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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.

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Kalo Taxithi Tony Barrell

‘Kalo Taxithi’  is a common Greek term used to wish a special person a good journey into their spiritual after life.

A great friend of Molyvos who will be much missed – Tony Barrell  7 May 1940 – 31 March 2011

Traveller, journalist and writer, Tony Barrell made his first visit to Molyvos in 1970 and quickly became part of the village – his second home.Tony Molyvos 1970s

We are all saddened by the news of his death from a heart attack on March 31st 2011. He died in his sleep after a wonderful evening of laughter and reminiscence with friends including my mother, Jennifer.

Last summer, Tony and his wife Jane had a great gathering here to celebrate the 40th anniversary of their first visit. He always enjoyed staying here and hated leaving. At the time of his death he was still in the process of writing a book with Jane “Your island, My island”.

A very giving person, he was always so willing to help me with projects which needed writing or photographing. It has taken me a long time to write this tribute. A good friend, he will never now be able to keep his promise to come and stay in beautiful Mystegna in the Kyparissis Beach Houses on the east coast of the island.

During one of his many visits, he met a Dutch woman, Julie, who writes a blog about Lesvos and he helped to correct her English translations. She edited her writing into a book which has just been published. She had been so looking forward to reading his final review of it.

As touched as all of us, she has written the following tribute:

A farewell to Tony

Now that I finally changed as well in also
Now that you teached me fishes are fish
And after so many other English corrections
You left us.

After you did this huge job
In correcting and commenting on my columns
And finally the book
You left us

Without me having a chance to pay you back
In dinners and fish
Without me reading
The Final Review

Reading about you
You were more than great in Australia
Writing about so many topics
And finally again about Japan

Here on the other end of the world
Where the news of a shark kept papers alive
You left your traces in friendships
And dinners and party’s

I have been lucky
That one day you and Jane walked into my house
And so we met
And so we worked

Here in the country
Where old history
Of brave wars and great philosophers
Seem to live so close with modern live

You found an island of peace
Sunken into the blue Mediterranean
Where Greeks and foreigners
Mingled into a life of happiness

Here in the little town of Molyvos
For decennia you came back again and again
And now Molyvos lost another
Of its big writers.

Tony, thank you for everything!

Julie Smit

Tony Barrell (7 mei 1940 – 31 maart 2011)

http://smitaki.blogspot.com/

Addio TONY by Julie Copeland.

Our friendship with Tony Barrell & Jane Norris goes back a long way: Jane and I go back 50 years (!)  when we first worked together in a Melbourne theatre troupe, and later, living in London, where she met Tony.

In 1969, when John Slavin and I were first living in Molyvos, I sent Jane a postcard saying something like: `we’ve found the place we’ve been looking for – do come and see!’

And so they did, arriving from London in the village Spring of 1970 – and the rest is history.

Naturally Greece was then a very different place; Molivos was much poorer, much smaller –  but they `got it’, proving over the years to be more adventurous explorers than us, hiking around the coast (before there was a road) to Skala Skamia, while later Tony and his old friend, the English writer Roger Deakin looked like swashbuckling pirates, as they strode through the island in search of ancient trees, on many excursions accompanied by Heinz Horn, who still knows the island terrain better than anyone.

We shared  houses, good and bad times, often dramatic times; ferocious winter winds when I recall us all crawling  behind the parapet on our hands and knees into the agora, unable to stand, as the gale hurled roof tiles like missiles around us; we lived through the years of the military dictatorship; good friends have died and are buried there.

One was our very special friend, Nassos Theofilou, author of several untranslatable books, librettos, lyrics, etc.

Tony made a radio feature based on one of Nassos’ stories about his grandmother, complete with the sounds of Molyvos which  Tony continued to record over the years – many, many audio hours of sheep bells, doves, fishing boats – everything!

Tony was drawn to Nassos’ sense of the bizarre, his crazy humour, as despite language differences, they punned and joked together.. they were in many ways soul mates – but like Tony, a few years ago Nassos died suddenly of a heart attack, far too young.

However, one of our (several!) important summer rituals continued to be sharing his widow Lydia’s large, delicious dinners – and lots of ouzo! – under the stars and olive trees out at the Theofilou farm, accompanied by the owls and the cats.

