(SAMOS, GREECE) – To refresh your memory, I have mentioned the good bus service to various destinations on the island of Samos in Greece. The bus station in Vathi is on the waterfront and to the right of the town square.
Perhaps my favourite destination is the small mountain town of Mytilinii, because it is a small, authentic town devoid of masses of tourists. If you want to see what is left of the Greece of old you’ll find it here, with narrow winding streets, a relaxing town square with three restaurants, and a slow-paced lifestyle.
Many of its young inhabitants left for Australia in the 1950s and 60s. There are more than a few abandoned homes here.
It is a relic of the past, but there is something special about being the only tourist in the small town. During the week there are five different bus departures for Mytilinii from Vathi, and two on the weekend. The bus lets you off on the main drag, which is not very inspiring, but keep on walking and in a few minutes you are in a different world.
The village is on the slopes of the Karvounis Mountain range. Relax at Fifty-Fifty in the town square and have some mezzes and a cold Mythos beer. You should also pat yourself on the back for being fortunate to be in this village.
The voyage back to Vathi is treacherous and spectacular.
Another interesting spot is the town of Karlovasi, once a bustling port city for the shipping of tobacco and leather goods. The shipping warehouses and tanneries are derelict but, in an odd way, spectacular in their decline and in imagining how grand they used to be.
If only they could be restored. I sense a huge UNESCO World Heritage destination. I spent a good deal of time poking about the ruins.
Karlovasi is 32km from Vathi and has many 19th century neo-classical buildings and mansions. I have the sense that it competed with Vathi for Samian predominance and the rivalry between the two towns still exists.
It requires at least two days to adequately discover the town. The heat can be a big factor in reducing your mobility. Eventually you’ll have to rehydrate with a beer or portocolada, a carbonated orange juice.
There is a university in Karlovasi, so the shipping town has been rescued from total collapse and infused with a youthful spirit. The shopping is much more cosmopolitan than in Vathi and seems designed for locals rather than tourists.
Another reason to visit if you’re one to scowl at the hordes of aged Dutch tourists who walk about with hiking poles, much to the hilarity of the locals.
As a last comment, Samos has spectacular beaches and most are bus accessible. Pick up Secrets to Enjoy Samos, which is a free tourist guide. You’ll find where the main beaches are located, but as for Kedros Beach, it is not listed. So, that will just remain a secret between you and me.