Milos. Snakes? what do you mean snakes?!
12 May 2011
|The weather is much improved today, clear skies, and the wind has dropped a bit. Cynthea thinks we should approach another tourist to go halves in a car for the day. Someone arrived at the hotel yesterday (not all ferries were cancelled, apparently!), and as we go into the hallway her door opens, so we ask her. She is keen and we arrange to meet back at the hotel at 10.30. We head into town to buy a ferry ticket for tonight, EUR71 ($134), and ask about a car. They tell us EUR30 for 24 hours, and we tell them we only want it for 12 hours, but the best we could do was EUR25 ($47) plus gas. That is what we were quoted at another place last night, so it seems to be the minimum, and we take it. We get a wee four door, manual Fiat. There are no automatics, bugger. We head to the supermarket to get fruit for breakfast, and some toasted buns, ham and cheese for lunch, or whenever. Tony calls into the shop that the Moschoula hotel owner runs, and uses the internet briefly, then it is back to the hotel to collect Kathy and head on our way.
It turns out that we have met before, we stayed at the same place in Kamares, on Sifnos. Kathy arrived at Boulis the day after us, but we didn’t meet properly then.
We arm ourselves with inadequate maps and even dodgier directions, and head off. The speed limit around town is 30kph, and 40 in the “countryside”. Apparently that is just a guideline, because all the locals ignore it. There are speed camera signs up, so Tony tries (without much success) to keep to the speed limit. It was a bit of a challenge driving a manual car on the wrong side of the road, a few false starts until he got used to having the bloody gear stick on his right, and the handbrake too. At least the clutch, brake and gas were in the right places! The second challenge was having Cynthea beside him grabbing his arm every time there was oncoming traffic. It took her a while to forget we were SUPPOSED to be on the right hand side of the road, and it didn’t do a lot for Tony’s nerves.
We headed off and Cynthea says we are going the wrong direction, but Tony insists he saw the turn off yesterday when they were out walking. We are still “discussing” that when we drive right past it. Realising we have gone too far, we do a u-turn and head off in the right direction, or so we think… Well that is where the signs said to go, but they lead us up a dirt track, nothing like the main road we wanted. So we head back to the main street and go the way Cynthea said to in the first place. The next challenge is recognising the Greek signposts when we need to, and most of the time we are fine with that. Our directions tell us to go to Klima, and from there we can view the catacombs and the place where the Venus de Milo was discovered.
Negotiating the tiny alleyways was not the best of fun, but we took it slowly and the locals made allowances for the loopy tourists. We drive down to Klima, still not having seen any sign of the big notices telling us where the catacombs are.
We come to an area just before the village, and Tony says we can’t go any further because the sign says it is a dead end. Cynthea says it is no parking, so Tony carries on. We drive along a narrow, stone walled alley, down the hill and around a couple of corners and next we know we are on a small wharf. Yep, a dead end, and nowhere to turn around. Tony has to reverse back up the hill, the tiny alleyway is barely wide enough for the car, so it was a bit of a mission, especially with those low stone walls. Tony reverses into a driveway, and manages to turn around. We park the car and walk a few hundred metres to a place that looks like it might be the catacombs, but there is no sign to confirm that, so we start the climb up.
Half way up the hillside the girls decide it would be easier to send Tony on ahead. The likely place looks more like a church built into the hillside, and it is locked up, no signs telling us what it is. It certainly doesn’t feel like the catacombs we are looking for. So Tony heads further on up, the path is much rougher, then the steps disappear altogether and a vague track winds its’ way around the hillside through the scrub. Tony finds another section dug out of the hillside, but there is a gate over it, and the doors on the other side are locked, so he starts to head back. Tony hears a bloody goat bell ringing hard behind him, so he takes off, not that he had a hope in hell of out running a bloody goat. The goat doesn’t follow too far, and Tony isn’t sure if he was being chased, but wasn’t taking any chances!
He tells the girls that if that was the catacombs, tough luck. So we head back to the car at the village. Tony goes on ahead to have a proper look at the village in case there is information there, but there is no such luck and we head back up the hill to Trypiti. As we get to the turn off to Klimi Tony spots the catacombs signpost, we had missed it on the way down the hill. The way wasn’t clear, but one was a dirt track, so we avoided that and instead drove through ever narrowing alleys until we came to the town centre. There is a map, but it is useless as there are no road names again. It looks like the catacombs are behind us, so we decide to carry on to Plaka. Just along the road we see another sign for the catacombs, nowhere near where the map indicated, but we follow the road, and it turns back towards the way we had come. We finally find them, and we are directly above the place where the goat chased Tony. We can still hear the bloody bell, but when we spot the goat it is some distance away.
We have to wait for the guide as she is taking another group through, and we chat to a couple of Canadians. We talk about what we have seen, and they ask if we have seen any snakes. Snakes? Here? Shit! Not too long ago Tony was crashing through the scrub, no bugger told us about bloody snakes on the island. They are Vipers, you have about an hour to get treatment if you get bitten.
