Travelling to Chios, by Mary Axiotis (PART I) Featured
(editor’s note: Personal impressions of a Greek American who is visiting Chios every summer for forty years now)
The island of Chios is one of the largest islands in Greece located in the north eastern part of the Aegean Sea.
A few years ago, Chios was an undiscovered island in the world of tourism. Lately it’s becoming quite known to European tourists and many Greek Americans who visit the island during the summer months, especially in August. As with any other Greek American, my husband and I visit Chios every summer for the past 40 years.
When we visit we do the “basics” by going to the beach every day, exploring Chios undiscovered beaches, taking in the beauty of the blue sky, and cooling off in the azure waters of the sea that surround the island. Over the years we never got tired of visiting beaches like Agia Fotia, Karfas, Lithi and Komi. We still enjoyed swimming in the calm waters, sitting under an umbrella and enjoying a frappe or lately a freddo cappuccino.
Beaches like Karfas, Lithi and Komi are sandy beaches, whereas Agia Fotia and Nagos are pebble beaches. Nagos is a small village in a tiny bay, quite picturesque with pebbled stones. There is a small café right on the beach where you can order lunch or coffee. Mavra Volia beach is another beach with black pebbles made out of black lava rock. The pebble beach gets so hot in the summer that you have to wear either flip flops or sea shoes to walk on them. About ten minutes away from Mavra Volia beach there is the small port of Emporios with a few restaurants overlooking the port and small fishing boats rocking in the water. The food at Emporios, as it is always on any Greek island, is delicious. We always end up ordering the grilled octopus and fried calamari, along with the traditional French fries, the horiatiki salad (Greek village salad) and the fried eggplant and zucchini. Of course along with these delicious food we have to have the tzatziki sauce, and a cold Greek beer or ouzo to wash it down. When we get tired of the plethora of tourists in these well-known beaches, we’d drive further south of the island, to undiscovered beaches like Kato Fana and Elinda beach. Still beautiful, picturesque but less crowded.
Another place we visited in Chios quite often is the graphic village of Pyrgi. It’s architectural designs on the buildings make you wonder how can anyone have so much patience to create something so geometrically beautiful. The visit to Pyrgi never gets old. The café in the middle of the village’s plaza gives anyone a heartwarming experience of people connection. In 2018 when my daughter and 2 year old granddaughter visited, the people in the village were so overtaken by the 2 year old, they gave her ice-cream, and as any 2 year old she connected with them by dancing and smiling, even though there was a language barrier.
Mesta is another port, besides the main port in Chios town, on the west side of the island. A small little village with a couple of restaurants but a big enough port that will accommodate the Blue Star ferries. It’s a comfortable 6-hour boat ride instead of the 8-hour boat ride to Chios port. Mesta is about an hour away from the town of Chios.
At the north western part of Chios about an hour away from Chios town, is Agia Markella church by the water, named after Saint Markella. There is a known pilgrimage taking place on July 22 on Saint Markella day. Thousands of people will travel there to pay their respect to the saint who was sacrificed by her father. People will even walk on foot the 45 km distance from Chios town to Agia Markella church. Since that portion of the island is more open to the Aegean sea, the waters will be rough, but during the months of July and August they will be calm and warm.
On numerous occasions and when we wanted to get away from the heat, we visited the Nea Moni monastery that is nestled in the woods in the center of the island. Further north there is the deserted, medieval fortress of Anavatos. It’s ruins and cobblestone streets remind you of princes and princesses and slayed dragons. As the sun sets on the ruins you are reminded that you might be in one of the Game of Thrones episodes.
These are a few extraordinary places that anyone can visit on the island of Chios.
There are flights available from Athens to the island of Chios every day during the summer months. Aegean Airlines is one of them.
There are tour busses that go to beaches like Karfas or Lithi and to the Olympoi cave. A travel agency downtown will provide the tickets.
A rental car or motorbike will take you to pristine and undiscovered beaches like Elinda and Kato Fana.
The best time to visit the island of Chios is during the summer months. The month of August is the busiest especially between August 1-15. After that the tourism subsides. The island is still warm and less crowded during the month of September.
My Greek food website: http://greekfusioncuisine.blogspot.com/