Samothraki Island – pebbled beaches, goat dishes, and bouzouki music

07 Jun

When I turned back from Lemnos Island, I reached the port of Kavala late at night. As I wanted to take the morning ferry to Samothraki Island, I decided to drive 120 kilometers on the highway to reach my intermediary destination, the town of Alexandroupolis. I went to the municipal campground of Alexandroupolis where I was charged the price of a camper-van again because I was sleeping in the car. The following day, I paid a bigger price for the same reason when I boarded with my car on the ferry for Samothraki Island.

The first day on Samothraki Island

Short Description: I took the ferry from Alexandroupolis Port to Kamariotissa, on Samothraki Island. I made a detour to Hora, the capital of the island, and then I descended to the camping grounds from the Varades Beach. In the afternoon, I explored the Fonias Valley, with its waterfalls and vathres, and then I continued toward Kipos Beach.

Long Description

In the morning, I took the ferry boat from the port of Alexandroupolis to Samothraki Island. We moored in the small port of Kamariotissa, which was full of guesthouses and tavernas along the sea front. The white umbrellas of the tavernas shined in the sun but the terraces were empty despite their welcoming shadow. In the small port, a traffic officer continuously guided the flow of cars to and from the ferry.

Samothraki Island: Kamariotissa small port

Samothraki Island: Kamariotissa small port

I drove up the winding road from Kamariotissa to the mountains, at Hora – the capital of the island. The small town at the feet of the Saos Mountains had a few streets, all of them abruptly going up or down. A former Genovese castle in ruin dominated the historic capital of the island, but it was never open to visitors. The center of the town had stylish stone houses, but also many abandoned houses on the outskirts of Hora. The main street passed under the portico of the main church, went up to the castle, and meandered among countless tavernas. At a local taverna, I ate the special dish of the island, baked stuffed young goat (katsikaki).

Hora - the capital of Samothraki Island: typical houses

Hora – the capital of Samothraki Island: typical houses

From Hora I drove down toward the sea and socialized with some goats calmly grazing along the road. I stopped in the first camping from Varades beach, which was freely organized in a small forest. I found a good place where to sleep during the night and then headed toward the Fonias Valley. When I reached the starting point of the trail, I parked the car and hiked the valley for one hour. At the end of the valley, I found a big waterfall and a vathres. Vathres means a small lake formed at the feet of the waterfalls that come through the canyons of Samothraki. I swam in the chill water of the vathres and this way I could better see the waterfall hidden behind some rocks. After that, I climbed an abrupt footpath to a lookout from where I had a panoramic view of the waterfall. The steep footpath continued up into the mountain, but I had a twisted ankle since I was in Lemnos and returned to the waterfall.

Samothraki Island: Fonias river - the first waterfall

Samothraki Island: Fonias river – the first waterfall

I turned back along the valley to my car and continued along the coastline until I reached one of the most secluded and remote beaches of the island, Kipos Beach. The pebbled beach hid in a small bay at the feet of a rocky mountain. It was facing the east, so the mountain shadowed it early in the afternoon. A valley with shrubs and herds of goats started from the beach and went up to the mountain. In the evening, I turned back at the camping ground from Varades and parked my car in the forest.

Samothraki Island: Kipos Beach

Samothraki Island: Kipos Beach

The second day on Samothraki Island

Short Description: I explored the Sanctuary of the Great Gods from ancient Paleopolis. I drove up to Alonia and Lakoma and then went to Profitis Ilias and Xiropotamos. In the afternoon I went to Pahia Ammos Beach.

Long Description

In the morning I went to Paleopolis, at the Sanctuary of the Great Gods where religious rituals were practiced by the ancient Greeks. The famous statue of Victory of Samothrace, exposed in the Louvre Museum nowadays, was found in this place. The archaeological site was built in the neighborhood of the fortifications of Samothraki ancient town. The ancient site included: temples, a sacristy, a sacred way going toward the ionic portico, a circular space for representations, the propylaeum of Ptolemaeus II, the southern necropolis, and a theater not excavated yet. At the stoa, a team of archaeologists worked with small brooms and hoes to clean the ancient stones from plants and earth. It was very hot and bugs sang in the shadow of the trees.

Samothraki Island: Paleopolis - the Sanctuary of the Great Gods (the theatral circle)

Samothraki Island: Paleopolis – the Sanctuary of the Great Gods (the theatral circle)

From Paleopolis I went up and passed Hora, then I continued toward the mountain village Alonia, mostly nonexistent though. The road meandered among the hills. Here and there I saw a small crossroads heading toward a house lost among olive orchards. When I didn’t see houses or orchards anymore, I concluded the village ended.

Samothraki Island: roadtrip to the local villages with the Saos Mountains in background

Samothraki Island: roadtrip to the local villages with the Saos Mountains in background

I drove down toward the sea and went almost parallel with the coastline until I reached Lakoma village. A woman dressed in black waved at me, four old Greeks stayed in the shadow of a taverna and watched whoever passed by, and a peddler drove his car through the village to sell fruit and vegetables. The village had very steep streets, traditional whitewashed houses of stone, and gardens with lots of greenery that created shadow.

Samothraki Island: Lakoma Village - mobile fruit market

Samothraki Island: Lakoma Village – mobile fruit market

I went up toward the mountain village of Profitis Ilias, which had scattered houses with vine and olive orchards. The small central square was animated by a few tavernas overlooking the panoramic view of the sea. At Taverna Paradeisos, I ordered young goat liver (kokoretsi) and the owner offered to me semolina pudding with honey and orange peels jelly. When I left, I went down along some roads at random toward the sea. I finally managed to cross the labyrinth of off-roads and reached back the main road of the island.

