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Pythagoria: the smartest townon the isle of Samos

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December 2011

As we sat on one of our two balconies overlooking the marina in Pythagoria on Samos, we felt happy once again to have found an island town we were beginning to love.

We stayed at Acropol Rooms (only 30 euro a night) on the main boardwalk just five minutes from the port and 200 metres from our swimming beach. Our room and its location were more than we could have asked for. With no reservations, we knew we were lucky to have found a room with a view, air conditioning, a fridge and not one but two balconies.

Who needs air conditioning with this cross breeze, we wondered? One night we were treated to live music from the bar next door wafting up to our balconies.

The woman who owned the pension also ran the outdoor pancake café, from which we could observe boats of all sizes, shapes and purposes leaving and arriving at the marina.

We were three blocks from the main pedestrian street, lined with boutiques, ferry booking offices and a station where we caught the bus that took us to Vathie, the capital, a 45-minute trip to the other side of the island. The bus station was more a group of travelers on the sidewalk than a station.

This is a friendly village. One evening, I had to call another island, Icaria, to book a remote mountain pension. The young woman at the kiosk down the street let me use her cell instead of paying for a card and finding a pay phone. Her offer was indicative of many small but meaningful gestures of good will from the people of Samos.

We discovered another, more remote beach at the end of the main commercial street 500 metres past the archeological site of Samos. It was a bit rocky and wavy for our liking; we preferred the closer beach with its seaside restaurants that set up tables on the shoreline.

The best times to swim are before 10am or after 5 or 6 pm. Otherwise, expect to be broiled and served up on a platter like the assortment of seafood and fish displayed in the restaurants along the boardwalk.

One of our favourite dinners took place the evening we went to our beach for a swim at 6 pm, prepared our dinner table by leaving our bags and towels on the seats, and then at 7 sat down in our wet bathing suits, sampling the specialty of grilled sardines. Yummy! Irwin helped by eating the sardines’ heads. Maybe he thinks they will make him as smart as Pythagarus, who, if you haven’t guessed, is from these parts.

We stretched out our stay to four nights because we felt at home in Pythagoria, having met Sandy and Jocelyne. Sandy is from New Zealand, has lived here more than 23 years and raised two children here. She owns the bar where we stopped for breakfast, which included three large fresh orange juices (one was extra) and our favourite brown baguette-tish toast and filter coffee. Real milk is quite a deal here, so if you don’t ask for it, you get Carnation.

Sandy suggested we dine at Thanasis’ Sister, an ouzeria with authentic Greek music, so off we went the next night to hear lovely ballads by a gentleman playing the bouzouki with guitar accompaniment by the owner of the restaurant. His wife, Jocelyne, also an owner, is an American Greek from Utah and she serves Greek homemade delicacies, including a tomato anchovy salad, freshly fried chick pea balls, grilled red pepper stuffed with spicy feta, tiny and tasty calamari, and some indigenous boiled greens from the island. For dessert, a herbal tea from the island and a chocolate log with walnuts was sumptuous.

We returned the next night to try as many other dishes as we could. It was be our last night in Pythagoria before we set sail for Icaria (yes, our next isle is named after Icarus). Icaria is very near Samos but takes four hours on a slow ferry.

We chose Icaria because, well, we’d never heard of it and when we started reading up on it, we loved the idea. It had been an island of exile for Communists after the civil war that followed the Second World War and still maintains a strong communist presence. We’ll let you know just how strong in our next article.

Till then, happy sailing through the snowfalls!



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