Dave and Gerry's Alonissos Island Information Site

Andrew Kerrigan's Alonissos Travelogue - July 2007

Alonissos Travelogue Part 6... OR The Pre-amble To The Ambling

The aim of the posts that follow is not to provide a detailed description of the walks of Alonissos.  As I mentioned in my previous post, such guides can be found in the form of Keller and Tsoukanas' "Walking on Alonissos" as well as the internet site:


My aim, rather, is to give you a sense of what it is actually like to walk the paths of Alonissos with reference to some of the highlights of my tour.  In addition, I will also try to ensure that future walkers are well enough informed to avoid the very few tricky situations in which I found myself after following, as best I could, complicated, vague, or just plain baffling descriptions of the route.  For the purposes of writing up my experiences to entertain rather than inform, I have divided my ten days walking into 4 routes.  These I have illustrated with regard to the following map and the accompanying descriptions below.


RED:  Plaka Campsite - Vythisma - Megalos Mourtias - Hora - Gialia - Kalderimi into Patitiri - Plaka

WHITE:  Plaka Campsite - Mega Nero - Tsoukalia (via forest / gorge walk) - Agoi Anargiri - Tourkoneri - Megali Ammos - Mega Nero (via Raches)

PINK:  Plaka Campsite - Mega Nero - Raches - Isomata - Agios Petros - Steni Vala - Ghlifa - Steni Vala (bus back to Patitiri)

YELLOW:  Mourtitsa - Strovili - Kastanorema Gorge - Mourtitsa

As you can see, with the exception of the Kastanorema Gorge walk, the bulk of the walking to be done on Alonissos centres around the south and central parts of the island.  This is not to say that walking opportunities do not exist in the north of the island; but these present themselves as a less attractive option than the circular routes of the south and centre which can be more satisfyingly negotiated from a base in one the charming settlements to the south of the island.  More importantly perhaps, the southerly walks in particular afford the opportunity to break one's journey in a cafe to sip a frappe, take in the views and rest on one's laurels for a while.

It should be noted, however, that my actual movements during the time that I spent on Alonissos bare little resemblance at times to these four routes - both insofar as they appear on the map and as they are related below - and that what you will read here is, in keeping with the rest of this travelogue, 'a story'.  Although I have made every effort to be scrupulous where accuracy has mattered, I have, in most other cases, been guided by the requirements of style.

And so to the walks...

Alonissos Travelogue Part 7... OR The Red Route: A Long Way To Come To Watch Bats

I undertook the first part of this walk, from the campsite to Megalos Mourtias, on that first restless evening on the island.  So it was that when I awoke the next day with this circular route in mind, I knew what to expect of the first leg.  Flanked on either side by olive groves, one walks south from the campsite on a quiet asphalt road with the sea to your left, where occasional yachts are the only addition to a seascape punctured by scattered low lying islets.  Soon, you meet a dirt track sloping up to the right: the road to Megalos Mourtias.

Here, the scenery changes as you head east through pines with distant views of Evia to the south and facing you, the forested flank of Skopelos.  Although it was the first stage of my first walk on the island, this stretch was amongst the most beautiful of my entire tour, and, conversely perhaps, one of the most accessible in terms of walking surface and distance from the main settlements (drivable in a normal car and a mere 30 minutes on foot from Patitiri).  Despite this proximity, it was, more often than not, completely deserted each time I visited it, leaving one to enjoy the views of the islands peeping out from behind the pines in perfect peace.

Substantially more relaxed on this first morning, with a corresponding tendency to the treat the walk as an end in itself, I was also much more in the mood for distractions along the way to Megalos Mourtias.  To wit, I had already explored those off road curiosities which had presented themselves on the walk down the south eastern coastline, namely:

A) A narrow cove 100 metres or so south of the campsite, but unobservable from the road, and accessible only by bringing your own rope to scramble down the last three metres of sheer gorge face onto your own private beach.

