A Travellerspoint blog

Exploring Vathy on the Island of Samos

much to my feet's dismay

sunny 20 °C

I can tell you from the start that my trip to Samos and then on to Kusadasi, Turkey was a big step out of the box we call a comfort zone. I am accustomed to traveling alone within the US borders, but other than my flight to Athens I have have never traveled alone internationally. That might not seem like a big deal to some, but it was a big deal to me. It gave me a boost in my confidence, not that one was really needed, but every little bit helps. I have to say it was nerve wrecking on occasion, wondering if I would not find the right gate at the airport, not be able to get a taxi in Pythagorio, miss the ferry to Kusadasi. Other than the bumpy landing and the rocky ferry ride everything went smoothly. Here I am, in Türkiye! Given my choice I'd stay here and not go back to Athens. Don't get me wrong, I do like Athens, but Athens can frustrate me. When I stepped off the ferry here thought, I felt all frustration and stress just melt away. It felt kind of like being home. Later when I heard the call to prayer echoing off in the distance it just sealed it for me. I think it was Joanna that said this was my "spiritual place" and I believe she is right.

But back to Samos since I have a plethora of photos to share! The airport on Samos is near Pythagorio, but silly me booked a hotel in Vathy. Either way I would have had to take a taxi, or at least a bus, but if I had stayed in Pythagorio I would have had a better opportunity to see the Temple of Hera. Legend has it that Hera, who is Zeus' mother, was born on Samos. I don't know about that, but I do know Samos, like many of the islands, has some pretty rugged terrain. Unfortunately I did not get to see a lot of it. It was really a stopping place for me on my way to Turkey. The hotel I stayed in, while not in Pythagorio, was called the Pythagorean Hotel. Are you seeing a theme here? Pythagoras, the famous mathematician who came up with the Pythagorean theorem (good thing I paid attention in math class!) was also born on Samos. Don't remember the Pythagorean Theorem? Let me refresh your memory. a² + b² = c²

But enough mathematics. Here is the famous Pythagoras Hotel in Vathy.

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It's pretty basic. Nice proprietor who speaks English and was very helpful to me, including storing my luggage there while I explored Vathy. It's clean, it's fairly quiet (at least compared to Athens and my hotel here in Kusadasi). No breakfast was included, but it was only 20 euros for the night.

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After a fairly good night sleep I got up and headed into Vathy to see what I could find. My intention was to take the bus to Pythagorio and get to the Temple of Hera, but alas, by the time I moseyed around to the bus station the next bus was after noon. I figured I better not risk missing my ferry. I had already bought the ticket and my guide here, Fisun, was expecting me. While I was moseying, before I found the bus stop I found some great views....

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a cat...

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a beautiful church.....

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and the laiki....

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where I bought some grapes. A much smaller laiki than the one in Athens of course, but plenty of older Greek ladies with their wheeled carts were in attendance. As I walked through I saw the tiniest little kitten just crouched in the middle of the street. This kitten was mewling as if it were hungry, looked very unwell, cold, and downright pitiful. It took everything in my power to keep from scooping it up in my arms and carrying it away.

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Yet I managed to walk on by.

I did come back for grapes, and to have one more look at the kitten and see if it was OK. What else could I do? I can't save all animals....I wish I could.

It was after this that I found the bus stop and when I realized I probably missed my window of opportunity I decided to just walk. I ended up on a road that went to nowhere, out away from town. I had no idea where this road would take me but I took it anway.

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Unfortunately it lead to nowhere in particular. In fact, after a while it just kind of dropped out of existence. I did find some interesting things growing along the way. Like pomegranates.

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And blackberries....

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I turned around and then headed up a footpath. Interesting things growing and creeping along it as well. I saw goats and beehives. Olives......and yes, I was tempted to pick on just to see what it tastes like straight off the tree. But I didn't.

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I caught this lizard scurrying up the wall of an abandoned building. He was a pretty good sized lizard. Maybe a foot long or so.

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I kept walking up the footpath because I wanted to get as high on the island as possible to see what sort of views I could find. I did find a few, but most were blocked by houses and such.

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I did find some land for sale....

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and these two little kittens basking in the sun....

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I saw this hotel and wondered why I didn't stay there. Probably because it wasn't listed in my Lonely Planet guidebook to the Greek Islands. Shameless plug.

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Made me a little homesick though. Solitude can be a good think, but sometimes just being so far away, so alone, having nobody that speaks the language you speak, and feeling like such a stranger can make solitude a not so good thing. Thankfully those thoughts are fleeting. There is just too much to enjoy and too many adventures to worry about being alone.

