His island of freedom


.

Eleni on Mavri rocks

Hello readers!🙂
how long has it been since I last wrote a blog review properly speaking – that is, to review something written by someone I don’t know? I think the last one was about Jackie Fox, the Ikarian/American who posted a whole series of wonderful articles about her life in Ikaria during the year 2012-13. Jackie published on WordPress so it was easy for me to spot her and connect to her blog articles. But this time I have in hand a rather unusual case: a facebook blogger! His name is Tolga, he is from Izmir, Turkey and he keeps a blog which he calls: «Tolga’s travels». As I am not on facebook, it wouldn’t be possible to know anything about him, but fortunately and unexpectedly his blog is public! So here I am, hard-working, cool blogger Eleni, I am blogging about his doings in Ikaria!
As I always do, I will let him speak on his own. But before that,
just let me say only two things: a) Tolga comes from Izmir, a city geographically and historically associated with our islands. It’s so close and so big that in some winter nights when the clouds are low I can see the glow of the lights of his city in the east! b) Some Turks like Tolga, also like a lot of people who come from the countries of the Eastern Mediterranean, incarnate the legendary Oriental Oral Narrator – in simpler words, they know how to tell a story and capture the listener!
Go Tolga, speak about my island – your island of freedom!
😊

As always in my blog reviews, the pictures direct to the full posts in the source -in this case, facebook. There you will find more photos with a few words for each. As you will see, I have borrowed some quotes from Tolga’s posts.  Goes without saying that I am solely responsible for my choices.

😇

Tolga’s Ikaria : Foreword

Foreword: 'I was one of those kids who loved looking at maps. We didn’t have Google Maps back then, but there were mighty world atlases and we had one of those at home. I would place it on the floor and lose myself in it. I would travel from country to country, mountain to ocean. I was always mesmerized by the map of the Aegean Sea. Perhaps because it was home, perhaps because hundreds of islands scattered across my big blue sea would allow me to create thousands of fantasies in my head, it was a magical map. From his terrace, my grandpa would point out the mountains rising from the sea several miles away and say...'

«…but then, there was another island. One that was somehow magical, and for no special reason. One that I picked for myself, my fantasy island, my island. When I told the name, very few people would have heard of it, even though it was so close to where we lived. In my child’s mind, I would be the king of my island and my own civilization. I would declare my independence lying on the floor of my bedroom, lost in the map. It was years later, when I started reading about it, I was surprised to see that my island was of the same mindset, that it had actually declared its independence in 1912, had its own flag, its own anthem, even if it had lasted for only five months. Yes, that was definitely my island…»

Tolga’s Ikaria : Day 1 – Arrival

Day 1 Arrival: 'Getting to Ikaria is no easy task, I’ll tell you. Despite being one of the largest of the Aegean islands, it seems to be somehow left out of the grid. Although it is clearly visible from the Turkish coast, it is easier to get to Mykonos or Santorini then Ikaria. Well, I hope it will stay that way. The day started early. At 6:30, I was on the bus to Kusadasi. I was sure I had a solid plan – funny me. As there are no direct boats to Ikaria from Turkey, I first had to reach Samos, from where fer-ries run to Agios Kirykos, the administrative centre of Ikaria, couple of times a week – Yes, you cannot just go to Ikaria whichever day you feel like, you have to plan!'

«Getting to Ikaria is no easy task, I’ll tell you. Despite being one of the largest of the Aegean islands, it seems to be somehow left out of the grid. Although it is clearly visible from the Turkish coast, it is easier to get to Mykonos or Santorini then Ikaria. Well, I hope it will stay that way…»

«The entertaining bit of the trip though was to overhear (ok, not overhear, simply listen, yes I like lis-tening to others’ conversations, shush!) twenty something Istanbulites discussing which beach clubs they should go to in Samos. I’m not going to get into details, but I will tell you this much: some of the Turks really have the wrong idea about the Greek islands. They get on the boat to Samos or Chios thinking they will find the same boom boom – fuck me – boom beach clubs they go to in Cesme or Bodrum, and then they are heavily disappointed. Aegean islands, perhaps with the excep-tion of Mykonos and Santorini, is about peace and tranquillity, and very very good ouzo…»

«.So here I am, sitting on my wooden throne on the beach, adoring my kingdom. I just had the most delicious grilled squid and am on my third glass of white wine. Stars are shining, there’s a gentle Greek tune coming from the back, and the sound of the waves from the front. There’s a brave woman going for a swim. Life is good. So far, I love my kingdom.»

