Tag Archives | hiking in Greece

Easter, biking, work…

Many years ago, when I was writing and playing my own music, I conceived a piece entitled “God; Family; Work.” The premise was that all of us (i.e. human beings) were influenced by these three aspects of modern life.  It was to be a rock ‘n’ roll symphony in five movements.  I never finished it.

I have been googling the term ‘artist’ and have come up with nothing relevant beyond a definition that everyone has heard before.  The jist is that someone has achieved this status after years of labor perfecting their skills and craft.  I know some artists here on Paros, people of curiosity and brightness.  I have been working with some other young photographers as of late, perfecting our technical skills.  If someone wants to call what we are doing ‘art’ then that is their business.  I would rather call it ‘work’.  I get up in the morning, go to work, have some leisure time away from work, etc…

Of course, there are some who hear the term ‘work’ and run for the hills.  I, on the other hand, find great satisfaction “in a job well done.”  I share this joy with family and friends.

Greek Easter was splendid and filled with the aroma of roasting lamb.  We paid homage to the spirit of the lamb and honored its sacrifice.  Our food had a face.  We connected the source with our bellies.

Here is an interesting link regarding Francis Bacon

Slow Art Day at the Paros Archeological Museum was wonderful.  About 12 people showed up and we viewed three different works each for ten minutes a piece.  The kouros below is a small statue that I enjoyed a great deal.

This weekend I will jump back into the darkroom and, I hope, print at least 6 new pieces.  I also have 4-6 rolls of film to develop.  Next week I am off to the nearby island of Naxos for a couple of days.  There is a 75km mountain bike ride I wish to take.

roasting lamb, Easter 2015

roasting lamb, Easter 2015

5th cent. BCE kouros

5th cent. BCE kouros




Sikinos, part 1…

I arrived here yesterday, 15 June.  I checked into the Hotel Porto Sikinos (charming and comfortable) and knew that what I needed was a brisk walk and then a leap into the sea.  So I did that. Nothing too strenuous or out of control.  Then I cleaned up, i.e. took a shower, and rode the bus up the chasm that separates Alopronia (the port) from the Chora.  It is a 5 km drive up the winding road.  I was told there was a decent restaurant there.  I ordered saganaki tiri, fried potatoes, fried eggplant and lamb chops (paidakia).  It was pretty good but I know a lamb shoulder chop when I see it.  “Paidakia”, my ass.  OK.  That’s what I give the restaurant–an ‘OK’.  After a long day of travel I slept like a log and woke up around 8:30.  The breakfast at the hotel was quite good, and plentiful.  I skipped the bready things and ate the yogurt, boiled egg, both honeys, coffee and juice.  Today I was going to hike to Episkopi!  Yes, I did eventually get there, but it was adventure I am not eager to repeat.  My fault, by the way.  This is the rundown…

I chose a well-traveled path out of Alopronia up the Chora.  No real worries, but I strayed off at one point and had to bushwhack through the thorny underbrush and eventually backtrack 500m downhill to where I joined the track again.  I arrived in the Chora an hour later sopping with sweat.  I refueled with some orange soda and bought some more water at a café.  Good thing I did.  I would need it.

There are two ways to reach Episkopi. The first is along the paved road that leads directly to the place.  The other is a donkey track just off the paved road that also leads right to the ancient temple.  Of course I chose the donkey track, or so I thought.  What I chose was a different donkey track that mirrored, for a while at least, the one I currently trod.  So I hiked along, enjoying the view of the archipelago (Folegandros, Milos, Kimolos, Sifnos, Andiparos, Paros and Naxos). Beautiful.  Stunning.  Then the path began to narrow. Hmmm…I continued since it was not a problem.  Yet. Then as I was happily sauntering along I came around a corner and there was the fence.  Shit.  The path continued on the other side…I could see it.  Then I realized my mistake.  I should have gone back, it would have been easy enough, but no.  I decided to go up and around the fence, or so I hoped.  Long story short…

This led to a three-hour uphill, across ancient terraces, through thorns that would pierce leather (and my skin) trudge.  I was able to find short stretches of paths, more goat tracks than anything else.  Then they would disappear into a thorny mass.  At this point I was aware of two things:  I had not seen any goat droppings in a while and the foliage was becoming more and more wild.  The fig trees were small and dried out, crackling under my grip.  The olive groves were overgrown and unkempt, the trees stunted from the wind and unpruned.  My reading of Homer told me that I was far from civilization.  Oh yes…water…I had 1 full liter left.  I was becoming disheartened, but what choice did I have but to keep pushing up and, I hoped, reach the road which I knew was there, yet I could not see?   My excellent topo map gave me a pretty good idea where I was.  So I scrambled and clawed my way through the thorns as they tore my skin.  I climbed ancient terrace walls, carefully planting my feet and hands.  Should one collapse, I was finished.  No joke.  I was getting worried.  I began to remember what I had packed:  Water, two cameras, my Swiss Army knife, two sarong for padding for the cameras.   They were brightly colored.  I could wave them to get someone’s attention in the case of an emergency, but there was no one around.  I also had both my mobile phones.  I ran several conversations through my head…I prayed a lot.  Asked for all kinds of help:  just 20 more meters; just over this terrace; just a little more.  I was loath to drink my water.  Only a half liter remained.

