North Aegean

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  • Day8

    The Island of Lesbos

    June 11, 2018 in Greece ⋅ ☀️ 30 °C

    Where to stay on the island of Lesbos? Why, the Lesbian Hotel of course. Coming off the ferry at I walked round the bay of the capital Mitilini and found my charming small hotel bang in the centre at the waterfront. I asked if I could leave my bags until check-in time, but was told by the cheery manager that my room was ready. Indeed by 8.45 I was enjoying a delicious breakfast (for 7 Euros today, included tomorrow) on the balcony facing the sea. For a 3 star budget hotel this was a great deal. A little old fashioned, perhaps, but spotlessly clean and comfortable with free WiFi. The lift was a bit antiquated, and involved closing various doors and jumping up and down a bit to get it going. However I resisted the temptation to do a tap dance à la Mary Tyler Moore in Thoroughly Modern Millie.

    The owner’s equally friendly wife had arranged a splendid breakfast repast including locally produced feta cheese and olives and her own home-made apple pie, as well as the usual hot and cold favourites.

    After a surfeit of travelling round large cities, it was nice to be in a lovely quieter island, so I decided to head for one of the many beaches. ‘The closest is the city beach’ suggested the hotel owner, ‘but they charge to get in’. The city beach was only a short walk away, and with facilities including changing rooms, showers, toilets, sunbed and lounger included, I did not feel it was a rip-off at 2 Euros entry fee. There was a warning sign that naturist bathing was allowed, however I don’t think I offended anyone.

    How lovely to cool off in the sea. A Greek God, masquerading as a Life Guard, appeared to spend most his time snorkelling, eating or preening himself. ‘I think I’ll feign a drowning’ said a middle aged lady nearby to her friend. They both then giggled, blushed and returned to their sun worship. The Greek God carried on preening, oblivious to any catastrophes that might be happening to his charges out in the Aegean.

    Well everything seemed to be going to plan. My phone then rings and a caller from a ferry company tells me that my booked ferry the next day to Turkey has been cancelled. When I asked for more information all I could get from him was ‘your ferry is having a breakdown’. ‘I know how it feels’ I replied, but got the impression that it was lost in translation.

    I’ll think about it tomorrow, I thought. Let’s enjoy the sunshine.
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  • Day7

    Italy to Greece

    June 10, 2018 in Greece ⋅ 🌙 23 °C

    The first glimpse of Superfast 1 at Bari Harbour did not fill me with excitement. A long orange container ship that had seen better days. I remember travelling on the brand new Superfast lX and Superfast X when Scotland had its own international ferry sailings from Rosyth and thought they were better than a lot of cruise ships I had been on. Not so this earlier model. However, in fairness the passenger accommodation was pretty good and promised a comfortable crossing. Three young women from Uraguay were excited about their ‘cruise’ to Greece and immediately started on the ouzo. The Superfast brochure encouraged passengers to to take advantage of the facilities on board, including discos, restaurants, cocktail bars and swimming pools. The girls had clearly omitted to note the small asterisk which indicated that these facilities were not available on all vessels - and certainly not at all on Superfast 1. Undeterred, they proceeded to flirt with the friendly waiter, Alex, posturing and posing for selfies.

    Again our 4 berth cabin only had 2 occupants, and this time a tall, grey-haired, slim Greek man joined me. He resembled a latter day Captain Von Trapp or perhaps Captain Corelli himself. Well mannered and considerate, he scarcely made a noise as he disembarked at Igoumenista, Greece at the ungodly hour of 5am.

    We passed Corfu and then Kefalonnia, the setting for probably my all-time favourite novel, Captain Corelli’s Mandolin, if you can get through the first 100 pages that is. As I sat on deck in the already hot morning sunshine, my mind drifted and, wait a minute, could that be Pelagia laughing and running along the shore, and surely that was Mandras swimming with dolphins. Or was it just a cruel trick of the light and the sea?

    The three Uraguyans looked a bit worse for wear in the morning. Perhaps they had discovered hidden night spots on Superfast 1, and I noticed that their Alpha-Female was sporting a sizeable hickey on the left side of her neck. Perhaps Alex was even more friendly than we thought.

    Sadly the train no longer runs all the way from the Port of Patras to Athens. However, I managed to catch an express coach on the 2.5 hour journey, which surprisingly was a brand new toll motorway all the way. Greece seems to have benefitted from being in the EU. And what magnificent views of the Gulf of Corinth, including the new Rio-Antirrio bridge connecting the Peloponnese to mainland Greece, and passing close to the wonder that is the Corinth Canal.

