Spacious, Fully Equipped Rental Apartment in Milia Bay

In 2013 I connected through email with a very nice couple, Frederique Marcou and Vion Sandor. They live nearly the year round in a lovely villa in Milia Bay, which also offers a rental apartment. The property is owned by Frederique’s mother, Nicole Marcou, whose address and telephone numbers you can find on the site www.alonissosmilia.gr.

The apartment is part of the house shaded by pine trees that offers a panoramic view of Milia Bay and the surrounding area. It features two rooms with double-beds, two bathrooms, a small living room with sofa-beds for one or two people, wireless Internet access (Wi-Fi), a kitchen, and two comfortably furnished and covered verandas adjoining the rooms. For outdoor meals there are two built tile and marble tables, and the apartment also has direct and private access to the sea, with a small platform facilitating entry to the water and partially covered by an awning.

This property is ideal for a large family, or two couples with children, or any group of up to five or six persons that enjoys nature, swimming, sports, or just relaxing.  You also can contact Vion or Frederique via email. To do so please click here.

Alonnisos Loses a Long-standing Home Owner – Pat Fischer

Although the focus of this blog is to provide information about the island of Alonnisos, today (9/4/2013) I feel inspired to post news about the passing of a beloved friend on the island who we originally met during our second trip to Alonnisos. Her name was Pat Fischer (pictured to your right standing next to me), and she and her husband David owned a home in the Kokkino Kastro area for decades. Originally built in the 1960s, at one point many years ago it was in the path of a huge fire that broke out in the hills above Tzortzi Yialo Bay, but miraculously survived intact thanks to heroic efforts on the part of local Greek fire-fighters.

My in-laws originally introduced us to Pat and David during our second visit to Alonnisos in 1998, and over several years we had the great pleasure of spending time with them on their lovely property. They were very friendly and hospitable, and we always greatly enjoyed our visits to the Fischer home.

Pat, David, their children, and grandchildren as well, visited Alonnisos regularly and also introduced many other family members and friends to the island over the years. They had a deep and abiding love and respect for Alonnisos, and during their many trips to the island they truly became a part of the energy of Alonnisos itself. When David passed several years ago, Pat continued to visit the island whenever her health would allow it.

With Pat Fischer’s passing, the island lost a true friend and I know for certain that she will be missed by anyone associated with Alonnisos who had the privilege of knowing her.

Getting to Alonnisos through Athens via Bus or Taxi to the Port of Kimi

Each summer Skyros Shipping Co. typically offers services on its Achilleas ferry between the port of Kimi (located on the island of Evia) and Alonnisos. Kimi (sometimes spelled “Kymi”) is located about three and a half hours from Athens by coach bus, and the boat ride is just over two hours (an hour shorter than the trip from Agios Konstantinos (or Volos) to Alonnisos. Ticket pricing can be found on the Skyros Shipping Co. website.

To reach Kimi by bus from the Athens airport you will first need to take the X93 bus (Click here for more information about this bus) to the Bus Terminus B bus station in Athens (Click here for more information about this bus station [or “O stathmos,” in Greek], and to see the a long distance bus schedule (the most recent I could find in January of 2016) for buses departing from Bus Terminus B click here. The total time it will take you to get to Kimi from the airport via Bus Terminus B will be perhaps as much as five hours, but could be more based on traffic conditions. If you’d prefer to take a taxi to Bus Terminus B, please page down to see information regarding a taxi driver in Athens that I recommend.

If your arrival time is too late to connect with the Achilleas ferry you will obviously need to book a hotel in Kimi. I highly recommend the Vallendi Village Hotel. Click here to learn more about this wonderful hotel.

One other note, in addition to bus X93 from the airport, you can also reach Athens City Centre via the Metro Train line. Ask the information desk at the airport for directions to the on-site Metro station (it’s on the lower level). If you do take the Metro,you’ll also need to ask what stop to use in order to facilitate the most direct access to Bus Terminus B for your next travel segment to Kimi. Note that travel via train gets you to the city center in perhaps half the time.

To Kimi via Taxi

If you aren’t as much concerned about cost as you are about comfort and speed, you also have the option of taking a taxi from the Athens Airport directly to Kimi. Because this is a fairly lengthy distance, the cost of the taxi is significant ( €220  or more). While this is obviously much more expensive than bus travel, if two or more people are traveling together the price is much more reasonable, especially considering that the cost of a hotel in Athens is probably at least €30 – 40 more than one in Kimi. With the taxi you can stay in Kimi, sleep in a bit, and then take the ferry in the morning.

