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Off-season island living?

Komotini, Greece
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Off-season island living?

I am looking for websites (preferably; some other media would be okay too I guess) that talk about what the different islands are like in the winter. I've seen some really good sites posted recently that talk about the islands in general, but they're not much help when you want to visit in the winter.

Right now we are in the process of trying to figure out where we will live next year (September 2010 - June 2011) and we definitely want it to be an island.

This year was Folegandros. We could stay in Folegandros or we could go somewhere else. We LOVE Folegandros but living there in the winter has its difficulties, and we are open to adventures in new places as well.

We have a few ideas of some islands that we would be interested in but have no idea what they would be like in November, December, February.... So this is where I was hoping to get some insights from the internet... unfortunately, all the sites I've found so far deal with the islands in the spring/summer.

If it helps, our list includes (but is still really open to everything) - Samothraki, Tilos, Symi, Kasos, Nisyros, Thasos.

I'm not really asking for suggestions on islands to live on (although I'll take them if you feel like offering) but just sites where I can get an idea of what life is like in the dead of winter. The experience of Folegandros in winter was a huge learning experience but I still feel like having some outside viewpoints would be really helpful!

atlanta, Ga.
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1. Re: Off-season island living?

Hi Xaroula,

I'm just curious as to what you do for a living that allows you to move around for relatively short periods of time? I'm jealous!! It's not easy being an American who has to fit all of my 2 week vacation time into my trips to Greece every other summer!! I should have said "yes" when my wife wanted to move back to Greece when we were dating. Now, it's 2 kids later and work so it would be hard to do.

Regards,

Chris

Komotini, Greece
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2. Re: Off-season island living?

cgold, I'm an American too :) I'm writing my dissertation and I spend a lot of time in Athens researching at the library but my fellowship ends in May and after that I am on my own, luckily I have all my research materials and just need to write which I can do from anywhere... my fiance is a teacher here in Greece, who is teaching in Folegandros and is making a list of where to teach next - Folegandros or somewhere else? (We can't live just *anywhere* at all because there has to be a spot for him to teach, but it will be an island someplace, and most of the smaller islands have vacancies in his discipline; he also gets more "credit" from the smallest islands; Folegandros is one of the best for that because it's so isolated, so we are really attracted to the isolated islands despite the obvious drawbacks.)

atlanta, Ga.
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3. Re: Off-season island living?

Ahh...That explains it. When I met my wife she was living in Astoria, NY so I got hooked on the Greek culture there...She went to college in Athens (U of LaVerne which I don't believe is there anymore) and moved back here for grad school...That's when I met her. She planned on moving back to Greece but I snagged her!! I have been to Greece now 8 times, I believe, and am heading to Paros (again) and Naxos this summer...I guess the idea of isolated island life is more romantic than it actually is but sounds like a great life experience.

Good luck!

CGold

Komotini, Greece
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4. Re: Off-season island living?

It sure is romantic but it can be hard to live that cut-off from the rest of the world - when there are high winds in winter (very common) it can mean not being able to get off the island for over a week. I had to have surgery last week in Athens and that was not something I would have wanted to have to deal with on Folegandros... I mean, thank goodness it was PLANNED, if I had waited until it was an emergency, forget it.

On the other hand, when things go well, I'd much rather be there than in Athens :)

New York City, New...
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5. Re: Off-season island living?

Hey xaroula:-) Curious on how you deal w/your American citizenship..do you have to go to Athens every 3 months to get your passport stamped?! I know a number of years ago when I stayed for 6 months I got scolded at the airport:-( Am sure you'll find a great spot to do your work!! Thanks and enjoy!

Beaumont, Texas USA
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6. Re: Off-season island living?

How about Ikaria? I'm not sure if much information is available about the island in winter, but after watching "Irene's Kitchen" videos on YouTube, I sure would like to see Ikaria... not exactly an unknown or unconnected island (you can fly there from Athens!), but not a "tourist" island either, that's for certain!

Since watching these little videos, and recalling the story of Icarus and his winged adventure (ever the dreamer!), I've tried to learn more about this island.

Found this website: http://www.island-ikaria.com/

Ikaria is now on my list of places in Greece I want to visit (which keeps getting longer and longer...).

Here's one of the "Irene" videos... more are available under the topic "This Island Life." This is great stuff!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vJ_68h8-qLk

Philadelphia
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7. Re: Off-season island living?

Deb, when you go to Ikaria, will you take me along??? I've been reading about Ikaria for ages now (Look in Dana Vaccaro's account in the Cadogan book on Greek Isles) ... fascinating -- turns out the govt more or less "exiled" a bunch of Greek Communists there, after the late '40s war thing ... and they just went to Ikaria and started all kinds of co-ops and little village-y things, and the locals loved them and married them, and now, it's a very different kind of place... not 2 or 3 biggie towns, but about 30 little ones. They spend a lot of time just eating and entertaining one another... I'd love to go there, but I'm not a licensed driver (too many years in Manhattan!), and its bus system apparently is worse than bad ...

