Greece

Sanctuary of Mesa (or Messon)

by Jennifer on

During our holiday to Lesvos this year we saw many beautiful things, but there was one location that made a deep impression on all of us: The Sanctuary of Mesa (or The Sanctuary of Messon, as it is also referred to).

Messa

Specially for Rob visiting Mesa/Messon was very high on his wish list. His interest for Lesvos and its history is great and there is already so much he knows about it.
And I have to admit that now I have been there, it made a deep impression on me. Even so deep that now I want to know more about it. Since our return to The Netherlands I have been reading a lot about this Sanctuary (online and offline). “I have been touched by its magic” as Rob calls it and it is quite contagious according him.


The temple is near the town of Agia Paraskevi (Αγία Παρασκευή) and is the biggest temple on the island. It was dedicated to Greek deities Hera, Zeus and Dionysus or the so called “The Lesbian Triad” (and no, that has nothing to do with the sexual preference, but with the geographic location).

There are two inscriptions from the second century BC where the name Sanctuary of Messon is preserved. It served as seat of the Kalloni Commonwealth. But the Sanctuary was already as early as the sixth century before BC a place for pilgrims to come from all over the island, but even from various cities of Asia Minor. It is told that beauty contents and dances related to fertility were hosted there.

Messa

When we visited the Sanctuary we were the only visitors and that made it even more special. The silence was breath taking. The atmosphere was very peaceful. Mostly I am always very down to earth, but here you could literately feel that this place has a very rich history and that important events took place here.

Messa

Rob had a long talk with the local guide of this historic temple and excavation site. He asked many and many questions. He wanted to know as much as possible about this place and he impressed the guide with his knowledge about Lesvos. And yes, he really knows a lot about this island.

And yes, this is one of the places that I never will forget…

Jennifer


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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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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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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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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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Mountain Tea

by Mel on

What an interest suddenly for Mountain Tea. I would expect interest for well-known Greek products as Olives, Olive Oil, Oregano, Ouzo, Honey, Feta, Kavourmas, Loukaniko or even Manouri. But Mountain Tea?

But okay, Mountain Tea!

Mountain Tea

Mountain Tea (Σιδερίτης) is also known as Shepherd’s Tea, here we have right away a reference to the origin of Mountain Tea, or Ironwort as it also is called.

Mountain Tea is of course not a real tea. Real tea is prepared from the leaves of the tea-plant (“Camellia sinensis”), while Mountain Tea is prepared from the Sideritis-plant. In Greece there are 17 species of the Sideritis-plant (some bounded to a local area, others more common). Among these 17 species is there only one cultivated: Sideritis raeseri, the other species are growing in the wild.
Throughout the Mediterranean other variations are known (mainly in Italy and Turkey).

Shepherding is one of the oldest occupations in the world. In ancient times shepherds resided in remote isolated regions and developed a deep intimacy with their natural surroundings. It is through these conditions they discovered the qualities of many herbs. And Mountain Tea was one of these.

Mountain Tea is rich in iron and antioxidants. It is good for the digestion and it is anti-inflammatory.
There are over 60 chemical constituents in the essentials oils within Mountain Tea that have been shown to be beneficial for a wide array of health ailments, such as common cold, flues and coughs. It is also said that it can have a positive influence on Diabetes, osteoporoses and seasonal allergies, to people who interested in weight loss, dieting, increased performance in the athletic world all the way to those with severe depression, ADHD and Alzheimer’s disease (read careful: A positive influence, not a final cure or anything alike).

One advice on preparing Mountain Tea: It is important that Mountain Tea is boiled and/or steep in hot water for a period of time long enough to extract the essential oils within this plant (at least 5 minutes). It is tough to penetrate the woody Sideritis-plant, because of its evolution to growing out of hard limestone and at times under extreme weather conditions.

The Mountain Tea we drink here is coming from Macedonia, the Greek province of Macedonia and not the Republic of Macedonia (<- Small political rant here).

Mountain Tea tastes the best with a little bit of Honey. Greek Honey of course, as produced around my home town. *SMILE*

Rob, there is a nice portion of Mountain Tea for your colleague and you on its way to the Netherlands *SMILE* .

Mel

 

 

(Credit photo: Mel)


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The meaning of the Greek flag

by Mel on

Greek flag
For my Greece loving friends, here some explanations why the Greek flag is blue and white *SMILE* .

The Greek flag is the symbol of national pride and patriotic virtue. In this Greece is nothing special compared with many other countries. I think for many countries around the world their national flag is an important symbol.

Greek Flag

The Greek flag goes by two names: ”The Blue and White” or ”The Azure and White. The official width-to-length ratio of Greece flag is 2:3.

It is said that the cross in the upper quadrant of the flag represents the major religion of Greece, which is the Greek Orthodox Church.

Other source tell that the stripes represent the nine syllables in the battle cry of Greek independence during the Hellenic Revolution against the Ottoman Empire, “Ελευθερία ή Θάνατος” (“Freedom or Death”)

Muses

Another theory which seems to believe that each of the nine stripes corresponds to each of the nine muses from the Greek Mythology.
As for the white and blue colours is said to represent the contrast between the sky and sea of Greece.

Most people don’t realize that the current Greek flag was just adopted since 22 December 1978. Before that there were several designs with few similarities but despite the changes of designs throughout the years, Greece never remained without a flag.
The Greek Flag Day is on October 27.

Below a video about the many flags Greece has know in its history. Yes, there were many. But as said before, Greece never remained without a flag!

Mel

 

 


(Credit photo Greek flag: Public Domain, see Public Domain Pictures
Credit picture layout Greek flag: Wikipedia
Credit Muse-picture: greekmythology.com)


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