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Arriving in, and Leaving, Gavrion

AndrosArriving in, and Leaving, Gavrion

Unfortunately, on Andros, all ferries (four of them at present) dock at unappealing Gavrion on the northwest coast. Yacht- and helicopter-less visitors arrive via ferry (leaving Rafina between 7 and 8 a.m. and, in the afternoon, between 5 and 7:30 p.m.; arriving about two hours later) from the mainland port of Rafina (and reach Rafina by bus or taxi from Athens’s city center). It’s a good idea to arrive on Andros as early in the day as possible: you’ll have some driving ahead of you if you’re staying in or near Hora, and the coast road is best negotiated in daylight. In summer, the port town is as stark and bleached as a de Chirico, and those arriving all seem to be getting out of Gavrion as fast as possible. This is the place, though, to rent a car (and arrange for one from Athens, through my travel agents), buy an island map, and book tickets ahead of time on a ferry out to Mykonos (or back to Rafina): in high season, these boats may be packed.

Andros's distinctive walls

Rocky footpaths west of Hora

Note for hikers and eco-tourists: there’s an excellent “Touring Hiking Guide” map of Andros generally available, though you may need to say its name in Greek to locate it: Periïgitikós Pezoporikós Othigós. If you are interested in setting off along the island’s wealth of rural footpaths in search of Bonelli’s Eagle, dovecotes, crag martins, dry stone walls, slate bridges, Aegean partridges and venerable watermills, this map will be invaluable.

In Gavrion, whether now or later, there are a pair of eateries I highly Recommend. Good, if pricey Italian cuisine is to be had at La Trattoria, at the south end of the port. In the center of the port itself, En Gavrio is the best of the café-ouzeries, both late and early.

Buses bound for Batsi, Hora, Korthion and other distant villages depart from Gavrion, and there’s usually a mad dash from ferry to bus. However, if you’re taking my advice and collecting a rental car, you needn’t join this race. In fact, it’s best to linger in town just a bit, till the traffic down the coast road has embarked on its crazy trajectory. Driving down that corniche is one of my least favorite journeys in Greece, right up there with the Phira to Oïa drive on Santorini. I rent cars from Anna Vrettou, at Euro Car Rent A Car on the harbor in Gavrion (Tel/Fax 22820 72440; 71312; www.rentacareuro.com; info@rentacareuro.com): the sturdier the better, especially if you plan to head off-road and down to the more remote beaches.

Beach at Aghia Marina

Bill of fare, Aghia Marina Taverna

Outside Gavrion, just to the east of Batsi, in an area known as Aghia Marina, are two places to stay that will appeal to some of you. The Aneroussa Beach Hotel (Tel 22820 41044, 41045) is a modest, B-class hotel with 33 rooms: ask for a suite, or rooms with a view to the beach and sea. Below the hotel is a private beach of the same name and, slightly north, is located one of the few nudist beaches on the island. A bit farther southwest, along a dirt road, is the Mastrozannes family’s taverna (Tel 22820 41963), a charming little place right on Aghia Marina beach. They rent rooms, and my Athenian friends often stay here to get away from it all, swim, and commune with nature.

Anerousa Beach Hotel Aghia Marina

Anerousa Beach, Aghia Marina

Well before Batsi, on Aghios Petros Beach, Dean and I and our friends (and seasonal-Andriotes), writer Diana Farr Louis and her husband Dr. Harilaos Louis, swam early last fall, and had a late lunch at the lovely roadside taverna, Yiannoulis. We sat on blue-painted, rush-bottomed chairs, as we all have for decades innumerable in Greece, and ate red mullet and whitebait chased by wine and beer. The Louises eat there regularly, except in crowded August. Their only complaint is the noise from the busy road.

Al fresco at Yiannoulis Restaurant

Rich estates west of Hora