A Travellerspoint blog

A Grand Tour of Lesvos - Mytilene to Molyvos

Well not so Grand in a Nissan Micra

sunny 28 °C

On Sunday, we checked out of the Blue Sea at midday and walked all of 25 metres to collect our Nissan Micra rental for a 3-day tour around Lesvos - the Discover Travel Agency were really professional and friendly and amazingly for Europe, they had several automatic cars for normal rental fees.

First stop just out of town was the Ancient Theatre, though we're not sure if we actually saw it as the markers disappeared and all we came across was a fenced hole n the ground with a few column stumps. However we did find the Roman Aqueduct a few kms further along, down a dusty side road near Moria and even though it was obvious that hardly anyone goes there, it was pretty impressive. Built in the 3rd century BC, it carried water 25km from Mt Olympos to Mytilene

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Next was the Pre-Historic Bronze Age site at Thermi, only a few kilometers further north along the coast. If you like archaeology, this is a significnt site and is badly advertised/promoted by the Lesvos Government. This bronze age settlement spanned 1200 years from 3200 BC to 2000 BC and was excavated by Winifred Lamb from 1929 to 1933. There is no entrance fee, there is a good presentation DVD and the sole caretaker of the site is enthusiastic and helpful. Not to be missed

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Mandamados was supposed to be worth a visit but it wasn't, so we continued over the mountains and down to the coast at Skala Sykaminias, an absolutely stunning little fishing harbour (very Cornish!)

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The road from there through the mountains to Molyvos was simply one of the finest mountain/coastal roads I've ever been on

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And so we ended up at the Sea Horse Hotel (60 euros for the night), right on Molyvos Harbour. This whole north-east coast is truly remarkable

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Posted by kforge 18:17 Archived in Greece Comments (1)

Ayvalik to Lesvos, Greece

Greece is only 90 minutes from Turkey by ferry

sunny 27 °C

We left Turkey on the 9am ferry to Lesvos in Greece. It was a stunninig 90-minute ride past remote coastlines and many tiny islands. The ferry was packed (probably 300 people) with almost entirely Turkish annd Greek familes and we all had to queuue for an hour in the baking sun to get through passport control - welcome to Greece!

Arriving in Mytilene, capital of Lesvos with about 30,000 people:
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The first thing we did, 20 metres from the terminal, was confirm that the once-a-week ferry to Iraklia existed and was runninig on Thursday - yes. Another 100 metres and we checked into the Blue Sea Hotel (80 Euros per night) and spent very pleasant half-hour admiring the view from our room before the earth quake hit - I thought we must have got a room with a massage bed but 2 seconds later realised what was happening. We grabbed wallets and phones and headed down the stairs. Apparently there were 3 shocks all around 6.9, centered near Limnos and Canakkale where we had been 2 days ago. No damage done in Lesvos

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The rest of the day was spent walking around the friendly town and harbour, and planninig a 3-day drive around parts of the island (the 3rd largest in Greece). And one week on from the FA Cup, Jeni was demanding to watch the Champions League Final - not a great game and a real shame that Atletico couldn't hold on to that 1 goal lead against Real

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Posted by kforge 00:10 Archived in Greece Comments (0)

Istanbul to Ayvalik

Via Bandirma and Canakkale

sunny 25 °C

Time to move on, and to move by as many methods as possible

We started with our usual walk down to the bottom of our street to pick up the tram over the Bosphorus to Sirkeci where we transferred to the Marmary Train line (via a very long undergound walk) for a short ride to Yenikapi and the ferry terminal there. The "Feribot" is about 1km from the train or metro stop and is a very unpleasant walk due to lack of signs and the multi-lane highways - take a dolmus or a taxi if you can

The people at the ticket office were very professional (as always) and we soon bought our tickets (A$25 each) for the 12:30pm boat to Bandirma on the Seabus, a very fast, very comfortable catamaran for passengers only (i.e. no vehicles).

