Monday, 26 September 2016

Sarakiniko in Milos

 
Too many photographs in this post, but this is one of my favourite places in the whole world, and I wanted to chart our whole progress through this amazing place. This was our second visit to Sarakiniko and yet the impact and feeling of wonder were as strong as the first time.
 
 
 

A 15-minnute bus ride and we had arrived. A lunar landscape, like nothing I had ever since before or since.




We did not have to walk far to see the white cliffs and the blue waters of the bay below.

 


It's a downhill walk to reach the beach but it's gentle and easy.




Situated on the north shore of the island, this landscape is unique, its white-bone characteristics derived from volcanic rocks shaped by wind and wave.



 

The erosionally sculpted Pliocene white tuff formations consist of layers of thickly bedded sandstone, pumice and mudstone containing numerous marine fossils and fossilised tree roots. The formation was emplaced in a shallow marine environment after which it was gradually uplifted.




We continued our descent




blinded by the whiteness of the rocks, delighted by the amazing shapes we encountered




absolutely spectacular.




The contrast of the white rock formations with the electric blue of the sea is stunning

 
 


We got our first proper glimpse of the bay, a narrow strip surrounded by the white rocks







Locals recommend that you should also visit Sarakiniko at night, especially when the moon is full, as the snow-white rocks reflect the light vividly, creating an unforgettable landscape. There were no buses at night, but maybe next time we will take a taxi.
 
 
 

We arrived a little before 11:00 in the morning and the beach was not crowded. By the time we left after 1:00 it was much busier.




The rocks are smooth in parts, so climbing to the top of the cliffs is very easy

 


Hardly any vegetation, but the odd hardy plant can be found amongst the rocks



 
This is understandably, the most photographed landscape in the Aegean
 
 




















The bay is where most people swim but there is another one much further along, which we will get to eventually in this very detailed description











the blue of the water is electric


 







I was not aware of these yellow stones and sand when we were visiting, only noticed them when I was processing my photographs and I am wondering if they are sulphur deposits - there is a large disused sulphur mine on the island, which unfortunately we did not have time to visit.
 
 

 
We finally reached the small sandy beach, a narrow strip of pebbly and soft light brown sand at the foot of the zig-zag-shaped shallow bay with gorgeous turquoise water. 
 
 
 


A lot of people don't swim but just sunbathe, and even though we were eager to get in the water





we decided to visit the abandoned mine caves and tunnels accessible from the narrow gorge behind the beach.




We found one of the larger ones and in we went




an amazing experience




the tunnels look surreal, arch after arch as the rock has been cut and formed





There was a tunnel to our right, and even though it was very dark despite the light at the end, we decided to go along as it looked mysterious and interesting. It was pitch black. At one point Ken said to me: 'We should be careful because we can't see where we're going'. I started to reply: 'it's o.k. we are walking on san.....' and then we both fell in a spectacular manner. There was a drop at least one foot high and down we went. I landed on my bottom, and even though it's been over two weeks, I still find it difficult to sit down. I heard Ken shout: 'I have hurt my foot' and then, 'I have lost my shoe'. We searched and searched, feeling the ground with our hands in the darkness, trying to locate the shoe, but we could not find it. Ten minutes later I heard some voices, shouted 'hello' and with the help of the torch on the mobile phone of those people we were able to located the shoe. Phew!








Needless to say that was the end of our exploration of the caves





and a restorative swim was in order.





We swam to the end of the canal.





At one point I heard two Italian woman talking, and one of them said 'Una piscina' and this is exactly what it feels like - a giant swimming pool





Being surrounded by these amazing rock formations made this one of the most pleasurable swims I have ever had.





I then swam out into the open sea and circled the majestic rock in the photograph. It was so exciting that I did it twice. I was the only swimmer there, and that added to the excitement which was mixed with a bit of trepidation as these are (for me) unchartered waters.





It's the way these rocks are formed that is so enchanting - the peaks here look like hats.





We were aware that we did not have much time





so we started climbing at the opposite side of the pool/canal, in search of the other pool that I remembered from the last time we had visited seven years ago

 



people perched on plateaus soaking up the sun
 
 
 

or simply exploring, as we were
 




this landscape is like nothing I have ever seen

 


 


We then got a glimpse of the pool we were searching for




and the sea in the distance
 
 


and here it is!




Just beautiful.




More interesting rock formations here









More people at the top.




I now wanted to swim here, not just this little pool, but the sea beyond, hoping to reach the white cliffs at the other end, but we were aware of the fact that soon we would have to go and catch the bus.
We decided we would visit again on our last full day.





I had it all planned. Because my arthritic hips would not allow me to climb up the rocks after the swim, the intention was to start from the first pool, swim all around the rocks and finally get to this spot, and then back again. I was so looking forward to it!  But, the wind changed on the Tuesday when we were intending to come: a north wind in Sarakiniko means huge waves and lots of currents - a no-no if you're swimming around rocks. Very disappointing, but a good reason to visit Milos again.


 


We walked to the edge of the cliffs facing the rock that I had previously swam around





Sarakiniko is named after the Saracen pirates that used to come here. It overlooks the islands of Sifnos and Kimolos.

 





People seem to have so much fun here




More of those yellow deposits







A last look at the pool







The number of beachgoers who had placed their mats and towels on slight slopes or flat sections of the 'hills' had increased dramatically.




We reached the first beach
 
 









looked longingly at the water




and kept constantly looking back




and all around us.




This is a wonderful image of the woman perched on top reading her book. But, I had to ask myself, how can anyone surrounded by such rare, breathtaking beauty, sit and read a book?




Meanwhile, these people on top of the cliff were diving into the water. Very exciting.




The white all around you under the strong midday sun is blinding, like snow.




We started walking up towards the bus stop and the smell of thyme all around us was overpowering.