We’re back! Had a fantastic time. Thanks again for all your help. Trip report follows – so much to say... it’s ended up quite long but I hope helpful to potential future visitors.
Sunday (June 5th): Afternoon flight to Athens, stayed in Piraeus Dream Hotel overnight which had the benefit of being just across the road from the departure gate of the fast ferries to Milos. Hotel functional but fine, although the streets around it were pretty nasty.
* Milos *
Monday: Early fast ferry (SuperJet) to Milos. This was fine, but not obvious that we needed to pick up the actual tickets (we’d booked online) from a booth at the next gate along. Spent most of the day faffing around trying unsuccessfully to rent snorkelling fins.
On Milos we stayed at Psaravolada, which we can heartily recommend (thanks Dimitra and Nikos!). It’s a bit out of the way (but Milos is not a big place) and the beds are a bit hard (though I think this is a general Greek thing) – in all other respects it was superb.
We rented a car from Sun Sea Sofia on the waterfront at Adamas, which was fine except that it kept not starting. Sofia reassured us that it had always been like that and it wouldn’t be a problem. It then broke down on Kimolos and we had to come back on foot! For various reasons we ended up hiring, sequentially, two other cars from them and a 4x4 from some guys down the road that they put us in touch with, all of which were fine.
Monday evening we ate at O Kinigos on the waterfront at Adamas. We didn’t have high expectations as all the restaurants looked pretty touristy to us, and in fact the grumpy old man who took our order got exactly half of it wrong. However everything that they did bring out was delicious and fresh, and like many other places they brought a complimentary small dessert with some raki, so we were happy.
Tuesday: Explored the Chora and Kastro, lovely and interesting places both, but lots of steep streets in the heat – water and a hat very necessary. We had lunch in a taverna in Plaka which was really lovely, with a small shady back patio covered in flowering plants and seemed to specialise in ice-cream, though their orange juice and salads were so delicious we made a special trip back later in the week. Unfortunately I’ve forgotten the name! We went down to the waterfront at Klima and I must admit we were a bit underwhelmed by the syrmata, although it was rather overcast and they looked much nicer when we saw them in the sun from a boat trip later in the week. We drove up to the catacombs site, and although they were closed for the afternoon it was quite nice to see the ancient Melos site with the amphitheatre and other bits. We finished off with a swim at Sarakiniko, which was nice but again was more impressive in the bright sunlight the next day.
For dinner we went to the Sirocco at Paleochori. We were the only customers there. I ordered the house specialty of lamb cooked in the volcanically heated sand, and it was frankly inedible. They did bring a nice home-made yogurt thing as a complimentary dessert, but I would certainly not recommend eating here. It wasn’t cheap either.
Wednesday: We had intended to go on the round-island trip on the Captain Yiangos, but ended up taking too long over breakfast and had to go on the Chrysovalandou instead, which went round the west side of the island stopping at Kalogries, Sykia and Kleftiko. Actually we were glad we did, as there was plenty of time for long swimming breaks and a leisurely lunch, and the snorkelling at Sykia in particular was fantastic. Kleftiko was spectacular but not such good snorkelling. Dinner was at To Petrino in Zefyria, which had just reopened; the service was relaxed to the point of adding an hour or more to the meal, but friendly with good food and a nice location.
Thursday: Back to Sarakiniko for a look in the sunshine, then on to Fylakopi. This was closed although there was a track through a break in the chicken wire with plenty of people using it, if you didn’t mind a few moments of rather alarming proximity to a crumbly cliff edge! The site itself is a bit of a bomb site and you have to use a lot of imagination, but worth seeing. We snorkelled off the beach at Papafranga, which was quite an interesting place, although the water wasn’t as spotlessly clean as everywhere else (maybe it was just that particular day); then went round to the much longer beach at Fyropotamos which was lovely for swimming but not so secluded. Dinner at Barko taverna on the road out of Adamas towards Plaka: very pleasant and recommendable, although seeing essentially the same menu everywhere we went was starting to irk us by this stage!
