Today, Alan and I are on an day-long cruise excursion in Hanoi, Vietnam. But, baby boomers, you’ll still find valuable travel information here at My Itchy Travel Feet thanks to Vera Marie Baderstcher from A Traveler’s Library. After reading her article about hiking on Sifnos, Greece, Alan and I have added another travel activity to our growing list.
When we arrived at the ferry dock (a 5-hour trip from Athens by slow ferry, 3 by fast ferry) we saw a small travel agency beside the bus stop. There we bought a Sifnos guide book by a local scholar, and the Anavasi Topo map, which is much more helpful than the free tourist map, which also shows trails but without detail.
We took a taxi rather than wait an hour or two for the bus to Apollonia in the center of the island. From there, the trails stretch like a web across the island. Before automobiles became common on the island, the tracks accommodated people and their mules trudging from town to town. That means that the trails will lead you to any of the island’s towns, monasteries and churches, and pass near farm houses along the way.
Sifnos is known for fine cooking, unique cookware pottery and as many as 300 churches and chapels for its 2000 inhabitants. The small white-washed chapels with bright blue doors dot the hilly island, so be sure your camera has a large capacity memory card.
We climbed the stepped walkways of Appolonia, which serve as streets. Islanders use the same white paint that covers the houses to make designs on the paving stones, like children’s chalk drawings. We passed a church with the remnant of a Roman temple in its courtyard, and headed across the countryside to Kastro, a medieval town fortified by the Venetians in the 15th century. Along the way, we saw sheep grazing in rocky fields and stopped at a chapel festooned with colorful pennants, celebrating a Greek Orthodox Saint’s Day. After exploring Kastro and a small beach below the town, we returned via Artemonas so we could sample our favorite food in Greece at the Leotrivi restaurant. That made a total of about 6 miles of walking stretched over a day. You can shorten the trek by talking a bus at several points.