Last summer, with our Molyvos friends, including Lydia, we shared another significant ritual, when Jane rounded us up to celebrate her and Tony”s 40th anniversary year in the village.  There we all were, people from many places, on the terrace of the old house they rented – a miracle of connections.

Tony really loved the island, where he became a different person.  (Their daughter Klio shares her name with the village up the coast! )   Jane maintained the best tonic for his health problems was his return visits to Molyvos

Most of all he loved the people, their company and their stories – the crazier the better!.  He loved swimming in the cold, clear sea, excursions exploring the island, he loved the landscape.

Some time back Jane got serious about making a film tracing the extraordinary pull that Molyvos has had, and continues to have, on people who visit, stay or live there.

Our Molyvos friends have been shocked at the news of Tony’s death; Lesbos summers will never be the same, and we shall surely miss him.

for tributes, listings and audio of Tony’s work, you can go to the ABC (Australian Broadcasting Corporation) site: abc.net.au/rn

& type in search `tony barrell’

http://www.abc.net.au/rn/360/features/tonybarrell/


GOODBYE TO THE MYTH OF MITHIMNA

THERE’S a myth among British birdwatchers that the ONLY place worth staying on Lesvos is Skala Kalloni.

It’s a misconception probably shared by birders from other European countries who flock to the island for each spring and autumn migration.

Only those in the know seem to choose  Molivos –  or Mithimna to give it its historic name – as their base.

Well, in my humble opinion as an avid birdwatcher, it’s about time someone banished this myth about Mithimna.

When it comes to finding a perfect place to combine birdwatching with walking in spectacular, hilly scenery, having a massive choice of eating places and history around every corner, then Molivos is the place to be

Is there any nicer place in the whole world to round off a day’s birding than with a meal on Molivos harbour side, watchingdolphins and diving terns in the fading light?

Skala Kalloni with its salt pans is only a 40 minutes drive away.

All around Molivos are superb places to seek out the birds – some of them rather rare – from dense olive groves to the magnificent coastal strip between Eftalou and Skala Sikamnia. 

Even among the narrow streets and alleyways of the old town, there are birds to be seen and heard. You just have to look and listen.

Swallows nest under almost every  canopy and overhang of buildings.  Most years, for instance, they successfully rear young on top of an ornamental coach lantern under the canopy of  The Captain’s Table restaurant on the harbour.

As darkness falls, the monotonous  call of the Scops owl can be heard around the town squares and among the eucalyptus trees alongside the school.

The sound is reminiscent of the slow “peeps” of the Greenwich time signal.

Molivos is a place where it is usual to spot the unusual.


Floodlights which illuminate the castle are a magnet to moths and other flying insects. So birds such as nightjars and little owls are quick to take advantage of the ready meals.

Last year, barn owls, little owls and kestrels all nested within a few yards of each other in stone crevices  near the castle’s main entrance.

Keep an eye on the sea, too. Some years, thousands of

Mediterranean shearwaters can be seen in the huge bay between the harbour and the Kavaki headland. At times there are so many it looks like a giant oil slick.

The headland itself, near the “disco on stilts”, is known as one of the best places in Europe to see the very rare Ruppell’s Warbler.

Inland, the reservoir off the Vafios road is a good place to see Eleanora’s falcons hunting for dragon flies. Many other birds can also be “ticked” here.

In our 16 years of holidays in Molivos – sometimes twice a year – my wife Sheila and I always  see at least 120 species.

Really keen birdwatchers can expect many more than that.

FRANK WOOD, press officer for the Bolton area of the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds in North West England.

A Greek Island Autumn Day

The end of a tiring Autumn day! Got up at 9.30 am, had a lazy breakfast and drove to the Post office to pay my health insurance and send my youngest daughter her belly button jewellery.(She has just gone off to England for a foundation year at uni, is taking a belly dancing class and REALLY needs it!)

Then I sat in the village square in the sun and had coffee with a friend, watching the fishing boat come in and the old men crowd around to buy their supper.

After various, minor household tasks, I drove over to Eftalou and had a hot bath in the natural hot spring water. It is housed in an old, domed bath house right on the beach so you have a soak, come out and swim in the sea, and then go back into the hot water. Afterwards, you feel as if the flesh is slipping off your bones. Wonderful.

A bit of proper work after that, teaching English privately, and then a lazy supper with a glass of red wine.  Phew, I hope tomorrow isn’t going to be so stressful!

Liz