It has been years now since I realised that our destination is not an island or a beautiful windless harbour. These are simply stations of our traced courses.Our actual destination is... the journey itself!
As if it was a rare caprice of the barometric pressures, the Aegean Sea was for the third consecutive day like a vast lake, while forecasts for the next few days were very optimistic. However, I was sure the good weather we had all these days was merely a foreshadowing of a strong and perhaps prolonged blow of north winds.
Travelling for several years in the Aegean, I was not carried away by its temporary sweet look and I was very cautious.
I was trying to ride at a very low speed, which I usually do during the recent years, regardless of the long distances I have to cover. This is something that gradually turned into a habit and a way of travelling. I prefer to extend the route and therefore the duration of the journey, and along with a cold coffee onboard to enjoy ribbing and my contact with the sea, listen to its redeeming breath as the hull touches its surface, while savouring the wind and saltiness on my face.
In Psathi and Chorio
We were travelling with a fresh 5bf north wind, and in about an hour we crossed the 22 miles that separate Livadi of Serifos from Psathi. Psathi, the part of Chorio which is the harbour of Kimolos, is located at the southeast end of the island. Hidden in a large bay, with its entrance facing Sorokos, the southeastern wind, from which it is protected by Polyaigos islet since it is just one nautical mile away from the western coasts of the beautiful island. In the bay there is the beach that shares the same name, adorned with large sea trees and two taverns on the sand that serve fresh fish and traditional dishes. A few metres away the coffee bar “Lostromos”, with its lovely music completes the picture of a small and authentic seaside neighbourhood. A neighbourhood emerging from the past, intact and unspoilt, resisting strongly the modern trend that wants to assimilate everything. Even in August, everything is so quiet and beautiful, reflecting a different, daily lifestyle on the island.
In Psathi we will never find a lot of people, even when the small ferries arrive. Apart from the two souvenir shops which are behind the coffee bar “Lostromos”, there is nothing else. No grocery shops, bakeries or other kind of shops.
Everything is found in Chorio, which is the heart of the island.
Chorio is only 800 metres away from the port of Psathi, which we can clearly discern from the crest of the low hill. We decided to go to Chorio on foot, although there is a local bus every hour on the hour.
It was the first time I visited Chorio and I was enormously surprised. It is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful and picturesque main villages of Cyclades. We did not know anything about this place, since incidentally it is never presented as a travel destination. However, it was charming in an unexpected way and we were greatly impressed by the locals’ welcome who greeted us with a smile wherever we met them.
Arriving at the main stone pebbled street, we were slowly walking towards the centre of Chorio. Beautiful and especially authentic images unfold in front of our eyes, with simple white houses adorned with pots and flowers, while the flowery bougainvilleas once again impressed us. Not before long we reached the main square of Chorio, which is called Kampos. It is a small triangular square, on whose side there is the traditional cafe “o Kampos”, the little shop with souvenirs “Kamara” and a tavern which spreads its tables around the square in the evening. On the other side, just below the cafe, there is the church of Ag. Spyridon and opposite of that the church of Ag. Ioannis Theologos and the playground. Next to the cafe, the impressive, stone-built church of Ag. Ioannis Chrysostomos rises which was built in the 17th century and is a listed post-Byzantine monument.
Behind the square of Kampos there is the famous Castle, which was the first residential complex of the village.
The Castle is almost square in shape and consists of two separate residential complexes which constitute the Indoor and Outdoor Castle. These two formations are separated by a narrow alley, which was used for the movement of the population.
Later, when external risks were gradually diminished, the locals of Kimolos got out of the Castle, and they now felt free to build their new residences around the Castle, while they maintained the Cycladic architectural details. So year by year the village spread over a large area and came to its present form. The closer the houses are to the Castle the older they are.
Sailing round Kimolos with our boat is a very interesting experience, since the 16 nautical miles of coastline will reveal many amazing, unexplored corners of the island. Successive coves hosting beaches of fine sand or pebbles, caves, hot springs, stunning white cliffs and incredible geological formations often remind us of artistic masterpieces.
While the sun was rising beyond the horizon, we slowly sailed away from the port of Psathi and our bow was facing south.
In less than half a mile there is the south side of the island. Here we find the most crowded coasts of the island coming into view one after the other.
We passed by the cape Amoni, the southwestern tip of the island, which is the closest point of Kimolos to get to the opposite coast of Milos. Just half a mile across Amoni, there is the lighthouse of Pollonia. From Amoni to the cape Kampana, the landscape changes and reddish, steep cliffs succeed the smooth shores. In front of us there is the island of Ag. Andreas separated from the mainland by a channel which is 200 metres wide.
From Asprogkremna to Makropounta, the coastal rocks are even more impressive and as they end up to the sea they often form small and large caves. In this part there are two beaches. The first is located in the bay of Athenia, embellished with a small forest of sea trees. The other one is in the bay of Makropountas, penetrating deep into the land.
From Makropounta to the northern cape of Gerakia, successive bays are formed hosting beautiful and deserted shores, which are, nevertheless, affected by the winds. If we are lucky and there is a fine weather, it is really worth exploring this whole part of the island.
After Gerakia we sail on the northern coasts of the island, which stretch for 1.5 n. miles.
