More and more people are looking for an escape from the stress of home life: traffic, traffic lights, telephones, computers, aircraft, neighbours and sometimes just people! If this is you – the tiny island of AntiPaxos might offer the perfect escape – each of our three island villas has privacy, simplicity, tranquillity and beautiful natural surroundings of vines and pines.
If you are looking for that perfect escape however, do weigh up the drawbacks of an isolated island such as AntiPaxos: there are only four tavernas (just above the two main sandy beaches) and they stay open until 5.30 pm and only one might stay open later – this means that dining is more often at home with a barbecue or well-equipped kitchen; there are no island shops so shopping has to be done on Paxos by catching one of the regular inter-island speedboats or by asking our Paxos office to deliver provisions(a delivery charge is made locally); there is no village waterfront so no evening people-gazing; in July and August the two sandy beaches become fairly crowded from 10.30 am to 5 pm but before and after these hours the beaches are deserted; there are no coach excursions; there are no streetlights so a torch is needed – in fact there are no streets, just donkey paths & narrow lanes; a lack of street lighting means the stars are stunningly bright; there are no internet cafes and no traffic lights.
Frank and Maggie Tarrant have been regular guests at Violetta House over the last ten years. They have written the following:
We first went to AntiPaxos for two weeks in 1998. At the time of booking we had an extensive discussion with the Managing Director of GIC who tried to persuade us into only staying a week, saying that it was not for everyone. We explained that we had been to Paxos in the past and stayed a month in one of the more basic and remote villas that GIC offered in those days, and he agreed to let us proceed!
AntiPaxos had just appeared in the GIC brochure and we booked into a villa owned by Dimitri who ran a chicken and goat farm. We enjoyed his hospitality, eggs, goats’ cheese, grapes and wine and fell in love with the island. We returned to Paxos for a week in Villa Yakovos that has views of AntiPaxos and watched the sun set turning the white cliffs of AntiPaxos into all shades of pink. It was then we determined to return.
Dimitri’s villa disappeared from GIC’s brochure the following year, so we chose Violetta. This became our summer retreat for the next ten years. The first seven of them in August then the next three in June / July. We still see Dimitri working at his nets in the port, or herding his goats or feeding the chickens on his farm.
Consequently, we have some first hand knowledge and through the reading of the guest book each year a considerable record of AntiPaxos has emerged over the last ten years from late May through to late September.
As David Watrous said in 1998 AntiPaxos is not for everyone.
We had always backed up our shopping list by taking either pasta, rice, couscous or dried pulses. In August 2002 we were greatly relieved to have done so.
We sat on the veranda after dinner and watched a wonderful “firework”display of thunder and lightening in the mountains on the mainland. However, it gradually dawned that the “fireworks” were coming our way. The weather set in for about four days: it was cold, wet and miserable. The tavernas closed, the owners returned to Paxos and the water taxis disappeared. We felt that we were virtually alone, especially when the telephone packed up. Mobiles were not provided in those days.
This was in high summer but the Guest Book indicates that in spring and autumn similar changes in the weather can be experienced. This year in 2009 it rained on and off for all of the week before our arrival at the end of June.
We also read of a family who in early June 2004 ran out of food during bad weather and survived on six eggs that the maid had given them. She no longer lives on the island so don’t rely on a repeat!
Therefore, there are some measures that can be taken to insure against “starvation”!
- Pack, or order in advance (the GIC Paxos office will ensure provisions will be in your house on arrival) back up staple foods e.g. pasta, rice, pulses etc.
- Make sure your first order is comprehensive with plenty of water, tomatoes, onions, beer and wine; it may be your last for a number of days.
- It is worth always keeping a six pack of water in reserve.
- Make friends with your local taverna owner. They will happily act as a shop. Thus saving the need to have wine, beer and water delivered and providing basics such as tomatoes, onions, eggs, bread etc. if you are stuck.
- With prior arrangement they may also stay open in the evening, and again with some planning provide take away meals from their menu such as stuffed tomatoes and moussaka.
Do not assume that they are running. In the high season, if the weather is fine, they run regularly from about 10.45am to about 5pm with a gap over lunchtime. They exist for the day trippers to visit AntiPaxos .If there are no tourists, there are no boats.
If the weather is poor or changes, they stop. We were once trapped in Gaios. We travelled over to shop in pleasant weather but by the time we were ready to return the heavens had opened and the water taxis closed down. We were forced into an extended lunch and a highly inflated private return journey late in the afternoon. We still see the “old crook” who took us back and whilst we thought he could have retired on his takings that day he is still plying his boat there and back.
