SKopelos

By Sofia, May 12 2018 07:40PM

At Easter this year, as flowers were coming to bloom across Greece, I visited Kastoria in the north/west of the country, near the Albanian and Macedonian border.


Kastoria is a city with strong Byzantine features, which nests around the lake of Kastoria, beneath the Pindos mountain range. It was a very personal trip as I originate from this part of Greece, but left at a very young age and had not returned since.


Disregarding the singularity of their different architectural styles, I was struck by the similarities between the Kastoria region and where I eventually settled in Skopelos.


Both are girded by respective mountain ranges (albeit the proportions of the mountains are quite different - Vitsi, the highest of the Kastoria mountains, remains snow capped in the middle of the high summer!); both offer beautiful dramatic vistas; both offer magnificent wild nature and both have historic Old Towns - unique in architecture - sprawling high up hillsides from their busy, sociable waterfronts.


Returning to Skopelos - alive with the scents and sights of springtime growth - I couldn't help but reflect that, like plants, perhaps we prefer to lay our roots in familiar soils...



Kastori Town rising above the lake side
Kastori Town rising above the lake side


Kastoria from across the lake
Kastoria from across the lake


Kastoria Old Town
Kastoria Old Town


The view from high above Kastoria
The view from high above Kastoria


Skopelos Bay, with the old Town rising up the hill
Skopelos Bay, with the old Town rising up the hill


Skopelos Old Town, rising up the hill from the busy waterfront
Skopelos Old Town, rising up the hill from the busy waterfront

Skopelos Bay, viewed from high above the Old Town
Skopelos Bay, viewed from high above the Old Town

By Sofia, May 6 2018 10:30AM

Some who follow my blogs might remember mention of the foraged and restored metal screen divider for my studio on the ground floor of 39steps. The screen was inspired by a beautiful metal work on a discarded door amongst debris which once was a camping place on Glisteri beach.


See:


http://www.skopelos39steps.com/sofias-blog/4557804331/A-beautiful-new-foraged-piece-for-39-Steps'-studio/11168507


The metal work is unique, ornate and more typical to town style

On close inspection I found that the wood was in a remarkably good condition and the door worth saving. Clearing the way with those who might have claims on the door, I made off armed with metal cutters and crow bar to retrieve it. In two trips the two-piece door, complete with its frame was home at 39steps.


It is a beauty!


The new door and screen
The new door and screen
The door, in its future position at 39Steps (soon to be fitted)
The door, in its future position at 39Steps (soon to be fitted)
The metal screen, set as a room divider
The metal screen, set as a room divider
The old screen, as was, left at Glisteri
The old screen, as was, left at Glisteri

By Sofia, Apr 29 2018 09:03AM

A particularly mild winter and early summer mean it is time - already - to forage the seasonal pot herbs which are coming to their end.


Amongst many foragable herbs, wild fennel is plentiful and high on the foraging list. This is a perpetual herb and, if regularly trimmed and cut back, stays green all year round.


Nevertheless, we preserve it. I prefer the easiest way, which is to make it into pesto by mixing it with oils, nuts and other herbs, or simply making it into fennel pulp (pure) and then freezing it in smaller batches to use in the hot summer months when the herbs are scarce.

My friend Anna is a master with herbs. She has sophisticated or delicate combinations, which is understandable as she is the owner of Anna's Garden Restaurant, situated in a beautiful, flower-filled garden, in the middle of the old town near 39 Steps.


In muy kitchen with foraged herbs and other essentials to make pesto
In muy kitchen with foraged herbs and other essentials to make pesto
Fennel, wild spinach to mix with garlic and nuts for the pesto
Fennel, wild spinach to mix with garlic and nuts for the pesto
Anna with a bumper fennel forage
Anna with a bumper fennel forage

By Sofia, Apr 21 2018 08:44AM

Having read my previous blog on springs of Skopelos, I was delighted to be contacted by the small school we have in Skopelos Town to suggest I lead a nature walk for local children. I was pleased to be asked and, as research, I began discussing the history of the local springs with the older generation of the community.


It struck me I should talk with Papa Kostas, a priest (and friend) at a nearby church, who grew up in the 1960s in 'Old Klima', a village on the west side of the island which was all but destroyed many years ago by an earthquake. He wrote to me in Greek, giving a fascinating insight into how the springs of the village were integral to life there in the days before piped water systems.


My translation:


"Descending to the village from the main road, we come to the central spring, which was used by the villagers for drinking water, to cook with and for other general uses. Another spring, further down, was used by villagers for cleaning, washing clothes, and watering livestock.


Still further on, by the stream, there was yet another spring and that too was used for washing clothes and watering the animals.


Located here was also the 'calygharia (an olive oil mill), which, for power, had a donkey tethered to it to drive the mill stone round and crush and grind the olive berries to make oil. The mill belonged to Ghiorgis Tsoukalas, who built it himself late in the 19th century (ca 1890). The millstones, which came from Psathura, now one of the uninhabited marine park islands, survive to this day.


A little above this mill was the mill of the old man Nikos Athanasios and further on the church Ag Anarghyriou by the cemetery, the main church of Kato Klima.


The central spring here was Platanos. Below that was the springs 'to nero tis Karadouglinas' and what we referred to as "Tsarantoghylina nera". Unfortunately, these springs are now overgrown with shrubs and other vegetation concealing them from view."


Many thanks to papa Kostas. Tracking this out will make for an fascinating history walk for Skopelitans and visitors to our island.




What remains of Old Klima
What remains of Old Klima
The olive oil mill
The olive oil mill
The ancient millstone (still exists today)
The ancient millstone (still exists today)
The streets of Old Klima (photo 1971)
The streets of Old Klima (photo 1971)
The Masin spring (still used)
The Masin spring (still used)
Another overgrown spring in the remains of Old Klima
Another overgrown spring in the remains of Old Klima

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)
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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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