One’s own country is the country where one does not need a map, even less a Google map with coordinates, to go around. But Ikaria is not your country so maybe you do. As a matter of fact, I think you do. Our little island is very complicated and if you have a doubt just go and browse through my «landscapes of others» set of illustrated entries. I’d rather see people walking these landscapes, instead of those disastrous goats, therefore, besides my explorers, I hold in great esteem the people who make maps and share them with the world, evenmore, when these people go for originality, have good taste and stay away from clichés.
As you have assumed, since my last entry about the «Ikaria Guidebook», I have changed course, and have taken on to the practical side of things. Let’s say, how about hiking safely in the famous but little known, ancient Forest of Radi? How about going in the depths of the upper part of Chalares canyon to find waterfalls and pools to swim naked? 😉
Don’t worry about crowds, ’cause the articles that I will suggest speak about places only for the few. And I would be surprised if you met even few. Take my word, I have been in both these places several times and in spite their breathtaking wild beauty, I never met a living soul!
Although Ikaria has all the assets to become an AAA mountain and outdoor destination, nobody on the island seems
to care to know what to do about it so things are left to chance. Taking everything into account, it doesn’t matter. With the exception of the short tourist boom of August, we are and, as it seems, we will always be an island for the few – the few hunters of adventure in a wild and exciting unknown! 😎
But even hunters of adventure need help sometimes…
The first Google mapped hiking route I would like to present to you today was created by the local Mountain Climbing &’ Hiking Association (OPS Ikarias) and it is about a circular hike in the Forest of Radi which lies between the village of Petropouli in Messaria and the village of Frantato in Perameria. Their blog can be easily translated through Google translate, so here is what they say in the announcement of the completion of this hiking route:
«Hello Readers! After many hiking trips and searches which ended in defining a circular route in Radi Forest, our Hiking Club proudly presents the digital map: «The Round of Radi Forest»!»
They have indeed made many trips and searches and their Google map the best evidence. This document contains 70 pins with coordinates along an intricate trail of more than 12 kilometers, most of them inside a thick forest, as well as 145 photos! If not for anything but only to appreciate the ammount of their work I think it’s worthwhile to zoom in to make a virtual walk from pin to pin and browse through the pictures. What a feat! But as they said when I asked, that magical forest was worth it!
If you click on the image below you will be transported to the OPS Ikarias website where you can read/translate their entry. At the end there is a list of advice and instructions which you may find useful before you do this hike.
And now, after thick mysterious woods, let’s speak about rocks, sun and river water. Do you remember our friend Zdeněk Šenkyřík, the Czech photographer who I praised in my blog last July? Well, Zdeněk recently revisited his material from Ikaria as well as other islands and reorganized everything into something that I would call «Do it like Zdeněk!»
Introducing his chapter about Ikaria Zdeněk says:
«In 2014 while we were planning our trip to Samos, we made a small change to visit Ikaria as well. We wanted to get to know this paradise for lovers of wild nature – canyons, waterfalls, mountain hikes – awesome!»
Indeed, once on the island last June he and his partner Petra were guided by the members of OPS Ikarias and they discovered several places of the kind they were looking for. A list of these spots which are so well shown in Zdeněk’s photos appears in a Google map inside the general page about Ikaria. But the best map and the best photos are included in the subchapter «Chalares Ikaria – swimming in waterfalls». Click on the image below to be transported to that page. We ❤ Zdeněk and Petra!
Still, before closing this, I have to advise everybody who found these hikes appealing to read again my forenote about the situation in Ikaria about hiking. To find and explore safely and succesfully the amazing forest of Radi or the wild and secluded upper part of Chalares canyon the best thing to do is to contact the members of OPS Ikarias, either at their blog which is open to comments or at their facebook page. Like they did with the Czech friends, not only they will be willing to help but they will also have other interesting suggestions according to your likes and the time of the year.
Eleni Ik ❤
Saturday February 28, 2015
everybody is picking olives and this is going to last for many weeks. There isn’t much to say about life here, so let me go on blogging «landscape shots of others». You can read the outlines of this project in the first part of the series. which begins with a memorial gallery of my own Ikarian landscapes from the glorious past. In my previous entry I got carried away into metaphysics and escapist thoughts but I promise this time I will be more sober. No more rocks and cliffs where only eagles, hermits and crazy Ikarians would take their chances. The landscapes I chose today are smooth and reasonable, at least as smooth and reasonable as an island like Ikaria can be… 😉
The choice was made using the oh! so useful Flickr Search «Ikaria + landscape» (refresh if it doesn’t load) sorted by «relevance» giving results oh! so wonderfully
untouristically random and magical almost like a crystal sphere.
