The Blue Flag

The Blue Flag

Every year, a group called the Foundation for Environmental Education awards “Blue Flag” status to the cleanest beaches in Europe and beyond. Each year since we’ve been here, the beach at Sikya has enjoyed Blue Flag status — until last year. We don’t know the issue but this beach and our neighboring beach in Melissi didn’t make the list. We were happy to see that both beaches were reinstated this year. The award status runs from July 1 to June 30, and on Thursday the flag was hoisted again over the beach. Had this been our first year here, we might have wondered why the responsible official waited until the 5th to raise the flag. With the benefit of 5 years experience, however, we just laughed.


Sunset all over again

Sunset all over again

That fuzzy sunset photo a couple of posts ago bugged me enough to (download and then) read the camera manual. Turns out, the problem was I had the “Servo AF” box checked. Go figure.

Anyhow, I was on my way home from Melissi again last night when Hλιος (Helios, the sun god of ancient Greek mythology and the modern Greek word for sun) was standing on the horizon posing for his photo before retiring for the night. I went down on the beach at the Akrotiri taverna and grabbed these snaps of the Sikya cape.

So this is how sunrise looks…

So this is how sunrise looks...

Woke up early this AM and went to the beach to grab a few snaps. The clouds from last evening stuck around overnight so the view was pretty amazing.

I didn’t change the colors in post-processing.  The variance is a result of locking the exposure to different areas within the frame.

All-in-all, a pretty rewarding trip to the beach.  Maybe I’ll get up indecently early again someday…


When I went out to the balcony to watch the sunset yesterday there was a plume of smoke in the mountains across the Gulf. I went down to the beach to take a couple of photos. It was obvious a significant west wind was blowing across the fire, pushing the column of smoke sideways toward Athens.  When I got back to the balcony the sun had set and in the shadows I could see flames with the naked eye.  As the sky darkened, the flames advanced and joined, forming what looked from the south to be a wall of fire.   The camera lost its ability to focus in the dark but as midnight approached, the fire seemed to break apart again, presumably having burnt itself out.

In that first thumbnail taken from the balcony, you can see what I think is a fire plane, wheeling away after a water drop.  I think the planes stopped flying at dark — at least I didn’t see any signs of aircraft after that.

The first two balcony shots were taken at 30x, well into the digital zoom range, presumably with the ISO pushed to max, so they’re really grainy and noisy.

This morning, from the water, I could see the area smoldering but it was clear the fire was out.  I saw nothing about it in the news websites.  I don’t think there is a village in the affected area.

As in the American west, wild fires are simply a part of summer in southern Greece.  The hot winds known as Meltimi winds blow down out of the Balkan peninsula, and spring’s wildflowers and greenery, having long since turned to kindling by cloudless, scorching weather, combust with the least encouragement.  The absence of trees here makes the fires relatively less intense; the flames consume the available fuel quickly.  Still, this seems to me very early for the number of fires I’m seeing reported.  This is something I normally associate with August, so I’m afraid we could be in for a bad fire season.