B) Marapounda resort: A raucous Italian holiday village consisting of faux cycladic alleyways laid out around incongruously lush green lawns where, on the basis of my unintentional visit, every aspect of one's precious time away from the deadlines and demands of everyday life appears to be planned with boot camp precision (think megaphoned reps directing wholesome group activities).  Mercifully, the considerate owners have fenced off the entire site thus preventing all but the most curious of walkers from stumbling upon the tackiness it conceals.

C) The remains, at the edge of a cliff just south of the cove and half covered in vegetation, of a very old dwelling place indeed.  While unlikely to be of ancient origin, the position and state of this dwelling were of enough interest to the author to prompt a brief 'discovery of something important' fantasy.  

Wall and steps on coast facing side of cliff-top dwelling, south east Alonissos

However, perhaps the most entertaining diversion presented itself on attempting to gain access to the beautiful and seldom frequented beach of Vythisma at the very south of the island.  The descriptions of this beach in the two guides that I had read were alluring: remote, sandy, south facing and thus sheltered, and seldom frequented by reason of its unaccessability.

Lying at the foot of a cliff, both guides describe how one picks one''s way down from the dirt road on a path strewn with fallen pines to arrive, tantalisingly, about 5 metres above the beach with a sharp drop separating you from the deserted sand below.  Whilst such an descent is by no means difficult to negotiate (standing on the edge of the precipice one can easily imagine jumping down onto the soft sand below), the ascent back up again would ideally entail, if not a ladder, then certainly some rope.

However, the authors of the internet guide I have mentioned had found an alternate descent, one which, although far from straighforward, provided at least a means of getting off the beach without the assistance of a helicopter.  The description on their internet site goes a bit like this (but naturally I'm paraphrasing):

"...on arriving at the precipice, double back and search the path for a 'double trunked tree'.  Just behind this tree, a fainter path runs parallel to the beach.  Follow this through the pines for a few minutes until this path runs as thin as the sole of a single sandal and a vertical drop down a scree slope awaits you should you be unfortunate enough to lose your footing.  At this point, place your faith in the sparse clumps of scrub like vegetation eking out an existence on the near vertical cliff face, relying on them to take your entire weight as you abseil inch by agonising inch down to arrive eventually at a ruined drinks kiosk.  Here you will find something like a rusting postcard stand which you will greet as an ersatz ladder and again rely on it to sustain your entire weight as you once more inch gingerly but hopefully not bleeding too heavily, onto the sand."

I'm paraphrasing of course, but have added nothing but a flourish to this description; in its essence it is as the authors descended onto Vythisma, post card stand and all... I know 'cos this is exactly what I did too.  You gotta hand it to them: they were intrepid explorers with a keen desire to enjoy the delights of the remote and beautiful Vythisma.  However, what they and Keller and Tsoukalis fail to relate is that an alternative and incredibly straightforward descent exists.

There are in fact two paths descending from the dirt track down to Vythisma: the first one encountered on approaching from the east leads you into the aforementioned Harold Loyd like japes; the second, however, situated some 10 metres further on toward Megalos Mourtias, leads you down on a relatively simple jaunt through the pines.  After five minutes or so the beach swings into easy view and one passes a ruined portocabin whose Greek sign reading "please do not break the door: nothing of value is kept inside", written as it is on the wrecked remnants of the said door lying some feet away on the forest floor, provides brief entertainment.

Typical narrow inlet found on Alonissos' coastline (taken from Hora)

Just below this, a slightly damaged stone staircase begins which leads directly onto the beach.  It is indeed curious that neither guide, whilst obviously written by those in the know, mentions this far simpler descent and it's not as if the staircase is particularly difficult to locate when on the beach: I had found it within five minutes of the 'conventional descent'.So finally on Vythisma with no worries about extracting myself off of it, I was in the mood to take a few photos.  As you can see the shadows in this photo are pretty long: I guess I did get up pretty early that morning.

Here in all its glory is the ruined drinks kiosk.

