Somehow the northernmost island of our trip, Samothrace, had positioned itself as the goal of our trip. This mountainous island, famous for the site where the Winged Victory of Samothrace (now in the Louvre) was uncovered, would be the least touristed island that we visited. It was also the most logistically difficult island to reach.
At Myrina, Lemnos we boarded the Hellenic Seaways Mikinos (for the second time on this trip) for our trip to Kavala on the mainland. Deck class tickets were 15E each for the 3 hour trip. We had about three hours to explore Kavala before our bus to Alexandroupoli departed. We were attracted to the hilltop Kastro, but were distracted by the Ottoman aqueduct built by Sulieman the Great.
Before we boarded the bus, we had a quick gyros dinner with beer (25E). While on the bus we searched for hotels, but couldn’t find one for less than 40E, so we decided to just try to find one when we got there. When we arrived, everything was full, but we finally found a room at the Metropoliti for 50E, which included breakfast. Alexandroupoli is a modern city and we didn’t regret that we only be spending the morning here.
The ferry to Samothrace, or Samothraki as it is known in Greece, is a much smaller ferry, and doesn’t run every day in low season. There is only one class of ticket for 15E. We arrived at the hot and dusty port town of Kamariotissa and had lunch at a seaside tavern. Unfortunately this was my first and only encounter with bad wine on this trip which set a bad tone for the rest of the day. I can roll with most travel punches but I must have good wine. During lunch we got a call from our hotel which we had reserved with Booking.com wondering where we were. So we hurried to our studio so the owner could leave. We watched the fisherman preparing their equipment to return to seat, arranged our rental car for the next day, and had a light supper.
The next morning we picked up our rental car (again, 25E) and headed for our destination for the next two nights, Therma, on the north side of the island. Our hotel was a wonderful find that we got via Booking.com for 25E/night. The hotel is tucked into a plane tree forest, and our shaded balcony overlooked a running stream. A full kitchen was available for guest use, but we ate both our dinners in the tavern next door. We enjoyed dining under this wonderful plane tree which is purported to be 900 years old. After a short nap, we drove the car clockwise around the island to the end of the road, where we swam at a deserted pebble beach.
The next day was our busy day. We left the hotel early to visit the Sanctuary of the Great God, where the famous Nike statue was found. The site dates from the 6th C BC, when it was started by a cult, but also has Classical Greek and Roman ruins. Like many ancient sites, it is mostly rubble, but the site is dramatic in its valley with a river rushing to the sea.
We had crepes for lunch (20E) in the hill town of Chora and then drove back to Therma for a short siesta at our hotel. We then drove a few miles west for a hike up the Fonias river. The trail begins in a beautiful plane tree forest with ancient and contorted trees. As you gain elevation the trail becomes rockier and the stream forms pools and waterfalls. There are many opportunities for swims during the hike.
During our last evening in Therma we were able to have the hot springs all to ourselves.
The next night we moved back to the port town to position ourselves for a 7:00 am ferry departure back to Alexandroupoli. We traded our car for a scooter for our last day. The car rental guy offered us a studio at his mothers hotel, the Krysos, for 20E, which we gratefully took. We took the scooter around the island counterclockwise this time. At the end of the road was another deserted beach where we took a swim. We then headed up into the hills to the town of Profitis Ilias which is famous for its tavernas that serve roasted goat. We found all the tavernas closed, except for one, which served us a perfectly acceptable meal of pork steak and Greek salad.
We retraced our steps to the north side of the island, but this time on the scooter instead of in the car. We stopped stopped and took swims whenever we crossed a stream. Samothraki has some of the cleanest water on the planet. They say that you can drink the water from any running stream on the island.
Our last dinner on Samohtrace was at a local restaurant where the ferry workers ate. Early the next morning we took the ferry back to Alexandroupoli, and said goodbye to the last island on our trip.