June 1 Exploring Chios (Day 248)

Dawn over the mountains of Turkey! That’s how close the island of Chios is to Turkey!

After breakfast we walked to the port and collected the car we reserved yesterday for our all day tour of the south of the island.

Our first stop, at the first beach we came to, for coffees and relaxing on the deck over the sand.

Our next stop was a monastery up in the hills.

Looking through the doors of the walled monastery at the unique Greek tiled walkway using contrasting black and brown pebbles. The central church, surrounded by monastic cells built along the outer walls.

We entered the small museum on the right of the church and learned some very sobering history!The museum is the ossuary of the bones of some of the victims of the Massacre of Chios, a pivotal point in the Greek War of Independence of 1821-29. At least 25,000 people were killed by the invading Ottoman Turks, and about twice as many were enslaved, with 10 to 20,000 escaped, over the course of several months in March and April of 1822. On April 2, 1822 the Turks attacked this area and mostly women and children fled to the monastery for protection. The Turks attacked the church and burned it to the ground with all inside. The floor is the only original part of the church and is said to be stained with the blood and flesh of the victims burned alive.

The global outrage at the violence helped the Greek solidify their revolt against the Ottoman Empire, gain foreign allies and turn the tide eventually.We sought out a more peaceful venue after that history lesson!We continued to a more ancient site at Emporio, an archaeological site dating from the 8th century B.C. overlooking the small port. The cultivated fields are mostly orchards of mastic trees, a unique agricultural phenomenon practiced only on the south part of Chios island. We continued south, to the southernmost beach, Vroulidia (or Broulidia, depends on what map you’re looking at I guess).

A steep walk down to this beautiful beach with crystal clear water dissuaded us, especially since there was a rustic bar in the shade up top!

The bar/restaurant had a great sales method, a dumbwaiter cable to retrieve orders from the beach and send the orders down!

From the bar, refreshed with a cold brew, we drove north to the Mastic Museum to learn more about this unique Chios product.

Mastic production has been going on for centuries. The many villages have each cultivated their own varieties of the shrub, but the production methods have remained the same through history.

A close up of a mastic tree in an orchard, if you look closely you can see horizontal cuts on the bark from which the resin oozes to be collected, dried and cleaned with labor intensive methods.

As we turned the car back towards Chios City we passed more of the Medieval era mastic producing villages, driving up into mountains with open pine forests, then back down towards the city and the port. We turned the car back in and wandered into the old city to find a restaurant for a true Greek dinner!Seafood of course! Fried cod (baby cod I think), grilled octopus (one thick tentacle), fried zuchinni and roasted beets!


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