Civilised Mytilene is the compact capital of ‘emerald’ Lesbos
Largest of the islands in the Aegean group. With 11 million olive trees to its name, Lesbos is verdant and lush – the perfect spot for a break from the bustle... and a handy place to pick-up some locally produced Ouzo!
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In Mytilíni Town, Ermoú street threads the traditional bazaar; towards the north end, a few shops sell reproduction engravings and antiques. Mólyvos has the greatest concentration of tourist boutiques, followed by Skála Eressoú and Pétra resorts. Olive-related souvenirs (soap, wood products) are ubiquitous. Methymneos Winery (daily July to September) in remote Hídira has long been known for velvety reds from local legacy grapes, with whites added since 2005. Their wine is completely organic, as the sulphurous vineyard soil kills most pests. Near Ípios, the Mylelia restored water-powered grain mill has since 1992 sold acclaimed pasta, both traditional and novelty.
Food & Drink
Lésvos is noted for its seafood, sheep cheeses, olive oil and especially ouzo. A particular fish speciality, the ideal ouzo accompaniment, is sardélles pastés (salt-cured sardines) from the Kalloní Gulf. Plomári is home to most ouzo distilleries – Barbayanni is the most famous and considered the best nationwide; their ‘museum’ can be toured daily (from April to mid-Oct). Over 11 million olive trees blanket the island, and oil in every measure is sold here. Ermis Ouzeri in Mytilíni Town (Kornárou 2) claims two centuries of purveying ouzo titbits under its panelled ceiling, old oil paintings and giant mirrors; Balouhanas in post-industrial Pérama (far north end of waterfront) is tops for seafood and local recipes. In Mólyvos, The Captain’s Table (fishing harbour) is the most consistent venue for seafood and meat.
On the Saturday, in handsomely stone-built Agía Paraskeví, a bull is publically sacrificed and its meat cooked in a communal stew called keskéti; late on Sunday afternoon anarchic horse races take place at the edge of town, on spirited, unbroken steeds – crowd-charging incidents not unknown.
Concerts and plays staged in Mytilíni’s medieval castle plus other venues across Lésvos. Last year saw top Greek names Marinella, Kostas Hatzis and Alkistis Protopsalti perform.
Mólyvos Summer Events
Concerts or drama are staged in the imposing castle above the village, on an ad-hoc basis – funding issues no longer permit a formal programme.
Grilled, not cured, sardines are the thing here, served in the main square along with music and dance performances. The plankton-rich gulf here makes the sardines the best around.
International Eressos Women’s Festival
Skála Eressoú with its superb sandy beach has long been the premier resort for lesbians across Europe. Since its inception in 2000, this festival has grown to two weeks of musical, dance and cabaret events, as well as exhibitions, craft markets, plus a small film festival.
Few foreign visitors stay in gritty Mytilíni Town, preferring beach resort hotels scattered across Lésvos (the official name of the island). In rough order of popularity, one has Mólyvos – where oldie but goodie Delfinia’s bungalows occupy 35 hectares of landscaping, with direct beach access; Pétra, where the Clara Hotel Bungalows 2km south at Avláki offer a high standard; and Skála Eréssou, where the best choice is Neilson Aeolian Village 15 minutes’ walk west, as central choices tend to be of low standard.