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Contemporary Invaders, and Those Who Resist Them

AndrosContemporary Invaders, and Those Who Resist Them

As paradoxical as the island’s geography and schizophrenic ecosystem, is the make-up of Andros’s modern residents and ebbing Andros and flowing tourist population. The island, especially its capital town, Andros, or Hora, is home away from home to many of Greece’s wealthiest shipowners and businesspeople. With primary residences in London, Paris, and New York, members of the the Goulandris and Embirikos dynasties, among others, maintain summer homes on Andros.

Palatial estates (one with a stable complete with thoroughbred horses) dot the landscape to the west and east of Hora. This Greek “ship set,” their offspring and Athenian friends invade for a short holiday stay between June and August, when Hora, Hora’s fine museums, and Hora’s very few luxury restaurants and watering holes, are their exclusive summer haunts. But another group is already in evidence elsewhere on the island—foreign and Athenian tourists, and the former shun the latter like, well, like lepers, if the truth be known.

Peaceful, off-season Batsi

To the beach, Paleopolis

The two sets pass on the serpentine cornice along the east coast, but do not mingle. Most of the the tourists make Batsi their base from which to explore unspoiled hillside villages, empty swathes of beach (to the north of Gavrion and down the whole length of the east coast), and numerous, picturesque monasteries. But because of the resident aristocracy’s unwillingness to foster development in their well-manicured backyards, as it were, Andros is less accessible to visitors than all its Cycladic neighbors to the south. Bus connections are inadequate; roads are few and often unpaved; tours are nonexistent; hotels are at a (comparative Cycladic) minimum; and the Andriotes themselves have an often well-deserved reputation for a certain coolness towards foreigners.

Arriving in Gavrion from Rafina

Gavrion harbor

A visit to Andros, for discerning visitors, is best undertaken quite late in the season, in September, preferably. Renting a sturdy vehicle in Gavrion and setting out for Hora, which should function as your base of operations, devote three or four days to seeing the island’s various and under-publicized treasures. Keeping one eye on your gas gauge—the distances, by snaking road, are long and the gas stations few and far between—come in beneath the Andriotes’ somewhat hostile radar and see what this play-it-close-to-the-chest Cycladic beauty has to offer.