Hot, hot, hot......
When we arrived, it was about 35°C. The Thomson rep said that for several weeks it had been even hotter - around 40°C. We were very lucky with the weather - we hardly saw any clouds the entire fortnight. Most days, the sand was too hot to walk on. The landing was rather nerve-wracking - the pilot warned us that he had to head straight for the side of the mountain behind the airport, before banking very sharply at the last minute to the right to line up on the airstrip.
Votsalakia is a long-strung-out development in the south-west of the island, nestling underneath Mount Kerkis. Loads of tavernas, shops, car-hire places, so lots of competition. We hired a car for most of the fortnight, and paid around £220 for a Daewoo Matiz with aircon.
Lots of good tavernas, especially Rina's - a good, if chaotic, taverna, with a great atmosphere. Also a nice pizza place near the centre - can't remember the name.
To get to Votsalakia, you had to drive through the town of Marathokambos in the hills overlooking the sea. The town showed it's ancient origins by having a winding, narrow main road through the centre. It could take twenty minutes to cover the few hundred meters through the town if you met a coach or truck coming the other way. Very Darwinian - the biggest vehicle had the right of way, and everybody else had to back up or scatter out of the way.
We weren't keen on our first studio - number 3 downstairs. It was right next to the pool, so we had an audience of screaming wet kids while we ate our breakfast, and was stiflingly hot at night. It was also oddly laid out, with the bedside table at the foot of the bed, and a bedside fridge instead. We had to have a fan on all day, otherwise we melted. So we asked Irania (the owner) if we could change to a different studio - she helpfully moved us to studio 4 upstairs at the back. This was much better - we left the balcony door open all the time, giving fresher ventilation and a view up into the mountains at the back of the resort. Irania was unfailingly interested in how our day had been, and frequently left a gift of cake or even a bottle of wine.
We never actually went to the beach in Votsalakia, preferring to go to Psili Ammos beach about 4km further west, where it was a bit more sheltered from the meltemi which blew most of the time. We always stopped at the bar above the steep path down to the beach for a refreshing Amstel. The beach was well equipped with showers, a bar, sunbeds, umbrellas, etc. We saw that it was possible to get an all-over tan at one end of the beach.
Other beaches we visited included Valsamos, a pebbly yet scenic small bay down the end of a rough track, with a small cheap family taverna with a few apartments. We also went to Potami a long and wide, if rather stony, beach near to Karlovassi, a large port town.
We dropped down to Balos, a small undeveloped village and beach. Nice taverna in the centre of the village. Windy beach.
We also visited Tsamadu beach on the north coast - the only official nudist beach on the island, with a noticeable gay component. Not very nice - stony and crowded.
There is another Psili Ammos beach at the east end of the island just a mile or so across a narrow strip of sea from Turkey. Plenty of facilities, but a rather stony beach.
But the best beach by far was Megalo Seitani on the north west coast. There is no road to the beach - you have to walk for just over an hour to get there over a rough stony mule track (trainers advisable) along the coast from Potami. Sensational, if sweltering, walk, with great views down into the transparent sea to your right.
You are rewarded for your efforts with a wide sweep of (mostly) sandy beach about a kilometer long. There are a few small cottages at one end, but no tavernas - you have to take all your own supplies. The water was calm, transparent, limpid and cool after the long walk. Again, we noted that it was possible to get an all-over tan. When we arrived at about lunchtime, there were just two or three other couples on the beach. But in mid afternoon, the Greeks from Karlovassi knocked off work and descended on the beach by boat. By the time we left at about 4.30pm, there were half a dozen small boats moored off the beach, and small groups of people shrieking and splashing. Jet-skis and water-skis appeared. Even so, we were about 300m from the nearest group.
We drove round the island, to see Samos town and stopped in Pythagorion for a beer next to the scenic harbour.
We also drove to the so-called Valley of the Nightingales, which, while very wooded and pretty, was completely nightingale-free while we were there. Maybe in April/May......
By a complete coincidence, we bumped into Linda's cousin Glyn and his wife Gill. They were staying at the next resort along, Limnionas, and had just come in to Votsalakia to have a meal and watch satellite TV - England had just beaten Germany 5-1, and Glyn was clearly feeling little pain. Then again, neither was I.......
All in all, a very nice resort, with some good beaches. You need a car to make the most of it.