It seems that the world wakes up earlier on Mondays than Sundays with the result that there were more places open for breakfast when I staggered out in search of caffeine at 08.00. For the first time in a very long time I had eggs and bacon. It was either that or feta and olives which I love but not for breakfast and particularly when washed down with Greek coffee which was their accompaniment.
Well set-up for the day I set out at about 10.30 to walk to the small town of Eghiali at other end of the island. The first part of the walk is was the section of path I had walked yesterday and as anticipated the sun was in a better position to photograph the monastery. In you want to try to master it it’s name is Panagia Hozoviotisa. I took a few more photos but recognise that it has been photographed countless times from every angle at all times of day and all times of year and it would be impossible to take a shot which was really creative or different.
I didn’t go into the monastery even though it was open because I didn’t meet the strict dress code: no shorts, no trousers for women. There was an array of old clothes hanging on a fence outside the steps to the front door for ill-clad visitors to choose from to make themselves decent. There was nothing in my colour so I planned to go back in my own clothes and look around inside another time.
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The path continues across scree slopes coming from the cliffs and sloping down to the sea far below. Along this section of cost the cliffs are about 600 metres high and pretty impressive but the scree is stable and shallow angled. Nothing like the scree slopes we used to ‘surf’ down in the Lake District and North Wales. Great section of path.
I passed the point where I had turned back yesterday and then diverted off the main path to a small chapel recommended as worth a visit. One thing about this and apparently some of the other paths on Amorgos, they are well signed. In the UK there are finger-post on main roads indicating where a path begins and then you’re on your own. This path not only has numbers at regular intervals to confirm that your still going the right way but at junctions has finger posts to indicate which destination each path leads to. I turned off Path Number 1 onto a narrow, winding path to the chapel of Ioannis Chrysostomos set in walled enclosures with ancient olive trees and huddled into the craggy rocks. The sad thing is that there is no door and animals obviously wander in and out, the evidence for which was all over the floor. Which is a shame because the frescoes inside are obviously very old but are deteriorating. A remarkable thing however is that this must have been one of the first places in Europe, if not the world, to have indoor plumbing. The well is actually inside the chapel with a feta-can tied to a rope for hauling water up. I guess the feta-can is a bit newer in origin.
Continuing on Path Number 1 I started to get the occasional whiff of some sweet scent and then came across the odd clump of bright yellow whin (that’s what I know it as, a kind of wild broom). I took a photo and then shortly afterwards came across a few more clumps and soon there were whole hillsides covered in it. The scent was intoxicating. The most aromatic bit of walk I’ve ever done. The hillsides of Symi are covered in oregano, thyme and sage and walking through them is a great experience, very memorable. But that scent is more subtle than this. The whin is almost overpowering in places.
Still further on and it becomes clear that cloud is forming over the ridge and soon I’m walking in what I can only describe as warm clag. Every-so-often it would clear and reveal dramatic cliffs and gullies.
Path Number 1, or to give it its proper name, the ‘Palia Strata’ meaning ‘Old Way’, continued in dramatic fashion through the mountains, the clag lifted and then Eghiali appeared far below and the path dropped gradually down to the coast. It took about 4½ hours in all and I enjoyed it so much I’ll probably do it again.
I reached Eghiali in plenty of time to have a frappe and a swim before the bus back at 18.00. The only problem with the swim was that Eghiali has a sandy beach. I haven’t been on a sandy beach for such a long time that I had forgotten that the sand gets everywhere including places you would rather not have sand. But a minor problem.
A great day symbolised by a great sunset.