The hidden island paradise and a natural prison to escape into.

Author: Faris Nejad

The tiny island of Trikeri or Palio(old) Trikeri is situated in the Pagasitikos Gulf in Eastern central Greece and is surrounded by the Pelion Peninsular. On the map it appears as if the peninsular and part of the mainland are hugging the island in their arms and protecting it from the Aegean Sea. Trikeri is on its own and it does not belong to any group of Greek islands and in fact nothing or little is mentioned about it in the tourist books. It is not only un-spoilt but also largely undiscovered. Trikeri Island is a green gem served in a blue calm gulf decorated with an antique golden monastery in the centre and ornamented by uninhabited islets around her. Numerous turquoise beaches surround the island, which is covered with ancient olive groves on a hilly terrain with magnificent views of the scattered uninhabited islets, Mount Pelion and the tranquil sea.

Not more than 20 families live on the island permanently but the population grows in the summer months and in peak season you may be confronted by as many as two to three families on a single long stretched sandy beach. Well, as your parents always said: You will have to learn to share.

There are two seafront taverns on the island, both on the main harbor providing fresh fish and the limited socialization the island can offer. A few rooms to let provide ample accommodation for the visitors. There is even a mini-market in the harbor, which does not have underground parking for clients. Since no cars are allowed on the island anyway, this does not seem to be a problem for the few shoppers. All transportation is done by 4-legged transport consisting of donkeys, mules and horses. Even household rubbish is collected by a chain of mules, which roam around the island and are employed by the municipality.

The large monastery on the island is a wonderful and peaceful monument worth spending hours in. The well groomed, enclosed garden provides a sense of peace and sanctity. There is a world of beauty in the carefully arranged mosaics of the surrounding floors by the main church. The church is decorated lavishly inside with golden religious icons and some antique Creek Orthodox artifacts. The monastery is situated on one of the highest points of the island in a dominant position. It can be seen from almost every corner of this approximately 5 square kilometer island with a few small chapels scattered around.

> Trikeri provides one of the best spots in the Aegean for boating activities. In fact the eastern shores of the island protected by Pelion's southern tip, boast some of the best areas for sailing boat anchorages in the entire Mediterranean. There are many isolated coasts around the island, which are ideal for day trips, and the numerous uninhabited islets around the gulf provide the most unique private and exclusive playground for the sea enthusiasts. One of these islets closer to Pelion Mountain homes a forgotten monastery, which is very much worth exploring. On another islet, towards the sunset on the horizon, the only permanent residents are a few wild goats roaming around the island freely. Trikeri is also an ideal base to explore the Pagasitikos' abundance of seaside hamlets, coastal beaches and of course the quaint port city of Volos. The charming sea resort village of Milina with numerous Tavernas, some nightlife and general market is only about 20 minutes by boat. The views of some of Mount Pelion's picturesque villages from the sea are breathtaking and should not be missed. The northern tip of the island of Evia with its thermal baths and the popular and touristy island of Skiathos are just around the corner beyond the gulf's mouth. Trikeri is covered with olive groves all the way down to the sandy beaches. The island is a bird sanctuary and hunting is strictly forbidden. That is why scores of wild pheasants roam around the island quite freely, flying from one tree to another. Most of the walks around the island are clearly marked and the tranquil atmosphere fills one with a strong sense of confidence in venturing out to the furthest corners of the land. You would feel so much at home that the fear of getting lost is none existent since the place where you have got lost, might be what you have been looking for all your life. This, of course, is not true about the several thousand female political prisoners who where detained on the island in the years following the civil war in 1949.

The isolation and difficulty of escaping, from the island made Trikeri an ideal place to keep women prisoners. The surviving ladies from those days have now formed a group who visit the island every year, have a swim, eat some barbecued fresh fish and contemplate the ironies of life on a natural prison to which many now wish to escape into. Fortunately, for those who wish to escape to the island. the price of the limited plots and houses available are relatively low in comparison to other Creek islands but unfortunately, there is not a lot available. The general feeling amongst the few landowners who mostly live away from the island and visit occasionally for pleasure is that if you have anything on the island, keep it. The down side for the island is that , Trikeri will probably have to go through the tourist boom years in Europe without ever having an airport, a golf course, hotels with swimming pools, taxis, bingo halls, nightclubs, casinos, Taiwanese art craft, a decent seaside amusement park and most importantly all –inclusive package holidays. Lucky little island!