Tuesday, January 08, 2013

in need of rest

We are halfway through our travels and you'll notice, I'm sure, that on this day, I have very little to offer here, especially in terms of photos. Perhaps my favorite pic is one taken still on the ferry: watching the sun rise over the distant islands was, in fact, breathtakingly beautiful.

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Barely three hours after leaving Chios, we disembark in Lesvos.

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our wee ferryboat

It's not that I have stopped looking around me with that same enthusiasm I had on day one here. It's that we've hit the pause button for a little while. There are several reasons for it: with a bright and early ferry departure from Chios, we arrive now in Lesvos significantly tired. The walk from the ferry to the hotel seems longer than the twenty minutes it really is. The port town of Mytilene is solid, sturdy, busy and only moderately picturesque.

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I snap one or two pics on the walk through it and then lose interest for now in shooting more. Instead, we watch a pack of dogs chase motorcyclists again and again and we wonder if the dogs are a bit nuts here to run amidst traffic in the way that they do.

At the hotel -- a solid but very budget choice (the Olympias; at $75 per night, including a boring but large breakfast and taxes, it is worthy of that characterization in all respects) -- Ed crawls under the covers and falls asleep. A few minutes later I do the same.

When you set out to explore (three hours later) close to 1 in the afternoon, having had no breakfast or lunch thus far, you enter into a really interesting discussion as to what meal is appropriate now. I give up on the idea of coffee at any of the numerous coffee shops. They are all smoke filled and therefore, for those of us used to clean air, uninviting. [In 2010, Greece passed a law banning smoking in restaurants, bars and even enclosed outdoor spaces. Let me assure you, this law is completely ignored.] I suggest we eat dinner at the old harbor. Ed reminds me it's not dinner time. I shrug at that -- we'd eaten irregularly the past few days and it's been fine. It'll be nearly 3 by the time we're there.

There are a number of good seafood tavernas lining the waterfront and we choose one that has the lovely "no smoking" sing on the door. Except that inside, we see there are ashtrays on the tables and both the owner and the waitress are puffing away. Still, the dining room seems free of smoke and so we settle in at a table that seems relatively protected, should someone choose to light up.

In a funny twist, Ed whispers how the man at the table next to ours is feverishly working his prayer beads with his hand. The man hears us and laughs. Not prayer beads -- he says in decent English -- this is what we do here when we try to quit smoking. You know, keep your fingers busy!

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Ed tells me he is only mildly hungry. Sometimes, when we travel, his desire for regular sit down meals ebbs. We're in such a phase now. So I order just one (large) salad and one helping of fish and the woman who is clearly in charge of the kitchen shows me the fish that she'd like to prepare for us...

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...and I say -- sure, sure, looks good. And it turns out to be without question, the best preparation we've had thus far (and the cheapest, Ed would have me note here). The fish is grilled, with olive oil, tomato, onions, spices, then deboned and presented in a most beautiful way. We eat every last morsel.

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The salad is huge, the wine is cheap and good and for dessert we are given a gift of yogurt and candied fruits.

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We walk back slowly, in search of bakeries and grocery stores, to stock up on supper foods for snacking later on. It's 4 in the afternoon, yet every shop appears to be closed. I've forgotten to check on local custom. Sure enough, Wiki later tells me that on Mondays, stores typically close here at 2.

Nonetheless, we find a supermarket and we get great advice on cheese again and so we are set for the rest of the day.

Early bedtime for us today. Tomorrow we'll need to rent a car again. The island is hard to navigate without it. On the upside, we have ideas as to how to tackle Lesvos in the cold and, too, we are grateful that the rains have moved on to other parts of the continent. Now, could you please pass me a piece of the baklava, Ed? You, know, the one we bought in the bakery just a little while back?