The future belongs to the young. And the young -a special kind of young- have always prefered Ikaria for their holidays in July and August. Not only we respect that but it’s actually an honor. The following article which is also going to be distributed in print appeared in the website of the local municipal party ASPI in June 2015. In this manual-like style of document ASPI makes a list of the basic facts a young visitor should know about our strange island. I was very happy about this good piece of straightforwardness, friendliness and understanding. As there are a lot of foreign young people who come to the island in high summer and knowning from experience that they also need a warm welcome and a helping hand, I felt I had to translate it in English. I am letting you read my translation. No embellishments! Facts and instructions! Big times!!! ⭐ ⭐ ⭐
You can see it from the ferry, Ikaria is one long and high mountain without plains and many beaches, while most of the villages are hidden in its slopes. By nature it’s not suitable for mass tourism. Its mountainous landscape does not offer the comfort and convenient pleasure seeked by the average consumer/tourist. Nonetheless, since the island was known as a tourist destination, the followning paradox occurs: Ikaria’s difference (not only in the landscape but in the way of life and the way of thinking of the inhabitants) attracts many people, mostly young, who want to see «what goes on here» – to catch a glimpse and understand a bit of this difference. But because they also want to be together with other young people who are after the same thing, they all arrive in August. As a result, during those few weeks different Ikaria becomes «alternative Ikaria» – a chaotic (alternatively massive) «anti-Mykonos».»
«We would like holidays in Ikaria to be a break from the massive consumer way of life.»
«It’s a shame, because inspite of our many defects and faults, we believe that our difference can tell (maybe teach too) one or two things to the people of the city. This, however, is very difficult to happen with so many people around, that is, when the city moves to the island.
It’s a shame also because we are used to being few. Although we love to have a lot of visitors, it is difficult for us to get along with the hustle and bustle, evenmore to run matters in the way we should.
This text is not a tourist guide.
It was written by a group of friends, members of the Independent League of Citizens of Ikaria (*) to inform the young people who visit our island in August about our problems and our lacks and help them get round pitfalls. Our motive is love for our island. Our purpose is to be together and have a good time. Because we love the crazy Ikarian August as much as you do.»
B u s e s : Unlike other islands in Ikaria there is no organised transport network with a central station, billboards with timetables etc. There are buses, of course, and they are more frequent in August, most times even servicing the two ports of the island, combining with the arrival and departure of ferries. Their timetables are usually pinned at central shops of towns and villages where unfortunately they soon disappear under several layers of irrelevent posters and ads. So we end up getting information from mouth to ear or by asking the drivers. T a x i s : there are many taxis with helpful drivers and a rather cheap fare given the state of the roads and the distances. However, they are difficult to find in August. H i t c h h i k i n g : When they have spare seats local cars (plates with AT, MOA or MOB) often stop and take hitchhikers. Yet, nothing is for free in life. The «fare» is communication with the driver and the passengers. Don’t keep your mouth shut but talk. Speak about your impressions, ask questions about the island. W a l k i n g : Nobody in Ikaria will think that you are pauper or tramp because you go on foot. Everything is a road and no road in Ikaria is boring.
«R o o m s : they are countless, found even in the most remote villages, some of which in amazing natural settings and with low prices even in August. O u t d o o r s : Three are the basic facts, 1st) Ikaria is ideal and very inspiring for camping, 2nd) camping is forbidden on the island -everywhere!, and 3rd) there is no organised camping site -nowhere! Not only to avoid eventual protests and raids but also because we think it is best, if you stay outdoors we suggest you are thrifty, light and flexible (and more «lawful»), by rejecting big «mobile summer villa» tents. An open awning for shade in the day and for protection from moisture at night is enough. Choose a spot as far as possible from the beach which should be kept free for everybody. If you camp on the mountains and hills, sooner or later you will be spotted and asked to leave by the locals or the fire service. As far as private land is concerned, there may be people who won’t object if you camp in their properties for a few days. As long, of course, as you find them and ask their permission. Whatever you do, wherever you go, even in the remotest wilderness, don’t behave as if you were the owner. It’s wrong.»
