Greece: The Magic of Samos Island

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The island of Samos Greece has a very long history dating back before the 8th century BC with many waves of settlement. One local site mentions that: “The first settlers in the village of Mytilini on Samos originate from Lesbos. They arrived here around 1700 as immigrants and founded the village after an earthquake destroyed their houses on the island of Lesbos. Mytilini is set in a plain and is surrounded by agricultural fields where mainly grapes are grown for the making of wine and also some tobacco. Mytilini has about 2500 inhabitants, so it is quite large compared to some of the other villages on the island. Still it makes a very quiet impression and there are hardly any tourists here.”

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The town square is the main gathering place, along with the long main street that runs straight through town unlike the twisting and turning roads found in many villages. In the square there are several large screen TVs for sports events. For big festivals people come from other smaller villages to join in the celebration, music and food. Several good restaurants serve the square.  There is also a smaller square right on the main street seen below in the early morning before it gets populated.

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The local movie theater is unlike anything in the US. It has a very neighborhood feel like most things here. People chat and have drinks before hand. It is outdoors in a walled garden with tables next to the chairs. You can order food and drinks to have while watching the movie. You can also see the stars overhead. Most movies are in English with Greek subtitles and there are two intermissions. We had souvlaki with fried potatoes and wine. At the last intermission we enjoyed some wonderful complementary fried beignet type pastries with honey, called Lukomates.

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Shops on the long main street include the super market with both food and household items. Next to it is an excellent produce store with fresh fruits and vegetables of all types, as well as a large variety of nuts. There are many other shops covering a wide variety of goods and music club primarily for young people.

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At the end of World War Two Mytilini had about 7,000 inhabitants. During the four year civil war between the Communists who fought in the resistance and the exiled prior government, the population dropped to about 2,000. There was little work and people went elsewhere, often to other countries. As a result about half the houses in the town are abandoned. Those that are lived in are very well cared for but they are often located next to falling down houses. The houses are built right next to each other and often share a common wall to reduce the amount of construction.

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Above the town, it is very rural with goats, olives groves, and a few donkeys. You can also see the town football field which is on the western side of the town. The local football season runs from the end of September to May as it is too hot in the summer. The teams from towns on the island play each other. The champion of the island then plays the champions from other islands.

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