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  • Shelley Dark

#12 to Palamidas and back

I love the way the seagulls wheel above the harbour in circles, round and round.

Yesterday when it was raining they landed and stayed put.

I discovered the significance of the double-headed eagle - no prizes for guessing the clue was the church setting. Apparently it's the most recognisable symbol of Orthodoxy today apart from the cross.

It was also the official state symbol of the Byzantine Empire, symbolising the unity between the church and state. The two heads represented the Holy Roman Empire in the east (Constantinople) and in the west (Rome).

The door knocker we saw had only one head - perhaps it's the messenger eagle of Zeus, king of the Greek gods...

​I love the pace of this island in winter. It's slow, economical and measured. Today I put my brain into neutral and walked 10km to Palamidas and back - on a formed stone path up through the back of the town, along the side of the hills behind the sea and then down a valley to Lychos. Then an easy walk on dirt to Palamidas along the coast.

So just put your brain into neutral too and walk with me. Just breathe it in.

For the first part of the trip, I needed the gps on my phone - the maze of Hydra's back streets are impossible to navigate without one, and there are few or no signs.

At first the sky was blue as promised so I didn't take an umbrella.

No sooner had I climbed the hill than the clouds came over and it started to spit. I ignored it, trusting the forecast.

This dog wasn't bothered by it. I told him he was being ridiculous. Dogs don’t sit on roofs.

These are the first chickens I've seen. Rather handsome rooster!

The inevitable doors...

This lovely ruin stopped me in my tracks. The whole walk was worth it just to see this.

You can see how much work has been put in to holding the water courses - most are lined with stone.

It was still drizzling, but I felt confident it wouldn't get worse, and it didn't.

The entrance gates remain standing long after the mansion is gone. I found a cemetery, most of the grave sites new. One dated from 1897 and boasted a skull and crossbones carved into the marble.

This darling man came along the road towards me. I pointed at his feet, and said, 'I love your shoes!' He smiled. 'Where are you from?' he asked. When I said I was Australian, he smiled broadly. 'I have been to Australia many times. I work on ship. I need to go back,' he told me. I needed his walking stick. And his blue bags.

Before he walked away, he shook my hand warmly. I had been a little nervous being so totally alone. Now I felt better. There may not be a serial killer here.

The path was becoming uneven. I had to watch my feet to make sure I didn't slip. It's hard on ankles and hips. And muscles. And feet. I kept looking around at the scenery as I walked. I nearly took a nose dive a few times. That could be unpleasant.

This man overtook me on the downward path. He was carrying a fishing rod. 'I hope you catch one!' I said. 'Later!' he said, and laughed.

This is where the path joined the coast at Lychos. There's a low road for dry weather. The lovely bridge is for when the gully is running a banker.

The tavern looked promising. I followed the arrow, thinking I might have a cup of coffee. Deserted.

The dirt path hugs the coast with steep drops to the sea. Much easier on the feet and legs than stone. I saw one farmer throwing fertiliser on his grassed terraces from a bucket, and a few sheep. That was all.

The inlet of Palamidas is a beach and a rock wall with boats being repaired. Two houses. A big dog was barking threateningly. Apparently there are some ruined mansions there. I couldn't see a sign of them, I didn't want to discuss it with the dog, and there are no cafés there, so I turned for home.

There are 300 churches in Hydra. Many more along the coast. Most are locked.

The water taxis are everywhere! It's a race!

She's waiting patiently for her farmer owner - he's the one throwing out the fertiliser.

The sun came out now and then. When it did, it turned the water to a sparkling blue green.

It was hard to imagine that in the season this beach is crowded with sunbaking bodies!

In no time I was back at Kamini. This is the old shop on the marina where I caught the water taxi the other day.

There's a memorial seat to Leonard Cohen on the track between Hydra and Kamini. This is his view.

Another horse waiting for his owner.

It's very picturesque isn't it? I was thinking more of my feet and my stomach. I'd been gone for three and a half hours.

In no time I was at Manna (turn away from the harbour at the Alpha Bank, said Vasso), where I had slow cooked Cretan lamb. Or lamb cooked in the Cretan way. Either way it was delicious!

I can't resist taking these citrus trees! Of course it was totally fine now that I was back. I visited another shop where the owner told me that Spoiled doesn't open until the season begins. Of course it doesn't.

I popped in to see Maria's aunty to buy another piece of amygdalota. She makes her own orange flower water from orange blossom - anthonero. There's no semolina in her mix.

There were some lovely looking tomatoes at a grocery store. The container had too many for me, so I dropped some in to Eileen's store. Nicoletta was there.

She insisted on shouting me a limoncello. I don't actually like sweet liqueurs, but I sipped a little.

I passed Steptoe and Son on the way back to the apartment.

I played a little at the water's edge before I came home.

Bed is beckoning tonight. Hope you enjoyed our walk. Until tomorrow buddies, when I'll go to see Mrs Adamopoulou again. I think I've forgotten what I wanted to say to her. But it's become a daily ritual, just trying. And I'm having lunch with Maria. That will be fun!

shelley dark, writer 

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