Lésvos

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
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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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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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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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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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“Ik ben vies”

by Marissa on

My first entry here will be about a laugh we had during our vacation on Lesbos this year.

As may be known, we went this with a group of very good friends to Lesbos. We had a wonderful time there.

One day we made a very nice walk to the east of the town of Petra. The small roads would take us up into the hills.
On a certain moment we noticed an old and abandoned car aside the road…


(Click on the image to zoom in)

We were making all kind of silly jokes about that car as “Well, that one will not go very far anymore” and “Who needs a cheap car?”. Richard was even claiming that the car was even not in a real bad shape and that he was convinced he would be able to get it riding again (and I am sure he can, after all it is his job! For those who don’t know, Richard is my boyfriend).

Then Miranda, who has been clearly with her mind somewhere else, turned towards the very dirty car and pointed at the “drawings” that were made in the dirt on the windows. Making remarks about not too clever Dutch people with the need to write things on the windows of cars and such.

I was standing with my back in the direction of Miranda, listening to her comments, with the dirt of the car window on my forefinger. I slowly turned in the direction of Miranda, showing the dirt of my forefinger clearly, asking her what she said there…
As Miranda knows me rather well, she looked at me and warned me to hold back!
Too late! I jumped towards her and flicked my forefinger quickly over her noise, leaving a nice trace of the dirt there.
With a very well-played angry voice Miranda set she would get me. This all leaded of a nice chasing me by Miranda around that old car.

The others were laughing loud, especially Rob who was almost rolling from laughing on the ground.

When finally Miranda “caught” me, it resulted in a friendly hug and telling me that I am a naughty brat, but a lovely sweet naughty brat, which was loudly agreed on by Richard (I will get even with him.. *TONGUE* ).

It are small events like these that make life so worth living!

(ps. Thank you Rob for allowing me to use the photo of that old car!)


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