June 9-13: Five Days in Sifnos

Our time in Sifnos was fairly quiet, in a large part due to the weather: hot and hotter each day.

Saturday, 9 june

It was hot when we got up this morning, though there was a steady breeze that felt something like the tradewinds in Hawaii. After our “first” breakfast of yogurt, a biscuit, and coffee, we walked down the hill to poke around and do some provisioning. It was noise-free and quiet this morning, with none of the crowds of last evening. Maybe this is a quiet village after all.

We had an omelette in a cafe along the beach, walked around a bit afterwards, met a very nice lady who runs a bookstore, and picked up some groceries and two gyros to bring back to the studio for a late lunch. As we trudged up the hill in the increasing heat, I decided we needed to rent a car.

While we were eating, I put out a little thermometer we had brought along; it measured 90+ in the shade and 99+ in the sun at 3:30! After our siesta, we walked back down the hill and straight to the travel agency to arrange for a rental car, a tiny yellow Chevrolet Matis, to use for the remainder of our time in Sifnos. That way we could both do some touring and not have to climb up that hill.

We had a superb traditional dinner that evening at a taverna on the beach: Greek salad, fish eggs salad, and zucchini rolls stuffed with ground meat baked in olive oil. With rose wine, of course.

Sunday, 10 June

This morning at 9:45 it was 80+ in the shade, 106+ in sun! At least there was a nice breeze. And it’s not even high season yet, that’s in July and August!

After a light breakfast “in” we got ready to drive to Appolonia, the capital of Sifnos. It 5 km from Kamares where we were staying. Sounded like an easy drive…wrong! The very narrow two lane road winded up and down and around the whole way. Fortunately there was little approaching traffic and no one following me most of the way.

I couldn’t find a place to park, and ended driving through the main street and out of town and then had to turn around. An empty spot caught my eye and I parked, only to be told nicely but firmly that there was no parking there, except for taxis. They did tell me where to find public parking, though.

First order of business was to find some breakfast and, as usual, we easily found a cafe with free wi-fi. We occupied ourselves there for a bit, then took a walk. We picked up some small souvenirs, including a locally made ceramic tealight holder. Then we headed back down the narrow, winding road, a bit nerve-wracking as this time we were on the hill side. Again, fortunately, not much traffic.

We went back to the studio, put on our bathing suits, and headed for the beach. It was sublime–totally flat, almost bath warm water, with a shallow sandy bottom that seemed to go on forever.

That evening we had dinner at an estiatorio that was run out of a small hotel. It was down the hill from our lodging, a little way from downtown. There was a family having dinner, and it turned out they were our hosts as well. Very authentic, including no conversational English.

The feature of the day was lamb prepared the way they do for Easter — baked in clay pot with bunches of whole thyme, superb! Along with that we had beetroot salad (boiled beets processed with yogurt), and garlic salad (aka skordalia, a garlicky potato spread and one of my favorites). This time we had red wine to complement the lamb. Then, we we thought we could eat no more, she presented us dessert: halvas (a semolina pudding with toasted sesame seeds), walnut pie, and a wrapped chocolate “ball” (oversized truffle, I think) that we brought back because we truly could eat no more.

Monday, 11 June

We spent a quiet day today–breakfast, browsing, lunch, shopping, siesta, swimming, dinner. We ended the day enjoying some ouzo on our balcony after sunset and playing yahtzee.

Tuesday, 12 June

We decided to visit Platys Giala, a beach town on the southern end of the island. This time,though, we decided to take a bus — much easier than driving and I could watch the scenery instead of the road. It was a very enjoyable ride.

When we got there, we found that almost the entire beach was dotted with cafes and estiatorios, most with chairs and umbrellas set up on in front of them. We quickly figured out that you pick a spot, order something cold to drink, and stay there as long as you like. Pretty nice.

We chose our spot, had a swim and sat in the sun for a bit, then went up their stairs and had lunch and used their wi-fi. Then we walked around a bit, stopped at another cafe to have some wine followed by ice cream, and went back to the bus stop.

It didn’t cool off at all that night — thank goodness for air-conditioning!

Wednesday, 13 June

Today was our last day in Sifnos, we were taking a ferry to Santorini at 20:20. What to do when we checked out of the studio?

It was still hot first thing in the morning, and stayed that way all day; there was a slight breeze. After checking out, we went to Cafe Stavros for a late breakfast and hung around there for over two hours. Then we walked next door to Cafe Pinis for ice cream, and hung out there for another couple of hours. Both, of course, were along the beach; in fact, Pinis has stairs leading into the water from their seating area. At both places we were made to feel welcome and stay as long as we liked; they even brought us ice water a couple of times.It was a very pleasant way to spend an otherwise long day.

After going by to chat with Maria, the woman who owns the bookstore, and buying a Sifnos souvenir book, we went across the street to Captain’s Bar to have a couple of drinks to cool off and kill more time. Finally, we returned the rental car and went to Da Claudio’s, and Italian restaurant to features authentic Italian pizzas. The pizza we had was possibly the best ever. An interesting thing about it was that the four ingredients–ham, olives, artichokes, and mushrooms–were not combined but, rather, each individually occupied one quarter of the pizza. Great concept–no need to pick out what you don’t want, just pick the section that has what you do want.

Then we walked to the commercial dock to await our 8:20 ferry to Santorini. Once aboard, we were treated to a colorful, if not spectacular, sunset after which we settled down for the approx five hour crossing and the beginning of the next chapter of Greek Odyssey2012.

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