This time of the year the countryside of Chios island is full of wonderful aromatic herbs with incomparable aroma: fresh oregano, aromatic thyme, rosemary, lemon verbena, sage, fragrant lavender and hypericum with its healing properties. The dry and mild Mediterranean climate, combined with the Aegean Sea breeze, is extremely favorable for these plant species, allowing them to grow especially rich in aromas and essential oils. Chios island presents a great variety in endemic species of aromatic plants and herbs encountered in the Aegean Sea, but also in the opposite Asia Minor coast.
May First, Labour Day and a holiday in Greece, is also a celebration of spring, welcoming the new season where nature is at its best. This day is a great opportunity for escapes at the nature and the island of Chios offers many choices for excursions, that combine the fields and the mountains with the sea! We are suggesting here two different excursions for May Day and you can choose, depending on whether you prefer to spend your day away from the crowds, or in a more cosmopolitan way.
So if you want absolute peace and wildlife, you should definitely visit the beautiful Kampia Ravine in Northern Chios. The 3,770 meter long route through the ravine is enchanting. The hiking trail runs down towards the river, which keeps water almost all year round, but also through cultivated areas. Enjoy your hiking in the valley with olive trees and small fruit trees, chestnut trees, plane trees, oaks over a hundred years old, cypress trees, tall pine trees and cherry trees. You will hear the calming sound of the water and the songs of the nightingales and if you are lucky, you will spot some of the interesting bird populations, including a rare species of eagles, which often appear in the area. The route ends at the secluded beach of Kambia, with its crystal clear waters. There is also a kiosk for relaxation that can host your picnic!
On the other hand, if you wish for something more cosmopolitan, we suggest you start your day with a walk in Kampos area. Take a stroll through the narrow streets, through the mansions with the exquisite gardens and orchards. The wonderful aroma of the citrus flowers will be with you all the way. At the end of your walk visit the Citrus Museum, where you can have your coffee accompanied by local sweets, under the citrus trees.
Then head south, towards the bustling Komi beach. There you will enjoy the sea and the golden sand, with all the amenities of an organized beach. Coffee and delicacies are served by the sea and so does fresh fish at the taverns of the area. And if you have the appetite for further entertainment, there are always the afternoon parties, organized by the cafes of the area.
Spring has arrived and our spirits have been lifted at the thought of the colourful wildflowers that flood Chios countryside. Of course, the colour red will dominate the green fields of the island the next few weeks. In a few days the olive and almond orchards of Chios islands will be covered with the special Chios wild tulips, called lalades by the locals.
There are four species of wild tulip (toulipa aegenensis, toulipa udulatifolia, toulipa clousiana, toulipa praecox), and the three of them are found exclusively on Chios island, mostly at the central and southeast part of the island. The name lalades comes from the Persian word for tulip, “lale”, which has passed in Chios dialect through turkish. These delicate and elegant flowers create a unique landscape that has inspired poets, painters, photographers and cinematographers over the years.
Unfortunately, in the recent years the numbers of lalades reduce every year, because of the uncontrollable and careless collection of flowers. If someone picks a tulip with its bulb, then the tulip will not be able to flower the next year – it is destroyed.
If you have the chance to visit Chios countryside the next few weeks, you will be able to admire, enjoy and photograph a red carpeted field, at the same time paying attention to protect and preserve the flowers. If you would l like to pick a couple of lalades, make sure to cut the flower’s stem but take care not to pick the bulb!
As Konstantis, the hero of Petros Martakis Chios Humourous Stories, tells his friends: “Guys, don’t step on the crops and the flowers! Pick just a few of the lalades at the side of the field. But then, why pick them? Can’t you see they are like fires of the spring, painted by byzantine artists in this crazy beautiful icon you have in front of you?”
Those who choose running as a workout have the convenience of exercising wherever they are, and of course on their holidays, since this is the most appropriate and easiest exercise that one can do, that also offers mental uplift in addition to body training. But when one runs at Kampos, the enjoyment of running takes a whole different dimension.
Kampos of Chios is a plain, stretching along the eastern coast of the island, 10 km long and 2 km wide. The whole area is a sightseeing spot and it is protected by the Greek Ministry of Culture as a historical site and a traditional settlement. The natural landscape and the remarkable architecture that combines elements from the Genoese and the modern neoclassic cultural heritage of the island, the narrow, quiet and tangled streets between the citrus orchards and the imposing mansions with the high walls, make Kampos an ideal place for running. The area offers a wide range of running routes without elevation, ideal for those looking for large asphalt tracks. If someone wants to run uphill, there is also this option that will lead him to the highest points around Kampos, which offer a unique view of the area.
Running lovers will find the paths of their dreams in Kampos. Clean environment, with unexpected citrus smells emerging from the orchards and calm, as there are not many cars in the area.
The mansions with the arched doors and windows, the walls and the elaborate garden doors will make the runners want to run more and more in order to admire them all. There are many route choices and all you need is good music and the right stretches for a memorable run.
Tip: Every year, a semi marathon race of 21 km is organized in Kampos, a unique route crossing citrus fruit gardens. The event takes place at the end of the summer and this year is scheduled for Sunday 1st of September. There is also a choice for running or walking on a 10 or 5 km route. For more information and participation, visit: http://www.chiosrunning.gr/en/
In Chios and especially in the northern part of the island, when it is raining, a special type of mushrooms that the locals call “Amanites”, grow on the mountains. With the scientific name Lactarius Salmanicolor, these mushrooms resemble the pleurotus mushrooms in the shape, but they have a difference in color, since they are orange, and in taste, since they are much tastier.
They are usually found under the pine trees, alone, or in groups of 2-3 mushrooms and like most wild mushrooms are scarce, since their main part is under the earth and almost always they are invisible. They grow in the most unlikely places and in order to find them one needs knowledge, effort and patience. The lovers of these mushrooms should be accompanied by an expert who knows how to distinguish them from poisonous ones that have a similar look.
The locals however know specific spots where the mushrooms grow every year and also how to discover them, and this knowledge, that of course they usually do not share, makes the process easier for them. In order to protect the species, there is a limitation by the local forestry authority, which sets a limit for every mushroom lover, to cut up to two kg per day and to be careful not to touch their roots.
Amanites are usually fried and then served with some vinegar and lemon, but they are also delicious roasted or sautéed in the pan with wine and garlic! So, next time in Chios, ask for this exquisite “meze” at the local taverns. If you accompany them with some local wine, ouzo or souma, you will understand why the Chians walk miles on the mountains, early in the morning to discover them.
Kampos is one of the most distinctive areas in Chios. It is a unique residential complex, where the natural environment is in total harmony with the local architecture. Touring by bicycle is an ideal way to explore this hidden paradise.
Bike through narrow quiet streets, sweet-smelling citrus groves, high stone walls and beautiful historical mansions. Discover picturesque chapels and huge garden doors. Slow down and enjoy the surrounding landscape and have in mind that some of the estates are open to the public, giving the visitor the chance to experience first hand the beauties that are hidden by the high stone walls: imposing mansions, patterned pebbled yards, elaborate wells and cisterns.