Chios was actually the primary reason for visiting Greece again, which created the opportunity to see other islands. Sharon needed to return to Chios (you may recall that I cut my trip short in March 2020 and did not go with her to Chios, but rather returned home as the pandemic was spreading), to revisit the chapel that was frescoed by Juliette May Fraser, the Hawaii artist who is the focus of Sharon’s dissertation.
Although very Greek, the island is located off the coast of Turkey, about the same latitude as Izmir. It’s so close that the Turkish coast was visible in the day and the lights lined the horizon at night. Tourism is just a small part of the Island’s economy, with maritime activities and one key crop — mastica — comprising the largest part. They are very proud of their mastica, which has improved chewing gum and has created multiple varieties of foods and health/beauty products. I, however, am proudest of remembering that there is a mastica liqueur that is killer in cocktails (the mastica mojito, in particular).
The 3-star hotel was right on the harbor in Chios Town, and my room had a great view of the harbor and the harborfront. It bustled with activity (if I can use “bustled” and “Chios” in the same sentence) in the evenings, with several blocks of restaurants and bars with mostly outdoor seating. I heard it described as ”the poor man’s Nice”. Why is it that so many other places in the world have done this beautifully, and the closest Hawaii can come is Front St. in Lahaina?
We spent most of our time with friends that Sharon had met on her previous trip, both retired from the local school system; and everywhere we went, former students came up and hugged them. A truly lovely couple, they brought us to their home for afternoon coffee and sweets, their son joined us for dinner on the harbor front in Chios Town, and they toured us around the island, including a very scenic drive along the western coast, with deserted beaches and beautiful bays. It was a full day of visiting a medieval town, a UNESCO monastery, and a great lunch of fresh seafood and souvlaki alongside the water in a VERY small fishing village.
At dinner, the couple’s son ordered a small bottle of ”high test” (as my husband Bob would have called it), basically to challenge the American women. He described it as ”ouzo without the anise”. Which basically means carburetor cleaner. I tried it, and it wasn’t as bad as I had anticipated. But I didn’t buy a bottle to bring home……