Beach Adventures on Milos

Swimming lagoon at Sarakiniko beach
Swimming lagoon at Sarakiniko beach

After our redeye and full day of travel, we were shot so we went to bed super early after dinner.  That, however, did not stop us from sleeping in…it was our honeymoon after all!   And the best way to kick off a relaxing, unhurried honeymoon was on the island of Milos.  We barely made it in time for our free breakfast buffet, which we had to take inside because the wind was still howling.  Because of the wind, we decided to hold off on scheduling boat activities until the following day.  Today, we would rent a car and explore the island a bit.

I took off with a group of other guests at the hotel who needed a rental, as we had to go back to Adamas to the rental agency (Pollonia is a much smaller town and lacks the tourism companies Adamas has).  Originally, we requested an ATV, but decided against it as we would need something that could hold our luggage when we returned to the port in a few days.  I actually got shouted at by the only rude person we met while in Greece – Tom Hanks as I liked to call him (which is too bad, because I love Tom Hanks as an actor, but he looked like the Greek version of Tom).  Apparently I was really stupid for going to the agency without Doug (who was coming in the next car load picking up guests) because Doug was the licensed driver, and then I got yelled at again when we changed our minds to rent a car instead of an ATV.  Thankfully, Greek hospitality only went up from here.

Super windy day!
Super windy day!
Loved the simple, whitewashed cycladic architecture on these islands
Loved the simple, whitewashed cycladic architecture on these islands

So now, with our rinky dink Honda Civic in tow, complete with questionable brakes (great seeing as how we were driving on some crazy, gravelly hills), we were off to explore the island.  With an estimated 70 beaches on the island, we were sure to have plenty of options for the day.  On the top of our list was Sarakiniko, a unique beach on the north side of the island comprised solely of volcanic rock.  It wasn’t so much a swimming beach as a really cool site to visit and see.  There was no sand, just white, craggy volcanic rock jutting out of the water, that many liken to looking like uneven cake batter or a lunaresque landscape.  The coast was a steep drop, with the waves made more dramatic by the high winds continuing on into today.  Inland, there were several coves ranging in size and depth that we could take a dip within.  The largest inlet was rather big, with lots of swimmers and sunbathers.  Walking beyond that, we found some caves built into the rock, more interesting formations, and some amazing panoramic views.  At one point, nature called, so I took a dip in a shallow pool still holding onto my shoulder bag.  Unbeknownst to me, the bottom was covered in algae, so not only did I slip and fall into the water, but so did my bag, with my phones.  Even though they touched the water for a split second, it turned out to be all the time they needed for the salt to seep in and permanently damage both phones.  More on that later.

Beaches at Sarakiniko
A windy day at Sarakiniko beach
Sarakiniko coastline
Rocky Sarakiniko coastline
Cool rock formations at Sarakiniko
Exploring the cool rock formations at Sarakiniko
Bracing myself from the wind!
Definitely not your typical “beach.”  Sarakiniko wasn’t the most ideal swimming or tanning spot but had some of the most interesting landscapes we’d seen.  (yup, that’s me)
Standing on some cool rock formations
Standing on some cool rock formations
Some random caves that we stumbled on
Some random caves that we stumbled onto at Sarakiniko

Our next stop was the southern coast, to see the colorful Paliochori beach.  In stark difference to Sarakiniko, Paleochori was a long, flat stretch of beach, covered in small multicolored pebbles with a few tavernas and bars scattered along the waterfront.  Here, we enjoyed more of a traditional beach afternoon, ordering a few beers, laying out, and having a nice dip.  We also stopped by one of the tavernas for a small bite which turned out to be quite delicious.  We were on a mission to find the best souvlaki and gyro, so here at Sirocco, we tried their souvlaki, which was unique because they bury the meat and marinade under the volcanic sand and allow it to bake for 8 hours under the sun.  You could definitely taste the flavors that only slow cooking can bring out!

The much calmer coastline at Paleochora beach
The much calmer coastline at Paliochori beach
Great view at lunch!
Great view at lunch!
Our souvlakis, fresh off the grill
Our souvlakis, fresh off the grill, juices dripping right onto our fries and salad

As daylight was slowly waning, we decided it would be a great time to go inland to the capital, Plaka.  As one of the highest points on the island, Plaka was home to a beautiful castle where all would flock to get the best view of the sunset on the island. It was made further charming with its narrow pedestrian-only alleys, which we meandered through before hiking uphill to the castle.  From the top, we were treated with a beautiful view of the water, Adamas port below, and the other side of the island that was pretty much unnavigable to cars (certainly rickety Honda Civics).  There, we got to see the first of many unforgettable sunsets over the Aegean Sea, which really were as good, if not better, than advertised.

The narrow pedestrian streets in the capital, Plaka
Walking up the narrow streets of Plaka to reach the castle
As the highest point on the island, Plaka's fortress was a popular spot for visitors and locals to catch the sunset
As the highest point on the island, Plaka’s fortress was a popular spot for visitors and locals to catch the sunset
The whitewashed buildings took on amazing hues as the sun set over the island
The whitewashed buildings took on an amazing glow as the sun set over the island
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Our first sunset on the Greek isles…and still one of our favorites
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Now THIS…is what we came for.

We loved Plaka, so we spent a little more time wandering after the sun went down in search of Doug’s first frappe experience.  A popular Greek beverage, frappes consisted of instant coffee blended with ice, which Doug developed an addiction to during his time in Astoria (aka Little Greece in NYC).  It didn’t take long for us to stumble across Cafe Utopia, nestled down an alleyway, unassuming from the front, after walking in it was a beautiful terrace on the side of a mountain with amazing views of the dusk.  We had a bizarre combination of drinks – Doug with his Bailey’s-fortified frappe, and I with my sangria, as we enjoyed the lovely view.  By now, it was completely dark, so we decided it was a good idea to start figuring out how to get home on an island we didn’t know well, on streets that didn’t have names.  Thankfully, there were only a few streets on the island, so we figured it out pretty handily.

Tonight, we tried a local recommendation for dinner at a place back in Pollonia called Armyra.  Being on an island, I wanted to try some of the local fresh fish, and Armyra was one of those restaurants where you could walk in to hand pick your own fish.  I went with the red snapper which turned out to be delicious grilled with a little lemon-olive oil emulsion.  Dinners in Greece are very much like dinners anywhere in Europe – a long, unrushed event, usually complemented with copious amounts of alcohol, so after we finished dinner, we just worked it off hiking back uphill to our hotel.

Simply grilled fish with lemon potatoes
Simply grilled fish with lemon potatoes

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