Thursday, September 7, 2017

Still in Lesbos: mansions and monasteries

Mansions at Polychnitos

I'am a house freak, not every house, but old houses; whenever I see an old house, my blood rushes through my veins, my hart beats faster; their stones, wood, their energy makes me feel alive, makes me feel part of something bigger, that I am not alone. It makes me wonder about the people that lived there. And Lesbos is full of old, nice, small, stately or picturesque houses. Greek people love their houses, care for them. If you are like me, go visit the city of Polychnitos! The city is a collection of magnificent and more humbler mansions!

Mansion at Polychnitos

But this one is my favorite:have you ever seen a more striking front? I haven't. So simple and yet so impressive ànd humble; it says: here I am but in a very casual way, self-confident. Look at the color of the walls: pale cream that matches the pink stone, the cream of the walls blends with the green of the shutters! And the green of the shutters connects with the darker green of the pine tree.

Favorite house! 
Look at the pink color of the stones.

Birds at the Wetlands of Kalloni

The inner sea of Kalloni leaves land wet in the bay of Kalloni; this wet lands attract lots of birds, the salt pans in the bay provide food for flamingos and other birds;  we saw grey herons and white herons and some others birds, name unknown to me, We couldn't stop the car to take pictures of the herons but I was able to get some cute pictures of flamingos from the sturdy bird watching post.

Flamingos at the salt pans of Kallonis

2 Flamingos at the salt pans of Kalloni
Near the salt pans, there is a place where sheep graze; because of the heat, they huddle together in the shade. Can you imagine having wool in your stash from these sheep???? wouldn't it be great to knit a sweater with this different shades of black and brown and some white? This white sheep are really white, not cream, snow white!

Black, brown and white sheep at Lesbos

The Myrsiniotissas Monastery and Limonos Monastery near Kalloni, Lesbos

On the 5th day of our stay we visited 2 monasteries. The Myrsiniotissas Monastery is well hidden from the road. It is a nunnery with only 3 nuns left, so I was told ; we only saw one, an experience in itself! This monastery is very special to me because of its layout; it has 3 portals/gates each corresponding to different stages, each stage closer to the main church, closer to God. Outside of the monastery is a fountain and a small chapel; by a brown wooden door you enter the first courtyard, really only a paved court with its own chapel, a bit bigger than the chapel outside. Then comes another portal with a resting place before you enter the second courtyard and after you enter with flowers in containers.

Portals at the  Myrsionitissas Monastery, Kalloni, Lesbos
and then the last gate where an piece of paper asks to be dressed decently. (It says: it is up to the visitors conscience what decent means! pretty democratic!). And this part is like paradise: on the left, the sunny side, are the most beautiful flowers in containers (what an awful job to water them!), on the right are rooms/cells  and in the middle the big church, the church for the nuns.

Most inner garden at Myrsionitissas Monastery, Kalloni, Lesbos

The right side of this third part of the convent consist of 2 long row of rooms above each other; the rooms have windows looking towards the sea and only doors on the inner side. The open corridors are lined with chairs and sofas.

2 floors of cells at Myrsionitissas Monastery, Kalloni, Lesbos

On the mountain side are much older rooms and small cell's, a space enclosed on 3 sides  with  an oven fed with wood and room for doing the laundry. When I descended the steps, leaving the oven behind me, I came eye to eye with a nun. I looked at her, surprised to see her because she was hidden by a wall. I looked at her and she looked at me, with inscrutable eyes and big glasses, then I moved my hand inviting her to go ahead and she went her way. I looked for a seat and sat down on a bench, next to my husband. I felt I had let go of a chance, I chance to get answers on all the questions in my head. I said: I should have spoken to her. He answered: why didn't you. I left and went up the same stairs my woman in black went, found the only room with an open door, shoes left outside on the door mat. I knocked on her open door, nothing, knocked again, no reaction, knocked a third time and then somewhere a phone rang and she came to her door. When she saw me, she stopped abrupt, looked at me; after 3 rings, the phone stopped, I think it was a code, you'll understand why I say this. Without thinking I used my hands instead of my voice, my index finger went between her and me; she kind of looked annoyed, didn't speak and then I moved 2 of my fingers over my mouth from left to right, meaning your mouth is closed? and she nodded her head and then I left. I had no right to bother her, I was in her home after all.

We left to visit the Limonos monastery, also very interesting but in another way. We had visited the place before, but wanted to visit it again. I want to take my time telling you about it, I ll leave this story for next week.

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