Author Topic: Four weeks on Thasos  (Read 4539 times)

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Offline Maik

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Four weeks on Thasos
« on: Sunday, 08 October, 2023 @ 21:45:52 »
Four weeks on Thasos
Diary of an accidental anorexic

For some reason that’s as clear to me as an ouzo with water, we arrived on Thasos on 20 August. A quick bit of research beforehand suggested Thasos would be cooler than Kefalonia, possibly due to being further north.

Thasos, winter 2018

It wasn’t (any cooler) – but mostly there was a pleasant breeze, albeit a ‘hairdryer breeze’ at peak temperatures.

Another mystery to me was why Olympic Holidays, as part of a package holiday, didn’t provide a transfer. Instead they offered to provide us with a taxi transfer for around 300€ return. A little time on the ‘net and I had this down to 40€ return for a taxi from Kavala airport to Keramoti port plus 20€ return on the ferry to Limenas. A saving of 240€.

That left us getting from the island’s capital to resort. We planned to hire a car so it was just a matter of picking it up at the port. The largest car hire company on the island, with offices dotted all around the island and a heavy internet presence, quoted me 800€. For 28 nights I reckoned this was OK, bearing in mind it (allegedly) included full insurance and all taxes. Annoyingly, the invoice had another 190€ VAT added. As they wanted payment in cash I doubt it would ever have been declared to the taxman.

A little more time on the ‘net and I found a company that offered one for 812€, again with full insurance (including windscreen, tyres, etc) and all taxes. And here’s where it got a little curious.

With a little imagination, Thasos is round, like a clock face. Limenas is at 01:00, the car hire company is in Limenaria, at 08:00. I figured they do what’s the norm on Kef: pick us up at the port and drive us to their office to complete the paperwork and pay.

But no: a Kia Picanto, I was told, had been left close to the port with the door unlocked and key above the sun visor, I could call by their office in a day or two to pay.

Except it wasn’t. Well, it was, but… I wasn’t their only customer arriving that day. The other guy arrived before me, saw a car with their logo and jumped into it. It was soon sorted out and we drove off in a nearly new i10 (with a/c !!!).

Road signage was… fairly typical. A sign leading out of Limenas was signposted to Panagia and Limenaria. Slightly confusing as they’re on opposite sides of the island. The road led to the island ‘ring road’. No more signs. I guessed right, but was wrong. An island tour followed.

Two days later and the surprises weren’t over. Antonis at the car hire office was so laid back he was almost horizontal. He printed off an unnumbered ‘contract’ and didn’t count the cash, reduced from 812€ to a nice round 800€. He didn’t ask where we were staying, neither did he request to see my driving licence. I just had to leave the car at Limenas port around 09:00 on the last day.

I began to wonder what the catch was.

This was a return visit. Our first visit was twenty nine years ago, in May, 1994. Skala Potamia was like Katelios in April. Pretty quiet. It wasn’t so much a village, just a few houses, a few essential shops and a huge, empty beach. It was paradise. We had always planed a return but life, and Kefalonia, got in the way. Now it’s tourist town.

The ferries to Limenas are about the size of the Sami-Ithaka-Astakos ferry and have a garage deck below the main deck. During high season one disgorges its load not several times a day but every thirty minutes. Mostly Romanians who’ve driven down but also some Bulgarians and a few Germans. Arrivals from the UK are pretty much limited to the one TUI flight a week into Kavala airport.

Thassos ferry: credit

If you can visualise Mounda Bay imagine it, from the fishing shelter in Katelios to the sticky-out rocks at the far end, almost totally covered in sunbeds, sometimes six deep and right down to the water’s edge.

Skalai Potamia beach and resort runs into Golden Beach so it all becomes one. The road behind the beach is lined either side with tourist shops, tavernas and hotels, some very new and swish. More accommodation on the side roads between it and the hotel, shop and taverna -lined main road.

Golden Beach

The hotel is ex-Thomson, located in the olive groves a little way out of Skala Potamia. Hence the  hire car. Rooms were clean, beds comfy, our balcony looked out to the sea and the Continental breakfast was substantial. The bougatsa for breakfast was irresistible!

Room with a view

If you know Efrosini pool, Katelios, or Makis Pool Bar in Poros, or just about any hotel pool on Kef, try to imagine it deserted in August. The beaches on Thasos are so good that they are ram packed... we had the pool to ourselves… most days. Happy days!

Achillion pool

Ferdie was a bit of a bar fly, he’d hop through the bar area in the evening and joined us in the pool one hot day

Happy evenings, too. Apart from a souvlaki shop in resort where the only language spoken was Greek we generally drove to tavernas outside the tourist resorts to eat. Taverna prices were a little lower than Kef last year and portions very generous – often we were leaving more tzatziki than some Kef tavernas serve. Thasos has the best bread and pizza base I’ve tasted anywhere but most nights we’d pay a little extra to drink bottled retsina rather than ‘local’ wine - they really do need to import wine from Kef!

Another highlight was at the end of the small, sandy, beach at Skala Rachoni where we found Porto Butterfly taverna on the picturesque fishing harbour. It’s a genuine cat cafe - it  has a large cat feeder than seems to feed not just their cats but any and all cats in the village. Hence the cats that frequent it will happily accept scraps of meat but don’t pester. Such a lovely place we paid several visits despite the thirty minute drive.

Porto Butterfly taverna, Skala Rachoni

Apart from the through the old villages, the roads – er, the road – on Thasos is good. Outside of the villages it’s reasonably wide single lane in either direction and well surfaced. But this is Greece and like any good Greek island it’s very mountainous and the road has more hairpins than Ena Sharples.

There are several roads off the ‘ring road’ but few are surfaced. This led to any interesting discovery. The car had a tracker fitted and, if we ventured off road an alarm sounded and the engine would cut out. We discovered this when a surfaced road to Marble Beach became a narrow track. A quick five-point turn and we were back on track. Or rather, off track.

A fairly small island – Kef is 773 km² while Thasos is half that at 380 km². Population of Kef is approaching 36,000 while the permanent population of Thasos is a little over 13,000. There are several villages in the hills above the resorts, mostly pleasant but not spectacular. Panagia has become a tourist trap even though it’s up in the hills between Skala Potamia and the capital. Further up the mountain is Theologos, another pretty village that’s become a tourist trap. For a traditional village where you’ll probably be the only tourists having a look around, head for Sotiras. For the more adventurous, hire a 4x4 – after checking you can take it off road.

Traditional house, Sotiras

Skala Rachoni church

As expected, four weeks passed far too quickly. Contrary to expectation there was no catch with the hire car. There was a guy waiting to collect it and off it went with only a brief inspection.

Would we go back? Yes. In May. We expect Greece to be busy in August and while it was notably quieter in September it really did seem over-tourism had set in and spoiled a beautiful island. There's just so many lovely places to see and stay in Greece... Keramoti beach looked interesting...

Keramoti beach


« Last Edit: Monday, 09 October, 2023 @ 03:06:06 by Maik »