I finally made my way back down and found the archaeological museum. I was told Samos had a fine archaeological museum and am sure that is correct, however a large part of it was closed for restoration, so I wasn't able to see it in all its apparent glory. I went ahead and paid the 3 euro anyway, because I was hoping I would see the colossal kouros I had been reading about. The kouros are statues of males that were given as dedications at the sanctuaries in the Greek archaic period. This was my lucky day. The colossal kouros was actually housed in the part of the museum that was open. It is an amazing sculpture, just because of the size of it. I am use to hearing about large cult statues of gods and goddesses, but a dedication of this size must have been given by someone who was doing very well! This one was found at the Temple of Hera of course. The size is fascinating yet I'm not sure why. We have plenty of large statues and monuments hanging our these days. But here he is....

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I was happy. I got to see my colossal statue. Time to check out the municipal gardens. On the way in I saw these three cats. As with most Greek cats I have met, they were pretty skittish if I tried to get too close. So I sat on the steps and and tried to convince them that I meant no harm. Thankfully these cats seemed to be and much better shape that the tiny kitten that broke my heart earlier.

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I must have taken 3 dozen photos of just these cats because they were so photogenic! I think they were finally glad when I packed up and walked away.

The municipal gardens of Vathy is a nice quite green space to sit and do nothing. There is a cafe there if one chooses to have a frappe or a snack. They have done a good job of planting flowering and green plants. It was a wonder respite from cityscapes. I think maybe this is why those cats seemed more content. What a great space!

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By this time I still had several hours to waste before my ferry left, so I walked through a small street that runs parallel to the main street in Vathy. It was full of various shops, people shopping, cafes, and tavernas. I was hoping to find some shops that sold goods that were unique to the island, but didn't. OK, I suppose I could have bought some wine, retsina, ouzo or something, but there is only so much alcohol I can carry back to the states with me. I don't want to look like a lush. So I settled for having some lunch at a small cafe that was on the main street. The waiter spoke English but was thrilled when he found out I spoke Greek. Maybe it was flattery, but he said he couldn't believe I was from the states because my Greek was good. Ok, so it was flattery, my Greek isn't that good. But it gave me a smile. So did the saganaki.

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Saganaki is fried cheese in all its artery clogging glory. I don't recommend trying to eat all of this if you are by yourself. Share it. Along with your clogged arteries.

I rolled out of the taverna and took a walk to Plateia Pythagorou, or Pythagoras Square. It's really different from the plateia seen in Athens. Wide open and clean, but still full of pigeons. Pigeons are everywhere in Greece. I think the multiply like Gremlins thrown in a pool of water.

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The view from the dock was particular nice and unobstructed. Very Greek....

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I walked along a little pebble beach on my way back to my hotel and found a wonderful spot that I wish I had found earlier. I could have sat here for hours listening to the waves and enjoying the scenery....

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I retrieved my luggage from the hotel and then headed to the port to wait for them to open customs and passport control so I could board my ferry. I really could not believe that I was headed to Turkiye!! But there it was, a ferry bearing the beautiful Turkish flag...waiting to take me to my land of dreams. Ok, I know I wax nostalgic about Turkiye way to often. Don't expect it to end any time soon. It has more than met my expectations the second time around. Goodness, I sound like I'm talking about a lover don't I? Maybe I lived in a harem in an Ottoman palace at one time. Not sure why I would think of that as a positive thing though. Enough of that, back to the ferry.

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In typical Greek fashion, passport control opens after it was suppose to, but only by 5 minutes. I got in line, got my boarding pass, gave my passport to the guy at the counter after having made it didn't automatically fall open to my Greek visa page. Too late, he found it. "Are you coming back in?" he asks. "No," I reply. He then goes on to ask me why I needed this visa for such a short visit, to which I calmly and coolly reply "I changed my travel plans", thinking I'm doing good under pressure. Of course he had to get in the last dig by saying "just wanted to make sure you know, one entry, one exit"...sure thing!! Does it stop me? No...Turkiye is waiting and I have a date with some Turkish tea, lamacun, Aphrodite, and who knows what other culinary delights and ancient ruins!! So I boarded and across some wavy seas I headed to my beloved Turkiye. Thank goodness this fishing vessel finally got out of our way, but not after many honks of the horn!

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Turkiye or bust!! (all the while praying to the gods that they will let me back into Greece)

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The sun was setting as we pulled into Kusadasi...how beautiful. Right then and there all that tension and worry about visas and borders and school and everything melted away.....

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Posted by oceanchild 13:29 Archived in Turkey Comments (0)

I made it to Türkiye!!

After a day on Samos

Just a quick update. I made it safely to Kuşadasi via the ferry from Samos. It was a bit of a bumpy ride as well. The wind was up a bit again this afternoon and made for some choppy seas at times, but nothing too awful other than getting sprayed on the top deck. But I'm back in my beloved Türkiye and as giddy as ever. I've been uploading photos and chatting with Tim but am about to venture out to find food. I have to go from Greek mode to Turkish mode now and I don't remember if they eat as late as the Greeks. If not, I may end up snacking for dinner since it is already past 9. Then again, it's Friday and this is a port town, surely there is something open!

