A Stroll in the woods above Lafionas

The numerous and diverse walks on Lesvos are legend. There are many books written about walking on Lesvos. Now that the daytime temperatures are beginning to cool, our season of ‘adventure’ has begun. Each year we try to discover something new. In order to ease our summer bodies into the vigour of the Lesvos landscape, we frequently begin with a familiar walk that we know to be gentle and shady. So on 10 October, we decide to go for a leisurely stroll around the hill above Lafionas.

As the weather was very hazy, I decided that landscape photography would not be productive so put a macro lens on my camera.

Cyclamen in the hills above LafionasWhat a good decision! As we climbed the footpath rising above Lafionas we passed a small patch of Cyclamen poking stunning little flowers out of the pine needles.

Our walk was punctuated with stops to view elusive insects, admire the views over Petra towards Turkey and simply listen to the silence.

As we rounded a corner we found an Oak tree with red/brown shiny and very sticky galls about 3cm in diameter. We then spotted different galls on the underside of a leaf. These were about 5-7 mm in diameter. We then found yet another type of gall this one was just over 1 cm. Please email me if you can help identify the types below.

The last surprise came when I stopped to photograph some dried thistles. I didn’t spot the brightly coloured Carpocoris nymph until I was doing a quick review of the picture.

Carpocoris nymph

I love Lesvos. I love the way a simple stroll through the pine forest with friends turns into a wildlife adventure. Lafionas is a beautiful hillside village that has real character and charm. It is worth visiting just for that. When you add in the amazing views towards Turkey and the walk around the mountain you have one amazing morning.

The walk features in the book On Foot in North Lesvos.

Click here for a further selection about walking on Lesvos.

Sailing around Lesvos

Why is sailing around Lesvos so special?Sailing around Lesvos

Sailing and Lesvos, just two words or two Worlds?

Where do they meet? How can they coexist?

Sailing can be fun in itself for the moments it offers either on a small dinghy or while racing on a huge offshore yacht. But we choose sailing vacations because sailing can offer us a unique approach to the Sea, to Nature and to life itself which nothing else can offer.

While sailing we use Nature (the sea and wind) in order to explore unspoiled hidden paradises, to come close to sea creatures (dolphins, seals, sea turtles, sea birds…) without disturbing their environment and most of all test our skills and “explore” ourselves.

This is the reason people fall in love with sailing.

Lesvos. Do not ask me why people fall in love with Lesvos. Being born here I am somehow married to Lesvos. Some say that marriage kills love, yet a partner who surprises you every day can keep love alive. This is true; Lesvos has so many “personalities” that you can not discover them all in a lifetime.

Combine sailing and Lesvos. Do it in the wise, gentle way seamanship imposes and Lesvos’ fragile nature demands and you can have a paradise on earth for your vacation or even more.

A sailor needs safe anchorages. Lesvos’ coastline offers countless beautiful, picturesque coves and fishing ports.

A sailor needs ports for supplies. Lesvos has Mytilene, Molyvos, Petra, Sigri, Skala Kallonis, Skala Polichnitos, Plomari, Perama, Skala Loutra…

A sailor needs fair winds. Lesvos can give you even the choice for more or less wind to sail at any period of the year.

A sailor needs navigation aids. Lesvos has a well-organized light system, cartography in any scale and detail and well covered VHF communication.

A sailor needs excitement. Sailing around an island or along a coastline is not a sailor’s most exciting choice. We know that very well. BUT…Lesvos has such a variety in its landscape, weather conditions, architecture and even the local accent that it can make you believe you are on a different island in every port.

Not to mention the difference between the Coast and the Mainland, the East and the West, the North and the South…Tokmakia isles, Tsonia, Molyvos, Petra, Sigri, Tsichliota, Eressos, Chroussos, Apothika, Skala Polichnitos, Skala Kallonis, Vatera, Kryfi Panagia, Plomari, Tarti, Myrsinia isles, Tsilia, the Entrance of Yera’s Gulf, Perama, Therma, and Skala Loutra while countless other small coves are tempting for a stop for swim and exploration.

Each one of them is a diamond around the edge of the crowning jewel in the Aegean called Lesvos.

Sailing around Lesvos is a dream for the novice and expert alike. Make your dreams come true.

Walking and Biking around Molyvos

Walking and Biking around Molyvos is very popular. There is now another guide to help you get the most out of your stay.

Cycling around LesvosThe guide has been produced by the Molyvos Tourist Association and is free of charge. You can pick up the guide at the Molyvos Tourist Office. I am told that some hotels also have copies available. The routes link in with new signs that were put up in May of 2013 so it should make following the route very simple. The guide will appeal to those used to the hidden paths and ways of Lesvos but will be most appreciated by those who have yet to discover the beauty that awaits just a few steps away from the main roads.

The walks are graded so that you can start off with less strenuous routes and progress to the more taxing.

Please let us know how you get on with your walks.

