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“Thirteen sunsets, all different from each other, all almost at the same time, everything dives into the sea and everything lasts as long as two songs and a sigh.” GIANNIS POLYVOTIS won the 1st prize with an excellent text for his trip to KYTHIRA !


Giannis Polyvotis was born in Drama in 1988, studied Architecture in Thessaloniki and lives in Athens.

His short stories and poems have been awarded in literary competitions, published in collective volumes and published in literary magazines and websites.

His first novel will be released in 2022 by Iolkos Publications.


We had pleasure to host Giannis in one of our houses where he wrote his short story entitled “Tsirigo” which won the first prize in a travel storytelling competition for 2021 held by Hellenic Panorama!


Our GREECE, such a small but so interesting country, can surprise us and at the same time enchant us with its natural wealth, history and creative inhabitants.
Give the words images, emotions, messages …
1000 words… .. a picture

1st Prize – GIANNIS POLYVOTIS “Tsirigo”

I push the bike uphill with my hands. There was not much left until Cheroulaki; after the monastery I will take the road to Melidoni and I will finally get on the bike. In twenty minutes I will be in the sea, naked and all alone, with my sweaty head under the magical water. I look up to see the view of the wild hillside of Vani that descends from the high rocks of the mountain and disappears abruptly into the sea, right in front of Karavonisi, Strongyli and Lydia – the three islets with their foam wrapped at the base ropes. When did thirteen days pass? Tomorrow, at such a time, George – the owner of the house I live in, here in Kythira, in the desert of Vani – will come to pamper me and leave me at the airport of the island. I have thirteen days to meet people; I did not miss them at all. In May, you do not meet a soul in this western part of Tsirigos – Venetian name of Kythera – except for those who quietly cross the sea in the merchant ships of the Mediterranean. Maybe somewhere around here, on the island of Aphrodite in Kythrea, Paris and the Beautiful Helen came to enjoy their first love nights, immediately after leaving Sparta. Their example was followed, a few thousand years later, by Panagiotis and Iphigenia – my two parents – who, far from all of them, hid together in the shade of a tree, in the safety of the yellow tent, in the arms of the colorful hammock. Maybe that’s why – on the occasion of my need to isolate myself for the sake of the sketch of my next novel – I return, thirty-four years later, to the scene of the “crime”, curious whether I can feel that first, tender moment of her own. of existence, lest I listen intently to the inner whisper, away from the noise of my petty bourgeois daily life.
I put my hand on my forehead, I try to locate in the background the house I live in, or even around my own houses – empty at this time. My friends “live” in them, I “installed” them in the surrounding bass houses and deceive loneliness, especially at sunset, when the cool breeze argues with the lowered radio. Opposite, the horizon was drawn rather with a pencil, sometimes well-sharpened like a spike and sometimes rough, full of emotions. The sun is still high, it has been two or three days that it suddenly became stronger and it does not forgive the wandering hikers. I rejoice in him as he falls vertically into the calm sea, creating reflections that remind of a multitude of living beings that pulsate, applaud, cheer. I came to Kythira in spring, with closed windows at night, picking up early, cool winds, passing clouds and long-sleeved blouses, and I leave in summer, in the undisturbed blue of the sky and the sea, the dazzling light, the stillness of the air, the air nudity, the unlocked doors, the meridian bellows and the sunset light. There is no better time to visit a place beyond the threshold of two seasons, the change in the landscape drags me towards a better tomorrow.

The gate of the monastery in Heroulaki is locked. I do not look for the key in the surrounding pots, I prefer to get on the hot saddle and go down to the sea. I arrive in Melidoni – what a beautiful name! it holds something of honey and pleasure – and I rush straight to the icy sheet of the sea, somewhere between the Aegean and the Ionian Sea. Unfortunately, I’m not alone. A bulldozer lays sand on the beach for the umbrellas and sunbeds of the season. The days
of innocence come to an end. I go out, dry on a rock and take the road back, defeated and disappointed. At least I’ll get home early, before the last sunset. At the top of the route I am greeted by the “probentza”, the spring westerly wind that has embraced the area of ​​Vani and the surrounding mountains with malleable pieces of fog. I stop on the side of the road to pick sage to scatter it among the clothes in the suitcase. I dissolve a few leaves by rubbing them in my hands and take a deep breath through my palms; primitive scotodin, the same as that felt by all the peoples who passed through here: Minoans, Phoenicians, Argeians, Byzantines, Venetians, so many others.
Just before I get home, the sky lets a gentle, imperceptible rain fall, but without laying it down. The only rain I saw on the island – sweet farewell. I leave the bike on the shady side of the skin and walk to the adjacent olive grove. Traffic by bicycle, or by car, removes from the landscape the meaning of time, this much-needed extension of walking. My eye falls opposite, on the white-clad chapel of Agios Nikolaos of Krassas and its semicircular stone staircase that embraces the eyebrow of the green-gray cliff. I have to go home, prepare for the last act of the project. My peer George brought me wine, oil and tsipouro of his production. I envy the work of his hands, mind and instincts.
Thirteen sunsets, all different from each other, all almost at the same time, all diving into the sea and all lasting as long as two songs and a sigh. Blessing is the immersion of the sun in the water, the baptism of fire – literally – of the coming night. Enjoy walking barefoot on the stone slabs of the terrace at sunset. The departing sun leaves its mark on his last refuge. The last sunset was double. He first dressed in the clouds and then came out again – like the anchors of concerts – just above the horizon. Some dry rocks, under the visible disc of the sun, protrude from the water surface. The waves crashing hard on them look like little white riders trying to get on their horses – unsuccessfully. On such a horse I want to ride too, to take the road to my unsatisfied and unquenchable passions, to stop being ‘unquenchable – the man without lures.
It is night, I pull the curtains of the windows aside, so that the shiver of the crescent darkness enters unhindered. Unsuspecting chirps happily lighten the heavy atmosphere and remind me of what I’ve read somewhere: that passing deprivations and small sorrows are the salt of life. To remember tomorrow, just before George came, to take a photo, the only self-portrait of the last thirteen days. To sit on the terrace of the terrace, in front of the clear horizon and the open mind. Yes, I want to capture my presence, here, on the edge of the earth. After all, there is no place in the world – even in the wildest desert – where you can escape from yourself.
[Kythira, 17 – 30 May 2021]

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