The other day we took the ferry to Samos. We wanted a day out, plus I needed to renew my visa so I killed two birds with one stone. Just incase anyone's interested I thought i'd write a little about how to get there etc...
I paid 40 lira for the ferry ticket and €10 (roughly 20 lira) for port tax. So, altogether 60 lira. You can purchase ferry tickets to Samos from a number of the travel agents around Kusadasi, some already include the port tax into the price, whilst with others you have to pay on arrival at the harbour.
The boat leaves Kusadasi at 8.30am, and you should arrive 30 minutes prior to departure. If you have booked with a travel agency then transport from your hotel to the port is usually included.
Walk right through the Scala Nuova Shopping Center heading right until you arrive at the Cruise Ship entrance. Once you're at the Departure gates, you will see passport control where your passport will be stamped (whether or not you want a new visa on the way home) and you will be issued with a boarding card. You'll find the Duty free shop where you can purchase goods, but remember you will have to lug the bags around Samos for the day, so perhaps it's better to go there on return to Kusadasi.
When you walk out of the Departure building you will be directed to the ferry where you hand in your boarding card and then find a place to sit. You will not need a boarding card for the way home, so don't panic. The ferry we went on is small with an upstairs seating area, aswell as an indoor area and seats around the sides. There's a small cafe inside where you can purchase drinks. At that time of the morning, most of the boat were inside catching up on the sleep they missed that morning.
The ferry journey takes roughly 1½ - 2 hours. We left Kusadasi at 9am on the dot and arrived in Samos at 10.55am. I'm not great on boats, so I was jumping for joy when we finally saw Samos getting closer...
After a long journey you arrive at Samos' main port 'Vathi' located on the North-East part of the island and built amphitheatrically around a bay. It has a population of about 9000 inhabitants and old Venetian and neoclassic buildings blend with the new ones, forming an attractive scenery.
Once off the ferry, you have to go through the Greek passport control and then you're free to explore Samos. I had heard from so many people that a day trip to the Island was about as fun as watching paint dry, but I actually liked it there - it was a peaceful and relaxing day. The Greek people are really welcoming and you'll hear 'Yassou' (pronounced YahSU - meaning hello) constantly from the friendly locals.
The town area around the port was very similar to that of the Island of Chios, with lots of waterfront cafes and restaurants scattered around the bay. Prices do vary and most of them have their menu on display outside so it's worth a look before you go in.
A 2 minute walk from the port, you'll find one main street full of shops. If you carry on walking you'll come to a pretty little square where you'll find a number of cafe terraces where you can sit and have a drink. (or two!)
You can't spend Turkish Lira in Samos, and if you didn't get a chance to change your money into euro's in Turkey, there are a few banks with ATM's around the town and along the waterfront where you can withdraw cash.
The one thing I should mention is that they have a siesta in Greece, which means all the shops close from around 3pm until 6pm, so it would be a good idea to get all your shopping done first and then go and have lunch once the siesta kicks off. The streets are deserted during the siesta time, but the cafes and restaurants fill up.
The Greek food is really delicious, we found a hidden restaurant in a secluded garden where we had a lovely meal. I can really recommend a Greek salad and 'tzatziki' (a creamy combination of yogurt, cucumber and garlic) although they have it in Turkey, the Greek version is scrumptious.
Samos is one of the biggest islands of Greece - although there's not a whole lot to see or do around the port area once the shops close. If you want to explore you can hire a car, bicycle or a scooter and see the Island better.
There are lots of old fishing villages such as Pythagorion and Ireon, picturesque towns, ancient sites and museums around.
If you're looking for more than a butchers to stock up on bacon, you can always visit:
Tunnel of Eupalinos
The Tunnel of Eupalinos, a major aqueduct, was built in the 6th century BC to bring water to ancient Pythagorian and runs for over a kilometre through the hills. You can walk for some distance in the tunnel as it is now fully illuminated, although it's not recommended if you suffer with claustrophobia.
Panagia Spiliani Monastery
To the northwest of Pythagorion inside a big cave you can find a monastery devoted to the presentation of the Virgin Mary.
The Archaeological museum
The museum houses a collection of items used in the daily life of ancient Samians, pottery, coins and small objects made of bronze along with female statues,. The most impressive statue however is the majestic, five metre-tall kouros, discovered, like most items, at the Heraion sanctuary in 1980.
The Temple of Hera
According to Greek mythology, the goddess Hera was born on the site of the temple. The site is vast and complicated and only one of the original 135 columns remains.
The Waterfalls of Potami
The area of Potami, located west of Karlovassi, is one of the most beautiful areas of Samos. A walk along the river through the forest leads to a small lake and the Potami waterfalls.
More information on where to go and things to do: http://www.samosguide.com/
The are a number of large supermarkets around the Island the most popular being Lidl which is about 10 minutes away. In Vathi town near the port there are smaller markets where you can also purchase British foods (such as salt & vinegar crisps, hurrah!)
If you just want to chill out, there are many beautiful beaches around the Island of Samos. A couple of small stony beaches are situated within walking distance just up passed the port. Here's a guide to the different beaches available: Samos Beaches
We went into Hotel Samos which is opposite the port where we were allowed to go up onto their roof top swimming pool for free and chill out there until it was time to head home.
If you're looking to kill a few hours before sailing back to Kusadasi, Hotel Samos' roof garden is a great place to sit/swim/drink and watch the world go by as the views over the bay are beautiful.
The ferry departs from Samos at 17:00, but it's advised you get to Samos port at 16.30. You do not need a boarding card this time round, they will check your name off their list.
With our bags full of food and our bellies too, it was time to leave Samos.....
Once you arrive back in Kusadasi you enter the arrivals area where you'll be able to obtain a new visa, go through passport control and visit the duty free shop if you wish to do so.