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Is Serifos the Perfect Greek Island?

Is Serifos the Perfect Greek Island?


“I’ve evaluation paralysis,” mentioned my good friend Maite, an Argentine who lives in Madrid. Maite is a world traveler however has at all times been stymied in the case of Greece. “There are too many islands. How do you resolve?”

There are greater than 6,000 Greek islands, so it was a good query — and one which many potential guests most likely ask themselves. Since I had plans to go to Greece, it was additionally one I wished a solution to myself.

I began with a means of elimination: Rule out something with an airport (too crowded) or uninhabited (too empty). Then add ferry entry (I don’t have a yacht), a number of seashores, good native eating places and good inns. Plus, a wealthy historical past, a welcoming native inhabitants, and proximity to different islands (for day journeys). Throw within the legendary cave of the Cyclops, and we now have a winner. Six thousand turned one: Serifos.

Serifos is within the western Cyclades. If you’re taking a look at a map of the Greek islands, it’s just about dead heart, mendacity between Syros, Paros and Milos — nevertheless it doesn’t have the identify recognition of its neighbors. It’s not huge, solely about 29 sq. miles — nevertheless it has 70 seashores. It was settled within the seventh century B.C., which makes it one of many youthful spots within the archipelago. And I’d been advised by a Greek good friend that it’s the excellent, just-discovered-enough place to spend every week. The Platonic ideally suited of a Greek island.

That’s how I discovered myself (with my husband and our two youngsters) on the counter of a automobile rental firm in Livadi Port in Serifos, just a few steps from the place the ferry spat us out.

The gentleman behind the counter handed me a map of the island, which I anticipated. What I didn’t anticipate was that as I turned to depart, he stopped me and with a thick black marker, started crossing out roads on the southern and western components of the island.

“You can not drive right here. It can be an enormous downside,” he mentioned, wagging a finger on the map.

An enormous downside as a result of the roads are impassable or an enormous downside as a result of the roads have been perilously near the legendary throne of the Cyclops, he didn’t specify. So we left the port and, heeding his warning, drove north, into the hills and the island’s important city, Chora.

Calling Chora the capital of Serifos, although true, is deceptive. It’s extra like a cluster of sq., whitewashed homes clinging to the highest of a small mountain overlooking the ocean. The city is made up of sun-dappled cafes, native bakeries, just a few church buildings, zero streets that may accommodate a automobile, a ton of views and extra steps than you can depend in a lifetime. My husband determined he wished to hike to St. Constantine Church, the lookout above city. My daughter discovered three boutiques she wished to discover earlier than dinner. And my son ran off to learn the menu at a blue-and-white charmer of a restaurant referred to as Stratos Café. From the second we stepped foot inside its blindingly white embrace, Chora gained us over.

We stayed in a small condominium we had rented on Airbnb, and the subsequent day, we obtained going straight away. There have been miles of seashores to discover, we simply had to determine which of them we wished to go to — and the way get to them. I’d requested round and there was one factor everybody talked about.

“You have to concentrate to the wind,” mentioned Stefanie Kasselakis Kyles, a Greek American whose household is from the island and who has been going there for 40 years. “It’s formative. Everything in Serifos is formed by the wind — the hills, the timber, the folks.”

You need to be sure to’re on the seaside that isn’t being battered by gusts. So we adopted the recommendation ofthe locals: If the wind is coming from the north, head south, and so forth. With a powerful breeze coming from the west, we drove to Psili Ammos, a sandy crescent on the east aspect of the island.

Serifos is hilly and rocky and inhospitable. It is land that has been worn down by millenniums and formed by the desire of the mistral winds. Serifos is wild, a spot that appears extra related to its mythology than different, glossier islands. Even 30 years in the past, there have been no inns right here. To exist in Serifos took grit. But simply if you assume the land is barren and empty, Serifos rewards you.

Hidden in its mountains are numerous pockets of magnificence. When we obtained to Psilli Ammos, the water was clear, shallow and heat, the seaside was nearly empty, and the entire space was lined with shady pine timber. After just a few hours, we nonetheless hadn’t heard a phrase of English. It was excellent. And when perfection obtained sizzling, we made our option to the far finish of the seaside, to an open-air tavern with a stone flooring, the place folks sat of their swimsuits and ate Greek salads and French fries. This was Manolis Tavern, and so far as I used to be involved, I’d be delighted to spend the subsequent 4 days sitting beneath its straw roof.

