Our drive today took us towards the west of Lesvos, the plan was to head out and see the petrified forest in Sigri, unique to Lesvos following volcanic eruptions 20 million years ago, ash was thrown over trees of various variety which then became caked in mud from heavy rainstorms afterwards. Each of the trees essentially baked and mummified with the chemicals seeping from volcanic materials into their cells. The trees which were left standing, few I might add, actually absorbed the chemicals and minerals through the root systems. Excited to see such a magnificent sight, were were then pretty disheartened to read that the forests were closed! However, there is a museum dedicated to this incredible petrification process, hopefully we will not be too disappointed.
The drive through spectacular countryside was breathtaking, green fiends in abundance, pretty spring flowers bursting into colourful carpets, yellows and whites, purple and reds, the scenery is beautiful. Rocky landscape blanketed in foliage and trees remind us of our home in the UK, Dartmoor national park. Most Greek Islands have huge barren areas around the mountains and more remote regions, whereas Lesvos is completely the opposite.
En route we pass a sign for one of Lesvos lovely monasteries, this one appears to be dedicated to meadows, hmm an interesting but not the most bizarre dedication!
When we follow the brown historical signage towards this monastery we begin to realise exactly why it has its unusual dedication, it is gorgeous.
A collection of minature churches and little religious buildings are scattered across the brilliant green landscape, constructed in old stone, slate and red bricks they resemble a little Hobbit village. In the background of this panorama is the most idyllic monastery I have ever seen. With wisteria and minature roses draping themselves across ancient wooden beams and fencing, the buildings couldn't look any more picturesque if they tried. The main monastery building is actually dedicated to three saints and its name Limonos Monastary means meadow as it is snuggled perfectly into one. Founded in 1527, these buildings nurture frescoes dating back to 16th and 17th century, monks accommodation and of course the main church building are open to visitors. Unfortunately women cannot enter the church until 14th October, feast day. We were all completely captivated by this stunning place and I recommend a detour if ever on the island.
We travel around 90 kms before spotting the evidence of the historical forest site, large tree trunks laying by the roadside capture our interest. They are surrounded by mesh fencing and some of these tree like structures are caked in plaster of paris material, presumably to protect their aged mummified contents. What we don't at this point realise is that these are examples of the petrified trees uncovered through excavation. Until we reach the museum we are unsure just what these trees might actually look like.
The museum is fantastic, a great exhibition of the volcanic eruptions and the unique process that caused this whole natural phenomenon, there are other sites internationally, mainly in America.
We are shown to a small lecture theatre where we learn about petrification and how the area 150,000 metres square, has been affected on this third largest Greek island in addition, animal and plant fossils have since been discovered making this an incredible archeological find.
The exhibits of both trees, fossils and volcanic materials are incredible and well worth the €5 each to experience. The actual forest is closed in order to protect the exhibits as rain and presumably cold weather clearly has a destructive effect and it will reopen at an appropriate time, just not this week!
Sigri village nearby was a perfect lunch stop, we parked our trusty wheels at the top of a hill and followed the winding roads towards the waterfront. This small collection of houses and a sprinkle of cafes on the hillside led us to a building site, a new harbour was under construction. Concrete hosed from lorries while men in wellies directed the flow, huge slabs of harbour wall were developing as we took our seats for lunch, not the prettiest view but I am sure in the not too distant future it will look very impressive.
With such a long journey back towards Skala Loutra, we meandered through yet more beautiful countryside and greenery, albeit a slightly different route east.
What a fabulous day, we have seen some of the best places and scenery in the islands so far and we still have another two days with the car. Tomorrow we head to Petra which boasts an impressive castle and town with a picturesque cobbled street down towards the harbour.
The following morning our weather forecasts, all four of them, state showers intermittently. They lied, all of them.
From the moment we woke until late afternoon it absolutely threw it down, occasionally it abaited enough for us to leap into shore from our boats then we made it into the car in another momentary break. For the entire day we ducked into cafes and doorways assessing every puddle depth as we sploshed our way through the heavy droplets. Pedi looked lovely, we drove there anyway anticipating an improvement in the black ugly sky. With each mile that we drove, the mist covered our tracks and probably laughed at our attempts to outrun it's outbursts.
We actually walked towards the harbour having driven as close as possible given the narrow streets ahead. We pulled our waterproofs tightly around us as we quickened the pace, what a pointless trip. Such a pretty place with its dominant stone castle peeking at us through the cloud. We stopped for lunch in a roadside bar, which was great but what we really wanted to do was sit at the top of this lovely town looking over the sea munching on whatever was on offer. Our day of driving ended early, we at least tried to see the sights, tomorrow should be an improvement...... we hope!
Back to Skala and relax on board with hatches closed and the heater on, great fun.