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Greek Christmas Traditions

240_f_126815005_rcnrnilercfm699p24ntaakhjcajoje6Greece has many lovely and unique Christmas traditions, and the holiday here is not yet quite as commercialized as you will see elsewhere. During the day on Christmas Eve, children go from house to house singing kalanda (Greek carols) and playing the trigono (triangle), for which they are rewarded with sweets and pocket money.

Families are known to keep a fire burning in the hearth to keep away the Kilikantzari, our very mischievous Christmas elves/goblins that enter houses during this season through unlit fireplaces and play tricks upon the family.green_christmas_ball_png_clipart-23

Although many Greek families now celebrate with a Christmas tree, the tradition still remains to decorate a boat with lights, as St. Nicholas is the saint of sailors and fishermen.

Most families have a lunch of roast pig and christopsomo (Christ bread), a sweet bread decorated with a cross. Christmas gifts are exchanged after midnight on the 31st of December, once St. Basil (Father Christmas) has entered your house and broken a pomegranate with a stone.

In our Molyvos home, Christmas is a time for celebration, family time and enjoyment of the off-season quiet that wraps the village like a blanket. These are the weeks when we restore ourselves, reunite with friends and begin to look forward to what the New Year will bring.

In 2017, we encourage you to spend your holidays in the breathtaking village of Molyvos, Lesvos, and enjoy for yourselves our famous traditions. Our lovely, thoughtfully appointed properties offer comfort and luxury, catering to friends and visitors in all seasons—though summer is most special when everything is blooming, the water beckons and the The Captain’s Table offers the best tastes of the island

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Do visit www.lesvosaccommodation.com and come see us soon!

Christos Anisis (Merry Christmas in Greek)

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year

with gratitude from

Melinda and Theo

Liz Stolls

Liz Stolls

 moved to this idyllic Greek island of Lesvos to marry a Greek farmer. Some say I was brave, some say foolhardy. We started a successful horse and donkey trekking business, built a house, had two daughters – but split up after 12 years. I’m still living here and in Berlin, writing and teaching English. My history: IN GREECE: Published various EFL textbooks, articles (shortlisted for the Independent on Sunday/Bradt Travel Writing Award 2004) Written tourism publicity copy.Created and managed tourist excursion business. Published writing textbook “Options” New Editions, Athens, reprinted 2009. IN UK: Press & Publicity Manager, Sadler’s Wells Theatre, responsible for all media liaison and publicity campaigns. Freelance publicist for various companies incl: Not the RSC, Extemporary Dance,UK Foundation for Dance, etc. Co-organised training seminar for touring company publicists for the Arts Council of Great Britain. Wrote reviews for Performance magazine. Journalist- news reporting and features for the London Eve News/Standard and Reading Evening Post.

OUR FATHER, GIORGOS…….

A unique individual with a kind soul who was much loved by many.Georgios

Born in 1946 and raised in a traditional Greek household on Lesvos in the small village of Molyvos.  In his early years, Giorgos was significantly influenced by his Communist uncle (Gianni), who operated within the Greek resistance movement. Uncle Gianni was a lovely and extremely forward thinking man who fought strongly for his ideology. Unfortunately, his strong beliefs led uncle Gianni to get arrested and be confined to a tiny cell for many years.  The amount of torture he endured and the pour conditions he was left to live in, meant that upon his release he was no longer able to stand and confined to a wheelchair.  Subsequently at the end of the civil war, he was exiled to Russia.

In those days

In those days

This influence meant that Giorgo did not conform to the normal village way of thinking.  In 1968 Giorgos met Jenifer, our mother. A single woman from Australia, with two children from a previous marriage, 9 years his senior and who did not speak a word of Greek. Recounting the way our mother tells the story, it goes something like this:

Photos in the harbour house

Photos in the harbour house

Whilst on holiday in the small fishing village visiting my aunt and uncle, Norma and Percy who had relocated there from Australia, I went out to a “taverna” one night. In those days it was custom to have live music playing with bouzoukia and people would always get up and dance. At one point I looked over and I saw this man dancing “zeimbekiko”. I hadn’t spoken to him or seen him before but that was it for me. I fell in love with him the second I saw him dance. He was an amazing dancer”.

Dancing at Theo's 50th birthday party

Dancing at Theo’s 50th birthday party

Another night, with neither of them speaking each other’s language, our mother pulled Giorgos from the tavern to show him her two sleeping children.  Later, he took her to a room above the old gold shop in the village, and on his old wind up gramophone he played her a Harry Nilsson record. And so the romance began.  Speaking to them about this time in their lives, neither of them at this stage thought that they would end up getting married, having three children and living the rest of their lives together!

