Once the summer months are over, public transportation in greek islands is at reduced frequency (and in many islands will stop in a month or tow). We needed to catch a bus toward the trail Udi found on the map. However, the only bus in the morning time left at 7:15.
And so, after a very short sleep, we woke up early in the morning. We had something to drink and packed our backpacks (I took my camera, Udi packed food and water bottles).
It was mostly dark outside, with some early signs of the sun about to rise. The bus waited at the specified time and we paid the driver. Roni got a waiver from her parents, and so we were only four.
The bus route took us back and forth through the small town, and then through the gorge inland. It was interesting to note that bus stations along the road looked like shelters - they were closed from three directions and had partial coverage from the front. Apparently, the winter time can be harsh here.
|Trip route (I smooth some of the twisted roads going up/down)|
We got off the bus next to the first real intersection on the road. The bus continued toward the main city (Arogstolion). We now had to hitchhike to the trip starting point. We decided to split into pairs to increase the chance of catching a ride.
|Ayelet trying to catch a ride next to the bus stop|
We waited at the intersection and at some point the traffic got busy with many cars - most likely from the morning ferry. Somewhat uncharacteristically no one stopped for us. They made various hand signs that we didn't make sense of. It was clear from the map that there were very few destinations between were we stood and the village we wanted to get to.
At some point Ayelet and I decided to start walking and see whether we can have better chances if we seem to be doing some of our work. After about 15 minutes we saw Udi and Tomer in the back of a tourist car (small cars that are most likely rental). We, however, didn't manage to get a ride. It was early morning and it was still cool. We walked from the outskirts of the village where the bus dropped us off. The road was crossing fields and orchards surrounded by rocky hills on both sides. We walked for quite a while and the road started climbing uphill.
Our luck changed and a rather beat up old car stopped for us. They took us all the way to our destination (which we almost missed as the name on the sign was unrelated to what was shown on our map). We were happy to regroup with Udi and Tomer how scouted the village.
We had a task to get bread for our lunch. However, the village did not have a bakery. There was a daily bread truck that passed through and sold bread. However, it was due only at 11 or so. The only sign of life around was a small cafe with two old men sitting on the porch. We decided to start the trip with coffee. One of the old man was the proprietor and asked us in good but somewhat gruff English what we wanted to drink. The options were greek coffee or instant. We choose greek.
|Sitting on the cafe porch - Ayelet talking to the proprietor|
Ayelet started chatting with the guy. We learned that as a young kid he moved (with many other village residents) to Australia, where he learned his English. He did not like it there, and so after saving money for the return trip, found himself back in Athens. He was the youngest son (out of 8) of his family, and when his father died and returned here to run the family establishment. We learned that during the winter only few families stayed in the village. He told us that he remembered from his youth winters where more than a meter of snow accumulated on the ground.
|The inside of the cafe|
He didn't have bread either. And so we resorted to buying plastic wrap cakes (some variant of chocolate croissant).
We set off on our trip. The start was along a dirt road that climbed from the village. It run along orchards that seemed semi-deserted. We ate grapes and figs from the trees along the route.
The road reached an area that seemed like a ruined village. A church was still partly standing, and the rest of the buildings were in much worse shape. I suspect that these were ruined in the great earthquake of 53. But it might be that they were deserted earlier.
We reached a saddle between two hills. It seemed that local shepherds made a temporary home here.
We left the road and started walking along a rather narrow trail that slowly climbed along the face of the mountain. At points the trail was a bit unclear and was lost in various goat trails that crossed it. And so we had to backtrack to find the actual trail.
Here is a place to mention the issue of footwear. I was wearing my new "minimus" shoes. There are very light sports shoes with a strong but thin sole that stimulate walking/running barefooted. Sadly, walking over sharp pointy rocks is not something that you would want to do with bare feet. And so by now had very sore feet. I must say that the shoes stood to the stress of these rocks very well, but I also felt each and every sharp angle :-(
Our climb took us around and above a valley that was nestled by the mountain.
At the end of the climb we reached another saddle point, which was on the seaward extension of the mountain. This side was covered by old oak trees and had magnificent views of the sea shore below us.
We stopped for lunch. Udi brought cheese and salami, some vegetables, and olives. We had very little bread (leftover from yesterday) and so we cut it into rather thin slices.
Toward the end of lunch a cloud started approaching toward us from the mountain and it became noticeably cooler. We started heading toward the outlaying hill south of us.
|Remains of a goat|
|Tomer's imitation of a goat|
The map showed a trail around the hill. We started on what seemed to be a trail, but very soon had doubts whether it was a real one or a goat trail. The hillside became much steeper, and the going was tough.
Eventually we reached a small plateau overlooking the sea. The sights from here were breathtaking.
We continued downwards in a steep oak forrest.
We reached another goat herders compound with many dogs and hundreds of goats. From here we followed a winding dirt road that zig-zagged down toward the main road.
By now it was hot and our water supply was low. At the bottom of the road we found a small stream with running water. Splashing in the cold water revived us.
From there it was a short hike to the main road. Catching a ride back was easy for some reason. Tomer and I road with a very nice elderly guy who didn't know a word in English. It was clear he wanted to chat with us, but the communication was not that easy.
He dropped us in Poros and we walked to the harbor, with views toward the big outcrop of rocks that stood outside the harbor.
By now everyone was tired. And so after a shower each of us caught a short nap on some bench or on the deck. Eventually we managed to pick ourselves up and go for dinner. We heard recommendations of a local taverna just next to the harbor. By the time we got there it was late, and they were out of many of the dishes. Still we had a very nice dinner.
After dinner we all sat in the boat's living room and watched a movie that takes place in Kefallonia - "Captain Correli's Mandolin". Its a terrible movie and I don't recommend it... By the end of the movie most of us were asleep, and we all got to our beds to sleep.