Lets go fly a kite!

Kite Flying near Molyvos Castle.Kite flying is a traditional end to Carnival in Greece. It is a time for families to spend time together and have some fun. Spring has already arrived in Lesvos so there was a good turn out to enjoy the warming sun and fly their kites.

Many people make their own kites and there is competition to have the prettiest kit. The real battle though is to see who can fly their kite the highest.

In Molyvos people gathered on the land at the top of the hill close to the castle. From here the top flyers were mere distant specks in the sky over the sea. A few kites managed to escape and take refuge in trees. I will spare their owners blushes by not showing the pictures.

Kite Flying near Molyvos Castle.  Kite Flying near Molyvos Castle.Kite Flying



Many visitors to Lesvos only see Mytilene on the way to and from the airport. In my humble opinion, this is a mistake. It has a fascinating history and is a bustling island capital. This is reflected in the number of places around the city that are worth visiting.

If you don’t believe me, check out this e-guide to Mytilene.

The guide is a couple of years old but is still a great list of must-see locations as little has changed. Print it out, bring it with you, tick off the places you have visited and then send me a report [please].

Do you know of any other guides to Lesvos that can help visitors make their plans? Please share them here so that people get the most out of their visit.


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


I’ve got you under my skin!

Flowers in the valley below the WatermillsI first visited Lesvos for a week in May 2011 with Nicky my partner and we stayed at the Blue Sky Studios in Petra.

Immediately upon alighting the transfer coach something got under our skin – don’t know what and still cannot really nail it completely. It had us under it’s spell – corny but true!

We had come prepared with lots of information regarding local walks gleaned from the internet with resources such as:

foxysislandwalks.com (no longer available) and the excellent “Walks in North Lesvos” by Lance Chilton.

Despite all our preparation nothing could have prepared us for the feeling of being hooked. Others may disagree but to me the sea is not as azure blue as some other Greek Islands, it’s not, on the surface, as picture postcard pretty as some other Greek Islands. That said what is has got is something, maybe the incredible warmth of the welcome, the feeling that you belong, or the immense and real sense of sadness when you leave to go home. You want to go back – as soon as is humanly possible.

On our first holiday we walked almost every morning – all started from Petra and included destinations such as:

  • Ambelia Beach (Mikri Tsikharanda) via Anaxos – a beautiful return leg over the cliffs with an abundance of spring flowers.
  • Lafionas via the Olive Groves via one or two slightly “overgrown” sections!
  • Petri via the path network above Petra
  • Molyvos via the reservoir – with a lovely stop for a coffee at the Sea Horse Hotel and a beer or two on a bar on the hillside in Molyvos.

We spent the rest of the time relaxing by the pool – the Sunday Chuch service piped around the village is something to experience – truly magical.

We loved it – the weather in the main (apart from one or two short sharp spectacular thunderstorms) was perfect.

We vowed to return – it had got us.

May 2012 and we returned to the same apartments, this time for a fortnight. At Manchester airport we recognised several faces from the previous year – these people, this year, were to become our friends.

This time the weather was more mixed – but we carried on walking!! With a supplemented pool of information resources (we had also now purchased “On Foot in North Lesvos” by Mike Maunders and Sigrid van der Zee again another excellent book) this time we widened our walking range! As well as some of the walks we had done previously (including Nicky’s favourite walk to Molyvos via the reservoir) we also did:

  • The valley of the Mills through the Ligonas Valley. It was on this walk where with much excitement (for that read fear!) we came across a number of snakes – in fact we got very close to one and watched him slither off into undergrowth. On the same walk we also saw a pine marten. This walk was my personal favourite – the carpet of spring flowers on the lower part of the valley was incredible (hope the picture does it justice!)
  • Eftalou to Skala Sikaminia. This was interesting. We booked a taxi and the return boat with Alex who owns the Calypso boat based in Petra. On the morning of the walk the taxi arrived perfectly on time – the sun was breaking through! We exited the taxi at Eftalou and started our walk along the dirt track road. Within minutes the heavens opened, the rain poured down and the cloud dropped to below the level of the surrounding hills. We took cover under the trees with the goats – Parrot at Skala SykaminiasI decided to call Alex as I was convinced that the boat would be cancelled. He answered with his usual cheery smile and told me that the sun was shining in Petra and yes of course the boat would be running! With our moods lifted the clouds followed suit and the sun appeared – we walked the rest of the walk ion lovely warm sunshine – again a lovely walk that I can highly recommend. We made it to Skala Sikaminia only minutes behind the boat. A meal in the taverna with the mad parrot and a bottle of Limnos wine certainly made up for the damp clothes.

Walking aside we once again immersed ourselves into the place and grew to love it even more. We again spent time in Molyvos including a visit to the castle and a rather late night after spending the evening in Molly’s Bar with Andonis the apartment owner and other guests from the Blue Sky.

In 2013 we are going in July and my octogenarian mum will be making the trip for the first time – from the moment I first arrived I knew I wanted to bring her here.