Stay tuned for photos from my stay on Samos!

Posted by oceanchild 11:10 Archived in Turkey Comments (0)

I made it to Samos

(thankfully in one piece)

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After a long walk to the Evangelismos metro station with luggage in tow, a 40 minute ride on a crowded train next to a young man who looked like he was in the throws of death (thankfully some people who spoke the language attended to him, not sure what was wrong, my Greek isn't that good yet, but he looked miserable), a long wait to check in at the Olympic counter and a delay in my flight due to "personal reasons" (according to the Olympic Airlines employee at the counter, I finally left Athens on a small turbo prop. I don't mind turbo props really, but landing, at night, on a mountains island in the Aegean sea, with winds blowing a pretty good clip is not my idea of an idea flight. Needless to say all was well, my luggage arrived (although my wheeled cart was broke, but still usuable) and I had no problem getting a taxi. The taxi ride from the airport to Vathy was almost as fun as the landing, but again, I made it safely to the Pythagoras hotel, got my room, had souvlaki, a good night sleep and am not headed out to explore Vathy, possibly take a bus to Pythagoria, buy my ferry ticket to Kusadasi and hopefully not have to deal with rough seas!!

Until next time I have internet.....enjoy your day and adio

Posted by oceanchild 23:33 Archived in Greece Comments (0)

Nine Lives Greece and my travel plans

I promise to continue my Peloponnese adventures ASAP

I've been busy today getting packed for my trip to Samos and Turkiye. I'm so excited! I'll be sure to keep you updated on that when I have internet. I think my hotel in Samos has internet but I don't expect much for 20 Euro a night.

Today after I did some shopping (did I ever tell you I love H&M? Great basics for little cost) I met Cordelia Madden who volunteers with a group called Nine Lives Greece. We have been trying get together for almost a month now but our schedules never seemed to work. Nine Lives Greece feeds and provides care several colonies of cats in Athens. Tonight we walked to Plaka so I could meet the Plaka colony that they care for. Cordelia told me that she has been told the average Athens cat has a life span of 18 months. It's a sad situation, but Nine Lives is doing the best they can to give these cats a better live. Once I have returned from my trip I am going to be feeding the Plaka cats at least once a week so they can have a night off. I hope to also help catch the cats so they can be spayed or neutered. These are beautiful creatures and deserve all the help they can get. If I can make a difference in one cats life, then I've done good. Too bad I couldn't take them all home with me! (don't tempt me)

Sorry if some of the photos are not up to par. I didn't have my Nikon with me. That is going to be another project with Nine Lives, doing some photography of the cats. If they will stay still long enough!

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This one reminded me of Cricket in her younger more slender days....

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http://www.ninelivesgreece.com

Posted by oceanchild 11:58 Archived in Greece Tagged animal Comments (0)

Peloponnese Day 2 continues

Let's lighten the mood a bit

We left Kalavrita to head over to Olympia. This was the main destination for our trip. Ancient Olympia, birthplace of the Olympiad. But before we get there we had more curvy, mountainous roads to navigate on this MMT bus! We made a stop in a little village called Dimitsana. Like many little villages in the Peloponnese, Dimitsana sits perched in the mountains among narrow winding roads that are hardly suitable for a bus to navigate. But navigate the roads our bus drivers did and we were given an hour to explore Dimitsana, eat some lunch, relax and stretch our legs. Jessica, another student who is into photography here, and I a decided to use our time to explore the little stair-ed walkways of the village. While not quite as picturesque as the islands, they had a certain charm to them.

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I also found the doors and windows intriguing. Rather worn, but colorful, I thought they added an element of charm....

Golden shutters...

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The mu pi door....

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The milk crate door...

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Golden door....

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Green door...

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Beautiful wooden window framing...

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Grapes seem to be growing everywhere here....figs too...

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Not to mention the great views from and of Dimitsana!!

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We left Dimitsana, after watching a film crew film us and the town...a film crew that we would run into again at Olympia. Not sure what they were filming for, a promotional ad maybe? From Dimitsana we went to the water power museum, which gave us an idea of how water power had been used in the area. It was a very picturesque place. One exhibit showed how they used water power to help make gunpowder. Interesting....

A few views of the museum area....

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From the museum we went, you guessed it, on another bus ride along windy, curvy, narrow, mountainous roads. It's a miracle I did not get sick since I forgot my Dramamine! But I didn't. At any rate, it's late and I should go study for a Greek language quiz I have tomorrow. But do stay tuned for more mountainous adventures and ancient Olympia, where the participants in the games ran naked!

I'll leave you with a beautiful blue flower from Dimitsana....

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Posted by oceanchild 12:22 Archived in Greece Comments (0)

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