Greece: Samos Island’s Wondrous Potami & Paleo Karlovasi

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I spent last April in Samos, a Greek island just a mile off the Turkish coast. I participated in three excellent day-long experiences with Giorgos Matthaiou (Γιώργος Ματθαίου) and Samos Outdoors.

Now that I am back in Samos again, I reconnected with Giorgos and his new partner, Dimitris Dermanis (Δημήτρης Δερμάνης)  for more outdoor experiences and to learn more about the island, its people, and culture. The first day included exploring Paleo Karlovasi and the falls at Potami with a nice hike in between.

We met Dimitris in the port of Karlovasi and made our first stop at a fish shop. Giorgos was in Athens for the week but we will see him on our next trip. You pick your fish and then they cook it so it is still fresh and warm at the arranged pick up time. The next stop was at the traditional settlement (the old part of the town) of Karlovasi or Paleo. It was set back from the sea and up in the hills to offer protection from the pirates. The town climbed several hills with a church at the top of the highest one, as you can see below. As with most of the towns there were a number of churches, mostly small. You can usually see several in any direction you look. We stopped at two on the way up the hill out of town. People would offer small metal tokens with an image of their wishes, such as a repaired leg or a new baby as you see in the first of the second set of pictures.

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Then we hiked to the Agios Antonios cave, to go to the little church built inside. We needed headlights as the cave goes deep into the hillside and the church is in total darkness. There were many stalactites. Dimitris said they can take hundreds of years to form. The cave was used by the resistance during World War Two.

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After the cave, we hiked on down the hill to the more modern church at Potami and the wide beach.  This trail was the only way to get to Potami until the built the auto road thirty years ago.  The trail is likely thousands of years old and it had a very ancient feel. The walls that created the terraces beside the olive trees are also ancient as are many of the trees themselves. Every few years they cut the top branches so that new shoots arise from the trunk and trees does not get too tall to make harvesting the olives difficult. You can see the beach below the pictures of the trail and the intense clarity of the water.

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Next we went to the Byzantine church of Metamorfosi and then to the waterfalls of Potami for a swim. Along ther stream are some very large and hollow Maple trees. Dimtris said that there are three things that are required for a Greek villages: a church, a large Maple tree in the middle of the village sqaure (or sometimes a Plane tree) and a taverna or cafe under the tree. The walls of the narrow canyon close in on the stream before the falls and you have to wade through the water to get to falls. Getting into the steam was a cool refreshment after our hike. There are a series of three falls.

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We stopped at the Karlovasi winery for a tasting and picked up a few bottles before getting our fish. We ate the fresh cooked and still warm fish in a small park over looking the old town completing our circular journey. We had the view shown in the very first picture at the top of this post.

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On the way back to our friend’s house in Mytilini we stopped at the pastry shop in Aghios Konstantions recommended by Dimtris for some immediate ice cream and pastries for later. There is a statue of a large ice cream cone eating another smaller ice cream cone. We had melon and vanilla on one and pistachio and cherry vanilla on the other. It was a great day and we look forward to our next experience with Dimtris and Giorgos at Samos Outdoors. This time we plan to hike between two mountain villages and Giorgos will join us also.  I highly recommend a visit to Samos Island and engaging Samos Outdoors when you go there.

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Top photo credit only: www. en.planettours. bg 

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