If you are interested in taking a taxi, I highly recommend the services of a driver in Athens named Spiros Halkides. Not only is he a great guy, but he also speaks fluent English from his experience in living in New York for many years. Here is his contact information: Telephone: 30-2109944771 (H) & (30)-6944285686(MOBILE) [Note that 30 is the country code for calling Greece.] To visit Spiros’ website click here. To contact Spiros via email, click here.

Staying in Athens

If you aren’t able to make the bus to Kimi, and don’t want to spend the extra money to take a taxi, please review the Category Archives (to your right) under “Hotels in Athens” for information regarding properties I recommend.

Making a Boat Reservation from Kimi to Alonnisos

If you are planning to reach Alonnisos via the ferry Achilleas, then prior to your trip you of course need to reserve and pay for tickets. Please check the Skyros Shipping Company timetable for the specific date you are interested in booking passage. If you want to purchase tickets click on this link to find a list of travel agencies that sell tickets on their behalf.

To contact me via email with any questions regarding this post click here.

Recommended Boutique Hotel in Thessaloniki – The Zaliki Hotel

On their return trip from Alonnisos my in-laws stayed at a boutique hotel called the Zaliki Hotel in Thessaloniki for the first time. They found the room, the amenities, and the hotel staff to be excellent. The Zaliki Hotel is located in a restored neo-classical building of the previous century situated in the historical city center. It includes 18 guest rooms, three business suites, a dining room, a bar, and a meeting/conference room.

All single/double rooms and suites offer cable TV, NOVA, a fridge with mini-bar, a personal safe, a hair dryer, free internet access and toiletries. All double rooms have either a double or two twin beds. Fresh fruit and bottled water are provided to every guest upon arrival. Business suite guests also receive a complimentary bottle of wine.

The Zaliki Hotel  is located at 6 Gr. Zaliki St., 54631 in Thessaloniki. For further information or to book a reservation visit the hotel’s website.

Getting to Alonnisos through Athens via air to the island of Skiathos

The reality is it’s not very easy to get to Alonnisos because there is no airport on the island. Many years ago there was interest on the part of some residents to have one constructed, but for whatever reason it never happened. While this makes it more challenging to reach the island, it also tends to limit major tour operators’ ability to bring large groups of tourists to the island at one time. That means Alonnisos doesn’t attract anywhere near the same volume of visitors as the neighboring island of Skiathos, which actually has an airport that can accommodate Boeing 737 aircraft with 200 or more passengers per plane. This of course translates into greater opportunities for experiencing more peaceful and enjoyable holidays. in Alonnisos

Flying to Skiathos from Athens

When you fly into Athens, you have the option to fly on to Skiathos via Olympic Airlines, which operates some flights between these two destinations. In past years Olympic has offered several flights to Skiathos each week during the summer, however, you’ll need to visit the website to learn specific dates and times of departures. Overall, I highly recommend booking reservations as early as Olympic will allow, as these flights tend to fill up quite rapidly since the planes used tend to be quite small.

Making a Boat Reservation from Skiathos to Alonnisos

If you do intend to reach Alonnisos by boat from Skiathos, then prior to your trip you need to reserve and pay for boat tickets in advance. The Hellenic Seaways website is fairly easy to navigate, just be sure to choose your language of choice, then select “Online Booking” and follow the prompts. In the summer there are typically four departures per day from Skiathos to Alonnisos.

When you have completed the reservation the site will bill you for the tickets, but will not actually provide you with them. Instead, you will receive a confirmation email that instructs you to take your reservation confirmation to the Hellenic Seaways representative in Skiathos (called “Skiathos O.E.“).

Flying Dolphin graphic_1_16Please note that a company called Aegean Flying Dolphins also operates older boats called Flying Dolphins that are smaller, and somewhat less comfortable than the Flying Cats. They are however, a bit faster than the Cats, and the price of the tickets is somewhat less. Note that if you have any concerns about rocky seas you may want to limit yourself to only booking a berth on the Cat. Another option is to book passage on a ferry boat, which takes more time for obvious reasons. I recommend using the OpenSeas.gr site to learn what other boat options exist.

Getting to the Port from the Skiathos Airport

On your day of departure the flight from Athens to Skiathos will take approximately 40 – 50 minutes. After arrival and baggage pickup, proceed to the taxi line and request a ride to the port in Skiathos town (about a five minute ride), and specifically ask to be dropped off near the port agent you need to see to pick up the tickets (i.e., the one for Hellenic Seaways or the one for the Aegean Flying Dolphin). Be aware that if your travel party is just 1 or 2 people, the taxi driver will be quite insistent about taking along another 1, 2, or 3 passengers. You essentially have no choice in the matter unless you want to pay the driver double fare. It’s just one of the many novel quirks about traveling in the Greek islands!

