Spetses: Mountain Hike
As enjoyable as the tour of Spetses is the mountain hike which can start at two different points, ending at Vrellos after traversing the interior of the island and passing through its highest point (245 m), Profitis Ilias (the Prophet Elias, or Elijah). The first starting point for the hike is at the Gorgoepikoou Monastery 1,200 m west of the Agiοi Pantes Monastery. For the second option, and our choice for this tour, we continue on the path from the cemetery of Agios Adrianos, which we discovered when we visited Kasteli.
The journey is most enjoyable on foot, but it is also possible to go by bicycle or motorbike (although the road goes uphill until Profitis Ilias).
After we begin our excursion, 500 meters from Agios Adrianos we will find a fenced farm bearing the name Port Arthur (a port in North China which was ceded to czarist Russia in 1898). As we continue toward the mountain, we find the small chapel of Agia Markella on our right 250 m from Port Arthur.
250 meters past the small chapel of Agia Markella, we find the little church of the Panagia (the Virgin Mary) Vlacherniotissa of Tzilas or Kapsodematousa on our right. Worshippers here believe the Virgin Mary helps pregnant women.
Continuing past this church, we enter a pine forest, and 650 meters farther on, we arrive at the point known as the Hunters' Refuge. The hunters' refuges are found 2.5 km from the bastion (with the old refuge on the left, the new one on the right), and at this point mountain trails begin heading to three different points: a sharp left heads to the church of Panagia Elonas (the Virgin Mary of Elonas) (1,600 meters) and the Hara Estate (1,000 meters), a left goes to Agioi Anargiroi (3,100 meters), and the path straight ahead leads to Profitis Ilias (the Prophet Elias, or Elijah) (1,200 meters).
We first take the sharp left toward the Hara Estate and the Panagia Elonas Church. After walking 1,000 m, we reach the Hara Estate, which belongs to the Botasis family. It is a very large, beautiful farm with a dilapidated house. (Its last residents were the sisters Maria and Irini Botasi.) The most noteworthy building on the estate is the small, Romanesque style chapel in honor of the Panagia Mirtidiotissa (Virgin Mary the Myrtle Bearer), which was built by Ioannis Botasis in 1901. It is a replica of a church in the French Alps, where the Botasis family used to go on vacation.
Continuing for another 500 - 600 meters beyond the Hara Estate, we arrive at the hill of Elonas, with its Panagia Elonas (the Virgin Mary of Elonas) and the ruins of the Mimikopoulos family houses on the hilltop. The tomb of the monk Akakios Koutsis is also here.
After we return to the Hunters' Refuge, we continue straight toward Profitis Ilias (the Prophet Elias, or Elijah). After 180 meters, we find the ruins of a house that belonged to the former mayor of Spetses Dimitrios Leonidas on our left. The house was devastated during the German occupation in World War II.
200 meters from the ruins of the house of D. Leonidas, a road on the left continues to Agioi Anargiroi. (This road is more difficult than the first one leading to the Refuge but shorter, just 2,600 meters). The road on the right leads to the church of the Panagia Daskalaki (Virgin Mary of Daskalaki). We arrive at the church of the Virgin Mary and the ruins of the house of the industrialist Daskalakis after 300 meters. This may be the most forested area of Spetses; it offers the wonderful natural beauty of the pines, as well as a beautiful view.
Our hike to the top of the hill (245 m) and Profitis Ilias (the Prophet Elias, or Elijah) continues for another 850 meters. At this point, a beautiful forest road begins the route to Vrellos (which is 4.3 km farther on). The road traverses a part of the forest that was recently burnt by fires but is recovering quickly.
The 4.3 km forest path from Profitis Ilias to Vrellos is gorgeous. On the way we will cross 13 stone bridges that were constructed with stone from Dokos, with the curbs made of the red-brown stone of Aegina.
We will be amply rewarded for the travails of the hike when we reach the beautiful coastal area of Vrellos with its lush pine trees. Unfortunately, the fire of 2000 burnt a large part of the pine forest above the beach, reaching almost all the way to the sea.
With its white pebbles and rocky sea bottom, Vrellos Beach has evolved over the last few years into a fully organized beach. Ten or fifteen years ago, it was a peaceful, unfrequented beach. Nowadays, this is the last stop of the bus to Ligoneri (and it is a good idea to take this bus for the return trip).
Spetses Including links of interest to tourists and in general basic texts by third parties about the Saronic Gulf area on Exploring Greece