Mytilene Kastro

Mytilene Kastro (Castle), located on an ancient site where there was once reputedly an acropolis, is perhaps the greatest treasure of Lesvos and ample time should be allowed to explore the extensive ruins.  The main public access is off Odos Novembriou and the entrance fee is such a bargain at €2. It is also worth splurging another €6 (2011 prices) on the souvenir guide book, although all the buildings and features have explanatory boards – with most items described in English. It does pay to wear sturdy shoes to visit the site, take care where you put your feet and stay away from edges of walls – please beware of crumbling stones and after any rain, it could also be slippery.

The Kastro covers a massive area which from all angles and corners affords excellent views over the city, the coast and across the sea to Turkey.  It is itself a major landmark from all over Mytilini, from the coastal roads north and south and especially from the air as you fly along the coast past the city en route to/from the airport.

The Kastro sits on a large promontory, at one time effectively an island as it was separated from the city by a canal that ran between north and south harbours roughly along what is now Ermou Street.  The complex had three main building stages – Byzantine, Genoese and Turkish.  The oldest section is the Epano Kastro (Upper Castle), this being the main fortified enclosure. Here were constructed the main administration buildings and religious housings, including the Christian church of Agios Ioannis whose ruins were later used as the base for the construction of a mosque.  Dating from 1373 and being the work of Francesco Gatelussi, the Mesaio Kastro (Middle Castle) encompasses several imposing buildings – a military hospital, a prison, the powder magazine, the Ottoman Theological School, the domed monastery (home to the Ottoman monks), and the cistern storage facility for the water supply.  The Kato Kastro (Lower Castle) dates from 1644, constructed to protect the north harbour and was accessed from the middle castle via a Byzantine gate.

On our visit we meandered around taking dozens – no hundreds – of photos, peered at the ruins of the vast complex of buildings, climbed up the walkway onto the walls and generally had a good mooch around.  There was a man cutting the grass and decapitating wildflowers for which I silently cursed him as I think these sites are made extra special by the profusion of flowers which are now the residents where people once lived and worked.  Life goes on.

Having arrived at opening time we spent a good two hours exploring, with the site to ourselves, after which we walked up to the northern harbour, where the castle boundary meets the sea and you can see evidence of the ancient walls and breakwater stretching out under the water.

Walking back along the coast road which runs below the castle you pass through the Kato (Lower) Kastro complex, with its ruined mansions and a bathhouse which is being restored.  This part of the castle, including an Ottoman gate, was partially demolished to make way for this city relief road back in the 1960s.  Today they would no doubt be compelled to find another solution!  This had originally been a dirt road, but has now been surfaced and provides an attractive alternative route to Novembriou Street, with the sea on one side and the green pine-clad slopes up to the impressive castle walls on the other.

There is a small museum on-site with displays of pottery, coins and artefacts found during excavations.

Mytilini Kastro - Ottoman Fountain Mytilini Kastro - gateway

How to find Mytilene Castle

Ambeliko Folk Museum

We were passing near the village of Ambeliko one day and never having explored it before we decided to take a look. It looked inviting as there is a noticed board at the entrance to an empty car park extolling the virtues of this isolated village at the foot of Mount Olympos. From the car park, there was a footpath through to the lower village where we found the Folk Museum. This looked fascinating, but with our usual luck in these things, it was closed. There were several items outdoors and we peered through the windows, intrigued by the treasures that lay within. The adjacent church was also closed but there was a fire service vehicle parked nearby with a website address on its door. It is all in Greek, but there are pictures which help you get the gist of some of it. There is a section for the museum and lots of other details about the village and its history.

In search of a possible key holder for Ambeliko folk museumthe museum (plus beer and food would not go amiss), we walked up a cobbled path into the village, which was very quiet. Along the main street, we said hello to a couple of ladies sitting outside a small taverna and inevitably got chatting. The younger of the two introduced herself as Maria and whilst this was her home village and she was visiting her mother (the older lady – also Maria) she lived now in Sydney. She, therefore, spoke good English and on our enquiries told us that the key holder for the museum was the priest and he was away from the village today.

Ambeliko folk museumAs we chatted Mama Maria ambled off and came back a few minutes later and presented me with a small sprig of herbs from her garden. It appeared this was the family taverna, but unfortunately they had no food to offer today and there was no bakery in the village. Maria said we might get food at the taverna up on the main road which passes by the top of the village so we headed up there. Yes – we could get a beer, but no, there was no food here either. So we settled for a Mythos apiece and took a seat under the trees at the side of the road, above the village rooftops and neat terraced gardens. We shall definitely go back – it is a well-situated village, perched on a hillside with great views and have no doubt that exploration will prove rewarding. We ambled back down though the narrow streets, again passing the museum. If we manage to find it open in 2013 I will update this report. If someone else gets there before me please feel free to add your own piece.

Ambeliko folk museum Ambeliko folk museum Ambeliko folk museum Ambeliko folk museum

How to find Ambeliko Folk Museum