On one of my visits to Turkey, I had no intention of visiting Greece. I just didn’t have the time…or so I thought. In Selcuk, the place in which I was staying, I met another lone woman and she was interested in checking out Samos. As I wasn’t married to my plans for that particular day, I basically shrugged and decided to tag along.
Those who know me know that I am a planner. When I travel, I like to know what my options are as the last thing I want is to return home and discover I missed something fantastic just around the corner in XYZ country. However, when I went to Samos, I knew nothing about it. Nada. Zilch. For me, it ended up being an exercise in living in the moment and seeing what may come. So today, do I regret it? Actually…
Getting to Samos is a matter of getting a ride on the passenger ferry from Kusadasi, Turkey to a town called Vathy which is the capital of Samos. The ferry ride is just over an hour but the actual distance is only 3km. If you are only planning a day trip for Samos, you’re at the mercy of the ferry timetable so there are only 5-6 hours available to spend as you wish. My travel companion and I decided that we wanted to take it easy that day so the plan essentially consisted of food and walking. We arrived on the island in time for an early lunch and we chose a place near the harbour. I don’t know if it was the sea air, but lunch had no right to have tasted as good as it did! For the food alone, a return trip to Greece one day is a must!
The afternoon was spent wandering around town, taking in the cobbled stone streets, the closed-for-siesta stores, the striking red roofs, and the pirate-spotting views of the Aegean Sea. Despite me not knowing anything about the island, the history in Samos was very tangible. I also started to get the sneaking suspicion in order to do this island justice, I will need to come back and spend a few days here, not just a 6 hour day trip.
Samos’s early history is apparently not fully known but it is believed that it has been inhabited as early as the 3rd century B.C. The island is the birthplace of several important mythical and historical figures including the Goddess Hera, the mathematician Pythagoras (he who gave us a2+b2=c2), Epicurus the Philosopher, and Aristarchus who was the first person to suggest that the Earth revolves around the sun. Samos was a powerful and rich city-state as it was a trading centre. Samos was eventually ruled by the Byzantines and then the Ottomans, harassed by pirates, and plagued by the plague. The population of Samos fluctuated but the island has been continually inhabited since its beginnings. In 1912, Samos officially became a part of Greece.
In a word, Samos is lovely and as you sit in the ferry, watching the homes perched in the hills overlooking the Aegean Sea go by, guaranteed you’ll be feeling a little jealous. It is a very verdant island and the sun shines most days there. It is the Mediterranean life about which many of us can only dream. The ferry deposits you at the harbour in Vathy and for 6 hours, the place can be yours.
So do I regret not having done my research beforehand? Just a tad – but I did enjoy just wandering around. It definitely was a case of ignorance is bliss, though. This is because there are things to see on this island outside of Vathy but thankfully at the time, I didn’t know what I was missing! Apparently I missed: fantastic hiking, ancient convents and churches, a waterfall, flamingoes, various ruins, an archeological museum, beaches, and vineyards. So rather a lot. But I think it just means I have to go back to Samos…
Have you been to Samos? How does it compare to the other Greek islands?