We visit the catacombs, a large communal Christian cemetery from the 2nd century AD, where tombs have been carved from the volcanic rock. Some graves are thought to hold up to five people. Then we head up the hill to the carpark, it is a bit of a hike up the steep hill. From there we walk to the field where the Venus de Milo was discovered (she had arms back then, but what was she doing there??), and then to the ancient amphitheatre that is being restored.
We head to Plaka, we think, but we are still not sure if we actually drove through it? Before long we realise we are heading back in the general direction of Adamas, and decide to head to the beaches on the northwest side of the island. Sarakiniko is stunning, wind and sea erosion have left come amazing landscape, a little similar to Cappadocia. Cynthea and Kathy have lunch while Tony takes off to explore the many caves, there are quite a few, and they go a long way back. Most link up, but Tony doesn’t go too far as he doesn’t have a torch. At this point the sea comes in along a narrow, shallow channel, the girls didn’t go there because they thought it would be windy, however it is surprisingly not. The water is not too cold, and after a quick paddle Tony heads back to lunch.
After lunch Tony is looking down the other coast, and spots a shipwreck. He heads back to tell the girls, but has to watch his step as the surface is pock marked with deep pot holes that go many feet down to the ocean. We head back to the car and drive to Pollona, as far along this coast as we can go. The beach here is also nice, but quite windy.
We had been told the southwest coast will be sheltered today, and that there are hot springs there. We head over the island almost back to Adamas, and drive some distance around the harbour. Apparently there are hot springs here too, but we cannot find any signposts.
There are also hot springs at Paleohori, and head along the road, not quite sure how far it is, and the warning light comes on for low fuel. We wonder if we should risk it, and decide it is a bloody long walk home if we screw up, so drive back to Adamas to a petrol station. We only need a quarter of a tank, Tony figures EUR7 will do it, and the guy at the pump puts in seven litres, and then adds a bit more for good measure despite Tony asking him to stop. We had to take the car back with a quarter tank, a stupid bloody system. EUR14 to top up, and we have just over a third in the tank, more than enough. Petrol is EUR1.724 ($3.25) a litre for 95 unleaded (is it that much back home yet?)
Back on the road, and 8km later we are at the beach. We look around for springs, but nothing to be seen. It is certainly volcanic, you can’t mistake that smell! Tony can see signs of hot mineral water having come out of the rocks, but we were told the springs were on the beach, so he goes looking and all he finds is the nudist beach (only a couple of people there, and they don’t know anything about hot springs). Tony heads back and goes along the other end of the beach, more nudists, but no springs. He heads off up the cliff into the scrub, and then remembers about the bloody snakes, so abandons the search for the springs. There are signs of springs everywhere, but no running water.
It is near time to head back to the hotel, and Cynthea decides it is icecream time. We find a café, but no icecreams, and they tell us the springs are out off the beach, in the sea. The sea is warmer here than other parts of the island, and if we had the time we would have gone swimming. The restaurant tells us that they cook their food in the hot sands, so Tony goes down to the beach and sure enough, the sand here is a lot warmer. Cynthea says it is because it was a warm day, so Tony tells her to dig down with her feet, and she takes her shoes off but not for long. Tony laughs as she finds out just how hot it is just a couple of inches under the surface. There is a metal plate on the beach, and that is where the restaurant cooks their “volcano food”.
It is late, and we cannot stay long, so we head back to town, and we have an icecream. Tony drops the girls off at the hotel, and tries to find a park outside the restaurant we were at last night (he still has the code for the free WiFi – they all just use their telephone numbers!). No park near, so he walks to the restaurant and tells them he is not ordering anything, just wants to use their WiFi, and that is fine with them, no problem at all. A quick check of messages and back to the hotel for a shower and check out. We take the car back and park by the ferry terminal, we won’t have to walk far with packs tonight! The restaurant is just near, so we grab a salad and toast, another quick check for messages, and all too soon it is 10pm. The ferry is here, so we have to get going.
We arrive at the wharf as the ferry docks, and the people waiting to get on don’t even wait for those getting off, it is just bloody bedlam. We wait a bit, but no one else is, and then we see the crew waving us aboard, so we head on, stow our packs and head for the lounge. First class and the cabins are up another level from where we are, but we are not allowed through there, unless we are going to the shop/café, which we don’t bother with. We have a bag of fruit with us.
The lounge has big comfy seats that recline, so hopefully we can get some sleep, but the lights stay on full and the TVs are going all night, apparently if you want to sleep you need a cabin (EUR20 extra each please). It is very hot and humid in the lounge area, at least we wont be cold, but it is a bit uncomfortable. Plenty of room to spread out, and one guy has his sleeping bag on the floor in front of the seats. We recline the seat as far as we can and Tony throws a jacket over his head to shield the light, but it is too hot, so he rolls it up for a pillow and dozes. Cynthea has her neck pillow, and puts a sun hat over her face.