SKopelos

By Sofia, Apr 12 2018 05:00AM

A daughter of a friend asked if we could go on an excursion during her Easter school holiday.


She had somewhere in mind, but we compromised and I persuaded her that a place she had not been to would be more interesting.


I kept the destination as a surprise, which was the Sendoukia. This is where three ancient stone crypts, complete with their boulder lids, are chiselled on the stone top of the mountain, high above the sea, looking north.


No one knows the history of the crypts; it is only hearsay that when the Romans first disembarked on the island, they found them plundered. Who the plunderers were, nobody can say. There is a fourth crypt, begun, but never completed, which surely might have been the give away for the plunderers that there was more about than stones.


I am not sure that Maria was entirely captivated by the story of Romans, plunderes and grave thieves (although the tale that there may be a fourth crypt, yet undiscovered, complete with all its spoils, did rise her interest a bit). Still, there was so much about that nature offered, not least the stunning view of the sea to the north, that did keep her interested and made the excursion enjoyable.

The many rocks atop the mountain (which does the fourth tomb lie beneath?)
The many rocks atop the mountain (which does the fourth tomb lie beneath?)
Maria taking an interest in the nature
Maria taking an interest in the nature
The magnificent view to the north (me, just visible, on top of Sendoukia)
The magnificent view to the north (me, just visible, on top of Sendoukia)

By Sofia, Apr 5 2018 09:27PM

The islands and coasts of Greece are full of picturesque little harbours and ports where small fishing boats, painted in bright colours and bearing local names, make uniquely Mediterranean scenes of tranquility and pure magic


All year round, the harbour front of Skopelos is bustling with life against a backdrop of such small boats and caiques.


They can be seen dry docked on the shore beneath the whitewashed church which sits on top of the cliff at the entrance to the port, or bobbing up and down on the water below. Even parked in an olive grove when convenient for the owner!


In summer they mostly lie patiently tied to the shore, side by side with the expensive yachts that loom over them. These small sea vessels compose a lively, colourful and unique Greek setting. A spectacle of poetry and art!.


The amateur island fisherman who has his boat to love and occupy his time is to be envied, despite the current economic difficulties.


Boats by the kiosk, harbour front
Boats by the kiosk, harbour front
A boat, parked, beneath the monastery that looms over the harbour entrance
A boat, parked, beneath the monastery that looms over the harbour entrance
Harmony of colour!
Harmony of colour!

By Sofia, Mar 29 2018 03:00AM

Public transport covers only the south-west coast from Skopelos Town to Loutraki, Glossa. The northern shore of the island and much of the beautiful Skopelos inland is inaccessible by mechanised transport.


The island does, however, have a network of paths, mule tracks and kalderimis which the islanders used in the past when going about their business on foot or by animal, which, not so long ago, was the normal way of things.


A community work scheme was practised by law to maintain these tracks. Every capable man was required to maintain the section of any path bordering his family land to allow accessibility for all. The work typically involved cutting back overhanging undergrowth, repairing walls, fences and other necessary labour. Although this regulation was never revoked, changing living conditions caused this practice to disappear, resulting in many paths falling into disrepair; sometimes vanishing altogether.


Currently only a few of the island's interior natural beauty spots are accessible by paths, kept open mainly for leisure walks by visitors to the island. One particular lady, Heather Parsons, an expat who has lived on the island for many years, has taken to organising young volunteers from all over the world to come on working holidays to help maintain the paths.


These young people are keen to understand Skopelos through participation in local life, rather than just observing it as visitors. They work unpaid helping clear overgrown paths, re-opening old mule tracks and pathways which have nearly faded from the memories of all but those few remaining people who used to use them regularly. Consequently, the paths are preserved as a wonderful resource, enhancing access to the island's interior for locals and visitors alike.

Monique, Heather and Sam
Monique, Heather and Sam
Teresa working
Teresa working
A volunteer clears a path
A volunteer clears a path

By Sofia, Mar 24 2018 09:28AM

I started taking part in the Easter Lent long ago. The fast requires abstention from all animal derived food.


My reason for fasting at Easter is that it is a very long fast of 50 days and it is easier to fast when everyone else does. I don''t do it for spiritual reasons, but to detox and it so happens that the fast falls at a time when nature is generous in providing tasty wild vegetation for imaginative simple recipes.


This year, I added stinging nettles to my foraging list. They are delicious in stews, pestos, pies or in anything where they can substitute spinach, or other leafy vegetables. The stinging nettle is also full of valuable health properties. There is only one minor obstacle, which is the forage of it. Hardly an obstacle, though, as gloves or other cover can be used for this.


Nettles are very tender and only need blanching in the stew in the last stages, before serving. This also keeps the lovely green colour fresh and appetizing to the eye!



Chickpea, carrot, potato and stinging nettle stew
Chickpea, carrot, potato and stinging nettle stew
Forage of nettles - a good crop!
Forage of nettles - a good crop!
Stinging nettle risotto, olives and carrot salad
Stinging nettle risotto, olives and carrot salad

By Sofia, Mar 15 2018 07:42PM

Skopelos is a verdant island where lush vegetation covers the slopes of the island with interesting flora throughout the year.


The island is at its most beautiful in Spring when the myriad colours of the countless species of flowers bloom and add to the beauty of the island all the way down to the coast. This abundant lushness is due to the many fresh water springs on Skopelos; even some under the sea. For the visitor, these abundant springs and their water add a purpose and pleasure to a walk


In the past the springs were a vital source of fresh water and there are still people who prefer their drinking water direct from the ancient springs even though the island is now supplied with piped water.


At the monastery of Ag. Taxiarchis, the fresh water spring flows from underneath the rock face, then underneath the floor of the church of the monastery to resurface further down before making its way down the mountain slope to the sea. At the monatery's annual vigil, members of the community gather to celebrate this ancient spiritual place of worship, spending a few days together making repairs where needed. At end of the vigil they fill their water containers and take the water to their homes.


A blanket of water lilies covers the water surface of the tiny pond in Lutsa. In Spring, frogs croak and jump from leaf to leaf, whilst the terrapins which have made their homes in the rock crevices and tall reeds of the ponds banks swim regally in the pond. A tall poplar tree gives shade to this delightful microcosm of life.


For good reference on Wild Flowers of Skopelos see Sue Warrens wildflowersofskopelos.org.uk/


For good reference on Skopelos Walks see Heather Parsons http://skopelos-walks.com/

Fresh Water Spring emerges underneath the rock face
Fresh Water Spring emerges underneath the rock face
Metokchi Fresh Water Spring
Metokchi Fresh Water Spring
Lutsa pond
Lutsa pond
Murtero fresh water spring
Murtero fresh water spring
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I'm Sofia, 39 Steps' owner and host. This is an occasional blog to keep in touch with my regular guests, give a taste of Skopeliti life and share my experiences of foraging through the summer season

 

Sofia

 

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