I grew up in Athens. The first time I visited Amorgos was in 1998, at the urging of my brother. Until then, I preferred to go on vacation to Mykonos, Santorini, Paros and Crete, like most people my age.
When I arrived in Aegiali, I immediately felt an irresistible attraction for the landscape in front of me. The sparsely populated houses and the light morning meltemi wind made me feel an unprecedented peace. I was entranced. After sleeping for a few hours, I woke up and started wandering in this place. Every time I left to return to the city I felt empty. It took me days or weeks to recover.
I decided to come and live permanently in Amorgos in 2006, when I felt that I could no longer stay away from it. And in any case Athens had lost its appeal to me.
I’ve always dreamed of a house overlooking the sea. Now the sea is the first thing I see when I wake up. Is it calm? Is it stormy? I love to watch the local ferry “Skopelitis Express” depart at 7 a.m every morning.
Amorgos is full of paths: small passages between the villages used by the locals in the past when there were no roads and vehicles. A short walk to the top of Prophitis Ilias over Chora and the Monastery is always enjoyable. The 700m climb takes you an hour more or less. This spot always fascinates me because you can discover the greatness of the horizon; how far your gaze can go.
Prophitis Ilias is definitely no mainstream walk. When I want to take a stroll by the sea, I follow the route from the statue of Nafsika to the statue of Erato, our two muses who welcome travelers at the port of Katapola.
The most important thing on the island is the people who live here. Over time, the people of Amorgos remain generous, friendly and authentic, despite their dealings with the increasing tourism. What I’ve noticed in the past few years -and I confess that I don’t really like- is the tendency of people who don’t live on the island during the winter months, to get involved in tourism in any way possible, mostly pursuing their own personal gain and disregarding the island in the process.
What we call decent food is sure to be had in Amorgos. In all my years here, I’ve probably dined in all the restaurants of the island. Scarcely have I not been satisfied. People here cook like when they welcome you into their homes. And this is priceless.
In recent years, a new wave of chefs have appeared offering traditional flavors combined with a more modern look.
In the past few years my go-to food spot is Youkali in Ksilokeratidi, in the village of Katapola. Favorite dishes: shrimp kritharoto and fish soup. I like this location for both eating and drinks because it’s quiet and of course by the sea.
In winter, after the rain, I’ll rush to Kato Meria, the southern part of Amorgos, to eat fried wild mushrooms in Ston Pyrgo, in the village of Arkesini. From Tholaria, the village in Aegiali with the most intense atmosphere, to the remote hamlet of Vroutsi in kato Meria, everywhere you go in Amorgos the food smells of nostalgia.
Utterly connected with the roots of this place, the ritual before the treat at the festivals, on the feasts of the Saints. If you experience the festival of Agia Paraskevi or Agios Ioannis Theologos and of course the celebration of Panagia Hozoviotissa late November, only then do you truly realize this connection.
In Amorgos, you need to do some grocery shopping almost every day. We don’t have big supermarkets here, so oftentimes we visit the convenience stores to pick up all the necessaries of the day and maybe the day after. For instance, on Wednesdays and Saturdays we run down in the morning to grab some fresh produce. In between, we buy meat or fish and bread. All purchases are made with a span of 3 to 4 days ahead. Most stores close in winter so we try to support the remaining ones so they can stay open. These people, the owners, are struggling under the circumstances.
This winter we had the opportunity to see Amorgos in white. Around mid-February, we woke up one morning and everything was blanketed in snow. It usually snows once in a decade on the island. The image of the -either way- white Chora covered in snow was undoubtedly the highlight of the year.
Amorgos is definitely a low budget destination. With the exception of August, when the prices of accommodation increase significantly due to high demand and the small number of rooms available, during all other seasons a couple can go around comfortably spending about €600-700 per week.
Regrettably there are few culture and entertainment venues on the island. There is a cinema club that some people have been running voluntarily for the past twenty years. It’s an important outlet and a place for socialization, especially in winter. Also, there are some school plays offering a really wonderful show.
I like to drink coffee by the sea whenever I can. I also love to drink my coffee in winter in a traditional cafe with the locals, let’s say at Fotototis in Chora. There, early in the morning, you may or may not become wiser, but you’ll definitely start your day with lots of laughter and a relaxed mood. I can guarantee that.
Or in the evening, after the arrival of Skopelitis Express, a late coffee at the traditional cafe Prekas in Katapola, where you won’t get enough of listening to old and new stories by the sea captains.
Life on the island is a windswept one. The sound of the wind is imprinted in your memory, so when there’s a day or two throughout the year when it’s not your companion, you can really feel its absence. The smell of winter dew and the scents of sage and oregano in the spring are among my favorites.
What’s missing from the island are venues of culture and entertainment as I’ve mentioned before. Places of socialization and shaping a quality-oriented everyday life.
Here you can find the original Greek article
Many thanks to the team of travel.gr