Η Κάρπαθος είναι ένα από τα καλύτερα κρυμμένα μυστικά της Ελλάδας. Ένα κόσμημα στον ήλιο του Αιγαίου, η Κάρπαθος είναι το δεύτερο μεγαλύτερο των Δωδεκανήσων.
Με μαγευτικά βουνά και 160 χιλιόμετρα ακτογραμμής, το νησί διαθέτει ένα υπέροχο φυσικό περιβάλλον με μερικές από τις ομορφότερες παραλίες του Αιγαίου για εξερεύνηση.
Ένας κόσμος παραδόσεων ζωντανεύει σε πολύχρωμα, τοπικά φεστιβάλ, όμορφα ψαροχώρια και μία ζωντανή χώρα στο λιμάνι – όλα σε κοντινή απόσταση.
Στο βόρειο τμήμα του νησιού, η μαγεία της Ολύμπου στην πλαγιά του λόφου, γνωστή ως το πιο παραδοσιακό χωριό της Ελλάδας, είναι ένα ζωντανό λαϊκό μουσείο όπου οι νησιώτες φορούν ακόμα τοπικές φορεσιές και διατηρούν μια παραδοσιακή διάλεκτο.
the one I found in the year 2000 when I arrived on this island
KARPATHOS….A Rock long a little bit more than 49km and large 11km lost in the extreme south of the Dodecanese, in the Aegean Sea, served by direct flights during summer time from several european countries and Israel; and as easy to reach with flights stopping in Athens.
For the more courageous ones there is also the solution of traveling by ship…19 hours of navigation from the Piraeus.
At the arrival, the first evident thing is that the island is very windy, this having favored, especially the southern area near the airport, the appearance of realities like small hotels and taverns, frequented mostly by “surfers communities”, who found here their ideal habitat in order to satisfy their passion. Among the various structures in the CHICKEN BAY area, there are also those of the surfing schools facing a beach made of mixed sand and grass, leading to a Caribbean-style blue sea”.
Continuing up North, the road goes through the AFIARTI area, where we can find the area dedicated to more expert surfers and the related infrastructures.
Here the World Windsurf Championships have taken place throughout the years .”
Let’s leave Afiarti behind us, the road starts going up and, on the east side, we can see the first wonderful beach of DAMATRIA, something which leaves us breathless, the colors of the sea go from blue to green, the beach made of very fine rocks and is laid, in a semi-circle for, about, 1km.
Going up the view opens, and the spectacular beauty of this Rock is slowly revealed to our eyes, a series of beaches going from the fine POSEIDON sands, to the HRISTOU PIGADI up to the rock located more toward the North, in FOKIA, with a sea whose colors go from sky blue to crystal and to emerald green….and what’s astonishing is that, in such a beauty, a large presence of tourists cannot be seen, everything is very homogeneous andharmonious, a first deep felling starts telling us that we are in a SPECIAL place.
The first Town with more than five houses can be met at, about, 8km from the airport: AMOOPI , can be found, well signaled, at a cross-road to the right, where the road goes, again, down toward the coastline and to the sea.
Going toward Amopi, we go down after, about, 1km on the right side we meet a first intersection leading to FOKIA, where there’s an equipped beach, with rocks and a green sea that’s very deep and full of fish.
AMOOPI is located at the end of the asphalt road and is, mostly, made of Hotels and restaurants looking over the bay with the same name, which shows us a beach made of very fine sand and a sea that’s as clear and as shining as a mirror, a marvel in which we can lose ourselves.
The Bay following SMALL AMOPI at a few hundreds of meters is the “bonsai” of the one we are leaving behind us, reminding us of certain realities in Sardinia.
From the beach in SMALL AMOPI- looking toward the hill overhanging the BAY, we can see Sophid Wellness Suites ; more to the North, down the Bay, the local Little Italy cannot be missed, not even here, a conglomerate of white houses near the beach in POLI POTAMI.
