Dear readers, hoping that you are familiar with my idea of presenting selected material about Ikaria loaded on the internet by bloggers, photographers and writers, I am proudly presenting to you today in an interesting collation the works of two women photographers, Kerstin Hehmann from Germany and Isabelle Gressier from France. Unlike Zdeněk Senkyrik from my previous entry, whose photos are carefully set with an emphasis on landscapes, Kerstin and Isabelle come with ‘snapshots‘, the one of happy people who dance in various summer festivals and the other of silent buildings, isolated or deserted houses in wintry landscapes. It was my fancy to put Kerstin and Isabelle’s very dissimilar photos side by side in this entry. I wanted to make a point and I am very satisfied of the result. I hope that you too, my dear readers, after a little bit of thought, will be able to see the connection.
Dear readers, you haven’t grasped the connection yet? Here’s another dozen of collated shots 😳
Does this picture by Kerstin of a valley lost in the mountains which doesn’t see a living soul for months and suddenly it’s stuffed with cars and people for no apparent reason, help you understand? I suppose not 😳
Dear readers, this is stuff to talk about for hours and maybe also make a book of. It’s our beloved ikarian enigma and I won’t bother you with it anymore. But before I let off, allow me to suggest to you to read the following parts of an interview by Nikos Dayandas, the maker of «Little Land», about his experiences in Ikaria. Our friend Elina found it, chose the best parts and added them in a comment under my entry about this great documentary. Here they are translated in English. This interview does not solve the riddle of «The Two Sides», yet it’s a few steps to the right direction. It’s one of the best and shortest descriptions that I have ever heard or read about life on our island.
That’s all from me for now, goodbye. The micro goes to Nikos
«Going there I realized that the island was full of young people who were indeed non-Ikarians or they were Ikarians who hadn’t been born or lived in Ikaria.»
«There is no local who doesn’t do two or three jobs at the same time; from a little garden near his or her house to the beehives at some distant hillside; from a sour cherry orchard in a field to the sheepfold in some place near.»
«It’s given that they work very hard. They just have this particularity that they do everything in their own time, everyone in his own clearly personal understanding of when is the right moment to do something.»
«When you are there, you do get the feeling that things really are a bit slower. You are surrounded by a strange calmness, everything is peaceful, the people are mild too. In Crete, for example, Cretans are intense characters. Cretan music is fast, their drinks are very strong. The Ikarian culture on the other hand is different, milder. It’s the sound of the little violin, their dance is a slow circular dance, they add water to their wine…»
«When you arrive there, your first impression is, first of all, the nature and its wildness. You see right away that the place hasn’t been developed.»
«You, know, because I have studied archeology, the Ikarians in many aspects remind to me of the Ionian civilization, they have almost ancient Greek tendencies. Everything they do, their pace and their activities are «all in good measure«. Or like a granny says in the film, life goes like a circle from good to bad and back again. This is, let’s say, the Heraclitean «everything flows«. The way they see things is founded on some basic ideas which are deeply rooted in Greek philosophy, even though they aren’t themselves necessarily aware of the fact.»
and the best (according to Elina and of course I agree!)
« … Ikarians also had another particularity in their society. The island has always had a liking to Communism and because the local communists had a very hard time with persecussions and exiles, after democracy was restored in 1974 the people started to reward them with mayoral posts. This is the political dimension of the mysticism of the place. So for several decades you had KKE partisans fixed in public posts through which European Union funding came and every time they said: «Leave it. We won’t take it!» They wrote all that on their balls, something that may have seemed criminal at that time, however today you can say that they may have been saved exactly because of that. Because it’s a place that hasn’t changed.»
.No please don’t think that this is another tale ! On the contrary this going to be quite technical. We call this path «trail of the two monasteries». because it stretches between the monastery of Mounte.and the monastery of Theoktisti.I had known about it since autumn and I had even given a name : «the trail of the fairies» ! But then I wasn’t aware than that it was all one long path and that the elf was A. who had been trying to clean it (then he gave up at some point).
Accoring to AKK, ‘the trail of the two monasteries’ (or my ‘trail of the elves’) connects to the mule track I discovered. My mule track makes the last part of ‘the trail of the two monasteries’. It’s the ‘exit to the sea’ and the outer world. 🙂
Until we have the map, here is a photo taken from a spot in my mule track. It shows the elevation (about 250-300 m.) and the distance from the sea. The light was very bad so I’m not sure if I’m going to upload it in Flickr. Instead I will surely upload a good take of the conical mountain on the opposite side. By the way, if my memory doesn’t fail me, all of my Flickr photos tagged «trail of the elves» have been taken from that wonderful hillside..
