Saturday 25 August 2018

Therma, Ikaria

A five-minute ride on this boat took us to Therma. When the boat wasn't running, we took the bus. Due to the extremely relaxed lifestyle of the Ikarians, sometimes the bus would not run either - or it would depart early, like the time when after my jacuzzi at the spa I run to get the bus, only to discover that it had departed 20 minutes early - we then would take a taxi.

Therma is 2 km from St Kirikos, a small village that takes its name from the hot springs that are to be found here.

The source of the spring is in this cave in the sea on the left of this photograph, and the spa is the building on the right of the cave. This is the spa I used

even though there are two more in the village, such as the Apollonion, above.

This quay is situated in the middle of the beach

It's a good beach, and we swam here most days. Unfortunately, there is little shade, and we struggled some days, but we could not complain - organised beaches are a sign of tourism, and we welcomed the fact that Ikaria is still undiscovered and unspoiled. An acquaintance who comes from Ikaria said to me: 'If you go to Ikaria and you don't like it after the first two days, get on the boat, go back to Athens and don't come back. If you are after an experience like Mykonos or Santorini, Ikaria is not the place for you. If, on the other hand, you like Ikaria, you will be coming back, year after year, as what it has to offer is unique'. We are definitely in the second category as we've been enchanted by this island.

We swam for hours every day. What made the swimming particularly delightful for me were these rocks on the edge of the land. Swimming around rocks is one of my favourite things in the whole world.

So, I would swim around this rock and then the next one, and the next one, and then there's a little rocky bay,  and then another rock in the middle of the sea, and I would be in ecstasy.

We would then swim across the bay

in order to reach the cave. As you near the cave, the sea water starts getting very warm as the spring water mixes with the water of the sea. I cannot describe my surprise and delight the first time I experienced that.

Inside the cave some rocks have been strategically placed

to form a small pool so that people who want the water even hotter and less diluted, can sit there and feel the benefits of the hot spring. This is what we would do at the end of our main, long swim. The water is very hot and extremely pleasant. Right at the source of the spring it's scorchingly hot - this is where Ken would sit provided there was room for him to move around a bit, otherwise he felt he would burn. It was bliss. 

Ikaria is full of these hot springs. Therma is one of the main ones. People call these springs radioactive, as the main elements are saline radium and radonium, elements that are very beneficial in small doses, particularly for musculoskeletal conditions such as arthritis but also for dermatological and gynaecological conditions and problems with the respiratory system. People who suffer from heart conditions or who've had a stroke recently, are advised not to use them. These springs have been used by people since Antiquity.

Sitting in the cave gave one a diluted form of these beneficial waters, but I also wanted to try the effects in a more controlled environment

so I had a few sessions at the Spilaion spa.

I chose to have a jacuzzi in this pool. 20 minutes is the prescribed time, and this is what I did. Sometimes I was on my own

sometimes there were more people there, like these three women who were also staying at our hotel. The one who is waving for the camera comes here every year as she finds the beneficial effects enormous - she says the benefits last all year. This was the story I heard over and over. I met a young woman who is also called Eirene and who also went to Essex University as we did. She too comes here every year, stays for 20 days and was full of praise for the beneficial effects of these waters.

The cave and spa at night.

After our first three full days we started coming to Therma in the evenings too, as we really liked the place.

We would have pre-dinner ouzos here, in this cafeneion, with good views of the sea

watch the night-swimmers, and the changing colours of the beach and sky. Dinner would be next door, where the food was delicious.

These structures are used everywhere in Ikaria to create harbours. As Ken said, they are reminiscent of Sarah Lucas' Nuds, her abstract forms created by using stuffed tan nylon tights.

We were also able to visit the makers' fair one evening

where jewellery, home-made cosmetics, cheeses and wine were being sold.


  1. Seems like a glorious experience - and I love those giant's jacks/knucklebones!

  2. It was wonderful, Olga - we are looking forward to going again.