Ferry arriving at Limnos at 4.ooam to take us to Lesvos
St. George's day at Therma in Lesvos
We haven't been following UK news avidly, but on May 2nd we looked up BBC anxiously to find the election results. Oh dear dear dear...Boris!. There was a village in Chios, Anavatos, where, in 1822, all the women and children threw themselves from a precipice to their deaths (their turkish overlords were giving them a hard time) It seems the majority of people of London have done the same. But we are far away, and burrowing into a past where people have been making innane choices over and over.
So, a fond farewell to Don in Chios, and on to a ferry for Samos the same day. So far we have been travelling South to islands that hug the Turkish coast. Samos is nearest of all, with just 2km of water between the island and the mainland. The coast cuts deeply into the harbout, Vathi (= Deep) and first impressions as land slides by the ferry on both sides are of a beautiful, verdant country. We have been delighted to find how different in topography and character each of the islands is. Samos is the first we have come to, where package tourism is obviously big business. (our nearest taverna has a plastic singing fish outside to encourage custom) . When we arrived we were accosted by a large man called Costas and soon found ourselves installed in a pension 'Dreams', 60 steep steps up from the harbour. We found that it is best to stay put in the harbours -always places with lots going on, and a hub for local buses,banks, archy. museums and other services. Chios and Lesbos are two of the largest Aegean islands. Samos is half the size of Chios, We hired a little orange car to explore the island. We find that we can get a lot more car for our money by hiring for one day, 1pm to 1pm the following day. Short distances; so see what the islands have to offer, then explore more by bus and on foot in subsequent days.
Our first stop is always to the archeological museum. This one had lots of small items, brought back from all over the Med. to furnish the temple of Hera, where they were found. The Samiots were great travellers and traders, and the island remains a prosperous place. You can always tell this by the number of children playing in the streets. No children=migration and depopulation. Two special items for us: a remnant of a tripod, 1300BC from Cyprus-these were decorative items used to hold great cauldrons. In the Odysseus story, they are frequently given as 'gifts', in bartering for other goods or favours. The other item was a piece of engraved bronze, 700BC part of a horse's halter, which pictured two of Odysseus' comrades with a long pole, with which they are putting out the Cyclop's eye. At this museum we were allowed to take photos, so we have them hoping to upload them on to the blog.
The main tourist resort in Samos is Pythagorios (Yes, Pythagoras lived there). Only a few tourist stragglers-too early in the year yet. It's an area full of ancient remains, and above the town there's a tunnel 1 mile long bored through the hill to provide water for the town. The tunnelers started at opposite ends of the hill (which we later climbed) and apparently met in the middle only one foot adrift. You have to give it the ancient greeks, they knew a thing or two about civil engineering.
One of the nice things about travelling has been the people we're meeting en route. Special mention here for Ian and Vera, an Aussie couple of our age and fellow lodgers in Chios Rooms. We met again in Samos, and over coffee they described the embarressing inconveniences from a recent operation for prostate cancer. We couldn't help but admire their candour, their 'that's life, so just get on with it...and don't give a XXXX!' attitude. More uptight, we felt unable to reciprocate with such personal information.
Leaving Samos, we're now going westwards to the Cyclades islands, starting with Mykonos on a high speed hydrofoil. Andreas has grim memories of such machines and is watching the weather with some anxiety.
And something for the kids:
The ancient Greeks usually lived near the coast and did nearly all their travelling by sea. Their ships were like long open canoes with sails and oars. Did you know why their big clay pots were wider at the top and pointed at the bottom? Well, they were used to carry wine and oil from island to island and they fitted nicely and safely on the boats.
If you have not read or been told the story of Odysseas, he was a fighting sailor during the war between the Greeks and the Trojans some 3,500 years ago. On his way back to his island, Ithaca, he had lots of adventures and did not manage to get back home for 10 years. Sabrina and Andreas are following on his foot steps and hope to do it in less than three months. We are at the end of our 3rd week and we have already seen many interesting places and things he has done. Look out for this space.
xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx Andreas & Sabrina