Onwards from Vythisma, it was my pleasure to take a swim at the popular beach of Megalos Mourtias, which at that time in the day, was agreeably empty.  Then it was off and up to the Hora on the hiking trail which provides a neat way of avoiding the asphalt.  This part of my journey was again a joy.  Starting as a scramble up an embankment off the main road just outside Megalos Mourias, the hiking trail up to the Hora crosses the road once more before ascending steeply on a thin trail parallel to the perimeter wall of the tennis court of a private house eventually to lead one to a tiny kops of trees and bushes which provide sufficient respite from the sun to gather your breath and admire the views back down to Megalos Mourtias in comfort.  It was here, neath this little green kops, that I had one of those moments of quite euphoria which solo walkers are often prone to.

Whether these can be put down to a quasi-spiritual affinity with nature, or, as I would believe, the body's unfamiliarity with endorphines after months of sedentary slothing matters not; the point is that such experiences have always accompanied my trips to the islands and have, like the light and the mythology, contributed to making the Aegean the wonderful place that I feel it to be.

And so to the Hora itself.  I found myself there almost my accident, so involved was I in the rhythm of the walk.  But, grateful for the opportunity to distract myself with coffee and company for a while, I headed to a cafe where I spent a good hour or so admiring the view and lapping up the entertainment provided by holidaying Greeks. To wit, a story:

Having sat for some 3/4 of an hour on the terrace of a traditional coffee and cake shop, the relative peace and quiet of the post lunch lull was shattered when a group of four well-to-do Athenian ladies sporting voluminous and colourfully printed beach smocks, huge wide brimmed floppy hats and chunky YSL fly-goggle sunglasses burst onto the scene with copious ooohs and aaahs at the view that greeted them.  There was further cackling and chaos as they debated the relative merits of locating at one of the three free tables and indeed who would sit where once the table had been decided upon (in the sun, in the shade, facing the sea, nearest the toilet, etc.).  Finally, when they were all settled, each to their satisfaction, and any normal person would think that they could do no more to make a spectacle of themselves, the girl brought out the sweet menu and the little party erupted again into ebullient life.

This was too good to miss.  There are few types in this world who take the ritual of coffee and a cake as seriously as well-to-do Athenian ladies.  Sure enough they began cooing as soon as they set eyes on the array of home made sweets on offer.  It was at this moment that the loudest and most colourful one among them, the leader if you will, took the initiative and, grabbing the menu from out of the clutches of an unsuspecting other and pausing only for as long as it took to gain fully the attention of the entire coffee shop, proceeded to intone the names of each dish with a lusty suggestiveness whilst the others sucked air in sharply through pursed lips and repeated: kataifi, ffffooo!... soutzouki, ffffooo!... melamakarona, ffffoooooooo!  However, when it came to the crunch, this was as far as her gang were prepared to go.  Content just to roll the words around in their mouths, they each declined to order from the gooey menu for fear of compromising their figures in what is Greece's most diet wrecking season.

Their leader would have none of this.  With the kind of extravagant gesture all too typical of a Greek in the grip of kefi, she ordered four plates of the richest gooiest and most expensive sweets on the menu, reasoning perhaps that by the charm of her extravagant gesture alone, her minions could be persuaded to join her in her indulgence... and thereby, perhaps, sanction it.  It was a bold move, and one which, I remember pondering as I looked on at her savouring the first morsels in an orgy of ostentiation, might have worked... if it were not for the untimely intervention at that very moment of their tour guide with his sudden declaration that their bus would leave from the main square in five minutes.

What would you have done?

She didn't let herself down.  True to her plan, she continued to entice her friends to join her in finishing off the four ample plates piled up in front of her.  Again and again she petitioned them and again and again they declined, each time giggling a little more at the sight of this well-to-do Athenian lady, replete with all the accessories of her position, gorging herself on the gooiest of gooey sweets, firmly convinced that she would, by her example, persuade the others to help her out of what was becoming an increasingly intractable situation.  Eventually, inevitably, she accepted that circumstances had gotten the better of her and that she was all alone in her crusade to champion these homemade delicacies; but to her credit, she held fast to her course and continued to praise them, now through smaller mouthfuls and more sympathetic laughter, right up until it became time for the cabaret to leave.  Such consumate entertainment is the stuff of dreams.

