Biking, Beaching, and Exploring a Petrified Forest

Trip Start Oct 24, 2005
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Flag of Greece  , Northeast Aegean Islands,
Tuesday, August 10, 2010

After three days of doing nothing but drinking beer, reading books, eating phenomenal food, and sitting in the sun, we finally moseyed over to the motorbike shop and rented ourselves a hog.  Perhaps "hog" isn't the right word -- something more like "piglet" or "runt" would probably be more apropos for our little 50cc whiz.  Actually, it wasn't a bad bike -- they had souped it up and it really had some serious power for such a little guy -- we didn't have any problems motoring up and down the hills of Lesvos (which aren't to be taken too lightly).

Our destination was the petrified forest located more or less directly north of us.  The map made it all look pretty straightforward, so we buzzed out of town and drove north, into the hills and scrub, away from the ocean.  The terrain was very, very dry, very brown, and very scrubby; Konrad was in heaven.  Our little 50cc bike tore up those hills and took us all the way to our destination, the largest of the two major petrified forests in the world, an amazing 20 million years old.  

True to form, we arrived at the hottest time of the day, ready to wander around under the blazing sun -- for future reference, petrified forests don't offer any shade.  While it was hot, it was an opportune time to visit, since most people had the good sense to visit earlier or later in the day, meaning we had the place virtually to ourselves.  Konrad had visited the petrified forest in Yellowstone when he was a kid, so he had some idea of what to expect.  I'd never been to one, and wasn't really sure of what it was going to be.  I thought it would be clusters of petrified trees (not alive -- I knew that much).  I was wrong.  It turned out to be individual trees here and there, only a few of which were still standing.  Most of them were stumps or had fallen long ago.  What I didn't expect, and what was very cool, was how colorful they were: shades of reds and purples, stretching across the dry brown landscape of Western Lesvos.  

We spent an about an hour winding our way through the petrified stumps and trees, enjoying the views and snapping photos.  Once we'd made it back to the beginning, we left the park and hopped back on our bike and headed down the hills to the coastal town of Sigri.  Sigri is a little town on the westernmost point of the island.  It's not as touristy as some of the other towns on the island, which was obvious when we drove in: it was very quiet, with only a smattering of tourists littering the seaside cafes and restaurants.  We drove around the harbor, then back up into the hills and around to the southern part of the town near the beach, where we found a sweet little restaurant to have lunch.  

After more delicious Greek food, we walked across the road to the beach and nestled down in the sand for a few hours before beginning the drive back to Skala Eressos.  We wanted to see as much of the island as we could, so opted to drive south along the coast, rather than going back the same way we'd come -- an excellent decision, as it treated us to some of the most stunning views of the island we'd seen since arriving (and that was definitely saying a lot).  The angle of the sun was perfect, lighting up the coast with a golden glow.  Absolutely no one was on the road, which made the drive even more magical for us.  We paused a few times to take in the beauty of the western coast, each time eventually driving on towards our destination, finally pulling into town around 6:00pm -- which left us plenty of time to shower up and get down to the beach to enjoy another gorgeous sunset.

We wanted to rent the bike again and venture south, but couldn't tear ourselves away from the beach and its relaxing, curative properties.  As such, this would be our one and only bike journey during the trip -- which was fine, really -- why mess with perfection?
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