Lesvos is an island of many contradictions, plenty of colours and a plethora of different musical notes. Indeed, Lesvos has its own individual melody, its very own special song and unique poem to recite. And it goes a bit like this…
It’s the sound of the waves, the voices of the fishermen in the harbour, the clink of the glass of ouzo on the table of the tavern, the laughter of the children on the beach, the smile of the old woman in the port of Mytilene, the bubbling, infectious repartee of the traditional café owner in Agiasos, the imposing gaze of the icon of Archangel Michael in Madamados, the aroma of fresh Kalloni sardines.
Images and sounds that make up an Aegean symphony, exhorting you to dance to its rhythm, sing along with it, live, taste and discover; the best holiday experience ever!
I found myself on Lesvos for a weekend and tried to create my own personal melody from this beautiful North Aegean island, which I composed through a series of experiences I had all within the space of 48 hours.
Travel with me there…
A walk around Mytilene
You cannot start discovering Lesvos unless you have first walked along the port, sat for a coffee at Panellinion, strolled down Ermou St. and enjoyed the first ouzo of the day at Epano Skala with a view of the castle. Continue on your way to the heart of the island’s capital and make sure to stop at the Metropolitan Temple of Agios Athanasios. Explore some of the most important monuments of the island such as the Yeni and Tsarsi mosques, the Museum of Modern Art, the magnificent neoclassical buildings and, just outside the main town, in the suburb of Vareia, the Theophilos Museum exhibiting works by the much- loved painter, to whom the museum is dedicated.
SYMBIOSIS Lesvos Arts Festival
You should really devote an evening to the music and visual arts SYMBIOSIS festival (SYMBIOSIS Lesvos Arts Festival). It is a festival full of music, theatrical performances, workshops and painting exhibitions; a festival with a view of the sea and a call to explore the local community, the different places and characteristic features of the area, to seek out intercultural collaborations and contribute to the creation of a colourful, creative collage from all over the world.
The Ouzo Barbayanni Museum
A trip to Lesvos without a visit to the Ouzo Museum of the Barbayanni family would be incomplete. This is the capital of ouzo, its headquarters and spiritual home, where the countryside abounds with vineyards and vast expanses of aniseed cultivation. Its fame and reputation for the very best quality has reached every part of the world! Just before you enter Plomari village, you will find the museum on your left hand side. Once there, Stathis Barbayannis himself and his nephew will take it upon themselves to take you on a journey through 150 years of experience and tradition. With them by your side you will discover step by step all the stages of Barbayanni ouzo production, from the harvesting of aniseed all the way to the bottling.
Every beach on Lesvos has something different to offer. Every one has its own character, its own melody and beauty. Looking for an organized beach with cafes and lots of people? Skala Eressou and Agios Ermogenis are your top options! If you want beaches best suited for families and children, then go for Petra, Vatera or Tsamakia. Then again, if you prefer quieter sandy beaches, head for Hrisi Akti and Hrousos (my personal favourite).
The Petrified Forest
Very close to cosmopolitan Eressos lies a unique geological monument, the Petrified Forest! Covering an area of 150,000 square metres and with hundreds of petrified tree trunks, it has rightfully been recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is an incredible and simply unmissable spectacle if you’re on the island and an accompanying visit to the Natural History Museum in Sigri will give you more insight into how one of nature’s surreal masterpieces came into being!
The villages of Lesvos
Having only a single weekend at my disposal, of course I couldn’t visit all the little villages on my to-do list. (Perfectly excusable! Or at least I like to think so.) The island is fairly large and it takes at least a week to see all its beauties. However, if you have some spare time, colourful Agiasos certainly merits a visit. It is a traditional village at the foot of Mt Olympos with cobblestoned alleyways, colourful walls and beautiful old-style cafes where you can stop for a coffee prepared over burning embers. Do not miss a visit to the church of Panagia with a miraculous icon of the Virgin Mary dating from the 4th century. In Asomatos village there’s a chance to browse and pick up a delightful wood-carved souvenir or a jar of tasty fruit preserves while in Plomari you can enjoy a coffee under the plane tree and, with a bit of luck, you will come across an ouzo festival that’s well underway; a common phenomenon in this particular village!
Lesvos has its own individual melody, its very own special song and unique poem to recite
Sunset in Molyvos
When the sun begins to set you most definitely have to be in Molyvos. In my opinion, this particular village is the most atmospheric on the whole island! The Byzantine castle, the old market with the colourful shops and the stone- paved streets, the numerous ‘ouzeri’ ( a bit like tappas restaurants but specializing in ouzo) and traditional cafes in the alleyways and the village harbor will carry you away with their own special, rapturous rhythms. And just as you are beginning to think that you have seen more or less everything that Lesvos has to offer, you cast your eyes towards the sea and witness the orange sun diving into its waters.
And in that moment you know that the island has saved its most melodious song for the very end of the day.