The main road continues for, about, other 6km toward DOWNTOWN PIGADIA, the island’s “capital”; a large town made of multi-colored houses, the style is very arabish but, among these “cubes” we can randomly see thesign of an ancient Italian presence, in fact, SCARPANTO was Italian from 1912 to 1944, and meeting the signs of an architecture that’s typical of that era, which differentiates itself a lot from the typically Greek one which has remained in the collective imagination, is not something rare; “white and blue” (typical of the Cyclades), in fact, “we” were building the roofs with red tiles and cream-colored houses with green windows. The modernization has brought to the destruction of most of these small gems.
Entering PIGADIA we notice, immediately, a New York-style road urbanization, alternate one-way roads and blocks.
The traffic reminds me of the roads in Calcutta : chaotic, noisy and smelly; but, anyway, this world in the world is fascinating!!
Walking through the Town, I see many, not very homogeneous, small shops and a lot of chaos, but all this “chaos’ has its own charm, creates a lot of local folklore, I notice the first characteristic shown by these “Carpathian Greeks”, to throw everything beyond a smile, in the end everything must be “OLLA KALA”!! A strange, but pleasant, feeling!
Going down the asphalt road leaving PIGADIA and going toward the east coast, to the north, toward APERI, we are accompanied by a long beach which throws itself in a blue and shining sea, inviting us to stop and to immerse ourselves in so much shining beauty.
The long beach ends and, on the right, closing this promontory, you can seethe Island’s Power Station, continuing to the left the Island’s second fuel station and, at one hundred meters, the third and LAST (I will, then, understand how important is to remember that it’s the last, before the long trip toward the lost NORTH) behind which the mythical GATTULLO Garage is located, read its history, it’s worth it!!!
The road starts going up and, in front of me, I am starting to see the hill where APERI is located, while I go up keeping an eye on the road, with the other eye, I can’t avoid looking at this group of many houses with uniform colors, I have a strange feeling of familiarity. I go on reaching this Town which is cut by a road that goes through it becoming more and more narrow.
Everything is very harmonious and ordered, almost unusual for what I have seen until now. In time I’ll find out that APERI is considered a modern Jewish ghetto, without wasting anecdotes on the economic fortunes of this village’s inhabitants.
Beyond the JEWISH GHETTO, I find myself in front of the first intersection cutting the island, to the east APELLA, to the west VOLADA, I choose the EAST, and continue to go up with the road, toward the Island’s first two POST-CARD BEACHES, PANAGIA, the one which, on the catalogs, is famous because of the small church with the red roof but, also, for the beach made of very thin rocks and the sky blue sea; ACHATA, shadier, darker sands and a deep and emerald-green sea, two stops to be mentioned on the map; red flag.
The North’s awaiting, the road continues to go up, cutting the ROCK’s coast, I am going through PERA MERTONAS, where there’s a sweet water source and, after about 6km, here I am in…KARPATHOS…no…excuse me:APELLA, the mundane, famous, popular, and hyper-publicized beach which is, often, identified with the island itself!! Let’s say it’s FORTE DEI MARMI ON THE ROCK!!
The beach is charming and there’s always the souvenir picture of the road overhanging it.
Continuing my trip, I will understand that APELLA is the last bastion of the traditional and catalog-style tourism I will find on my path.
In fact, the road becomes more and more narrow and hostile, in the origins there was no asphalt, which arrived here about ten years ago, with a great deal of hostilities, and without curbstones. A path for wild rallies, dangerous in many places but, also, very “real”, like the one I’m going to find following my return back to the Rock’s origins!
In SPOA, a sleepy town on the north-east cost, known for its stones used in the houses at the SOPHID WELLNESS SUITES, I find the cross-roads leading to the OLYMPOS, still a little more than 15 km, the road becomes, let’s say, more “particular”; the beaches that can be seen from afar are made of black, volcanic, sand and the sea is a dark and mysterious mirror.
