SKopelos

By Sofia, Aug 11 2017 06:20PM

Guest blog by Sappho Lauder and Simon Elton


Two years ago we got married on Skopelos at the stunning Livadhiotissa monastery, and stayed with Sofie at 39 Steps. It was a fantastic holiday and reaffirmed our love of the island. This year we have returned to Skopelos to stay for the whole of August...with a new addition: 6-month-old Raphael.


Blithely we thought travelling with a baby would still allow us the same kind of holiday we were used to: lazy mornings, followed by hours spent on the beach and late dinners in town. Unsurprisingly, Raphael has a completely different schedule to the above (like waking up for the day at 5.30am and going to bed at 8pm) so we've had to adapt our holiday somewhat! Luckily, Sofie has taken us under her wing and opened our eyes to a whole host of hidden delights the island has to offer-exposing us (and Raphael!) to a much calmer side to Skopelos.


So far we have visited Ag. Moni monastery with stunning views over Alonnisos and the two brothers' islands; dipped our toes in the crystal clear waters at Glisteri beach; had a beautiful early morning walk up to the Sendoukia graves where, on a clear day, you can see across to Agios Oros; introduced Raph to some goats (he kept giggling at them!) and watched how islanders are re-establishing bygone farming methods of drying and massaging plums into prunes.


So, although we're not getting as much beach time as we did in the past, thanks to Sofie - and her expert knowledge of Skopelos - we've seen far more of the island these past few days than we have in our previous five visits, and Raphael is being exposed to so much culture, nature and history.


Simon, Sappho and Raphael at Glisteri beach
Simon, Sappho and Raphael at Glisteri beach
The family at Dhimenika
The family at Dhimenika
At Sendoukia
At Sendoukia
Baby Raphael
Baby Raphael
Sappho and Simon wedded on Skopelos several years ago
Sappho and Simon wedded on Skopelos several years ago

By Sofia, Aug 5 2017 03:54PM

It all started with my intention to raise funds to replace a rickety old gate at the Livadhitissa monastery. That gate has now been replaced with a new one, made of the recycled metal from the old one fitted to new side posts.


The funds were raised by voluntary donations from participants in free walks and forage sessions to gather herbs and other plants abundant on the island.


Such was the success of this project, it has been possible to use surplus funds to plan the restoration of the beautiful, but crumbling stone archway at the forecourt of the monastery's main entrance. Already, Manthos the stone mason has completed the archway restoration and it is now the turn of Andonis, the blacksmith, to show his skill in re-fashioning a foraged cast iron bar gate for the beautiful archway.


Contributors to the fundraising included holidaying visitors to the island from far away countries, Greeks from the mainland and members of the Skopelos community (Greeks and ex-pats alike). I thank all those involved for the success of this restoration project which all of us can now enjoy in this beautiful, prime location.



The rickety old gate
The rickety old gate
The new gate, complete, though still awaiting painting
The new gate, complete, though still awaiting painting
The crumbling old archway
The crumbling old archway
Manthos the stone mason makes repairs
Manthos the stone mason makes repairs
The rear archway repaired and restored (now awaiting the new gate)
The rear archway repaired and restored (now awaiting the new gate)

By Sofia, Jul 26 2017 07:57PM

Guest blog, by Kate and James


We came to 39 Steps on Skopelos for our honeymoon and found a beautiful island, green and lush; as good as any brochure picture, but in real life.


When we arrived at Skopelos port from Skiathos we were immediately struck by how unspoilt the island is. There were no mass tourist groups with their guides, just locals meeting friends, relatives and guests off the boat. Sofie, of course, was there to greet us and take us up to the 39 Steps.


The apartment is a whole floor of a traditional stone town house in the heart of the town, amidst meandering cobbled streets free from cars. The town has a wonderfully relaxed feel which renders the bustle of the outside world a distant memory. It is just a 5 minute walk down the hill to the waterfront tavernas and cafes where one can just relax and while away the hours peacefully reading or watching the world go by.