Xaroula -- someone whom you might love to talk to on this subject is PAROSHEP, Michael & Karin Shepherd ex-Oregonians wgo then moved to Ireland, then to Paros about dozen yrs ago. http://parosparadise.com/ ... Not to talk about moving to Paros, particularly , but he's quite aware of all the benefits and issues of living on various islands, and could be a MINE of information. I've had good e-mail correspondence with him in the past & he's totally approachable, open to be helpful & share his insights.

Komotini, Greece
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8. Re: Off-season island living?

Litsa, I have a residence permit due to the nature of my work, so I don't need to worry about that sort of thing, luckily - it makes it a lot easier! There are some restrictions (I can't vote, for example), but other than that I can live pretty much as anyone else here. I didn't have a permit in 2008 and I could only come for 3 months and then had to leave for 3 months.

Deb - Ikaria is definitely someplace I'd like to visit... I just checked the list and it wins us a healthy 9 points (anyplace with an airport automatically means fewer "points" and therefore we are trying to find someplace as deserted/isolated as possible while still being livable - Folegandros is 11 points, the maximum anywhere is 12). Thanks for the link - I will check it out! (The point system means that after a few years of this, we will have a better chance of getting to live in our first choice city/town, if he "puts in his time" (my time too, though!) in more deserted places.)

Jan - they exiled a bunch of people to Folegandros as well during the Junta - if you go to the area where they were forced to live it's really fascinating (and depressing of course) but the houses are still there and it is really quite beautiful in a haunting way (because the houses/architecture are all stone in a very very bleak landscape). (If anyone is going to Folegandros and is interested the area is near Livadi and you walk through it on the way to Katergo.) Thanks for mentioning Paroshep - I remember them from LPTT! I am reading their website now :)

Athens, Greece
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9. Re: Off-season island living?

This has always interested me with regards to Ikaria,

<<The peculiar way of life of the Ikarians

Ikaria has a permanent population of 8,312 (2001 census) inhabitants, the majority of whom lead a traditional way of life. The main livelihoods are agriculture, livestock farming and, to a lesser degree, fisheries. A significant proportion of the population is also occupied in the commerce sector. Only a small percentage of the population is employed in tourism, and the tourist services of the island are characterised by lack of sustainable planning and infrastructures, although they are improving yearly. The environment of the island is in good condition because of the limited human aggravation. Even today the visitor to Ikaria realizes that many inhabitants of the island unfold their everyday activities during the night, with the shops opening around midnight and closing around dawn. People who have studied Ikaria relate these habits with the people's way of life during the long years of obscurity. Christos Rachon is one of the most striking examples of a village living in such a way. >>

Apparently time has a different meaning. Shops may open at midnight, service may be slow in other areas, because time just has a different notion to it,.

Xaroula, wherever you go I guess it will be rather deserted. Folegandros though must have been one of the most difficult ones though. Small and exposed to the bitter cold. What an experience! I remember spending a winter in Aegina and thought it was something out of a horror movie - in particular I compared it to the "Shining" because I was staying in a large empty hotel at the time.

The islands can be very deceptive, and in winter they have a completely different facade, wherever you go, at least you'll have the warmth of other things{ such as your loved one} and those extra points needed,

Komotini, Greece
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10. Re: Off-season island living?

Diana, Folegandros in winter was an amazing experience and I'm so happy that we did it - of course, I wasn't there EVERY day for a year like my fiance was (and still is) because I was also in Athens for the library. It was harder for him... whenever he would leave the island (we went to the Peloponnese in December, and he came to Athens last week) he would have to fit in everything you would normally do over the course of a few months into a few days (there were a lot of gyros eaten, because there are no gyros on Folegandros in winter haha!). Because we live in Karavostasis instead of Chora, it is a LOT warmer and we didn't have a lot of the problems that plague the residents of Chora (because our house is brand new). Despite that, if we stay another year, we will probably move to Chora - Karavostasis now has a population of 4 if you include me. Most aspects of life there were wonderful and I love how quiet it's been. The food is amazing, it's hard to find places to spend money, people are so friendly, and it's just so green and beautiful now. The weather was rainy and chilly and often overcast, and extremely humid (to the point where the walls were wet to the touch) but it's already gotten far far better; the weather right now is gorgeous and will most likely only improve.

I'm attracted to places like Samothraki because although it's also a lot of points (12 in fact), it's only a short ferry ride from Alexandroupolis and that ferry goes every day all year round (except with high wind). That would mean we would be much more connected than in Folegandros, where if one boat is canceled you might not make it out for days and days. Samothraki has very rough weather though.

We also like the idea of the Dodecanese because of the weather and I've never spent much time in that part of Greece. We definitely wouldn't go to someplace like Rhodes though. Tilos and Nissyros each get 12 points... as does Kastellorizo but I think that might be too much even for me LOL.