Exploring Ikaria

Seychelles Beach, Ikaria, Greece

Every beach in Ikaria seems to be different.  Each one has it’s own unique beauty.  The one above is Seychelles (say-HELL-ees) and is reminiscent of a beach in the Caribbean.  It’s hard for me to even say this, because every I feel like I’ve said this before, but this is probably the most beautiful beach on the island.  The water is crystal clear–and I mean, as clear as if you were looking through a piece of glass–and the hues of blue matched the blues that I’ve only seen in one other place–the blues of the Bermuda.  The rocks and pebbles are all white, which offsets the sea and the sky, and the first glance of the beach is breathtaking.

The kids and I have been just living a “normal” life for the past two weeks–a life that I might go so far as saying that some might consider boring.  We wake up when we wake up, eat, walk to the bakery to buy our bread, do work around the house (school work or house work), go for a swim, visit a relative, and some nights we even stayed home.   I thought it was time for us to take a day trip, so on Monday we drove the 45 minutes to the south side of the island to visit this secluded little beach.  In order to get there we had to drive up and over the mountain, and then through the only tunnel on the island.  I’ll add that the tunnel probably houses the “widest” road on the island, and although the kids didn’t like it very much because it was reinforced with brick or cement and you could see all of the chisel marks on the stone, it might be the only spot on the island where I felt “safe” driving.  It was the only place where I didn’t feel like I could “fall” to my death with just one small quick jerk of the steering wheel.  Once we parked the car, we had to walk down a mountain side, climb over big boulders and pass prickly plants to get there.  The kids of course scrambled right down the mountain, passing two other groups of people on the way down, leaving me behind!

On the drive to Seychelles we passed Koskina Castle, and it reminded me that I never shared about that adventure.  As you can see, the “castle” (and I use that word lightly) is perched on the very top of a mountain and served as a lookout point to protect the locals from pirates and enemies.  As we looked at it from the road below on Monday, we had forgotten just how high up it was!

Castle of Koskina, atop a mountain peak.

Back in July, my cousin Sophia and I had discussed going there with the kids but we weren’t able to make it happen until after Dianna arrived.  The drive there was actually relatively easy, until the last 10 minutes or so.  The road became extremely narrow and steep the closer  we drove to the summit, and at one point we actually had to make a three point turn in order to navigate the hair pin curve to the top.  That, however, wasn’t nearly as precarious as making our way to the castle by foot.

Hiking to reach Koskina Castle

The adults spaced ourselves between the seven kids, with the hopes of protecting them from a fall.  The kids, on the other hand, weren’t scared at all.  They scrambled up the mountain side, just like the Ikarian goats. When we reached the top,  we found a small church (another church dedicated to Saint George, patron saint of the military), a few broken down walls from the castle, and a stunning panoramic view.   Sophia and her husband had been to the castle a few years prior and said that the church had recently been restored.  However, on this visit, we saw something quite different.  The door to the church wasn’t latched shut, and apparently had become a home and bathroom for all of the mountain’s goats.  There was literally a carpet of goat pellets, inches deep, covering the floor.  It was sad to see that they had put all of that work, time, and money into restoring a treasure from the 10th century, only to have it “vandalized” by animals.

Agios Georgios, at Koskina Castle, Ikaria, Greece

Inside Agios Georgios

Zach, Peter, Eleni, Elias, Zach, Rea, and Antoni

It was a hot day–one that the air was so still it made it hard to breathe.  There was no escape from the sun, except for inside the “Goat Poop” church, and an occasional breeze that made us all sigh with relief.   Looking around, we could see the seas on the north and the south side of the island and all roads approaching the castle.  We had parked one of the cars by the hair pin turn that required the three point turn, and from were we now stood, the car looked like a child’s toy.  It was obvious the location was chosen for it’s vantage point.  However, we decided it would be a better to enjoy the view on a cooler, more breezy, day!

6 comments on “Exploring Ikaria

  1. Aunt Stella says:

    Your entries make Greece come alive to me. The climb up to the castle
    looked quite scarey….the wooden ladders??? You have to be kidding. I look forward to reading your blog as you have a way of making me feel like I am right there. Keep it up! love you guys.

  2. Elisse says:

    so many adventures!!!!!

  3. Joe says:

    There is a likelihood that future re-tellings of the story of the hike to the “Goat Poop Church” will take on semi-mythological status … It is a good thing your almost contemporaneous blog exists to counteract any Bunyan-izing of the tale as time passes….

  4. […] kids.  Sophia and Antoni made multiple appearances on the blog in such posts as Around the Island, Exploring Ikaria, and One Month.  Well now they are back in Ikaria.  They arrived the week before Easter and will […]

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