Karpatos – Island of the Good Winds – Greece

“I’m going to sunbathe all holiday,” the teenage girl sitting behind the flight announced excitedly, at the sight of the island approaching through the plane window. This issue was not on my list. You can also sunbathe in Tel Aviv, can’t you?

The island of Karpathos is in a good location in the middle between Rhodes and Crete, and belongs to the Dodecanese Islands in the Greek islands. It is less familiar and crowded than the popular islands so we hurried there.

Carpathians was mentioned as a mooring port on the way in the famous Argonaut voyage of Apollonius, in ancient times, from Greece and the shores of Libya To Kolhas in western Georgia, in search of the golden fleece.

In town Pygmy (PIGADIA), the capital of the island, also called simply Karpatos, dropped me off the bus at the great Alimonda Mara Hotel (too, for me). With 5 stars luggage, this hotel has it all – a large pool kissing the sea, a private beach, many facilities… It is considered one of the best on the island, and quite close – a short walk – to the center. The responses on the sites are mostly praiseworthy, with no small superlatives: amazing, excellent, dreamy, excellent, very pleasant, prestigious, fantastic.

That was enough for me to take a small car and escape the city. I did not come to relax at the hotel.

The anchorage in Pigdia, the capital of the island.  Karpatos is in a good spot in the middle between Rhodes and Crete, but much less familiar.  Photo: Simon Shmuel

The anchorage in Pigdia, the capital of the island. Karpatos is in a good spot in the middle between Rhodes and Crete, but much less familiar. Photo: Simon Shmuel

Color in the pygmy.  Photos: Gil El Ami (unless otherwise stated)

Color in the pygmy. Photos: Gil El Ami (unless otherwise stated)

To the mountains and the twists

I drove west. In two minutes you are away from the clutter of hotels and restaurants, in quiet and secluded mountains. Very few cars travel the twists and turns of the island, and they are narrow and beautiful.

Passing through the village Ments (MENETES) Beautiful, and soon I reached the west coast, and the village Finiki (FINIKI). Maybe there were Phoenicians here and the name was preserved? – This is a fishing village (ex). Small pier, some boats, few restaurants and taverns. I was sitting in a dolphin (dolphin) restaurant bearing the slogan “Sea and earth flavors”, and I ordered from the smiling waitress red fin (lutein) fish in an excellent garlic sauce. Fresh and great! One of the best I have eaten (it is suspected that the spectacular setting of the small anchorage at dusk enhanced the taste).
From Phoenix it is recommended to travel north along the west coast, passing through Kato Lapcus (KATO LEFKOS) and the Roman aqueducts, and reach the village Masukhuri (MESOCHORI).

In the evening the promenade in Pygmy is crowded with tourists and taverns. Together with friends we found “SOFIA’S PLACE”, run by the sympathetic and energetic Sofia. There are also others and good ones.

The next day I drove north on the main length road on the island. It did not stop her from writhing wildly to the right and left out of enthusiasm for the view. At first she approached the cliffs above the shore and we gained unparalleled beautiful views. I entered the village ashen (APEI), the Wise intends to bypass the village in its race towards the village of Olympus, but do not miss. Perhaps more correctly, it is better for the majority to miss to keep the village quiet…

The Wise is built for rushers and gives me the feel of a controlled robot with command instructions of “turn right, turn left”. Here it is better not to rush, you can enjoy wandering for fun, and enjoy the navigation. And even if you made a mistake, “mistakes learn”, and in this case also enjoy. The fun of getting lost and the feeling of discovering a village unknown to science (at least until you see the tourist bus in the parking lot).

There are roads that are important to keep narrow and winding, like these roads. In my opinion, “narrow road reserves” should be defined, which will leave them as beautiful as they are and do not harm the landscape. Too many roads here have been widened and leveled to “get there faster”.