Upon arrival at the travel agency, if you booked on Hellenic Seaways you will need to present the ticket confirmation form you received via email from the company. They may also ask you for a passport for identification. Once you have your ticket(s), if the boat is leaving shortly I recommend you promptly proceed to the boarding area (across the street and to the right) where there is a small building with some seats in a waiting area. If you have some time to wait (45 minutes or more), there are numerous cafes and bars on the waterfront with outdoor seating that provide Wi Fi access if you need to check email. When it comes to the boat departure, whatever you do, be certain to be ready and waiting for the boat at least 10 minutes in advance of its scheduled arrival time because Greek boat captains are not known for their patience with dawdling passengers. Once they pull up the gangplank they typically will not put it back out there for you if you happen to arrive just as they are leaving.

Staying in Skiathos

If, based on your travel schedule your arrival in Skiathos is too late to connect with a Hellenic Seaways Flying Cat, and Aegean Flying Dolphin, or a ferry to Alonnisos, you will obviously need to book hotel for that evening. To assist you in this regard here’s a link to a property I recommend called the Hotel Stellina.

To contact me via email with any questions regarding this post click here.

Rental Villa in Steni Vala – Villa Agnadema

A few years ago I met a very nice woman named Gioula who owns and operates a souvenir store in Patitiri. When I mentioned this blog to her, she asked if I would be willing to post information about villas that her family rents in Steni Vala. After looking at the brochure for the property and seeing how lovely the villas are, and the beautiful views they offer, I said I’d be happy to oblige. The fact that I’d driven by them before and seen the location personally also made it an easy decision for me.

With that introduction in mind, the property is called Villa Agnadema and it’s located in an olive grove on the hillside just above Glyfa Beach and the port of Steni Vala that offers many tavernas and some shops as well (e.g., grocery store, gift shop). The picture above and to your right provides a good view of the entrance to the villa, while the photo to your left clearly shows the amazing view toward the island of Peristera that’s available from the terrace. From that vantage point you also can see the uninhabited islands called the Two Brothers and the island of Krya Panagia as well.

The Villa Agnadema includes a number of windows that allow for plenty of natural light to enter, and offers granite floors along with a shaded terrace that includes tables and chairs for dining al fresco. In addition, it’s nicely furnished throughout in a traditional manner and offers a comfortable sitting room and a fully equipped kitchen. Other amenities include air conditioning, TV, DVD player, hair dryer, and an iron. There is also ample space for parking a rental car.

For additional information or a price quotation, or to book a reservation, telephone Gioula Kalogianni or her daughter Maria (the woman in Patitiri who was so kind to Andi and I after our motorbike accident in August of 2011) at: (30) 24240-65155 (summer period) or (30) 24240-65645 (winter period) or via mobile phone at: (30) 6979771562.

To contact Gioula or Maria via email click here.

Exercise Caution when Driving in Alonnisos – a Personal Story

My primary intent with this post is to emphasize how important it is for visitors (and locals) to exercise great caution when driving on Alonnisos, because the roads are narrow, and there are other risks to be aware of as well. The balance of this article will explain how this life lesson was drilled into my consciousness a few years ago.

It was in August of 2011 that my wife and I were riding our Honda SuperCub 90 to a dinner party being held in Votsi, a small town and harbor, which is less than five minutes from the main port of Patitiri. We have rented this classic motorbike from our friend Ilias of I&M Motorbike Rental for many years now. Our British friend Geoff Elliott refers to it as our “trusty steed,” and in fact it always has been a very reliable bike for us. In any event, we entered Votsi that night and very slowly started heading east down one of the few east-west streets that go all the way through it.

At the end of that road we took a right turn to head up into the hills where the party was being held. Within a split second I heard a racing engine and peripherally saw a red vehicle approach rapidly from the right – before I could make any evasive move the car hit us quite violently. The bumper caught my right shin and I was thrown completely from the bike. Unfortunately, because my wife was on the back she fared much worse than me as the bike fell right on top her and trapped her underneath. The driver of the car, who we would later learn was quite drunk, didn’t even realize what had happened, so he popped the clutch again and hit the bike (and my wife again! She immediately screamed out in pain and told me to run the rest of the way to the party and get her mother and step-dad so they could drive us to the local clinic. I took off running and fortunately a nice young Italian man picked me up on his motorbike and sped me up to my destination.

