Despite a few nervous twitches as the UK government had Greece on the ‘watch list’ for potentially banning all except ‘essential travel’ I made it safely back to Symi, via Athens and Rhodes.
Great to be there again. Some things different, some the same. Strange not to have handshakes and hugs from friends. Strange to put a facemask on going into shops. But going into the mountains the same as ever with no need to bother about social distancing as there was no-one else around.
Temperatures high for the end of August /early September. Not having acclimatised to the heat gradually from early Spring as I usually do, the pace was a bit slower but walking under cloudless sky again was a pleasure.
One day I trekked over to the beach at Toli, going off-piste to revisit a fortress and check out an opening I had seen in a small hillock close to the sea. Turned out to be nothing ancient or very exciting, a WW2 machine-gun emplacement giving coverage of the bay. Found another one hidden in a steep gulley on the climb back up to the track. Had lunch with friends at Toli and then walked back.
More walks when friends came from the UK. To the ridge-top then down to Nimborio via the gorge, gouged out and scoured by The Flood a couple of years ago. To the deserted village of Gria via the monastery of Zoodohou Vrisi with warning of contamination of the water supply by rats. Agios Vasilios and Lapathos Beach with the last drop down the cliff with less scree than usual. Agia Marina and back via Pedi and the valley path to Horio.
Then things took an unexpected and unwelcome turn. I suddenly stopped firing on all cylinders again. Sorted out twice previously in the hospital on Rhodes I decided it was not morally defensible to impose on the Greek Health service yet again so returned to the UK. No reflection whatever on the quality of health care in Greece for which I have the highest regard, just that with all the pressures imposed by Covid it was not the right thing to do.
So a planned six week stay curtailed to two. I managed none of the exploration I had intended but it was great to be back in the mountains in sunshine again and to meet up with friends.
Guess that’s it for this year. Potential trip to Canada knocked on the head by the border being closed. Have to see how Covid pans out over the winter and into next year. Spanish flu lasted three years from January 1918 to December 1920 with three spikes in infection – not that I remember it I hasten to add.
Hopefully pull together satellite images and photos of some of the hidden places on Symi over the next few months.
In the meantime, a few images of Rhodes and Symi:
The sun goes down