Dancing together on Jenifers 70th birthday party. He even sang to her.

Dancing together on Jenifers 70th birthday party. He even sang to her on that night in front of us all

When Jenifer returned to London, Giorgos set about teaching himself English, from a dictionary.  Jenifer made several return trips to Molivos where Giorgos would take her and her two children out on a small rowing boat and would sing to them.  He loved signing and had a beautiful, gentle voice and he would sing to us all the time. During sleepless nights you would often hear him singing and humming to himself

Giorgos made the easy decision to follow her to London one winter. One cold rainy morning, whilst Jenifer was waiting for the train to get to work, her legs turning to ice, she made the huge decision to leave everything behind and to move to Greece to live with our father.  She packed up her things and with two daughters, her mother and father in toe, Jenifer moved to Greece.

He loved to mushroom and after gathered them  they would cooking them. something they enjoyed

He loved to mushroom and after gathering them they would cooking them. Something they enjoyed

Giorgos and Jenifer married in 1972. The fact that he chose to marry a foreigner in those days with two children who was older than he is a testament to the way my father was.  He did not care that his parents disapproved of his choice; their marriage took place in Athens with their first born (Anastasia) by their side. It took over five years before his family started to speak with Jenifer.

Always with his cheeky grin

Always with his cheeky grin

Giorgos worked as a fisherman since he was a boy.  His father, as his father before that, owned fishing boats and he was taken out fishing with them from as early as he could remember. According to our aunt, Giorgos use to try and hide from his father in order to get out of going fishing, but they always found him and dragged him along. He adamantly denied ever being sea-sick, despite our aunts insistence that this was the main reason, but he would always have a cheeky grin on his face whenever we teased him about it.

Cheeky grin with his friend Angelos

Cheeky grin with his friend Angelos

Later on in life the family boat was handed down to him, which he captained for years. It was always remarked on by the local fishermen about what an amazing fisherman he was as he found fishing spots that people still want to get their hands on.

Lunch

Lunch

In 1982 Giorgos was approached by the United Nations.  He moved to Zanzibar in Africa to teach the Mediterranean fishing practice to the local people. He spent two years there.  Obviously the whole family went with him, taking everything including the kitchen sink (in fact, this is no joke; we still have photographs of the aforementioned sink that we took with us)

On one of his trips which he loved to do with Anastasia

On one of his trips which he loved to do with Anastasia

Returning to Molyvos, Giorgos continued his life as a fisherman until retirement.

Sadly Giorgos fell ill on the 12th December 2014, and was taken to the intensive care dept of Mytilene hospital. He was suffering with problems with his lungs, and after five weeks of fighting passed away on the 18th January 2015.

who has the most cheeky grin

who has the most cheeky grin

It is hard to write about our father and be able to convey in a few paragraphs about his life, his character, which was what made him the amazing person he was. He was an extremely intelligent, funny, generous, wonderful man with a cheeky smile that we will miss forever.

with Nadia enjoying a lovely meal

with Nadia enjoying a lovely meal

His unique character is evident in his last wishes; to be cremated, without fuss, and for his ashes to be scattered from a boat, into the waters of the Aegean, whilst ABBA’s classis tunes play loudly across the water!

His favourite cat , bully

His favourite cat , bully

Giorgos will be missed from all our lives, forever.

Sitting in Avlaki having his  tsipouro

Sitting in Avlaki having his tsipouro

WHICH MAGAZINE -Travel section – January 2015

Lesbos and Chios teem with natural delights, from picturesque waterfalls and sultry hot springs to forests fossilised by volcanic ash 20 million years ago. Pack your shorts for a warm spring holiday away from the tourist hordes on these two Greek islands that lie near Turkey in the north-east Aegean Sea. Wing it to Lesbos, known as Mytilíni by locals, which is a favourite spring.

