasn’t bad at all – actually very appetizing and palatable!!

I then went to one of the cafés / bars near the hotel and stay for a couple of hours watching the sun set and the world go by.  People watching is the most enjoyable part of my type of holiday.  Actually, as I was walking along the main shopping roads, I noticed that the eating establishments were definitely tailored for the “English” crowd, hmmmm .slightly disappointing, but alas that’s tourism for you!  With flights coming from Gatwick directly to Skiathos Airport, it’s no surprise really, hey?

I decided to go with an Italian dinner (okay very boring, but wanted to try something ‘ordinary’ for a changed) – overlooking the “New Port”.  Was pretty good, although the portions appeared to be relatively smaller than my liking – but good quality all the same.  Service a bit hit and miss, but it was getting busier by the time I had finished my meal – but at least it was pretty reasonable (albeit they didn’t accept AXP – hmmm ).

I had a nice night’s sleep, and already thought of hiring a car in the morning.  I knew I couldn’t stay a whole day in Skiathos Town, as I already saw everything that it had to offer, so decided to hire a car and follow some recommendations to visit the West and North of the Island.  (Skiathos Town was located on the South-East corner of the Island).

A little bit apprehensive, as it would be my first time driving a left-hand car, in my 10 years of driving – quite daunting and exciting at the same time.  I knew that apart from the gears and handbrakes, it shouldn’t be “too bad” (assumption, maybe?)  I had a nice breakfast, Waffles and Cappuccino, lovely.  I then got the car for €25 – they originally wanted to charge me €30 for the day, but having checked a couple of other places, €25 was the going rate, so decided to haggle.  I guess, I would have pushed it down a bit further, but decided against it, what’s €5, hey?  It was a Kia Piccanto – not a bad “small car”, but I think it hindsight I should have got a Jeep – will explain the reasons why a bit further down.

Well, as I was on the East-side of the town, it was easy to get out of the main part of the town.  I put €10 of fuel (petrol) which I was told would last me the whole day – it certainly did!  I wanted to try to visit the Evagelistrias monastery, which was meant to be the one to visit on the Island; I missed the junction for it (whoops) so decided to continue driving and whilst attempting to find my bearings head for the West coast of the Island.  This was where the nicest of the beaches were located.  I found one called Ag. Eleni Beach, and it was amazingly quiet but pleasantly attractive and peaceful.  There was a Café / Bar there, so I grabbed a coffee (I was driving, remember).  I then went out to sit in the Sun to soak up the rays of sunshine – the whole purpose of being out here.  There was an English couple also doing the same thing, so after introducing myself, we ended up chatting.  We bought each other a couple of beers, and just talked about the island, a bit about Politics, environment, holiday’s, the way of life in general,  upbringing, generation gaps and normal day-to-day issues, and I talked a bit about the challenges I was having in work – in recent years.  Very nice.  Without realising, about 2½–3 hours had gone by, so I said by farewells and decided to trek back and try to find the Monastery that I missed the first time. 

and I wasn’t disappointed one bit.  Really was a nice location, nice buildings and location – and totally a contrast to the rest of the Island and the bustle of Skiathos Town and the beach areas.    Interesting journey though, as the Asphalt quickly turned into stones into muddy (chalky) roads.  I had to drive carefully, to avoid causing chips or damage to the hire car.

I wanted to also visit the Cape Kastro area, which was meant to be where the Island Dwellers would flee too when the Island was invaded.  It was also the most Northern point of the Island.  Found it after missing the turning a couple of times, but the road turned out to be ever worst then the one to the Monastery.  Firstly, it was full of ups and downs (literally), a few parts the car struggled to get the momentum and traction (c’mon it was a “Kia” after all).  Finally got there, and decided to abandon the car on the side of the road for the last 10-15 minutes of the journey to the village area.  Was certainly worth the walk (and exercise)!! On a sunny late-afternoon, it was a fantastic landscape and environment, right up to the northern tip.

Then I made my way back to Skiathos Town and decided to go for an Greek Tavana meal, again wasn’t bad, and they had the footie in the background, Arsenal against Chelsea, the one Chelsea had to win to remain still in the chance for the trophy (they didn’t though – they just drew the game 1-1 (whoops).  I then headed back to the hotel for an early sleep and got back for an early start in the morning.  The boat left at 08:00EEST, so I had to get ready, grab some breakfast, wake-up and be at the quay-side before then.

Had a nice toastie breakfast and cappuccino in one of the Cafés overlooking the “New Port” again.  Was good as I knew I was only 1-2 minutes away and could see when the boat was about to dock.  Once I had my caffeine-fix, I made my way to the boat and settled in for a pleasant boat-ride back to the main-land.  Just a shame that the coach journey coincided with lunch-time traffic, got to Athens in pretty good time, and then took another 40mins to get to the end destination. 

So in total, my personal (“leisure”) spend was €78 for the boat ride, €78 for the accommodation, €25 for the hire car, plus €10 fuel.  Not too bad, it could have been at least double or triple this in the high-season.

Onwards and upwards to my next “Island hop”!  Keep reading in the next few weeks for the next episode of my adventures in Greece.

Comments
Me again!
Written by Guest on 2007-05-13 14:26:27
Wow its sounds like you are having a great time away from the office! I think it's great that you are so at ease with your surroundings, I'm very jealous as I probably wouldn't have the nerve to leave the safety of the hotel, good for you!! 
It's just stopped raining here and the suns trying to peep through. It's been raining since 8 o'clock this morning with some thunder mixed in. If I remember rightly you've been released for the weekend!? 
Speak to you soon. Tan.

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