On our last morning in Lesbos, we bought pastries at a bakery near our hotel, dropped off the car, and stopped at a harborside cafe for coffee. Bruce has gotten fond of Greek coffee. They use a very-fine grind and boil the coffee. It is poured into your cup, and the grounds sink to the bottom. When you are done, there is a thick sludge of coffee grounds in your cup. I can drink it, but prefer what they call “filter” or “French” coffee which is made in a coffee press.
We had had a flat tire the day before and were told to get it fixed at a service station, which we did and which cost us 15E. The repairman said that the last time they changed the tube, they hadn’t removed part of the valve, so it was only a matter of time before the tire went flat. When we returned the car, they said that a flat tire was our responsibility and would not reimburse us. We have disputed this charge with our credit card company.
We bought tickets for 24E each to Lemnos, and boarded the Mykinos, another Hellenic Seaways ferry. It was somewhat smaller that the Ariadne, but was still a large ferry with three classes and cabins. We had booked a hotel on Booking.com which was supposed to be 2 km from the port town of Myrina, according to their map. After we had walked about 2 miles out of town, dragging our suitcases, we realized something was amiss. Here was our chance to use our Greek SIM we had purchased in Athens. We called the hotel from the road, reached the owner, and she told us to go to a hotel that her sister owned in town, the Artemis that was not far from where we were. She let us have the room for 35E, so it worked out in the end, but honestly Booking.com needs to make sure their maps are correct.
Our main activity of the day was walking up to the fantastic Kastro. It is the largest one we have seen so far. Not only is the fortress itself fascinating, but it is built on a volcanic promontory with lava tubes and caves. The views from the Kastro over the Myrina Bay are fabulous.
During dinner we talked at length with the taverna hostess. Like many Greeks we met that spoke good English, she had spent many years working in New York. She married a Greek and returned home. She was divorced and was working in the restaurant to make ends meet. Life was not easy since the inception of the crisis, and she was annoyed when she recently overheard a German tourist say that Greeks were lazy. The Greeks sitting in cafes during the day and early evening are the ones that don’t have jobs. The Greeks that have regular (not government) jobs work very hard, sometimes 12 hours a day.
The next morning, we negotiated the price of a rental car down to 25E a day, and filled up the tank. This would turn out to be a mistake as Lemnos is small, and we used less than half a tank in the three days that we were there. We drove all around the sparsely populated eastern end of the island. Our “destination of the day” was the ruins of Poliochni, which is thought to predate Troy 1, making it Europe’s oldest city.
It was a few days away from Memorial Day so it was fitting that we stopped by the Military Cemetery of Mudros. Here are buried many casualties from World War 1, including wounded Australian and New Zealander soldiers evacuated from Gallipoli.
East Mudros Military Cemetery, Lemnos
For our second night in Lemnos, we stayed at the worst hotel of our trip, the Dionisis in Kotsinas. We were the first people to stay there that season, the room and ground were unkempt. We had to remind ourselves that we couldn’t even find the worst hotel in the US for the 30E we were paying. The proprietors were nice, however, and it was a short walk to the harbor where we had our choice of two tavernas.
Driving to our destinations on the west side of the island, we came across the ruin of a huge hotel which was surrounded by many abandoned villas. This was the ruins of the Kaviria Palace Hotel, which was built with a boondoggle of EU money. The rumor is that the owners did not pay the workers for a year and siphoned the income into their private accounts. The workers took revenge and trashed the hotel. I have not seen vandalism to this extent before, with the exception of the South Bronx. Perhaps I was unsettled by the greeting spray painted at the entrance, “Welcome to Hell,” but I had a very uneasy feeling as we walked around the devastation.
There’s not much left to the Shrine of the Great Gods at Kabeiro, but a short illegal scramble down the hill brings you to the Cave of Philoctetes. He was exiled here by the Acheans on their way to Troy, because he had an infected snake bite. They went back later to retrieve him, and he was one of the soldiers that hid inside the Trojan horse.
We have really enjoyed our drives on the west side of Lemnos. This side of the island is more mountainous and beautiful and we wish we had spent more of our time here. We lucked out with our last night on Lemnos with the Akrogiali studios for 25E. We had a private balcony overlooking the beach. At sunset you can see the mysterious Mount Athos on a peninsula off the Greek mainland.
Our balcony at Akrogiali Studios, Agios Ioannis Beach, Lemnos