June 13: The voyage back to Naxos
In between Amorgos and Naxos is a chain of little islands known as "Mikres Kyklades", the Little Cycades. Only four of them are populated with permanent residents. In antiquity they were fairly densely populated as is evident from archaeologica finds there from the Cycladi and Minoan periods. During the Middle Ages, only pirates lived there. After Greek Independnece, hardy folk from the other islands came and made their homes there. Until recently, the only visitors there wre Greeks. Now there is a small influx of tourists, mostly backpakcers and hikers.
The links of the other islands are tenuous because ferry service is infrequent. The Ast Baot Expres Skopeliis links the little Cyclades with Amorgos and Naxos and that's the oat we took from Amorgos on Wed. morning at 7 a.m.
The first stop was at Donousa, the northermost of the group. According to the Lonely Planet guide, it has a population o 110. There's not much here except good beaches and as its the least accessible of the islands it doesn't get much ferry traffic. You can camp there but there's no real facilities.
At Koufonisia, thenext stop, a group of young people boarded and they happened to be Canadian archaeological students from Ontario who had been on the island since the eginning of May working on a Cycladic period dig.
This island has more to offer than the others and appeared to be popular with the hiking/backpacking crowd . I made note of a number of seniors, mostly Brits or Norse, or German setting off with their hiking sticks and back packs. It's the smllest of the isaldn group but the most denseley populate d( 284 people). Mainly the islanders are fishermen and Koufanissia boasts the largest fishing fleet in Greece inn proportion to it s population. I'ts an attractive island and has managed to keep it's younger inhabitants conseuently it doesn't hve the ghost-town effect of some other Cycldic islands. The beaches of golden sand ad the crystal clear water is a big attraction. The water is so clear I had to take a photo to prove it.
Skinousa was the next port ( pop 120) It's a little gem of an island with a golden landscape and a pastoral feeling and lovely beaches. (You have to take you rown food and water as there are no shops or taversn at the beach).
Iraklia (11o) is another barren island with not much else but a couple of tiny villages and a beach. Evidently this is a favorite hide-awayfrom Germans who go there every year. There's a cave with stalectites but not much else to see there.
As we cruised away I saw what I'd been looking for ever since ouar vayage from Venice. All along the way, on every ferry trip, I'd been sending out telepathic messages to the dolphins (that's the way you 'call' them, I've been tod. And it usually works) But this time it didn't appear to have been successful. I was standing at the deck rail wathicn th islands and reefs slip by when suddenly a man near me shouted "Look there!" ahs sure enough, there was a dolphin leaping playfully in the surf.
That made my day and made up for some of the disappointment I'd felt in Amorgos. Because dolphis are said to be good luck. The sea here used to be full of them but in recent years fishermen have killed many of them as they get caught inthe fishing nets. Such a shame as they are the most beautiful and intelligent of all sea creatures. It's aways such a thrill to see a pod of them folloiwng alongside the boat.
so we reached Naxos again in five hours and in time for a quiet lunch at the port before AB had to board her ferry to Santorini. We said our goodbyes. Kalo taxidi, And wished each other well til the next meeting of the Assembly of 2009.
I caught the bust to Iria Beach and here I am again, with my very own studio apartment and av iew of the sea from the lttle porch. It feels good to be back here, and to be alone again, the solo traveler I alwaysu sed to be. I'll stay here three days so I can take the round the island tour tomorrow and then it's back ot Athens once again.
NEXT: NAXOS, PART 2 : a shocking discovery!!!