Lesbos: Day 4 – 27.05.19………A trip to the mid-west, wherever that may be!
We’d decided the night before to get up at 7am and do one of our yoga workouts as we really felt the benefit yesterday but despite me being awake at the allotted time Maice slept on, so not wishing to disturb her I continued with writing the blog. She eventually woke at 7.30am and after another light breakfast overlooking the lovely countryside we wandered to the end of the road to be picked up for our ‘mystery tour’. We were expecting a mini-bus but it turned out to be a people carrier so it was all rather bijou and very intimate. Maice and I sat up front with the driver whilst the four Dutch people, a couple and two ladies, all over the age of sixty, and the Dutch guide Leanne, who was also over the age of sixty, sat in the two rows of seats behind us. As Yan would say, ‘we need you young uns’, so here we are!
Introductions made we set off to our first stop which was the salt flats, famous for its ‘flamboyance’ of flamingos, that’s their collective noun by the way. These are the smaller version of the more leggy, longer necked variety you see in other parts of the world and are mainly white due to the grey scaled fish they eat however their undercarriage and underneath their wings are bright red because they also eat red mullet, but I’m sure you all knew that fact!
Having waited a while hoping to see them take flight or at least see them do the funny walk you always see flamingos do on the David Attenborough wildlife documentaries we gave up and headed off to stop number two, the Olive museum. It was free to anyone over 65 and as the group were discussing who would go free one of the Dutch women turned to Maice and said ‘you’ll be okay as you’re only 28’! Made her day it did! I was waiting for the same comment to be replicated to myself but unfortunately nothing was forthcoming! Before the tour we watched a short film in Greek which had, according to Leanne, ‘under titles’ in English, which translated means sub-titles, after which we wandered around the very interesting museum. Its obviously a day for bird spotting as sitting on its nest on top of the very tall chimney stack was a Stork caring for it’s five chicklets. We didn’t know the sex of them but apparently a male baby stork is called a storkling and a female is called a storklet. What a useful piece of information and what a good quiz question that would be.
We really got to know our travel companions on the fifteen minute walk into the village of Aghia Pareskevi where we were going to a local bar for coffee. This village must be commended for keeping the most immaculate and cheery petrol station ever. Honestly it was so colourful with all its pot plants, very welcoming and very well kept. Well done. I mean, that’s no mean feat for a Greek petrol station. We walked past this very fragrant flowering bush which I thought was a honeysuckle bush which the Dutch contingent, try as they might just couldn’t pronounce. Despite their best efforts they couldn’t get to grips with the ‘suckle’ but turns out they didn’t need to when we realised ten minutes later that it was in fact a jasmine bush not a honeysuckle! Well their fragrance is very very similar, isn’t it?
We sat down in the Oasis Bar, conveniently located in the village square, part of which used to be the old bath house circa hundreds of years ago. It’s now used as the toilet but you really get the feel of how it was back then. The owner, who called himself ‘Handsome Stavros’ was hilarious and really looked after our little group. It was so relaxing and so very Greek sitting there under the canopy of the most amazing Plane tree, otherwise known as the Tree of Hippocrates’ in the village square, drinking our Frappes and getting to know everyone. What could be better than this?
All too soon it was time to leave and we headed south west and up to the mountain village of Agiassos. Before arriving here we stopped off at a stream full of little turtles. Ah, they were ever so cute, most unexpected and what a bonus for us, mind you the whole trip is a bonus really considering we didn’t have a clue what we’d signed up to. Back on our bijou ‘mini-bus’ we traversed our way up the mountain, pine trees filled the landscape as far as the eye could see and the smell was, well, it was just so Greek it was wonderful. We even passed a field full of wild poppies, looking so delicate as they danced in the gentle breeze (hark at me getting all poetic) before arriving at the village of Agiassos, a place of great pilgrimage. Apparently way back in 800AD a priest brought back a wood icon carved from the Holy Cross which is held under glass in the Church of the Virgin Mary. Every year on 15 August pilgrims walk from Mitilini, the capital of Lesvos to the church to worship the icon on the day that Mary ascended into Heaven. It may only be 27kilometres but it’s uphill all the way and in plus 30degree temperatures it’s a pretty tough walk. The interior of the church was very ornate and typically orthodox so we lit a candle and dedicated it to all our family and friends past and present.
Before lunch we got the opportunity to look around the village shops and as it so happened I purchased for myself a pair of poppies statue. They match the single one I bought last year so I’m well happy, what with poppies being my favourite flower. We ate at Stella’s Taverna in the middle of the village. In true Greek style we were invited into the kitchen to see what food was on offer. It all looked lovely but unfortunately they were all meat dishes. The look of horror on the waitresses face when we said we were vegetarian was priceless.......what, no meat! However the lovely Stella, the cook went off and made us our very own cheese parcels which I have to say were absolutely delicious. We’ve already learnt so much today but what we didn’t know was why there were so many ruined buildings around. Well here in Greece they won’t knock anything down unless they’re going to renovate or rebuild. If not the place will just go to rack and ruin which is a great shame really.
On our way to our next stop we stopped off at a house on the side of the road where a 19th century Greek painter, whose paintings can be seen in The Louvre, used to paint on the walls in private houses to make money as he lived in abject poverty. He also lived in the hollow of a tree for most of his life, which was a short life, probably due to the fact that it wasn’t the healthiest lifestyle. Hey, Pearl, Dianne.....do you remember Turkey Duck from Corfu? We bumped into his relatives at the hollow tree........
Our last stop was at the Φερμα Spa. Apparently the water that feeds the spa comes from the mountains in the north and is about 100degrees cooling down to a mere 40degrees by the time it reaches the spa. I must say we did question why we wanted to sit in waters that hot when the air temperature was already 29degrees but when on holiday one just ‘goes with the flow’ so to speak. We ‘young uns’ were the only two in the group who’d decided to use the ‘spa’ so we paid our money (another extra that we weren’t aware of) and waited for a locker. We waited and we waited and after twenty minutes, well, enough was enough. We only had an hour here and we didn’t want to be rushed so we decided to cancel and asked for a refund. Now, this was where the Greek customer service really shows its flaws. We were given the cold shoulder treatment, we got ‘the look’, then we were told they couldn’t give a refund against our card because ‘we don’t know how to do it’! Words failed us but we stood our ground and insisted they ‘find out how to do it’ and watched whilst they phoned the card company who talked them through the process. Ah, if looks could kill. In true Greek style, because we’d complained the service really went downhill after that little episode and we were pleased to leave. It didn’t bother us, or affect the enjoyment of the day, we just thought it was highly amusing.
The trip soon came to an end and we said our goodbyes to our bijou group of new friends and asked to be dropped off at the Vista bar giving ourselves strict instructions to limit our alcohol intake with just the one cocktail. And true to our word that’s all we had. We did tell Yan and Saskia how much we enjoyed our first afternoon and thanked them for their hospitality and that we’re not usually like we were on our first day but it was because we hadn’t eaten much that day and that the two bottles of wine and raki had gone straight to our heads!
By the time we got back to base we were rather weary and a lie-down was required with yoga later however before we knew it it was time to venture out for supper so we had to forgo the yoga telling ourselves we’d do two sessions the next morning. We found a nice taverna, ordered a meze and a half giraffe of wine and were in our beds at 10.45pm. I must advise you all that this is probably the latest we’ve gone to our beds in a long time. I’m sure we’ll pay the price tomorrow.
Beach day tomorrow.....bring it on!