Wednesday, 30 September 2009
Greece 2009 - Day 2 Serifos, Livadi
It was a windy day and the high winds whipped up the sea into little white meringue peaks on top of the pitching waves. Although we had an allocated seat on board we preferred to stay outside for the entire journey and watch the islands slipping by as we made our progress towards Serifos. Serifos occupies an important part of Greek mythology, since its name is connected to two of the greatest heroes of the mythology, Odysseus and Perseus, while it is also said that the Cyclopes lived in its caves. More recently the island was famous for the mining of iron ore and as we approached the south west of the island we could clearly see the remains of the old workings that only finally closed down in 1963.
The ferry arrived at eleven o’clock and we were surprised to find the port of Livadi unusually quiet and without the normal reception committee of dozens of apartment owners trying to find a customer. It was all very lethargic as we left the windy ferry port and set about locating our hotel. This didn’t take long and we found the Hotel Naias one street back from the main port road and it turned out to be a traditional little place, basic and clean but without any frills. I was expecting something different but at least we had a nice balcony with a good view over the port and its crescent shaped beach fringed with cafés and tavernas. Outside it seemed to be getting windier and shutters were rattling, furniture was being rearranged and the taverna umbrellas were flapping madly as though going through some pre take-off routine. We left our bags, closed the room and went immediately to the harbour to get acquainted with the place.
At almost midday it was time for a mythos but as we walked along the road we were surprised to find many of the tavernas were closed with little sign of life. Finally we choose a place with blue umbrellas and tables on the thin strip of sandy beach and we selected one in the sunshine. We will never know if this place was open or closed because Kim’s patience tanks were on empty and after only two minutes or so she decided that service was too slow and insisted that we move on to an alternative place a little further on where the yellow umbrellas and trendy furniture had caught her eye.
The Yacht club was a nice place with a mix of holidaymakers taking snacks and local men drinking coffee in that languid sort of way that elderly Greek men do. The down side was that this turned out to be the most expensive place in the village and I suffered a case of severe shock when a small beer cost a whopping €5 and the food was equally expensive. I worried that this might be normal on Serifos and I began to mentally recalculate the holiday budget but after we left and walked through the village we checked the menus in the other places and were relieved to find that on average prices were a lot closer to what we were expecting and we didn’t go to the Yacht club again because I don’t appreciate paying Covent Garden prices on a little Greek island.
Whilst these string of Cycladic islands are all the same they are all completely different at the same time and Livadi had a unique quality that set it aside from other places we have visited. Serifos is not a popular holiday destination for overseas visitors and a bit like Amorgos (in my opinion) a place that the Greek people have sensibly kept back for themselves because close to Athens it is convenient to reach and it doesn’t suffer from the excesses of, say, Santorini or Mykonos.
There was no sign of the wind easing off and big white clouds were being blown in from the northeast and were tumbling dramatically over the mountain and the Hora at the back of the port. It wasn’t unpleasant and after we had poked about the village for a while we collected our swimwear and made for the beach and the first swim in the sea for almost a year. The sea was warm and inviting and the sand was lush and comfortable, so much so that I spent most of our two hours on the beach catching up on lost sleep from the day before.
Two hours on a beach is quite long enough I find so before we could get bored we left and went back to the taverna with the blue umbrellas for an afternoon drink and where this time at least three different waiters attended to our table and tried to persuade us to eat and we had to explain to each of them in turn that it was too early but we might return later. Leaving the taverna we looked for a mini market for alcohol and nibbles and were surprised by the high cost of the wine, especially noticeable for me having just returned from France where I had stocked up on wine at an average price of €2 a bottle. We selected the cheap plonk in the cardboard container and it turned out to be surpringly good.
We did return to the taverna with blue umbrellas but evening meal was a disappointing experience. We didn’t order a lot and the owner didn’t seem to like that, the food was delivered in a hurry and there was no friendliness and a distinct lack of hospitality about the place. Perhaps he was just having an end of season off day but we never went back again to find out. He was certainly more attentive to a large table of young Australians from a sailboat party who were spending lots of cash, drinking heavily and making the average English football supporter look as though they have impeccable manners.
The end of day one and over a final drink in a seafront bar some mixed views about Serifos, a beautiful island but a bit expensive and not as friendly as all of the others that I have visited and I didn’t feel as welcome. It was becoming chilly and there was no let up in the wind so after we had finished we went back to the hotel and went to bed in anticipation of a good sunrise in the morning and a planned bus ride to the Hora.