Leaving Mytilene and on the road to Agiassos there is a place called Karini where there is a huge platanos tree and it is said that inside the tree the painter Theofilos spent some time of his life.In the pics here you can see that in the coffee place next to the platanos there are still some paintings of Theofilos on the walls - unfortunately they are not well conserved.
It is said that the picture of St.Taxiarchis was made from dust and blood.
Inside the new small church that it is situated just a few meters away of the monastery you can see through the agiographies on the walls the whole history of the monastery ( you can see some pics here )
The museum is situated in Varia, a place just outside of Mytilene.The museum houses a great part of the job of the painter.Theofilos Chatzimichail was born and raised in Varia, after some years he went to Smirni and then to Pilion where he spent 30 years of his life.He returned to Lesvos to complete his work.He used to draw just in return for a meal.In the museum there are 86 paintings and their subject is about nature, history, muthology and folklore.
Ιt was created 16-21 millions of years ago when volcano activity was quite frequent in the island.Lava had covered quickly boles, boughs and leaves helping in that way the physical conservation of the materials .Today the corrosion of the volcanic rocks had created breath taking boles that are 20m long and their diameter approaches 3m
Well worth the long trek here. A pretty fishing village that not too many packages reach. I know Direct Greece have accommodation here.(2009 update, none of the major English packages travel here now.)
Sigri is one of those places at the end of the line, indeed a long line.
There is a Turkish Castle, the isle of Nissiopi and a pleasant sandy beach. If you proceed northwards from Sigri, there are some fantastic beaches, one of them had a dead tank on it in 1989. There were no facilities on these in those days.
Sigri is famous for it's 20 million year old petrified forest, the only one in Europe and larger than Arizona's, at 37,000 acres. It extends to Eressos.The pine, beech and sequoias were fossilised after being buried in volcanic ash. Most of the trees are still covered and not visible.
There is a Natural History Museum where info can be found on the forest.
There are rooms to rent and a reasonable choice of eateries.
When we were here, we were the only people on the beach and almost seemed like the only visitors to Sigri!!
A definite return visit possibility.
2009 update. As promised, we returned. Still a very sleepy little place but more places to stay, including a hotel. All of the new buildings were on the ouskirts, leaving the village untouched. So untouched most of the tavernas were closed and only appeared to open in the evening.
We parked on the harbour front, where there are public toilets with water available.We visited the castle which was not overly exciting and later went for a drink at the Australia Taverna. Sat down and when asked if we just wanted a drink, were directed next door. Never had that happen before. Odd.
Attempted to go to Fanoromeni beach and when we were nearly there, the road was closed for re-surfacing or something. I guess there may have been another way but we didn't know of it. We had also tried the rough road out of Sigri south, to some isolated beaches. Along here are many parts of fossilised trees and marked walking trails through the Petrified Forset Park. Once again, the roughness of the road folied us, so this corner of the island remains to us undiscovered.
Although we don't normally like large resorts full of package tourists, we were pleasantly suprised with Molyvos. It's beautifully located on a hill, with a Genoese Castle looking down to it's harbour.
There's a long, narrow beach, not very exciting, with far superior beaches to the east.
Any number of eating and drinking places, a lot perched on the cliff-side, with superb views down to the coast. We were suprised to find prices weren't any dearer than anywhere else. I suppose the competition kept things at bay.
The day we visited, we were desperate to change traveller's cheques. That was also the day that the road through Molyvos was being re-surfaced and we had to park a way out and get covered in tar on our walk back in!!!
The big downfall was the number of people, including coach loads of Greek school children. Not what you would call peaceful!!!
May 2009 update. We stayed on the outskirts of Molyvos but usually went into the town to eat at night. There are so many places to eat, it is difficult to make a choice. the one good point is that most have menus with prices displayed outside so you can work out some of the better options. Even then, in a fortnight's stay, no-one could possibly do justice to even a third of the restaurants. It is also a long trek from one end of the town to the harbour, where the more expensive, up-market places are. Prices compared with the less touristy villages are definitely higher in Molyvos, but then what else would you expect for such a beautiful place? The standard of food is excellent, with so much choice availabe.
The castle is well worth a visit and costs €2 for adults, free for children. I have written a seperate tip for the castle.
In season, (which began the third week of May this year,) there is a bus service between Anaxos, Petra, Molyvos and Eftalou.
I noticed an open-air cinema on the main road in and there are a few pool bars and internet places for the teenagers to hang out at.
The castle of Mytilene - capital of the island - stands on the north part of the city.It is one of the largest castles in the mediterranean and it is said that it was built during the Byzantine empire but it took its final form grom Francisco Gatelouzo when he had the power. That period the castle was one of the most powerful castles.
Pretty as a picture, working fishing village. Brightly coloured boats bob about in the harbour as you sit at one of the tavernas , relishing the location.
