Skiathos is an island I thought I needed to return to in order to keep up with the demands of the people who use my website. The popularity of the movie Mamma Mia, has increased their interest in Skiathos and its neighboring island of Skopelos. There were scenes filmed on both islands as well as on Pelion which all have that pine covered
hills to the sea look that some tourists prefer to the rock-barren Cyclades look. You would probably have a hard time finding
your favorite Mama Mia scene in Skiathos or Skopelos but that does not keep people
from wanting to go there and find that blue sea, pine mountain world where everybody runs around singing ABBA songs. But I remember Skiathos in 1973 and though it was very beautiful, it was obviously in the beginning phases of its incarnation as the Mykonos of the Sporades and from the photos I have seen of the quiet beaches we once went to, as they look now, a visit might set off waves of nosatalgia and make me pine for a place that no longer exists.
That's all just an excuse of course. The reason I don't go to Skiathos is because it is such a pain in the ass to get to. If you are not lucky enough to catch the one flight a day, which seems to be booked full for whatever day you request on the Olympic Website, then you have to go to the Lliosion Street bus station in the nowheresville neighborhood of Kato Patission and take a two and a half hour bus trip, (not the ninety minutes they tell you in the guidebooks)
the port of Agios Konstantinos to catch the ferry which leaves sometimes at 10:30am and usually at 5:30pm. Most local people though go to Alkon Travel on
the corner of Kanigos Square (97 Akademias Street) for a special bus that connects with the
ferry at Aghios Konstantinos usually at around 7am but it depends on the ferry schedules.
The early boat is a passengers only flying dolphin and the later boat is a highspeed which takes cars. The ferry trip is only a couple hours and it continues on to Skopelos and Alonysos, both islands less developed than Skiathos. Skopelos is famous for its plums and Alonyssos for the endangered monachos-monachos seals. So lets just count the hours. Since it will take most tourists at least an hour
to get to the Terminal B Lliosion Street bus station, (take the X93 if you are at the airport-anywhere else take a cab),and the buses leave every hour and don't sell advance tickets so you will want to get there early for a seat, you may spend four to five hours just to get to Ag Konstantinos. Once you get there though the rest is easy. You buy your ticket, which you should get well
in advance if you are taking the flying dolphin or going on the Friday evening boat in the summer or holiday weekends, go hang out at the many cafes and restaurants around the big tree shaded and grassy platia, and wait for the boat to start loading. We ate at Kotsanis which was a very good working class place, just to the left of the bus station which looks like a cafe, and in fact is a cafe, across the street from the giant church of Agios Konstantinos.
The best way to go to Agios Konstantinos is to take a taxi from the airport which should take about two hours unless he drives like a maniac. Even street taxis are free to charge whatever they want so it is best to contact a professional transfer-tour taxi like George the Famous Taxi Driver who will have a set price so you will know what you are paying before
you go and if you don't like it then at least you will know what he costs and not pay more for a street taxi, should he agree to take you there.
We drove and even without the usual getting-out-of-Athens traffic it took at least two hours just from the outskirts of the city on straight highway where you could drive 120kph and often had to just not to antagonize the other drivers who wanted to go even faster. Its not an exciting trip in terms of scenery, passing through farms and factory towns mostly on Thessalian plains, and just as the landcape gets interesting you are there in Agios Konstantinos.
We wandered around, there was a festival going on because this week was the Agios Konstantinou saints day, and the town was full of gypsies and carnival types who sold stuff at the booths or worked at the small amusement park, the kind that follow all the religious festivals. We had lunch, then left my mother at the cafe closest to the boat and gave the owner instructions to make sure she gets on it. "Leave it to me" he said with pride, like he had done
it a thousand times before for other sons who left their mothers because they wanted to get back to Athensbefore dark on a more interesting route than the one they had come up on.