Our ferry docked in Chios (Ch as in loch) at 9pm. Chios is home to the Aegian University and all 1400 students seemd to be on the long harbour front, in the line of cafes blasting out disco music. The few lodging we saw were shut or seedy, all very noisy. And here, a small lament about pavements. Everywhere we have been cafes have the awful habit of filling up the pavements...and then there's the steps, the uneven surfaces, the sudden disappearances altogether. When you are pulling a wheeled suitcase you really curse them. Needless to say, wheelchair users are never to to be seen....do they need some good laws and enforcement!
By 10pm we're beginning to feel a bit desperate when before us, near the end of the harbour is a large old mansion, and in large blue neon letters 'Chios Rooms'. Eventually we gained entry and were shown round by its owner, a New Zealander called Don. It was such a beautiful house, ceilings 15 ' high, and cheap, that we decided there and then to stay a while. The following evening, in the communal kitchen, Don told us that he lets out rooms for 5E for three hours to soldiers, so that they can have a warm shower and relax. If someone said that to you, what would you be thinking? Of course, Don, just what young men, confined to barracks all day, need!
Chios is the reputed home of Homer, author of 'The Iliad (about the ten years of the Trojan War), and 'The Odyssey" (about Odysseus' ten year journey back home to Ithaca). He lived somewhere round 750BC, and was describing some real events, some mythical that occurred around 500 years earlier. it's such a long time ago that no-one can be very exact, or know how much Homer was working from ballads handed down over orally over the generations. (people didn't write down Greek until around 800BC so everything would have been mouth to mouth). Homer was a real life person and we are here to find him.
On the morning after our arrival, we took a bus along the north road to Omeroupolis (Homer's Town and found Daskaloupetra (Teacher"s Stone) on the edge of the town. We climbed up to a small area of flat rock, a stool size stone was in the middle and a semi circle of stone benches around, all very ancient. Homer was blind, and we took it in turns to sit on the stone with eyes shut and imagine him with his scribes; sound of waves lapping, and craggy mountains to our backs and we agreed that this was as good a place as any. Dictating those long stories all in verse, would have required intense concentration, probably only possible with no other detractions
Next day we visited the archaeological museum and were guided round the most important finds of Chios. We were shown two female figurines in clay dated around 1300BC in the shape of the Greek letters ψ & φ, the precursors of the Greek alphabet. Nothing specifically related to Homer, but our lovely guide suggested we visit the site of Emporium which was built between 800-600 BC. We hired a little yellow car and took ourselves to an amazingly kept limestone ancient village built up a steep hill ovelooking the Aegean, with a temple dedicated to Athena at the top. Our journey continued to two 1400 AD fortified living villages. One of them, Anavatos was stone built in exactly the same way, 2,300 years later but with a church at the top.
Ian, we are planning to have an Easter (Mayday really) meal to-night, our last evening on Chios. A lovely place which we would like to visit again!