No mass tourism, I think there was a Danish or Dutch company here, occupying the Gorgona Pension. Whatever nationality they were, they liked a good time and were Greek dancing and cavorting about very loudly until the early hours, one night we were here.
Only bseemed to be a couple of places with rooms but a choice of at least four tavernas.
An excellent lunch stop and an interesting place to stay a few days.
Returned here in May 2009. Oddly enough, we didn't stop for a drink. The place is now a lot more upmarket and well and truly on the tousist trail. Boats ply back and forth from Molyvos in season, as well as to nearby Kagia beach, over the headland. It is still a beautiful place, renowned for it's fresh fish and seafood. We looked into a tank of lobsters at one of the retaurants and couldn't even guess how much one of them would have cost.
We took the dirt track from Eftalou here, a long, rough road with delightful countryside views. There is a rustic taverna somewhere along here, which we vowed we would go to one day but alas, we never got round to it.
The climb out of Skala Sykaminias on the main road, up to Sykaminias is a steep, twisting pull. We actually saw a fox on this road, which just stood and stared at us!
A pleasant enough little resort in 1989. Very much the Brits v Dutch, in those days.
A square with the kafeneon and a few eating places. A long beach with very shallow water as it's the Gulf of Kalloni. Many crabs and seawater creatures in the shallows.I found some beautiful shells whilst walking along the beach. The further west you went on the beach, the wilder the shore became. Along here were wetlands, popular with the ornothologists.
In those days, Kalloni was renowned for it's sardines.
Accommodation hard to find - mostly block-booked.
About an hour and a half from airport.
Re-visited in May 2009 and the coast was far more developed and the town had more shops and restaurants. It was still pretty sleepy in May but I know it attracts the Brits in hoardes in high season. We stopped in the sleepy square and had a beer, which on the menu board was priced at €2 but we were charged €2.5. We let it go as this seemed to be the standard price in most places on the island. Interestingly, the cafeneon we used to drink at in 1989 was not open, nor did it look as though it would.
Eftalou has a string of stony, shingly beaches, some only accessible on foot. The main attraction here is the thermal baths. This has recently been modernised and includes a communal natural bath or you can hire private bath tubs where you can control the heat of the water, which has a temperature of 43 - 46c. from the spring. The water is supposedly beneficial for rheumatism, arthritis, sciatica, neuralgia, kidney and gall stones and gynaecological problems. I think it cost €4 for a bath.
If you walk through the old communal bath, you can peak at what's going on! This also leads onto the beach where I actually lay in front of the baths, wwhere the hot thermal water seeps out under the building. You can dig yourself a pool in the shingle but it can get hot!!
In the Eftalou area there are numerous largish hotels and apartments and a few tavernas.
Parking for the baths can be tricky as the place fills up from early in the morning, with people also walking from here over the headland to other beaches. The access road to the baths was being stabilised with some new shuttering shoring the sea wall up when we were here, which again, didn't make access easy.
From here, the dirt track continues all the way to Skala Sykaminias, a beautiful road but rather bumpy in an ordinary car!
The Gulf of Kalloni is Lesvos's larger of two gulfs and is fairly central to the island. It is a Natura 2000 protected area owing to it's ecological environment which consists of two salt pans, small rivers, estuaries, reedy marsh areas and pine and olive woodlands. To the west of Skala Kalloni fruit trees are in abundance which makes for a very green landscape.
The Gulf attracts all manner of rare birds and is an ornotholigists delight, especially in early spring with the migrating birds, including flamingoes. The sea also provides a constant supply of mussels, cockles, scallops and sardines, though the latter are not so numerous now.
Beaches abound on the Gulf, with long sandy stretches to shingly, shell covered bays, all being shallow for miles into the water, creating a very picturesque, blue sea. Skala Kalloni is the biggest resort on the Gulf, catering well for the tourist with all manner of accommodation, water sports and plenty of tavernas.It's a popular spot for Greeks as well as foreign tourists and being centrally located island-wise, makes a good base for exploring the island from.
The inland town of Kalloni is a bustling, typical market town which is the region's administrative centre. It is also a very noisy place with traffic constantly roaring through it's streets.
Nearby is the island's largest monastery, Limonas, which holds priceless archives of books and manuscripts of the area.
There are some stupendous views of the gulf from many of the island's roads, with the large green plain spread out around, reaching out to the blue, blue waters of the gulf.
Skala Eressou is the biggest? resort on the west. 94 kms. from Mytilini it's quite a slog but well worth it. It's lovely beach is nearly 3 kms. in length. It was pretty deserted when we were there.
Popular with all nationalities. Lesvos attracts lesbians but in particular, Sala Eressou seems to be a pilgrimage for them. The village is built over Ancient Eressos, where the reputedly lesbian poet Sappho was born.
