Lesvos: Sappho’s island
We stayed in Lesvos for six nights, in a great Airbnb a little south of Mytilene (the main town, also used to refer to the island itself). Check out ‘Aegean Retreat’ in the search engine and you can have a look at the rooms available! It was the best experience we’ve had using Airbnb – our host and her family were welcoming and helpful, and showed us several places we wouldn’t have gone otherwise.
Our first afternoon, we wandered around Mytilene’s harbour and found Mousiko Kafeneio, a café-bar where we had tea and lemonade with mint and rum. We were also given biscuits and cherries to go along with the drinks. Back at the house that evening, our host gave us a Greek after-dinner liquor made with sour cherries and spices that we enjoyed much more than ouzo and raki.
The following day, we went to see the Mytilene fortress, which had been renovated recently. It was an interesting spot with great views out to nearby Turkey (you can go there on a day trip from the marina or main harbour). After this, we went Refenes, which we had been told had the best dolmadakia on Lesvos. We weren’t disappointed – they were delicious and covered in a tasty lemon sauce. After walking around the old town again, we returned to Mousiko Kafeneio before heading back to our homestay.
Next we went on a day trip to Molyvos (also called Mythymna), which is the most touristy area on the island. Molyvos is a gorgeous town that leads up to a castle and down to the sea. There are restaurants, bars, and hotels all along the shore, but arranged in a way that is far prettier than what you would find in a typical resort town. We had taramosalata, tomato salad, mushrooms with garlic, and sardines at the Seahorse Hotel’s restaurant and then spent some time on the beach before taking the bus back to Mytilene.
That evening we saw the largest section of the Lesvos aqueduct at sunset, and then went for drinks at the marina and another bar in Mytilene with our hosts. Around midnight we started hearing that the Greek Prime Minister was going to give a speech about an upcoming referendum, so we went back to the house to watch it (well, Roser and I looked at Twitter in order to understand what was going on).
So far, we had actually heard surprisingly little about the Greek crisis, but all that changed that night. (And even if we hadn’t heard much, we definitely would have noticed the enormous queues outside the ATMs of people lining up to take out cash before the banks closed and a withdrawal limit was announced.) We stayed up until around 3am talking and asking questions, and then went to bed in order to avoid being completely dead the next day.
In the morning, we headed to the market in the old town with our host, saw the Church of Agios Therapon, and went to Tsarsi Hamam, a beautiful hamam-turned-gallery with an exhibition of paintings aiming to capture different ways of life on various Greek islands.
After stopping for coffee at Musiko Kafeneio (again), we went to the city’s archaeological museum. It was small but interesting, with two exhibition rooms set up with ruins of buildings arranged as they were found, so you could walk through the houses. We had lunch before visiting an art gallery in the evening and finding another piece of the aqueduct, high up in the hills behind Mytilene.
The following day we went to Therma, one of several places on Lesvos with natural hot springs. The springs are on a beach that is on one side of the stunning Gulf of Yera, so we went for a swim in the cold sea before relaxing in the Jacuzzi-like pool at the water’s edge.
In the late afternoon, we shared a huge assortment of mezédhes (including but not limited to smoked mackerel, garlic sauce, sardines, meatballs, fresh vegetables, salad, and potatoes) with our hosts at Taverna Antonis in Kayani. The food was amazing, and we had a fantastic view of the hills and port of Mytilene below. After working for a bit in the evening, we finished the day with some ‘mountain tea’ out on the terrace.
We spent our last full day in Lesvos on the beach in Plomari, yet another pretty coastal town (in the south of Lesvos). Unfortunately, we didn’t make it to Sigri and the petrified forest or to Eressos (birthplace of Sappho and home to what looks like an amazing beach) on this trip. But this just gives us an excuse to return to what was one of our favourite Greek islands!