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In search of peace and quiet
WE JUST came back from a week long break in Spetses. I must admit I was a bit skeptical when my wife first suggested a Greek island for our holidays as all the negative press the Greeks had been getting had got to me as well.
However I’ve found out after 20 years of marital bliss, that when your significant other sets her sights on something she will achieve it sooner rather than later, so what’s the point of arguing and in this case she was absolutely right.
Spetses, is an idyllic island in the Saronic Gulf with less than 4,000 inhabitants. It’s a two and a half hour boat (Flying Dolphin) ride from the port of Pireaus. The island is rich in vegetation and in many areas pine trees descend right down to the shorelines.
The ‘capital’ of the island sits majestically between the old (Baltiza) and the new harbour (Dapia). It is full of elegant two-storey neo-classical buildings, some converted into small but stylish hotels. It consists of narrow stone paved alleys full of (rather expensive) shops offering a wide range of products from designer clothes to exquisite 19th century chandeliers.
Undoubtedly one of the most famous landmarks of the island is the Poseidonio Hotel, just a minute’s walk away from the new port. Built in 1914, but renovated recently, this hotel is well worth a visit for its fine architecture and elegant interior décor.
There is no shortage of restaurants, be it for traditional Greek cuisine (fish or meat) or a healthy portion of spaghetti pomodore. Though the restaurants cannot be considered very cheap (€20pp - €25pp) they do offer your money’s worth. If you are an international fast food chain addict it’s best you steer clear of Spetses as there not one in sight.
Our favourite restaurant was a place called Nychthymeron (Night & Day) which is frequented primarily by locals (and Greeks from the mainland) as it is one of the few eateries that remain open throughout the year. Don’t expect fancy tablecloths or Christofle cutlery in this small Greek diner. This is a place where its local dishes do all the talking.
Apart from the culinary delights on offer, Nectarios the owner, is a joy to behold. This larger than life modern version of Zorba, is loud and crude but can keep you pleasantly entertained for hours.
Do not leave Spetses without tasting their delicious almond sweets (amygdalota) and my wife’s favourite, a frozen yoghurt sweet from a shop called ‘I Love Yo’ that unfortunately can only be found there. With numerous toppings to choose from this frozen yoghurt is highly addictive.
Moving around on this small island is fun and easy. Cars are a rarity and completely forbidden in the busy areas between the old and the new port. A few tourists choose the horse carriage but we opted against this outdated and cruel practice. We followed the vast majority of both locals and tourists and travelled on mopeds.
That’s how we explored the isIand’s beaches. As with most Greek islands all of them were shingle beaches. However the crystal clear cool water and the amenities on offer more than made up for this. My ‘highlight’ was the free wi-fi access and the frappes that were just a call away.
This tourist island is highly recommended for anyone who wants to enjoy a few days of peace and quiet amid all the simple pleasures in life. A word of advice, most restaurants and shops seem to ‘dislike’ credit cards so be sure to take some cash with you just in case!
Also it's worth noting that if you're looking for some peace and quiet, Spetses is not the place to be between August 5 and 20 as it becomes really busy.