Here is an extract of a map of Ikaria showing the middle northern side of the island. This map was in the small book «Tourist Guide of the Municipality of Rahes, Ikaria» (Touristikos Odigos Demou Rahon Ikarias), issued in 2004 and distributed for free by the Municipality of Rahes (name of the western part of the island). This booklet was very good if not for anything else, because of the maps it contained. Unfortunately the stock is exhausted and it isn’t likely that there will be a new edition.
This map is in Greek only. It includes too many (very specific and unneeded) place names, which create ‘noise’ and confusion to the reader of a map. On the other hand, there is a good side in this pedantic ‘localism’: this is the only general map of Ikaria which shows the footpaths!!!
Almost forgotten today, the «trail of the two monasteries» (Eleni’s «trail of the elves») used to be ‘the main road’ from Rahes to Evdilos until the late 1960s when a motor road was built between the two towns.
If ever this path was restored, I’d suggest that hikers take it from Rahes. On a long hike like this, it’s always better to head for the sea instead for the mountain.
From Christos in Rahes ((ΧΡΙΣΤΟΣ ΡΑΧΕΣ) to the 1st monastery (Evangelistrias ‘Mounte’ monastery -Μονή Μουντέ), the area is inhabited. The ‘wild part’ of the hike starts after the lake ‘Μικρό Φράγμα’, across deep pine and oak forests, machia and bushlands, over hills and across mountain streams with pools and falls. There are many low tone ‘anonymous’ sights (‘lowlights’ to use one of Eleni’s own terms).
I wasn’t supposed to deal with this path. I’d rather have waited for the authorities to show some interest. Instead of looking for ‘trails of the elves’, I’d rather work to improve the solid paths included in the ‘Round of Rahes on Foot’. But curiosity took the better of me, as it always does.
A first long survey proved that the path was still there (of course many parts were altered, covered in growth, ‘eaten’ by roads- but most of it was there!). Then I took my cutter and cleaned some parts as far as the mountain stream «Chalikias» (Χαλικιάς). It was a comfort for me to find occasional marks in red paint made by hiking parties a long time ago. I added a few stonemarks too. I usually do this when scouting, so that I am able to find my way back !..
After Chalikias I got involved in a very deep forest and if the path was not so well made I would never have found it. Anyway, after quite long I somehow managed to reach Lidi («Λίδι»), where I came out in a narrow dirt road going the right direction -west!
*(They are about to build a small irrigation dam in Lidi right where the path comes out of the forest. When I made it there, covered in dust and sweat, I so much wished it was ready and I could take a dip !)
From Lidi I followed the road to the 2nd monastery (Theoktistis – Μονή Θεοκτίστης, see Eleni’s blog, entry: «highlights’), which is very near the village of Pigi (ΠΗΓΗ). From there I walked to the main road (Evdilos-Pigi) and I waited for a friend to pick me up. There are three small whitewashed old churches on the eastern side of that road. That’s where the path goes on from Pigi to Kampos (and then Evdilos). These three churches are important landmarks.
Though I didn’t walk any further and I don’t have first hand knowledge, I can assume that the area along the stone paved mule track from Pigi to Kampos is very beautiful. These hillsides under the villages of Pigi (ΠΗΓΗ), Maratho (ΜΑΡΑΘΟ), and Frantato (ΦΡΑΝΤΑΤΟ), have the privilege to face the east and there are many springs, good soil, limestone and … no goats! So I’m sure they would be covered with flowers in spring!
1) The green lines on the map are the ‘traditional‘ paths. Some of them have become roads; some have disappeared. The dark purple lines represent the paths of the system of the Round of Rahes of Foot which, unlike the green ‘theoretical’ or traditional paths, is a reliable and well marked network of hiking trails.
2) I’ve drawn the ‘trail of the 2 monasteries’ in pink, because this colour makes a good contrast with the colours of the map. If you are good at Photoshop, you can put my map as ‘layer’ on a scanned image of the Road map (which you should first make smaller to fit the scale). Then you can erase all other info from my map and leave only the pink lines. It would be interesting to see if and how they fit on the Road map.
3) Besides the «trail of the 2 monasteries» (west-east, I’ve also painted pink the path in Myrsonas (Μύρσωνας) river (south-north), though this path is not ‘elfish’ but a reliable hike already included in The Round of Rahes on Foot. I did this because the Trail in Myrsonas is very closely associated with the ‘trail of the 2 monasteries’. The western startpoint of the trail of the 2 monasteries is situated right in it (in a place called «Φυρή Άλωνα», marked with a pink arrow in the map).
