Wild and remote - the Greek island of Karpathos
Pigadia, Greece (dpa) - Their eyebrows are black and thick and their
facial expressions austere and proud. The women from the small town of
Olympos, high in the north of the Greek island of Karpathos, are
different from the women on the rest of the island.
This part of Karpathos has the harshest landscape on the 300 square
kilometre island thanks to its craggy coastline and the waves that
crash upon the shore.
But its olive groves and hidden bays also make it the most
beautiful place on Karpathos. Olympos is difficult to reach: a ferry
travels twice a day from the island's capital, Pigadia.
You can drive by car, but the road is unpaved and full of potholes and steep inclines falling away to the sides.
The islanders have for years bemoaned the condition of the roads as "a disgrace".
But the laid-back Greek attitude has made its mark here and most people have become used to the conditions.
It's easier to simply wait for the day when the decrepit earth removers finally transform the old road into a proper motorway.
But until that day comes, the 350 residents of Olympos will have
little contact with tourists - a fact that both annoys and pleases them
at the same time.
That's because during the day there are many visitors combing the
town's narrow streets for souvenirs. But by evening most of the them
have returned to their hotels.
While they're here they don't leave much money behind and many treat the locals like exotic animals.
"We feel a little like being in a zoo," they complain. If they are
going to be photographed all day long, they would like to have
something from it.
However, it's unlikely that Karpathos will experience a boom in tourism.
While the island between Rhodes and Crete has an excellent climate,
it lacks that special ingredient that many tourists are looking for.
"You're in the wrong place if you're looking for all-night parties," says Alexandra Haugg.
Haugg has been running a windsurfing school in the south of Karpathos for the last 10 years.
Thanks to the island's geography, Karpathos has excellent wind
conditions and it enjoys the reputation of "Europe's windiest place".
Surfers, trekkers and individual tourists are drawn to Karpathos
seeking the quiet life - something they will definitely find here.
Surfers have wind and hikers have plenty of walking routes to
choose from including the "Kali Limni" - the highest point in the
island with almost alpine-like conditions.
And when the guidebook describes a bay as "isolated" it really is
true. Prices are reasonable and the locals are not weary of the foreign
It's not unknown for guests to spend time in their host's kitchen
watching them prepare a meal or for joggers to be offered water from
concerned farmers who can't understand why a stranger would want to run
along a rough road.
At first glance, Karpathos is no ordinary Greek island. There are no small whitewashed houses nestled between green hills.
The landscape is barren and the trees bent over from the constant wind.
The island's charm is revealed later, at the latest when the flight
personnel at the airport issue you with a handwritten boarding card.
That's when you know that mass tourism has not reached Karpathos.