Tuesday, October 31, 2017

The Greek Isles: Amorgos

My last post found our group of intrepid travelers arriving on the island of Amorgos in the wee hours of the morning, uncertain as to what they would find when they woke up the next day. Here's what my mom and I saw when we opened our eyes....

the beautiful blue Aegean, sparkling in the morning sun. Isn't it pretty? I never got tired of looking at it during the five days we were there.

We stayed at the wonderful Aegialis Hotel & Spa, where they made us feel welcomed and pampered.

Breakfast view at the Aegialis Hotel & Spa

The breakfasts were AMAZING! I've never seen such a lavish spread. There must have been a hundred different things to choose from: breads and pastries, savory dishes, fruits and veggies, cheeses, yogurt (and what wonderful yogurt it was!), nuts, honeys, jams & marmalades, fresh-squeezed orange juice (my favorite), and even rice pudding!

Our classroom overlooked the pool, with views to the nearby village of Aegiali and its picture-perfect beaches.

Often, when we were painting there in the late afternoon, one of us would suddenly look up and notice that a spectacular sunset was developing, so we'd all jump out of our seats, dash to find a good vantage point, and start snapping photos. Here's one of my favorites....

One feature of a Blue Walk tour is that it includes an optional walk each day. For our first walk on Amorgos, we didn't go far, just down the hill into the little town of Aegiali, passing this cute guy along the way...

plus a chapel,

a beach,

and a cute outdoor cafe.

We ended up at this beautiful spot...

where we did some onsite sketching.

Our time on Amorgos was a mix of class time (sketchbook journaling, painting lessons, & demos), day trips to interesting places, optional walks & hikes, onsite sketching, and free time to do as we pleased.

Our second day on the island, we all walked up the hill from the hotel to a tiny chapel built into the hillside.

Jeannette and Suzy, our tour guides, told us that in Greece, landowners can get a tax deduction for having a chapel on their property, so you sometimes see them in the oddest places, like on a hillside with no houses or people in sight (but lots of goats!)

After walking up all those steps to the chapel, it was an easy downhill stroll to beautiful  Levrossos Beach...

We waded in the water and looked for sea glass and other treasures.

I could have stayed there all day, but I had to get back to teach a class in the afternoon.

We took several day trips on Amorgos, winding through the rugged landscape to visit interesting places like an herbal distillery in Langada.

There, we met Vangelis Vassolos, a devoted herbalist who shared with us how he distills essential oils from the local herbs that grow wild on Amorgos.

His whole talk was interesting but what impressed me most was the way in which he and the other islanders live in harmony with their environment, treating the earth gently, and appreciating and using what it provides for them.

Another day trip took us to the town of Chora where we hiked up the 300 "donkey steps" (steps that are deep enough to accommodate a donkey's four feet) to the Hozoviatissa Monastery which has clung to the cliffs above the sea since 1017 A.D.

There were so many pretty scenes in the town of Chora itself....

See the doorway at the end of this alley?

That's the restaurant where we ate lunch that day. We sat on the open-air porch up on top, and I had a delicious dakos salad...

A dakos salad has crusty stale bread with juicy tomatoes, soft, creamy feta, kalamata olives, herbs, and capers

Since I have to eat gluten-free, I brought along some leftover bread from the loaf of GF bread the chef had made me for breakfast at the hotel. I thought I might want to eat it with a salad at lunch. But when I looked at the menu, I got the brilliant idea to ask the owner/chef/waiter at the restaurant if he could make the dakos salad for me with my GF bread. He was happy to accommodate. I had been drooling over other people's salads all week - now I finally had a chance to try it for myself. I did a quick sketch of the lunch in my journal and titled it "B.Y.O.B", then dove right in. Wow, was it ever yummy! And the waiter even took a couple of Euros off my bill, because I brought my own bread. Not necessary, but so sweet of him.

The inside of the restaurant was pretty cool, too....

I did a sketch of one of the alleyways in Chora before we had to leave. We had lingered so long over lunch that I only had about 15-20 minutes to do a very quick pencil layout and then ink it with a Platinum Carbon pen before I had to dash to the shuttle bus.

I can't wait to bring it to life with watercolor!

Another day we had a field trip to the tiny village of Tholaria where I did a sketching lesson on location. We drew and painted two different doorways, one very old and one newer.

Even our tour guide, Jeannette, got into the spirit of things and did a sketch. But notice my mom off in the corner with her book - try as we might, we never can convince her to pick up a pencil. :)

We all agreed that the old doorway was much more interesting to draw and paint than the new one.

There were no activities scheduled for our last afternoon on Amorgos, so I walked down to the beach and spent some quiet time just walking along the water.

I loved our stay on Amorgos. Since the tourist season was waning, we practically had the place to ourselves. We had time to enjoy long leisurely meals, take in a spa treament or two, sketch, go for walks, and see some incredible sights. But now it was time to move on...

time to toast the sunset once more and get ready to catch the early morning ferry to Naxos.

Tomorrow I'll tell you all about our time on Naxos and Santorini!


  1. I cannot tell you how much this blog means to me. I always wanted to go to the Greek Islands. And although I've done some nice trips...I never got there. Now my knees are bad and I could NEVER do all the steps and climbing. So I am living it through your amazing photography! THANK you.

    1. You're so welcome, Ginny. It was a wonderful trip that brought happiness to all of us who were lucky enough to participate. I'm glad it's given you pleasure, too.

  2. Leslie, what a wonderful account of our time in Amorgos! Your photos and writing captured the essence of a marvelous trip to a special place. I feel so fortunate that I was able to be a part of this Blue Walk art tour with you. I learned so much about keeping a watercolor sketchbook and am enjoying completing my sketchbook, which naturally brings back even more great memories!

    1. You did a fantastic job with your sketchbook, Milla. Be sure to post some of your sketches on our Facebook page so my other students can enjoy them, too. It was a pleasure having you along on the trip. Hope you'll join me on another sketching tour in the future.

  3. The colors are breathtaking, even in photos! Your eye for photography is as eloquent as your eye for sketching. Both make me want to visit the places you feature. Did you bring home jars of sand from the different beaches?

    1. Oh my gosh, you just ruined my day, Susan, by reminding me that I TOTALLY FORGOT to collect any sand from all the beaches I visited in Greece! Can you believe that?! Darn it! Usually my mother or Candy reminds me, too, and they never thought of it either. I guess I was too mesmerized by all that gorgeous aquamarine water. Well, at least I brought back some sea glass and a bunch of heart shaped rocks. I think you need to come along with me next time, so I don't forget again. :)

    2. You'll just have to go back then! And I would like nothing more than to go with you. 😊

  4. What a wonderful and beautiful place and time. Thank you so much for sharing. Your art and photography are amazing!

    1. Thanks, Laura. I'm so glad you're enjoying these travel posts.


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