In the deserted Soufi bay
Soufi bay is almost in the middle of the northern coasts. It is a wonderful oblong bay with its entrance facing Sorocos and it is totally protected from the meltemi. It hosts a beautiful, deserted beach in its cove that is full of large sea trees. It is definitely one of the most picturesque beaches of Kimolos and it is really worth visiting. But in order to discern Soufi we should sail very close to the coast because we can easily overlook its entrance and ignore it. We can tie in small dock which is located at the northern end of the beach and spend the night here, having an unforgettable experience. It is completely safe, since the small cape located on the north side protects from the bad weather conditions and we can only hear the waves roaring as they break on the outer side. It is worth taking the short path that takes us over the cape and admire the impressive white cliffs with their unique formations and stunning levels; an ideal place to have our morning coffee, enjoying the sounds of the rough sea.
Passing by the cape Pouli, we cross the eastern coasts of the island where the main seaside villages are located. The east side of Kimolos extends for about four miles and reveals many beautiful corners and windless harbours. When reaching the cape of Ai Georgis, the large bay of Prasa stretches in front of us. The best part of the beach Prasa is the northern edge, where the old stairs, that were used to transport cargos, are found. The green waters, the white fine sand and the sea trees on the coast form an exotic scenery. A dive is necessary here, while the place is ideal for an overnight stay, since it is totally protected from the winds.
In the picturesque Goupa
It is the largest seaside village on the island, with the small houses hovering over the low smooth rocks, thus creating one of the most fascinating neighbourhoods in the entire Aegean. The village of Goupa is built on two small, low capes, which are only a few metres away from one another. The small white houses are built on the capes and among them there is the lovely harbour. Only one or two families live in winter in Goupa, although it is so close to the port of Psathi. Most houses are holiday homes and are inhabited only in summer. Below the houses, at about sea level, we can find the “Sirmata” hewn into the soft rocks. These are small galleries, closed with reinforced doors and accommodate the locals ’boats, who draw them in during winter. Within each “Sirma”, there is a winch for the boat’s refloating and launching and the necessary tools and materials for their repair.
It would certainly be a great omission if we get to Kimolos without visiting the “twin” island, Polyaigos. It is just a mile away from Kimolos and it is definitely worth taking the time to explore it. Its perimeter is no more than 10 nautical miles of coastline and we can find amazing beaches with magical waters.
Just opposite of Rematonisia there is the “port” of Polyaigos, “tis Panagias t’Avlaki” as it is characteristically called. It is a fairly deep bay on the northwestern part of the islet. On the rocks there are some scanty places with bollards where we can tie and go for a little walk. “Stis Panagias t’ Avlaki”, though there has never been an organised residential complex, there were only once ten to fifteen houses where several families lived permanently. They were mainly engaged with farming, but they also cultivated their fields which were full of vineyards and fig trees. In 1972 the small settlement was deserted, as even the last residents abandoned it. Since then the small houses collapsed and the rudimentary village no longer exists. However, during the last ten years Petros Marianos and his wife live permanently here, trying to revive the island. They live in his grandfather's “hut”, who came from Polyaigos. They renovated the two little rooms and decided to spend the rest of their lives there. Petros owns goats and pigs with which he tries to survive under difficult conditions. He sows barley and has a small garden with tomatoes and all the necessary products in order to support himself. He carries drinking water from a very old well, which he managed to clean with great difficulty. Using a generator and pipes, since the well is six hundred metres away, he saves approximately one cubic litre of water daily. Two cisterns which collect rainwater ensure water for the animals. He, also, supports the old church of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary, and whitewashes it every year. During winter, Petros and his wife live permanently on the island and sail with their boat to Kimolos, sometimes only for the necessary supplies. But in summer, they are almost every night at Kimolos returning to their shelter the next day, with the first crack of the dawn.
Just below tis Panagias t’Avlaki, we find Epano Mersini, which we can discern due to the small islet of Manolis, located in front of the wide opening of the bay. Next to it on the south there is the smaller bay called Kato Mersini or Mantra. Both Ano and Kato Mersini, which are called like that because of the plants “mersinies” that thrive there, host beautiful beaches with crystal clear, green waters. These are two very famous beaches which several boats visit daily, but there is plenty of room to anchor without disturbing the others. We can spend the night safely both in Pano and Kato Mersini, since the two bays are not affected by the strong winds. We need to be cautious with the gusts, which often blow with great intensity. However, there are numerous beautiful places on Polyaigos. I feel that those who have not visited Galazia Nera yet, on the south side of the island are really unlucky.
I tied at Chochlakia, a small inlet with large white pebbles which is just before Galazia Nera and climbing the steep slope I arrived at the top of the rough hill. I was just above the vertical, red and white cliffs that hover majestically over Galazia Nera. An amazing spectacle, the most incredible the Aegean can offer us, spreads in front of my astonished eyes. The water colour is unique, while the islets Kalogeroi that emerge a bit further through the deep waters, complement an unimaginable scene. I sat for a long time on the hilltop and ignoring the gusting winds, I kept looking avidly at this enchanting corner of Polyaigos. After a while, we were remained offshore in Galazia Nera, where we swam for hours.
Just next to Galazia Nera, and before reaching the islets Kalogeroi, there is the cove of Fikiada. Passing by the old stone bridge used for shipping, under the hovering white cliffs, we arrived at the bay where there is a spectacular beach with beautiful waters. We can spend the night here in complete safety from the winds, enjoying another magical part of Polyaigos.
On the east coast, there is the same impressive scenery with the stunning cliffs hovering vertically on the sea. There are, also, two beautiful, small beaches with white pebbles, but they are quite exposed to the winds. At the northeast part of of Polyaigos we find the bay Ammoura with a beach that shares the same name in its cove. From that point we can visit the lighthouse of the island. Climbing up is quite difficult, but the view from the yard of the lighthouse is unforgettable.