Gordon: A couple of days ago we cycled the 25 kms from Loutraki to the other, bigger town on the island, Skopelos Town. This is the more touristy end of the island, but at this time of year you only know this from the size of the unoccupied waterfront restaurants. Many tourist related businesses are already shuttered, and it seems that more close every day. We were the last tenants of the season at our accommodation in Loutraki (although they said they would reopen for us if we passed through on our return journey) and it appears that we are the last occupants of our current apartment as well.
In the dying days of the season the prices have become very reasonable. We are paying 28 euros (about CAN$42) per night for the two level suite that we currently occupy. It is located on a square on the waterfront, which we can observe from our three balconies. It has a kitchen so we are doing our own cooking (liberally supplemented by local delicacies such as cheese pies, baklava, and the most outrageously rich cakes.)
While we are losing our interest in swimming in the cooling temperatures and agitated seas, there are clear advantages to travelling in Greece in this season. The cooler temperatures allow us to plan walking and cycling excursions that extend through the afternoon, without fear of the heat.
Yesterday I walked to the top of a nearby mountain (560 metres) on a five hour hike. The walk followed an ancient stone path that has been refurbished in recent years. Most of the area is covered in a forest of shrubs and Kermes oak. Surprisingly, there are a few arbutus trees high in the mountains. There are also a number of active monasteries in the surrounding hills, most established in the 17th century and now occupied by a single monk or nun. I visited the Metamorphosis of Sotiros monastery on my walk, and was shown the gorgeous church by the resident monk. There is a lush garden within the walls of the monastery, and a collection of monastic cells that would have accommodated a number of monks in more devout times.
Skopelos Town is a substantial Chora (the “ch” is pronounced like a strong “h”) that has maintained its traditional appearance. This form of organic, high density housing is an endless visual delight, and we have spent hours wandering through it. Our outings are usually initiated by Ruth asking “Should we go Chora-ing?” In some cultures this would be a strange suggestion from one’s wife.