My entertainment gone, my frappe finished, I paid the girl and took to my feet once more, this time bound for the picturesque beach of Gialia.  I had wanted to visit Gialia for some time because of the impossibly picturesque appearance of the little beach: situated at the head of narrow inlet and neatly offset by a wind-mill.  The walk down was without event, plodding away on a dirt track downward, ever downward toward the coast.

Gialia beach
Here I stopped for a brief swim, then snacked on some soutzoukakia, picking out the saucy meatballs from the tin with my fingers.  It was by now around 3 o'clock in the afternoon and very hot indeed.  I had been walking since about 8am , had just eaten, and quite frankly was in need of a little snooze.  All this I barely registered as I closed my eyes, savouring the touch of the sun upon my skin and in the knowledge that I could lie here as long as I damn well pleased.  When I awoke the sun was just a little lower in the sky.

Refreshed, I rolled up my psatha, picked up my bag, took a long swig on my water bottle and readied myself for the upward march back to the main road.  What actually happened after I reached the main road is far from interesting and would involve travelling on through a beautiful yet storyless landscape back to the campsite. So let us travel back by a more entertaining route...

I had that evening travelled back to the old town by bus to see if I might be able to meet up with Dave and Gerry, but had succeeded only in meeting their cats and scoring an ouzo and sunset mix back at the cafe where I had enjoyed my afternoon entertainment.  It was now around half eight and had, by kilometres as well as hours, been a long day, so I decided to call it quits and head back to the campsite for a well earned rest.  Now I could have taken the bus... as I walked past the square, one was due to leave in a little under half an hour; but it was such a beautiful night and I was so captivated by walking on the island that it felt like a betrayal of my purpose to take the bus back when I could walk on the old kalderimi back to Patitiri and from thence on a fifteen minute jaunt through the pines to the campsite.  So I stopped in at the shop for a little retsina and that is exactly what I did.

Strolling down that dusky kalderimi with my destination, the sea, a dark band between the treetops and the azure blue sky, was a perfect end to my day.  With my little bottle dangling from my fingers and a song in my heart, I drew out my steps to savour the colours of the dying day: the golden fields of the hora where the sunset still reddened the sky; the shimmering silver of the olive trees as they lost their colour with the dusk; and eventually that murky little glade where I watched the dark silhouettes of bats flit against a dull metallic sky.  I must have spent a good half hour watching them flit to and fro, and these days, some 4 months later, it is this memory more than any other that dominates from that first walk.

Alonissos Travelogue Part 8... OR Off The Beaten Track And Back For A Beer OR

The day after the red route, I walked up the eastern side of Alonissos as far as Chrysi Milia. It was a nice walk at stretches, especially the cliff top path north from Spartines beach where I snapped the following photo:

View of second, more northerly Spartines beach
from the cliff top path between the two beaches

But besides this stretch, however, it really was a bit of a disappointment.  It was the one time that I abandoned the guides and set off in search of that most satisfying route: the coastal walk.  One of the first places in Greece that I ever went walking was on the south west coast of Crete.  Here, in the region of Hania, where the White Mountains tumble into the Libyan Sea, are miles of coastal paths stretching almost the whole length of the region.  With the proximity of the sea on one hand and the mountains on the other, such walks are always a real joy.  Unfortunately, the topography of the south-eastern coast of Alonissos is such that no route can feasibly be undertaken over the jagged outcrops, scree-strewn ravines and, at times, residential housing that characterise this coast.  Time and time again I was forced to make headway on the asphalt, thus losing instantly that childish yet highly agreeable sense of being an explorer.

