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).


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.


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.


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…


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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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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.
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!


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

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

200 Dyas Lesvos

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

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

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

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

200 Days

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

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

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

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

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

200 Days Rob




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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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.


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




(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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Lesvos and Erdogan

by Marissa on

Ottoman Empire Lesvos

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



(Credit map: TES Lessons)

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