    A hair-raising sprint across Athens by local bus and Metro brought me to the Port of Piraeus. I didn’t feel too bad about not lingering in Athens as I had been there a few times with Campbell and had enjoyed the some of the many treasures it had to offer. On arrival at the Blue Star Ferry terminal I was told that my overnight ferry to the island of Lesbos had been cancelled - no explanation offered - but that I had been re-booked on the same route with Swan Hellenic Ferries. As I boarded the Nissos Rodos I thought I had gotten the better deal. The ferry was well equipped with comfortable lounges and cafe/bars and a good self-service restaurant. After a tasty dinner of roast beef and potatoes (how do they get potatoes to taste that good?), I retired to my 4 berth cabin to meet my travelling companions. After a while the steward showed in a disheveled elderly man who resembled Zorba the Greek. I don’t know if it was the sight of me sprawled out on the lower bunk, but he began shouting about having booked a more luxurious cabin with Blue Star Ferries and stormed off, never to be seen again. A 4 berth en suite cabin to myself, I thought.

    However, just after midnight as I was dropping off, the cabin door was opened and closed suddenly. Was I being burgled on the high seas? I opened the door but there was no sign of anyone. Determined to get to the bottom of it, I marched up to Reception where I was told someone wanted to check in. ‘Three hours after the ship has sailed’, I queried. ‘Well he’s a soldier, and he’s been drinking with his mates in the bar up until now’ I was told. The thought of sharing my accommodation with a drunk, Greek soldier did not appeal, and after a fruitless search for him, the steward advised that he was probably staying the bar. I was told this was a far from unusual occurrence, and as the Army paid for his bunk anyway I could have it all to myself. Result.
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  • Day545

    Samos, Pithagorio

    October 12, 2018 in Greece ⋅ ☀️ 21 °C

    Well the trip North was a bit unpleasant fortunately we were headed straight into it so only nodding dog action no swaying side to side, I was still very pleased to see the harbour. We anchored off the beach for a couple of nights before moving onto the Town quay, we moved because we had booked on to a tour of the Eupalinus’ tunnel at 8:30 in the morning the only time slot available and we needed to ride there. Pithagorio is yet another lovely town it is touristy and in season is probably unbearable but now it’s quiet lots of locals still around but businesses are cleaning and tidying prior to closing for the winter. We have been active since we arrived riding to Samos town, only because iPad lied and told us it was a 5mile ride it was actually 14.5km and most of it was up on the way there. Samos Town is not attractive but we were able to buy a new float switch for the shower pump and a loaf of GF bread for John. On the way back we walked up through the winding alleys of Vathi the old town of Samos which was a lot more attractive but steep before a fairly easy ride down to Pithagorio. We have also visited the Castle, Church and ruins here in Pithagorio as well as riding to the remains of Hera’s Temple to the West, not much to see there although in its day largest temple in Greece apparently.
    Today after our walk along the famous tunnel photos on next post, we decided rather than just walk back along the tunnel we would first try to walk to the spring source, fail, and then take the land route around back to the tunnel entrance. We achieved this but had to walk through a front yard of a fortunately empty home. We also decided we had to visit the stone tower but did we use the official route no we decided to find our own so a number of scratches and scrapes later we made it to the tower.
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  • Day545

    Pithagorio, Eupalinus' Tunnel

    October 12, 2018 in Greece ⋅ 🌙 19 °C

    The Tunnel is impressive it’s just over a kilometre long and was built in 6th century BC to bring water to the ancient town from the spring source near the north entrance to the tunnel through the hill using clay pipes to reservoirs and fountains in the ancient town near the southern entrance. It was hewn out of the limestone from both ends simultaneously and there is only a small diversion internally where the two groups met. It was in use for 1100 years and only abandoned when pipes became to calcified to use.
    Tomorrow we are going site seeing to see other ruins on the island and no doubt some more churches!
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  • Day547

    Fournoi, Quarry Bay

    October 14, 2018 in Greece ⋅ ☀️ 22 °C

    From Samos east and south to Fournoi. It dawned on me that we are now sort of heading home. As we left Pithagorio we noticed a large inflatable against the ferry quay with a coastguard cutter and people crouched against the wall we assume they were illegal immigrants or as some people describe them economic refugees. That’s our first sighting of people we have seen wrecked boats and buoyancy aids on some beaches, from a while ago as jackets very faded but that’s all.
    When we reached Fournoi we anchored in Quarry Bay not the most sheltered but safe enough and we visited the ancient quarry. The left over pillar pieces were a little big to bring home but John was tempted by the stone sink. The mix of rock types in one place was incredible. Next to Patmos.
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  • Day546

