Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Icons, for all purposes, from sacred to profane...

Which saint do you believe in? Whoever it might be, you will find an icon of him or her at the outdoor counter shop by The Monastery of Agios Rafael. The lens I used could take in about half of the "product range", but sacred they are...

Icons at Agios Rafael Monastery

Mermaid icons of a more profane character, in Skala Sikaminias

Icons of ouzo at taverna Alonia. Very profane! Iphone camera, sorry!

The unbelievable icon períptero/kiosk opposite O Gatos in Molivos.
Very few things you cannot find here and the lady inside, knows where each little thing is to be found.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Meet Yannis Pitsóulis...


A place without it´s people, is just a place. No life. No substance. No energies. Like Carson's "Silent Spring". Lesvos is it's people. I have already introduced a few, like my friends Timolís, Dora and Panagiotis, not to forget kiría Nikoleta. There are many others to meet. Some of them will pop up now and then. Many people have made imprints on me. Some more than others. The very difficult thing is how to choose a few of all I meet. But since this to me is no list of prize winners or a beauty contest, I will choose a few. Noone hidden or forgotten. 
So, meet Yannis Pitsóulis, a real Lesvos imprint on me. I will meet him through his many faces and this will be the first, but more will come...    

August 30th, 2011

Monday, August 29, 2011

Early Monday morning walk...

It would be an exaggeration to say that morning walks before the locals are up, is one of my regular habits...but I like the silence in the morning, before the fishmonger starts up his loud sales technique, or the fruit and vegetable man and his old Toyota mini truck. Recordings hollering their messages through loudspeakers on the top of the truck! All taking place just outside the house.... I never need an alarm clock. This Monday morning I was up early, with an open terrace door, letting the first morning sun sneak in, to light up my first breakfast (usually a second one down the harbor by the sea). Then the walk, as described below, ending up at Timolis and his fresh bread counter and the day moves on..."Kalimera", and a smile to and from everyone you meet....

Light starter of the day by the open terrace doors

Necessities for a Greek. Not available yet!

She did not wake up when I passed her

Finally someone to talk to. Now the sun has really woken up.
Quiet road, soon busy, on my way to the harbor 

Fresh bread in the morning at Timolis, from the bakery in neighboring Petra

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Another peaceful Sunday, but....?

It all looked like a peaceful Sunday, at least on the way to Mandamados. I came into the church and understood already when I was outside, that something was going on inside...báπτισμα! A christening would take place! The church was literally packed with people. Partydressed ladies with high heels and short skirts and sunglasses! I just waited for the music to start! A Greek christening is nothing but a leap of joy, lots of noise, hugs and greetings, a lot of talking and cameras flashing (even if it is not permitted in this church, but rules are there to be broken)! The Lesvians are good at this, even in a very holy church! A baptism is also to welcome the baby to "God´s house of joy"! They certainly live up to it! Look at the bucket! No drops of water here! A dip in the pool... In the middle of it all, a table full of gift packages and bags and things to use at the start of the every day life...Have a happy trip, baby... 

Photo taken with my real camera, in the harsh light of the day!

Photos in church with a not so good camera. No permission to shoot in here. 

For a boy or a girl? Not that difficult to guess...or? All in pink, very girlish,
but how about the gift bag from "boy fashion"?

Saturday, August 27, 2011

And there was light...

You have to be there on the shutter all the time...the light changes by the minute, and, I am sorry to say, much better seen on the original pictures. The transfer to the blog itself, does make the pictures a bit more hazy or "dull"! OK, it will have to do this way! 
Nowhere have I been, where the "orange red" color shifts like in Lesvos. I drove around last night, rather fast I must confess, to a few spots, to catch the colors at different times! And now when writing this, the light is gone. But only for a few hours. Soon it will return again. To another bright day. For you, for me, for everyone... 
Petrí, from Mixalis restaurant, high above

Same place. 20 minutes later

The only time my Iphone "camera" has been in a good mood. It is exactly how it was. Molyvos from the harbor.

The sun has set, but the colors remain for a while. Fantastic views for those at restaurant Gatos, far right
and Sansibal on street level!

Favorite swimming time for some! The public beach in Molivos with the chimney of Olive Press.
 In a while it will be dark

It is more or less exactly 7 minutes between each of the last two photos. I timed it.
Same aperture, same time!
Views from a bench. Between Molivos and the road to Eftalou.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Other kinds of "piety"...

I usually call Taverna Alonia in Molivos, "Το σπίτι μου",  meaning "my home". Someone asked me once if I had a sleeping bag there, since I spend so much time with the owners Antonis and Lefteris,  including the Winter time, when many of the friends from the village come for ouzo, beer and winedrinking, watching a basket ball game or a football match and that can become rather noisy but fun, to say the least!. I have learnt during the years, that Greeks talk louder than in any other country I have visited. Probably because they all speak at the very same time! 
Before A and L took over the taverna, I spent many years at Alonia with Vangelis, when he owned it! 

Lesvos is the best island for Greek food that I have ever experienced, and I have visited many islands! 
(I can hear all protests around me, but come here and challenge me!) 
Wednesdays and Saturdays are "holy" nights in the Summer time. Well played and sung Greek music under the clear skies of the Summer nights and our friends from Θεσσαλονίκη are both excellent musicians and singers as well as great people. 

Greek music is deep inside of me, from Tsitsanis to Sfakianakis and these guys reach out to many who have little or no knowledge! 
And the food! Mother Olimpía makes a lot of the pre courses and I have never been disappointed there! OK, often the red wine is too warm, but we all survive. Whatever! Eating and drinking there is a great treat and service is good. Why would I otherwise call it "Το σπίτι μου"...?
Prep talk

Always starting instrumentally

The waiter Lefteris likes to be seen


Do no try them...

