Nisyros: freed from the tyranny of targets

Sunday. It’s hard to believe that it’s my third Sunday on Nisyros and that I have been here for 3 weeks.  We have been here many times and last year I was here for a month in June.  But still I have been discovering new things and walking new routes every single day.  The island is so full of variety and interest that I guess it’s unique.  Still the best part of a week to go before I move on and without thinking about it there are more walks queuing up to be done.  As soon as you get the confidence to go off-piste the island becomes vast.

It’s shrunk a little because of circumspection in light of the hunters roaming the mountains blasting off at anything which moves, including in the protected areas, but there is still a lot more to do.

The last few days of hard walking in increasingly hot conditions have taken me a bit by surprise really.  Therefore on Sunday and I decided on a modest day’s exertions were called for before what I anticipate will be a tiring final week.  So I decided to do something I have never done before in Greece.  Walk to a taverna and have a mid-day meal.

I feel another ramble coming on.  When I finished my degree in college and was embarking on research my Professor didn’t get my grant application in time.  Result: a year of research with virtually no money.  Thanks to the generosity of friends accommodation was sorted out but I had precious little money for food.  Result: my stomach shrank and I found I could manage on far less than I had been used to eating.  Ever since then my appetite has been limited.  Large portions in restaurants put me off.  I eat very modestly …. and thrive on it!!  While I’m in Greece my midday ‘meal’ consist of a  banana and half a bar of nuts and honey.  With another banana towards the end of the afternoon.  Plus copious amounts of water.  Either side of that are a good breakfast and evening meal.  I am, as the saying goes, as fit as a flea on that.  Though why fleas are considered exemplars of fitness I  don’t know. I generally find somewhere dramatic for the midday snack: top of a mountain, edge of a cliff or prominent lump of rock, a dry waterfall, impressive monastery grounds, Minoan settlement …… you know, the sort of place we all stop for dinner.  End of ramble.

Anyway!  Sunday I decided to take the newly scheduled 09.45 bus to Palloi and walk up the old path to Emborios and have a meal rather than just a frappé in the fabulously located Balcony Taverna.  This is the first time in 3 weeks this year and 4 weeks last year that I haven’t bought bananas in one of the island’s 3 fruit shops.  I shall find out tomorrow whether any of the fruiterers have been hospitalised with shock. How will they manage without my daily €1 purchase!!

I decided to walk up the old path from Palloi rather than direct from Mandraki and via Evangelistra for two reasons. First was to support the bus service: if it’s not well patronised it will not appear on the schedule in future years.  Second was because I am rather pleased with myself to have found a good route and hope to add it to the list of Greek Island Walks I post on the internet for Nisyros.  It’s obviously been there for centuries but it’s new to me and isn’t shown on any of the maps of the island.

It was to be a relaxing day so I began with a frappé in a taverna on the harbourside in Palloi.  Then a gentle amble along the coast road with a flat-calm sea and sea daffodils nodding gently in the faintest of breezes.  That set the tone for the day, strongly reinforce by the fact that I left my pedometer in the hotel …. unintentionally.

Sea daffodils proliferate along this bit of coast

Flat-calm and crystal clear

Another ramble.  Many years ago I concluded that setting targets as a management tool is a load of bollocks.  Targets are entirely to do with quantity and not quality.  For one thing, and there are many other problems with them, they measure time or money or number of widgets but do not and cannot measure quality of product or service.  I was given a pedometer for Christmas 2010, a really good one, and it has to some extent changed my life.  I love it.  One of the best presents I have had.  It means I aim to walk a  minimum distance so many times each week and that is A Good Thing.

BUT it also has a facility to measure ‘aerobic walking’ and that isn’t such a good thing.  I won’t bore you with the mechanics of it but it means that I aim to set a minimum pace of 60 steps per minute and not stop for longer than 60 seconds because that switches off the recording of aerobic steps.  It’s a slave driver.  A tyrant.  I try to keep walking while taking photos.  Mad!!! End of ramble.

Sunday and I forgot the pedometer.  And I was on a mission to have a relaxing day.  I stopped to take photos.  I stopped to just look.  I climbed rocks to take photos of rocks.  I ambled off the path to look at stuff which caught the eye.  I mooched around looking for a better angle for a photo.  I almost grabbed a snake by the tail as it slithered off the path in front of me before  could get the camera deployed (the reason I didn’t was because I didn’t know how sharp the sharp end was). I wandered off the path to investigate what looked like a Greek trig point on top of a terrace wall and found it was part of a carved marble pillar with a few other perplexing ancient artefacts.  Great walk.

Dry waterfall with a cave underneath on the line of the path

One of many lava outcrops

Photographer on the edge again

On top of a rock to photograph the huge boulder overhanging the old path

One of many houses built under the terraces

Carved marble pillar and other artifacts alongside the house

Close-up of the carved figure, about half a metre tall

And to top it all (pardon the pun)  I had a Greek salad in the Balcony Taverna looking out along the length of the caldera.  I had the place more or less to myself.  Last time it was heaving with 3 coach loads of multilingual trippers from Kos: Russians, French, Germans, Bulgarians, Brummies ….

Carved lintel over door of collapsed building in Emborios …. dated 1810

Path up to the old castle and church above Emborios

The church

Then a walk back down to Mandraki in time for a swim and a lounge on the beach at Hochlakkoi.  The sea there has been calmer for the last 4 days than I have ever seen it.  Great for swimming.

On the way back from Emborios Enfys first spotted this as a photographic composition but the sun wasn’t in the right place. Today it was right

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