But winds change.

The subsequent day, with a slight breeze coming from the north, the gods pushed us towards Koutoulas Beach within the south. Here we did precisely the identical factor because the day earlier than. This seaside was made extra of small stones and had fewer folks, however there have been nonetheless the identical pine timber with the inviting shade, the identical water the colour of a morning sky and temperature of a tub, and a unique tavern beckoning on the far finish. Serifos is Groundhog Day if groundhogs go on trip.

Honestly, that was wonderful with me. There’s a sure enchantment to doing the identical factor daily, on the similar place, with the identical completely grilled sea bream and stein of chilly Mythos beer. But I had a job to do, so we determined to see the island from a unique perspective: from the water.

Since our household is yacht-less, the one choice was to rent one. The subsequent day, we threw warning to the winds and headed to the port, to a 20-foot RIB (Rigid Inflatable Boat) and Skipper Giannis Gyllis.

“Our mission right this moment is to provide the finest day of your trip,” mentioned Mr. Gyllis, an enormous man with a white beard. A Greek Ernest Hemingway.

“It’s a very lengthy trip,” I mentioned. “Don’t let your mouth make guarantees your boat can’t money.”

“I see we must make this additional particular,” he mentioned. “Climb aboard.”

My youngsters and I did as we have been advised (my husband had a really ill-timed work assembly again on dry land). Mr. Gyllis helped us on board and provided us drinks. So far, my cash was on him.

And we have been off.

We zoomed over the water, and Mr. Gyllis’s exceptionally tan assistant Nikos Kottis, turned on the music. For the subsequent hour, it was simply us, Taylor Swift, and the wide-open Aegean. Our first cease was Polyaigos, a very uninhabited island should you don’t depend the goats who stay there year-round. (“Polyaigos” interprets to “many goats.”) Gianni steered us into an enormous open cave, punctuated by a round gap on high.

“It’s referred to as Fanara,” he mentioned.

I had by no means seen something prefer it. My youngsters, sitting on the bow of the RIB, stored trying again at me as if asking if I might imagine my eyes. I couldn’t. It was the Pantheon designed by Poseidon.

Tempting because it was to dive in, the waves have been too tough, and Gianni wished to take us to Kimolos, a neighboring island, and a spot referred to as “Blue Water.” This whole sea could possibly be characterised as “blue water.” How a lot bluer than blue water might Blue Water be? Then we noticed it.

“It appears prefer it’s not actual,” my daughter mentioned.

It seemed like a chemical spill, like water that had been dyed. Gianni defined that the minerals from the rocks had been falling into the water for years, turning the water a surprising shade of sapphire. I turned to elucidate it to the youngsters, however that they had already jumped in to discover all that blue up shut.

Half an hour later, feeling just like the world’s most un-fun mother, I obtained them out of the water. It was time to go Kimolos and an unlikely gourmand seaside tavern referred to as Kyma. An hour — and the most effective grilled fish of my life — later, we have been again within the boat, salty, pleased and quiet, heading again to Serifos. Taylor serenaded us the entire approach.

On our final night on the island, my husband and I went to the Serifos Yacht Club, which has no yachts and isn’t a membership. It’s only a actually vigorous, native bar on the water. We have been there to have a drink with George Kasselakis, Stefanie’s father and a Serifos skilled, who has been dwelling on the island for 40 years.

“When I got here right here within the Nineteen Eighties, there was one restaurant,” he mentioned. “The entire island had one home for hire. I used to be driving someday, and I noticed a person with an indication that he was promoting his home. So I purchased it.”

I requested Mr. Kasselakis how he thought Serifos may change within the coming years.

“Serifos is just not Mykonos. That place is a zoo. And Paros is even worse — it’s a must to park 10 miles from the place you need to be,” he mentioned. “But Serifos won’t ever lose its character. I don’t assume the natives would enable it.”

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