Tuesday, 3 June 2014

June 2 - Warblers and other amusements

(Rüppell’s warbler [Sylvia ruepelli], photograph: Gerard van Zeele, www.gerardvanzeele.com)

(written by Pip)

Many other Greek islands haven been transformed into amusement parks, but Lesvos has not. This island is the perfect destination for people who want to live the real Greece. This is what the travel guides say and from what I have seen from the island so far, the guides are right. The question however is how long Lesvos will remain an island unspoiled by tourism.

As the island is really a large green nature park, tourists have fun on Lesvos; but instead of aqua parks with complex-constructed slides, bearing names like Water city or Aqua Plus, tourists here have to make-do with some sixteen waterfalls like the one of Pesas. For others, climbing up Mt Olympos or Mt Lepetymnos with a rented car may be even more exciting than having a ride in a dangerous rollercoaster. And, when arriving home, being able to tell the story of how you survived an earthquake, sounds far more interesting than the one of how you were nearly shaken off a banana towed by a speedboat.

But this year there have been developments in order to raise the amount of fun for tourists, a change that might attract another kind of public. It is clear that not everybody is happy with these ‘improvements’. There has been lots of commotion around the two tractors that tow two wagons between Molyvos, Petra and Anaxos. This slow train, which disrupts the traffic on the small boulevard of Petra and the not-too-wide road between Petra and Molyvos has got the name Village Train. The drivers of these trains and those from the regular buses and cabs have been close to a fight on more than one occasion. The resulting road blockage was so bad that the police had to come and restore order. There is talk through the grapevine that this was done on purpose – an attempt to harm the train company. I’d best say no more about this. Even if they ask me for my opinion about this train I‘ll keep my mouth shut. Whether you approve or not, before you know it, you may make enemies for life. The good thing about this train is that since it now crawls all the way up to the medieval castle above Molyvos, the local beach bus between Anaxos, Petra and Molyvos now goes up the steep hill too and tourists no longer have to do the climb themselves or to take a cab to visit the crown of the town.

Another development is the reconstruction of the ‘flying saucer’, a building that has been standing empty for a decade (changing into a typical Greek ruin) on a mountaintop between Petra and Molyvos. Next month will be the opening of the Star beach-like club and then Lesvos will have a fancy night club with swimming pool, just like on Crete: the Oxy-club. Years ago this used to be a nightclub, but for reasons I do not know it closed down. The young Lesvorian men are all looking out for this new event, ready to practice their seduction tricks on the female tourists. With some cocktails, a nocturnal swim while accompanied by music of a famous DJ, they will feel confident success may be at hand. Another kind of men (and women) are not too happy about the opening of this club. They are the masses of birdwatchers who come every spring to Lesvos. The area around this nightclub is the breeding habitat of the Rüppell’s warbler. Even though the nightclub will probably open after the shivering spring nights, birdwatchers are afraid that this little bird will have to look for another spot to lay and breed its eggs and the birdwatchers will also have to change their beautiful look-out over the Aegean Sea.

That a Dutch snack bar, with real Dutch snacks, has been opened is not worth mentioning. For years you could find English breakfasts all over the place. Tourist attractions and foreign entrepreneurship remain small on Lesvos and I expect will remain small in the near future, especially now that the whole island has been named as a geo park. So it is Nature that still has the last say. It is still unknown what the warblers are going to do. Maybe they like Dance music and will remain where they now are. 

(With special thanks to Gerard van Zeele for his photograph and Mary Staples for the English corrections)

© Pip 2014

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