"It's the time of the season for loving"
Ikaria, 08 September 2015I really don't want to spoil it.
This island has the best vibe ever.
People is amazing, food is delicious, landscapes are breathtaking.
I am not going to say or tell much more about it, because the best part is... that there is very little tourism here.
So just enjoy the pictures.If you love Mykonos, and clubbing, and fancy restaruants, discos, etc... do not go to Ikaria!
I arrive in Ikaria in a late tuesday of August.
The island rises from the water like a razor blade. The Aetheras range separates the north shore from the south, making the landscapes so diverse and unique.
I heard is a hippie island, and the hippie vibe is well appreciated over here.
I have never hitchiked before, but i need to get to Agyos Kirikos before is too late to find a scooter to rent.
Whenever and wherever i travel, i love to rent a bike or a scooter. Is the best way to experience the place you are visiting, it will make your curiosity go wild and yes, you will go into that alley or climb up that dusty road, just to see what is there. It makes me as independent as i want to be, which is what i love the most of it.
Just a couple days earlier I was in Rome sitting in my apartment wondering where to go next. Right then i got a call from a very good friend of mine.
"Michele, you HAVE to go to Ikaria, that island is meant for you".
Never thought i would go back to Greece again after visiting Crete some years ago. It just did not strike me.
But i was looking for an affordable trip where i could go free camping and stay in the wild.
"Go to Nas – she said – there is a community of stray dogs just like you. Just get there and you will see it".
She didn't have to work any longer to convince me. A few minutes later i was purchasing my flight from edreams (i saw they had the best offer). It was so cheap to fly there!
My first stop in Ikaria is Therma, a spa town with saline hot mineral springs in the sea! You can actually swim there and sit in the water and enjoy it. Is August though, is already hot enough outside of the water and i really want to get on a bike and reach Nas on the oder edge of the blade.
I finally get motored. Traversing the island at sunset is not what i had in mind. Up in the mountains at dusk gets cold, and the streets vanish in the dark. But the view is one of the most precious gifts from earth i could ever experience.
Is getting late so i am stopping in Armenistis, ask a lady a room and spend the night there.
I pay the room and get back on my scooter early in the morning.
I was told Ikaria was a surfers island. There is a surf bar for sure, but not a wave in sight. The mediterranean sea in August is going to be flat 99% of the times. Being a surfer, even if a very bad one, i am disappointed.
But i am not going to complain because this island is stunning.
I could write for hours about the beauty of the land, so intact and pure, the crystal blue waters, amazing food.
However, what is getting to me the most, is the late night dances of Panigiris.
The twirl of sweating bodies in crowded squares of small towns hidden in the woods.
People is there just to enjoy the perfection of the moment.
The arch of the violin is on fire, so is the dancing crowd. For hours they repeat the same four steps of the ikariotico dance. There is a primitive energy persuading me to join in and latch my arms into that spiral.
We dance, we drink, we smoke, we laugh, we love. Is a crowd where soon your eyes are friends with others. No introduction needed, not many words are spoken. Is a natural flow of events that carries my body in the mist.
I wake up next to the waterfalls of Nas. Noone was there when i fell asleep in the morning, and for sure i did not hear anyone arrive. Is way past noon now, and i find myself surrounded by stragers jumping into the pool of the stream.
Naked. I feel like an outcast, but i am not going to take part to the nudist act.
I spend the evening relaxing at the beach admiring the sunset. Here i meet two italian girls. They also are free camping not far from my tent. Tomorrow they are going to another Panigiri, but i diceded to visit the rest of the island so i'll pass on that one. As they leave i set a camp fire next to my tent on the bed of the river. I fall asleep a few minutes later.
This time i wake up early and feeling well refreshed. I decide to go around the island randomly, with no real plan (as i usually do).
I ride through Cristos, and several artificial lakes sitting on the north side of the mountain.
After a couple hours into the forest, i reach a little church that sits on top of the highest peak of the island.
To visit it i must climb the irregular shoulder of the hill. Tricky but not hard.
I thought it would be empty and abandoned. I can still smell the incense, candles are lit, and there is forniture to host a small group. There must be some crazy priest still giving service in here in the morning and some crazier people going there to attend.
On the south shore i arrive in Seychelles, a beach everybody is talking about for it's clear water and its beauty.
It is beautiful, but blue waters don't impress me. I think they are boring. I want waves.
At sunset my tour ends in Magganitis. I think i am going to crash here somewhere, but i soon i find out i need to travel all the way back to the other side of the island.
Tomorrow is the 15 and there is one big Panigiri in Lagkada, and the only way to reach it is driving through Cristos again (fuck!).
I drive at night tired as hell, i cannot go to my tent in Nas because i dismounted it in the morning and i am carrying it with me in my backpack. I get to Cristos late, but i still go for drinks with some girls i met there in the streets.
I get tired soon and i need to find a place where to rest. looking for a room in an house still under construction, but it doesn't feel safe. I get on the motorbike and get into the woods. Maybe i could sleep next to that church... spooky... feels like Blair Witch Project here. I keep driving. A car passes, some young and drunk ladies ask me the way to the Panigiri. I have no clue, and i point them back to Cristos. A soon as their car rolls away, i hear music coming not from far. Is the panigiri the Italian girls were talking about yesterday, i meet them there. Another night dancing.
Here tonight i find a little piece of paradise. I see this girl, the italians call her "fiordiloto" because of her tattoo on her back. I see her big blue eyes from far. She is dancing so gracefully. Is she looking at me? Who is that guy she's dancing with. Too many questions. The night winds out quickly and she leaves with her friends and that guy.
It is August the 15th. Is early morning when i am showering with a bottle of water in the woods. The Italian girls joined me and they are still sleeping in their pillowbags. Sun and spiders crawling on their faces wake them up.
Is funny to see them jumping around.
We need to reach Lagkada for the big day. Is a long dusty road, and no signal on the streets, we have no clue how to get there, but we end up following cars headed in the same direction. The whole island is going there today.
We arrive early and the big square is still empty. We get the time to visit the town, which is made of little huts hidden in the woods. It was built likw that on purpose to hide from pirates.
The Panigiri is crazy beautiful. It gets even better when "fiordiloto" shows up. She comes and talk to me: that guy is not her boyfirend. We dance all day, The power of the ikariotico is overwhelming. We hide in the woods like ancient people did before us. Is so dark. I love Ikaria.
I leave the day after. I don't even have the time to say goodbye to anyone. All i can do is leave a messege in the then of my italian friends.
It was short but so intense. Will never forget the energy i got from this island.
Enjoy one last Ikariotico dance!