Tuesday, 19 June 2012

The Greek island of Chios

The reason we had to come to the Greek island of Chios this morning is to catch the ferry tonight on to Piraeus the port for Athens. It’s is in Athens in two days’ time that we hand the bike over to Rory M. who is riding it back to the UK while we travel on by air to Australia.

Before we could get on the boat we had to go through the excruciating process of Turkish border control again. This time the bike papers were examined by a total of 7 people, all of whom gave the impression that they didn’t quite know what they were looking for and why, and not one of them checked that the bike was the one described in the registration and insurance documents. The bike was the only vehicle going on the ferry and they had to find someone to unlock the dock gates so we could board.
It took about an hour and a half to cross the 8 km stretch of water and when we landed we found that the heat had followed us, as instead of the 27 degrees they were getting a few days ago, today it is in the mid-30s.

As the ferry leaves at 12.40 am tonight we have blown the money and booked into an air-conditioned hotel so we can shower and have a rest before boarding. We also bought a map of Athens in the hope of planning our route from Piraeus to the hotel that we have pre-booked in Athens but the narrow streets near the Acropolis appear to be very complicated.
After lunch and a snooze we got back onto the bike to explore the two villages that the Lonely Plant Guide says are very interesting, Pirgi and Mesta.

Pirgi is unusual because many of the houses and commercial buildings are covered in geometric patterns and motifs that have been created, when I had a good look at them, by painting onto plaster or possibly wet concrete render and then chiselling out the pattern to leave the painted remainder sitting proud of the dark background.

Mesta is a medieval village that is the centre of the islands mastic industry. Mastic was the original basis of chewing gum before the chemists found a way of synthesising it. It is tapped from the trunks of the mastic trees in a similar way to rubber, from what I have read. When the Turks invaded the island the residents of Mesta were apparently spared the slaughter because the Sultan of the day was heavily into chewing mastic, as were the women in his harem, and ordered that its producers be protected. We didn’t have much luck finding out about mastic production and we still aren’t quite sure what a mastic tree looks like, though this might be one going by a picture we saw in a book, more of a bush than a tree, but a shop in the village sold mastic cosmetics, wine, toothpaste and soaps. They probably make them from old chewing gum!!

 The village is very picturesque with narrow alleyways and terraces of stone houses.

The island itself is a mass of scrubby hills and low mountains with villages scattered mong them. The beaches we saw arent very impressive - mainly pebbles. This is the view from our hotel bacony. Our ferry will leave tonight from the far corner of the harbour.

No comments:

Post a Comment