Sofie took us to Agnondas, a most beautiful cove for snorkelling and swimming in the crystal clear water which feels pleasantly cool in the summer heat. We had discovered the wonderful waters the previous day when sea kayaking and were keen to spend more time in them. While we swam, Sofie went foraging for oregano, before joining us for lunch at Pavolos restaurant overlooking the beach. The excellent seafood here was fresh from the sea.


Sofie introduced us to Virgil who lives on his own in a local run down monastery. Sofie has been helping Virgil with restoration work using funds contributed by both her tourist visitors and locals. Having originally set out only to repair a broken gate, she is now employing a local stonemason to repair an arch in which a foraged gate will be modified and fitted by the local smithy. There is a wonderful sense of community from everyone one meets.


Later in our visit Sofie took us on a walk to some tombs carved from the rock at the top of a mountain. There were magnificent views to the adjacent islands and the distant mainland. From here we went via a goatherd's homestead to a small hamlet at the end of a dirt track where a Dutch woman is starting to revive the prune export industry. There is a clear view from her hamlet up the coast to the "Mamma Mia rock". It is easy to see why this location was chosen for the film as the island is just breathtakingly beautiful everywhere you look from the sleepy towns to the majestic mountains.



Kate and me at Ag. Triada, Kalogeros, on Skopleos' north coast
Kate and me at Ag. Triada, Kalogeros, on Skopleos' north coast
Me admiring the completed restored archway, the work of Manthos
Me admiring the completed restored archway, the work of Manthos
Kate and James snorkeling at Agnondas
Kate and James snorkeling at Agnondas
Amarathos coves
Amarathos coves

By Sofia, Jul 16 2017 06:08PM

As the temperature rises at this time of year, there is great pleasure in the cool, early morning. These are my favourite hours of the day, when I enjoy the revelations of nature as it awakens. Whatever my reason for the early leaving may be: a morning swim, or a forage for herbs in the mountains, I always enjoy the experience.


A well-liked cousin and his wife from Australia visited recently with a friendly couple they travel with. I invited them to join me on an outing, which the two men declined. Sue and Ingela, the wives, left their husbands fast asleep and joined me on the early morning adventure.


We set off heading for the Sendoukia mountains to forage oregano and wild carrot blooms (I use the ripe blooms for dried flower arrangements). I am sure they enjoyed their outing as much as I did in showing them our islands beautiful spots, which are away from the mainstream of tourist activities.


They arrived as city sleeks, but soon got into the spirit of island life!
They arrived as city sleeks, but soon got into the spirit of island life!
Starting out on our walk at sunrise
Starting out on our walk at sunrise
Ingela and Sue enjoying the county life
Ingela and Sue enjoying the county life
Well into the spirit of things
Well into the spirit of things
Carrot blooms and oregani for the collection
Carrot blooms and oregani for the collection
The view, in full light, on our return
The view, in full light, on our return

By Sofia, Jul 8 2017 07:25PM

While visiting the usually tranquil taverna at Agnondas for a quiet sunset meal with my friend John, we came across a group of elegant ladies finishing their late lunch wearing light beach wraps over their swimming costumes.


Towards the end of their meal, one by one, they got up and started singing and dancing to the accompaniment of a tune played on one of their phones, before departing on their nearby boat and sailing away into the sunset.


Thanassis, the owner of the taverna could only tell me that they were Bolivian.


Rumor circulates that there is a plan for another Mama Mia filming. Whatever the reason, it was a pleasure to see these ladies enjoying themselves in such a charming way. Perhaps the Bolivians have decided to make their own version of Mama Mia on our beautiful island!



The ladies start the party!
The ladies start the party!
Fully in the swing (with others now joining in!)
Fully in the swing (with others now joining in!)
Dancing done, the ladies board their boat and sail away to the West...!
Dancing done, the ladies board their boat and sail away to the West...!
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I'm Sofia, 39 Steps' owner and host. This is an occasional blog to keep in touch with my regular guests, give a taste of Skopeliti life and share my experiences of foraging through the summer season

 

Sofia

 

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