Anyway, when I got to Chrysi Milia after a 3 kilometer stretch on the asphalt to find the tiny beach packed with young families enjoying the only sandy beach with shallow water on the island, their young kids volubly voicing their wants, I decided that I had had enough.  After a fruitless period awaiting service at the crowded taverna, I phoned a taxi and escaped back to Patitiri where I beered and tramped cheerily back up to the campsite on my little path through the pine forest.  That night, I finally met up with Dave and Gerry and enjoyed a sociable evening up in the Old Town over a few beers and a plate of yemista.  It was a chance for me to effervesce about many of things that I here describe as well as get a few tips about where to go next.

And so it was that awaking the next day, just a little fuzzy headed, with another day's walking ahead of me, I knew just where I would go.

Alonissos Travelogue Part 9... OR The White Route: Spiders, Cypresses, Startled Fowl And Springs

Having picked Dave and Gerry's brains about where to go the previous night, I thought it might be nice to walk to the beach of Tsoukalia on the South West coast to take in the as yet unexcavated classical era pottery factory located there, before looping up a little further on the west coast to visit the picturesque church of Agoi Anargiroi and the nearby coves of Tourkoneri and Megali Ammos.  It would be a long walk, all of eight hours what with breaks and swimming time, so I set off nice and early bound for the starting point of Patitiri... and the harbour shop to get myself my breakfast of a little tub of 'Total' yoghurt with a couple of miniature preserves of honey.  This I slowly savoured under a tree down by the harbour, enjoying the comings and goings of a work-a-day port.

As with the red route, this white route starts with a thoroughly pleasant stretch once you clear the perimeter of Patitiri.  The path proper begins at the first hairpin bend on the road up to the Hora where a sign for Mega Nero, ostensibly pointing at the house situated on the bend, but actually sending one up a slope skirting the perimeter wall of the house, leads, after a couple of minutes, into the familiar Alonissos landscape of pine forests and olive groves.  It was amazed to find this Arcadian stretch with its herb strewn paths and surprisingly dense thickets of ferns so near to the main road up to the Hora.  It seemed like I had been transported into a different land on clambering up that little slope -- an impression made all the more forceful by the fact that one emerges into the little glade from the relative darkness of a thick kopse of pines.

I was used to seeing such undergrowth in the forests and moorlands of Scotland, but not in the Aegean in late July!  I should also add that other attractions on this five minute stretch included...

A: Startling some kind of wild fowl on rounding a bend (being Scottish I would identify it as a grouse or partridge or something like that, but I feel sure this can't be right).  It had been hidden from view in the kind of thick undergrowth you can see above when this lumbering giant happened along, causing it to take to the sky with much clucking, flapping and fuss (beware of spoonerisms here).

B: Taking a momentary wrong turn on my way back through this glade and briefly entering the narrow channel of a track that, by the looks of things, hadn't been used in a while.  I was quite sure of this as no sooner had I entered the space between the two hedgerows than I found myself gazing eye to eye with a huge spider (and I mean big enough to make the author yelp expletives of terror and surprise) perched horny and crab-like in a thick spun web which totally sealed the entrance to the path.

C: Cypress trees. Three of them. Baby ones. I do like cypress trees.

After this idyllic little stretch, I emerged at the spring of Mega Nero.  Here, in a little depression surrounded by fields, was a rough build concrete trough in which a couple of taps had been inserted.  As I ventured closer to fill up my bottle with the cool water, bravely sweeping aside the clouds of thirsty wasps grazing from the droplets clinging to the underside of the taps, I once more wondered just how it was possible to have the miracle of fresh running water in this parched land.  As I had learnt the previous night from Dave and Gerry, those islanders who weren't fortunate enough to be connected to the mains water supply had to make do with collecting and storing what rain water they could by their own means and filling up the rest of the time from springs such as this one.  It was another hot day, the earth was cracked from weeks, if not months of drought; yet here was an abundant reserve of water which was not only openly available to all, but which at that moment was leaking its way back into the earth by virtue of numerous instances of careless plumbing.

