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En Route to Hora, if Slowly

AndrosEn Route to Hora, if Slowly

Off the main road across the island to Hora (also signed, confusingly, as “Andros”), are the lush villages of Menites, and, farther north, Apikia. In Menites, where I last heard nightingales sing in Greece, springs gush out of the hillside through the mouths of marble lions. The road dead-ends beneath enormous trees and the Church of The Panaghia Koumoulos (The Virgin of Plenty). Apikia, 1.5 miles (2.5km) north, is the source of Andros’s famous Sariza water. The mineral water’s name derives from an ancient word for “arrow,” so-called because it could “break stones”: even today, Sariza is recommended for those with kidney complaints.

Snowy roofs of Panachrantos

Dome of the church within Panachrantos

From Messaria, on the Stavropeda/Hora road, or via Sineti and Vourni, you can get to Moni Panachrantos (The Monastery of The Wholly Immaculate), the most impressive of several noteworthy Byzantine sites on the island. This whitewashed, 10th-century monastery, built by the Byzantine Emperor Nikiphoros Phokas—and quite a trek up even by car—commands stunning views of the valley beneath its mountain perch as well as the island capital.

 

Father Evthokimos

It is home to the relics of the healing saint, Panteleïmon, whose feast day is celebrated on July 27. Abbot Evthokimos Frangoulakis, a friendly and hospitable holy man, originally of Milos (of Venus de Milo fame), has long presided here, and is justly renowned for cooking up enormous quantities of spaghetti for pilgrims. Be sure to look in on the main sanctuary here, and see the carved iconostasis and icon of The Virgin. The whole place is awash in flowers, tended by Evthokimos, and hikers and pilgrims lend the monastery a festive air.

Shrine within Panachrantos Monastery

Rich iconostasis, Panachrantos Monastery

Andros Town, Hora, in the middle of the island’s east coast, is the most rewarding destination on the island, and I usually make a beeline for my room at my charming friend Ioanna Halla’s Hotel Myrto (Tel 22820 23673; Tel/Fax 22820 23939 myrtoappartments@yahoo.com). Located just west of Hora and above the long beach at Nimborio, the Myrto is simple, sophisticated and secluded. The little apartments have their own balconies, breakfast areas, fridges, etc., and are sweetly decorated by your host. The Myrto is very much family-run, and the Halla family chapel is right on the grounds. Parking’s a bit problematic, on the Stenies road, and there’s a long, long flight of steps down to the hotel, so plan ahead: this is no place to be lugging immense, American quantities of luggage: leave it behind in Athens. The Myrto is currently a best-kept secret of longtime visitors, but too good a thing to keep to myself.

View from the Hotel Myrto, Hora

Alcioni Inn, Nimborio

For those staying at the Myrto, the beach at Yialyia is a short 15-minute walk, and the Ta Yialyia fish taverna on the beach is a delightful place, post-swim, to have lunch (Tel 22820 24650; closed after August). If Ioanna and her mother, Sophia, are fresh out of space, try Mrs. Vassiliki Tataki’s Alcioni Inn (Tel 22820 23805; Fax 22820 24522), a complex of eleven rooms located right on the beach road at Nimborio. The rooms are clean, modern, and feature lovely oil paintings by Mrs. Tataki’s gifted daughter, Irini. The family also has some rooms at the Anemomili in Hora’s Paraporti district. (To give you some idea of room rates here, one recent year, off-season, the Alcioni was charging 50 to 70 euros for an apartment, without breakfast: very reasonable for the Cyclades.)

Yialyia Beach