Travels with V
Ikaria – nature, food & tempo
There’s plenty of possibilities for hikers on Ikaria, and the trails are different in terms of difficulty. There’s a net of ancient paths running all over the island, in old times connecting the villages. We try a fairly easy route on top of the mountain ridge, partly through a forest of a rare species of oak. The stillness and the views from up here are really amazing and powerful.
Ikarian food is as we have mentioned, often acclaimed in descriptions of Ikaria as a tourist destination. But we found this a mixed bag. In “our” village Maganitis there are three tavernas on the shore, but we found out the hard way that none of them really had anything to make us happy. Probably because so few tourists come here, most of their guests are locals who eat at home and then go to the taverna for a drink and a chat with the neighbours.
But close to “our” house, where we park the car there is a hand-painted sign where we recognize the words “Restaurant-Grill”. And an arrow pointing right out into the bushes. So we ignored it until we reach a state of real panic and never ever again want to visit the other tavernas. We get out our flashlights och stomp off into the darkness. There are no street lamps here, so it is pitch black night.
After a couple of hundred meters we see a light further on by the side of the path. We walk up to it and there’s a house, a normal villa where there is some light in the basement windows. We open a door and there is this couple in a kitchen, watching TV. They look at us with some surprise when we enter and ask: Is this a restaurant? –Sure, they say and turn on some lamps on the veranda where there are three small tables.
We have goat and horta that night, the goat on a kind of casserole, and horta is boiled greens, like spinach, with generous bouts of lemon juice. Just super tasty! So we got there again and again during our last week. Taverna Apostolis is the name of the place where Loula from Albania makes genuine, fresh and nutritious Ikarian food. Bless her!
I guess Maganitis is kind of extreme, and there are definitely better tavernas in other villages. But you need to check with Tripadvisor befor you choose. We had a fantastic lunch at Anna’s fish tavern in Nas, that has a well earned high score on Tripadvisor. And we had a couple of lunches at Klimataria in Agios Kirykos, where they make a fantastic moussaka. In the village square of Agios Dimitrios we had a very nice dinner at Taverna Platanos, unfortunately followed by some stomach problems. But they had a surprise bonus, while we were waiting for our meal we could turn around a corner and buy fresh baked greek bread in a bakery.
In that mountainous western part of the island, called Raches, there are many picturesque little villages and also two monasteries, both open to visitors. One of them was used as a hospital for TBC patients during the deportations. Almost all of them got well thanks to a devoted doctor who was also a deportee.
The most picturesque villages on Ikaria are definitely Therma on the south coast, and Evdilos on the north. Both climb up mountainsides above little harbours with small fishing boats. Just as you want a greek village. Tavernas and café line the quays. People are nice and the tempo is relaxed. Which actually is just the things Ikaria is so good at!
Other nice towns to visit are the “capital” Agios Kirikos, and the more touristy Arbenistis, Christos Raches in the mountains, close to the vineyards, and finay little Akamatra east of Evdilos.
And the wheather in Ikaria, did we mention that? Sun and 30 degrees celsius. Every day.
And finally, som more impressions from lovely Ikaria: