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WHICH MAGAZINE -Travel section – January 2015

Lesbos and Chios teem with natural delights, from picturesque waterfalls and sultry hot springs to forests fossilised by volcanic ash 20 million years ago. Pack your shorts for a warm spring holiday away from the tourist hordes on these two Greek islands that lie near Turkey in the north-east Aegean Sea. Wing it to Lesbos, known as Mytilíni by locals, which is a favourite spring.

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All data based on Lesbos a Data from Hellenic National Meteorological Service b Data based on Molyvos resting spot on the avian migration route. In particular, Lake Metochi, the Tsiknias River and the Kalloni saltpans attract the likes of bee-eaters, olive-tree warblers, black-headed buntings and black storks. Don’t forget your boots: hundreds of miles of walking trails criss-cross Lesbos, one of Greece’s largest islands. A hike may lead through pine forests and meadows of wild orchids. Soothe your aching legs with a soak at one of the island’s hot springs – those at Eftalou in the north are on the beach. Stay at the nearby medieval town of Molyvos where red-stone houses cascade below a 14th-century castle down to a harbour and pebbly beach. Take a ferry from Lesbos to Chios to see a spectacular firework rocket war between two churches. This centuries-old battle takes place on the Saturday of Greek Orthodox Easter – a week after our own Easter – at the town of Vrontados. Stay at nearby Chios Town and don’t miss the superb Byzantine mosaics at the Unesco World Heritage site of Nea Moni, an 11th-century monastery.

Need to know

Ferries link Lesbos with other islands,

such as Chios and Limnos, but

services may be twice-weekly in April.

How to do it

The only non-stop flights in April are with Thomas Cook from Gatwick to Lesbos on Saturdays (from 18 April). A week’s package in the resort of Skala Kallonis – near the Kalloni saltpans – costs from around £400pp. Limosa, a specialist in birding holidays, has an eight-day tour of Lesbos in late April 2015 for £1,695pp, including flights.

More info: Rough Guide to the Greek islands.

Trouble finding flights to Lesvos for 2012

You might be interested in reading this email that i was sent
Melinda

Hi Melinda,
I don’t know whether you are aware of the dire situation facing Lesvos for next year.
While you and your colleagues are working away to attract more people to Molivos, we are finding it almost impossible to get there.
Our travel agent Lisa Murray, who works for a wonderful company called Travel Counsellors, has been checking out for us today and has found that not only have Thomson and First Choice pulled out of Lesvos for 2012 but have NO plans to return in the near future.
That leaves just Thomas Cook/Manos with just one Saturday flight a week out of Manchester and no-one at this stage planning to fill the void.
Liisa has checked with other companies such as Olympic to see whether they have plans to fill the hole left by Thomson, but none are plannng to do that.
We are now desperately trying to find somewhere else as superb as the Eriphilli where we can book a package two or three weeks next May, before the few available planes are filled by bird watchers heading for Skala Kalloni.
I’m sure the Thomson move will have a devastating effect on the restaurants and other businesses in Molivos.
Problems are even cropping up with Thomas Cook, the one operator still taking bookings from Britain. For instance, the Molivos Queen (below the castle) was being offered at the beginning of this week and a friend of ours booked the first two weeks next May.
When I tried today, the accommoadtion had been pulled from website for what Thomas Cook say are “contractual problems”.
 Slowly but surely, the places we like are disappearing and, more frighteningly, the planes to get us there.
Best wishes,
FRANK and SHEILA