Tuesday, 17 September 2013

Ikaria…Therma’s curative waters

       by Nancy Snipper   
  Miraculous healing
 Therma, on the island of Ikaria is full of old people walking around in bathrobes. Some simply sit outside Apollonas’ building waiting to have their mineral bath run for them.  Hot and cold radioactive mineral salt water with healing properties attract people from all over. I am one such person. 
I soaked myself in these baths in the hope that all my aches would subside.  I also swam in the nearby cave called, Spelia in Therma where the sea water is warm, even hot.  But I never expected to feel water so hot when I went to Lefkadhas on the south side of the island. A wonderful man named Manolis picked me up in his car and took me to this boiling cauldron of sodium chloride waters right in the sea. I walked across hot rocks before reaching the spot where the water gets really hot. I couldn’t stand it. In fact, I was searching for the mud in this curative spot that you are supposed to rub on you, but I couldn’t find it. Evidently, it was only a rock-in-the sea away from where I had been.  Lefkadhas mud is good for skin problems, and almost all other ailments.  Too bad I missed it. 
Greece has 17 such curative ‘hot spots’ and Ikaria is renowned for the strength of minerals in its healing springs. I met people from all walks of life who could (pardon the pun) who could barely walk. That was before they began making Therma  their destination because of the ‘baths’.  I met a doctor who had been in a terrible car accident. Just about every bone had been broken. Now she is fine. No pain. She’s been coming for one year; the smile on her face says it all. Another woman had the wheel of a bus run over her, and now the pain is simply an invisible memory. Time and time again, the stories of illness and accidents kept being shared.  

                                                                               Apollinas mineral water baths (photos above)

I did feel no aches after spending four days going from bath to spring to beaches where soft warm sometimes hot sea temperatures flowed into my body.  One such beach that Manolis and I stumbled upon having gotten lost was Iero Beach. Never in my life had I seen such turquoise transparent water. Above this secret inlet rose spectacular white craggy cliffs - one topped by a single, lone tree shaped in the face of Nefertiti, Egypt’s famous and most beautiful queen.  

Iero Beach (3 photos above)

Whether it was the baths, or the startling magnificent beaches that surround Ikaria like a golden necklace, I left the island pain-free.

Where to stay

Agrioykos Pension: Beautiful from every angle
Nothing can beat the inspiring views afforded by Agriolykos Pension. It is Therma’s crowning jewel, for its grounds sit loftily above the sea and magnificent cliffs loom behind. This idyllic place offers hammocks and at every turn vistas of verdant and sea-saturated scenes. Voula Manolarou, the owner loves to sit and chat with you. I loved her place and Ikaria so much; I wanted to change my flight back to Athens. She immediately picked up the phone and made several phone calls to get happening. Voula is a highly educated woman who as interesting as the place she has built. She is a multi-tasker who has generously opened her place to share with others. I stayed two nights; I left feeling Voula and I had become friends. She genuinely takes an interest in you. She’s a true Greek with that insatiable curiosity. Eleni, her helper has a smile and sweetness that adds to the pleasantness. She is there to serve breakfast and fix any room issues. There are 12 rooms and they are spaced apart. The walk up to Agrioykos is exciting in itself; it’s rather romantic.

Endless Blue: backpack stop and people fun
Endless Blue Pension offers a terrace that provides a lovely view of Therma. You can see the beach below and Spelia. Apollonas is about one minute away. Twelve rooms on two floors - kitchens on each   floor leave little room for space and privacy, but its informality makes it a great place to meet people of all ages and nationalities. More hostel than hotel, Endless Blue’s best attraction is Nikos Xiros, the owner. When he isn’t busy fighting firs (he’s a fireman) he loves to help you .People keep coming back to his pension for the view and it’s fun and friendly.