Greece holds claim to an amazing array of beauty. Pretty much anywhere you decide to go is going to leave an impression. From dirty, busy Athens (which boasts the most amazing archeological site in the Acropolis) to the remotest of islands which scatter the ocean all around the mainland.
In a last minute attempt to grab some rays of sunshine, we were searching for a holiday destination that was close to our base in Athens, that wasn’t going to break the bank and where we could get some peace and quiet. Enter my cousin Eleni who having already toured all the islands in her homeland recommended Kea. Kea (also known as Tzia) is a small island in the Cyclades and a short, one hour ferry ride from the port of Lavrio close to Athens.
Kea is an island on which a car is an absolute necessity. Luckily, it costs just 30 Euro each way to transport your rental across to the island. Be prepared to have a port official (usually a guy with a cigarette hanging out of his mouth) directing you to reverse into the tightest spot imaginable amongst tractors and trucks. An interesting experience but worth it in the end as the island has next to no public transport and you don’t want to be calling a cab from a remote beach.
Once on the ferry, the kids will have fun exploring the ship!
After a short one hour trip and a freddo cappuccino (iced cappuccino which you drink with a straw) later you’re in Kea. Our choice of hotel was a self contained house on the Red Tractor Farm. Perfect for our needs as we had with us our two mini-me’s. The best time to travel to Greece and more specifically the Greek islands is early to mid September. August is a month of religious significance with much of the Greek population on holidays. The hotels are packed and the prices are the highest. In addition, August is known for the “Meltemi” which is a strong and ever present wind. We snapped up this accommodation for a song (in comparison to other more cosmopolitan islands like Mykonos) and were thrilled with the facilities and location.
Of course, besides the ancient ruins, tavernas, ouzo, plate smashing, nightlife and general merriment, for me the most enjoyable part of travelling to any Greek island is the beach. The weather varies between hot and hotter with no cold snaps thrown in to sabotage your beach going plans. You’re not likely to get rained out, flooded or hit by a cyclone. The water is crystal clear and warm. Best of all, because you’re swimming in the Mediterranean sea, you don’t need to worry about some bizarre sea creature taking one of your legs off.
We found the organized beach at Koundouros to be the ultimate in relaxation. There’s all the conveniences that you need in terms of food, sunlounges and bathrooms and the water is just divine. The sunlounges even have buttons on them to call your waiter for service! The kids had fun ordering iced chocolates. Many multi million dollar yachts make their way here to enjoy the views and the water and they’re pretty amazing to look at. All in all. there are probably over a hundred beaches to choose from in Kea, from organized beaches like this one to ones that are so secluded you’re likely to spend the whole day by yourselves. Some are very hard to access though with roads not even having been paved yet (part of the charm) so you’re best off asking the locals for advice or doing some research before you arrive.
Once you’re all beached out (and after the obligatory afternoon siesta), there’s heaps to do at night. The town centre Ioulis is spectacular to see. It was built hundreds of years ago on the top of the mountain to keep lookout for pirates.
Once you’ve made it up the steep, winding road, the town is full of photo opportunities like this tiny church to say a prayer in.
Time to eat.
Apart from Ioulis, there’s the port that is worth having an evening walk along and also the upmarket and trendy Vourkari with bars, restaurants and shops. Soon enough though, it’s time to leave so take your tanned bodies and your sandy suitcase back to the port to catch another ferry with your head full of memories and the promise of a speedy return.
Photography by Ms Gingham, Little Ms Gingham and Eleni Spyropoulou.