Thursday, August 19, 2010

Get away in style: Amorgos

Le Grand Bleu (The Big Blue)

Ever since Luc Besson's famous dream film in 1988, which took place in Amorgos, flocks of (mainly French) tourists have been visiting the remote Greek island for their summer vacations.

5 reasons to go:

1. Le Grand Bleu
Uniterrupted, magnificent views of the big blue from the island's steep cliffs. Have a dive at Saint Anne's beach, where scenes from the movie were shot. But be prepared: no sun loungers, no shade, no water and too little space! Either go early in the day (around 11am) or late in the afternoon (after 5pm) to get a place for your beach towel... Don't forget to take your snorkelling gear with you!


2. Panagia Hozoviotisa Monastery
On the way to Saint Anne's beach (preferably late afternoon around 6pm to avoid the burning sun) make a stop and visit this unique 9th century monastery built into the cliff 300m above sea level. It's a 15 minute walk up the steep winding track to reach the monastery, but it's well worth the effort. Make sure that men wear trousers and women wear long skirts, otherwise you won't be allowed in.

3. The Chora
Avoid staying at one Amorgos' two ports and book a room in the Chora up in the mountains. It is one of the most beautiful, authentic and best preserved villages of the Aegean Sea. Due to the strong winds at such a high altitude, the buildings are situated extremely close to each other with a network of narrow pedestrian streets protected from the wind. The classic white and blue elements with the red-purple accents of the bougainvilleas compose a magnificent scenery inside the Chora.


4. Emprostiada & Jazzmin
When it comes to hospitality, Emprostiada guest house, managed my Mrs Evangelia, is by far the best place to stay in the Chora. Situated at the upper side of the Chora, it offers excellent accomodation and a suberb location both close to one of the Chora's two parking areas and close to most tavernas, cafes and bars.

For breakfast and for a drink in the evening make sure you visit Jazzmin cafe/bar, probably the best one in the Chora. Make sure you go early to get a seat otherwise you'll have your drink in the nearby alley trying to catch a tune from the live band.

5. Gramvousa Island and other beaches
Although access to the beaches is pretty tough, they are well worth the time to get there. All of them have crystal clear blue waters, most of them are rocky but there's a few exceptions with fine pebbled or sandy beaches. Pictured below is a beach on Gramvousa island, a 5 minute boat ride from the southernmost tip of Amorgos.

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