Thankfully, in my absence, a group of local Greeks arrived at the accident scene and promptly brought ice and elevated Andi’s leg. We always will be grateful to them for their kindness and compassion that night, but regrettably in all the confusion we never had the opportunity get their names so we could properly thank them. As for the driver of the car, he finally got out of his car after he realized what happened, then inspected the front bumper for damage, but said absolutely nothing to Andi before returning to his car and speeding away from the scene.

The rest of that evening was filled with a lot of pain for Andrea, and since the clinic had no X-ray machine, we had no choice but to purchase boat tickets for the four of us to Volos on the first boat out the following morning. It was a very stressful night with very little sleep for either of us, and in order to be close to the port we actually stayed in Patitiri in a room kindly donated by a lovely Greek woman named Maria who has rental rooms located just a block away. Our dear friends Eleni and Victor from the Ostria Restaurant also showed incredible kindness by preparing some food for us since we had obviously missed the dinner party.

The next day we went to Volos on the Flying Dolphin and took a taxi to the hospital. Fortunately, X-rays proved to be negative, but the doctor made it clear that Andi would need to be on crutches for the next 10 days or more. She was in a lot of pain, but other than some anti-inflammatory medicine there was nothing more that could be done but to give her body time to heal. Naturally this accident put a damper on the rest of our trip, as it limited Andi’s mobility substantially, since walking in hilly Alonnisos is almost impossible when one is forced to use crutches to get around. She also had to travel all the way home to Chicago with them, and that led to numerous challenges for her. Based on this experience, I have to admit, that no matter how irrational this may sound, this entire experience initially left both of us feeling uninspired to ever visit Alonnisos again. In the end it took about five months for my wife’s leg to fully recover.

I want to emphasize that the intent of sharing this story is not in any way meant to give people second thoughts about visiting Alonnisos. On the contrary, it’s my heartfelt desire that as many people as possible have the opportunity to experience being on this amazing island. In addition, none of what I’ve written here should be interpreted to mean that I no longer recommend driving either a motorbike or a car on the island. The reality is if one wants to experience as much of the island as possible, a vehicle of some sort is needed.

The primary lesson for readers to take away from this story is that you must always remember to be very cautious when driving on the island so please don’t go speeding through there, because there are numerous blind corners from which both cars and motorbikes can unexpectedly emerge.

To contact me via email with any questions regarding this post click here.

Panselinos Estiatorio & Bar – Old Village

Another good quality restaurant in the Old Village of Alonnisos is the Panselinos Estiatorio & Bar. Conveniently located directly across from the place where the city bus lets passengers from Patitiri off, Panselinos is housed in a beautiful, expansive building that offers more seating than any other restaurant in the Old Village. Panselinos has an extensive menu featuring a wide assortment of traditional Greek dishes, and offers a full liquor bar as well as a nice selection of wines.

In addition to its indoor seating, Panselinos has an outdoor area (see photo to your left) with a number of tables for folks who prefer to dine al fresco. This restaurant also offers free WI-Fi access, which makes it a very popular place for anyone with a laptop or smart phone that needs to access the Internet. When you visit the Old Village, be sure to stop by Panselinos to sample their cuisine, or to have a cold beverage or a coffee drink while you enjoy the view. To contact me via email with any questions regarding this post click here.

Rental Villa in the Old Village center – Villa Stella

Villa Stella is located near the entrance to the Old Village of Alonissos entrance right next to a very beautiful old Byzantine church. This colorful, two-story house was built using mainly rock, wood and a lot of fantasy on the part of Stella, its very creative owner, who also owns the Taste of Alonnisos store that I wrote about in a recent post.

It is newly restored and includes a large terrace with an uninterrupted view of the ocean. The house was decorated by Stella and her husband Nikos with respect to the local style and architecture. Villa Stella can accommodate up to four persons, and features a fully equipped kitchen, a TV set, a fireplace and air conditioning units.

For more information or a price quotation send an email to Stella with a click here.

Geko Silver & Art store – Old Village

During the summer of 2011, our friend Valantis opened a second “Geko” gift store in the Old Village that is absolutely beautiful. Known and respected as man with great taste, he followed his dream and created a very novel shop that features top quality jewelry, fashion accessories, artwork, and much more.

Located just a few steps up from the main plateia in the Old Village, the Geko Silver & Art store resembles shops that one might expect to find in upscale shopping districts in major cities like Rome, Paris, London, and other European capitals. And, this store doesn’t just have an eclectic selection of premium merchandise, its interior also is exquisitely and very tastefully decorated.

When you visit the Old Village during your next trip to Alonnisos, be sure to stop by the Geko Silver & Art store to experience this truly one-of-a-kind shopping experience on the island. And, please tell Valantis that Andrea and Jeff send him their very best regards.