Sunday, 24 February 2008
In a single day the ice cold weather was forgotten because, as predicted, the weather was in a hurry to reach for summer temperatures. So only a few days later we were walking in warm spring sunshine. Our walk brought us to Anaxos, a small tourist resort that in the winter should be totally empty, but was now very lively with road building activities.
I mentioned before that here on the island all villages in the mountains near the coast have their own harbour and bathing spot. Kaloni has Skala Kaloni, Eresos has Skala Eresos, Kidonia has Skala Kidonia and even Vasiliko has the little known Skala Vasiliko, a quiet family beach on the Gulf of Kaloni.
Skoutaros is a big mountain village some 8 kilometres from Petra. It is built on the slopes of Skoteino and probably named after this mountain. The inhabitants live from their sheep and goats and the olive trees. The big number of kafenions in the village centre is mainly open only during the winter. The village has a basilica from 1880. The official harbour of Skoutaros is in Anaxos, which is just next to Petra. I have no idea where this harbour is, because the only thing you see is the vast sandy beach, so popular now with the tourists.
Anaxos is not a village but a settlement. It used to be all small gardens going on to the beach with small garden houses of the Skoutarians (and perhaps also a harbour). A Greek bathing place by sea was not meant to cool off in the water, but it was more a complex of allotments to flee the heat of the village. In those green gardens they built little summerhouses and in the summer the whole of the village moved to the seaside.
When in the Eighties the tourist numbers were on the increase, some of these little houses were transformed into tourist apartments. And when the tourists discovered the beautiful beach of Anaxos the Skoutarians found a new way of living: the tourist business.
In no other place on the island is it so obvious what happens when people start building without any planning. Slowly all Skoutarians managed to build an apartment in their vegetable garden, or opened a taverna or a little shop. That's how present day Anaxos is made: a wild growth of little apartment buildings and its boulevard full of restaurants and bars.
Don't immediately think of Faliraki on Rhodes. This is Lesvos and everything, in Anaxos as on the whole of the island, is on a small scale. The large village of Anaxos that still is no village, has three main streets that wander from the concrete Petra ? Skoutaros road towards the sea. Little sandy paths going to the houses further in.
All buildings, not higher than two floors, are enclosed by at least one metre of greenery: bushes, trees, flowers and vegetables. So the streets still have a lovely atmosphere. But when you look more closely, you wonder how they managed to get so many houses into their gardens. And they still find empty square metres to put more up.
But I must admit that Anaxos has a high number of tourists who return (repeaters). It's the ideal bathing place for people who like some company and who still like the spacious beach, even though the sand is full of hundreds of sun beds and parasols.
But Skoutaros has more than just this cozy beach. When you come down the hill from the village you come to Small Tsichranda, nowadays called Ambelia. There are two bad dirt roads that leads to the sea, where the beach is bordered with the same allotments Anaxos used to have. One road starts with a steep slope in the village itself, the other just coming out of Anaxos.
Here in Ambelia you can still meet the real farmers who have their sheep grazing under the olive trees. The small number of houses is centred on the beach, as well as some shabby wooden benches. There is one taverna (only open in the summer) and two showers on the sand. Somebody even started a business with sun beds, but don't worry, with a very small number of beds. In some places the sand gives way to pebbles and in some parts the sea might be coloured a nasty brown because of the seaweed.
Good, because Ambelia is a beach for people who like quietness. I know that people like to have access to all places, but it's better that some of the beaches resist mass tourism. That might be a reason not to tell you about the beautiful path that goes from Anaxos to the beach of Ambelia.
And it's the reason that I don't tell you where this path starts. The beginning is in an area of Anaxos that is still unspoilt by tourism. It winds through lush meadows full of sheep, olive trees and vegetable gardens, where there are also small houses where the Greeks spend their summers. This idyllic path climbs over the mountain that separates the two beaches. On the mountain you will find real cliffs that fall down to a smiling aquamarine sea. Further in the sea you will see Molyvos blinking its eyes in the bright sunlight. The walk over this splendid donkey path that goes close to the cliffs, will be difficult for people who don't like heights, like me, but it can be done. But still I was very glad when we were down again on the beach of Ambelia.
The weather was so warm and the sea was working so hard trying to seduce me with its blue and calm water, that I wanted to swim. But I will have to wait another two months until the summer really starts. They say this summer that a lot more tourists will come to the island. The building fever in Anaxos is still growing.
Copyright © Smitaki 2008