Lésvos

I have a very healthy interest in astronomy. I love to read about the planets, the stars, the galaxies, super nova’s, black holes and the universe. It feeds my imagination and triggers my will to learn new things. And the more I learn about this the more I realize we know nothing yet.

But when here on Lesvos my interest in astronomy suddenly gets stronger again and I know why…


It is really simple: Wait until it is dark in the evening and look up to the sky…

When home in The Netherlands I will see just a few stars.

But here on Lesvos, and especially when I move to a spot with no artificial lighting, the sky is covered with stars. Hundreds, no even thousands and more of them. The sky is literally covered with stars. An amazing sight to see!

The reason for the difference is also very simple: light pollution!

Sure, when in a Greek city one will also not able to see all the stars. But there is a difference, The Netherlands is so densely populated that there is literally no place in the country where you can see the real sky with stars, even not in the middle of areas where no one lives.
When I look from my home in the direction of Amsterdam, I see a thick layer of light.

Is light pollution a problem? Apart from the sorry fact that we only can see a fragment of the beautiful stars, yes it is. Light pollution has a negative influence on the balance between day and night. Specially plants and night animals are suffering from this.

Anyway, back to the stars at the Greek sky *SMILE* .

When I see a bright star here, I start to ask myself right away questions. What is the name of that star? How many light-years is it away from here? Is it part of a constellation and do I know that constellation? Is there anything special to know about that star?

Luckily I have two great apps on my iPad that gives me the answers on this questions I might have: “Solar Walk 2” and “Star Walk 2” (luckily it was my iPhone that was stolen this holiday and not my iPad even when the iPad is WiFi only). These two apps are great for any astronomy enthusiast.

So quite often when the others are already sleeping, I sit on the balcony of our hotel room or make a small walk to study the skies, looking at the stars and constellations, looking up all there is to know about them. Great fun.

At home, I use apps also every now and then, but there they tend to make me a bit sad because these apps show very clearly what I should be able to see but cannot see because of the light pollution…

Rob

 

 

 

The pictures in this article are screenshots from Star Walk 2 and Solar Walk 2.


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The small wonders of Lesvos

by Miranda on

That Lesvos is an island that has so many faces to show may be known by now. I mean from the olive and pine trees to the emptiness of the west.

It is so nice that you can wander around, make a turn and see something completely unexpected. And that is what happened today again.

We were wandering west of Agios Isidoros, a lovely small town near Plomari. The small road led us through beautiful views of mountains and olive tree orchards.

So we were enjoying our surroundings while I was having an interesting talk with Richard. We followed the road in a curve around a rock formation and then we saw this…

Stairs

Everyone of us had a “WOW” experience. This is what I call using the surroundings of your house. The stairs up to the house really embedded in the rocks of the mountain. So wonderful!

As I already said, I truly love how this was built, but I don’t want to think about carrying groceries or any alike up those stairs.

Later, back at the hotel I saw the same people laying in the full sun that were there already when we some hours earlier left for our walk. And they were there the days before too.
They will be missing all these wonderful things (and I even don’t want to think about what this amount of direct sunlight is doing to their skin).

Miranda
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Okay, so why Plomari?

by Mel on

Anyone ever wondered why Rob made the decision to go the town of Plomari this year? Yes, Rob made the decision for the whole group. They just wanted to go back to Lesvos and where on Lesvos was less important (the Lesvos-virus is so contagious). Yes yes Marissa, I know that you had the demand of beaches, but I really wonder how strong that demand was :-).

Anyway, as you already may have expected, there is a small story to tell on how Rob made the decision to go on their next holiday to Plomari. :-)

It started last year when Marion and Rob stayed at my place. One evening we were sitting in my garden enjoying the very nice evening. We had the pleasure of a nightingale singing for us. Did you know that nowhere in the world the nightingales sing so beautiful as here on Lesvos? No, you didn’t? Ah, there is another story to tell, but we will do that another time.

During the concert of the nightingale Rob was sipping of a glass of ouzo. He developed quite a taste for ouzo (another reason why my grandmother is so fond of Μουστάκι, which is Rob’s nickname around here). He made a remark that he tasted at the many places Marion and he have been in Greece tasted ouzo, but this was one of the best he ever enjoyed. Of course I had to brag that it was ouzo from Lesvos and everything of our island is simply the best (I know… I know… :-) ).

