My second day on Oinousses was very chilled. I had nowhere particular to be and had nobody telling me where I should go. I have enough time here to combine a bit of relaxation with some more strenuous exploring. Yesterday I spent the morning writing up my previous post. I had so much to say about my first impressions of this island and needed to get it down before the thoughts evaporated from my mind. What better place than my lovely terrace with that amazing view over the islets and beyond to Chios.
When travelling we all have different ways to relax. Some people like to read whilst others can sit in a bar having a drink. Many people can spend hours lying on the beach. I’m not averse to any of these but I also like to spill out my thoughts in a post. I wouldn’t call it relaxing as such but it does fulfil a creative urge in me. It keeps me out of trouble as my mother would say!
I did venture out a couple of times. Firstly I went to buy washing powder from the supermarket located next to the church so that I could wash some clothes. I also walked around the area close to where I am staying just to get a feel of it and to also admire the old mansions houses – of which there are many. There isn’t any real centre to speak of. Everything just seems to radiate out from the Church of St Nicholas which is in touching distance (almost) of my apartment. It is a good marker in which to get your bearings as it is easy to get disorientated. If you love derelict buildings and old doors and windows as much as I do – then this is your island!
Oinousses is steep. To get to anywhere it is likely that you will need to climb up or down. Today though I try to keep on a level with the church and spread myself width ways. In doing so I discover another eatery which Google reviews tell me is the best place to eat on the island. Well there are only three taverna’s that I can see so far, so competition isn’t tight.
Trattoria Rodostamo is located on the other side of the church to Oinousses Apartments. Just follow the path in front of the church and you’ll likely stumble across it as I did. It is quite empty – just two men eating in the courtyard. I’m greeted by a young lady who shows me to a table. She tells me that the menu is only in Greek but basically it is pasta and pizza. This will make a nice change. – though I think back to the ribbing I gave to my granddaughter during our trip in July who ate Spaghetti Bolognese 70% of the time.
I order Dakos to start and spaghetti Bolognese for the main meal. As the meal is brought to the table the lady tells me to watch for the cats. The cat bandits are everywhere and one is perched on a ledge behind me waiting to make his move.
The food is great and the portions are very generous. I don’t manage to eat all of the Dakos but the lady offers to put it into a take away container for me which is perfect – that’s tomorrow’s lunch.
Back at the apartment I watch dusk fall over Chios from the terrace. A bat swoops and darts across the sky and then I see it crawl into the roof space under the terracotta tiles of the house next door. I retire to my mousandra where I sleep very well. Yes, the bed passes the geriatric bone test!
Today I want to visit the Maritime Museum down by the port. It opens at 10am and I am there shortly after. I am greeted by a lady who is cleaning a brass frame outside. Even the museum is kept ship shape and orderly. The entrance fee is 1.5€ which is ridiculously cheap. However, as the museum was funded by one of the wealthy ship owning families, it doubt that it needs ticket revenue to keep it afloat. (No pun intended!)
The two rooms that house the artefacts are located up on the first floor at the top of a sweeping marble staircase. I am the only person here so take my time looking at the wonderful maritime pieces. The first thing that I notice is several references to shipbuilders in Newcastle and Glasgow – a reminder of our own ship building heritage.
The museum is really well laid out with examples of nautical equipment as well as the beautiful ship portraits adorning the walls. There is an incredible collection of around 30 model ships housed in glass cases – apparently gifted by one of the local benefactors from the Lemos family. The most intricate model ships are those made by French prisoners of war incarcerated in England during the Napoleonic war.
I read that the first models to be made by the POW’s were constructed from fish and chicken bones from the prison kitchen. As their skill and expertise began to be recognised they were provided with materials in which to continue creating these works of art. The detail and carving on them are exquisite.
Do visit if you chance upon Oinousses.
My next mission of the day is to walk East – or at least I think that it’s East. When I’d walked up above the town on my first day I had spotted a road that snaked it’s way between rolling hills. I don’t know where it led to but I had in my mind that I would get onto it and see where it went. I approach this by heading up the road at the end of the harbour where the repairs are being carried out. This brings me up past a derelict mansion house and then a small beach. Further on there is the windmill.
The road continues up and eventually leads me to the derelict mansion house with the ballustraded terrace that I’d been so taken with the day before. Instead of continuing up the road to the left I followed it down until I was on the road above Agios Ioanos and the water treatment plant. This I walk past – if I’m not too knackered I’ll take a closer look on my way back.
