The Hot Springs of Lesvos

Lesvos, Greece.  Poolside.  No makeup, hair could really stand a wash, and I couldn’t care less! Past the majestic date palms which line the length of the pool I look down upon fields dotted with ancient olive trees, hundreds of years old, their trunks gnarled and twisted, their leaves gently swaying in the afternoon breeze coyly showing off the silvery underside as a girl might let her secret love catch a quick glimpse of her petticoats.  Beyond is the Aegean.  These waters are cold, I mean, REALLY cold. Lesvos is known for many things.  Their ouzo is world-renowned.  Their olive oil is some of the best on this planet.  Greeks consider Lesvos one of the most gorgeous islands not only because of her beaches but the island is also home to thousands of birds which stop here during their migration to and from Africa.  This is not an arid island.  Not only are there olive groves and pine trees but meadows filled with wild flowers and butterflies. Horses, goats and sheep graze peacefully in fields filled with pine and elm trees.  Cool breezes wrap themselves around you and, yes, the sun is warm, but not like a hot flame licking the bottoms of your feet.  No, the sun is warm and golden.  Down the road from our hotel is a natural hot spring. The building housing the spring dates back to Roman times.  The entrance is a small, cement doorway which opens to a large, domed structure.  The rounded ceiling opens to a 15 small, square holes which send down a brilliant rays of sunlight that dance and shine smack dab in the middle of the rectangular hot spring.  The floor of the spring is covered with smooth, round rocks and a several well-worn boulders have been strategically placed for seating.  It’s so pretty and relaxing.  Until you open one eye and catch the fat man from some unnamed Slavic country who was just sitting across from you attempting to get out of the steaming waters and shooting you a HIGHLY unattractive backside view of his private parts as seen through his speedo.  Eeeeeeew.  Pretty nasty, but I know you can get past it. Other than that, it’s a pretty spectacular place.  When you first try out the hot springs a gentlewomen explains the correct procedure of immersing yourself.  Cold water is the first step and you have your choice of an outside shower or the Aegean Sea.  The waters of the Aegean are dark, cobalt blues to shimmering, pale aquamarine and colder than you can imagine.  It’s painful just sticking your big toe in.  I’ve even seen Russians scream upon contact.  It takes quite a bit of self-discipline to stay in such frigid waters but after five or six minutes you can drag yourself out and tackle the next step.  The springs are a toasty 109 F to a blistering 115 F.  She advised us to slowly ease ourselves into the waters and advised us the feet are some of the most sensitive parts of the body.  The first time we went I remember thinking, “Oh, no. Not me. I could probably do a cannonball into the water and be just fine.  I’m a mermaid.”  Boy, was I wrong. The tops of your feet truly ARE highly sensitive creatures so we heeded her words and took our time.  Little by little, inch by inch we lowered ourselves until the water came up to our necks.  The hot spring pool is relatively shallow so we were almost horizontal by that point holding onto the edge of the pool for leverage. The recommended time in the pool is no more than 20 minutes so we were happy to get out.  It.Was.Hot.  You could feel yourself perspire, submerged, while watching your skin turn pink.  Time to get back into the cold.  Funny thing tho, when we felt the cold of the Aegean again on our bodies, and believe me, we were dreading it, if didn’t hurt!  Matter of fact, it felt nice. Cool against the heat of our skin.  And it was the same when we went back into the springs.  Felt like bath water!  Back and forth we went, sometimes chatting with each other or other bathers until we surrendered to the luxurious point of limp relaxation.  After a quick towel rub down, a towel can be purchased for a mere 1e, one can take in a little sun and enjoy the drowsy aftermath and post-springs conversation.  “I’m hungry.  You hungry?”  “Yeah.  I could choke down a little something.  Sure.”  “You wanna go to “Our Favorite Restaurant?”  “Oh, yeah!!”, and off we go with our liquid limbs and at a leisurely pace still relishing the warm sun on our skin.  As we approach the Efftalou Restaurant we take in the Aegean and Turkey to our right and, yes, more olive trees to our left.  A quick scan of the restaurant and we take our seats outside.  Usually under the shade of a fig or lemon tree.  This restaurant is known for its fresh fish and never disappoints.  With a cold Mythos beer for Jimmy and an equally cold, crisp glass of house white for me, our order is taken and is usually the same. Grilled whole fish or grilled octopus and loads of vegetables! The fish is from local waters and never more than an hour or two has passed since being caught.  The typical grilling method is to rub the fish with olive oil, give it a light sprinkling of salt, slip it into a flat grilling basket and onto the fire.  It’s served with lots of freshly cut lemon and good Greek olive oil.  And it’s always out of this world!!  A side of boiled, wild greens with more lemons and olive oil, zucchini blossoms stuffed with feta, maybe a Greek salad and, baby, lunch is served!

Dessert!!! Always on the house!!
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