Ham-ambling

posted in: Life in Lesvos | 0
In the old hammam

Took me a while to come up with a title for this post: rambling, wandering, wombling?  None seemed right, conjuring Clare Balding, Lee Marvin, Wimbledon Common.  Anyway…

This being Saturday, nothing specific to do, beyond getting a passport photo – the authorities are cracking down on volunteers and NGOs, with roadside spot checks on the former, and warnings of large fines on the latter, so we all need official passes on lanyards.  That done, I set off on a stroll along Ermou, the narrow shopping street which connects my house with the harbour, the school, the town.

It took me past a ruined 19th century mosque and, close nearby, an old Turkish hammam, or bath-house.  Not a ruin, but not working either, just a series of empty rooms, with a few old photos on easels. It cost me two euros to enter what must be the emptiest museum I have ever seen, but the nice man on the door did take my photo.

Continuing along Ermou, I passed To Kastro, the restaurant where some other volunteers and I had had an excellent but ridiculously cheap meal last night, and where the owner George had performed some astonishing close magic right at our table. And a few paces beyond that, and suddenly I was at the sea!  My good friend Joe the London taxi driver, sadly no longer with us, had told me that the secret to knowing a city was getting to know one place, getting to know another place, and then joining them up!  After four weeks in Mytilini, that was what I was starting to do.

I knew that the castle at Mytilini had once stood on an island with a narrow channel dividing it from the mainland.  A helpful sign on some nearby ruins confirmed that the path of that channel was now… Ermou!  Every day, I walked along an ancient waterway, which had silted up and become Mytilini’s main shopping street, (though obviously it had taken rather longer for that to happen.)

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