Latest edition : 14 September 2018
To reach the north of the island, there are two possibilities: stop at Chalkida before taking the winding road that climbs north, or take the motorway from Athens airport to Arksistas and cross with the ferry.
This is the option that we recommend if you want to explore the whole island: start in the north and descend as you wish to the south where a ferry will take you back from Marmari to Rafina on the mainland. . From there it is only about twenty minutes to Athens airport.
The road through the mountain can seem trying, especially when you miss, like us, the branch of the "good" road! There is a dearth of road signs and when there are, they are written in Cyrillic letters.
The road is often sagging, there are rock falls and, above all, one turn after another. Fortunately, from time to time, even in the middle of nowhere, a small tavern allows you to take a break, to eat at any time.
For 10 €, the innkeeper serves grilled pork, salad, bread and tsatsiki, a cold beer, fruit. He usually doesn't speak English, let alone French, but you never leave hungry!
Nature is generous in the north. Pine forests (sap is collected there for coniferous wines but also for the needs of the pharmaceutical or cosmetic industry), olive groves as far as the eye can see, fig tree plantations ...
First stop in the small town of Edipsos, famous for its thermal waters. More than 50 springs gush out at 90 ° C from a depth of 3000 meters!
At the Grand Hôtel des Thermes, a 5-star establishment of discreet elegance,
the water must be cooled before filling the hotel's two swimming pools, which are also accessible as a "day spa". The two basins are emptied every night in order to avoid any chemical treatment.
Outside, swimmers are gathered where the thermal water comes out of the rocks. A water reputed to relieve rheumatism among other things. Small natural lagoons have formed there in which people lie down in search of healing.
Rocks tinted with red, yellow, green and a turquoise sea form an impressionist painter's palette. According to legend, its hot springs were the work of the god Hephaestus at the request of the goddess Athena so that Hercules could draw new strength from it after his heroic tasks. Aristotle and Plutarch would have appreciated this hot water and the Roman general Sylla would have been cured of a skin disease.
The hotel's à la carte restaurant is "delocalized" in the open air above the sea, with a view of Greece and the end of the island. The lapping of the waves and the flavor of the dishes make us forget the long road.
Reinvigorated by good food and swimming in the thermal waters, we take the car to push further, to the end of the island to reach Cavos from where small boats join the small islands of Lichadonissia, famous for their looks like paradise. Without GPS and without a detailed map, we never got there…. Maybe because we were distracted by the beauty of the landscape,
following a small road surrounded on one side by the sea going from a deep blue to turquoise color and olive groves topped by green slopes on the other.
Here and there, pretty, well-maintained houses. The colors are a feast for the eyes between the silvery green of the olive trees, the bold green of the pines, the orange glow of the bignonias, the bright pink and the immaculate white of the oleanders.
We also miss the beautiful Gregolimano beach almost at the tip of the island where Club Med is located, but we take full advantage of the atmosphere in the villages and small ports crossed.
We stop to drink a (coffee) smoothie
by observing the comings and goings of the inhabitants, then to taste a freshly caught fish in a tavern by the sea.
Life is Beautiful !