Tolga’s Ikaria : Day 2 – Agios Kirykos

Day 2: 'Mornings of any Aegean trip has the same theme: wake up (preferably not too late), instead of jumping under the shower, jump into the sea, sit at a café, have a bite, have a coffee, and another coffee and another one. Why should today be any different? An insight to travelling in Ikaria: public transport on the island is virtually non-existent. There are two buses...'

«Mornings of any Aegean trip has the same theme: wake up (preferably not too late), instead of jumping under the shower, jump into the sea, sit at a café, have a bite, have a coffee, and another coffee and another one. Why should today be any different?»

«Ag. Kirykos is a nice island town (town – village – town? whatever), but nothing spectacular. Nice cafés by the coast to enjoy your book. Few pebble beaches around – not very comfy, but the sea is much warmer than in the nearby islands of Samos and Chios. Nice people. Yeah, that’s it. Summary of the day: swim, have coffee, read book, walk around, have more coffee, plan the next day, have another dip in the sea, and another coffee – yeah that’s really it.»

«Although Greece gained its independence from the Ottoman Empire in 1827, East Aegean Islands still remained part of the empire. In July 1912, the Ikarians said that they had enough with that and revolted under the leadership of a chap named Ioannis Malahias. The Ottomans had their own prob-lems like World War I, so as a result, Free State of Ikaria was declared an independent country on July 17th. Of course, it wasn’t the easiest of times. And with no dowry, no money, no family background, Ikarians had to be glad to be annexed by Greece only five months later in November. To this day, Ikarians are extremely proud of those five months and all around the island, you can see more Free State flags than Greek ones. The flag has a dark blue background with a white cross in the middle – basically Swiss flag turned blue. 🙂 »

Tolga’s Ikaria : Day 3 – Chalares Canyon, Nas, Armenistis

Day 3 – Chalares Canyon, Nas, Armenistis: 'The alarm started ringing at 7:00 am and I got out of the bed at once. The sun was slowly rising over Fourni putting a big smile on my face. Try to wake me up so early during the work week and God knows what I’ll do to you, but today I have a mission: I’m gonna claim the mountains of my island! I had bought stuff for today’s lunch from yesterday evening. All I needed was bread. At this hour, there are only two places open in Therma: the bakery, and interestingly enough, the thermal baths. As you would guess from the name, Therma is known for its thermal baths and you can see oldies in white bathrobes...'

«To get from the south to the north of the island, you have to go up and down the high mountains that run like the spine of Ikaria. The view on both sides is simply breath-taking. One has to be care-ful enjoying the view while driving in Ikaria though. The roads are all very narrow – at some points to the degree that two cars cannot pass at the same time. On one side of the road, there are rocks and on the other side, cliffs several hundred meters high and more rocks at the bottom. Not to worry, you are more likely to come across a goat than a car while driving on the island anyway.»

«I arrived at Nas, at the northwest end of the island towards ten o’clock. Nas is a very small village with a few hotels and restaurants that took the healthy-trendy line. Everything here is organic, healthy, super food and stuff. It’s not difficult to imagine people doing yoga on the beach at sun-rise, which I’m sure they do.»

«Ikaria has an unbelievable amount of well-marked and well-kept walking trails – one might say bet-ter marked and kept than the roads themselves. The one I was going to try today was starting at Nas and following the river along the Chalares Canyon. As the trails are never ending, I decided to walk as long as I found reasonable, then return back either using the same route or some alternative path.»

Tolga’s Ikaria : Day 4 – Evdilos, Kampos and around

Day 4 – Evdilos, Kampos and around: 'The northerly autumn winds begun caressing Ikaria this morning. The sun is still strong, but you know that it is not going to last long. Colors of the season started showing themselves on the trees at higher altitudes. It is the best time of the Aegean. The first activity of the day was a leisurely hike. After covering my feet with band-aid – I am kinda starting to see the wisdom in socks with sandals thing, but not in this lifetime – I decided to take the dirt roads going up from Kampos. It was not going to be anything difficult like yesterday’s, just a few hours of sightseeing really. The roads gently ascend the hills passing by farms and vineyards. After a few dead ends, I seem to have found my way. In any case, if you get really lost lost, just walk down till you meet the sea, not that hard.'

«The northerly autumn winds begun caressing Ikaria this morning. The sun is still strong, but you know that it is not going to last long. Colors of the season started showing themselves on the trees at higher altitudes. It is the best time of the Aegean.»

«The roads gently ascend the hills passing by farms and vineyards. After a few dead ends, I seem to have found my way. In any case, if you get really lost lost, just walk down till you meet the sea, not that hard.»