At one point the underbrush thinned slightly and I saw a real path.  Stony, uneven, but going up and without  many thorn bushes.  Thank you, thank you…whoever.  I moved up.  I clambered over a small pile of stones and then I saw it:  the guard rail.  The road.  The blessed road.  Only 50 meters now…30…20…10 and I was up and out standing on glorious tarmac.  I have never been so happy to see pavement.  I looked to my left and there was Episkopi.  I made it.  The breeze was blowing.  I began to feel chills, a sign of many things, almost all bad.  I walked the 100 meters to the glorious and historical building, seeking shade.  I walked along the side and plopped down on a small bench out of the sun.  I dropped my pack, took off my shoes and socks, hung my soaked t-shirt on a wall to dry and took some deep breaths.  Grateful, I leaned against the cool stone of the former-temple-of-Apollo-turned-Byzantine-church and blissfully felt my core temperature drop.  I took out my watch.  It was 2:20.  Now to get back to the Chora and the port.  There is a large cistern at the site and I refilled my water bottles but I needed potassium, salt and more water.  Juices. Cold juices.  And bananas.  That’s what wanted.  But first some pictures.

I made it back, dear readers, yes, I made it back.  I have just counted the distance and I probably hiked a little over 12 km, the hard way.  Tomorrow I go to the beach and relax.  I will read my book, swim and let the antiseptic quality of the Aegean cure my lacerated limbs.  Then I will nap.  Tuesday I head to Folegandros.  I will be there for 5 days.  I am a lucky boy, in many ways.


Thorns that tore my flesh




Sitting here in limbo, sort of…

I departed Amorgos this morning at 6AM.  3 1/2 hours later and I am on Naxos, with a four-hour layover until the Aqua Spirit arrives and takes me back south to Sikinos.  The sunrise over Amorgos was lovely, storm clouds glued to its high peaks.  I fell asleep as we left Iraklia.  I woke up sailing through the Parian/Naxian Straits.  Just in time to stretch, regain blood flow to my arms, grab my pack and head below decks to the loading ramp.  I have dumped my big bag in left-luggage, et voilà,  here I am…waiting for the next boat to arrive.  It feels odd, having to backtrack on my small journey and be within waving distance of my Parian home.  I am updating this missive in the ‘Captain’s Cafe’, a shady yet empty spot on the Port of Naxos.  I have eaten an omelet (etsi-ketsi)and feel refreshed after the early morning boat ride.

If I had a month I could not cover Amorgos.   With hundreds of kilometers of hiking trails, not to mention the off-trail possibilities, one could hike, climb, clamber, scramble, bushwhack and otherwise reconnoitre that Kykladic gem until the goats come home.  Yesterday I ended up on what I thought was an established trail, but then noticed that there were no markers or paint spots.  The way was clear, however, so I persevered.  The afternoon grew longer and I eventually turned back.  That is the beauty of goat tracks.  I could have walked for days on end and never been lost.

Amorgos is charmed in many respects.  There are three natural harbors big enough for larger vessels, and they have been long-established. No others exist on the island.  The coast is too treacherous.  I thought the terrain was too rocky and steep for an airport, but a café owner told me that there was a former WW 2 airbase that was, at one time, considered for the project.  The Dimos scrapped that idea due to lack of funds.  A small seaplane is supposed to begin service–who knows when?   So for the moment it is an island that, although accessible, still retains an element of remoteness.

I rented a small studio from Pension Georgia which was clean, new, just off the port and worth the 35 euros a night.  The advertised wi-fi wasn’t so strong but I ended up hanging out at the Akrogiali Cafe, just on the port.  Very strong connections, friendly atmosphere and excellent coffee.  They’re also open 24 hours on the weekends to accommodate the odd arrivals and departures of the various boat companies.

The food, per se, was very good, although I did have one dud meal at the Corner Taverna.  It wasn’t bad, just so-so.  I had a wonderful dinner at a small place in Katapola called ‘Kapetan Dimos’.  The chef takes traditional recipes and adjusts them subtly.  It made for a wonderful meal, different from standard taverna fare.  Interesting and very tasty variations on tzatziki, fava and patatate, a stew made from potatoes and goat spiced with cloves and allspice.  Next on the list was ‘El Greco’.  I ate there twice, actually.  Traditional Greek home cooking.  Anyone who knows me is aware that this is my favorite type of food in general.  Excellent kolokithokeftedes, taroma and merides.    The third place was ‘Viktoras’, a very non-descript but satisfactory grill house.  Tasty pork kontosouvli, grilled peppers and mezithra.  I wasn’t able to make it to any of the tavernas elsewhere on the island, but a friend told me there are some fabulous places in Kamari and Vroutsi.  Next time.  Amorgos warrants a few more visits.

So here I am, waiting once again for the next leg of the hop.  There is a small museum here in town which I’ll go visit before my 1PM boat.  The ‘Aqua Spirit’ is an older ferry and travels at half the speed of the big Blue Star craft.  I will read my spy novel, snooze and  watch the islands slip by on Homer’s wine dark sea.


View from a hike on Amorgos

View from a hike on Amorgos

View from a hike on Amorgos

Another view from a hike on Amorgos