«Let’s face it, Ikaria may have an enviable natural environment, but unfortunately we are not famous for our cleanliness. As if the «resident trash» haunting the streets (junk metal, rubble piles, broken cars) wasn’t enough, the 3-4 weeks of the short tourist season create a garbadge bomb! There are not enough bins, not enough trucks, not enough space in the landfills, and finally not enough cleaning workers. Recently we are doing our best to handle the situation. But we also need your help.»
«The famous village festivals («panigiris») of the island are neither «shops» nor «free parties». It’s an institution (the word is not extravagant) serving multiple, religious, social and economic, needs of the small communities of every village. It is true that in the last years panigiris have been massified and commercialized (with serious impact on the environment due to over-consumption of meat and over-production of trash), nonetheless they still keep their basic characteristic as a communal egalitarian feast for everybody regardless of gender, age, origin, dress code or ideological profile. The secret is that all the organizers are volunteers. Therefore, if you have complaints, don’t behave like «dissatisfied costumers». Talk to the people of the village. They want to talk about it too. A panigiri is no one-night clubbing. Its a reunion and a celebration.»
«It is to wonder how roads were built through those mountains and over those cliffs. And yet, the road network of Ikaria is huge and immeasurably complicated. On the other hand, most of these roads are not in a good condition. Even the main roadway (Agios Kirikos – Evdilos – Rahes – Karkinagri) is messed up in many parts with reverse slopes, sudden narrow curves, obstacles, holes, bumps etc. Drive at speeds not exceeding 30-40 km/h, wear seat belts, put on bike helmets. Don’t drive, if you drink a lot in a panigiri. Find a spot, lie down and sleep you are sober.»
«Often when the meltemi wind blows, big waves beat the most known beaches of the northern side of the island (Kiparissi, Kampos, Messakti, Livadi, Nas). We like to watch them and to swim against their strength, but unfortunately there have been many drownings too. Besides the rules of safe swimming, when you play in the waves you must keep in mind that this activity is actually a sport. Even in the form of simple game body-surfing requires good physical condition and self-restraint. You should also keep in mind that the hardest part is at the end, when the countercurrent which runs under the waves makes it difficult for the swimmer to get back to land. You shouldn’t forget yourself in the pleasure of the game. You must have kept forces to fight the countercurrent. Finally, if you are tired of this sport, of course there are several hospitable, calm beaches in the southern side of the island, that’s something to remember too.»
«You may have heard about it, among the islands of the Aegean sea Ikaria is considered a top mountain climbing and hiking destination. Indeed its hiking trail network is boundless. It was created by volunteers with no help from the government in the course of many years. A d v i c e : a) When it’s windy in the summer, it hardly ever rains, however the mountain-tops are often covered with thick fog. b) The canyon of the river Chalares (what most people know as «the river of Nas») has acquired a fair reputation regardless of the fact that there is too little water in the river in August. The canyon itself is quite impressive, however hiking can be hard because the trail has been destroyed in several parts by floods and overgrazing goats. c) A successful hiking day in Ikaria is a day that has started early in the morning. The island has a very high relief and the ground is rocky. As a result, distances come up longer than their actual length shown on the map.»
«Small-scale agriculture is a way of life in Ikaria. We search, find and buy wine, moonshine, cheese, fruit, vegetables, dried herbs and everything that comes from the island. It’s good quality and it’s good for our economy.»
«We would like holidays in Ikaria to be for you a break from the massive consumer way of life. We know, it’s odd to ask for such a thing in August which is the most wholesale and haphazard month of the year as far as holidays are concerned. But it’s exactly at that month that we think it’s worth asking. Look at the works of out ancestors on the mountains, the houses in the rocks, the terraces over cliffs. It’s in our nature to ask for the impossible. We don’t know what results we attain, we do know however that a beautiful story is being written, little by little, slowly, piece by piece, every year. It’s the fairy-tale of Ikaria. Catch the spirit and be part of our story.»
