THURSDAY: Arrived in Samos at 6:45am after an overnight flight from Heathrow, and after a hearty breakfast sleep was in order for the morning. Late afternoon we gathered for our first formal meeting with Angela Brown, our leader. A walk of about 4km took us to a delightful taverna in Kamara for our supper. The proprietor made us so welcome and it became our favourite eating place.
FRIDAY: The party of 10 began a leisurely 10km walk through countryside and fields of cultivated olives to Paleokastro for elevenses. Our day’s walk ended on the sandy beaches of Psili Ammos where two trepid members swam in the sea. Evening meals for the rest of the days, except the last, were had in Samos Town which was a kilometre walk from the hotel. Being Good Friday we watched the procession of beautifully decorated biers from the local churches meeting in the town square. Very much a solemn occasion with the priests chanting funeral hymns.
SATURDAY: We headed over the hills to the small seaside village of Kerveli on the west coast. The group had the whole area to themselves, and to paddle or swim in the clear waters was a joy. Easter is such a major celebration for the islanders and at midnight the community gathered in their churches to experience the resurrection of Christ before going home to have a traditional goat soup. Midnight was marked by ships’ fog horns, loud music and fire crackers.
SUNDAY: North was the direction the group walked back into the hills to the small church of Profitas Illias. The views were splendid and helped by the clear, warm and sunny day. Easter Sunday is very much a family day where the smells of outdoor cooking of goat wafted wherever we walked.
MONDAY: Our first coach trip on the island took the group to the centre where we started our walk from Plantanos. The 15km walk allowed us to experience the wonderful views before dropping to the coast.
TUESDAY: The walk took us north-east up through beautiful countryside to the very small coastal village of Agios Paraskevi, arriving there just before the only rain we had on holiday – a half an hour storm!
WEDNESDAY: The local bus service took the group to Mitilinii where we walked through agricultural land then up to the hill monastery of M. Agais Triadas where there is only one surviving monk. His tranquil surrounds enclosed an ornate church. The final visit before reaching our destination of Pithagorian was to the Tunnel of Euphalinos – a tunnel which was built in the sixth century BC and has a length of 1036 metres. It was excavated from both ends of the hill and they met without any adjustments made; a major feat. Pithagorian is a quaint harbour village lined with tavernas.
FRIDAY: The day’s walk started in the village of Hora and it took us through orange and lemon groves and large areas of olive trees. During the day we came across very large greenhouses of orchids before finishing our ramble at Ireon.
SATURDAY: The three beaches walk started with a long 2 hour coach journey which nearly circumnavigated the island. It gave us the flavour of the beauty of the island as well as the dramatic scenes of the mountainous areas. The walk started near the top of one of the large mountains and then we walked down to the coast and visited Beach Megalo Seitani, Beach Mikro Seitani to finish at Potami.
SUNDAY: A coastal coach trip took us to the start point of Kokkari where we then walked up into the “Valley of the Nightingales”. Lunch was at Platanakia where there was an opportunity to visit another monastery, Vronta, and our walking holiday ended at the coastal village of Manolates.
Just a note to finish – do not be put off with the overnight trip to Samos because you are well catered for and recovery is very quick. Tour leader Angela Brown was an enthusiastic leader who has been running holidays on Samos for ten years.