The alleys of the village of Efri are very narrow to the point of having a problem with two cars, but no one is in a hurry and the faces remain smiling even if they almost rub against each other. It turns out that this is a rich village whose many residents make a living in the US and come here for vacations.

It’s time to stop and sit down and drink Greek coffee.

One of the first good things we encountered on these islands are the winds that blow in the summer as well – from a pleasant breeze to strong and cool winds.
From Ephraim, if there is time, you should drive a little further west, to the villages Welda (FLY) וOthos (OTHOS), followed by a parallel return road that bypasses the villages to the south.

The island is getting narrower to the north until you see the sea on the right and also on the left.  Photo: Simon Shmuel

The island is getting narrower to the north until you see the sea on the right and also on the left. Photo: Simon Shmuel

Observation of the village of Welda

Observation of the village of Welda

North of Olympus

Continuing to the northern part of the island, we turned into the village Olympus (OLYMPOS). The road continues to meander over wonderful bays, the island becomes narrower to the north until you see the sea on the right and on the left. Photogenic churches protrude on hilltops. I am not satisfied with stopping at constant observations (caution on the vehicle at the stop, the slopes are sharp and steep).

A few more winding minutes (about an hour and a quarter away from the capital without stopping) and here it comes at once.

The village of Olympus, the summit of the island. A wonderfully messy and aesthetic pile of colorful houses with ornate windows, church spiers, flour mills and narrow alleys to let in vehicles.

Olympus. It is no coincidence that the village got this name. The original Mount Olympus in northern Greece housed the Muses, and it is certainly an inspiring place.

Park the car at the entrance to the village (there is no entrance to the village area for vehicles, nor is it possible) and enter an uniquely narrow alley. Welcoming and smiling people, food stalls, taverns, beautiful village views are seen from every niche, window or terrace. Remains of windmills. A shiver gripped me from the excitement of the beauty.

The village of Olympus.  There is no entrance to the village area for vehicles, nor is it possible.  Photo: Simon Shmuel

The village of Olympus. There is no entrance to the village area for vehicles, nor is it possible. Photo: Simon Shmuel

It is a kind of “nature reserve” or living museum of a village built against all visible logic: high in the mountains, on a steep slope, it is not possible to enter even with carts. Without clear sources of livelihood like fishing or open fields.

The story encrypted here and explaining the mystery is that the fishing village of Diapani, not far (8 km) on the east coast, suffered in the 8th-7th centuries AD from incessant attacks by castrated pirates (“Orientals”), until its inhabitants fled to the mountains and established the village in a hidden place. And inaccessible (in another version, the inhabitants of Olympus came from the not-so-distant old town of Vericus, near the village of Avalona.) Since there are no open fields here they laboriously erected agricultural terraces to produce their food.

In recent years, tourists have discovered this special place and the locals have discovered the potential in tourism. The residents who survived here live mainly during the tourist season from selling delicacies, stews, various arts and souvenir shops. In the village you can see traditional costumes and ancient arts and hear a special dialect of Greek. The village was completely isolated and self-governing until the last century, and until the 1980s there was no electricity.

We had lunch at the “Olympus” tavern owned by Anna. Delicious stews and great scenery.

To Diapani Beach

We continued to the beach of the small village Diaphragm (DIAFANI). Incredibly quiet, great turquoise sea, the hum of the gentle waves, some calm taverns. Time stood still. No pirate or robber was seen on the horizon.

At Poppy Vossilis’ CHRISSI AKTI cafe-restaurant, we were served the wonderful Poppy Ice Coffee with ice cream, special and delicious. We looked at the sea and immediately decided to stay here for the rest of our lives.

Poppy explained to us how it works here: “Let you know that if my husband annoys me he is immediately transferred to another room in the house and does not get sex for a month!”.

From the Olympus-Diapani road you can go north and reach the isolated village abalone (AVLONA), and from there continue to the wildest and northernmost part of Karpatos, including the small island Seria (SARIA, arrival by boat) where there are interesting antiquities sites.

