Syros – a sophisticated detour

Syros is a mere detour for many tourists who change boats here as they hop along the Cyclades route  – but this means that they miss out on a great authentic Greek experience! We planned a 3 day stopover on the island sandwiched in between weeks on Andros and Sikinos. Our only regret is that we didn’t stay longer!

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Arriving into the port at Ermoupoli is a magnificent experience as the two hills of the town emerge with pastel shaded buildings in Venetian style. A Catholic and Orthodox church sitting atop each one as a reminder of the island history as a melting pot of east and western traditions.

I’d chosen to stay at The Good Life Greece as it came up on a quick internet  search – you’ll know my obsession with home-grown veg and gardening, but just say the words olive trees, rural life and goats – and consider me sold!  I liked the look of their website – props for good design, and articles which explain the owners Nick and Elspeth’s whole ethos of living organically and converting the houses sympathetically in a sustainable way.   Plus they’d been featured on the Guardian (okay, not always convincing as I like to find the ‘undiscovered’ gems) The reality didn’t disappoint! We’d emailed ahead to arrange a transfer, owner Nick met us at the port, driving us the short 15 mins to well,…heaven.

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The three villas at GLG sits on a slight incline, surrounded by a cinematic backdrop of hills and farm land. We were greeted by Zoe the most affable bundle of energy I’ve ever witnessed in a Dalmatian dog – also she’s quite the photogenic star in our pics! Apart from the peaceful location which was what we craved, the villas are lovingly appointed and matched by friendly hospitality from Nick and Elspeth, who provided lots of tips of places to eat and sights to see.

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Our villa was Reason – for just 2 of us but would easily suit a family as it has one double bed and a second sleeping area with twin beds. What really makes it stand out is the attention to detail in the 200 year old villa – incredible high quality decorative touches, traditional Mediterranean hues of blue  and white, in keeping with farmhouse idyll, but really  high quality touches like the unique eco heating/cooling system (utter silence for a perfect night sleep). They have created a place with style with substance! The fantastic kitchen is fully equipped, amazing espresso maker and everything you may ever need! We didn’t cook anything more advanced than fresh scrambled eggs and a salad, but if you felt the urge to compete with any of the local taverna offerings you could! With a vegetable garden and olive groves – it really is the good life! We spent at least an hour after we arrived saying ‘this is what my Greek house would be like’ to each other and smiling.  A big plus is the location; less than 10 minute slow meandering walk through farms on a winding path will take you to the local beach, Voulgari and a further 5 minutes will get you to tavernas and supermarket’s towards Finkas bay or towards Poseidonia.

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Perroquet Tranquille (meditereanan / french bisto) came recommended but we didn’t have time to sample it. We ate at Meltimi, a simple family run Taverna on the road back from Agathorpes beach – yummy fresh meze dishes and grilled meats. Sunsets are amazing here too!

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Agathopes is an organised and clean beach with a trendy hangout Bar/Restarunt that felt more Mykonos than humble Syros – but the beach was packed with locals and mostly Greek tourists – so has a full appeal. Although we preferred lounging on the beach closest to GLG; a small strip of shingle with tamarisk trees for shade and clear blue water perfect for snorkelling. Although not an island famed for beaches, it has enough dotted around the coast to explore and a great bus service round the island to the capital, Ermopoulis.

Syros has so much more we want to explore next time. From the wilder north of the island with its hiking trails and deserted beaches, not to mention exploring Ano Syros, the winding whitewashed steeps of the oldest part of the town high up on the hillside.

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What I can be very certain of  is that Syros really impressed us. Not just the quality accommodation, harking back to a more traditional way of living and as a cosmopolitan laid back island. Its less than a few hours from Athens and from what we heard is only ever described as busy in August when Greeks take their holidays too. It’s a compact island, yet serves as the administrative capital of the Kyclades Islands, foodie heaven, with enough rural charms and traditional ways to make it a perfect place to unwind and step back from hectic life.  Why get on the next ferry – you should stay here!

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