My water bottles replenished, my hair soaked with cool water, I was ready for the off once more.  So, greeting the old woman gathering the lush sprigs of horta thriving in the midst of this little oasis, I hit the road.  I guess I should start publishing these walks in installments as they are growing way beyond control and heaven forbid that I should bore the few people who aren't even reading anyway.

Alonissos Travelogue Part 10... OR The White Route: A to E via Q, Z, and X

Looking back on my ten days of walking on Alonissos, I am on the whole proud of my little adventures: not only did I cover a hell of a lot of terrain, I did so with the minimum amount of getting lost.  Equipped with an accurate map, two independent descriptions of each route and most of all, the patience to study the lay of the land and the position of the sun with some degree of accuracy, I almost always made my way from A to E via the logical progression B then C then D.

The spectacular exception to my otherwise impeccable sense of direction came during the next stage of the white route from Mega Nero to Tsoukalia.  On paper this stretch appears impossible to cock-up, not least of all because a sign-posted asphalt road separates the two locations by all of a 30 minute walk.  However, on leaving Mega Nero, little did I know that I was about to embark upon an unplanned excursion up a mountain.

In my defence, I was subject to mitigating circumstances: I had set out on this route backwards.

Flashback to the early morning of that day.  Andrew sits outside his tent, drinking coffee and studying the map...

... So where do I want to go today?..  Tsoukalia, yes...  Oh and here's the walk to Tsoukalia in the guide book, excellent... but wait a minute... this route goes first north to Megali Ammos before taking in Tsoukalia on the way back...  I'd much prefer to go the opposite way...  I wonder if it is possible to follow the directions from the end of the walk and work back to the beginning and still be able to follow the route?... let's try... [...] ... seems easy enough, all I have to remember is that left is right and right is left... got it.  Piece of cake!

And it was... right up until the point when I was directed to walk up a gorge.

I think you may be one step ahead of me here... but let me pull you back a little to walk a ways with me in ignorance so that I can tell you how it all happened.

Like I said, an asphalt road links Mego Nero and Tsoukalia, but the route described in the guide neatly avoids this completely by following a dirt track beginning some metres before the turn off to Tsoukalia and leading one on a path through a charmingly sheltered patch of pine forest.  In fact, this path penetrates so deeply into this patch of woodland that after fifteen minutes or so, the road disappears from sight altogether.  It was at this point that I understood that I had to turn right; that is, had I been doing the route in the direction that the authors intended, I would have been directed to turn left at this same point having just emerged from the direction in which I was now about to set out...

...Got it? Not so easy after all, eh?

Anyways, what threw me here was not the cat's cradle of figuring out left from right, this was relatively simple; rather it was the more prosaic yet infinitely more frustrating situation of being confronted with 2 possible rights.  Indeed a path did slope down away from me to the right, but on closer inspection, this forked after 10 meters or so leaving me with no indication just which of these two rights I should take.  The intrepid walker will often be faced with this very dilemma, though it should be the aim of all guide books to eliminate the agony of such 'russian roulette' moments.  In practice one must call upon all one's resources to make an informed choice: the lay of the land, the position of the sun, moss growing of the northern side of tree-trunks (and other such 'boys' own' fun).  However, in those cirumstances where doubt persists, there is no other solution than to choose a path, set out, and seek to confirm or reject your groundless hypothesis by checking the lay of the land against the description of the route.

Choosing the left fork, I wandered down a wide path flanked on one side by pines and on another by an olive grove before arriving at a little track which left the wider path to the left and led me into a shallow gorge.  As all this checked out against the description of the route, adjusted, naturally, to compensate for my backwards direction, I felt confident that I was now within a brief walk a Tsoukalia.  Safe in the knowledge that I was well and truly on track, I paused for while in the little gorge to enjoy the silence.  Just where I had entered, a handful of olive trees stood in a flat patch of long grass, sheltered from the elements and presumably well watered by what would have been a seasonal stream.  Although I must have been a short walk from the road leading down to Tsoukalia, I might as well have been in the middle of nowhere; so quiet it was.  Paradoxically perhaps, the sense of peace was made more intense by two hawks which at that moment were circling above me, plaintively screeching and every so often swooping close enough for me to hear their wings cutting through the air.