On the way back to the capital Pigadia, the eye is not seven of the beautiful landscapes, mountains overlooking the blue bays and the Mediterranean forest.

In the evening we enjoyed a small local band in the PELAGOS tavern, along with good food. We tasted great sardines.

The pier in the village of Diapani.  Incredibly quiet, great turquoise sea, the hum of the gentle waves, some calm taverns.  Time stood still.  No pirate or robber was seen on the horizon.  Photo: Simon Shmuel

The small village of Diapani. Incredibly quiet, great turquoise sea, the hum of the gentle waves, some calm taverns. Time stood still. No pirate or robber was seen on the horizon. Photo: Simon Shmuel

The eye is not seven of the beautiful views, the mountains overlooking the blue bays and the Mediterranean forest

The eye is not seven of the beautiful views, the mountains overlooking the blue bays and the Mediterranean forest

Walking in nature

A hiking trail crosses the entire Karpathos from south to north 62 km long. The full trek lasts about 6-7 days, and passes through the high mountain on the island – Kali Limni, 1215 m. Great views.

I did not find any circular paths. I entered a section of the trail on the cliffs above the village of Efri. The mountains are covered with a Mediterranean grove, with beautiful dominant Cypriot pines (usually sloping because of the wind), including the gum sticks (higher than what we know), other sticks, almonds, and also sage plants (a more delicate scent than our triple), loam, thyme (thyme) , Lotem and more. There are also at least 15 plants endemic to the carpathos, which bloom in spring. One of them is Carpathian crayfish, which the islanders miss for a delicious delicacy. The path is not paved, I have not met pedestrians at all (and the entrance to it is not clear from this area). Excellent air, endless views and smells.

Then I went back to the pygmy, we passed it at the other end towards the southeast and from there on a narrow and winding road (you already understood the passage) to a ridge high above the town. Upstairs are 2 beautiful churches and one monastery, with beautiful views of the sea. The tallest is the church of AGIA KIRIAKI. In the Blue Chapel the great annual festival is held in Karpathos here, and elsewhere. This is the Feast of the Assumption of the Virgin. There are several hiking trails in the area.
The rural churches and monasteries (especially the Orthodox ones) are always in the most beautiful places. There is no doubt that there is inspiration in these places, but it is not clear how the visitors climbed there before the cars were? A mystery to me.

The mountains are covered with Mediterranean woods, with beautiful dominant pines (usually sloping because of the wind)

The mountains are covered with Mediterranean woods, with beautiful dominant Cypriot pines (usually sloping because of the wind)

Goddess of gum and sage

Goddess of gum and sage

Beaches are (only) sometimes

This trip was too short to stay in the abdomen for a while, and on examination the water was frozen (early June). In the capital area a sandy beach of 4 km. Most of the beaches on the island are rocky, but there are along the 100 km of beaches on the island some excellent, some are very good for surfing. They can be reached mainly by boat or jeep.

Most of the beaches on the island are rocky, but there are along the 100 km of beaches on the island some excellent

Most of the beaches on the island are rocky, but there are some excellent ones along the 100 km of beaches. Photo: Simon Shmuel

Most of the beaches on the island are rocky, but there are some excellent ones along the 100 km of beaches. Photo: Simon Shmuel

At the port in Pigdia the capital

At the port in Pigdia the capital

Useful information – Karpatos

  • During the tourist season, there is a direct flight from Israel (Arkia) twice a week.
  • Family Boutique Hotel – MEDITERRENIAN
  • 5 Star Hotel – ALIMOUNDA MARE
  • There are rooms and small hotels in the villages
  • You can join a cruise from the port of Pygdia to the shores of the “Hidden” island, and to Diapani
  • In the peak season it is advisable to book a rental car in advance.

Map of Karpathos:

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Thanks to Amos Sri Notebook Doe, Issuing packages to KarpatosAnd to Nimrod Iron the representative on the island


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