It is now Thursday afternoon and I have been torn from the luscious pool to return home to England, with a one hour coach trip across Lesbos to Mitilene then a flight to Gatwick, London. The flight crew are handing out headphones for the in flight movie, “National Treasure: Book of Secrets” whilst the islands pass away beneath us on the Aegean sea.
Sunday was a designated pool day - time to read our books, practice our various swimming techniques and generally chillax. Tanned, but mostly red, after a late Hawaiian pizza from Fantastico, we wandered down into Molyvos for the evening. Still rather saited, we aimlessly shopped, pondered and considered a meal - even sitting down at the harbour’s “Octopus” restaurant, before leaving because we weren’t hungry. Our evening was saved by the couple from the tour, Mia and James.
Flagged down as we passed them at “Cafe Pirate”, we ate with them at the corner of Market Street, next to the butchers - ordering a selection of Mezes (stuffed vine leaves, tuna crepe) and a large carafe of wine. After talk of jobs in Jamaica and Iraq, Baklava in Montreal and perfectly made coffee, flash floods in Montpelier and some talk about ourselves, we devoured our complimentary walnut baklava and stumbled down to Molly’s for cocktails above the harbour. Tequila sunrises, Black Russians, Alfas, etc. and so on - we left drunk enough to almost forget bags, staggering along cobbled streets down to the taxi rank. “Your donkey doesn’t have enough shade”, we read aloud to the taxi driver; a note left pegged to his fence. Back at the hotel, tomorrow was here, our heads were spinning and our beds enveloped us for what remained of the night.
Stirring at 9:30am, just making Monday’s breakfast (cheese, scrambled egg, tomato, bacon roll, grapefruit juice and now black tea because the milk tastes funny), we postponed the planned coastal walk - instead we chose a hangover recovery procedure, consisting of painkillers and sleep. Avoiding another day by the pool, it was time for Sam’s holiday shopping spree in Lolyvos. But not before a couple of lunch time Gyros from the little “Friends” takeaway and a swim in the noisy Olive Press hotel pool. Sipping mango juice on the promenade wall, house martins on power lines above me, I left Samantha to gather olive oil and ornaments; I instead attempted to catch fish using bread, salami and a small line I purchased - unsuccessfully I might add.
Not wanting to be disappointed by unavailable menu items, dinner at “The Octopus” came early - it’s the distinctive building on the corner in the harbour with the red shutters on its windows; sitting down to a pretty table for two beneath the parasols. AT LAST we found a place that offered AND had Zucchini pie, a delicious one to boot, with it we ate Taramasalata and crinkle cut chips. For mains we shared fresh red mullet, chosen from inside at €50 per kg, consuming five between us. Although Sam’s ongoing gut troubles / illness meant she couldn’t enjoy these to the fullest. So much so we paid a visit to the pharmacist on the way home, for advice and medicines.
Properly prepped with an early night, Tuesday brought us into the day fresh and alive enough to attempt the coastal walk to Skala Sikiminea, home of the Mermaid Madonna, via Eftalou. We set out early to avoid the afternoon heats, confronting the blustery coastal winds at 9:00am. At the hot springs a kind dutch lady pointed us towards a dirt track, pointing out that the beach path would be impassable because the tide was in.
As expected, the road is long and winding, dipping in land for swooping corners, sliding up and down as the coastal terrain changes - the walk is about 3 hours from Molyvos, affording the occasional chance to get a closer look at the flora and fauna, birds and the bees. Halfway along there is a small taverna for drinks - at which Sam unwisely decided was the time to satisfy her English-Black tea fix; instead she received an obscure Cinnamon/lemon and very weak concoction - “eugh”, I did warn her. We ended up sharing a bottle of coke.
Shortly thereafter, with some further up and downs, we reached the very small coastal village of Skala Sikiminea. Three tavernas (with parrot, lobster tanks and kittens in trees), two tourist shops selling jewelry, a small harbour and a church sitting on a small rocky outcrop. This church is meant to contain a depiction of the Virgin Mary as a mermaid - either it was hidden away or not there, but we couldn’t find it. For lunch we had the mixed warm mezes from “The Cuckoo Nest” which included bourekakia and tzatziki.
By the afternoon it was too hot to walk back, and expensive for a taxi - our aim was to hitch a boat ride back to Molyvos. Luckily for us, the charismatic and welcoming Captain Alex came to the rescue. By chance he was there to pick up a large group of Dutch tourists that had just happened to follow us on our walk; with space for two more on the boxes at the back of his glass bottomed boat, we hitched a ride for €10 each. Excellent. With Greek music playing we basked in the sun as we passed the sights again, sharing almond biscuits courtesy of Alex. In Molyvos we ate ice cream and walked back to our pool.
The evening brought us back to The Captain’s table, for house wine, spicy fried aubergine, olives and a Captain’s platter for two. Although Sam ended up with white wine spilt down her dress (which led to a courtesy glass and free Cinnamon dessert, on top of Ouzo and small jelly cubes). This was a beautiful evening with a fabulous meal - the calamari was divine, which we ate with Mackerel, Bream, Saddled Bream and a fish that sounded like “melina”, as part of the platter. Our unexpected dessert was the best we had eaten all holiday. Despite having one day left, this became our unofficial last romantic night in lesbos - we decided we couldn’t top it. We caught the bus back to the Sun Rise Hotel after a short chat with “Gomez”, the waiter neat the bus stop; we said our goodbyes and rode home to our room.
Wednesday seemed like a spare day, we’d achieved most of what we wanted to do, time to mop up the loose ends as it were. Sam paid a trip to the hot hot Eftalou springs with dips interspersed with a cooling sea swim - I plowed through 100 pages of my book. A word of warning - avoid the eateries here, we were subject to high prices and arrogant waiters, the food was equally horrid. To reset my pallet I swiftly purchased some delightful home made Baclava from the Women’s agricultural co-operative of Mithymna, and Fantastico provided another tasty tasty pork souvlaki - we just couldn’t get enough of them, they made a perfect lunch time snack.
Without wishing to taint our last evening, we chose a safe option on our last night - Lamb kleftiko and beef stifado from Tropicana, this time with a rose wine at Sam’s request. The friendly neighbourhood diners shared with us their stories of walks, snakes and visits to Petri. As our chairs wobbled on the cobbled floor, the debonair head waiter shared stories and engaged with everyone and the cute black and white dog made its hunger rounds amidst all the cats, we prepared to say goodbye to Lesbos. Waving goodbye with some night time photography and squinting to see the flashing light emitted from Ipsilou, miles away to the West.
We’re just crossing the English Channel now, and our ears are popping with the descent, and it seems a just place to wrap this up. I haven’t spoken much of today, a bus ride, a meal at a Taverna in Mitiline, nothing special.
That’s it then. Goodbye Lesbos and all the wonderful people there. Gomez, the Fantastico men, Stradis, Alex, the breakfast waiters, friendly English tourists, Molly’s bar, the helpful Avis man, Melinda and Co., the jester like waiter at Tropicana, the cats, the dogs, the house martins and bugs. The end.