Friday: Ferry to Kimolos with (ill-fated) car. We went to Ellinika, and had great fun snorkelling off the rocks rather than going to the beach. We could have seen more of the island if we’d tried, but we were having such a relaxing time sitting at the taverna at Psathi (Echinousa) having mezedes and ice-cream with the waves lapping at our feet, it was difficult to find the motivation!
Saturday: Went out west with a 4x4. I’d never driven one before and found the roads a bit alarming in places, but they were all easily passable and there was certainly no need to go off-road. We did find the signage a bit difficult, even with the excellent ‘Terrain’ map, and ended up accidentally visiting the wind farm. However it was all absolutely worth it when we got to Ammoudaraki and had a whole beautiful sandy beach to ourselves, with excellent snorkelling out to a tiny island in the bay. After that we managed to get all the way over to the east coast to see the sulphur mines at Thiorychia, spectacular and completely different from anything else. We didn’t go all the way down. Dinner in Adamas again, this time at Apoplous, very pleasant indeed.
Sunday: Realised we hadn’t done the south coast at all so went down to Kipos, where we drove to and fro for a while wondering where the village was, before giving up and just visiting the church (Panagia tou Kipou). I presume Kipos itself is just a few houses or farms? The church was lovely and in a beautiful ‘garden’ location which was a welcome relief. Finally we visited Provatas, which helped to confirm that we’d spent our time in the right places and not at the tourist beaches!
General comments on Milos: as other people have said, it’s an extremely varied place in terms of scenery, you never see the same thing twice. We felt we had nearly enough time; seven days would have been enough for us to see the major places we wanted to see, though clearly we could have spent longer exploring deeper.
* Sifnos *
Afternoon ferry (Speedrunner 4) to Sifnos, very straightforward. Sifnos has a very different look, with terraced rolling hills, much more greenery but perhaps less variety, where Milos has dramatic cliffs and mountains and everywhere you go is quite different from the last place. We stayed at the Petali Village hotel in Ano Petali, which was really lovely ... but was a hotel, where Psaravolada had been like staying with friends. Truly excellent breakfasts though – quite a surprise after hearing some reports of Greek hotel breakfasts! Spent the evening wandering through Ano Petali and Apollonia; the villages are quite charming, although hard work with the steep streets. Personally I found the main street in Apollonia with its boutique shops and cocktail bars quite self-conscious and offputting, though my partner really liked it! Having said that, we had a lovely dinner at Elia kai Kappari, and the menu had a definitely different emphasis from those on Milos.
Monday: Walked up to the Kastro, which was a bit too far really for us unfit townies in the heat. It was amazing though and certainly well worth it. I particularly enjoyed the random bits of ancient sarcophagus lying around. We decided walking back was too much like hard work and took a taxi to the Mycaenean acropolis at Agios Andreas, but stupidly we hadn’t checked whether it was open – it wasn’t. So we walked back. Excellent views over the island (and to other islands), but quite a hike... Dinner at Adiexodo in Apollonia, again really pleasant and with a definite Sifnian flavour.
Tuesday: Realised our ferry back had been cancelled because of the general strike. Decided to come back a day early. Just about managed to get the bloke in the travel agency to engage with the process, but it was a struggle. Speedrunner 4 again, no problems once we were on it.
* Athens *
So we had an evening and most of a day in Athens. We got a last-minute room at Ochre & Brown which was very nice (as long as you kept the curtains shut – terrible view!). We were unpleasantly surprised by Athens itself though, which – without intending any offence – is not a nice city to walk around, at least the parts we saw. In the evening we went up to Syntagma square, knowing that we wouldn’t be able to do so the next day (Wed June 15th) then wasted a couple of hours looking for somewhere to eat among the tourist restaurants. We ended up having dinner at the hotel, which was very pleasant and recommendable if you’re in that part of Athens looking for a meal.
Wednesday: Went up to the Acropolis to find that all the museums were shut by the strike. Luckily the New Acropolis Museum was the only one that was open, and we enjoyed this a lot. Having nothing else to do we splurged on a long late lunch at the Royal Olympic Hotel, which was OK but not really worth the money for the food; the view from the restaurant is spectacular though.
I’ve written a lot more than I intended – I hope some of it’s helpful. It would be very interesting to hear comments from those who know the places well.