Greece 2011: changing my mind on Symi

I woke up with a few aches and pains on Thursday so I thought that a shorter walk than yesterday would be on the cards.  So after what used to be called quaintly ‘the usual offices’ I set out for the ridge with the intention of exploring a bit more of a peninsular where I did a bit of poking around last year.

Once I got into my stride I loosened up and was moving very quickly which, given that I had also had an early start, would have made for a very short day.  I was having second thoughts about the plan.

I reached the great shade tree at the entrance to one of the grander monasteries in 45 minutes, far quicker than I had expected to, and was feeling full of vim.  I wonder which came first, the term applying to physical energy or the cleaning product?  And I wonder how it differs from ‘vigour’ with which it is usually linked phraseologically.  I’ll have to check the etymology, not to be confused with aetiology or entomology. But not just yet.

In short I decided to change my plan completely, go west instead of east and head for the island monastery of Agios Emilianos.

Two thoughts here.  The fact that the walks I do always seem to go to monasteries with stopping-off points at other monasteries on the way, is simply because the only reason the paths are there at all is because they link settlements and for the vast majority of the last two millennia, in this part of the world, settlements have been focused on monasteries and churches.   That has only changed in the last 50 years and in many cases a lot shorter time than that.

The second thought is to do with mountain safety.  Advice in the UK certainly is to always tell someone where you are going and the route you plan to take.  If you park your car you are advised to leave a note in the windscreen with the same information and estimated time of your return.  Advice intended to alert the people with body-bags to come and look for you and save their time searching.   But typically British …. and very anally retentive.  Apart from inviting youf and other scallies to break into and nick your car, a real problem in some mountain areas in Britain, it means you can’t change your plans.  You can’t suddenly decide “I’ll go west instead of east” without the nail-biting angst of thinking that you may be sending the body-bags the wrong way.

As I have said before, my mountain philosophy is very clear on this: take responsibility for your own actions.  If there is no-one coming to get you, make sure that they don’t need to.

I went west to Agios Elianos, walked with plenty of vim all the way there and back, pushed the pace hard, saw some interesting stuff, met some interesting people ……  had a great time.  If I had I opted for the shorter walk I originally planned I’m quite sure that on the day I would have felt I hadn’t done enough.

The shade tree where I decided to go west instead of east

Being watched from the shadows

View down to the island monastery of Agios Emilianos from the en route monastery of Agios Ionnis Theologos

Many of the old monasteries have fine examples of wood carving

Those Turkish boats get everywhere

The island monastery of Agios Emilianos, linked to the 'mainland' by causeway, now badly breaking up. Turkey in the background.

Photographer alive and well, in the well

I never tire of this view .... but look at the size of that boat compared to the building alongside. And where has the town clock gone?


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