Remote places and landscapes in Greece – Walks in the footsteps of Patrick Leigh Fermor: Part 1

Paddy is quite popular in Germany, there being a lot of interest in his work about Greece, and of course A Time of Gifts is set mostly in Germany. His is also famous for the Kreipe kidnap. We have many fellow blog readers from Germany, but one of the longest is Christian Peters who lives in Koln but has a passion for Greece. He sent me a series of short articles about walks in a variety of locations in Greece, with accompanying photographs. If you are thinking of what to do for your holidays in 2013, I hope that Christian’s articles which I will publish over a period of weeks will help to inspire you. Of course some are in the footsteps of Paddy. Over to Christian for an introduction …..

When I traveled in Greece this summer (2012), the consequences of the crisis were capable everywhere. The decrease in this year’s incoming tourism might create the need for a bit of stimulation. 🙂  And the remote places and landscapes, Paddy talks about in the introduction of his Mani-Book, are still there. They probably changed a lot during the last sixty years, but are still worth to be visited.

If you are interested I would send you a couple of ideas (8-10 walks and places with short texts and two or three photos each) of remote walks, places and landscapes in Greece I have been traveling during the last years. The places and walks are partly related to Paddy and his life, but there will be some, which I only assume, he would have liked.

1.    Walk one – Kalderimi in Western Crete – Selino

a.    Koustogerako, the village of the Paterakis Family in the Selino Eparchía of Western Crete, played a major role in the Cretan resistance during WWII. On the 29th of September 1943 it was completely burnt down by the Germans. Paddy visited the village a couple of times because Manoli Paterakis, one of the Kreipe abductors, was a close friend of him. Today, one of the most fascinating Kalderimi-Walks in Western Crete leaves the Omalos Plateau from Agii Theodori to the west, then descends into the Irini Gorge (Faragi Agia Irinis) until it reaches the main road heading towards Sougia between the villages of Moni and Livadas. From there it is only about an hour ascent up to Koustogerako.

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9 thoughts on “Remote places and landscapes in Greece – Walks in the footsteps of Patrick Leigh Fermor: Part 1

  1. Sean Deany

    In 2001 I managed to get in contact with Paddy via his publisher and we corresponded. Later on and in October 2004 I had that once in a life time chance of actually meeting up with him, in his home studio at Kardamyli and over a coffee to discuss travel and adventure. For a man of 89 years at the time he was fully of energy – I found him witty, sharp and genuinely interested in my own travels and aspirations. He told me interesting little details of his life’s adventure, it seemed as though we were old friends in a fluid conversation and equally comfortable with one another – perhaps in a previous life we had drunk at the same fountain!. I had just travelled for several months and overlanded it all the way from South Korea. Probably he sensed something of his own youth straight away through this strangers untimely arrival.

    From Australia and one who has followed the life of Bruce Chatwin (ie Songlines) I was aware that this other great writer had known Paddy. So this lead in our conversation on walking in the vicinity of Kardamyli and on my Anavasi series Peloponnese – Taygetos 1:50000 map Paddy pointed me in the right directions to the site where Chatwin’s ashes were laid to rest in 1989. These are excellent maps which show water sources and pathways. When concerning walking in the Mani there is also the excellent English publication titled Walking In The Mani by Mat Dean. Both map and book were available at the bookstore / newsagent in Kardamyli.

    As you may see on my blod in a copy of the 2001 letter Paddy wrote to me concerning his advice on where I should take a lengthy walking tour there are some interesting details there beyond Greece. Since then I have indeed visited such locations – although mostly by bicycle, but some have been by foot and I plan more expeditions in the future. One such would hopefully take me across Crete.

    Following the footsteps of PLF would make an excellent guide book for adventurer or armchair traveller alike.

    Reply
  2. Christos Paganakis

    Kalderimi ,for the uninitiated , translates as a mule-road .
    Very good for walking .
    I think walking is the best way to appreciate Greece , as it gives you the old perspective on things , and you appreciate what people like Paddy and George Psychoundakis ( The Cretan Runner ) did , as well as helping you understand classical era authors , and Nikos Kazantzakis , and many more in the modern era .

    The worst way is hiring a car and driving – For those from the U K you have to concentrate on driving on the ” wrong ” side of the road , and your little steel box isolates you from any contact with the environment or the people .

    The big problem for the lone walker in the hills is not being able to go off trail due to the possibility of tripping over some rock – immobilised and in the summer heat you could easily die up there . There are far less people about in the hills nowadays as the marginal dirt-poor life has been abandoned , adding to the risk .
    The stranger hiker also has to carry quite a lot of water , it isn’t that there are no water sources up there , simply that you dont know where they are , and risk not finding one .
    I have found that between April and October you can usualy sleep out on a camp-mat , which means you dont have to hump a tent with you . If it rains in the night you just have to get up , put the poncho over you and the gear and squat dozing on a ” sitting rock ” until early dawn .
    I remember laying up above Arkadi monastery after a slow stroll around the Amari valley a couple of years ago , and waking to a whisper of cold breeze to find a sky ablaze with Stars ,
    and you lay there snuggled down in your bag , and think ” I am the only one laying awake and watching this ” , and how lucky you are .

    Nice pics Christian , Danke schon .

    Reply
  3. marco

    Dear Christian, the idea of describe your travel in Greece in very interesting!
    Your photos give us possibility of visiting villages and isolated lands.
    I’ll send you my impressions and descriptions of many places I visited near Kardamily and not only…so we could write a little guide about the Greece of Sir Patrick!

    Marco

    Reply

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