Saturday, May 14, 2011

Day 11 - Sifnos

The island of Sifnos is part of the Cyclades chain and a bit smaller than Milos. Because of this, I assumed it would be more rustic and sleepy, but it appears not to be the case. In fact, it's a pretty happening little port town, and there were pleasant surprises for us everywhere. First off, the main drag of the town is really nice, with lots of neat shops and food everywhere. Best of all, it wasn't tacky and kitschy, but rather interesting.

In fact, we learned that in the early days, Sifnos was the source of gold and silver for the Greek empire, but that it was now known for it's pottery. The clay deposits make it an ideal location to make all sorts of pieces in the native style, though I'm not sure what that is. Either way, there are ceramic shops all over town, and many of the artists let you into their shops to watch them make their wares. It's really cool and they're super friendly.

Also, there is quite a scene on this island, not just of European tourists, but regular travelers from all over the world. They all seem to come back to Sifnos again and again, and over time, as we learned about this and met the people, we began to understand why. There is a warmth and general cool vibe about the place. It's the people.

Our hotel was the Delphina, with was on the outskirts of town, at the end of the road. This made it a quiet locale, and we are able to walk into town in about 10 minutes. It's a beautiful walk, and we get to see the locals en route and practice saying hello. The hotel is clean, like every place we've stayed in, and the hotel includes breakfast, which is huge for the frugal traveler like myself. The fact that it's included makes me forgive the blandness of the coffee (it tastes like NYC diner coffee) and the fact that the juice is in fact Tang. Either way, I'm grateful for the meal. With breakfast taken care of, we can eat, explore the island, swim, hang with the locals, and then pick up dinner in town. The hotel has a restaurant, but we wanted to explore the local fare.

The first night, we unloaded our bags, then walked to the main drag. The restaurants and shops are just beginning to awaken from their Winter hibernation, and again, not everything is open, and not all of the dishes the restaurants offer are available. Enough to have a killer meal, however. What's cool about Sifnos is that in light of the pottery tradition, many of the restaurants use the old world style of cooking, which uses the pottery to make all sorts of stews. Our first night, we went to one of them, Symos, and had this amazing pork stew and a chicken stew. They were great, and Symos is one of the few restaurants that cooks with meat and veggies that they raise themselves. In other words, local is in on the Greek Islands. I rather like that idea. There are a couple of other places, but we couldn't find them.

After supper, we had ice cream and cookies, trying out the island specialty, almond cookies. Sifnos is apparently famous for them, and some I liked, while others I could take or leave. The kids were in my camp, but R loved them all. They use rose water to make some of them. Go figure.

The hotel has a tiny pool, and we tried to go for a swim, but was it ever cold. Only N was man enough to brave the arctic chill, so we spent the time just hanging out and A and I even practiced our karate katas, though I got a little self conscious with people walking past.

Overall, our first night in Sifnos was really nice, and there were more pleasant surprises to come. Until then, thanks for reading, and thanks to RIC for the pics.

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