«As the altitude increased, bushes and olive trees left the scene to pine forest. At the end, I reached my destination point: Theoktistis Monastery. It is really a small monastery this one, but sitting on top of the mountain, the view is well worth the climb. There is a small church at the very entrance with your typical Greek icons and what not. As you climb a bit more though, you come across an-other tiny church which drops your jaw. Imagine that there’s this big rock on the ground, then they built block walls on it, and then using what mythical creature god knows, they placed a gigantic rock on top of it all to serve as a roof. Walking around the church, you realize that the roof bit is ac-tually a massive rock cantilevering out of the mountain. They just built a block wall in between the two rocks. Okay, now it makes sense. It’s a tiny tiny church by the way, the door is barely a meter high or so, you really need to bend down to get in.»

Tolga’s Ikaria : Day 5 – Manganitis

Day 5 – Manganitis : there are no words here, just photos. The words are in the description of the 6th day.

«The south coast of Ikaria is rugged, harsh, so rocky that in most places depriving the trees of the least bit of soil to hang on to. This makes it very difficult for humans to settle, but it is a playground for the goats. These steep hills also shelter some of the most beautiful, tiny, isolated beaches you can find on the island, of which, Seychelles Beach has unequivocal reputation.»

«Here’s another interesting note about Ikaria: After the Greek Civil War of 1946-1949 between the nationalists and the communists, the Greek government used Ikaria as an exile location for the de-feated commies. Some 13,000 people affiliated with the Greek Communist Party, KKE, were sent to the island. Considering the current population of Ikaria is just 8,500, you can well imagine the impact of this relocation on the island’s political demographics. And which party do you think wins all the elections on the island today? Yes, you guessed it right🙂. Even today, the island is referred to by many Greeks as the Red Rock. It is funny though, Ikarians are also very devout Orthodox Christians. Nowhere else have I seen communism and religion going so much hand in hand, but then again, Ikaria is not just any place.»

«…the highlight of the whole day, perhaps the trip, was the tiny, beautiful, under-stated Manganitis village. With houses overlooking the vast blueness that is the Aegean and the cutest little harbour, this fishing village offers the real isolated Greek island beauty in one’s imagination. And the deli-cious Ikarian ratatouille cooked from vegetables grown by the owner of the taverna himself in his backyard, accompanied by a glass of Mythos… for some people, there is heaven, eden, paradise to go to; for the likes of me, there is Manganitis.»

Tolga’s Ikaria : Day 6 – Departure

Day 6 – Departure: 'The south coast of Ikaria is rugged, harsh, so rocky that in most places depriving the trees of the least bit of soil to hang on to. This makes it very difficult for humans to settle, but it is a playground for the goats. These steep hills also shelter some of the most beautiful, tiny, isolated beaches you can find on the island, of which, Seychelles Beach has unequivocal reputation. Here’s another interesting note about Ikaria: After the Greek Civil War of 1946-1949 between the nationalists and the communists, the Greek government used Ikaria as an exile location for the de-feated commies. Some 13,000 people affiliated with the Greek Communist Party, KKE, were sent to the island. Considering the current population...'

«Today, I will have a few beers and enjoy my book until the Dodekanisos Seaways hydrofoil takes me to Pythagoreio in Samos, from where I will board the boat back to Kusadasi. I have one and a half hours between the two boats, I hope the connection will be less dramatic than the last one.»

«I have to express my gratitude to the amazing island of Ikaria, for treating me like the king that I am and allowing me to reign over it for six long days – much longer than many mighty nations tried to do. It would be unwise though to outstay my welcome, for I know that the spirit of Ikaria is all about freedom. I will surely miss this red little rock of mine and who knows, perhaps one day…»

«Autumn winds increased their strength over Ikaria today. Gone are the long, warm days of the summer. Whether you like it or not, change is on its way. Things are about to get different, and different we will have to embrace.»

.
.

Come again Tolga! Maybe your ancestors and my ancestors were related! Maybe they were friends!
Let’s be friends too! 😊

.
💠 💠 💠
.
.

👩 Eleni

September 20, 2016

.
.


7 σχόλια on “His island of freedom”

  1. Ο/Η Angelos Ka λέει:
    .
    .
    .
    Unlike you, I am on facebook and I am now following his blog. Tolga is goood goood!

    .
    .
    🙆 🙇

    Αρέσει σε 4 άτομα

  2. Ο/Η Θεοδώριχος λέει:
    .
    .
    .
    «Ο Τούρκος στον κήπο» (δανείζομαι τίτλο βιβλίου). Στον δικό σου κήπο, Ελένη! Καλώς τον δέχτηκες! Είναι πολύ καλός! Πως όμως γίνεται κανείς βασιλιάς σε ένα νησί ελευθερίας;
    Ο θεληματικός κόπος μιας ήσυχης ζωής Μάλλον πρέπει να βρει μια ταιριαστή βασίλισσα για να του μάθει τον τρόπο.

