Text: Anna Kalatzi
Photos: Anna Kalatzi, Despina Chatzoglou
Translation to English: Violanti Vratsanou

The 13th maintenance hiking tour and the last one of 2022, which took place the day after Christmas, on 26/12/2022, involving a combination of parts of the footpaths 9b, 9, 10, 1, 1c, starting and ending in the green village of Menites, was destined to take place in completely summer weather. With the participation of 11 hikers, who consciously chose to spend Christmas on the island rather than in an urban centre, the hike started at 10.00 am, after the usual introductions of the group.

The route, with great variations in landscape, ravines, lush green vegetation, rural landscape, amazing views, but also urban Andriotic landscape with noble manors and well-kept gardens, started, through the stone-paved traditional path, from the ravine of Menites and continued high up to Ano Menites, crossing part of the widespread village of Menites, which, as we climbed, gave us a view of the green plain and the lush vegetation of the ravine we left behind, with orange, mandarin and lemon trees giving the scenery their colourful touches of their fruits. Colours and fragrances of the Menites began to be left behind, as we were now moving away and entering a purely rural landscape, climbing past the source of Vrysara, the small waterfall of Menites and the spring of Zannakis. But the view to the rear of the Chora peninsula was breathtaking and we tried to catch it, every time our breath the ascent forced us to stop.

Arriving high up to a triangular plateau, at the junction with path No. 9, which crosses parallel to Petalo, coming from Ano Aprovatou, Ano Paleopolis and Ano Pitrofos, we continued on this path in the direction of Strapouries. Now, we were walking in a purely Andriotic rural landscape, dry, with bushes, with terraces full with olive trees, almond trees and dry stone buildings around the narrow path we were traversing, having the view of the noble capital Chora firmly in front of us. Arriving at the stadion of Strapouries, we continued across the road on path No. 10, coming from Apoikia and Evrousies, heading towards Mesathouri, where we met path No. 1, which we then followed in the direction of Menites, crossing the village of Lamyra.

The Tower of “Athenaeus”
On our way from Mesathouri and Lamyra, our stop in Mesathouri is noteworthy, where we rested on the plateau in front of the famous Tower of “Athineos”, built in 1920 in neoclassical style, a testimony to the wealth and refined taste of its owner, Ioannis Athineos, a rich Andriot citizen of Alexandria, Egypt, from where he brought the art and secrets of pastry making to Andros, which is the reason for the high quality of Andriot sweets. In the huge garden of the Tower, you can still see the wide variety of fruit trees, whose harvest provided the raw materials for the owner’s sweet alchemies. There, enjoying our snack and the view of the Tower, whose walls – while awaiting reconstruction – still retain under the scaffolding their old ochre shades, we recalled in our imagination the glory days of the Tower, when it was inhabited by its owner and his servants, whenever they came from Egypt during the summer months for vacation.

In Lamyra, a landmark village of Andros for its huge well-preserved stone houses with large green gardens all around, testifying the prosperity of the village, we passed in front of the preserved School of Lamyra, known as the Parthenagogion, with the beautiful square and the old plane tree in front of it, the School being donated to Lamyra by the aforementioned ioannis Athineos. We filled our water bottles with water from the spring of Empeirikos, which dates back to 1840, and then walking along the well-maintained stone-paved path of Lamyra, we moved on outside the village, through a well-maintained path with a wonderful view to the valley of Mesaria. Soon we reached the beautiful ravine and the small arched bridge of Raousa, with the stone inscription “Raousa Road, 1912 donated by Alkiviadis Empeirikos charge”, which attracted the group’s interest in the construction of this well-preserved stone-paved path that still connects Menites with Lamyra. We continued on our lush green route with uninterrupted views to the plain of Mesaria in front and to the noble Chora behind.

At the Cultural Association of Menites
In a short while and when the vegetation had become visibly lush, we arrived back το Menites where we had started the morning. And because Menites is not only beautiful and green but also hospitable, the Cultural Association of Menites greeted us and hosted us at its headquarters, where – with the kind initiative of its President and Route Angels volunteer Despina Pettas-Hatzoglou and its other members – we were offered Christmas delicacies, especially prepared for us: doughnuts, melomakarona and pasteli with local honey and walnuts, raki, Christmas bread and of course the amazing mandarins and oranges of the region! !! What could be better after the Christmas Feast, than such a walk in nature and on our trails, ending in such a Christmas inviation. Many thanks to all the participants who walked with us and helped us in our efforts to keep our footpaths clean, picking up litter, putting aside stones and trimming vegetation along the way, and special thanks to the President and Members of the Menites Cultural Association for their excellent hospitality!!

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