Money, Food, Books,Weather & Easter
(the important stuff)
Plastic has taken over from the travellers' cheque
as the easiest, and usually cheapest, way of accessing your money while abroad.
You will find no shortage of ATMs on Lesvos, usually at bank branches and post offices,
but often as stand-alone machines or kiosks.
Most resorts have at least one machine, though they do come and go,
and if you are staying in Anaxos or Skala Kallonis you may have to go in to Petra or Kalloni respectively to find one.
All take most varieties of debit and credit card,
and if they recognise a non-Greek card will offer a range of languages for your transaction.
Travellers' Cheques can be changed at banks and most post offices.
Some travel agencies also offer an exchange service.
Food & Drink
Greek ways of eating out are very different from most northern European habits.
Less formal and more sociable, most taverna meals consist of a variety of dishes:
salads, pulses, cheeses, meat or fish, brought to the table in no particular order when they are ready,
to be shared first come, first served.
Tavernas in the holiday resorts have adjusted to their customers:
while most dishes are basically Greek, menus tend to be organised into courses to suit customers' tastes.
If you prefer to eat Greek-style (and most of us who spend a large part of our lives here do)
most tavernas will be delighted to bring a selection of dishes for you to share.
(And if you really insist, it is possible to find places serving an all-day English breakfast
complete with Guinness and wide-screen TV football).
Tourism, the microwave, and government regulation have made the barely warm meals of legend almost extinct.
(though many Greeks will still insist that hot food is bad for the digestion)
Similarly almost all tavernas now work from a printed menu: if you wish to see your food before ordering
the choices will be laid out in chilled displays rather than the simmering pans of a few years ago.
Books & Maps
There are large sections on Lesvos in the Lonely Planet guide to Greece
(the chapter on the North-East Aegean Islands, which includes Lesvos, is available to download as a stand-alone PDF
from the website), the Rough Guide to the Greek Islands,
and all the many other general English guides to Greece or the Greek Islands.
('The Rough Guide to the Dodecanese and East Aegean Islands'
was last published in 2005, but is still obtainable through amazon.co.uk)
Most English-language guides devoted to the island come from several specialist Greek publishers,
all well-illustrated, comprehensive and almost indistinguishable from one another.
They are available everywhere in Lesvos;
in the UK Hellenic Bookservice (www.hellenicbookservice.com) lists at least one of them.
The exceptions are the 'Landmark Visitors' Guide to Lesvos',
and 'Lesvos car tours and walks' (Sunflower Guides),
both by Brian and Eileen Anderson.
(The 'Landmark Guide' is out of print, but has been re-published as an e-book
available as a download at www.kobobooks.com)
The latest edition of the 'Sunflower Guide' was published in December 2013.
However for now the best guide to the island is 'Lesbos'
by Thomas Schröder, unfortunately published only in German.
Get it from www.amazon.de,
(distribution on Lesvos seems to have become patchy at best).
There are many maps of the island on sale in Lesvos:
until recently the best was 'Lesbos' published by ROAD Editions of Athens (Sheet 212; 1:70,000).
Unfortunately ROAD has ceased trading and this map is no longer available in the UK in its original form,
though you may be lucky and find the odd copy on sale in Lesvos.
In 2012 the brand was taken over by the Nakas Group and the map re-issued in a slightly smaller scale
(1:80,000, although the cover still claims 1:70,000). It appears to be slightly less accurate and up-to-date
than the edition it replaced, though recent revised editions seem to improving.
On the plus side it is now printed on damp and tear resistant plasticised paper,
so it should not disintegrate quite as quickly as its predecessor!
An acceptable replacement is 'Lesvos' published in 2010 by Geopsis (1:110,000),
and available in the UK from Stanfords (www.stanfords.co.uk)
Geopsis also publishes large-scale walking maps for the areas around
Agiasos - Mt Olympos, and south of Mitilene towards the Gulf of Gera.
These are also available from Stanfords.
Alternatively, the 2011 Freytag & Berndt 'Lesvos' (1:50,000)
is slightly easier to read than the Geopsis, and also includes a number of walking routes.
It is double-sided, but even so its large scale (and large area of overlap)
makes it a very large map which might become unwieldy in the field.
It too is available in the UK from Stanfords or direct from the publisher (www.freytagberndt.com)
Both these are available from the more enterprising tourist shops on Lesvos,
though they are not yet as widely available as they deserve to be.
'Aeolian Lesbos' by Lisa Evert (Constellation Books, Athens,
published in the UK by Millbank Books)
A coffee-table book of Lisa Evert's
gorgeous photographs of Lesvos,
introduced with historical essays by the directors of
the government departments of archaeology for Lesvos.
Imported books are expensive in Greece, because of distribution arrangements
and taxation (unlike the UK, books are subject to ΦΠΑ, the local equivalent of VAT),
so if you like reading on holiday, it is best to bring your books with you
(or, if you really insist, an e-reader!).
Imported books are available in shops that sell foreign newspapers.
English translations of modern Greek classics are published, at more reasonable price,
If you want to explore Lesvos it is best to visit in May, June or September.
The sun is usually reliable, and it is pleasantly warm rather than suffocatingly hot.
Climate change has come to the Greek islands:
in the last few years mid-summer temperatures have reached 40°C,
while springs have become later and wetter, and autumn storms more violent.
And in the winter it now often snows heavily.
The size of the island, and the mountain ranges in the north and south
means that weather conditions can be completely different from one region to another,
and so forecasts from the island's only weather station at Mitilene Airport are always at best approximate.
Therefore the charts and forecasts here are only indications of what might be happening elsewhere in the island.
For an up-to-date forecast click here
Easter is the main festival of the Greek Orthodox year,
and is a favourite time for visits:
the opportunity to share in the celebrations
usually combining with ideal spring weather
for a memorable experience.
The Orthodox calendar varies from the
"Western" Roman Catholic and Protestant one,
resulting in different Easter dates in most years.
Time it right and the family may get two lots of eggs.