One day, back in The Netherlands, Rob wanted to enjoy an ouzo again, so he went to the local liquor store and asked for a bottle of ouzo. The owner of the store remembered earlier talks he had with Rob and remembered that Marion and Rob have been to Lesvos. To the surprise of Rob he told he had an ouzo from Lesvos. There was no discussion needed any more and Rob bought that ouzo.

When in the evening Rob sipped from his new ouzo, he suddenly realized with full conviction that this was the ouzo he had at my place!

He called me on Skype and we talked. He explained to me about the ouzo, he bought that day. I had to laugh because the possibility that he bought the ouzo that I always have would be very small.
I told Rob that I have always ouzo from the Isidoros Arvanitis Distillery, Plomari Ouzo.
On the screen of my laptop I saw Rob reach out beside him. When his hand returned his hand was holding a bottle. He turned the bottle around so the label was visible for me. And there it was… Ouzo of Plomari, Isidoros Arvanitis!
Unbelievable that “my” ouzo was for sale in The Netherlands. And even more special, that is for sale “around the corner” (as Rob said) from where he lives.

It was that day that Rob decided that he wanted to visit the town of Plomari. And when “the group” made Rob in charge of the planning of the upcoming holiday in August, the destination of Plomari was set.
And they will love it. Plomari and the surrounding area is just beautiful. And of course a visit to the Isidoros Arvanitis Distillery will be on the agenda for their holiday :-)

Plomari Ouzo Mel

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A longing for Lesvos…

by Rob on


(Click on the image to zoom in)

Rain, cold wind, temperatures that start to call to turn on the heating, all signs autumn is really arrived. And that is how it is here now: Wet, cold and wind.

I was standing in front of a window looking outside, Marissa and Marion behind me sitting on the couch. I was only half aware of what they were talking about. Until a certain moment I understood one word very clearly: Lesvos! And right away my thoughts were 3000 kilometres away from here.

Yes, specially on days like these I am missing Lesvos. The beautiful landscapes, the mountains, the sea and the beaches. How I would love to eat a good stifado and drink a cold Mythos beer. Make long walk in the healing sun. Swim in the cooling sea. To browse among our olive trees.
And of course it would be lovely to get a big hug from our Greek friend Mel again, because there is nothing as a Greek hug… believe me!

It is hard to believe that it is already two months ago that Marion and I were on Lesvos. It feels like yesterday.
But lets be positive, in 10 months we, and then the whole group including Patricia, will be going there again. And before that we will meet Mel again some times, which will be awesome.

And meanwhile I keep dreaming of those lazy mornings at some beach on Lesvos…

Skala Sikamineas Rob

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Tokmakia

During our vacation this year we have been visiting the Eastern part of Lesvos. A beautiful area where wild horses roam and turtles can be found. Also the home of many bird species, there are more wild bird species on Lesvos than anywhere else in Europe.

At a certain moment we made a break aside a road that led along the East coast of Lesvos. I looked over the sea and saw there some islands. I turned to Mel, our Greek friend from Lesvos, and pointed towards the islands.
Before I even could say something she confirmed smiling that these were the Tokmakia islands (when you look at the photo above, the islands more to the horizon, not the small one closer to the coast).

Last year, when we travelled with our best friends as a group to Lesvos (and Mel certainly belongs to that group), we sailed around Lesvos with Richard as our “captain” as he his the skills and experience to handle a sailboat as the one we rented.
The Tokmakia islands was the place where we dropped the anchor.

It is said that the Tokmakia islands attract, like the ancient Sirens, everyone who is passing by. And that is true, when you are standing on your boat and you see those islands you will feel a strong desire to explore those islands.

The water around the Tokmakia islands is crystal clear, it almost looks as if there is no water. It creates the image that your boat is floating in the air.
The islands are home to many bird and plant species, a wonderful place for those who are interested in these.

As said, last year with visited these islands. The water was too shallow near the beaches, so Richard decided to drop the anchor on some distance. After we made sure that the anchor was properly secured, we swam as true explorers to the island holding food and other stuff above our heads so it would not become wet. After a few times to the sailboat and back we had anything we wanted on the beach of one of the islands (the one called “Ασπρονήσια” or Aspronisia).

On the beach we had the nicest pick nick and even a small BBQ (very good secured so nothing could go wrong).
We swam in the crystal clear water of the sea, we enjoyed the sun on the beach, we explored the island and were amazed by the beauty all around us.