I feel the, originally, unexplainable need to go faster, the road doesn’t allow it, but I feel I still need to discover the Olympos of this charming and surprising Rock.
After an endless series of hairpin turns, the OLYMPOS is revealed to me, between two small hills; I see this incredible spectacle laying on the mountain, a VILLAGE which, challenging the mountain, climbs and expands itself, protected in its perimeter by a series of wind mills.
Something is shaking me and telling me that GREECE is like this: white houses and wind mills but, while I am getting nearer from afar, the OLYMPOStells me something different.
You can’t describe the OLYMPOS, when I saw her in my first trip, you can only say that it must be visited…I know, it’s simplistic, almost banal but, if I have to describe the OLYMPUS, I can do it only by casting words like: MACAROUNAS, WIND MILLS, SMALL DONKEYS, EAT AT THE POST OFFICE, COLORS/LACES AND BOOTS.
Throughout these many years, discovering what’s surrounding the Olympus, I picture a beating Heart which, through many small untwisted and winding veins leads to its peripheral derivations which live on tradition, pure beauty, spirituality, and ancient memories. I think about DIAFANI, AVLONA, VROUKOUNDA, TRISTOMO, places not just geographically connected to the Olympus.
Confused by such unexpected beauty, and surprised by this ancient word I just discovered, I go back toward civilization and, at the second cross-roads, instead of going from east, I continue to discover the WINDY WEST, noticing immediately a different Nature, forests, pine woods and very high mountains characterizing the show appearing in front of me.
The first town I meet is MESOCHORI, a terrace facing on a sea that is constantly moved by the wind. I’ve learned to listen and to mind my own business when there’s talk about Mesochori, in Corleone you don’t speak, see or hear nothing!
It’s not “OUR THING”, and then we start going down on the west coast and, wind in the face, here’s a popular post-card from Karpathos: LEFKOS, the beach, reminds of some familiar landscape in the Salento region.
But don’t we eat? Today I’m treating myself well and I’m going to a restaurant reviewed, they say, even by the Wall Street Journal: UNDER THE TREES, afew km from Lefkos, the history of its food….and not only, it’s Universal.
With a full stomach (euphemism as such!), we continue and, after having left behind the wonderful beach in ADIA, a new cross-roads: on the mountains on our left. a mountain covered by clouds tempts me, toward PILES, a curious town overhanging the bay, the best sundowns I’ve ever seen were in this village with curious and bizarre people. At a few kilometers there are OTHOS, VOLADA and the chance of discovering a magic and unexplored place, KALI LIMNI and its EMPEROR.
The sea calls, I rush again toward the west coast, the landscape changes fast, it reminds us of certain corners of New Zealand, endless roads, meadows on our sides, and a sea with atlantic waves moved by the Etesian winds.
Small, semi-destroyed, stavli are breaking the horizon, one of the most charming ones, SIKELAO will, in the years, be the cause of bizarre anecdotes.
Portofino doesn’t know it, therefore, the paragon with FINIKI can stand up! A small town of fishermen who, originally, expressed a healthy tradition, unfortunately, throughout the years, mundanity has modified it; but for us, the elders of the island, there’s still a corner,DELFINI RESTAURANT, a good friend, fisherman and cook!!
Second for what’s related to size, ARKASA is the last town I meet during my tour, characterized by a group of houses with the most various colors, and center of an “interesting” and varied nightlife at the STEMA BAR .
The last part of my trip makes me go through the dirt road bringing fromArkasa to the Airport, the passage makes me imagine some bike riders in the NEVADA desert, something rather curious and unusual… in Greece.
The three last gems are kept for the end by, Karpathos, this generous land of nature, smells and flavors: AGRILOPOTAMO,DIAKOFTIS and MENETES two beaches bringing us again to tourism in its most true essence, and a town which, for me, has a special place in the memories section.
Now we can go home to SOPHID, and we are together in this world made of worlds, happy through the sea.