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Europe: Greece

Nidri: A Greek Island with a difference

by Ben Miller

You know how it is with Greek islands: charming locals, plentiful beer, massive, biblical-looking hills under dramatic skies and a lifestyle of olives, vegetables that actually taste of something and long walks. Nidri is a bit different – more rugged in certain ways, tangibly remote, not stylised.

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With its population of about a thousand it’s wee but clearly popular, yachts lining the shore and clumps of land a boat ride away apparently owned by magnates and oligarchs. There again, it’s got one bank, a central petrol station of the kind so sleepy you’d immediately associate it with a horror film, roads and pavements full of potholes and an outback feel to its rich wilderness.

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Nidri village, it must be said, manages to be idyllic without the lack of character that kind of description often denotes. There’s a lurking suspicion, judging by the vaguely Ibizan posters still stuck around the occasional pylon down the thoroughfare, that it might even be popular with mainstream clubbers during the on-season. But off-peak, those bars are dusty little coves, and only the odd shop selling the last of its bright hippy carvings before the owner goes on holiday give away any tourism departing from the posh boats and endearingly diverse cocktail bars, most of which seem to have fifty football channels and one hundred and fifty flavours of ice cream.

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A boat trip to the bay is a spectacular dream in which the water is transparent rather than a murky shade of snot. A trip to the waterfalls a chance to tiptoe haphazardly through amazing pools and rocks. The farmers keep goats and prowls of dogs which howl just quietly enough not to seem completely feral. This is a beautiful, interesting place, about 20km from Lefkada, the capital of the island of Levkas. It’s more built up there – the population is more like 13,000, many of whom are agricultural types – with a main street flanked with bars, old churches and intriguing archaeological sites (the place was battered by earthquakes about 70 years ago). A massive bridge connects the town to the mainland of Greece, shining brilliantly at night in front of one or two big bars where you can imagine Waynes and Chantelles having holiday arguments over a Smirnoff Ice pitcher. The beaches are perfect, but you’d be best off hiring a car if you want to see a few of them or make the most of all the geological marvels dotted around the island. It’s a pretty good place to get lost.

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