Lesbos

The town of Petra.

by Marion on

Today Rob and I walked through the town of Petra. Petra is a town in the northern part of Lesvos and where we rented our studio for this vacation.
Petra
This is what the Wikipedia says about Petra:
Petra (Greek: Πέτρα meaning rock) is a former municipality on the island of Lesbos, North Aegean, Greece. Since the 2011 local government reform it is part of the municipality Lesbos, of which it is a municipal unit. It is located at the northwest of Lesbos and comprises the villages Petra, Skoutaros, Stypsi, Lafionas, Ypsilometopo and the settlements Petri and Anaxos.

Petra Church
Mel would still do an article on why the town is named “rock” and the connection to the lovely church of Petra (Mel, gentle reminder 😁).

The costal town lies at the foothills of mount Lepetymnos. This gives a magnificent view on the town.

Petra is a town with many nice small streets with lots of shops and taverns. A real pleasure to walk through. Many typical Greek buildings showing a diversity in building style, but all with the typical red roofs.

Petra Street
The main road of Petra leads directly along the sea, very nice for walks. Especially when the wind plays with the sea.
East of the town there is a very nice sandy beach. Great for swimming and tanning. And there are many nice restaurants near.

Such a nice town!

Marion
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So cold and wet…

by Marissa on

I really wonder what is wrong with the summer of this year, it is so cold and wet. Right now the sun trying to break through, but this morning it was raining. As it was yesterday.
And the temperature is also way too low for the time of the year.

Almost every week I go once or twice swimming. We have over a very nice indoor swimming pool, a real swimming paradise. There is tide bath, herb baths, sauna, solar stations, whirlpool and anything else you might want in a swimming pool.
It is not a real big distance to the swimming pool, so mostly I go there by bicycle.

Yesterday on my way home on my bicycle, it suddenly started to rain again and quite heavy. Before I reached my apartment all my clothes soaking wet. The wind was rather nasty. So I felt freezing cold.

At home I jumped right away under a warm shower. I always shower at home after swimming to was my hair properly, but this time I needed to get warm again. The shower help me to get on a normal temperature again.
But as said, this kind of rain and temperature is not normal for this time of year. So I hope we will have a nice after summer this year.

When I returned to my living room, I saw some photo’s I made during our vacation on Lesvos last year and I realized what I am missing so much… that nice warm sun shinning on my skin, bikini’s and shorts. Beaches and long drinks. Long walks along the hills. BBQ’s in the garden of Mel.
So yes, I don’t like cold weather. I don’t like rain and wind.
I am born for the sun!!!

So happy that we can go back to Lesvos next year. Maybe the area of Sigri or Skala Eressos will be nice according Mel. She will join us then there.


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The Vampire of Lesvos

by Mel on

In these modern times we know that, apart from the innocent vampire bat, vampires don’t exist.

Vampire bat

Well, the vampire bats are innocent as species. Although they feed normally on the blood of big birds, it is known that they also feed on the blood of humans. Basically there is no harm in that. The amounts of blood they consume is very little. The threat of the vampire bat is that they can spread diseases as Rabies.

Dracula

Anyway as said, vampires as the human alike night creature that drinks human blood doesn’t exist. Books and movies like Dracula of Bram Stoker gave us the image of vampires. In the Dracula-movies Christopher Lee played magnificently the role of Dracula and that had its effects. He really set the way we look at vampires nowadays.

Looking at the real world, often people who were suspected to be vampires were suffering from diseases. Porphyria, also known as The Vampires Disease, is the example for this.

“Porphyria, which is its scientific term is a set of genetic disorders in which an important part of hemoglobin called heme is not made properly which means there is malfunction of the hemoglobin production. People suffering from it face symptoms manifested by mythological vampires. Their skin is sensitive to sunlight, their urine is reddish to purplish in colour, the gums are shrunk making the teeth look more prominent and canine-like and they have an adverse reaction to garlic. Other major symptoms include abdominal pain or cramping (only in some forms of the disease), problems with the nervous system and muscles (seizures, mental disturbances, nerve damage).

Some types of Porphyria can sometimes cause sensitivity to light.”
(Source: The American Porphyria Foundation)

But now back the island where I live, Lesvos. We had our own vampire!

Vampire Lesvos

In the 19th century archaeological work was done on a Turkish cemetery near the North harbour of Mytilini (see the map below this article). Researchers discovered a well-preserved skeleton nailed to his coffin with 8 inch iron nails. The middle-aged man was buried in a stone-lined crypt hollowed out of an ancient city wall. This is already strange, because Muslims normally wrapped their deceased in sheets and bury them this way in graves of about one meter deep.

