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The Talking Table

The Talking Table is a place where people stay, eat and talk together.

If you love food not only because it is fuel but because it sustains you, body and soul. If you love company not only because people tell you things but because through others you become more human. If you love conversation not because it kills time but because it is a home in which your ideas and imagination can flourish. If you love people not only because they are familiar but also because some are foreign and strange and bring with them many new things. If you love the sea and the islands not only because you can holiday there in the sun but also because some of our first cultures flourished there and some of the first poetry was sung there and some of the first probings of our existence and of the human spirit took place there …

Then you are one of us. People who come together on the famed Greek island of Lesvos in the north-eastern Aegean Sea. People who enjoy a meal and love inspiring conversation. We call it The Talking Table. We also call it “a safe place for dangerous ideas”. Dangerous only because we encourage people to speak their truth about the world, whatever it is.

We are lovers of life and lovers of food, lovers of the earth and lovers of people. At our table, we sit together in peace and enjoy of the simple bounty of life as expressed in hearty food and generous conversation. We don’t have agendas. We don’t have rules. We only want you to talk, to listen, and to feel at home doing so.

For up to a week at a time we all stay together in an historic manor house in the northern-lesvotian village of Molyvos, tucked right up against Turkey, just seven kilometres across the Strait of Mytilene. The stately house, situated on the town square, has comfortable nooks and crannies inside and a garden outside, with sun and shade, where you can quietly sit and read or think or continue a conversation that spilled over from the dining table.

During every week-long session we serve daily breakfasts and a number of informal lunches or evening meals at a long table for our guests, no more than eight in number. This is where there is a chance you may encounter someone from a different country or continent or hemisphere, coming with an entirely different world view. This is where you can discover our human kinship, the possiblility of friendship, and the opportunity to see the world through a different prism.

Outside of these dinners you can roam and discover the island. The diversity of Lesvos ranges from forests to alpine mountains to desert rock to marble beaches. There are twelve million olive trees and pine-covered mountainsides. Streams and archaeology. Wine farms and festivals. Cliff-hanging villages and a vibrant capital city. All connected by excellent roads.

Molyvos is the ancient city of Mythimna, a place of myth and history, a station along the way of the original Odyssey on the island that gave the world the first poet of individual emotions, Sappho. The island where Aristotle spent a year at a lake writing up his observations. It is also a place where refugees from the war in Syria are welcomed and helped by townspeople and volunteers before they travel further into Europe. This is truly East meeting West.

Crowning the hill on which the World Heritage village is built is a Byzantine castle. Stretching to the east and the south of the village are almost endless beaches. Running through the heart of the village is the agora, the shopping street shaded by wisteria vines. It is one of the most iconic villages in Greece.

Our hometown and its environment has many excellent cafes and tavernas, some overhanging the cliffs, some right on the beach. You can do sailing, hiking, birdwatching, visit churches and museums, enjoy Greek music and dancing, or just sit and watch the passing trade.

Taking in the beauty and grace of all that Greece has to offer is part of what The Talking Table offers. It is about sharing and about coming forth. About enjoying food and drink as much as enjoying people and life. Come let us all grow together, become more understanding, gain wisdom. Let us help each other understand better what is happening in the world, where it is going.

Come sit down with us at The Talking Table.

Your Hosts

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Douw Steyn and Frederik de Jager, both in their fifties, are South Africans from Cape Town. Both have worked in the corporate media – Douw in print and online media across the world, Frederik in book publishing. They love cooking and hosting and The Talking Table is but an extension of many lingering weekend meals with friends and generous conversation.