Have a good time!
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.»
- νῦν ἀπολύεις τὸν δοῦλήν σου, ἐν εἰρήνῃ·
- ὅτι εἶδον οἱ ὀφθαλμοί μου. …
Why am I chanting the Canticle of Symeon? Why am I feeling so relieved? 😀
Because I who dropped from the sky in the beginning of winter of 2006 and discovered, among many other things, the amazing wealth of the mountainous hinterland of Ikaria and since then never stopped talking about it, insisting against the walls of indifference and ignorance, fighting against the dogma that the mountains are good only for rubbish dumps, free-grazing goats and perhaps several dozens of gigantic turbines on top of them all, I finally lived to witness the revolution. Two years ago when Angelos announced the closing of the trail network because of lack of support, I wished so hard that something happened and things took a different course. And there it was! The people of Ikaria are taking things in their hands! The news appeared in the Ikarian e-magazine ikariamag last week in an article under the title «How Ikaria… takes the mountains!». I found that was worth translating and blogging about it. Though I know it may seem to you a rather dry account of events strewn with place names that make no sense, yet to my ears it was music.
Most of the photos in this entry came to me through my spies in facebook from the groups: a) Ορειβάτες Πεζοπόροι Ικαρίας, b) Καθαρίζω την Ικαρία, and c) Αυτόνομη Συσπείρωση Πολιτών Ικαρίας. The links open to pictures in Flickr.
How Ikaria… takes the mountains!
Eventually, as time goes by, the mountains of Ikaria cease to be considered inaccessible and they reveal their greatness more often. Thanks to the initial longtime effort of a few stubborn dreamers, more and more local people are discovering their beauty, while more experienced hikers do bolder things or create new routes. Finally, last weekend the action came to a peak. The map below shows the trails followed, cleaned or traced by four different groups of people who were active in our mountains during these two days.
In red color we have marked the progress of the first group of local hikers who started from Agios Dimitrios in Pounta on Saturday afternoon. After they crossed Zizokampos and Erifi, they came to Agios Isidoros from where they took the trail to Karkinagri. Once at the shore, they spent the night in the cove of Kalou near Trapalou. On Sunday morning they took the old broken-down dirt road along the coast and finally reached Manganitis.
In pink color you can see the long route from Cape Papas to Cape Drakanon taken by a group of people from Rahes who since long are dedicating their Saturdays to hiking. Most of them aren’t young anymore, yet their physical condition is so good that they decided to perform the crossing of the entire Ikarian ridge within two days. They spent the night in Ai-Stathis and on Sunday afternoon they reached Drakanon where they put out their weariness in the shallow and warm waters of the cove of Ai Giorgis. Another pleasant surprise there.
In the same area, earlier that morning, residents of Faros village and several volunteers had taken up to clean and repair the trail that had been abandoned for years, leading to the church of Ai Giorgis and the beach further below. The operation included picking up and carrying the garbage from the coast. Meanwhile signboards are being prepared for the wider area of Faros which stays without signage for years. These signs will be painted by the students of the elementary school.
In blue color is shown the most difficult part of an ambitious project taken up by the Mountain Climbing and Hiking Club of Ikaria. On Sunday they visited the area of Ryakas searching inside this impressive tubular canyon for a way out on a trail to Selini and Agios Theologos in Geli close to the mountain tops. They had already made their preparation, they achieved what they wanted and in a short while they will be ready to announce the crossing of Ikaria widthwise from south to north. When this is completed, hikers will be able to admire one after the other the two most beautuful canyons of the island, Chalares and Ryakas, on a single hike from Nas to Manganitis.
