Lonely planet magazine U.K. May 2018 OLlVER BERRY ~ PHOTOGRAPHS PHILlP LEE HARVEY
Discover old monasteries, deserted
valleys and secluded beaches as you
explore Chios' wilder western side
READY ASKS GEORGEMISSETZIS,AS THE
• sun peeps over the village of Avgonyma. 'We
ave a fine walk ahead ofusl'He shifts his pack
on his shoulders, checks for drinking water and binoculars,
then sets off down a narrow lane into dry,hillycountryside.
Before iong,most signs of civilisation have vanished. He
leads the way into a ravine,spotted with spindly bushes and
an old stone shepherd's hut.Soon,a pine forest rises among
the rocks, the trees' green foliage popping out against the
sun-bleached hillsides. 'In spring, this valley is covered with
wild orchids,' says George. 'We have 92 species of orchids on
Chios,a third ofal! the species in Europe.We also have many
types of wild tulips. Some visitors come back year after year
to see our fiowers,keepingchecklists like bird-spotters.'
Bearded and burly, his skin burnished olive-brown by the
Mediterranean sun, George Missetzis has spent most of his
life on Chios.Overthe lasthalhentury,he has explored all
its hills,mountains and val!eys,and reckons it's now
impossible for him to get lost: 'Before long, I'd run into
someone I know,anyway,' he says with a grin.
A hotelier, birdwatcher, naturalist and amateur historian,
George is a fountofChian knowledge, and runs guided walks
along the island's less-frequented western and northern
sides. Here, away from the main towns, wild canyons and
ravines snake into the hills, dotted with chapels,secret
shrines and caves burrowing into the heat-baked rock.
Medieval monasteries cling to the hillsides, and between
the small val!eyofFa and the village of Lit hi, a 19th-century
traders'path leads down from the mountains to the coast,
a featofengineering that doubles as the island's best hike.
From the barren hilltops, it winds down along the edge of
a canyon, meandering through copses of pine and patches
of wild rosemary,heather and thyme - although many areas
have been scorched bywildfires that have swept across
the area in recent years. But even here, there are signs
of regeneration: pine shoots and wildflowers sprouting
among the blackened earth and scorched tree stumps.
'Fire has always been part oflife on the island,' says George,
as he tramps down the old Fa-Lithi road in early evening.
'It is a necessary process, but with the onset of climate .....
Wanderlust German edition Spring 2018
Girogos und Trias gehen voran und suchen zwischen
den kniehohen Gräsern den Pfad, der uns
ans Meer führen soll. Die Sonne wirft zum Nachmittag
ihre ganze Kraft auf uns herab, und jede noch so kleine
Passage, die durch Bäume und Sträucher führt, bietet eine mehr
als willkommene Abkühlung. Genau an solchen Orten passiert es
immer wieder, ganz unvermittelt: Düfte verschiedenster Kräuter
mischen sich mit dem Aroma der sommerlichen Luft zu einem
Parfum, das nur die Insel Chios trägt. Ist das Salbei? Oder ist das
Thymian, der hier überall am Wegesrand wächst, oder vielleicht
doch etwas ganz anderes? Den Ursprung des Duftes, der gerade
in die Nase steigt, muss jeder für sich selbst finden. Denn nur drei
Meter weiter kann schon wieder das Aroma einer ganz anderen
Pflanze in der Luft liegen. Girogos und Trias haben inzwischen
den Weg gefunden. Es geht weiter in Richtung Norden zum Meer.
Das Ziel des heutigen Tages ist Agiasmata, ein kleines Dörfchen,
direkt an der nördlichen Küste von Chios gelegen.
Wanderlust U.K. edition Nov. 2017 Phoebe Smith
In the pink
Determined to devote my last day to something other than being guided by my stomach, I headed north to the 'wild end' of the island. The roads up there twisted and turned up and down mountains and along coastlines. My first stop was the UNESCO-listed Nea Moni Monastery, a fine example of Byzantine architecture nestled into the hill flanks and surrounded by perpendicular poplar trees.
The next destination was Anavatos, a once thriving mountain village. Following an earthquake in 1881, it now sits empty save for one hardy 80-something-year-old resident. As we approached, I could only see rocks and began to think we were headed for the wrong place. It wasn't until I stopped and got out my binoculars that I realised what I had assumed were more buttresses were actually the walls of houses.
A path led me up to the remains of an old fortress from where I finally feasted on views of hillsides, forests and the distant coast rather than food. It was a novelty that wouldn't last long.
In the nearby village of Avgonyma I met with George, a walking guide who promised to show me a hike with a surprise at the end. We headed further north in the car, then went on foot down through farmsteads, past my first classic whitewashed church of the trip (all the windmills and buildings I'd previously seen had exposed orange and brown brickwork), and ended on an undulating coastal trail.