|Menander Mosaic in Mytilini Museum|
As the Pope flies into Lesbos (now Lesvos), I report on my own stay there last week. I was apprehensive given the appalling death toll and continued suffering of the refugees. I was afraid it was insensitive to be visibly enjoying myself in that context. But I was encouraged by a Greek friend, writing a PhD at SOAS, who has been volunteering in the camps. She insisted that the islanders want life to go on as normally as possible.
|Delicious Lake Kalloni Seafood|
|Arion of Methymna, Lesbos|
|Eresos High School, south-west Lesbos|
The museum in Mytilini is a revelation. Gorgeous mosaics and figurines reflect the ancient islanders’ twin obsessions with fish and theatre. We were the only visitors all morning.
|Bust of Theophrastus at Eresos|
I went to Lesvos because Aristotle lived there for a while. He researched the zoology of idyllic Lake Pyrrha (now Kalloni), including the ancestors of the cuttlefish (soupies) which we devoured in an excellent but empty restaurant on the marina. We paid homage at Eresos, home town of Aristotle’s friend, the philosopher-botanist Theophrastus. It is a dazzling seaside town where the secondary school is called the Theophrasteion.
|Assos with view over to Lesbos|
From Lesvos for 10 euros you can get a sturdy return ferry across that tragic, turbulent sea to Ayvalik in Turkey. For a day trip you don’t even need a visa. Then you can travel up the coast to Assos, one of the most impressive archaeological sites I’ve visited. Aristotle spent two years there. You can see Lesvos from the Doric temple of Athena or the wonderful Assos Hellenistic theatre.
|Beware the Prices at this Turkish port cafe|
One warning: in the Ayvalik Port Café, don’t let them cynically overcharge you 8 euros/25 Turkish pounds for an iced coffee. I was ripped off when the Turkish proprietor figured out I wasn’t Greek but northern European.
|One of the Camps as Seen from the Mytilini/Ayvalik Ferry|
The migrants’ camps are almost all on the north-eastern coast of Lesvos. We could just see the one nearest Mytilini from the Ayvalik ferry. If you want to help, support the bona fide Lesvos Solidarity charity recommended by my expert volunteer friend.
|Lyric Poets of Lesbos Alcaeus & Sappho|