Not long ago, the Greek people were allowed to return to the island.. most did not. But for tradition, I am lucky to meet the ones that are here as they have come to celebrate Easter on their island.
I also learned that since the island became part of Turkey, the Greek population now tend to paint their houses in the Greek colors of blue and white.. just to be clear who lives where!
As for the Turkish houses.. the flag is displayed in each of them including the shops.
Maria shows me her Grandfathers house, still abandoned.
Being Easter weekend, George #2 takes me around the first village on my list.. Zeytinlekoy. Have a look at the streets.. so old... very very quiet with only a handful of people here since most is abandoned. The majority of the families moved to either Athens Greece or Istanbul Turkey.
These buildings are empty, but he explains to me his memory as a child, this is the center of the village where they would have dances on summer nights, markets, etc.
Next he takes to show me the wash houses.. which are scattered around on different streets. I would imagine it would more rightly be called the gossip house? ;-) Very important meeting place for the women to wash clothes.. and a fireplace inside to make the warm water rinse cycle. ;-) I like it!
This is Friday night and the finish of Lent for Greek Orthodox Easter.. I was invited to watch the festivities at the very tiny village church. I don't understand a dag gone word of it, however I know about Easter and I've got a good idea what they're saying.
After this most interesting Greek Midnight resurrection service for an Aussie/American to watch ;), they invited me back to the house where George's mother has prepared the traditional "break the lent fast" soup called Mayiritsa.. Lamb and all it's pieces and parts. (Not for me, but I appreciate the tradition) And... it's after 2 AM!! (I am not hungry, nor was I fasting for the last 7 days)
But I did love the gorgeous eggs!! That I can eat! And with the traditional cracking of them against each other, I am proud to say my egg was the strongest.. good luck!
Really fun and unique experience for me.. time seems to stand still here, so this was truly a look at how things really used to be.. and the dedication of these people to carry on their culture here on this now Turkish island.
The following day, I set off to explore the rest of the island alone, using George #1's handy list.
First up is Karekoy, and the Saint Nicholas Church. This is the location of the old port where the greek inhabitants were thrown out of their houses over night.. with St. Nicholas Church being their last sight. ;-( I still don't understand why the Greeks were then taken to Istanbul Turkey (why not to mainland Greece?)
Next stop is Tepekoy..here I visit the old Greek school. My new Greek friends tell me this is one of the main reasons that families don't return permanently to the island is due to no school and too hard/expensive to rebuild one now..
Moving on to Schinoudi you can see behind the bike and the largest town of around 3,500 people completely abandoned. The Turkish people who were sent to live on the island did not take over these houses for some reason.
I peaked into some of the houses.. still with old clothes, stoves, etc scattered about the floors. I can't imagine what it would be like to be in my own home one day and the next day somebody from another country sends me away forever..
These people were all so kind to invite me into their lives and spend a lot of their time explaining to me their island history.
I do not want to leave out my Turkish experience on this island. Here's a view of my wander around town to take in a bit of this culture as well.
The boys at the small hotel I stay were really enthusiastic about my trip and blog and served me a fun Turkish meal.
Quick trip, but much accomplished.. thanks George for insisting I go to 'your' island. Was such an honor to experience!
Now I have a 7:30 AM ferry ride back to the mainland of Turkey so I can resume my original route plan to Bulgaria.
One late morning view of the Cove before I head up the road! How funny and what a coincidence to find myself here.. didn't have the slightest plan to do so, especially on a motorcycle!.. Even though I'd like to lie and say that I had always planned to be here on this day in honor of my own country. But respect to all the ANZAC's..better late than never? ;-)