About a month ago, I was invited by some friends to join them on a trip to Kythira Island. It would be my first visit to this island, located underneath the Peloponnese in Greece but administered by the Piraeus Perfecture.
A bit of info on the island: Kythira, according to mythology was the birth place of Aphrodite (also claimed by Cyprus). It was conquered by the Romans, then the Byzantine Empire, the Turks, the Venetians, the French, the Russians, the French again and finally the British. The island was united with the Greek state in 1864.
The island is served by non-frequent ferry service from Piraeus and by frequent ferry runs to the Peloponnese. There is also one daily flight, part of the government subsidized flights and a few seasonal charters. The contract was held up til recently by Athens Airways but it was lost along with others to Olympic Air. The airport was recently renovated and was quite impressive for the number of flights it serves. Knowing that it is a destination served by small aircraft even during the summer busy period, I proceeded to book my flight one month in advance. The return ticket cost a total of EUR 121.
Aircraft: De Havilland Canada DHC-8-102 Dash 8
Departure: 10:30 am
In order to secure a window seat in the front, I proceeded to check-in via internet the day before the flight. It was a good idea because the flight was full. I arrived at the airport an hour before the flight, dropped my luggage and went through security. The flight was on-time and I was surprised that boarding for the 30 or so passengers started quite early and with no further delays.
The aircraft to me seemed quite small but I liked the row with 5 seats in the back. The seats were comfortable and the seat pitch was plenty even for tall passengers for this 35' flight.
There was only one flight attendant that made the announcements and served drinks. The announcements were made and afterward she proceeded to demonstrate the safety features. Obviously silent since she couldn't do both at the same time! The aircraft went in the air in a few seconds and the service started quickly for this short flight. Olympic Air provided refreshments, hot beverages and a choice of nuts or cookies. I chose the latter as you can see from the seat pocket in the picture above.
An announcement from the cockpit explained our routing and some flight details but it was barely audible in the cabin. It was either too loud in the cabin or the speakers were not very good. Unfortunately the window was not very clear, I was sitting against the sun and it was not ideal for pictures. Nevertheless, here are some I took during the flight and while approaching KIT.
Flying over the Aegean Sea
Flying over Lakonia, 5-6' to land
Flying parallel to the airport
Turning to the runway (barely visible)
Parked in front of the terminal
Transfer to the terminal was on foot. The terminal was small but looked new. There were pictures inside of a Transavia 737 at the airport as well as old photos, including a Skyvan landing on a dirt runway back when the airport opened. The luggage was delivered on the belt within 15'.
The flight was short but the FA was always smiling, very polite and very fast to serve all passengers in time. This was my first flight with OA and though it was not a long flight I enjoyed my stay on the plane.
Some pics from my stay in Kithira:
Our rented ride, the perfect car for the crappy island roads
Street in Kapsali Town
Firi Ammos Beach
Kithira Old Town and Castle
Kithira Town (Chora)
Old Greek flag with royal emblem, never seen it live, only in photos. The king has some fans on the island!
Swimming in the freezing river underneath a waterfall
Shoreline in the west, tall cliffs and loads of caves
Kaladi Beach (best beach on the island IMO)
An old shipwreck near the port
Fjord-like beach in Avlemonas Village
The castle of Kythira and surroundings
After 5 days on the island it was time to head back to Athens but before our flight we found out that ATC was on strike in Greece and this would cause delays and maybe cancellations. With no warning call from OA, I went to the airport 50' before departure as planned. No delay was announced.
Aircraft: De Havilland Canada DHC-8-402Q Dash 8
Departure: 11:45 am
The check-in was a bit slow because one counter would issue boarding passes and weigh the luggage and another would take the luggage in after a security screening. The gate opened shortly after finishing my check-in. Hand luggage security was fast but not nearly as thorough as at the major airports. We waited in the gate area for 10' till boarding started from gate 2 out of 2.
Like when we arrived, passengers just walked to the aircraft.
I sat at 14D, boarding from the front door till my row. The cabin looked newer than the -102 we took on our way there. The seats were equally comfortable but the specific row had a weird alignment with the window, which was not very clear, and was also under the wing and most of the view was blocked.
Shortly after a short takeoff roll, the captain announced that the flight would not exceed 5000ft so as to avoid having a delay due to the restrictions of the ATC strike. This provided some excellent views during the flight.
Flying low over the sea
On this full flight there were two flight attendants that were again smiling and being very attentive to all passengers. They served drinks, hot beverages and a choice of cream cheese and ham sandwich or cookies. I had the sandwich which was very fresh and tasty. The service was very good for a short 30' flight and before landing when all passengers had finished the trash was swiftly collected.
A small island
Flying off the west coast of Makronissos, south of Athens
The approach to ATH with a sharp turn before landing
Walking to the bus
In general I enjoyed both flights. I preferred the second due to the aircraft. Service was very good for a short flight, both flights were on time and the plane proved to be a very good fast alternative to the ferries for going to the islands.