In sharp contrast to our previous ferry ride on the Flying Dolphin, our trip from Samos to Chios was smooth and pleasant. We spent the three and a half hours in a lovely lounge on comfortable sofa chairs reading and playing chess.
Arriving in Chios town—the main island port—we immediately headed by taxi to the village of Emboreios, otherwise known as Mavra Volia beach. We were attracted by its black volcanic stone beach, said to be one of the best on the island.
As it turned out, the stones proved impossible for me to walk on safely. The stones combined with the waves and the steep decline made it impossible to swim.
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Irwin navigated his way into the turbulent waters and managed to swim, somewhat but it was not worth the tremendous effort to battle the waves and then stumble your way out.
We were compensated for the disappointing beach by our excellent accommodation, a large studio in a complex called Haus Fay right in the middle of the village with all amenities, at 40 euro a night. As the sun set, the three or four tavernas began to fill up with tourists and locals and the village took on a magical glow of its own as we dined on the shores of the bay watching gulls and a lone duck floating on the still water.
A highlight was the nearby fortified village of Pyrgi, famous for its geometrical designs on the façades of the older stone houses in the square and in the adjoining narrow and labyrinthine lanes. Some of the patterns are geometric and others are based on flowers, leaves and animals.
Pyrgi is said to be the most extraordinary village in all of Greece. The artisans coat the walls with a mixture that includes black volcanic sand, paint over this with white lime and then scrape off parts of the lime to reveal the matt gray beneath, according to Lonely Planet.
The island is covered with olive and mastic trees.
Mastic is used in some pharmaceuticals—you can buy chewing gum, shampoo, body lotion, soup, toothpaste all over Chios. Mastic is harvested in the fall when the nectar falls to the ground, which has been painted white to easily harvest the mastic when it turns from liquid to solid.
We met a Greek-American from Queens, New York, who returned to his parents’ home to run a small café on the square and enjoy a simpler life than he had in New York as a restaurateur. His son John was there helping out and hoping to find work in Chios town. He found us a taxi-driver friend to take us to the Sun Set hotel in Karfas, six kilometres south of Chios, where we spent two days.
We heard the roosters in the mornings and the crickets in the afternoon. We loved the perfect weather and the breeze that kept us cool as well as the broad sandy beach about 50 metres from the huge terrace where these lines were written. We also enjoyed the huge swimming pool just below us, not to speak of the Mediterranean sweet watermelon.
Another Greek-American from New York, who comes every year with her children to see her parents, recommended Bahari Restaurant, and we haven’t looked back. We enjoyed dinner on the last night and lunch the day we left, especially the warm reception we got from the gracious girl who served us, brought us filtered coffee on the house as well as cakes, which we didn’t need.
This is a lovely resort with everything you want a stone’s throw away. The next day we were off island-jaunting again and planned on heading straight to Molivos, Lesvos’s second city, where we looked forward to hearing about the legendary poet Sappho.