Tag Archives | hiking in the Cyclades

Kythnos and a change of plan…

–There is a lot to see and do on Kythnos and by the time I leave on Friday I will have seen and done most of it.  Superb hiking, archaeological sites (mesolithic, Byzantium, 19th century mining…), good eats, friendly folks…The weather was so-so for the first two days but then the sun came out, the winds shifted and there was fine weather for getting lost on the donkey trails and photographing more stone walls than I knew what to do with.  I am pretty much saturated with walls at the moment.  I have a feeling I will finish up the roll I have in my camera today and be done with this island for the time being.  I have one more long hike to do tomorrow (12 km) so perhaps I will try to use one more roll.  Maybe I will, maybe I won’t.

–I found an excellent little taverna on the port of Merichas.  Typical family-run, spitiko, without all the frippish tom-foolery of frankish cuisine.  I ate roasted goat in lemon sauce last night; grilled fresh sardines the night before…local, mild feta on my salads.  I’ll go there again tonight.  Funny thing…when Kostas, the owner’s son, heard I was from Paros, he told me that his cousin Giorgos worked in a fish taverna in Paroikia…Hmmm…I know Giorgos well!  We had a good time and then Kostas called Giorgos and he and I had a quick chat.  I love these alliances.  So Yalos Byzantio is my spot.  I dine there again tonight.

–My lodging has been excellent.  My small studio overlooks the harbour of Merichas.  The ferries dock just a few hundred meters away and the ins-and-outs of tourist sailors in their small rented sailboats make for interesting comedy-drama.  Only some seem to be good sailors.  The rest look like they are trying too park their cars.  Oh well…I wish them all the fun in the world.  The Aegean is a lovely place to sail.

–I am tired.  I am tired of living out of my luggage.  I will have a lot more of that this summer so I suppose I should get used to it, but for the moment…

I left Paros on May 10th, after a four-day general strike which threw all my plans into the air.  As a result of this strike, I was forced to use one of the High-Speed ferries that runs around the Aegean.  I hate these things for many reasons.  The only other time I was on one was in 2006 and I picked up a terrible respiratory bug just by being shut inside the interior for several hours with no fresh air.  True to form, by the time I reached Evia on Thursday the 12th, my throat was scratchy.  By Saturday I was on antibiotics, decongestants…sick.  11 days later I am finally off the meds.  I need to go home.  I feel great, but it is time to sit on my own terrace, sleep in my own bed…

As luck would have it, the same ferry that would have brought me to Syros, continues on home to Paros.  So I will leave Kythnos Friday morning and be home in time for tea…

Pezoules, walls and and Agios Anathasios, Kythnos, 2016

Pezoules, walls and and Agios Anathasios, Kythnos, 2016




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




Folegandros…first impressions…

As I departed Sikinos this afternoon, the Meltemi came in gusts of Force 6.  The air was hot, the sand flew in my face, the boat arrived, I boarded.  An hour later I disembarked at Folegandros.  If Santorini didn’t exist, vacuuming up 90% of the foreign tourists, Folegandros would be the place.  As such, the island has secured all the charm of the Cyclades without the vast throngs that clog the narrow streets of the ancient Minoan hub.  Thank God for that.  I have been to Santorini and was not impressed.  Here it is different.  The restaurants are all open and have large, taverna-style menus on chalkboards outside.  Tonight I will eat in a place called ‘Chic’, recommended by a friend in Athens as a good place where they serve a specialty of the island, roast lamb with prunes.  I have already walked past and it looks very inviting.  They also have rabbit, one of my favorites.  I am sitting in a small café called ‘Pounta’.  They have rabbit on the menu too.  This is a good sign for the next few days.

The reports on hiking are all positive.  I will take advantage of this but I will also take it easy.  It’s not a race and I am not trying to prove anything.  There are some good beaches and I have a book to finish reading.  The stone walls here are lovely.   My observations on the bus ride from the port to the Chora (where I am staying) have already whetted my appetite.  I will post some images when I have them.

For now I finish my espresso-freddo and look forward to a night of good food and rest.  Tomorrow I take a short walk and head to the beach.


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