Skiathos Town (part one): First Contact … Rather Disappointing!
For visitors arriving to Skiathos by boat or hovercraft, the commercial harbour of Skiathos Town or "Chora" as the islanders call it, is usually the first contact with the island.At each ferry arrival, in a joyful chaos, disheveled mothers struggle to hold their kids with great difficulty while fathers try to recover their car in the bilge, young courting couples of all sexes, motorcycle bandana on forehead, stubbornly go ahead to make their way through the crowd, large delivery trucks honk on and on, while the maritime police whistles with all his might to somehow impose a discipline and a direction to these incoming and outgoing waves of all kind of excited human beings, eager to arrive or to depart.
It screams in all languages, it pushes in all directions, it tries to retrieve its suitcase in a ton of other baggage, and all this, under a blazing sun. In short, your holiday begins and Greece welcomes you with open arms. At this point, you cannot see what is surrounding you. You just have one thing in mind: to leave the crowd as soon as possible and dispel this vague disappointment that is now cruelly nagging you: was it really a good idea to come here?
Do not stick to these first moments where only basic needs obsess you: arriving, drinking, eating, bathing, sleeping, in order or randomly. I know that. I lived it. Often...
Listen to this friendly advice: let a few hours go by, maybe a day or two, and come back to give a second chance to this city that always fails the opportunity to make a good first impression!
If you have rented a villa outside the city in the middle of the nature, after two days of dolce farniente, divings into the pool and singing cicadas, you will feel like taking a walkabout. You are now ready to “go downtown” and discover why Skiathos is nicknamed “Mykonos of the North Aegean Sea”!
Skiathos Town: Looking for a walkabout or some celebrities...
Like many tourists, you have probably chosen to visit Skiathos in the high season and you are now facing your first problem. As ALL the people who rent a car in ALL the Greek islands in the summer, you do not know where to park this damn car. In Skiathos, there is a municipal free parking lot, quite chaotic and “in the local style” (random parking spaces, no marcage on the ground which is NOT in concrete...). It is located at the entrance of the city, shortly after the supermarket Asteras on your left (just before the private parking), a small slightly sloping road will take you there. Go as early as possible and you will have a chance to find a place. Pick up your car as late as possible and you might avoid the bad surprise of being blocked by another car whose owner has obviously not left his phone number ... If all this scares you, remember it is also possible to take the bus or a taxi.
Well, your car is now parked, so you can "attack" the city, a bit pretentious word since it has only about 5000 inhabitants in the winter (around 80,000 souls at the height of August ...), but since it is the only town on the island, it deserves this name.
Skiathos Town is built like an amphitheater around a sheltered bay, southeast of the island. Facing the harbor, in the other part of the bay, is the peninsula of Punta: small hills covered with pine and olive trees, dotted with white villas half-hidden in the vegetation, accessible by a road through the shipyards.
Lovely old buildings, white walls, red roofs, blue shutters, which usually belonged to wealthy sailors, line the harbor. Most have been restored and are beautifully illuminated at night.
The crowd of tourists flows mainly on two areas: the port and Papadiamantis Street which is perpendicular to it. Restaurants, shops, bars and nightclubs abound in these two areas.
The port is divided into two parts by the little peninsula Bourtzi, on top of which still remain some ruins of the castle built by the brothers Ghizi in the Venetian era. The Bourtzi is a very nice place and invites you to a stroll among the majestic and fragrant pine bordering the paved driveway leading to the top. The night view of the city lights, the taverns of the old harbor and the boats is charming. The Bourtzi is a haven of peace where romantic couples of young lovers love smooch on public benches... At the top, at the end of the paved driveway you will find a bar with a large terrace, where I recommend you to go and have a drink before dinner. Behind the bar, a former elementary school converted into a cultural center offers theater performances and concerts throughout the summer. Descend by the driveway which is located at the rear: it is lined with impressive cactus. Read Part Two..