These tours are like 'magical mystery tours' and usually go to destinations even the Greeks don't visit. This year it was a trip to some mysterious islands off the north-east coast.
The price for these day tours is reasonable (usually about 25 Euro). We boarded the bus early in the morning and headed up the coast to a town named Kamena Vourla noted for it's resort hotels. From there we got on a boat and head out into the Malian Gulf that separates Euboea from the mainland.
It was an overcast day which made the trip seem even more mysterious. We were headed toward Monolia Island which is apparently steeped in legend. I am not quite sure exactly who it was, but either Herakles or Zeus, in a fit of anger, was said to have tossed rocks into the sea which formed these tiny islets. The other more 'logical' explanation is that they were formed by pre-historic volcanic explosions enhanced by an earthquake in 600 BC. Some of the islands are treed and have signs of settlements but others are merely heaps of black volcanic rocks jutting out of the sea.
Volcanic remains forming islets
Remains of settlements.
One of the islets has some Roman ruins, another a lighthouse. There was a settlement on Monolia, and along the shore you can see abandoned stone houses. There may be still people living there as I saw a woman on the pathway leading into the trees. According to what I've read there are bars and pensions on the island but we didn't see them from our small boat.
We circled Monolia and the boat anchored at Lixadonisi island where there is a small beach strewn with beach chairs, deserted on this chilly day. Usually the beach is crowded and popular with kayakers. It was our intention to have a picnic here but the weather proved to be too inclement. A few folks braved the chill and went swimming while the rest of us shivered on the shore.
To compensate, after failing to picnic or even sight the monachus monachus sea turtles that are usually present in the area, we boarded our boat again and headed back to Kamena Vourla. There we were treated to a buffet lunch at the posh Galini Wellness Resort http://mapcarta.com/12868100 Kamena Vourla
Galini Wellness Resort, Kamena Vourla
Kamena Vourla is famous for the hot springs and boasts several resort hotels. Nearby, up the hill, is the monastery of Iera Moni Metamorfoseos tou Sotiros built around the 11th century. We didn't visit the monastary but were treated to a stop at the monument and museum to the Battle of Thermopylae located nearby.
NEXT: The monument to the Battle of Themopylae.