Samothrace – Agios Andreas Lagoon

My hosts left for Alexandroupoli on the Adamantios Korais early this morning. On the wooden table outside the door of my room is a plate full of pomegranates that Mr Giannis has picked from his orchard. A perfect accompaniment to the yoghurt and honey that I’d purchased for my breakfast.

I’m not sure but I may be the only person staying here. One of the rooms has a pair of boots outside the door but as of yet, I haven’t seen any other signs of life.

I will have 6 nights on Samothraki. This is one day less than originally planned after adding an extra day to my stay in Kavala. Today I’m going to stay in Kamariotissa to try and get a feel for the place.

The port itself is my starting point and I soon discover that there isn’t much to this small village. A stretch of tourist shops that have mainly closed for the season and a couple of bars which seem to be the hang-out place for the local fishermen. On the other side of the marina is one of the island’s most recognised symbols – a replica of Nike, the winged victory. But more of that another day.

Close to the ferry waiting area is the small bus station where I find a copy of the bus timetable. I hope that this will be my lifeline to exploring the island but soon realise that car hire may be a necessary component in my explorations. Not today though as all of my explorations will be on foot and I have somewhere in mind that may be overlooked by most visitors.

Not too far away is Agios Andreas Lagoon, a small body of water just north of the port. The road to the lagoon is rather desolate looking and even more so with the ominous-looking clouds looming above. Several buildings along the way appear abandoned and the only person I pass is a man down a hole in the middle of the road carrying out repairs. The coastal path had been subject to tidal erosion with some parts of the route cordoned off. The only other signs of human life are a couple of fishermen hauling in their nets a short distance out from the shoreline.

In the distance, there is a small church and as I get closer can see that it is enclosed by a metal fence. I walk around its perimeter and can see that the courtyard of the church is precariously propped up by stone lintels. I assume that again Agios Nikolaos has fallen prey to the elements.

As the road dips down and veers to the left, I arrive at the corner of the lagoon. I’m immediately alerted to the frantic flapping of feathers as two startled flamingoes take flight. Wow – what a treat even though it is the sight of them fleeing the scene! At this time of year, many bodies of water in Greece are home to migratory birds and in particular flamingoes. During my stay on Lesvos in 2022, I was only able to see the flamingoes through the window of a speeding bus. I’m no ornithologist but the sight of flamingoes in the wild is pretty amazing. A heron standing in the shallows shows complete disinterest in my presence and continues to stare into the water waiting to spot some fish.

The lagoon sits on a very narrow promontory, the tip of which is nothing more than a rubble road that virtually peters out to nothing. There is a small concrete building at one corner of the lagoon which I think would make a very good bird hide but I suspect that it’s a place to store fishing nets and the like.

The path that separates the sea from the long edge of the lagoon has been reinforced with rocks and shingle to keep the sea at bay. If the lagoon has been created by the sea then it must at times, traverse the path. This combination of the unpredictability of the sea and the vulnerability of the land has made me nervous. Being at sea level I’m presented with an optical illusion that makes the sea seem higher than the land. It gives me a sense that it could envelop me at any moment. I know that there isn’t going to be a sudden deluge of water that will wash me out to sea, but I can’t help but play these ridiculous scenarios in my head. I suddenly become overwhelmed with a sense of anxiety. Maybe it’s because I’m isolated or possibly the fact that the older I get, the more aware I have become of my mortality. Whatever it is I need to get a grip.

Deep down I think that I’ve tapped into the rather precarious symbiosis of the lagoon and its surrounding environment. After rationalising everything in my head I continue the circular walk.

The effort is most definitely worth it because I’m rewarded with the clearest view of Mount Saos that I’ve had so far. Not only that, hovering over a fish pen are the two flamingoes hoping to procure a morsel or two.

At the end of the lagoon there is a small ramshackle building that I assume is a fisherman’s cottage – the fishing nets strewn over every surface available is the clue though curiously there is a sign that says that fishing is prohibited. Maybe the fisherman in residence doesn’t want competition and has staked his claim to the fishing rights here.

Just beyond is a small church, a pen of goats and an overprotective dog that charges at me through a gap in the fence. Thankfully it’s all bark and no bite! The outlook now becomes quite rural looking. The path takes me through a cluster of oak and pistachio trees. Suddenly to the right of me I hear a loud clatter as a goat throws itself from the branches of a tree. It landed several metres away but still gave me the fright of my life! It isn’t best pleased that I disturbed its feast on the pistachio nuts hanging abundantly from the tree.

To get the best views of the lagoon and the promontory, I walk through a goat pen perched on top of the hill. Maybe the photograph explains why I felt so anxious. No? Just me then!

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4 Comments

  1. Always enjoy reading about your travels. . the detail and journal-style brings your reader right in to experience them alongside you. Please don’t insist you’re not a writer.. what’s the definition of a writer? All those writers past & present who never got ‘successful/ published’ surely can’t be dismissed? OK, you’re just ‘a great communicator with words’ 😉Loved this anyway.

Let me know what you think. ❤

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