Here are the 12 shots I chose: ⭐ ⭐ ⭐
This was the third dozen of my landscape shots of others chosen among the not so popular and less known pictures. I thought they deserved to be seen. We don’t live on the beach. We live inside of around these landscapes! So this is it. The fourth part which, God will, be uploaded in the New Year, is going be a surprise!i Wait and see…
to be continued…
Eleni Ik ❤
Thursday December 18, 2014
⭐ ⭐ ⭐
(cropped from source)
You know, the last thing Ikaria is known for is church life and monasticism. The people are very religious in a natural, casual way, indifferent of formalities, nevertheless always showing a sincere and full respect of higher forces which control our destinies. Whether one believes in the salvation of the soul or not, religion provides consolation because, salvation taken apart, it does speak about the soul while economics do not. And believing in the soul, the existence of a soul, whether this soul is immortal or not, is something very important in the life of the island. Religion also provides occasions for celebration and community gatherings. It also offers an explanation for natural things as well as for «luck» : God’s will. And natural things and lucky or unlucky circumstances are also important elements in the consistence of Ikarian life. To cut this short, we have churches – a lot of big and small churches. They are, so to speak, our guardians, houses of God, houses of the spirit (soul) of the community: «be good and be good to each other» (be good to God).
But what about monasteries? Thereupon we are a failure. Although there are a few monasteries, there is no monastic tradition in Ikaria, at least none as strong as in some other islands. In my opinion, besides our natural dislike for discipline and formalities, the most important reason is that the island is poor and cannot sustain monastic communities. The rocky soil produces hardly enough for the population so the Ikarians, even though devout believers, could not afford, so to speak again, professionals in prayer, experts in salvation. Like everything else in Ikaria, the tending of the soul had to be done by the poeple themselves with the occasional help of an educated priest or solitary monk.
Yet, there are exeptions. If monasteries didn’t thrive, small hermitages were abundant in the slopes of Mt Atheras. But let’s not think that these retreats were inhabited by anchorites who pursued unification with God like in Mt Athos or Sinai. Though little is known about the lives of these people, it’s obvious to me that they were more or less ordinary men and women who either by some misfortune or simply because of taste, discarded the joys of the marital bed and the comforts of village and family life. They walked away from the world, seeking solitude, entrusting their fate to their labouring hands, to good God and to Mother nature. I am all respect for them. It’s hard to believe that in am island as virgin and wild as Ikaria and in a time when most settlements were of the kind of «lost villages» (see, entry), there were people who sought even more solitude and peace! Out-of-the-worldness must be some sort of second nature to us. The outer the better, the further the better, the remotest and most inaccessible is the best, ask my friend Nana & co about it!
Anyway, this entry was not meant to be a dissertation of the religious ethics of the Aegean. I have come to Ikaria for the winter and recently my friends, the explorers of OPS Ikarias, in the course of a project to create a long-distance trail from one side of the island to the other, have been in love with a wild area under the tops of Mt Atheras where according to local legends various groups of monks lived in different periods of time from the 15th century to the 1800s. I saw the photos and I found these landscapes absolutely enthralling.
What made men and women walk out of the world and settle in places like this? What kind of experiences were they after? Were they looking for God? Did they want be gods themselves? Was it because of a practical reason such as piracy, oppression, social disorder and percecutions? Or is it something inherent to the human nature? Escapism? Some people just drop everything and go?.. Is that it? 🙄
I have always been too committed to everything I do and to everybody I love to even think about escaping. But as I am growing older, sometimes I am tired of the world and this makes me wonder. Until I sort this out, you take a good look at those rocky wildernesses. Take a good look at those vast views to the mountains above, the sea straight ahead and the skies all over. I am inviting you to find your answer.
You know me, I am not exactly a romantic lanscapist or an extreme preservationist. Yet I have always been always enchanted by the wild
uncivilized and precapitalist 😉 mountain landscapes of my island, I have always wanted to show them and talk about them, so when I finally learned a few things about cameras in the couse of two years I took and posted many pictures in Flickr. Later, when things took a bad turn and for a while Flickr allowed only 200 photos unless we paid for our accounts, I deleted 132 photos. I did that with a lot of regret because though no one could say they were masterpieces, nevertheless they had a personal value: for me they were documents of my commitment, my puzzlement, my many surprises and discoveries. So before I start with this new project, let’s remember the brave days of 2005-2007 through this gallery :
But now, ladies and gentlemen, enough with the past. Let’s see what other landscapists have done! After I have posted τα γυμνα των αλλων it’s time for me to blog and praise τα τοπια των αλλων.
Sunday September 28, 2014
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.»