The starting point of my recent seven-day island hopping adventure was the Greek Island of Samos. I have visited before, but as this was only an overnight stop to catch the early morning ferry to Mykonos, I decided to not stray further than Vathi, the capital of Samos. I knew that Samos is very famous for its excellent wine, and to my delight there was a wine museum not that far out of town, which also offered tastings.
It’s about an one hour walk along the seafront. However, when I was just past the well known Lion Square, I saw a sign indicating an archaeology museum I had not heard of before. I will confess, the month of August is boiling hot and although a cool breeze was blowing off the sea, a one hour hike in the sun seemed like quite an enterprise whereas the prospect of a cool museum was very enticing. I reasoned I could have some wine anywhere and would rather look at Samos’ past in comfort insetad of getting dehydrated.
So it came about that I was sidetracked and what a find it was. The museum is rather small and tucked away behind a wonderful park, but well indicated. My timing couldn’t have been more perfect as the museum is only open from 8:30am to 3:00pm and does not open again in the afternoon. It consists of two buildings opposite to each other and the entrance is to the left with a moste admission fee of â‚¬3.
It turned out to be the kind of museum I like best: artifacts and statues displayed in a way which allows you very close inspection rather than velvet ropes keeping you at a distance. The first room exhibited heads, feet and other body parts from excavations all over the island, dating from Greek and Roman times and all extremely well preserved. The “oohh” moment came when I turned a corner and was confronted by the absolutely gigantic statue of a kouros, one of twelve who had lined the sacred road which leads to the temple of Hera near Pythagorion about 20 miles away. With the exception of the lower left leg, the enormous sculpture was in one piece and I had never expected something so impressive in such a comparatively small and unknown museum. The Louvre or British Museum would be proud to have this witness from several thousand years ago.
And he wasn’t the only one. More statues emerged form the mysterious twilight which illuminated the hall. I could hardly tear myself away, but the building across awaited with more elaborately worked torsos of Roman times as well as much smaller artifacts dating as far back as the Bronze ages. In short, a surprising and enlightening overview of Samos’ history which once again confirmed what every seasoned traveler knows anyway: don’t hesitate to be sidetracked, you never know what surprising discoveries you may make.
Inka is German and used to be an international attorney with offices in London and Spain. Retired two years ago because I wanted to be a traveler and writer and now live between Didim, Turkey, and Miami with plenty of travel in between. Next destinations: Istanbul, New York and Petra, Jordan.