On my left is a smallholding with various poultry in a cage and also some goats. These seem to be the only signs of life.
I keep stopping to look at the landscape around me. It is a bright and sunny day with a clear blue sky dotted with large white cumulous clouds. It is warm, but as autumn threatens its arrival there is the tiniest hint of a chill in the air. The light is so different at this time of year – a crisp, azure blue that seems to echo the decreasing temperature. Just perfect for walking. I watch with fascination as the clouds cast their shadows over a hillside whilst revealing the bright colours of another as they slowly shift.
I can see the road ahead of me is only going one way – and that is up. I gauge it as I walk and determine that as soon as I reach the pinnacle of this road I will turn around and come back. I’m conscious that I’m nearly 64, unfit and alone. If I should go into cardiac arrest then it could be some time before I’m spotted! Yes these are the things that play on my mind of late. Not that it stops me from doing what I want to do but there is a mean little devil sitting on one of my shoulders that likes to torment my mind with things like this. Anyway, I’ve been caught out before. I’ve walked up hill and down dale and then forgotten that I need to do it all again on the way back. I will keep everything at a measured pace.
Deep down what I’m really hoping for if I reach the top, is to catch sight of the rest of the archipelago of islands. However, the end of the island is quite far away and so I don’t build up my hopes. In the meantime I’m really enjoying this walk. Oinousses is just as beautiful in its interior as it is from the outward looking view across to Chios.
I can see that Oinousses is a rocky island. There is evidence of quarrying on a small scale and I can see huge boulders of marble close to the road. However, the island is far from barren. Another small holding that I pass has rows of grape vines (the island had its own wine industry) and Italian Cyprus poke up out of the landscape. There is a whole variety of low growing scrub, thyme, oregano and a silver grey plant that looks like lambs ears.
At the side of the road I pass an old fig tree that is now barren apart from a few bedraggled leaves. It has twisted and bent with the wind and despite the damage and the scars it’s still there, existing and having a presence in the landscape. A long lost sister perhaps.
I can’t help myself from stopping every now and again to do a 360 of the landscape. Over to the left on another ridge I can see a small church on top of the ridge gleaming in the midday sun. It doesn’t appear on Google Maps which is very frustrating.
Update: I am told later by fisherman Gregos that this church is Agia Marina
Google Maps seems to indicate that I’m almost in the centre of the island. Maybe it won’t be possible to see the islets after all.
I can see the pinnacle of the road in sight and give another push to get to the top. Once there the road goes to the right and to the left. There is an abandoned small holding on the right and so this is the direction that I take.
I walk just far enough to be able to see the coast. And I can see them! In front of me are a couple of little islets with the Turkish mountains looming in the distance.
I take a guess that I can get a better vantage point and go back on myself and pick up the road going to the left. I don’t have to walk very far before I can see the other small islands that make up the archipelago. I let out a “Wow!” as I take in this view. Honestly the photo’s don’t do it justice but Oinousses once again has taken my breath away.
I stare at this scene for quite a while and then turn to make my way back. I can’t help myself but walk back to take the view in again. I do this several times. Not only has the island revealed another side of itself, I also feel a massive sense of accomplishment. Yes I know that I haven’t climbed Mount Everest but nonetheless I feel exhilarated. It has given me the lift that I need to push through the pain of aching bones to make the walk back to Agios Ioannis – all downhill thank heavens.
Once at the small beach of Agios Ioannis – and of course the church, I take a little scout around. The beach isn’t pretty. The sand is grey and covered in seaweed and unfortunately covered in litter. An outlet pipe from the water treatment plant pours into the sea. I trust that this is treated wastewater and not sewage (this isn’t the UK!) but I’m not tempted to go for a dip. Along the waters edge I see a man slapping his octopus on the rocks (ooh err missus!) I walk past to look at the church and he stops his rhythmic slapping to let me pass with a friendly “Yassou”.
There isn’t much to keep me here to be honest so I return up the hill and back to the apartment.
This evening I decide to go to Trattoria Rodostamo for a takeaway pizza – prosciutto and rocket. I call into the supermarket for a small bottle of retsina and this is consumed from the comfort my terrace where I watch dusk descend upon the island.
It is ghostly quiet up here in the village but down below at the port it sounds like there is another party. The music from the sound system is eventually replaced by singing and clapping from the crowd. I imagine that there is dancing too and it all sounds gloriously raucous! I listen to the revelry, drink my wine and tap out a few more words on the laptop.