Vampire Lesbos

The man was nailed through his neck, pelvis, and ankles. It is suspected vampires were nailed to their caskets to keep them from rising from the dead. That a Muslim would be buried this way is of special interest since such burials were a real Christian practice. But even among Christians this practice was very rare and there only a few other cases known (as one in Poland).

With permission of the government the skeleton was taken out of the grave for research. It turned out that this man was suffering from arthritis, but I think this could hardly be the reason why this man was deemed to be a vampire. I am afraid that we never will find out the real reason was.

Vampre Lesvos

But how about that? Not only gods, goddesses and demigods wandered on this island, but even vampires did *WINK*

Mel
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In less as 200 days Marion and I travel to Lesvos again. I know, it is still quite some time, but it sounds so much better now it is below 200 days …. and it will sound even better when it is below 100 days! *SMILE*

Lesvos is an island that has so much to offer, that it is good to do some planning. Last year we did this with our close friends who travelled last year with us.
This year Marion and I will go with the two of us again. On Lesvos we meet up with Mel, who will join us for the biggest part of our vacation and that is great. Apart that Mel is a very nice and bright person, she also knows a lot about Lesvos. She can tell in a great way about the history of Lesvos and she knows all the nice spots to visit.

200 Dyas Lesvos

So today we started to plan what we would like to do and where we would like to go. Marion has Mel on Skype on her laptop, so while having a lot of fun we can discus our upcoming vacation. As guiding line we used the map of Lesvos that we used now for years. Most of the locations we where have been already are marked on that map.

200 Days
This year we will be staying close to the town of Petra again, which is very convenient. Mel lives in Stipsi, a town not far away from Petra. Aside from that Petra has a very nice beach and it offers nice places to enjoy the wonderful Greek food.

One of the things we want to visit for certain again is the Isle of the Holy Georgios, also known as Rabbits Island. It is just outside the coast of Petra. Last year we spend there with the group a night together. And that was quite an experience and we want to go back there because of the memories.

200 Days
There is another thing I really would like to visit again: The ancient watermills of Petra. Last year we have been there and it is really beautiful. But the day we went there Mel had to work and it turned out that we missed a very nice part of it, the abandoned settlements. So this year a new visit there with Mel.
Also I would love to make a walk through the valley of the ancient watermills, up to the other side of the valley. It must be awesome to stand at the bottom of the valley and see at both side the mountains rise high into the sky.
Good and strong walking shoes will be required, as lots of water to drink.

200 Days

There is another place Marion and I would love to go back. It made Mel laugh when we suggested this. We would love to go back to the small beach all way down south of the island (way below the city of Mitilini) and spend there one day.
A very nice small beach where almost no tourists come, but is very popular with the Greek people of that area. Just one day to enjoy the beach, the very clear water and the awesome food from the restaurant there.
We really enjoyed our visit there last year, only it was way too short.

200 Days
We own now a number of books about Lesvos. Some are very good and informative, but this book is the most useful of all. Last year we did some of the walks that are described in this book and they are great and brings you along some very awesome places. So this book will be for sure part of our luggage.
Mel ordered this book as well (there is also an English version of it), so she can check on forehand if all the walks are still valid. Last year one of the roads of a walk described in the book was blocked by a fence and there was sadly no way around it.

Also we will be visiting Mel’s mother. She wanted to meet these “weird people from Holland” her daughter told about. We know this is in a way an honour, so we accepted the invitation. We are looking forward to this, because this is all about the real Greek life.
We also will be introduced to some other people of her direct family. Some aunts, uncles, nieces and nephews. Although I wonder a bit about what “some people” is, I do know that Mel’s family is very large. When I mentioned this to Mel, she grinned knowingly… that should be a warning *SMILE* .

There are also new places that we would like to visit and are placed on our “wanna go” list.
The ruins of the Temple of Aphrodite is something we would like to go. The temple is said to be very beautiful and the area around is great to make some nice walks in a very peaceful area.
Already planned for last year was a visit to the abandoned town of Klapados, where in 1912 the last fight with Turkey soldiers took place and made the liberation of Lesvos a fact.
I would also like to go snorkelling again. Mel knew some interesting places, where we haven’t been yet, to do this. And Marion would like to go to the top of mount Olympus.

This “planning sessions” are fun. It more about exchanging ideas and suggestions then making a real planning. None of us wants a strict planning. We want to be flexible in what we do and just see day by day what we are going to do.
But it is good to know what the possibilities and preferences are. Next month we do such a meeting again :-).

