Lesvos, or is it Lesbos?
NEL: 7hrs Samos to Lesvos
I can confidently confirm that sleeping on the floor of a ferry is not particularly comfortable. Don managed to catch a few z’s, but I felt like I had nauseating jet lag when we pull into Mytilini.
Lesvos or Lesbos, it’s the same island!
We have learnt that the spelling of Greek names in English is somewhat arbitrary. An ‘i’ or ‘e’ appear to be interchangeable and the greek letter ‘b’ is pronounced as a ‘v’, hence the different spelling. Don has done well to master much of the deciphering during our stay, maybe there is some greek in him after all.
The harbour of Mytilini is looking spectacular with a full moon just resting above the town. It’s 5am when we get off the ferry and the café on the corner nearest the port is smart enough to be open at this unearthly hour. A caffeine hit is just what we need to get us going for our drive to Plomari. It’s a 1hr drive away on the Southern side of the island.
Don has the wheel, I’m way too tired to drive and I seem to be rocking from the motion of the boat! It is a scenic drive around the bay and through the hills, we watch the fingers of golden light slowly stretching across the bay as the sun peaks over the horizon. It is a novelty for me to be awake at this time. If it wasn’t so early, I would probably watch more sunrises!
Plomari is the ouzo mecca for the island. Lesvos produces over 70% of the worlds Ouzo. It’s not a taste either of us enjoy and have politely refused the complimentary shot that is offered with most meals. Plomari is also a quaint fishing town, but just before the town is a lovely beach spot and the perfect place to stay: Agios Isadores
I had done some pre planning, knowing we would be arriving early. So, we wake up our host, Maria, with a phone call and she shows us our apartment. It’s €40 a night and total beachfront. I’m not sure it gets any better than this! The best thing is, it’s 7:30am; we are in our room and I am hitting the hay for a couple of hours, with the ocean waves my lullaby to sleep.
Dear Pamela (who I worked with at Coles) was married in Lesvos and the taverna where Pam and Foti celebrated is just down the beach. Of course we had to have dinner at Delini. A beautiful evening, gorgeous setting and sumptuous meal.
It was seriously tempting to spend our entire stay at Pano Sto Kyma, this would possibly be the nicest beach we have been to (we’ve now been to a lot). But it would be remiss of us not to explore the island (and I could never face Pam if we didn’t; she has also sent me a fantastic list with a rundown on what to do and where to go).
We bid farewell to Maria and promise to be back, (a promise I hope to keep someday). We are heading up to the northern end of the island to Molyvos. Whilst Lesvos is the third largest greek island, nothing is all that far; it’s only an hours drive.
Before I’ve even switched off the engine a motorcycle pulls alongside and asks if we need a room. As Don said: “You have to respect a salesman with an approach like this”. We agree to follow and inspect his room offering. We didn’t know it at the time, but this was a fortuitous decision.
We follow our man on the bike up through a couple of narrow cobble stone streets, until we can go no further and he directs us to park. We get out of the car to discover we have a flat tyre! “No problem, first you see room, then I fix tyre”, our man informs us.
Molyvos is an old walled Byzantine town, the castle perched at the top, dates back to the 14th century. The apartment turns out to be lovely, we have a large rooftop terrace all to ourselves, with wonderful views over terracotta roofs to the ocean. Best of all it’s €28 a night.
I am not sure what would have unfolded if we had not liked the room. I think our new friend, Yannis, would have helped us anyway. The Greeks are like that. Yannis helps ferry the luggage from the car, he is keen to get the tyre fixed before it gets too hot. Its already too hot! Those who know Don know how handy he is, so you can appreciate how lucky we are that Yannis found us.
Yannis gets the tyre off, ties it to his bike and whilst we sit under the shade of the tree in the town square having a cappuccino, he zooms off. About 30 min later he returns with our repaired tyre and of course helps put it back on.
The repair cost: €10 and another coffee with Yannis. There are a lot of “what if’s” that play through our heads. We could have had a flat anywhere. Don and I could have been on the side of the road struggling in the heat of the day to swap on the spare. Our first (and hopefully only) car issue was a minor blip on the radar.
We enjoy the charm of Molyvos, so much so that we stay 3 nights instead of the original 2 that we had planned. We feel more like locals than tourists. Don fetches his darling wife a freshly baked croissant from the bakery on the corner, plus coffee each morning. We explore the labyrinth of alleys up to the castle and around the town. The little harbour is bustling with cafes and bars; octopus is hung out like socks on a clothes line to dry in the sun. It’s a busy tourist town, but manages to retain its charm and authenticity.
We visit the nearby beach of Eftalou and the town beach. These are OK and swimming provides welcome relief to the hot days, but neither are as nice as Agios Isadores.
We run into Yannis a number of times around town, it appears he is drumming up more business in his usual fashion – waiting for unsuspecting tourists! He does a good job and we think a few of the pensions should consolidate efforts with him.
Lesvos is our last island hop. From here we are taking the ferry across to the Turkish port of Ayvalik. Originally, we thought we would hit the mainland at Thessonaliki in Greece, but that means another overnight ferry trip and the novelty of ferries has worn off. It’s only a 90min trip to Turkey and from there, it’s a fairly straight forward drive up to Bulgaria. I’ll explain why we are heading that way in the next update.
When we enquire about ferry tickets we discover the Friday ferries are full, due to an Expo going on. Our only choice is Thursday morning, so we will spend our last night in Mytilini. With our bags packed, we bid fond farewells to Yannis and his wife Machi, plus many of the local residents bid us farewell as we pass through the square. I love how hospitable this town has been.
We take a detour on our way to Mytilini via Skala Eresou, birth place of Sappho; the ancient greek poet whose sensuous poetry made her a lesbian icon and the town the international lesbian capital. Lucky for Eresou; it was once a sleepy fishing village that has profited well from ancient history. Rather ‘Byronesque’, as Pam described it to me.
It’s early afternoon when we arrive in Mytilini, we find a cafe (with wifi) and check out accommodation. It’s hot and sticky, our desire to take in the cultural sites is wavering against the option to find a beach, or pool! The pool wins out when we book a last minute deal through expedia at Heliotrope.
The general process we follow when using the Internet is to check out the options and prices. We then call, email or visit our choice directly to give the venue the income without paying a booking fee. This is the first time the hotel wouldn’t match, or do better, than the online price when I called. So, we booked online and arrive 10 minutes later!
The best thing about this hotel besides the pool, which we spend the afternoon in; is the shower. We’ve had 5 weeks of variable shower quality. This one is a 5 star experience with vishy style jets and in-shower radio! It’s the simple things that impress the most!
It’s not hard to get caught up in the football (soccer) madness going on around us; we are in Europe! Every restaurant and bar has a TV of some shape and size, tuned to the world cup. Tonight, Australia is playing Holland.
We are walking through the town looking for a spot for dinner when we come across an alley with a canopy of vines and a restaurant spilling into the street. It’s not busy, just a few locals fixated on the football. The score is currently 1 all. A table nearby is enjoying an impressive array of dishes; we decided this was the spot.
The owner is excited to know we are Australians and we sit in view of the match, which unfortunately does not go our way. Our last Greek meal is however wonderful; grilled zucchini, tomato balls and grilled calamari, washed down with a local white wine.
A perfect end to five glorious weeks island hopping in Greece.