4) The motor road between Rahes and Evdilos is exactly 17 km long. I estimate that the pink path from «Φυρή Άλωνα» to Kampos must be about 10 km long. Good news: a) there are no steep climbs up and downs. More good news: more than half of this hike is on secondary country roads (not shown in this map)!
5) the pink path ends (or begins) in the square of the village of Kampos, near the church of Agia Irini («Αγ. Ειρήνη»), which is marked in the map with a «church» symbol. For the time being, however, I don’t advise you to hike all the way down there on the trail, because the last part of it goes through the village and gets very confusing. Instead of this, head for the main roads above Kampos. So, as you hike down from Pigi, after «Καλανταρέ» you will meet a narrow dirt road; there leave the path and follow the road to the left; it will lead you to the main motor road to Pigi (I marked this spot with a pink arrow on the map) and then out on the main road Armenistis-Evdilos (I’ve marked that spot with a pink arrow too).
6) This is a sketch of a map and a sketch of a description. Do not expect from me to give you altitudes, exact distances, e.t.c. Even the pink line I’ve drawn, I’m not at all sure if it fits in a proper geographical map. This is something that I did because I like it and because I very much like to share it with you.
7) Inspite of the beauty of the land, there is no policy whatsoever for the environment or for ecotourism in Greece. My fellow country men are only just now starting to grow an awareness in these issues. So when you hike, do not take things for granted. Take the situation in your hands (or rather, ‘your feet’)and behave like explorers: a) never get sore if you are lost; there is fun in it! b) when you see piles of stones as marks in the paths, repair them if possible and maybe add on some more.
8) I may have made mistakes. Make your comments and ask your questions (preferably in English or Greek, though any language is good) in http://www.facebook.com/groups/hikingIkaria/
Angelos Kal -21/02/2006
Friday February 17, 2006 – 01:18pm (EET)
Have you ever bought or given one of those series of postcards that are attached to each other. It’s a small packet like a pocket book and it opens like an accordeon. There you have the ‘standard’ monuments and sights and nice views from a place, all in one. My father’s favourites, mine too. You can also find them in many houses in Ikaria. Accordeon series of postcards from Japan, Brazil, USA, Venice and Bilbao, in short, from where ever a cargo ship with Ikarian sailors in it catches port. From these postcards I understood the meaning of the word ‘highlights’ which there’s no exact equivalent for either in French, or in Greek.
So here I’m presenting an accordeon of highlights from three neighbour islands:
Delos, Ikaria and Patmos
(I’ll ignore Mykonos. Mykonos is a state apart. Looking for highlights for Mykonos will lead you to ‘tits’, ‘crowded beaches’, «stone drunk college girls dancing on tables» and it’s the same for Ibiza, Faliraki in Rhodes island and so many similar places -even in the Crimean peninsula recently- so they are not highlights anymore.)
(I’ll also ignore Samos. It’s too big and too close to the continent -Asia. Though I like it (don’t tell that to my Ikarians), it doesn’t feel like an island for me. Except perhaps for mt. Kerkis which rises over the waves of the Aegean (see that photo of mine in Flickr) and it’s so island-ish and superwow. But I’m a hiker, so perhaps my tastes are doubtful and «off-the-beaten-path» -to use the term I found in www.virtualtourist.com )
I’ll start with Delos. I had two photos and I couldn’t choose so I put them both in. I found these two photos in Flickr.
The first one shows a part of the row of the ‘Lions of Delos’ along some sort of monumental boulevard. It’s a wonder that these statues were not stolen from Greece by the Venitians or later by the British. I suppose they appeared too ‘abstract’ for their taste. These lions not just shine in sunlight -they multiply and reflect the sun light -they are light amplifiers and it’s very difficult to take good photographs of. They are ‘highlights’ !
The second one shows something that is supposed to be an ‘altar of Dionyssus’ though it’s obvious it’s not a wine taverna. This is actually the sign at the gate of one of the dozens of whorehouses of Delos ! What could they have written to describe it? «House of the rising….»? Anyway, it’s funny. Because of its strategic position, the temple of Apollo and some major tax deductions, Delos had been the most important port in the eastern Mediterranean for about 300 years from Hellenistic to Roman times. Hence the whorehouses and their marble signs (which can be seen from very far away and the sailors would cheer). However, for obvious reasons there are very few (if any) postcards of the (all mutilated) phalluses of Delos in the souvenir market today. But tourists love to take pictures of them. They are sooo photogenic ! So it’s a ‘highlight’ !
