Saturday, July 2, 2011

Greek Island Holiday Guide

Greek Island holiday destinations offer literally hundreds of resorts ranging from those providing all the facilities of mass tourism to remote places with little more than a few village rooms. Islands also range in size from ones that can be walked around in a few hours to ones that have many major towns and hundreds of villages.

Lesbos is the third largest Greek island and has almost 200 miles of coastline to offer beach-loving holidaymakers. It is situated in the north-eastern section of the Aegean, only a few miles off of the Turkish coast and twelve hours by ferry trip from Athens. Fortunately the ferry trip is unnecessary because Lesbos has its own international airport.

None of the holiday resorts on Lesbos can be described as being "spoilt by mass tourism" but the most popular are served by package holiday companies. Of these, Molyvos is probably the most popular but even there, it is possible to enjoy a laid-back, away-from-it-all vacation.

The whole island abounds in natural beauty and its spectacular, indented coastline is made up of numerous sand and pebble beaches interspaced with many secluded coves. The island's interior is full of olive groves that produce some of the world's finest olive oil. There are even bottles of top "Italian" extra virgin olive oil that are produced from olives grown in Lesbos!

Where the olive groves end, beautiful forests of Mediterranean pine begin and on the western side of the island, you can even find the world's second largest petrified forest. Like many Greek islands, Lesbos is very mountainous. Its two major peaks, Lepetymnos and Olympus are over 3100 feet high and dominate the centre of the island. Because of the volcanic origin of Lesbos, several hot springs can be found on the island.

The word, Lesbian originates from Lesbos. This is because it was the birthplace of Sappho, the ancient Greek poetess. Her poems contained expressions of homosexual love. Sappho is thought to have been born and lived in Eresos. This very small town is a mile or so inland from the holiday resorts of Scala Eressos. Although, relaxing and laid back, Scala Eressos has a certain vibrant quality and caters for a wide range of visitors. These include many gay women who wish to enjoy women-only holidays or attend the annual Women's Festival.

As well as a good selection of bars and tavernas, Scala has a wonderful sandy beach, part of which is designated as a tolerated naturist area. The streets of the resort are closed to traffic so you do not have to worry about the road safety of your children. Where the village street ends, some cafes and taverns have been built along the beach by extending them out onto the sand. If you have kids, you can sit in one for a drink whilst the children play in the sea, still safely in sight.

The beach and village are framed in a beautiful setting of a green, fertile valley between arid mountains. A pretty lagoon at the back of the beach is the home to terrapins, frogs and seabirds. Children love this area and are often so fascinated by the terrapins that it is difficult to persuade them to leave. In the country side around the resort tortoises can often be seen plodding their way along stony scrubland. But the most fascinating wildlife of all is probably the resident pelicans. These can often be seen waddling around the tavernas in the hope of some free fish. The two birds have become so tame that they get up to tricks on the beach too, snatching tubes of suntan lotion or even books from shocked sunbathers. Sometimes the pelicans will throw the items playfully into the air and then catch them. When an item as big as book drops into the bird's huge gullet, fear for the creature's safety momentarily replaces the humour inspired by the performance. But there is no cause for concern and the pelicans quickly realise that the object has no nutritional value, fetch it back up, and drop it on the sand. Not everyone sees the funny side of the pelicans' behaviour however, especially the person who comes back from a swim to find their beach towel occupied by one of them. But for the onlookers, this usually results in an extremely amusing shooing away scene.

Whether your Greek Island holiday in Lesbos is at the resort of Scala Eressos or in one of the other resorts, you will probably fly to the airport at Mytilene, the island's capital. This airport offers a little bonus that you would be hard pressed to find anywhere else in the world. After checking in for your flight home, it is possible to sit in an open air area which overlooks the sea. Here you can bask away the remaining moments of your Greek island holiday watching the maneuvers of the Greek navy that are often seen just off the not too distant Turkish coast or you can just enjoy the lapping of the sea over the rocky beach that separates the airport from it.