Most of the beachside restaurants are built on stilts above the beach. The promenade is pedestrianised with more eating places edging on to the beach.
There is a P.O. and a ATM. as well as travel agencies.
4 kms. inland is the working town of Eressos.
Re-visited in May 2009. Still nice but much more up-market and cosmopolitan. Seemed to be more places to eat and certainly to stay. The beach had quite a few people on, as well. To be honest, we didn't recognise parts and we couldn't find Maria's rooms where we had stayed in 1989.
You can't stay in Molyvos for any length of time and not visit the castle!
It is the second largest castle on the island (Mytiline being the largest) and is Medieval and rebuilt in Byzantine times. The best preserved parts are actually the entrance and the walls, there's not a lot to see inside. There is a modern stage and seating as concerts are held during the summer. What a setting!
What really makes the hike up to the castle are the stunning views all the way round. Down to the beach and all the way along, outand down towards the town and out to the countryside towards Eftalou. We were imopressed we could spot our apartments from here.
You can walk all the way round the castle; there are seats to rest awhile and admire the views. There is also a nice old donkey tethered by the castle!!
In the evenings, the castle is spectacularly lit up. I never managed to get one decent photo of it illuminated .Shame.
Admission is €2 per adult and as in all Greek sites, children are free. I think the castle was open from 8am - 8pm.
Vatera is somewhere on Lesvos I have always wanted to look at, reputably having the longest and best beach on the island, over 8 kms in lengt and being the proud owner of the Blue Flag award.. During our stay on Lesvos 2009, we made the long journey south, from Molyvos. We stopped off in Polichnitos for a drink and from there it was a fairly straight forward 7 or 8 kilometres to Vatera.
The road meets the coast and travels in both directions. For solitude, turn left and you can drive all the way along the beach for miles before the road turns inland to Stavros and then becomes a dirt track. The further you proceed, the more shingly and stoney the beach becomes. We never saw another soul and stopped about halfway along for me to have a dip. My goodness, the water was cold! I put this down to the steeply shelving seabed which was also uncomfortable upon entering as the waves were churning the shingle and pebbles over my feet. Quite painful. I didn't linger too long, anyway!
There are a few establishments and at least one hotel and plenty of signs for rooms, further back along the beach. We only saw a couple of places open and to be honest, I wasn't that impressed with the place. A bit too much of a "made" resort and nothing old here. The place apparently buzzes in summer, mainly with Greeks and northern Europeans and water sports, sunbeds etc. are all available.
There is a campsite somewhere in Vatera but we didn't notice it, so obviously it wasn't on the beach or if it was, it was well and truly closed.
One thing I regret when we were in this area was that we didn't press on along the coast westwards along a dirt track to Aghios Foka. It had been such a long journey already and the road looked a little dicey for an ordinary hire car. Apparently there are a few good tavernas there, as well as the ruins of the Temple of Dionysos. Oh well, we had to leave some places for next time.........
Plomari is the second largest town in Lesvos and is a noisy, bustling old place with some intriguing architecture. Narrow streets full of old fashioned shops meander behind the modern seafront and there is no shortage of cafes and tavernas.
Plomari's industries were varied and included soap making, olive oil, fishing, tanneries and of course, ouzo.It was in a strong position to trade with it's proximity to Turkey and the Middle East.The town peaked about a century ago and today, there is much evidence of it's declining businesses, with empty buildings and other fine architecture being put to good use. Ouzo is one of the remaining main industries here today and is rated as the best ouzo on the island. The Barbayanni ouzo factory is open to the public where there is a museum, a look at the ouzo making process and of course, tasting!
We parked on the harbour front in a car park and had a wander round the back streets. We had a laugh at the dry river beds now used as streets for parking and found our way to a tiny square with a massive plane tree, over 200 years old. We had a drink at a cafe and made friends with the English owner, Katerina, who had married a Greek and lived there for 30 odd years. She told us they had fought for a ferry service from Plomari to the mainland but Mytiline authorities didn't want the competition. She also told us that many people from Lesvos emigrated to South Africa, America, Australia, Sudan and other fast money earning countries. Some returned, others didn't. There are also lots of people who send their children to English Universities from the island, so there is not a shortage of money in some families.Katerina was a mine of information so we asked her what landmass we were looking at from Plomari. Chios and Turkey.
From this square, we watched a local chair repairer mending chairs and also became involved with a Danish man who had had a few brandies with his morning coffee. Between him and Katerina, we couldn't get a word in edgeways! Oh, and then we were stung for €3 for a beer!! (I don't know what prices are like in Plomari but this was the most we had paid so far and it came as a shock.)
We called in at a butchers and bought some mince and eggs and once again, we couldn't escape, the butcher kept talking and talking. Maybe it's something to do with living in Plomari that the residents like to talk!!!