Tag Archives: Ios

My Favourite Pictures of the Greek Islands – 12

Fisherman on the Island of Ios

The road out of the village runs past the business end of the harbour and there were some brightly painted boats that had just landed their overnight catch and were negotiating sales with local people and restaurant owners in a babble of animated activity.  It looked like a good nights work and the trading was brisk.

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My Personal Greek A to Ω – I (Iota) is for Iος or Ios

In my last blog I included Ios in my top five Greek islands and this might be surprising because the island has a reputation for night clubs, dancing, music and high spirits and we do none of these things.

It is true that Ios is more lively and noisy than my other favourite islands but this doesn’t really matter because the clubbers live in a parallel dimension where they sleep all day and don’t go out until after midnight by which time we are usually enjoying a final drink of the day on the balcony of the apartment.

On a visit in 2009 we walked as usual to our favourite beach about a kilometre and a half from the village and over and around a rocky headland.  The road out of the port runs past the business end of the harbour and there were some brightly painted fishing boats that had just landed their overnight catch and were negotiating sales with local people and restaurant owners in a babble of animated activity.  It looked like a good night’s work and the trading was brisk.

The fish looked interesting and on closer examination of the produce it soon becomes clear why we have to put up with stock shortages whilst the most of the rest of Europe have such an abundance of choice – we are just far too fussy about what we will eat and our preference for fish is restricted to two or three species that we have fished into crisis and near extinction whilst in Greece they will eat a much greater variety of sea food.

We like to buy our fish in little blue polystyrene trays without heads, tails or entrails and ready for the frying pan but here the trays were brimming with fish so fresh that it was still alive and flapping about and winking at the prospective purchasers who were examining it.  The colours were amazing, sparkling silver, gleaming green and radiant red and I looked forward to being reacquainted with one later on my dinner plate.

The little beach at Valmas is delightful where a shabby taverna with a shaded terrace overlooks the shore and the little bay and it is run by an old lady who probably should have retired years ago and who has a limited but interesting menu with the sort of prices that suit my budget.   Going to the beach and the taverna is part of the Ios routine and every day we do the same things as the day before, walk along the same path, go for a swim, then to the taverna and sit at the same table and stare out to sea.  Ios is where we choose to take a break from the hectic island hopping schedule and unwind for a few days.

The walk there and back to Valmas is interesting because of the derelict terraces and dry stone walls that separate the hillside into individual plots of land.  Ios is just one large inhospitable rock that has been baked into submission by the sun but as recently as only fifty years ago people here were scraping away at the thin soil and the stones to try and make a living or to feed the family by growing fruit and vegetables.

There is very little useful land on Ios so this must have been almost unimaginatively difficult.  Then in the 1960s visitors started to arrive and the enterprising islanders realised that there was more money to be made renting out the back room and this was also a lot easier than a twelve-hour day toiling under a hot sun.  The terraces are all abandoned now to thistles and what other few plants can survive in a hostile environment and they are unlikely ever to be cultivated again.  There is no one to look after them or protect the heritage now and soon they will be gone altogether and that will be a sad day.

The path passes by an immaculate blue domed white church where there were preparations for a wedding and a christening and later Kim returned to see the wedding and I joined her later for the baptism to see the ceremony of a little girl being accepted into the Christian Orthodox Church, which is a major event in the life of any Greek family.  A Greek baptism is a sacred and religious rite that is performed to cleanse the soul and renounce Satan. The baptism is a complex initiation that starts with an exorcism and officially ends forty days later when the baby is presented to the congregation to receive Holy Communion.

Unfortunately we weren’t able to stop for the full forty days and we began to feel a bit like intruders on a private family event so before it was all over we left the church and returned to the harbour where we ate next to the fishing boats that were being prepared for another night at sea at a place called the Octopus where, at pavement tables next to the fishermen, we were served excellent food and when they served the fish I am certain one of them winked at me in recognition.

Homer's Inn Ios Greece


Greece 2011, Ios to Antiparos

Ios Greece Cyclades

Although we were travelling to Antiparos today the ferry wasn’t due to leave until very late afternoon so we had most of the day ahead of us to spend on Ios.  After our final breakfast with more delicious figs we packed our bags in preparation for later departure and then walked to the harbour.

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Greece 2011, Ios, Friends, Travel Tales and Weather Forecasts

Antonia and Vangelis – Homer’s Inn Hotel

If one thing was an absolute certainty it was that day twelve of the holiday was going to be very similar to day eleven but without the rugby football in the middle of it.  Martin was going to watch the grand prix but not being a big fan of formula one racing and with Kim not being a big fan of sport of any kind we declined the opportunity to join him. To be honest, I considered myself fortunate to have watched the match the day before and I didn’t want to push my luck!

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Greece 2011, Ios – Snakes, Fishing and a Baptism

Ios Greece Cyclades

I wouldn’t normally watch TV while on holiday but was prepared to make an exception today because England were playing Argentina in the Rugby World Cup and it was being shown at a bar in the village at eleven o’clock so we made arrangements to meet Martin and Lisa there and then went for a walk to the village for an hour or so before it started.

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Greece 2011, Koufonisia to Ios

Koufonisia Drift Wood Art

If we had taken any notice of the Canadian lady’s story about gales and worried about it at all then we needn’t have done because when we woke to our last day in Koufonisia there was no wind at all, the sun was shining and the prospects were good for a perfect day.

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Greece 2011, The Ferry Journeys

My friend Dai Woosnam has suggested that I illustrate the blog with some maps and I am always happy to oblige and fulfil a request!

Island Hopping 2006, Fiftieth Birthday and the Boss Bar Santorini


On arrival first impressions were disappointing. It was noisy and busy and I couldn’t find our transport.  The place was full of pushy, impatient taxi drivers who all wanted to take us to the town.  It was clear to me already that we are now on an island with an airport and the ambiance was quite different.

One driver even nearly convinced me that he was our lift but he wanted 10 euros so I knew that it wasn’t right.  Sally and Charlotte climbed aboard a taxi van full of beefy Australians and were disappointed when I eventually found our arranged transport and they had to pick up their packs and get off again. I think the beefy Australians were disappointed too!  Now that we had our lift things were looking up.

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Island Hopping 2006, Leaving Ios

Ios Greece Cyclades

I woke early and checked the weather.  It was good again so I slipped out without waking the others, which was difficult because the door locking mechanism was clunky and made a lot of noise and then I sat around the pool reading again.

There you go I had established a routine again in only two days.  Later when everyone was awake and I had taken food orders I slipped down to the harbour to a busy bakery to buy breakfast.  Croissants and donuts on the balcony and I had a beer to wash it down.  Then during the morning I had two more beers while Sally and Charlotte went to the pool and I sat in the sun with Bill Bryson.

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Island Hopping 2006, Ios

Ios Greece Cyclades

Routinely I woke early but the girls were still asleep so I dressed quietly and left the room and didn’t disturb them.  I planned to walk and find the old town but I managed to miss the footpath that was the direct course to the top of the hill and the route via the energy sapping hairpin bending road seemed, after only a short time a bit long and arduous, and it took me past a warehouse site with a big growling guard dog.

It was chained up but I decided not to push my luck and I returned to the hotel where I sat by the pool, had a conversation with the owner and did some reading.  The wind had dropped and the weather prospects were very promising.

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