Greece’s isolated gem

I had no idea what to expect from the island of Samothraki. It was completely unknown to me and I based my decision of coming here on the brief recommendations of a couple of strangers I met in the street. How mistaken can they be and, at the end of the day, what’s the worst that can happen?

The day before setting off, I looked through couchsurfing for any hosts on the island and, to my surprise, I found one sole couchsurfer. Chryssa, the hospitable archaeologist, immediately offered to host me, so I had a place to stay and friends waiting for me.

Reaching Samothraki

My lovely hosts, Chryssa and Louiza.

Her house is in Chora, One of the island’s largest villages and quite possibly, the most picturesque one.

Chora and the view from Chryssa's place.

As soon as I arrived, we chilled at a small coffee shop and had a strong Greek coffee. And then it hit me. The island has an unusual vibe to it. It feels soothing and relaxing. The moment I sat down and started looking at the cobbled street across from me, I felt calm.

In the heart of Chora.

Genuinely calm. The kind of peacefulness I very rarely have the pleasure of experiencing. It was as if all that troubles me was gone, important or insignificant, permanent or brief. I felt like all and any weight had been lifted off of me and I was purely carefree and enjoying my presence on this island. I couldn’t explain it, but it felt very nice.

Although I spent a significant amount of time sitting comfortably on Chryssa’s sofa, I also ventured out to explore the island as much as I could. There is a lot to see and I felt unmotivated to be biking up and down the same roads, so I chose to hitch-hike everywhere instead. It was impressive how easy that was. Practically any car that passed would stop and pick me up. Even when I joined forces with two other tourists and we went to one of Samothraki’s largest beaches, we still had no problem getting rides there and back.

Riding at the back of a pick-up truck.

This island is truly remarkable. It’s got it all. Picturesque villages, friendly people, stunning beaches, endless forests, delicious food, rivers and waterfalls, warm days and cooling nights, intense sunshine and powerful rainfalls.

I've always had a thing for doors.

The cobbled streets of Chora.

View from the ancient castle at the top of Chora.

The locals know what they have. They just don't know how to spell it.

Typical Greek roof. Covered in ceramic bricks, kept stable with rocks.

Ummm... For tiny people?

The gorgeous beach of Kipoi.

Pachia Ammos beach...

...right below the mountains.

I got to experience quite a bit of rain during my stay there, and I happily observed it run rapidly down the mountain and into the streets of Chora behind the windows of Chryssa’s warm house. During the sunny times, I walked and hiked and swam through some of the most beautiful locations I have seen in the whole country. One of the most breathtaking parts was walking the trail towards the so-called “Killer” stream. The paths, the hike, the lakes and their waterfalls were really something incredible.

Killer Stream

The beautiful trail by the river.

And the view from above one of the waterfalls.

My trusted walking stick saved me many a time!

It seemed very strange to me that almost all routes connecting Samothraki with the rest of the country were closed and I started asking around. Apparently, there used to be connections with many ports of Greece and not just with Alexandroupoli. Unfortunately, the main maritime company that dealt with those routes went bankrupt at some point and everything was shut down. The residents themselves made a very commendable effort of leasing a boat of their own by chipping in all together. Once again, they were victims to bad luck and somebody’s greed. The person who was in charge of managing the boat and its finances decided to flee the country. Along with the boat! So now, the only way to get here is by taking the ferry from Alexandroupoli and the only way out is taking the same way back.
It’s a shame that this place is so isolated and difficult to reach, but at the same time, that is probably why it’s kept so pure and clean and unspoilt.

I spent 6 wonderful days on this island and it wasn’t easy to get on that boat back to Alexandroupoli. The remarkable, diverse scenery and the wonderful company of my hosts, Chryssa and Louiza was more than I could have hoped for. I guess the worst thing that could have happened was not wanting to leave.

Goodnight, Samothraki!

I’ll be back here. I know it.

M.

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3 Responses

  1. tabitha says:

    You are glowing! I can see the calming vibe of the island in you. 🙂

  2. Mila says:

    Holy wow that looks and sounds absolutely incredible! Take me with you when you go back!

  1. June 25, 2012

    […] the week I spent in Samothraki, I devoted a good chunk of my time relaxing while enjoying the good company of new friends and […]

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