Text: Valentini Desculidou
Translation in English: Violandi Vratsanou
Photographs: Gerard Kramer, Antonis Sassalos, Anna Kalatzi, Georgia Kalaimi, Olga Karagianni, Anna Voulgari

On Saturday 29 October, the 9th maintenance hiking tour of this year’s hiking season took place, on the wonderful route 2 (Vourkoti – Katakalaioi – Pythara – Apoikia – Chora). The meeting point was at Neiborio in Chora , where the bus with the hikers started for the mountainous Vourkoti. In Vourkoti the weather and the colors changed and the 46 participating hikers started the route in a veil of fog and with a significantly lower temperature, descending the steps of the dreamy and deserted Vourkoti. The camera clicked capturing the hikers going in and out of the fog cloud. A bit of trimming and picking up of some trash along the way, on the otherwise well-maintained path by the volunteers, until we reached Katakalaioi. There, approaching Katakalaioi, the strong wind seemed to pull back the curtain of fog and Chora appeared in front of us, which view – no matter how many times you have seen it – always takes your breath away.

In Katakalaioi, however, another surprise awaited us. In this village, untouched by time, with people that still keep the traditions of Andros, Mrs. Marika Stefanou showed us the hospitality of Katakalaioi, by having prepared doughnuts for the hikers; her son, Mr. Dimitris Stefanou, offered us tsipouro. We visited also the well-tended village spring at the end of branch 2b. Then – through a lovely wooded section of the footpath – we continued our way to the next village, Apoikia. While on the way, our conscientious volunteers and hikers carried out a rescue of a goat that had become trapped in barbed wire!

On arriving in Sariza we made another small stop for water at the historic and famous spring and some participants decided to wait there for the rest of the group, which continued through the branch 2a in order to visit the fairyland of Pythara with its waterfalls and pools. Afterwards, we all continued on the route to the mainland, stopping at the stone bridge of Apoikia, where the Route Angels of No 2 had organised a little treat. The landscape around the bridge was a wonderful scenery and the sounds of the river water and the rustling of leaves from the giant trees accompanied the happy chatter of the group. We didn’t want to leave, but the path called us to keep going.

One last ascent to the road to Agia Marina, and again Chora appeared before us, this time even more vivid. Descending down the beautiful cobbled path, untouched by the centuries, we all wondered how much effort and work our ancestors had put into these stairs! The small white chapel of Agia Eleni is also located there.

Shortly after the Kourtesi vineyards, another animal rescue took place. This time it was, Argo, one of the hikers’ dogs, which – full of curiosity – got trapped in an adjacent property… and was heroically rescued, once again becoming the mascot of the group!!!! We now reached the end of Route 2 at the river of Neiborio. And of course, it was not possible that such a beautiful day could not have a happy gastronomic end in a nearby tavern overlooking the Tourlitis and Agia Thalassini . All this happens in our maintenance hikings, where we all become and feel like one big family in the end …

Stay all of you healthy, both you who participated and you who wanted to participate but could not and those who will join us in the next hikes. We are waiting for you and you are welcome to support our work , as hikers on our maintenance hikings and why not as our NEW VOLUNTEERS… Stay tuned for our next hikes, which will be announced – for your better timing and convenience – on a monthly basis from now on. 🌐 androsroutes.gr/november-announcement-2

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