Our time on Ασπρονήσια was truly amazing. Something never to forget. When we left (and made sure no garbage or anything else was left behind) we all were feeling great.
Back on the boat we prepared to sail away and when the anchor was raised I heard Richard say to Marissa that they would come back to these islands.
And oh yes, one day we will go back there…

I must have been standing there for a while, dreaming and watching the Tokmakia islands there out in the sea. Suddenly I felt an arm around my shoulders… Rob… He smiled. And do you know what he whispered in my ear? “We will go back there… “.

And now I know for sure that we will return to the Tokmakia islands one day!

(The photo’s below were made during our holiday of 2016, when we visited as group these wonderful islands).

Marion Tokmakia Tokmakia Tokmakia Tokmakia Tokmakia

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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
Town of Petra

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Plane lesbos

So the first real day of our vacation to Lesvos. Lesvos again? Yes, Lesvos again and that for many reasons. Just read the articles that Marion and I will write during our vacation here and maybe you will understand why.

Our vacation really started yesterday. Because our plane would leave very early in the morning we decided to spend the night in a hotel close to the airport. The idea was very good, but we haven’t slept during our stay at the hotel. Marion was very restless during the night. I think that the wine she had during the dinner hit her harder as normal. Marion denies that, but I just don’t know.
The result was that we talked, laughed and had fun instead of sleeping.

The flight to Lesvos went without any problems. It went even very fast. I understand that when the wind is coming from behind the plane, it will speed up the trip, but that may result in the flight by 30 minutes shorter I never expected.

When we got off the plane the heat really hit us hard. The 38 degrees Celsius with a strong shinning sun is something different as the poor 20 degrees with cloudy skies we have in The Neherlands.
It will take some days to get used to that again.

Once outside of the airport of Mithlini all the other travelers were taken by buses to the hotels and studios where they would stay. But we would be picked up by Mel.
So we waited somewhere in the shadows as sudden some kind of battle scream sounded and a crazy Greek woman jumped on us and gave us the best Greek hugs ever. Mel had found us.

After we welcomed each other very enthoustiacly, we had a small lunch in Mythilini (wonderful sardines and a delicious salad with real Greek feta).

Garden Mel
This afternoon and evening we will stay at Mel’s place and enjoy her wonderful garden. Dinner (the Greek have normally way later dinner than we Dutch are used to) somewhere in Petra or Stipsi.

It is good to be back here again.

Rob

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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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About Ouzo & Vodka

by Rob on

Today two surprises concerning alcohol containing beverages, Ouzo & Vodka.

When Mel stayed here last week, she brought us some bottles of Ouzo from Greece (Plomari Ouzo, a very good one, made on Lesvos). One evening our mood was really after some Ouzo. So we opened one of the bottles, but at that moment we discovered that I didn’t really have proper glasses for Ouzo. We managed it with some long drink glasses, so that problem was solved.
But Mel promised that she would make sure that I would get some real Ouzo glasses.

I don’t know how Mel managed to do it, but today a package from Greece was delivered at my house….

Ouzo

And not only 4 wonderful Ouzo glasses were in the package, but also some delicious salami which I enjoyed last year at Mel’s house. She must have remembered how much I liked it.
This “Salado” (Salami) is a dry salami made of pork meat, pork fat, salt, garlic, whole round black pepper and seasonings that is put inside a natural intestine, slightly smoked by burning branches of aromatic herbs and let it mature naturally. This salado has it origin on the isle of Corfu.

And there was also a jar of honey. Greek honey belongs to the best honey of the world. This forest honey is a dark honey, has an intense flavor and comes from the pristine oak forests of Macedonia. It strongly antioxidant and is rich in minerals. Produced in July.

But that was not all. This morning, after being a week off, I found a bottle of vodka on my desk at my work….

Vodka

This bottle was a gift of my colleague Katarzyna Puchalska. We (another colleague and I) helped her with something. That is why. Sadly she will be leaving us end of this month.

Lubelska is leading brand among Polish vodka-based flavoured liqueurs (they have is also a clear vodka). Lubelska Cytrynowka is made from purely natural ingredients. With a cloudy appearance, it has an intriguing flavour of freshly squeezed lemons.

Not a bad way to start a working week. And oh, before going to bed tonight I will enjoy some Ouzo in a real traditional Ouzo glass *SMILE*

Rob

 

 

(Credit photo’s: Rob)


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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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