Tuesday 2 July 2013

Greece: Day Thirteen- Chios, Mavria Volia, Pyrgi, Lithi

  Rather then stick around the hotel, today was spent seeing various parts of Chios. All but two members of the group loaded into the cars and met up with Nicks parents Katina and Mik. Our first stop was at Mavria Volia which is a black, marble beach. I wasn't sure what to expect but it was very beautiful. Rather then sand the beach consists of all these smooth, black marbles. There were some marbles of other colours but when you standing there looking at it, all you mostly see is a dark beach. This has been created from volcanic eruptions millions of years ago. The water is beautiful, but apparently there are steep/sudden drops. That combined with the amount of heat that comes off the marbles doesn't exactly make it kid-friendly. We stayed here maybe for 20 minutes. Just enough time to see it, dip our toes in and then go. 

(Photo:Mavria Volia) 

(Photo: The rocks) 

(Photo: A town near Mavria Volia) 

(Photo: Alex and his grandfather Mik) 

(Photo: Eva and her grandmothers - Pam and Katina) 

(Photo: Brian on Mavria Volia)
(Photo: the group at the beach) 

We then drove into the medieval village of Pyrgi which is full of narrow streets and tightly packed houses and arches. Most of the buildings have this distinctive graffiti technique used to decorate the outside. Basically the outer layer of cement is painted white and then geometric shapes are scraped away. It was very unique and interesting to walk through. We also got to see how Mastic trees work. Mastic is a tree that only seems to grow around Chios. They have apparently tried to grow it elsewhere but haven't had much success except in small parts of Turkey. It's protected under the EU as being specific to Chios. In Greece it is known as the "tears of Chios". 

From it gum, candy, beauty products and a liquor is produced. Unlike the process of maple syrup where it's extracted from within the tree, Mastic is produced in "tears" or droplets. Originally liquid, it is sun dried into drops of hard brittle translucent resin which is then used. In Pyrgi one of the shops had a tree on display and was able to show us the process. 

(Photo: Mastic) 

(Photo: Mastic) 

We had lunch in Pyrgi, at a pizza place of all things. We just ordered a bunch of pizzas and sat outside in the main town square. The owner of the restaurant had been in Baltimore and attended the local Greek church that Jenn and Nick were married in/The kids were baptized in. What a small orld! Apparently like Nicks parents, many people from Chios immigrated or visited Baltimore. Pyrgi was a really awesome place to stop and I'm glad we got to see it! The buildings and the mosaic type decor is just stunning. It's not at all what you think of when you hear Medieval village, but it's gorgeous. 

(Photo: The decor on the buildings) 

(Photo: Pyrgi) 

(Photo: Brian and I in Pyrgi and Brian, Charlie and I)

We piled back into our convoy of vehicles and headed toward Lithi, the village that Nicks father Mik was from. We ended up at the local beach which has apparently changed drastically since he and even Nick were children. It's now very much like what you see at the popular US beaches where a bunch of local restaurants and shops surround it. Our large group grabbed a bunch of tables and beach chairs and spent the afternoon swimming and looking at the beautiful Aegean sea. The water is so calm that you need to swim out pretty far before you can't touch ground. The tide came in a bit while we were there, but even then it was calmer then most American or Caribbean beaches. There isn't much you need to worry about in the waters here. There aren't any sharks or jellyfish etc, but there are Sea Urchins which are prickly and painful. However they tend to stay out by rocks, so as long as you avoid rocky areas you are fine. Some of the kids managed to find one near the rocks - again it's on Brian's camera so a picture will come later. 

(Photo: Lithi Beach) 

(Photo: My crazy beach hair) 

(Photo: Charlie and I) 

(Photo: Mikhali and I) 

(Photo: Leah) 

(Photo: Brian)

(Photo: Brian and I) 

(Photo: Judy and the boys) 

(Photo: Ally and Alex)

(Photo: Eva, Mikhali and Alex) 

(Photo: Mikhali used Charlotte as sand art in this awesome octopus!)

(Photo: Eva)

We remained at the beach until 5:00 or so and then headed back to the resort. On the way back we passed parts of the island that had been ravaged by a large fire years ago. Even now you can see the effects. 

(Photo: Forest that was affected by fire years ago) 

We also passed a lot of partially built homes. In Greece there is no such thing loans for housing construction. So families build over time as they get money. They also do this for the houses of their children - slowly build them as they are able. As such you see a lot of buildings all over the whole country that look like this: 

Once again we all ate at the pool area and hung out until dark. Some of Nicks family stopped by, so all the kids - the ones with us and the ones visiting - swam in the pool until late. 

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