Last year I spend the month of April in Samos, a Greek island just a mile off the Turkish coast. I participated in three excellent day-long experiences with Giorgos Matthaiou (Γιώργος Ματθαίου) and Samos Outdoors. Here is a link to a post on each of them: Central Mountains, Interior of Western Mountains, and Hike to Seitani Beaches. Now that I am back in Samos again, I reconnected with Giorgos and his new partner, Dimitris Dermanis (Δημήτρης Δερμάνης) for more outdoor experiences and to learn more about the island, its people, and culture. This year the first day included exploring Paleo Karlovasi and the falls at Potami (post link) with a nice hike in between.
Yesterday we met Giorgos and Dimitris at Aghios Konstantios on the North shore of Samos for a hike up to Manolates and over to Vourliotes where we had an excellent and very large lunch. First, we drove a short distance to the tavern in Platanakia (shown below) near the very old town of Valeondades. This village was built around the 1500s when Samos was getting resettled. People first built inland because of the pirates. This tiny village was abandoned as people moved closer to shore after the threat of pirates vanished. In 1984 the village was bought by someone from Athens, who has been restoring it since then. A few buildings have been sold and others are rented out. You can find more information at www.valeondades-house.nl.
Then we started up the footpath to Manolates. First, we passed a place where they would gather grapes for market before trucks were available. Then we climbed up past vineyards with small irrigation channels running by the path bringing water from higher mountain springs. We looked out over terraced vineyards and back to the sea and mountains beyond it. There was a small church and people picking grapes. They start picking the grapes near the sea and then work their way up the mountain, as the higher grapes ripen later.
We arrived at Manolates, a beautiful mountain village with artists and several cafes serving excellent food. I ate at one last year that is shown in the second picture. This time it was too early for lunch; we planned to eat later in Vourliotes.
We passed through town and started down the trail toward Vourliotes through more fields with views out to the sea. The trail dipped down through woods on the way to a stream at the bottom of the ravine separating the two towns. The path was marked with signs and tiny piles of stones. In the mountains in New England they have much larger piles to mark the trail above tree line, especially when it snows. That is not an issue here. Dimitris said the stone piles were new. At the stream, we stopped for a melon and to rest before going up the hill to Vourliotes. The footpath is very old. Until the roads were built in the 1970s it was the main way between the two towns. The old paths were fine for people and donkeys but not cars. Hiking on a shaded trail was a nice benefit. There were many wild herbs along the way. As we got closer to town, we passed by a number of vegetable gardens with enormous squash and pumpkins.
We reached Vourliotes and walked to the other side of the town and passed an interesting bakery to reatuarant, Pera Vrisi. The name means the source (water) outside the village. There is a spring fed fountain next to the place with a huge old tree. You can see the spring at the bottom below. We enjoyed a feast after our hiking. It consisted of a starter platter: very thin fried eggplant, beets with a garlic potato sauce, spinach fritters, fava beans, feta, meat balls, Tzasziki, and more. Then we had thin-crusted pumpkin pies, cheese pies, stuffed eggplant casserole, and rabbit cooked in a tomato wine sauce with bay and cloves. We figured out the recipe to try with dark meat chicken at home. The restaurant sold their own summa (grappa). We sampled it and took a liter home. As we walked to our car that Giorgos had drive over from Manolates, we looked out to sea and saw two ferries heading off to other islands.
It was another great day with Samos Outdoors. We look forward to our next experience with Dimtris and Giorgos at Samos Outdoors. This time we plan to drive up into the mountains in a four-wheel drive vehicle. I highly recommend a visit to Samos Island and engaging Samos Outdoors when you go there.