Tuesday was earmarked for another good walk, significantly longer than Vigla on Monday but on paths so less arduous.
The walk to Agios Emilianos, the monastery on an island connected by a causeway is a long-time favourite. It’s one that I have written up and put on the Greek Island Walks website and even plotted the route on Google Earth so I know it quite well. The conditions were perfect: cloudless blue sky; little heat haze; slight breeze to take the edge off the temperatures (still 30-35oC in the shade in the afternoon on Symi); sections in cypress forest to add variety and provide cool relief now and again. Walking quite fast and very comfortably, fair bouncing along the path, I reached Agios Emilianos in less than 2 hours.
Just as the trip boat arrived and set up the BBQ. I knew some of the locals who were on the boat and was invited by the captain to stay for the meal which is always very good.
I acknowledged his kind offer but declined. I wanted to walk back and eating a large meal in the middle of the day puts me out for the count. Very enjoyable if the next stage of the journey is on the boat, but not with a long walk back beginning with a sustained pull up to the col in the full afternoon sun. So I had a good long swim around the island, dried off in the sun chatting to folk off the boat, ate a banana and set off back just as the very appetising smell from the roasting meat on the BBQ was beginning to sap my resolve.
I was sluggish getting going again but soon got into my stride. Hopping from rock to rock I became aware that when I hopped onto rocks which were edge upwards it was uncomfortable on my feet, occasionally verging on being painful. Hopped onto one which elicited a distinct “Ow!”. Quick investigation of my foot showed nothing wrong …. but the sole of the sandal had split and the top of the sole had cracks in it.. The footbed had collapsed and when I squeezed it between thumb and index finger they nearly met in the middle.
No problem getting back but the sandals were distinctly dead in terms of future walks. In fact even with dead sandals I covered the ground fairly quickly and so with time in hand I changed the route going back to walk down another ridge and finish in Yialos, the main harbour. Very satisfied feeling as I sat in a taverna on the harbourside, chosen a couple of years ago because it has the most comfortable chairs, and sipped a frappé in the late afternoon sun.
The sandals? I always walk in Teva TerraFi sandals because the soles are made from the same rubber as rock boots. That means there is a trade-off between high friction/good grip and long wear. I’m more than happy with that. Security of grip is more important for what I do than having footwear lasting longer. The sandals were new when I flew out for the first part of my 2012 Greek Odyssey and I estimate I have walked about 1000 miles of footpath in them. They will now be used in the garden.
The temporary solution? As soon as I got back to the hotel I scrubbed them clean and will now wear them for ‘smart’ and my ‘smart’ sandals, which are themselves quite old, will last another week until I get home where I have another pair waiting for me.
A really great walk.
Symi Walk 3: to Agios Emilianos