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All data based on Lesbos a Data from Hellenic National Meteorological Service b Data based on Molyvos resting spot on the avian migration route. In particular, Lake Metochi, the Tsiknias River and the Kalloni saltpans attract the likes of bee-eaters, olive-tree warblers, black-headed buntings and black storks. Don’t forget your boots: hundreds of miles of walking trails criss-cross Lesbos, one of Greece’s largest islands. A hike may lead through pine forests and meadows of wild orchids. Soothe your aching legs with a soak at one of the island’s hot springs – those at Eftalou in the north are on the beach. Stay at the nearby medieval town of Molyvos where red-stone houses cascade below a 14th-century castle down to a harbour and pebbly beach. Take a ferry from Lesbos to Chios to see a spectacular firework rocket war between two churches. This centuries-old battle takes place on the Saturday of Greek Orthodox Easter – a week after our own Easter – at the town of Vrontados. Stay at nearby Chios Town and don’t miss the superb Byzantine mosaics at the Unesco World Heritage site of Nea Moni, an 11th-century monastery.

Need to know

Ferries link Lesbos with other islands,

such as Chios and Limnos, but

services may be twice-weekly in April.

How to do it

The only non-stop flights in April are with Thomas Cook from Gatwick to Lesbos on Saturdays (from 18 April). A week’s package in the resort of Skala Kallonis – near the Kalloni saltpans – costs from around £400pp. Limosa, a specialist in birding holidays, has an eight-day tour of Lesbos in late April 2015 for £1,695pp, including flights.

More info: Rough Guide to the Greek islands.

THE TRIP

Feeling excited as it was an excursion which we rarely do. Something we always plan but too busy in the summer and somehow too busy/lazy in the winter. Arranged by the committee of restaurants for the second time to cut the pita (the pie for the New Year). This is a tradition that is done all over Greece where a pie/pita (sweet) is cut with a coin inside and whoever gets the piece with the coin is lucky for the rest of the year.

A bus trip to visit olive oil factory in Yera , Ouzo factory in Plomari and lunch.

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An amazing assortment of people turned up. All from restaurants in Molyvos and Scala Sikamia. People we never hang out with so it makes this excursion all the more interesting.

We passed through Kalloni with all the incredible birds in the salt flats, a working olive factory with lots of smoke pouring out of its chimney in Dipi, a flock of birds resting on electric wires, the flat as ice sea in the gulf of Yera and wonderful views through the bus windows.

Arriving in Yera village that has olive trees growing close to the water edge, there is the sign that directs you to the Olive press museum which is in the centre of the village, one of the first steam –powered  factories on Lesvos. Olive oil is the second biggest income to the island after tourism.

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Some where worth going

A fantastic project.  A decayed building which took 3 years to be restored.  Photos of the before and after are hanging in every area of the building.  It was very impressive. Personal hand held speakers in both Greek and English to direct/explain the tour of the museum. Well worth the visit!

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Off to Plomari where we stopped first at the Museum of Barbayannis (one of the oldest ouzo factories) just before the main town.

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The entrance to the factory of Oyzo Barbayanni

Ouzo is made from pure alcohol made from sugar beet, grapes and sugar cane in factories that are over seen by the government. It must be very pure and clean alcohol so the taste is not affected. The alcohol is distilled and 35 different herbs and spices are introduced of which the main one is aniseed, that is grown for them in Lisvori and then dunked in salt water to keep the aroma of the herb longer. Once the ouzo is distilled it must be kept for 45 to 60 days in large vats which make it become sweeter and be able to be drunk.

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This is only one of the distillers

There are 15 distilleries on Lesvos that make ouzo.

Lesvos produces over half of the total amount of ouzo produced in Greece

Ouzo is exported to over 35 countries.

bottling oyzo at the factory of Barbayanni

bottling oyzo at the factory of Barbayanni

Our next stop was the village Plomari. One of the largest villages of Lesvos. Once with over 12,000 inhabitants now with just under 3000 including the foreigners (we were told) . Impressed as compared to Molyvos it looked massive. Banks, supermarkets galore but many buildings in ruin.   We noticed a lot of buildings built by a special green stone that created a lovely and different design.

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I have not seen such a large Platanos tree in Greece

Our final destination was lunch at a restaurant called Mouria, just outside the village of Plomari, which served us very fast and had great food.

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The Captain’s Table, Theo and Melinda

THE CAPTAIN’S TABLE EARNS 2013 TRIPADVISOR CERTIFICATE OF EXCELLENCE

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Honoured as a Top Performing restaurant as Reviewed by Travellers on the

World’s Largest Travel Site

 

Molyvos, Lesvos, Greece – 28 Jun. 13 – The Captain’s Table a Mediterranean / local restaurant today announced that it has received a TripAdvisor® Certificate of Excellence award. The accolade, which honours hospitality excellence, is given only to establishments that consistently achieve outstanding traveller reviews on TripAdvisor, and is extended to qualifying businesses worldwide. Only the top-performing 10 per cent of businesses listed on TripAdvisor receive this prestigious award.

