Catch a boat to an island

From most places in Europe, at least, Greece is a very accessible destination. A couple of hours on a plane (around four for the furthest countries) and you’re in Athens. Starting this month, there are even direct flights to some islands, such as Corfu and Crete.

 

June is an ideal month to visit: cool enough to wander about ancient sites, warm enough to swim. Still green, but with summer blossoms such as oleander and bougainvillea in full bloom. School’s not out yet, so it’s still pretty quiet and prices are lower than in the high season.

There are plenty of things to see and do in Athens itself, and there are many beautiful mainland sites worth a visit, such as the Meteora or Mycenae. However, one of the most fun things to do is catch a boat to an island.

 

Get a room by the beach.

 

Watch the sunset. Wispy clouds and lavender mountains.

 

Sit by an ancient olive tree.

 

Eat outdoors.

 

These pictures are from Thasos, a large, wooded island in the North Aegean. But with a couple of hundred inhabited islands to choose from, there’s something for every taste.

 

Gulls follow the boat.

 

 

Have I tempted you?

Medical tourism

There were storks strolling on the runway as my plane taxied to the terminal in the airport of Kavala, a town in Northern Greece to which I flew in order to catch the ferry to the lovely island of Thasos.

Seagulls accompanied the boat on the 35-minute crossing, and a gaggle of kids on a school outing ran around screeching, while I had my coffee sitting in the sunshine.

 

Arriving in Thasos

 

I came here to visit my doctor, Athina Mavromati (she was one of my Q&A subjects, read about her here) who, with her husband, decided to quit the rat race and move to this lovely spot. They took their sailing boat and their dog, and have never looked back. Athina’s family come from this island, so it was an obvious choice.

 

 

This is the picturesque old port.  Under a huge, ancient plane tree, a fisherman was mending his nets.

 

 

The island is large and green, with pine, olive and plane trees coming all the way down to the crystal clear sea. The beaches are of fine, white sand.

 

 

It was a good time of the year to come, since the season has only just started, so it was not too busy – and also not too hot yet, although the weather was beautiful. However, there were plenty of tourists already, most of them Russian.

This tiny island looked like something in a Japanese painting

 

There is one street with ‘tourist-trap’ shops selling local produce such as honey, olives and oil, sponges; as well as clothes, straw hats, and hideous articrafts made of sea-shells. The rest of the town is quiet and full of cafés and little restaurants – there’s even a shop selling frozen Greek yogurt!

Greek salad and stuffed vine leaves at a shady spot in town

There are many places to visit along the road going all around the island – lovely monasteries, and ancients ruins scattered everywhere, since Thasos was famous for its white marble and olive oil and thrived both in Ancient Greek and Roman times. There are also lovely little mountain villages and hiking trails in the forest. All this was explained to me by Athina and Yannis, who very kindly took me out to eat in a little taverna by the sea, where we had the most amazing fish, accompanied by various local delicacies. Unfortunately, I did not have much time, so I only managed to swim in the sea. But I will definitely be back!