Berkeley East rolled some 45 miles from Ikaria to Mesta Port on the island of Chios. It was uncomfortable to say the least, but then again, we've had much worse. The cruising guide said that construction of a dock was underway here, but we weren't prepared for the enormous concrete structure filling the east side of the cove. It was too big for Berkeley East. It was too big for anything but a large fishing boat and could easily accommodate a cruise ship, yet it was empty and looked as if it had never been used.
We anchored in the center of the cove and looked at the sleepy little village on shore. A few houses, three tavernas and the cargo ship dock; that was it. But it was calm for a good nights sleep. In the morning, we decided to walk over the hill to Mesta, one of the historic villages of Chios. We knew it wasn't far, but had no idea where to begin, so we asked at the first taverna and was given an enthusiastic pointing down the road. Everyone we passed, smiled and pointed us in the right direction.
Local fisherman preparing his boat in Limenas (Mesta Port)
It was a beautiful walk to Mesta, for a lunch of zuchinni fritters and catfish. People were so friendly, we felt like we lived there.
On the walk back, we decided we should stay and see the island, so we went back to the taverna to inquire about the bus to Chios Town to rent a car. They were closing, hosing down the patio, but a man stopped what he was doing, came to talk, took two chairs off a table, told us to sit and went off to make us some coffee. He came back to tell us that the bus does not run on Saturday, but he had a friend who would take us. About 45 minutes later we had two cups of Greek coffee and pastry in front of us. And when we tried to pay, they all smiled and said no. We tried again and they smiled and said no.
We arranged to have a car delivered to us in the harbor and at 10:00 pm, a man showed up with a new, very clean little car. We sat at a table on the waterfront to do the paperwork, and he spent more time telling us where to go, what to visit, how to be careful and offering us help any time we needed it, even when we were at sea.
The man from the rental car company pointed out the importance of using the handbrake and leaving the transmission in gear.
As we drove around the island the next day, the smiles, directions and good nature continued. In the villages, at the petrol station, in the Vodaphone store where the clerk kept his customers waiting and waiting, as he gave us information and inquired about our travels, while the customers simply waited, smiling patiently.
The island was beautiful with many small inlets for anchoring.
There are 20 "mastic" villages on the island known for their unique architecture and a resin / gum that was the basis for paints, cosmetics and medicines. Today it is used to produce chewing gum, liquor and tooth paste. We managed to see six of the villages, each had its own unique characteristics.
The village of Pyrgi is unique because of the geometric patterns scraped into the outer walls of all of the buildings
The ghost town of Anavatos is integrated into the cliffs. During the Ottoman invasion, it is said that many of the women and children jumped from the village to their death to avoid being captured.
Chios Town, less than five miles from Turkey, is a modern, vibrant town. The wharf was lined with cafes full of locals drinking coffee and ouzo.
After a lunch of Slovakia and Calamari, we were served desert - ice cream bars and Mastic liquor.
Hidden in a valley west of Chios Town is the monastery of NeaMoni with well-preserved frescos and mosaics. During the Ottoman invasion, many Chians fled to the monastery for protection, only to be slaughtered. At the entrance to the monastery is a cabinet displaying the skulls of some of the brutally murdered monks and locals.
Just south of the villages is the Cave of Olympi, full of stalactites and stalagmites
In general, we have found extremely friendly people in Greece, but the people on Chios are definitely the friendliest Greeks we've met, so far. Actually, they are probably the friendliest people we've ever met.