He has a marvellous voice

Still very popular dish!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Piety and simple beauty, in a bloody bewildered world...

I could show churches and chapels and monasteries in every spot on this blog. I won't. 
I would not do it because of any special deep, traditional christian faith, because I haven't really got one, but calmness and piety and spirituality are different "things". It makes me feel good. 
To me, Lesvos represents a vivid "piety" in itself! 
A well kept secret, obviously also for ignorant politicians!
I will try to  explain what I mean. 
On the North East coast, just south of Taxiarchi's Mandamados, 
close to the village of Aspropotamos,
my pathfinding friend Rolf told me there was something we had to see. 
We were on our way to visit the sacred Monastery of Agios Rafael.
We stopped by a gate to an olive growth, opened it and walked in among all the silvery trees. 
 I suddenly stopped, like walking into a wall. 
Churches are usually placed in big squares or other prominent places 
and here we appproached a church that was and is located in an ordinary olive growth! 
Agios Stéfanos, one of the oldest Byzantine churches on the island.
And to me, one of the most beautiful churches or buildings that I have ever seen. 
The utmost of simplicity and miles away from gold and glory!!!
I have googled and read books to find more facts about it, but have so far not found anything, 
so let the pictures talk instead and get over here and experience it yourself. 
Meanwhile, I hope my reactions will stay with you too...

The church of Agios Stéfanos

Agios Stéfanos himself


More simplicity

A quiet bell

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Nikoleta, mon amour...and other Lesvian mysteries...

This is a rather long story, but to me, worth being told and read! So, give yourself a little time...

In the doorway of the pastoral Monasterio Perivolís, located on the way to Sigri, stands a very close friend of mine, Rolf, The Pathfinder! He has been visiting Lesvos almost as many times that I have, but with a few major differences. He is sometimes a better ouzo drinker than I am and he knows "each and every" village worth knowing on the island! And they are many. He knows their background history as well! I have always felt like his apprentice! We have taken many trips together on our motor bikes and I never know where we will end up when out on the roads. 
This is the story of a remarkable village that is not even marked on my big Lesvos map! In newer editions, it is. The village is called Tzithra. The dirt road leading to it, lives up to it's name! 

What makes it so special? It has three holy buildings, representing three faiths, Christian, Islamic and Jewish...the Christian church is the only one intact, the others are ruins. What importance did this village once had? A rhetorical question, meaning I have no answer. Rolf met a very kind local man and asked him if we could visit the church. 
"You have to get hold of Kyría Nikoleta. She is not here, but pull that rope. It will make the bells ring and then she will come in a while. I do not know where she is, she could be anywhere! So have patience"!  

We pulled and pulled and after a while she came. We greeted each other and she took out the keyes from the pocket of her frock and opened the church door for us. She was so shy in front of these strange looking fellows and I hardly dared looking at her. I felt like a little school boy! 
But I saw her eyes, like those of a squirrel's, with a kindness and a glimpse that really took me off guard! I asked her (I remember that I whispered) if I could take a photo of her and she showed a body language of a very young girl's and said "of me, why?" I am honestly not sure that she had ever seen a camera before. I broke the silence and we laughed together and I took a few pictures and my heart was beating like crazy...I was only lucky that I had an OK aperture and light!
She is still often on my mind, pretty and wonderful Lady Nikoleta! Her kindness and humility were more than I had ever experienced before. She symbolized the very beauty of extraordinary simplicity.....   

Rolf at Monasterio Perivolís, peace and tranquility

"Pull the rope and let the bells ring. Kyría Nikoleta will come"!

Humility personified, kyría Nikoleta!

Shy but with a smile that made many days for me... 

Where is the story behind all this?

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Real meetings make the world go round...

Kostas is an old friend. Very much from Lesvos.
He knew my 25 year old daughter when she was 4 and we stayed at Delfinia, 
a well known hotel on Lesvos and in Molivos. 
He comes from a pretty village high above the sea, called Fília, 
on a side road from the main western coastal stretch , leading to Sigri, 
the most Western point of the island, before the open seas take over, with the next stop being Pireaus! Kostas left for Athens, like some others do on the island, if they come from smaller villages,
finding future life a bit too "narrow". He set up a business in Athens. 
He found his love in a lady from from far away! A gracious woman from China! 
Now married and the result is obvious. He visits his island of Lesvos during times of vacation 
and we had a wonderful, but too short of a get-together.
What could be a better highlight for her, than to meet Hong, whom you have met before in this blog, 
the wife of my close friend Vangelis? What a joy for them both to meet
 and speak their own language! I quickly realized, that I did not have to be a rocket scientist,
to understand that Chinese is not going to be my next language, 
but their joy together made my day! 
In Lesvos, everything is possible...

Chinese coalition!

Kostas and son, no lack of pride

Kosta's sweetheart

Looking at the world outside...

I read what I read, I see what I see...

Monday, August 22, 2011

To limani, the harbor, food, friendliness and peace...

Το λιμάνι, in Greek it means the harbor. You will find them everywhere. I love this one more than any other I have visited and they are many! The sun has just set, a bit of orange color left on the skies and in a few minutes it will be dark. Time for food and chats and relaxation! 
Tzanettos is the owner of the Octopus and Fotis is his long time head waiter. 
They are both excellent symbols for Lesvian hospitality and natural friendliness
 and so are the other waiters and the busy people in the kitchen! 
I often wonder where they get their kindness and their patience from, 
after 4 months of serving people with different demands and requirements,
and my lines are NO special treat for them. They are just the way they are, genuine people.
That is why I go there, and friends with me...