    .
    😘

    Αρέσει σε 5 άτομα

  3. Ο/Η elinalafina λέει:
    .
    .
    .

    «…[Ikaria] seems to be somehow left out of the grid.»

    That’s true! And that although according to the map the island is at crossroads in the middle of everything.

    « The Aegean islands, perhaps with the exception of Mykonos and Santorini, is about peace and tranquillity, and very very good ouzo…»

    YES! there are some intervals, but absolutely yes! It took a Turk to confirm the obvious fact!

    «Ikaria has an unbelievable amount of well-marked and well-kept walking trails – one might say bet-ter marked and kept than the roads themselves.»

    How nice of him to appreciate the effort! I wish it was true all the way…

    «[In Nas] everything here is organic, healthy, super food and stuff. It’s not difficult to imagine people doing yoga on the beach at sun-rise, which I’m sure they do.»

    Well said! They do!

    .

    In Nana to agrimi's blog: 'More c' estfou' #comment-95

    .

    «Even today, the island is referred to by many Greeks as the Red Rock. It is funny though, Ikarians are also very devout Orthodox Christians. Nowhere else have I seen communism and religion going so much hand in hand, but then again, Ikaria is not just any place.»

    I loved that part. It’s true that a lot of seemingly opposite things go hand in hand in Ikaria besides these two.

    .

    Ratsos 02.09.16 - 03

    .

    Finally yes, the spirit of Ikaria is all about freedom. But the flag is just a piece of blue cloth. Lucky are the ones who understand the meaning of life on our rocks and take the responsibility to be poor but free…
    Good Turk. I liked him. Sometimes one’s neighbors understand one better than anybody else.

    .
    .
    😌

    Αρέσει σε 5 άτομα

  4. Ο/Η egotoagrimi λέει:
    .
    .
    .
    The neighbor appreciates good food and speaks the truth.
    As for freedom and peace, I wish it was for all year long and Turkish and Greek war planes weren’t dogfighting over and around the island after the tourists are gone…

    .
    .
    😒

    Αρέσει σε 4 άτομα

  5. Ο/Η Tolga D. λέει:
    .
    .
    .
    Thank you Eleni, I feel a little embarrassed by your kind remarks. I am not a seasoned blogger – in fact, this was my first attempt to scribble down something, and I am really pleased that you enjoyed reading it. I hope to meet you next time I am in Ikaria. Till then, take good care of my island.

    .
    .
    😀

    Αρέσει σε 1 άτομο

    • Ο/Η Eleni λέει:
      .
      .
      .
      Merhaba/γεια σου, Tolga!
      😊

      Exactly what I loved about you is that you are not a seasoned blogger! It also seemed to me that you posted right away from the island in real time and not afterwards, sitting comfortably at home. In either case, your posts are so fresh, accurate –and funny! They sounded to me as if you were talking about your adventures in Ikaria to someone on the phone! It’s something I have done myself in the first years and that’s what ended up to become a blog -because long distance calls are expensive.

      I didn’t get a clear picture about your grandfather’s connection to the islands but I should tell you that my Ikarian grandmother who was like a mother to me, had fled to Alaçatı (Αλάτσατα) during the war to escape famine.

      Ikarian refugees from UNRRA Moses Wells Camp, Egypt, see their native island again after three years in the desert during WWII It was the first of the many adventures of her life and she had only good words to say about her short stay there before they left for Palestine.

      .

      Of course I will take care of your island. After all this is what this blog is about!
      Until your next visit…
      kisses

      😘 😘 😘

      Eleni

      .

      Αρέσει σε 5 άτομα


Σχολιάστε

Εισάγετε τα παρακάτω στοιχεία ή επιλέξτε ένα εικονίδιο για να συνδεθείτε:

Λογότυπο WordPress.com

Σχολιάζετε χρησιμοποιώντας τον λογαριασμό WordPress.com. Αποσύνδεση / Αλλαγή )

Φωτογραφία Twitter

Σχολιάζετε χρησιμοποιώντας τον λογαριασμό Twitter. Αποσύνδεση / Αλλαγή )

Φωτογραφία Facebook

Σχολιάζετε χρησιμοποιώντας τον λογαριασμό Facebook. Αποσύνδεση / Αλλαγή )

Φωτογραφία Google+

Σχολιάζετε χρησιμοποιώντας τον λογαριασμό Google+. Αποσύνδεση / Αλλαγή )

Σύνδεση με %s