Amorgos 1996

Amorgos 1996

It is on revisiting islands that one notices the changes. The two islands in the Cyclades that I have visited most are Naxos and Amorgos. Naxos is large, the largest island in area (although not in population) of the Cyclades. Amorgos is smaller, although there are many far smaller islands in the Cyclades.

Amorgos is perhaps not every tourist's glass of retsina, but I find it a charming place especially when there are few tourists about. Some tourists may want better and more accessible beaches, and more vibrant nightlife. I keep on going back to Amorgos as I enjoy the relatively unspoilt villages, the countryside and the friendly islanders.

The villages on Amorgos are small enough for the attractive countryside to be within easy walking distance. On larger islands unless you walk for long distances through dusty and sprawling suburbs, you have to rely on buses to reach the countryside. The buses are often overcrowded, and are understandably scheduled for the needs of mountain villagers heading into town to shop, not for tourists wanting a day in the countryside. Although the villages of Amorgos are small, they are large enough for the islanders to be busy with activities other than catering to the needs of tourists. Some of the smaller islands in the Cyclades (such as Iraklia, Schinoussa and Donoussa) have been on the verge of total depopulation. It is pleasant to see them still inhabited, but when an island depends solely on tourism for its existence it lacks the Greekness that a tourist likes to see.

There are two main centres of population on Amorgos, Katapola, Chora and the villages of Katomeria in the south; and Aegiale, Langada, Potamos and Tholaria in the north. Until recently the two halves of Amorgos were like two separate islands in that the easiest way of getting from one end of the island to the other was by boat. That is changing now that the road linking Chora and Aegiale has been improved, and, in 1996, tarmacked. In 1996 I overheard an American who had been in Aegiale twelve years earlier say: "Then the electricity was switched off at night. I hear there's a resort there now. Wow. I'm going there tomorrow. I wonder what it's like?" I did wonder if a foreign tourist who was in England during a power cut might think that power was always cut off at that time of day. I also thought of how little frozen food was available when I first visited Greece in the early 1980s. Years later, even small food shops sold a range of frozen food (and no doubt had a generator to cope with the rare power cuts).