IKARIA



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Ikaria - general

General
From any approach by sea, the island of Ikari­a presents a forbidding wall of high mountains, steep slopes and rocky shores which—unprotected by any neighbouring land or island—bear the force of the winds from both north and south. Homer knew well the awful turbulence of the Ikarian Sea, to which he likened the mutability of mood in a crowd stirred by demagogy (iliad II, 145): Horace, too, echoes its fearsome reputation at the very opening of his Odes (I.i.15–6). Once ashore, however, the island itself has a benign humanity: every village is an assemblage of fertile gardens, and its people seem bound by a deep sense of community. Tourism does not disturb here: it exists, but is a small element in a lively economy based primarily on cultivation. The Greeks, and the Ikarians themselves, joke about the island living in its own backwater of time; but the truth is that this very fact has served Ikari­a well and made it a more congenial and unaffected island to visit than many.
   Nothing quite prepares the visitor for the immense variety of landscapes: the high ridges of the east are densely clad in arbutus, heather and fern, and have the majesty of Scottish glens; some of the valleys and plateaux of the southwest, are wide, sandy and boulder-strewn as though they were parts of Colorado; gorges with water falls and plane trees alternate with upland screes of improbably sculpted rock; there are forests of pine and of dwarf holm-oak; and however steep the gradient, it seems that every pocket that could be cultivated or terraced, has been. This is a volcanic landscape, and the evidence of the raw energy which formed it bubbles to the surface on the south coast where Ikari­a’s famous radioactive thermal springs have given both pleasure and therapeutic relief for well over two thousand years. Some of the springs are organised in spa establishments; others rise in the open by the sea.
   The island has the remains of three ancient settlements, one of which, Drakanon, has a position and ruins which are superb and unforgettable. At the very opposite end of the island, the ancient port and sanctuary of Artemis Tauropolos at Nas is smaller and more intimate, but no less evocative. At the third, Oenoe, which was probably the island’s largest settlement in Antiquity, a number of interesting buildings from Late Classical and Byzantine times have survived. All are, in different ways, unusual sites.
   The unique fascination of Ikari­a, though, is its ‘wild west’—the western extremity of the island, into whose protected and beautiful interior the inhabitants retreated from the threat of piracy and invasion for long periods in more recent history. Here can be found the strange troglodyte dwellings—half natural granite boulder, half stone-built house—which were used during these periods of retreat which have come to be known as ‘the disappearances’. Here also are the ‘Raches’ (‘ridges’), the protected network of villages high above, where the life of this part of the island is centred and still follows its own idiosyncratic hours long into the night, as it was wont to do during ‘the disappearances’. This area is, in many ways, the true heart of the island, for neither of the two main coastal towns, Aghios Kirykos and Evdilos, has the feel of an island chora.
  
Strange rocks, strange landscapes, strange waters, strange habits—at times, strange people—welcoming, unaffected, but idiosyncratic. Largely untrammelled by the less attractive aspects of modernity, Ikari­a has pre served a particularly independent Greek identity—and a landscape that is equally rewarding for the naturalist, the rambler, the anthropologist, and the photographer.


Ikaria Island is part of the Northern Aegean Island group
General Information


Random information you might what to know about Ikaria Island
Chalari gorge
Nas

 

access

Ikaria Island, Greece.

By air: Ikaria now has a small airport at the eastern tip of the island, connected to Athens by a mid-afternoon flight every day, except on Mondays: an airport transfer bus connects flights with Ag. Kirykos 11 km away.
By boat: Ferries between Piraeus and Samos serve both of the island"s two ports – Evdilos, on the north coast, almost daily, by either fast boat (5 hours, summer only, from Piraeus) or slow (8-9 hours, year-round); and Aghios Kirykos, on the south coast, with 3 connections a week on the Samos-Piraeus route.
The F/B Samos Spirit also stops at Ag. Kirykos on its way between Samos and Fourni 3 times a week;
and in the summer there are fast, Flying Dolphin hydrofoil connections (1 hour) to and from Pythagoreio on Samos, 4 times weekly, dropping to 2 weekly for the half-season months of April, May, September and October.
Caïques leave Ag.Kirykos most afternoons during the summer for Fourni, and on Mon, Wed and Fri for Manganitis and Karkinagri, at the western extremity of the island.

Ikaria Travel Guide

eating

Ikaria Island, Greece.

For a variety of local and traditional dishes always freshly prepared, Christos Chazàlas"s Taverna "To tzaki", in Glaredo (2 km west of Aghios Kirykos) is much to be recommended; in Aghios Kirykos itself, the tiny Taverna Klimataria, under a vine pergola, a couple of blocks in from the harbour, serves good soups and oven dishes, and is justly favoured by locals for its good value. There are several good tavernas at Kato Raches overlook the site at Nas: Taverna "O Nas" has the best view, but the food is more imaginative and homemade in character at Anna"s Taverna. In Karkinagri, the fresh fish is generally excellent at Perkas Restaurant.

Ikaria Travel Guide

lodging

Ikaria Island, Greece.

The island’s nicest hotels are not to be found in either of the ports.
At Therma, the Agriolykos Pension (T. 22433 & 22383; www.island-Ikaria. com/hotels/agriolykos.asp), very quiet and set in a delight ful garden of tamarisks with wide views, is at the top of a flight of steps above the north end of the bay. Rooms are small and simple, but have air conditioning. (Note: access is only by foot, and bags will need to be carried up to the hotel.)
In Therma town, the Anthemis Hotel (T. 22750 23156 & 23377) is simple with adequate rooms, and has helpful and friendly owners. Both hotels are inexpensive.
The island’s smarter hotels are mostly in the area of Armenistìs: the Hotel Erofili Beach (T. 22750 71058-9; www.erofili.gr : upper price range) has large, comfortable, and well appointed rooms overlooking the sea front and the pool: it is a good hotel, but the breakfast is somewhat disappointing and the reception decidedly cool.
Just outside Armenistìs, on the way to Nas is the charming Hotel Daidalos (T. 22750 71390-2), looking west out to sea:
next door to it, and of equivalent standard but more old-fashioned, is the Cavos Bay Hotel (T. 22750 71381-3; www.cavosbay.com.gr ). Both of the above are in the medium price range. Those seeking real peace and quiet might explore Tzamoudakis Rooms in remote Karkinagri (T. 22750 91217 & 91327).

Ikaria Travel Guide

practical info

Ikaria Island, Greece.

83 000
Ikaría: area 255 sq.km;
perimeter 107 km;
resident population 8354;
maximum altitude 1037 m.
Port Authorities: Aghios Kirykos T. 22750 22207,
                           Evdilos T. 22750 31007.
Travel and information: Municipality of Aghios Kirykos T. 22750 24047;
Nas Travel, T. 22750 71396.
www.island-Ikaria.com

Ikaria Travel Guide

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