In green is shown the old traditional lane from Xylosirtis to Kampa which was closed and covered with vegetation for ages. At the initiative of the municipal party «Aftonomi Syspeirossi Politon Ikarias» and the participation of several villagers the difficult job to clean this lane started on Sunday. With other similar projects running at the same time in different parts of the island, baring unforseen, the beautiful lane from Xylosirtis to Kampa will be ready within a month.
The article ends there, but the action keeps on. It seems that there is always a new thing of this kind going on in Ikaria every weekend. If you are interested, get in touch with the right people and get involved. The best is that these actions are not sponsored by coorporates or funded by either the local or the central government. These actions happen and they will go on happening because the people want to take over their mountains! They want to work together to do something, no matter how small this may be, for the good of the island and for their own good as well. As the slogan in one of the pictures says,
«None of us can do everything, yet each of us can do a small thing. All of us put together can do many things.»
⭐ ⭐ ⭐
Σήμερα Πρωτη του Καλοκαιριου και ενω οι λέξεις-κλειδια που οδηγουν στα μπλογκ μας μαρτυρουν ότι παρα πολλοί ανθρωποι ψαχνουν πληροφοριες για καμπινγκ στην Ικαρία, εφετος η αγαπημενη μου Νανα δεν νοιαζεται για «τις αναγκες του κοινου ενοψη του Αυγουστου» (♦). Φευγει πιο περα, μακρια. Δινει το στιγμα της, δημοσιευοντας το…
. «Εδώ λοιπόν που λέτε είχαμε εκλογές και κυκλοφόρησε κόσμος και αν και δεν δυσαρεστήθηκα με τα αποτελέσματα, δεν την γλύτωσα και μελαγχόλησα όπως πάντα το παθαίνω με την πολλή πολιτικούρα. Ευτυχώς όμως γελάσαμε με το … (διαβαστε περισσοτερα)
Με τετοιο πνευμα, τρελη διαθεση και πολλη δουλεια…
(♦)Παρολα αυτα, αγαπημενοι αναγνωστες, επειδη δεν θελουμε να γινουν ποτε ξανα
αυτα τα πραγματα
η προταση μας για να κανετε καμπινγκ στην Ικαρια βρισκεται στο
I am very interested in reading personal accounts about my island. To keep in touch with the place, media is good but there’s nothing like reading actual people’s impressions and looking at their photos.
This is the fourth part of the list of blog entries about Ikaria that I like. As I said in the forenote of the first part, my ambition was to review, not just blogroll, so I wrote a few words about each blog entry and I picked out pictures and quotes. These quotes I sometimes hid “behind the pictures”. Move your mouse over to read them.
However, this is a special occasion. The «blog entries» I am going to review for you are from the times of handwriting and the photos are scans of old black and white pictures most often taken with smuggled in KODAK cameras. It’s the times when Ikaria was an island of mass exile: 1947-1948 in the peak of the Greek Civil War.
I am dedicating this post to the memory of my grandfather on my father’s side, who I hardly met. My motivation was to blow a horn of courage to today’s Greeks and in particular to my friend Nana, the light of my eyes, who recently farewelled Athens and moved to Ikaria.
The story of the exile in Ikaria is best described in Greek language by
The entry related to Ikaria is «Τόποι Εξορίας – Ικαρία«
Of the many old pictures in this article I have chosen the following four
And in English inside the outstanding site of the
based in the small remote island of Ai Stratis which was also an island of exile during the same period. The related to Ikaria entry is : «Civil War: a tragedy for all Greeks«, the first part: «1944: Liberation and renewed political conflict«. Ikaria never became a Prison or a Camp subject to military discipline. From this very enlightening article which is unfortunately not available any more, I was able to saved only the following document:
And now some professional photos by Stelios Kasimatis who during the exile found his subject:
I am copying 4 photos from the excellent
They were wonderful, they had a high moral, they believed they could change the world. Rest in peace. Dreams never die and though we can sometimes be in the dark for a very long time, nothing stops progress.