Greece

About DNA

by Rob on

Some time I ago I saw the video below and it made a deep impression on me. The video is about what our DNA can tell us about our heritage and where our roots in the world are. The people in this video faced some big surprises about their biological heritage. Watch the video…

After seeing this video I was curious, but I figured that such a DNA test would be quite expensive. I didn’t think about it anymore and I forgot more or less about it.

Then last year we were at the BBQ of Mel’s family on Lesvos, where I got my nickname “Μουστάκι”. Mel’s lovely grandmother who was convinced that Marion and I both must have Greek blood in our veins, this because of our love for Greece,
Personally, I don’t think we have Greek ancestors, but one can never know. A DNA test would show this and make this very clear.
But the price of such a DNA test….

A few weeks ago I saw an advertisement about a DNA test and I realized that a DNA test was not that expensive at all (anymore?) and that it was very affordable for us.
So after a small talk with Marion we ordered two of these DNA tests.

DNA test

So this weekend I will do the test and will send it away for analysing.
As Marion is using medicines at the moment, she has to wait with doing the test. I offered to wait as well, but she told me to do it this weekend. She is very curious as well.

Am I nervous about the result of the test?
No, anything will be fine. Dutch, Greek, Finnish, German, Moroccan, Arab… I really don’t care. The more places in my heritage, the richer I am!

And after the test is done, we just have to wait…..

Rob
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Greek Goddesses

by Marion on

When Rob was a young boy, he once went on a holiday with his parents to Hellendoorn. They stayed a week at hotel “De Uitkijk”. This hotel still exists and this year Marissa, Richard, Rob and I will go there for a long weekend.

Anyway, when Rob stayed there with his family, he went often to a nearby amusement park, which also still exists. Mostly Rob, as he told me, went there to play arcade games. He mentioned an arcade game where you are in a submarine and have to destroy enemy ships.

On one of his trips to the amusement park, he bought at a souvenir shop a small replica of a statue of the Greek goddess Aphrodite.

Leda

This statue was the beginning of Rob’s interest in Greek mythology.

Over the following years he bought more statues of Greek Goddesses at all kind of places. He knew which Goddesses they were, their stories and where they original statues are.
He had and still has quite an extended knowledge of the Greek mythology. Of course, his love for Greece has come from somewhere!

Statue

Then, years later, Rob met his ex-girlfriend. I dare to say that his ex did quite some wrong to him.

Rob was during the time he went to school deeply in love with a girl. He wrote beautiful texts for this girl and made some kind of bundle of it.
His ex-girlfriend requested him to get rid of these texts and he did. These texts, expect some he got back through another resource, are gone forever. I would have loved to read those texts, even when they are about another woman. It is all long ago, it is Rob’s past. He has full right on his own past, after all, it is what made him what he is today.

More things like that happened.

Aphrofite

And then there were Rob’s Greek Goddess statues. Some of those goddesses statues are naked, which is very common for Greek statues.

And also these statues were not to the liking to Rob’s ex. He can recall that words as unfriendly for women were used. With that the statues had to go to.

I really cannot understand this. Did she not realize that these statues were important for Rob? She should have known this.
And is a replica of an old Greek statue, nude or not, woman-unfriendly? I don’t think so. Calling nudity woman-unfriendly is bringing the rights of women back to the dark ages. These day women are allowed to be proud on their bodies and don’t have to hide it under all covering clothes. And is a woman’s body not beautiful? And apart from this all, the statues are not even very detailed.

I cannot get rid of the feeling that Rob his ex tried to control and manipulate him. Something that always will fail in the end, as it did.

So some years back on one of our holidays to Greece I saw in a shop a nice replica of a statue of Aphrodite. I remembered directly what Rob told me once about these kind of statues. Of course I bought it. A present that maybe will undo a little what was done in the past. Rob was really happy with the statue. So now I try to buy on every holiday to Greece such a statue for him

So Aphrodite, Leda, Sapho and others are back in Rob’s house. As they should…

Sapho Marion
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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 stars above

by Rob on

Now the darkness has covered the island, the temperature has become very nice. Very welcome after the heat of the day.

Mel, Marion and I made a very nice walk in the neighborhood of Mel’s house. Just 5 minutes away from her house and the darkness is complete. Then, looking up to the sky, something unknown to The Netherlands anymore, shows… a sky full of bright and playful stars!

The heavy “light pollution” in The Netherlands hides the beautiful star filled skies from us. Even in the sparsely populated parts of our country, it is nothing like as hereupon the hills of Lesvos.

It is amazing to see how many stars there are in the firmament, all differences in brightness and size. Just imagine that the star closest to us, apart of the sun of course, is still 4.2 light years away from us. The furthest known star is 13.4 billion light years away (Hubble 2016). Just try to comprehend that!

I tried to make photo’s of this wonderful sky, but I failed in that! Next year I have to bring a tripod to capture this awesome phenomenon!

On my iPhone and iPad I have an app called “Starwalk 2”. This app has many nice features, but there is one I really love: if you hold the device in any direction it will show the current firmament including planets, stars, satellites, deep space objects and more.

The pictures below are things we have seen tonight. It was really awesome how we could match the information given by the app to the real sky!

Ah well, both Mel as Marion are dozing slowly away into sleep. Lets get some sleep I would say!

Petra Petra Petra Petra Rob
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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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In 2015 around this time of the year I placed a message on Facebook related to Marion’s and my vacation to the island of Lesvos. It was after a long time that we would be going there again.
On one of the photo’s of the area where we would be staying there was an island visible and for no clear reason that the island got me interested.
When I found the island on Google Maps my interest even became stronger as it showed two buildings, a road and a pier.
We were thinking of a small farm, but we let also our fantasy run wild. Maybe a millionaire was living there. Or maybe someone was murdered there and now it was haunted.
Through a map of Lesvos that I had bought I found that the island was called “Agios Georgies”, which translates to “The Island of the Saint George”.
And we learned that the island had a nickname: Rabbit Island.

Rabbit Island Rabbit Island

Sadly during our vacation of 2015 we didn’t get a change to visit the island. But we made for up for that in 2016, when we visited with our best friends Lesvos. We had a great day and night on Rabbits Island. Again, I like to thank you Mel for making that wonderful experience possible.

The first thing we learned last year was that the building on the island wasn’t a farm, neither the house of a millionaire or a place that is haunted. It is a small chapel, of course dedicated to Saint George.

The name Rabbit Island finds it’s origin in the fact that somewhere in the past people released rabbits. There are no natural enemies for the rabbits on the island, so the rabbit community grew… well, as rabbits ;-).
No natural enemies, except the humans of course. In the last century people from the surrounding cities hunted all the rabbits until there were none left any more.

But recently someone has placed rabbits on the island again and he is taking extra care of them by feeding them and bring them fresh water when needed.
So Rabbit Island has its rabbits again!

The island offers a small pier to dock your boat, a nice beach and a secure place for a BBQ. And that, is apart from the chapel, all there is.
We had there to most fresh fish I ever tasted, caught and cleaned that morning.

The ladies enjoyed the beach to tan. And of course we took the opportunity to snorkel there, a very nice experience.

I have really great memories of this time we spend on Rabbit Island. Most likely for never to forget. If possible we would like to visit the island together with Mel again!

Below you can find more photo’s that we made during our visit at Rabbit Island. When you click on all the real photo’s (so not on the two Facebook screenshot) a larger version of the photo will be displayed. Enjoy!

Rabbit Island

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