Samothraki Island: kokoretsi local dish with French fries

Samothraki Island: kokoretsi local dish with French fries

I turned back a few kilometers and went to Xiropotamos village, rather a few scattered houses among olive orchards than a real village. I parked the car at the end of a countryside road and started to hike toward Xiropotamos canyon. A local man was just coming from his orchard and offered me some peaches. I took one but he insisted on taking all of them. I continued toward the canyon on a road that was marked at first. Later, the marks disapeared and I just walked along a water canal and a pipe. There were many footpaths but I was sure the water canal should lead to the canyon. After an hour of hiking arid and steep footpaths, I reached a small vathres where two nudists sunbathed on the rocks nearby the waterfall. I couldn’t help to have a bath in the clear and cold water.

Samothraki Island: Xiropotamos Waterfall

Samothraki Island: Xiropotamos Waterfall

I returned to the main road and headed toward Pahia Ammos Beach. Small tavernas sold fresh fish along the road. The only sign I could see was some big letters written directly on the road: “Ammos … km.” Pahia Ammos Beach was literally at the end of a road. Only off-roads full of sharp stones continued further toward a beach hidden among rocks or a chapel up in the mountains. Pahia Ammos had a taverna and a bar facing the beach, lots of sunbeds, strong winds, and pebbles.

Samothraki Island: Pahia Ammos Beach

Samothraki Island: Pahia Ammos Beach

In the evening, I turned at the campground from Varades and parked the car close to the beach. Nearby there was a horse that grazed in a meadow. I caressed it and fed it with some bread until it ran away.

The third day on Samothraki Island

Short Description: I went to Therma and after that to Kamariotissa to find a travel company where to negotiate my return ticket for the ferry. In the evening I slept in the same camping from Varades.

Long Description

In the morning I sunbathed at the nudist pebbled beach of the camping. I explored the ingenious huts made of stone and branches by the nudists in order to have shadow during the day. Later I went to Therma to see the thermal springs, which were actually inside a building and more suited for a cold weather. I tried to find a waterfall from the area but I lost on the road and turned back. I twisted my ankle again so I had to give up the waterfall explorations for good. In Kamariotissa I managed to buy a ferry ticket at a reasonable price, without paying the extra-option for my nonexistent camper-van. On my way back to the camping, I stopped to eat fish soup and fried cheese with tomatoes at a taverna by the sea. In the evening I slept in the same camping from Varades, under a tree where an owl sang all night long.

Samothraki Island: Varades Camping Beach - shelters for shadow built by nudists on the beach

Samothraki Island: Varades Camping Beach – shelters for shadow built by nudists on the beach

The fourth day on Samothraki Island (and the last one)

Short Description: I went to stay in another camping, visited Hora again, and then came back at Varades Beach from the new camping. In the evening, I went with Kostas to Therma, at a Greek music concert of his friends.

Long Description

In the morning I moved in another camping from Varades. In the new camping, all my new neighbors offered to help me with something if I needed. The Greek neighbor brought a beer to me. The German one said that I could work at their table. Another Greek showed to me from where to take drinkable water.

I went again to Hora but the fortress was still closed. I walked through the small center and bought cinnamon sticks and quince and apricot skin (a hard thin jelly). When I turned back from Hora, I ate bacaliaros fish at Paralia Taverna and found free sunbeds on a private beach where I enjoyed the gentle afternoon sun.

Samothraki Island: Hora - the capital of Samothraki Island (traditional houses)

Samothraki Island: Hora – the capital of Samothraki Island (traditional houses)

In the evening, my Greek neighbor Kostas invited me for a drink at his caravan. He didn’t speak English well, but a woman with her little girl who were there translated a bit to me. Kostas had a fridge and a sink outside the caravan and came at this camping every summer for the past forty years. We dined together at a local taverna in Therma, katsikaki with potatoes and beans with a big Greek salad. After that we went to the bouzouki and baklamas concert of Kostas’s friends. Dimitrios played bouzouki, Maria baklamas, and Alexis kitara. All Kostas’s friends loved Samothraki and each of them told me how much they enjoy this island. People drank, smoked, and the concert lasted until late at night.

Samothraki Island: Therma - bouzouki and baklamas concert

Samothraki Island: Therma – bouzouki and baklamas concert

The following day I stayed with Kostas and some of his friends for a while. They invited me to go with the boat but I had bought tickets for the ferry already. In Alexandroupolis, I stayed at the same municipal camping where I had stayed when I had come to Samothraki. I ate kefalos fish at the taverna of the camping and met with the German neighbor I had known from the second Varades camping. He was going back home and stopped with his little girl at the same camping as I did. We talked for a while and then I sunbathed until the last rays of the sun. In the evening I searched a pitch for my mobile house, the car, and prepared to cross back Bulgaria on my way to Romania the following day.

Samothraki Island: Varades Camping (the second one)

Samothraki Island: Varades Camping (the second one)

Samothraki Island – pebbled beaches, goat dishes, and bouzouki music is my last travel diary from a three weeks trip to the Greek Islands of the northern Aegean Sea (find the version in Romanian at ‘Insulele Grecesti, Samothraki‘). And here are all my Travel Diaries from the Greek Islands (x3).

Have you been to the Greek Islands or plan to go there? Leave a comment below this post and tell me what you liked about the Greek Islands or what you’re interested to see there.

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