Perhaps it was the fact that I was caught up in the atmosphere of this little place; perhaps it was the sense that the difficult part was behind me.  Whatever it was, when I got up and looked at the map to figure out in which direction I should walk to get to Tsoukalia beach, I did not walk down the gorge as common sense would dictate, but up it.  What had momentarily escaped my attention was that when you read route directions backwards, not only should left be read as right, but following a similar topsy-turvy logic, up the gorge should actually be rendered as down it.

Think about it...

So with a spring in my step, a song in my heart and two harbingers of doom screeching and swooping above my head, I set out to ascend the gorge.

Two minutes later I hit a dead end: a dense thicket of thorns blocked the conventional ascent up the bed of the gorge.  No worry, I thought as I took to a narrow and precipitous goat track ascending sharply up the right face of the gorge.  Within a further twenty metres or so, this petered out, as so often is the case with goat tracks, leaving me to rely solely upon my sense of direction to see me through to Tsoukalia (which, as you will no doubt realise, was situated at an ever increasing distance behind me.)  Things went from bad to worse.  The terrain became first steep and rocky, forcing me up ever higher onto the mountain and away from the gorge, then, when I had hit a sufficiently high enough altitude as to impress upon me most forcefully that I was definitely not headed for the coast, I found myself in the midst of a dense thicket of hollyoaks.  The sun was pretty high at this point, and I was running desperately low on water too.  To top it all, the hawks were still relentlessly pursuing their quarry high above me.  Despite all these set-backs, I remained cheerful: there are precious few opportunities to feel like a hero in this day in age...  especially if you are the English teacher in a small provincial German town.

Eventually I broke out of the cover of the hollyoaks to see a little church crowning the ridge at the head of the gorge, which I could now see as a dark gash into the landscape way below me.  Checking this against the map, I realised it must be the panagia sto boyno and knowing it to be loacated in the direction of a natural spring, struck out for the little church.  After a few moments I came to some residential houses and a dirt road, and with half an hour I was drinking cool clear water in the shade of the little church.  Having quenched my thirst, I took stock of my situation.  I still couldn't figure out what had gone wrong down in the gorge, but that mattered less than trying to salvage the walk.  A glimpse at the guide revealed the answer: if I were to retrace my steps back along the dirt road, away from the church in the direction of the houses that I had seen, would come to the end of the road and a large property surrounded by olive groves.  Arriving at the gate of the yard of this property, I should follow the perimeter wall in search of the familiar red splodges of paint upon boulders that seem to act as way markers throughout the Aegean.

Sure enough, as soon as I left the gate of the house and entered the olive grove, I found a string of way markers which eventually started to lead me back down the mountain.  After a short while I entered pine forest again and the path began to get steeper and steeper...  and every so often as I glimpsed the sky between the pines I could see the pair of hawks circling, swooping and screeching  It was a beautiful walk, as usual accompanied by a symphony of sights, sounds, and smells: again the air moving through the trees, again the heady resinous scent of the pines; but this time the kind light of the forest floor and everything punctuated by the mournful screeching of the hawks, whom I was now considering less as harbingers of doom and more as companions on this little adventure.  After a while, I reached the edge of the forest and as is so often the case in dear green Alonissos, the beginning of an olive grove.  Here, the ground became ridiculously steep, necessitating my gingerly proceeding crab like, inch by inch down a rugged track.  But this was to be the last obstacle.  Soon the landscape gave way to gentle tiers of olive groves affording a view of the last leg of the asphalt road down to Tsoukalia.

On hitting the road I heard the sea, which soon revealed itself... as did several hundred thousand pottery sherds.

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