Sifnos – few days is all we need here on a smaller quieter island. Yet for a small isle, it certainly packs a punch.
I can’t remember if I said this in a previous blog, it is a lot harder to hire a scooter in the Greek Islands these days, than it was 5 years ago. You now need to have a motorbike rider licence from your home country, and they quiz you about your riding skills, before deciding you get a banger crappy bike or a nice new bike.
We have luckily been given a slightly larger 200cc new bike, as they can clearly see we are responsible mature adults!
The roads here on Sifnos are magnificent and made all the more spectacular by the backdrop of the scenery and the stunning high mountain scape.
We honestly weren’t expecting the island to be so hilly. Apparently, the American visitors refer to it as Arizona! We can sort of see why.
From the minute the boat arrived into port, which we could see from Paros, and wondered why it would take 40 minutes, the boat goes almost completely around the whole island, and we enter a deep bay and are surrounded by high sided mountain scapes. It is incredible. And extremely steep.
Our hotel manager collected us from the port and took us to the hotel, in the late afternoon meaning we arrive for sunset and drinks and decide to eat at the hotel and enjoy the hotel. Look at this view!
The manager Spiros and I have been in contact since I booked, and he organised our scooter hire as well as collecting us from the port.
At dinner we meet Vasiliki, a softly spoken- jack of all trades, who makes our cocktails, serves our food and recommends the wine.
At breakfast the next morning, she also gets my almond piccolo – ‘just right’.
We are staying at a small boutique hotel called Geofinikas above the old Kastro and its our first actual hotel of the trip.
Preplanning is one of my favourite things to do on holidays. It’s like the holiday before the holiday.
I am sure Steve would just be happy if I chose just one hotel/villa/guesthouse etc. on each island, but I don’t and I lovingly research the accommodation, location, coffee machines, distance to town etc. etc. to within an inch of its life and love it.
The moon on our first night here in Sifnos, has the words, ‘is that the moon’, coming out of my mouth as it appears, and it is bright red. Wowza….. I only got a crappy iPhone pic as a reference. We’re told it can happen at this time of year. We can’t believe it and I actually don’t have time to go get the camera before it quickly disappears behind clouds.
The old Kastro town we can see down below the hotel, sparkles with lights as it goes-about life on this cloudy night below us.
Sitting and watching the cars drive the winding roads below the hotel as we eat our meal with only the hotel and the Kastro village lights below, its pitch black.
Steve’s first thoughts are, we won’t drive the scooter at night, however the next day when we hire the scooter, we find the roads so spectacular and not too busy, we think it may be ok at night too.
Sifnos is known for is gastronomic qualities and in fact all over the island you can see and smell herbs and small gardens growing prolifically.
We only have 1 restaurant booked, couldn’t get into 2 others so we know the island has been discovered. We hear quiet little Sifnos has been found and got a little busier since our ‘friend’ Obama visited, and we aren’t that fussy as we are going to wing it!
Our most favourite thing on Sifnos, is the bay style of snorkelling – no waves, sharks or nasty stingers, boats, ferry’s, etc. to worry about, just gorgeous sandy bays leading to rocky outcrops and the prettiest sea grass and fish to swim and see. You come up and realise you could be anywhere except Australia.
As you arrive back on the beach sun kissed with salty hair, you are at your restaurant of choice, where you probably left your bag on the table and chairs, or they looked after your gear while you went for a walk first.
This was such a highlight, and we are so glad we packed our trusty snorkels that have now been to a few countries with us.
We only visited a few beaches with three beautiful beaches of Fassolou, Faros and Glipho within easy walking or snorkelling distance of each other, being our favourites, mostly due to a windy few days so we stuck to what we liked as it was out of the wind. We visited a couple of other beaches, Vathi small and quaint and Plats Gialos- a big commercial kind of beach.
We don’t pack flippers, but we do pack espadrille water shoes that we can also wear on the bike and in the water.
We saw a petrol tanker come off a ship in Sifnos port, they had to move tables, chairs, pot plants, cars, Yias Yias and families to get the tanker through.
By the time we scootered to the top of the island to the main town Apollonia, it was happening again!
The tanker was stuck, and the locals were directing traffic to help the tanker driver get through the town, which we assume happens regularly when the tanker comes to town- I felt a kid’s story book happening in my mind! But Steve had a different thought- it looked like trying to squeeze a watermelon through a garden hose!
