Although eager to catch the ferry to our next Greek island, Thor and I had to tear ourselves away from the rugged beauty and charmingly low-key villages of Karpathos.
NOTE: Since our trip last fall to Greece to research more settings for my novel-in-progress, THE ARIADNE DISCONNECT, Thor and I knew we had to return to this magical region. My first entry in this new blog series posted here on Saturday, 10/20/2018. It gives an overview of our rambles from Athens to seven islands in the Dodecanese and Cyclades groups, ending our ferry-hopping pilgrimage on the anciently sacred island of Delos.
With our last day on the island, Thor and I decided to make a driving loop, starting along a steep stretch of the winding east coast road that we hadn’t yet seen. Before tackling the latest challenge of terrifying steep dropoffs, we fortified ourselves with another hearty breakfast brought to our hotel room.
Before ignition, I’d like to share a few photos of the charming Alkioni Hotel in Finiki. Our room was really a small apartment, complete with full kitchen and two sea-view balconies, for a very reasonable price. (My only complaint was the bed like a marble slab, but virtually all mattresses we’ve encountered in Greece have offered the same degree of “firm.”)
The bedroom was a few steps up from the kitchen/sitting area, with its own sea view:
Those enchanting views of the deep blue Aegean are perhaps best enjoyed from a stationary vantage like a balcony or taverna, and not from the terrifying twists and turns of the east coast mountain road. (Thor wisely refused to look over the edge while driving, though this curve actually had a rare guard rail.)
The road follows the deep curves of the coastal cliffs. At upper right in this photo, that’s the crumbly edge of the road above the rock slide:
Again, geologist Thor tried not to think about the instability of the cliffs as we drove. We took frequent breaks to catch a breath, slow our heartbeats, and enjoy glimpses of isolated coves below. This one may have been accessible only by boat, but there were some really insane dirt roads switchbacking down to a few small settlements along the way.
And, of course, we stopped to greet another party of cliff-climbing goats!
Along the way, this roadside shrine was more elaborate than most. I’m not sure of the identity of the knight/saint. Anyone venture a guess?
The village of Diafani had a prosperous air, with its sheltered harbor and working boats. On the hill are more antique windmills, one of them still retaining its conical thatch cap. This was as far north as we ventured on the road. Believe it or not, we had been driving on the “tame” south half of the island. The northern half is even more ruggedly mountainous, sparsely populated, and very isolated, with access only by boat to most of the coves.
The waterfront buildings were well-tended. This doorway boasts a decorative tile featuring the dolphins beloved of the islanders. I fondly remember ferry trips on my first Greece trip years ago, when playful dolphins would leap alongside the boats, but on this trip we didn’t spot those Greek symbols of good luck.
Another of the decorative public water fountains:
DIafani’s lovely pebble beach was mostly deserted in late September, as the tourist season was winding down.
Luckily, the wind and waves were calmer than on the west side, so we took the opportunity for a pleasant swim.
And, of course, we added to our collection of polished marble beach pebbles:
Lunch at one of the seaside tavernas featured yummy pita giros. As in the Caribbean, tree trunks often will be whitewashed, possibly as protection against insects. We especially enjoyed the gnarly old shade trees still hanging in there. Maybe we could relate!
As we were strolling back to the car, a fruit truck pulled up along the quay and stacked crates of fruit. Locals, including two traditionally-dressed matrons, and a few tourists quickly swarmed over the selections. Thor scored some delicious grapes.
Heading across the island back toward the west side, we passed this hillside village on a terraced slope. Some of the terraces appeared abandoned, while some still supported olive trees.
The west coast road is much less steep than the east road. Thor could relax and enjoy the scenery.
We dropped down to visit the small resort area of Lefkos with its sandy beach.
It was still pretty windy and rough on the west side, so instead of another swim, we checked out the modest site of Roman occupation.
These blossom spikes seemed to sprout directly out of the dry soil:
Then, on the way back to our hotel, we stopped again at the Taverna Beneath the Trees.
The wind was really whipping at the rocky cove below the taverna. A theme of this trip, possibly due to the fringes of the unusual Cyclone Zorba, was “hang onto your hat.”
Back at our room, a last Karpathos sunset over the sea. Kali nichta! Good night and farewell!
Next week: We return to one of our favorite islands, beautiful Rhodes.
You will find The Rambling Writer’s blog posts here every Saturday. Sara’s latest novel from Book View Cafe is available in print and ebook: The Ariadne Connection. It’s a near-future thriller set in the Greek islands. “Technology triggers a deadly new plague. Can a healer find the cure?” The novel has received the Chanticleer Global Thriller Grand Prize and the Cygnus Award for Speculative Fiction. Sara has recently returned from another research trip in Greece and is back at work on the sequel, The Ariadne Disconnect. Sign up for her quarterly email newsletter at www.sarastamey.com