Saturday, 17 May 2014

Tourism in Greece

 Tourism in Greece

Friends arriving at Lemnos airport
Grandchildren coming toLemnos at Melbourne airpor

Australians are one of the world’s largest spenders on international travel on a per capita basis. In 2012, one in three of headed overseas, and while most went to New Zealand and Bali many went to Europe. It is expected that next year, 2015, many more Australians than usual will travel to Greece and Turkey, for the Gallipoli memorial.
Because so many Greeks have settled in Australia (about 350.000 in Melbourne alone) many of this year’s tourists will be travelling back to Greece.

At the Lemnos Gallipoli cemetry

Tourist Behaviour

1. Take a package tour!
2. Photograph everything in sight!
3. Fall for the local PR pitch!
4. Be on the look out for ‘cute’!






We too have been tourists

Takis and me, in Santorini 2003
One of the most popular islands for tourists is Santorini. This year in Athens airport there were hoards of foreigners waiting for the Santorini plane. We guessed that many were young couples either on their honeymoon or going there to get married. Our Lemnos plane was filled with locals on their way home.

But nowadays we do look for something different.  Cathedrals are one of the sights we go out of our way to visit. Here we will put up with the other tourists and join the hoards slowly making their way around these old monuments. Inside Chartres for instance you enter a forest of stone columns. In Notre Dame the columns hold up huge vaults. You need to sit down to gaze up at these ceilings. However unlike many we choose to use our own eyes, rather than use the eye of a camera. I do wonder how many of those snappers actually look at their pictures?

And have they looked long enough, with their bodies, to hold onto a sensation as well as a picture? It must be hard for Cathedral staff to maintain a balance that still looks after spiritual needs while dealing with this popular need for a picture. When in Canterbury a priest called for silence while she prayed and in most there are designated places where one can find a slightly quieter spot. But the best is to visit one of the lesser known, but still beautiful, churches, where you will find only a few praying, and lots of deep stone-surrounded silence.

Old style tourism? (Sea, Sunshine, Sites), Or? Something new?

Enterprising people in Greece are defying the financial crisis and using the riches of their local area to develop new types of holidays, a world away from old-style package tourism
Each of Greece's 400 + islands has something different to offer
Diving, climbing and walking - mountains hold their own delights, including an abundance of herbs such as thyme, oregano and rosemary, as well as honey that cannot be rivaled.
Multi-island cruises. Greece has over 400 islands, not just the main five that everyone knows about.
Organic farming retreats where owners demonstrate the old crafts, such as bakery and basketry, or perhaps offer cooking classes.

Cycling in Corfu
Volcanology and geo-tourism on Milos
Skopelos has vastly expanded its network of kalderimi paths to open its forest interior to walkers.
Mainland areas such as northern Mani has long been a favourite of more bohemian travellers (the writer Patrick Leigh Fermor built a house there in the 1960s).
Gastronomic tours in Athens. There has recently been a surge in wine bars, with cellars that are exclusively Greek, also restaurants serving regional delicacies.
Harvesting olives in Lesbos, has attracted visitors who are delighted to see how the olives are harvested off the tree, and then pressed and bottled without preservatives.

Lemnos and Tourist Problems

The main one may be that of access
However, from Athens, each day there is one flight to the island, with two in the summer. To fly to Lemnos takes about one hour and there are also connections to Saloniki and Mytilene.
Ferry boats arrive about twice a week from the ports of Pireus, Thessaloniki, Kavala. The trip from Pireus takes about 12 hours.

Ferries are great fun, however you need patience as they are not always available when you want them

If you have your own car, you can bring it on the ferry. The roads on Limnos are mostly good and the drivers are not too crazy or dangerous. If you want to go to special beaches with a car you need to be prepared to drive a few kilometers on dirt roads.

Other Lemian Ideas

This year I’m planning to check out if there are some new enterprises in Lemnos. To find out what has been happening in relation to tourism on this island.

Special activities I’ve enjoyed on Lemnos and encourage others to experience.

1. There many chapels dotted all over the island, each the location of a ritual celebrated on some day or other during the year. Once I went with Ourania and her friends to attend a saint’s day service, forty days after Easter, in a small chapel up in the hills above Myrina. The chapel is called (in translation) Our Lady of the Sore Throat. There were many people attending. It amazed me to see the number of people who’d made the effort to go to this special service in such an out of the way spot. This is an aspect of life in Lemnos that I’m sure most tourists were unaware of. While they might recognize that churches have a very prominent position in the landscape, they probably wouldn’t know how important they are in the everyday life of the people. Our local church celebrates Saint Pandeleimonos, the saint of good health, on the 26th of July. It is one of the best attended of all the island’s local gatherings. We usually sit on our balcony and watch the evening procession pass by. First there will be a number of priests carrying crosses, and then a couple of small local bands leading the throng of participants around the bounds of the village.

A cousin and Takis brother playing Trik Trak on the terrace

The children helping us crack almonds

2. I’ve also enjoyed learning some of the old crafts, many of which have not died out on Lemnos. In fact it has been our hope that when we had guests we’d be able to inspire them to try some aspects of the old-fashioned, countrified lifestyle we’d discovered – such as preserving, drying and bottling vegetables and fruit gathered from the garden. Thinking this would enrich holidays we’d delicately insert some practical activities into each person’s itinerary, though of course we knew that some just wanted to relax on the beach. Subtly we might start by suggesting to a cousin that he climb a ladder and pick a boxful of figs rather than just walk down to the tree to get one for himself. I suggested to our grand daughters that while they were with us they might crack almonds previously gathered from our old almond trees. This is tedious job but one that can be fun if shared with others. In the case of two others the extra ‘Lemnian’ experience involved lighting up the old furno and making a pizza.

And helping to weed



A friend learing to make pita


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