Sifnos is also known for traditional pottery, but all the pottery we like, the restaurants and our hotel have brought in from Crete and Athens….. so, no pottery bought, except one small white bowl for my collection of sea glass, I’m finding it everywhere.
One other traditional Sifnos thing is chickpea soup on Sundays and special festival days. They are so proud of it and suggest we try it.
Traditionally it is cooked by the women of the house the night before church because they don’t have time to go to church and then come home and prepare a meal, hence it is served mostly on Sunday after church with a slice of lemon. I’ve never made just chickpea soup it was delicious -even for breakfast.
We have two other amazing meals.
One we walked 20 minutes up the hill for some incidental exercise, wandered through the laneways and found Cayenne, a Sifnian Mediterranean 🌶️ restaurant that also masquerades as an art gallery.
They served us up an incredible eggplant salad with alfalfa on top I missed the briefing there was shaved fresh garlic in the alfalfa…….
Needless to say, I was reaching for the water glass with my eyes were watering just like with wasabi, it was spectacular in a “take your breath away kind of way”. We also had spicy fig jam and halloumi and a chicken souvlaki that was served on an incredible platter board, so impressive!
The food and art are stunning, and we loved eating in the courtyard before we strolled back down the hill in the dark to our hotel, past market gardens, small bars, a supermarket, goats and of course the bright bright moon.
But our favourite meal was our last night, when we went to dine at a cliff restaurant at the Verina Hotel -Bostani- where we got put up in the naughty corner.
Lucky us, I’m kidding we got the best seats in the house!
The food was amazing even the baked potato (1) with sour cream and caviar that cost €27 – yes, you read that correct A$55 for a friggin potato with sour cream and some very fine caviar, that I barely saw and was so shocked when I actually saw that it was just a baked potato with sour-cream and a smidge of caviar – I didn’t bother to photograph it.
There I said it now the world knows!
Other than that, it was a spectacular evening so let’s start at the beginning.
I booked this restaurant, a couple of months ago.
We couldn’t get into the hotel, to stay, so I was chuffed we got into the restaurant.
Bostani in Greek means a small garden of herbs and plants.
There are only 10 taxis on the island of Sifnos and we couldn’t book a taxi due to the next boat from Athens arriving at the same time, so Spiros the Manager from our hotel offered to drive us early, as he too had to go to the port for other guests.
We arrived at the restaurant, we were super early – about an hour earlier than our booking and the restaurant wasn’t even open. So, we had to have a cocktail or 2! The bar above the restaurant is cool and groovy, with 44-gallon drum lights and also lantern lights covered in hessian and mud, just uber cool and clever.
Heavy wooden tables and low lounges covered in cushions, great music playing and of course another bloody magical Mediterranean sunset over the Aegean Sea….
Steve had a twist on the Old-Fashioned cocktail with bourbon and I had a Negroni- Bianco which also had a coconut twist and of course botanical infusion, they were both so spectacular we had to try them a second time to make sure.
We then we downstairs to dinner and jagged a table at the back under a small gazebo out of the wind. Eventually another Canadian Greek couple
joined our space and gave us tips about Santorini for when we head there late next week.
The sommelier said his wine list was exceptional- even if he did say so himself and there was a Santorini wine on the list that retails for €500.
We have been fascinated by all the wine bottles having cork bottle tops as we have almost all screw tops in Australia. The wines have been delicious, and we said to the sommelier we liked bold Aussie reds, and he recommended a Fab wine which was a cab sav blend and we really enjoyed.
The weather hasn’t been the best, on Sifnos, it’s warm but the Meltemi winds, that come down from the baltic area, can occur anytime between May and October through the Greek Islands and are most frequent in summer. September is normally the perfect time to travel to Greece, not so many tourists, the locals have all gone back to work and school and the water is still warm, but hey we are in Greece and you can’t control mother nature, we are on holidays and having an absolute ball you just find a less windy beach, a cocktail bar or read a book and blog!
There are fabulous walking trails all over Sifnos. Some large some small. We walked to a couple of churches and monasteries with impressive tally of stairs and swim spots, although we couldn’t swim at either of these spots, the wind was too wild, but we loved walking down 437 stairs and taking photos and enjoying the Mediterranean sun and the Aegean Sea.
Anyway I’m going to sign off now and get this up loaded, Milos is calling