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2 1/4 hours later we were boarding a dolmus just outside the Bandirma terminal for the short trip to the local "Otogar" or bus-station - unfortunately you never know how long a Dolmus will actuially take as it stops for anyone who flags it down. We had a very long, unscenic drive through a huge industrial estate and arrived at the otogar just after the 4pm bus to Canakkale had left. Anyway, we bought tickets (A$15 each) and only had to wait 1 hour. The bus was total luxury - reclining seats, in-seat video and wi-fi. The wi-fi was excellent and enabled us to book a hotel room in Canakkale as we travelled along - The City Residence http://www.thecityresidence.com was an all-apartment hotel in the centre of town, just a 10-minute walk from the harbour and promenade. The manager Yesim Avsar could not have been friendlier or more helpful, she even accompanied us to the bottle-shop and the Pide shop to speed things along (it was 8pm and we were tired). The place has only recently opened so I'm not sure how long the personal service can last but the friendliness certainly will. She did mention that the room we were paying 52 Euros for had been booked for 300 Euros for next year's Gallipoli Centenary, as had all the other rooms!

The following morning we met up with Inez for coffee and pastries at the Oszut Cafe on the promenade and bought bus tickets (A$17 each) for the final 3-hour leg to Ayvalik where on Saturday we hoped to get a ferry to Lesvos in Greece. Another luxury bus brought us to Ayvalik at 5pm, or actually to a large petrol station on the highway near Ayvalik where 10 minutes later the bus company's "service" mini-bus picked us up and dropped us at the small otegar in town. And finally we took a short taxi-ride to the Sizma Han hotel, a place we'd picked out from our guide books on the trip down as it was supposed to be near the water. Well, it was right on the water with a small jetty into the bay, and was also a superbly restored stone mansion. It seemed like a bargain at A$85 a night for 2 nights

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Friday morning, we walked along the alleys just behind the waterfront for a few minutes and came out at where all the ferries were moored - unfortunately, the Lesvos ferry goes from a dock 3km back past where we started! A short dolmus ride took us to the ferry office and yes, there was a ferry on Saturday (none again until Wedesday). We bought our tickets for A$30 each, for a 30-munute ride - very expensive and known as such, so most people go to Cesme instead. Back in town, we tried to find the tourist office but were told that there wasn't one. Just as we started our walk into the interesting old back streets, we found it - they didn't have much but did have a map with a few items of interest marked

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Posted by kforge 02:34 Archived in Turkey Comments (0)

Princes' Islands

Ferry from Kabatas

sunny 25 °C

The tram line we have been using all the time, ends just 2 stops away (5 minutes) at Kabatas and, luckily, we found out that there are ferries that go from there to the Princes' Islands, a groups of 9 islands about 90 minutes from Istanbul. You can island-hop but we decided to just visit Buyukada where you get around by foot, horse-drawn carriages or electric or standard bicycles. There are may fine timber mansions, one of which was home to Leon Trotsky from 1929-1933 (funny how he ended up in so many wealthy people's places). On the ferry-ride,I have never seen such a developed coastline anywhere in the world - it's pretty scary. It's diffilcult to see this from the picture, just enlarge it if you can

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The island was a welcome escape from the madness of Istanbul but although it was fairly empty when we arrived at11:45, by 3pm it was getting very crowded and this wasn't even "holiday"season

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Back in Kabatas, we walked into the grounds of the Dolmabache Palace (through the obligatory x-ray machine) and had a couple of cold drinks in the very popular cafe that fronts the Bosphorus. It doesn't cost to get into the grounds and the cafe is very pleasant, surrounded by the palace, the gardens and the sea

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Posted by kforge 09:35 Archived in Turkey Comments (0)

A Rest Day

Planning the next couple of weeks and visiting a Hamam

sunny 25 °C

The Greek ferry timetables are finally available, so we needed to see what islands it would be possible to visit. Unfortuately, as the first part of our travel is across the Aegean Sea in May (still not officially the holiday season), the lack of ferries meant that even a provisional route was looking like a nightmare to plan. It didn't need the two of us to look up schedules, so Jeni headed off to a Hamam - I have no intention of ever being pummelled a large, sweaty Turk (or any other nationality)

I actually spents hours trying to find a way through the islands, the main problem being that I would get to an island on the "wrong" day and then have to wait 5 or 6 days for the next ferry out. When Jeni got back, we finally put together a route that might work - from May 29 to June 10, Lesvos, Ikaria, Syros, Santorini and Crete, though we're hoping that we might be able to speed it or skip an island if other ferries are running

Posted by kforge 08:17 Archived in Turkey Comments (0)

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