|A typical detail in an Ottoman wall in Molyvos, with raised pointing
I have two adventurous English friends that I met over 10 years ago in South America who travel extensively on epic journeys usually spanning years rather than months. We are kindred spirits in that regard, although my explorations are broken up in to shorter periods of the year than theirs. They are currently cycling across Europe and Asia, having started in Norway above the Arctic Circle, with their ultimate destination being Japan. This journey will take over 3 years to complete. Last year I met up with them in Palermo, Sicily, and when they told me they would be spending the fall of the next year in Greece, I decided to meet them again before they moved on to Turkey. They have been cycling in Greece now for 3 months and the island of Lesvos will be their departing point from the country since it is a short ferry ride to Ayvalik in Turkey, from where they will be cycling to Istanbul.
|John and Gayle on hewn rock steps in the town of Petra
|Leonardo Da Vinci's stunning painting Madonna of the Rocks
|Molyvos from the road to Petra
Lesvos is the third largest island in Greece, and was the home of the famed poet Sappho, who lived during the 7th Century BC. She was one of the first women to attain fame as a lyricist, writing poetry that would be performed with the accompaniment of a Lyre. Her poetry was considered to be so beautiful that Plato elevated her to the status of a Muse. Her writings are best known as odes to other women. The loving bond between the same sexes was believed to have been common and accepted at the time. The words Lesbian and Sapphic are derived from the island and the poet. "If you forget me, think of our gifts to Aphrodite and all the loveliness that we shared…all the violet tiaras, braided rosebuds, dial and crocus twined around your young neck…myrrh poured on your head and on soft mats girls with all that they most wished for beside them…while no voices chanted choruses without ours, no woodlot bloomed in Spring without song."
|A statue of Sappho in the city of Mytilini on Lesvos
|8th Century BC ruins in Molyvos
|Inside the Fortress at Molyvos
|A view of the Olive Press from the Fortress
|A crenelated wall on the fortress
|This shade of red is the predominant color of paint in Lesvos
|Ottoman houses spilling down to the sea in Molyvos
|Red Shutters on fine Ottoman building by the harbor
|A lovely wall in the nearby beach town of Petra
|Stepped stone lanes meander past handsome stone Ottoman era houses and shops
|A cobbled street reflect light in the late afternoon
|Pastel volcanic beach stones in the clear waters of the Aegean in Molyvos
|The mosaic I created using beach stone
One colder day we were walking the four kilometers to the Eftalou hot spring, one of many on the island. The baths at most of the springs date from the Ottoman era and this one is quite charming, being by the sea. Just on the edge of town there is a large garden with stone terraces and tiled patios that were obviously built by an artisan with a great love for patterns and fine composition. There is a bench near that road that I found to be extraordinarily beautiful in the way stone and brick were combined.
|The back side of a wonderful stone and brick bench
|One of the nicest stone benches I've ever seen
|Eftalou Hot Springs
|Gayle and John and the resident cat at Eftalou Hot Spring
|The pierced vaulted ceiling allows atmospheric illumination of the room
Even though Molyvos is very quiet in the winter and many of its inhabitants have gone to Athens for the winter I never seemed to tire of walking through the town. The light is always changing. Sometimes it is blustery and windy. Other days are sunny and calm. It must get quite hot and busy with tourists in the summer, but the streets in the center are covered with pipe trellises tangled in Wisteria, Parthenocissus, and grapes forming a shady canopy. It must be extraordinarily beautiful in the Spring when the Wisteria is in bloom.
|Twisted old Wisteria vines line a street in the town center.
|Parthenocissus quincifolia with rich red fall color trailing over a wall
But in the mid December there are still brilliant red leaves on some of the Parthenocissus and clusters of grapes on the vine. The streets are paved in stone cobbles, sloping toward the center to keep water away from the buildings. On the steeper slopes the lanes turn to quiet steps devoid of scooters and cars.
|Rustic stone steps climb the slopes between houses
If a path is seldom used then lush growth may fill it like a garden, blending the man made with the wild.
|An unused flight of steps becomes a garden
|An abandoned house and garden turning in to a thicket of trees
|Remnants of an old house wall
When buildings are very old they often undergo many incarnations and changes. Doorways and windows are sometimes filled in leaving a footprint of what was once there. If the mason is talented the results can be interesting.
|An old doorway is filled in creating a work of stone art
|Old walls take on the character of the skill used by a variety of masons
|The base is all that remains of the minaret of the old mosque
|The street passes under the old Mosque in the town center
|Oil jars set in masonry are a common way to create a planter in a paved area
|The logo for a Hotel Molymos is set in pebble mosaic at the entrance
|The entrance to Molyvos' Athens School of Fine Arts
|Cats with collars are relatively rare
|One of a number of breathtaking skies that make it understandable why Greece is the home of so many Gods