After the proliferate, here’s the ascetic. The next picture is from Ikaria. This is Theoskepasti (Θεοσκέπαστη =roofed by God’s own hands) an old chapel as well as a hermitage. This picture was taken by X.M. the local photographer who I think was the first to make this monument known to the public though his pictures, so by now it decorates the frontpage of the good old www.island-ikaria.com . Natural, human and divine connect and there are some typical Ikarian concepts involved too, such as balance (the rock), poverty (obvious), economy (obvious too), integration and harmony with nature (though it’s by no means small, you can’t see it until you are actually there). So I’d call this a «lowlight» -an Ikarian highlight !
Then it’s Patmos of course! This is the bells of the monastery of St. John (10th cent. AD) from a ‘standard’ postcard. Are you sonic? These bells can be heard from an unbelievably long distance. The secret of it lies in the Russian bronze of which they were made centuries ago. When you hear them in the morning mist covering the Aegean it makes you think of the quest for the Holly Graal, the knights and the monks, the Saracin pirates and the slave virgins, all that which still haunts our imagination (and made St. Spielberg a rich man, among many others). This is a ‘highlight’ !
That’s all folks ! (who was saying that? Buggs Bunny, wasn’t it?)
P.S. I’m so proud ! Did you know? My photo with the sunset in Flickr which I had also tagged ‘Delos’ figured first in the «most interesting photos tagged Delos» in Flickr last week ! It seems that I’ve beaten the phalluses and the lions for a while at least. It’s so funny.
A photo about Delos without the actual island in it ! What does this mean Doctor S.?
Porky Pig actually 😉
Saturday February 11, 2006 – 03:06pm (PST)
A doctor writes: Hmmmm…probably a simple unconcious play on words is involved here; Delos has suggested δειλινο and hence sunset, together with δειλος bringing into play those feelings of shyness and withdrawl once more; we have once more stumbled upon the central conflict at work within the Psyche: the brave lion-like public persona (masculine principle)and the shy creature which seeks to withdraw from the light (feminine)(NB these terms have nothing to do with the subject’s actual gender). This does indeed make your Delos «most interesting» and for you there is no need for a real island with its overtly masculine imagery of Lions and Phalluses «shining in the sunlight» as I think you put it. This island you have «beaten» or overcome (i.e. this aspect of your nature is, for now, submissive)- you are pulled instead towards the darkness (feminine/unconcious principle)evident in the sunset photo and by empowering this side of your psyche you have tapped into the collective unconcious so powerfully at work in the flikr site, with the result that your photo «wins» – or I would say is most representative of the collective feeling around «Delos.» More wine please.
Sunday February 12, 2006 – 01:05am (GMT)
you should drown in wine that doctor of yours. Have him have a long sweet death that will last for 100 years…
Sunday February 12, 2006 – 03:16pm (EET)
-I know… the doctor is trying to make me crazier than I am already.
– Is my avatar really like a CD cover? Would it make you think there is good music inside?
Sunday February 12, 2006 – 12:13pm (PST)
I think the music would be very dreamy.
Sunday February 12, 2006 – 10:17pm (GMT)
ρεμβώδης (wow -thanks dictionary)
Monday February 13, 2006 – 12:29pm (PST)
It’s more or less like you say…
Wednesday January 25, 2006 – 12:46pm (PST)
Mysterious, deserted stone huts are great, but I have to say that the stream is my favorite of the set. I seem to have a thing for water.. especially running water.
Why post pics here rather than flickr?
Tuesday January 24, 2006 – 02:32pm (EST)
I loaded those pics with the old huts only for the sake of documentation because I was asked to by higher forces. 🙂
I have the same thing for water and I would be an otter if I could.
This blog serves as a test page and a place where I can copy-paste stories from my notebook very easily and fast, like a personal news bulletin. I don’t want to be a bore in Flickr («oh that Eleni again with her fix for Ikaria») 😛
Wednesday January 25, 2006 – 12:33pm (PST)
According to the local tales, people were building the simplest possible houses in the least accesible places in the mountains to escape from pirates, slavetraders and tax collectors. This is what modern-day Ikarians say but I think that the explanation is simpler and more complicated at the same time. They lived with nature, in nature, and upon nature – the only way they knew and trusted. They lived «outside history». It’s something hard to take and hard to understand. 😛 😉
Wednesday January 29, 2006 – 12:46pm (PST)