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  • Writer's pictureSpiced Cranachan

Postcards from Amorgos

White buildings against the blue of the ocean is an almost universal sight within the Greek islands. And yet, the island of Amorgos presents such a unique character that its dwelling within the Cyclades could almost be forgotten. Unlike the more tourist-beset islands of the Aegean, Amorgos is unpolished, rugged, and has an almost ancient feel to it.

As we approached from the east, it loomed in the distance; a rocky, uneven land of dry browns and greys, the signature white houses just visible through the haze of the ocean.

Once we had maneuvered through the port of Katapola, where our boat had docked, we quickly organised our car-hire and eagerly made our way out of the town. We were welcomed immediately by two things: the sudden and intense wind, and the thriving population of goats.

The history of the island was evident wherever we went.

A number of weathered windmills dot the ridge overlooking Chora, retired after almost 300 years of grinding and producing flour.

Some have fallen to ruin but those remaining continue to resist the powerful gales that sweep over the ridge.

The Olympia was less fortunate, and the remains of its shipwreck can be found still in the Bay of Liverio, where it was thrown by the rough sea during a storm, and where it eventually sank.

And of course, the monastery of Panagia Hozoviotissa is nestled into the cliffside on the far end of the island. We were welcomed by one of the four monks in residence here, who offered cool water, Amorgos raki (local spirit) and loukoumia (Greek sweets).

It is difficult to say what it was exactly that captured my heart. It might have been been the slightly cooler weather, the wind and the occasional grey sky that reminded me of home. It might have been the people we met – there was no artificial friendliness or politeness on Amorgos, only regular human beings going about their day and treating us as one might a neighbour.

It may have been the food or the landscape or even the goats – perhaps a combination of all these things – but I will say my memories take me most often to the little moments of peace and quiet.

There was one such moment when we watched the sun set over the smaller island of Nikouria. The clouds descended and looked to be as if on fire. Not a single sound could be heard, not even the ocean whose waves had fallen quiet, and I could have sworn the world stood still in those brief few minutes.

As James Thurber wrote,“beautiful things don’t ask for attention.” He wrote, of course, in the context of a snow leopard, but I would argue that Amorgos is the snow leopard of the Cyclades; hidden at the easternmost point and mostly ignored by the hordes of tourists that flock to Greece every year.

There is a very modest beauty to Amorgos. This is not an island crying out for the spotlight – on the contrary, this seems like a place that does not even know the spotlight exists.

(Gallery of my photos from Amorgos below)


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