200 Days Rob

 

 

 

(Credit detail map: Google Maps
Credit photo’s: Rob)


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2017It is always good to have at the begin of a new year a moment to look back at the year that has passed by. So lets have a short look from 2017 to 2016

I think for me personally it was a relaxed year. Of course there were things that went not completely the desired way. But there were no life shaking things that happened.

There was one thing that I really enjoyed and that was our vacation of 3 weeks to Lesvos together with our best friends (who are also the persons who can post articles on this weblog). We have seen there so many beautiful and amazing things like the wonderful nature of the island. We met such wonderful people, tasted awesome food and drank great ouzo and wine.
We laughed a lot and did fun things, which was because we know each other very well nothing else was to be expected.
And thanks to Mel we saw and learned a lot about Lesvos, the rich history and its culture. We have been at places where “normal” tourists would never come. Thank you for that, Mel. We loved and enjoyed every moment of it.

Talking about Mel: We, Marion and I, met Mel for the first time on Lesvos in 2015 (she is already for years friends with Sanne and that is how we got to know her). There was right away a good contact between Mel, Marion and me. The vacation of 2016 was the begin of a real friendship. And through the wonderful ways of modern technology we stay in close contact with each other.
I am convinced that the others that travelled with us to Lesvos also hold high and warm thoughts towards Mel.

As said, for me personal is was not really a bad year. For Marion 2016 was also a rather good year (we talked about this of course).
For Marion it was a very busy year at her work, but she managed very well. My own job was also challenging at some moments, but that also went well.

I have a feeling my left foot finally really starts to recover and that is really a good thing, although I expect drawbacks at some moments. But lets be positive and hope it continue to get better this way.

But when I look around me then it becomes very different. So many negative things are happening.

The terrorist attacks, the rise of right populism (and also of radical left), the activities of politicians as Geert Wilders and Donald Trump, the move of religions to get more influence again (and not only in the countries where the Islam is strong, but also in the US where conservative Christians try to get power again), leaders of countries as Rodrigo Duterte (Philippines) and Recep Tayyip Erdoğan (Turkey) that go completely berserk.

Not to mention the hatred and disgust against refugees that seems to live with many now. And when you ask it turns out fast that they have no real knowledge about the situation of refugees and that they act by often complete wrong information. An example, you hear often that all refugees from Africa are coming here for economic reasons. Wrong, refugees from Eritrea are coming from an extreme suppressed country (and there are more places like that in Africa). Or that refugees get a fully decorated house for free. Yes, wrong again. They get a loan to buy the basic things for living. And no, they don’t large amounts of money every month.

Although I am not complaining for myself, I do hope that 2017 will be a better year for the world….

Rob
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Lesvos, the Green Island

by Mel on

Lesvos map small

(Click on the image to zoom in)

When Marion and Rob invited me to write here on their weblog I was honoured as it shows the friendship that we have built together. When they asked me if I would be willing to write here some articles about Lesvos, the island where I was born and were I still live, I was even more honoured. I am proud on the island that I can call my home. And with asking me to write about Lesvos they opened the Box of Pandora, as I can keep on telling about Lesvos. But I promise to hold back (at least I will try *grins*).

Lesvos, created by volcano’s

Lesvos Petrified forest
Lesvos is a volcanic island, but the volcano’s that created the island are already for thousands of years inactive. Al around the island you can find proof of its volcanic origin, like the warm springs of Eftalou, the volcanic rock structures you find all over the hill and mountain slopes, the also empty landscape of the western region caused by the volcanic ashes and of course the Petrified Forest there, which wouldn’t have existed without volcanic activity and ashes.
Even the rock where the Church of Panagia Glykofilousa (The well-known “Sweet Kissing Virgin” church of Petra) is built on is of volcanic origin, it is a so called “volcanic neck” (tubes connected to an underground magmatic chamber from where in the distant past magma moved up to the surface). So sorry, it is not a meteorite that fell down from the sky as some still want to claim. I will tell the legend of the Panagia Glykofilousa church in another article.
And so there are many more evidences around the island of its volcanic origin.

So how to name Lesvos

Lesvos Green Island
So lets have a look at the origin of the name Lesvos.
There have been many names from prehistoric times up to recent history like Lassia (“Densely forested”), Aiyeria (“Home of the sun tanned people”), Imerti (“Longed for”), Aithiope (“Sun drenched island”) and Makaria, after king Makaras (there will be an article on Makaras and his daughters).
It is said that Lesvos got its name from a brother-in-law of King Makaras, named Lesvos.
But it is also said that the island got its name from an ancient settlement at the headland on the bay of Kalloni which was named Lesvos (there were magnificent ruins found in that area).
Another explanation is that island was called “Lesvi”, which means the Green Island and over time this changed in to Lesvos.
Lesvos…. Lesbos…. and to make it even more confusion, the island is also called Mytilini after its capital city.