 

To qualify for a Certificate of Excellence, businesses must maintain an overall rating of four or higher, out of a possible five, as reviewed by travellers on TripAdvisor, and must have been listed on TripAdvisor for at least 12 months. Additional criteria include the volume of reviews received within the last 12 months.

 

The Captain’s Table is pleased to receive a TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence,” said Theodoros Kosmetos and Melinda McRostie the owners, at The Captain’s Table. “We strive to offer our customers a memorable experience, and this accolade is evidence that our hard work is translating into positive reviews on TripAdvisor.”

 

 “TripAdvisor is delighted to celebrate the success of businesses around the globe, from Sydney to Chicago, Sao Paulo to Rome, which are consistently offering TripAdvisor travellers a great customer experience,” said Alison Copus, Vice President of Marketing for TripAdvisor for Business. “The Certificate of Excellence award provides top performing establishments around the world the recognition they deserve, based on feedback from those who matter most – their customers.”

 

ALL OF LESBOS A UNESCO GEOPARK by Carol P. Christ

In 2011 all of Lesbos was declared a UNESCO Geopark due the work of Nikos Zouros of the Museum of Natural History in Sigri in cooperation with numerous government agencies and the Municipality of Lesbos. 

There are just over 90 Geoparks in the world. Geopark designation is given for: “A territory encompassing one or more sites of scientific importance, not only for geological reasons but also by virtue of its archaeological, ecological or cultural value.”  To keep the designation as a Geopark, the people of Lesbos and their elected leaders must show that they understand the heritage of the island and intend to protect it and make it accessible to tourists. 

Lesbos has been designated a Geopark because of its geological history. Mount Olympos, the mountain where Agiassos is located, was thrust up from under the sea, along with the Alps, about 200 million years ago. This was during the time when the continents split apart from a single continent known as Pangaia.  As Mount Olympos was formed of plankton under the sea, it is made up of soft marl or marble-like rock. 

In contrast the whole Northwest part of the island was created between 22 million and 16 million years ago during massive volcanic explosions that formed the Aegean Sea. At that time Lesbos was connected to the mainland of Asia Minor, from which it separated only about 1 million years ago.  Evidence of the volcanic explosions can also be found across the channel that now separates Lesbos from Turkey.  The village of Assos, in Turkey, which can be seen from Sikamina, is built of the same type of volcanic stone used to build in Molivos.

Mount Lepetemos which towers over Molivos and Petra may have been one of the largest volcanoes the world has ever seen.  Moliovos itself was a small volcanic mountain.  Lava flows can still be seen in many parts of the village.  The stones that were used to build the castle and the traditional buildings in Molivos are porous volcanic stone.

The rock on which the church of Petra was built was a vein of molten rock that was thrusting itself up from under the earth. It never exploded but remained in the center of a small mountain. Over time, the softer rock of the outer part of the mountain wore away, exposing the volcanic core.  The monastery known as Ipsilos at the juncture of the roads to Eressos and Sigri is built on a larger exposed volcanic core.  The village of Vatoussa is at the center of the crater of another very large volcano that exploded many times shaping the island as we know it today.

The volcanoes of Lesbos sometimes sent out masses of lava flow that might have taken as much as 10,000 years to cool.  These flows can be seen in the shapes of the island’s mountains and hills.  Other times the volcanoes threw out large boulders and great clouds of dust.  Everything in the path of lava flows is burned up. But when volcanic dust settles on living things such as trees, their forms may be preserved. In Lesbos the Petrified Forest was created because dust fell at levels of several meters. Our Petrified Forest uniquely has trees still in place in the landscape with their roots, trunks, and even branches, showing exactly where they were living some 20 million years ago.

Visitors can learn more about the geological history of Lesbos in the context of the geological history of the planet at the Museum of Natural History in Sigri. A part of the Petrified Forest has been excavated on the museum grounds.  There are also a series of signs called “The Lava Path” along the road from Filia to Sigri which explain the volcanic landmarks visible from the signposts. They are well-worth stopping to read as they tell an amazing story.

Carol P. Christ (Καρολινα Κριστ) is Vice President of Friends of Green Lesbos which has been working for years to protect the wetlands of Lesbos.  In 2012 she ran for Greek National Parliament on the Green Party ticket in Lesbos-Limnos.

www.greenlesbos.com 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Geopark