Do not be fooled by the traditional blue caique that arrives in Antipaxos at about 10.30 each morning. It does not go back to Paxos until about 4pm.
The compensation is: no boat – no trippers. Therefore, the beaches are all yours.
Beaches, coves and swimming:
Voutumi and Vrika beaches are magnificent early in the morning before 10.45am and after the day trippers have left. We once read the sea at Voutomi described as “pellucid” and now quote it to each other every year.
Many of the coves and other bays (see Bleasdale’s Walking Guide) are wonderful for swimming and indeed are more interesting for snorkelling. It is perfectly possible for you to be totally alone in some of these bays. However, the pebbles and rocks encourage the growth of sea urchins. The female urchins, with a drop of olive oil and some bread, add an attractive supplement to your diet !)) Beach shoes are therefore useful.
The Bleasdale Walking Guide is a must. But the early editions are not totally accurate for AntiPaxos. The latest version can be purchased in advance or is available from the GIC Office in Gaios.
In the early season some paths are not fully accessible and are over grown. The Guest Book is full of stories of people who have failed to find less obvious tracks. Be prepared to push your way through gaps and take a stick to clear the paths of spider’s webs.
With the exception of the track to the lighthouse and the concreted roads from Bella Vista Taverna to the port and up hill from the port, most paths consist of rough broken rock.
When you get to the centre of the island just beyond the church it is easy to imagine life in the past for the islanders who lived there throughout the year. There is of course a small community who still do !
It is advisable to take comfortable walking shoes or good trainers.
The seasonal flaura and fauna are just great. Swifts sitting on the telephone lines watch the parent birds and learn how to skim the swimming pools for water. Young sea gulls that don’t get it quite right and land in the pools for a swim and look a little puzzled . There are wonderful butterflies; a range of wild herbs along the paths; dolphins early in the season; hares dodging in and out of the undergrowth; and occasionally non-poisonous snakes can be seen.
Akis of Bella Vista has recently reintroduced two female donkeys and is threatening to ferry a “boy” over. On your travels around the island you are likely to see figs, apricots, plums, quinces pomegranates, loquats and grapes.
If you meet any workmen always check on what is happening. It may be your first and last warning of an imminent cut in electricity – you may well know more than the Reps, who may not have been informed. A telephone call to the Gaios office will enable them to warn other villas.
It is good practice to check for a torch, candles and matches on arrival in your villa.
Why then did we return for so many years?
In 2002 we said in the Guest Book – “Thank you yet again for another delightful two weeks…”
2003 – “Do we need to tell you how lovely our week has been?”
2004 – “Another fabulous two weeks…….”
2005 – “It remains a very special place.”
2006 – “Thank you……….for providing such a lovely place to be.”
2007 (The year of the earth quake) – “The island is as lovely as ever.”
Other words that come with regularity in the Guest Books are:
“Brilliant location”,“Wonderful” ,”Paradise”, ”mosquitoes”, ”tranquil”, “cats”, ”heaven”, ”waterproofs”, ”bliss”, “wasps”, ”ants”, “beautiful swimming”
We have friends whom we first met on Paxos. In 2002 they had a week on Antipaxos in Violetta villa. Since then they have not returned to stay on Antipaxos. But each year they make a day visit. They arrive in Voutoumi, walk up to The Bella Vista Taverna where they have a juice and then peer over the wall of the villa. They then take the walk through the centre of the island and drop down to Vrika Beach for a swim and lunch in George’s Taverna. A walk over the top of the headland takes them back to Voutoumi and a boat back to the high life/”bright lights” of Paxos.
Antipaxos is not for everyone, but it is hard to totally let it go.
So: Who is Antipaxos for?
- Those who are entirely comfortable in each others company.
- Those who like tranquillity…..the only disturbance comes from the maid.
- Anyone who wants to chill out ( We met a couple, one of whom had a very stressful job that resulted in him being a poor sleeper i.e. three to four hours a night. He slept for twelve hours on his first night in Phoenica!
- Anyone who loves pellucid, crystal, clear, clean sea water.
- Anyone who loves unspoilt countryside and enjoys walking in it.
But : Who is it not for ?
- Anyone who wants entertainment on tap.
- Folk who want fine dining.
- Anyone who is not flexible, adaptable and resourceful.
- People who want luxurious accommodation.
- Anyone who has mobility problems.
Frank & Maggie Tarrant 2009.