Mythology on Lesvos

Orpheus cave
You cannot talk about Greece without talking about the Greek Mythology and especially not when you are talking about Lesvos.
Lesvos is mentioned in the travels of Homer. Odysseus battled King Philomileidis (and won). Lesvos has been under attack of Achilles several times. Apollo had a sanctum on mount Lepetymnos (the people of Lesvos worshipped specially Apollo and Artemis). Matriketas had his observatory on the top of mount Lepetymnos. The tomb of Palamides, the inventor of letters and numbers, was on the slopes of the same mountain.
And the list of mythical events goes on and on. Such beautiful stories to tell.

Lesvos and the prehistory

The history of Lesvos goes way back into the prehistoric times. Many fossils of animals and plants were found. Spectacular was the discovery of the fossils of giant apes of the Paradolichopithecus family, the very oldest in Europe.
But also fossils of insects, crocodiles, horses, camels and other animals that nowadays cannot be found any more on the island.

Foreign powers

Byzantine flag
Throughout the history Lesvos had been threatened and occupied more then once by foreign powers.
There are some periods that needs to be mentioned. Of course the Roman period, The Byzantine Period, The Hegemony of the Gattelusi, The Turkish Period and the last occupation during World War II by Germany.
It is said that apostle Paul visited Lesvos. Same is said about Pompei. And of both I am not convinced that it is true.
So again enough to write about.

Monasteries, churches and chapels

Lesvos Limonos
Lesvos knows many monasteries, churches and chapels.
There are some well-known monasteries as the Monastery of Limonos (with the valley of chapels) or the Ypsilou Monastery (built on the crater of a dormant volcano).
Although I am not religious, I am very interested in these old monasteries and churches, they are very important to the history of Lesvos and without them the island would not have been the same.

Saphho

Lesvos Saphho rock
Of course there are the stories of the poet Saphho who caused the connections between Lesvos and lesbianism. Many stories and myths going around her. Very interesting historical stuff with an influence on nowadays life.
(On the photo the rock that might be the one where Saphho committed suicide, although other stories tell she died of age).

Historical sites

Lesvos Abandoned settlement
And then there are the historical sites around Lesvos, like the Ancient Watermills of Petra, the Temple of Aphrodite (Mesa), the Castle of Molivos, the Ancient Theatre in Mytilini (room for 15.000 spectators and yes, the theatre in Rome was inspired by this one), Pyrra (one of the 5 ancient cities of Lesvos…. and there is so much more.

Cities and towns

Lesvos Mythimna
Lets not forget the many beautiful cities and towns there are on the island: Think of Mythimna (Molivos), Stipsi, Sigri, Petri, Petra, Skala Eresou, Plomari, Kalloni and many more. Each of them unique and with their own stories. Some of these stories will end up here on the weblog.

There is really so much to write about when it comes down to Lesvos. Marion and Rob, you really opened the Box of Pandora!
Lesvos Pandora's Box

Mel

 

 


(Credit map Lesvos: Welcome to Lesvos Island

Credit photo Orpheus Cave: Public Domain (see http://www.pd4pic.com/hellbrunn/ )
Credit picture Pandorra’s box: Athens Times
Credit all other photo’s: Mel)


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Greek products we love

by Marion on

Greek products
Through our visits to Greece Rob and I learned that this country has a number of products that we started to love. And for most of them we found luckily Dutch (web-) shops that imports these products and sell them to private persons. And so we can get Greek products we like a lot quite easily.

Today Rob picked up a new delivery of Greek products that we ordered.

Our Greek products delivery of today

Of course olives! We both love olives and specially those from Lesvos, which are of the Kolovi breed. This is the most common olive tree variety on the island. It amounts to 70% of the island’s olive tree total and grows in the southern and eastern regions of Lesvos. For me, and I think for Rob as well, these are the best olives we ever had.
Normally we always have olives in brine, which is the most common. But this time we also ordered organic olives enriched with garlic and thyme. We never had those before and when we saw those on the webshop we became curious.

When talk olives, we talk about olive oil. Eirini Plomariou is a very fine olive oil. Very rich of taste. Don’t use it for baking or anything alike. This olive oil is for salads, for with bread and such. And as the olives, this oil is also organic prepared.

The Greek oregano is also in an organic way grown. I never tasted an oregano before that was so rich and full. Rob used it in the past hardly when he was preparing food and now he use it whenever he can, but only this Greek oregano.