    Samos by car

    October 13, 2018 in Greece ⋅ ☀️ 22 °C

    So we hired a car to do what we thought would be a full tour of Samos, we were mistaken the roads were very winding and in some places scary narrow so journeys took a lot longer than expected. We were lucky we were out of season so never met anything coming the other way! We hired the car 17:00 Friday eve and drove along the main road towards Samos Town, the same one we had ridden, but stopped at the Lidl and did a fairly major shop stocking up on essentials like toilet roll and beer? On Saturday morning we west headed along the coast past the airport and to Ireon, famous mostly for Hera’s Temple and its sandy beach but as overcast and nearly desserted it was a bit depressing. From here we traveled inland past Sarakinis Tower. Then we started uphill first to Pagondas then around and around the headland to Spatharei. We picked up a local lady just after the tower and took her to Pagondas she was very grateful we think, lots of ‘Efaresto’s’ it would have been a serious walk. Just before Spatharei is where the road went from 2lanes with central line to just about 1 car wide it stayed like that till Pyrgos where we had a walk around a nearly deserted town, we scrumpped some grapes outside the shell of an old church, walls but no roof, that had a little chapel in it, and saw lots of cats. From here we headed inland and road got narrow again and across towards Karlovassi but we stopped off in Platanos, in the middle of the wine district, for coffee and to admire the amazing view we also saw the ancient laundry here before winding our way down to the port at Karlovassi for, by then a late lunch. Service was a little slow so over 1 1/4 later but having eaten a lovely meal and fed some cats, we were on our way again, east this time back towards Samos town we had hoped to stop for ice cream in Kokkari but no time, then across the island back to Pythagorio. We had hired the car for the day which means 24hours, and managed to return it with 10 mins to spare. Samos is one of the greenest Greek islands we have seen it’s water is from springs that originate in Turkey, but the reservoir levels are low for this time of year so the locals are hoping for rain soon.Read more

  • Day3


    June 24, 2019 in Greece ⋅ ☀️ 33 °C

    Nach dem Frühstück machen wir uns auf den Weg - Mithymna oder auch Molivos wartet bereits auf uns.
    Seit vielen Jahren steht die Altstadt unter Denkmalschutz - Steinhäuser, kleine beschattete Gassen mit Kopfsteinpflaster ziehen sich bis zum Burgberg hinauf.
    Vor allem die bunt bemalten, vorspringenden Erker bezaubern.
    Schon die Äoler besiedelten den Burgberg und während des peloponnesischem Kriegs stand die Stadt auf Seiten der siegreichen Athener.
    Doch auch die Byzantiner haben ihre Spuren hinterlassen.
    Es ist schon sehr heiss als wir zuerst in den kleinen Hafen spazieren- uns rinnt der Schweiß hinunter und so machen wir in einem Kaffenion einen ersten Halt.
    Um wieder erfrischt einige der kleinen Läden aufzusuchen- erfolgreich wie unsere Sackerl bewiesen.
    Hinauf in die beschatteten Gassen, ein bisserl stöbern, schauen und erneut Halt auf einer der Erker in einem einfachen Lokal zu machen um uns erneut zu erfrischen.
    Einige Zeit noch die Sonne am Pool genießend sind wir nach dem Abendessen dermaßen erledigt und müde dass wir heute doch um einiges früher schlafen gehen.
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  • Day1


    June 22, 2019 in Greece ⋅ ⛅ 33 °C

    A bisserl zu spät geht es los - dann heißt es für den Piloten den Turbulenzen großräumig auszuweichen- mit 25 Minuten Verspätung landen wir auf Lesbos.
    Der Insel der großen griechischen Dichterin Sappho.
    Es klappt alles wie am Schnürchen- und trotzdem zieht es sich noch 2,5 Stunden bis wir in unserem Hotel sind.
    Begrüßt werden wir mit einem Glas eisgekühltem Wasser und Mastix und schon kurze Zeit später stehen Koffer & co im Zimmer.
    Alles ist ziemlich retro- aber sauber. Ich freu mich schon auf Tageslicht - auf das Entdecken der näheren Umgebung.
    Das Kastell leuchtet aus der nahe gelegenen Stadt Mithymna/Molivos herab - auch darauf freue ich mich schon sehr.
    Ein kleines Abendessen- Brot, Schafskäse und ein griechisches Gulasch mit Rindfleisch, Auberginen und Zucchini- 2 Karaffen Wein und dann, es ist schon weit nach Mitternacht, eine Dusche und ab ins Bett.
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  • Day2


    June 23, 2019 in Greece ⋅ ☀️ 30 °C

    Ein wirklich gutes Frühstück - Schafskäse,, Olivenöl, Gemüse, frisches Obst und einen Kaffee der gut schmeckt - so beginnen wir den heutigen Tag.
    Der Pool Bereich mit der Taverne ist echt schön - hier werden wir auch unser Abendessen einnehmen - Wein aus Limnos wie wir später noch erfahren werden begleitet uns bis spät nachts - ein fauler Tag, oder doch“ einfach ankommen“!
    Ein erfrischendes Badevergnügem im ägäischen Meer - wir liegen am Steg in der bereits untergehenden Sonne.
    Ankommen ohne Stress- wie schön!

    Vor dem Dinner plaudern Claudia und ich mit einem Griechen, gebürtig aus Patras.
    Dann auch beim Essen von Tisch zu Tisch- bevor er sich zu uns setzt.
    Giorgios - seines Zeichens Schiffsbauingenieur - er flirtet, ist gleichzeitig aber auch ein ruhiger und angenehmer Kerl.
    Es ist Mitternacht 🕛- das Bett ruft schon!
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You might also know this place by the following names:

North Aegean, Βόρειο Αιγαίο, Égée-Septentrionale, Egeo Settentrionale, 북부 에게 주

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