Wanda of Viaggi, luoghi e profumi continues to take us on a journey around the Greek islands, today we are in Arki a fishing island where time seems to have already stopped and the naturalness of the landscape invites you to discover this corner of paradise far away from the tourism of the mass.
A barren piece of land, a handful of narrow houses around the harbor, three rustic taverns, a pretty Kafenion, four small churches, a few small coves of the Caribbean Sea (but lacking of sand) two cars, a scooter and fifty inhabitants: Arki is all here, and thus can not but only enter rightfully in my collection of “dilapidated” islands.
It's still the "fishermen" island like what we dream and imagine, simple and spartan, with a touch of "homeliness" that reassures and entertains.
It is usually prey to vacationers who, like modern pirates, assault it by arriving in daily excursions departing from the busier nearby islands.
In order to live fully the authentic atmosphere, I preferred instead to land from the legendary ferry Nissos Kalymnos, stopping for a few days, and I have not regretted it.
The hike from the new pier at Augusta, small port for sailors and the island's capital, offer glimpses of the bucolic harmony, at times - alas- ruined by some clumsy new building.
And here we are in the only square, often used as a football pitch by children and the center of the social life of natives and tourists.
Here, the taverns of Trypas and Nicolas, friends-competitors that share the major part of the few visitors, offering, in addition to the food, also accommodation, in the rooms above the restaurants, or scattered in the inhabited area.
Right next door, the bar-kafenion shows off ambitions of sophistication, with its well-finished breakfasts and the small adjoining shop, stocked with clothing and knickknacks surprisingly nice and cheap.
To complete the commercial offer of the port, the inevitable kiosk that sells a bit of everything: ice cream, cookies, cigarettes and paper tissues.
There is, indeed, a new minimarket further up, but the modest selection of articles and grumpiness of the owner, do not encourage a second visit.
The other tavern is towards Porto Stretto, a small village ten minutes from Augusta: once, stories were told of its incredibly low prices but when I was there, they had already adapted to those of Trypas and Nicolas, but always, in any case, very contained.
The star of Arki is Tiganakia, or the Blue Lagoon, a wonderful bay of crystal clear and turquoise water: a pity that in high season becomes impassable for a great part of the day, crowded as it is by dozens of boats and small boats, surging into the only cove dinghies loaded with intrusive invaders.
In a half-hour walk from Augusta, over the hill behind the port there is, in fact, Limnari: cove shaded by the usual, providential tamarisk, that suffers though from some waste brought from the sea.
The bath in the sea, on the other hand is memorable, in a mirror of water with the sea-bed of white sand, calm and clear as a swimming pool.
Continuing on after Limnari there are two other not enthusiastic coves, but the walk leading up to an old Italian barracks, is still very pleasant. To kill the time waiting for the ferry, or simply because it is near, you can choose the beach on the left of the new dock: planted with a row of tamarisk, it seems to have been "invented" by blows of dynamite.
The environmentalists will not be happy, but the swimmers instead yes, given the attractiveness and comfort of the place. Just think, some day trip visitors even stop here, instead of going in search of the famous, but more distant Blue Lagoon.
And to say that in Arki is one of the permanent bases of Archipelago, a research project on marine and terrestrial biodiversity of the Northern Aegean islands.
In addition to a fixed group of researchers, the association hosts on a three-monthly basis young people across Europe, mostly biologists, students, new graduates and researchers.
For the bio marine research and the scientific observations, the young people take advantage of a beautiful equipped sailing ship.
Stunning photos and detailed information on the Archipelago site you can see here: www.archipelago.gr
Swim, walk, read, rest, chat with people, hire a local caique to discover the nearby islands of Aspronissi and Marathi, watch the sunset ... if you're there on August 23, you can also take part in the lively "Panighiri", party which attracts participants from all the neighboring islands.
Where is it held? But in the square, obviously, with the tables of Nicolas and Trypas prepared for the needs all around the space reserved for the dances, that last all night.
The island nearest to Arki is Patmos, which can be reached either by little boats that carry out excursions, with the Nssos Kalymnos, that cover the scheduled service on the route that goes from Kalymnos to Samos.
But there are also excursions to Arki from Lipsi and from Leros.
As I said, both Nicolas and Trypas offer rooms for rent, which you can see on their websites. In the inhabited area immediately behind the harbor there are other solutions, such Katsavidis Rooms and the beautiful recent studios of Evdokia's Petrina with the exterior of natural stone, very well-cared for surroundings and a breathtaking view of the sea.
Prices for overnight stay for two persons, last year ranged from a minimum of 30 Euros in low season to a maximum of 45 in August (except for Evdokia's studios, asking 45 to 65 Euros, again for two persons).
The easiest way is to go by air to Samos and continue the journey with Nisos Kalymnos that sails for Arki every other day all year round.
Another option is taking a day trip by boat from Lipsi or Leros.
For finding the ferry check on the official website: GTP.GR