Mountain tea (Macedonian Sideritis) is said to have a positive effect on almost anything that ails, but it is most often used for colds, respiratory problems, digestion, the immune system, mild anxiety and as an anti-oxidant. It is also used as an anti-inflammatory and to reduce fever.
And with honey (Greek honey of course *SMILE* ) it tastes also very good.

Normally we almost never drink tea from bags, but Mel advised us to try this organic herbals tea with cinnamon, clove and saffron. We still have to try it, but we both are curious.

Specially for me this handmade soap named Benessere, made of donkey milk combined with calendula, lemon and mandarin. The vitamin A and E in seems to be very good for your skin. But I like it softness and how it refreshes your skin.

And of course one of those olive wood bowl and spoon. They can be used for everything… nuts, candy, side dishes and lots more. They just look great.

Well, this should keeps us going for some time :-)

Marion

 

 

(Credit photo: Rob)


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Lesvos and Erdogan

by Marissa on

Ottoman Empire Lesvos

Yesterday evening Mel (our friend from Lesvos), Marion, Sanne, Rob and I had a very long chat on Skype.

On a certain moment the conversation ended up with Turkey and its president Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
Mel told us that there always has been a certain of distrust between the Turkish people and the people of Lesvos, which is not strange if you know that Turkey occupied Lesvos for around 400 years.

The last period Mel said she felt that things were relaxing a bit more. Quite some Turkish people were visiting Lesvos to discover their part of the history on the island. After all many of them have not only a place in history on Lesvos, but many also have family on Lesvos.
This was of course a good change. And many of the Turkish guests were very friendly and happy to be on Lesvos to learn about the past of their land and family.

But the current president of Turkey is causing unrest among the Greek people. He stated now more than once that he wants to reinstate the Ottoman Empire and that the islands in the eastern part of the Aegean Sea belong to Turkey. Lesvos is one of those islands!
With 400 years occupation by Turkey in their history, it is very understandable that this makes the people of Lesvos feel very uncomfortable.

This statement of Erdogan is nonsense. So yes, Turkey occupied (read carefully: OCCUPIED, not owned) Lesvos for 400 year. But which country owned Lesvos before that many, many more years than those 400 years? Yes, there is indeed just one country that can say that Lesvos belongs to it and that is Greece and Greece only.
And logically the Greece government made all ready very clear that Turkey will not even get a centimetre of those islands. And right so!

Now Mel (and we with her) don’t think that Edrogan will be so stupid to really try to get these island, because then they will not only find the Greek army at their doors, but the NATO with them.

Anyway, it shows a lot of arrogance to make this kind of statements, but that is something we are used to by now from Erdogan.

“Gevaarlijk mannetje, die Erdogan”, said Sanne in true Dutch (which means “Dangerous fellow, that Erdogan”).

Funny thing is that er already religious conspiracy stories going around that this all has to do with the predicted “End Time”. Yeah sure…

 

 

(Credit map: TES Lessons)


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Vacation next year!

by Marissa on

(Click on the image to zoom in)
Mel is awesome! Richard is awesome! :-)

I thought that next year it would be not possible to go on a vacation. This because next year I will get my own apartment and decorating everything will cost quite some money. So I saved my money for that and accepted that there would be no vacation next year.

Some days ago I received a mail from Mel. She heard from Marion and Rob about that there would be no vacation for me next year. So she invited Richard and me to come for a week next year to stay at her home. So I only need to pay for the flight to Lesbos and have some money to spend there.
To make it all perfect, Richard told me that he would pay the flight for us both, so I could spend my money on my new apartment (I love that guy!).
So next year we go back to Lesbos. I am so thrilled about that! :-)

BTW I am often asked why Richard and I don’t move together. That is very simple, I want first to experience and learn how it is to live on my own. And maybe after some years moving together with Richard. Although the LAT-relation that Marion and Rob are having together sounds very tempting to me.
And Richard? He is fine with all. He sees me having my own appartment as something positive, then he has a nice place to stay at times (his apartment is a real “man alone”-apartment :-) )

 

 

(Credit photo: Rob)


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Mastic Tears

by Rob on

Sitting lazy after an extreme busy day at my work on the couch in my living room. Eyes closed. Soft music on the background. Trying to clear my mind.

With the first sips of my glass of Mastic Tears a welcome warmth flows through my body. In my head I start to hear the waves of the Aegean Sea roll over the beaches of Lesbos. I feel the burning sun playing on my skin. The sound of the wind playing through the leaves of large palm trees. The smell of olive trees in large orchards.

I almost feel if I am called home….

Strong stuff that Mastic Tears *SMILE*

(More information about the wonderful Mastic Tear liqueuer).

 

(Credit photo: Rob)


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