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Antissa and Gavatha, Lesvos

Antissa, LesvosAntissa is one of the best and most interesting of the traditional mountain villages of Lesvos. Almost completely undeveloped, the only rooms to rent are in Gavatha at the Paradise Restaurant and in a few private houses scattered throughout the valley which can be booked through Sappho Travel(if you are lucky). The town of Antissa sits on the side of a mountain and is the regional center for the villages of Vatousa, Xidera, Gavatha, Liota, Rema, Zithra and Pterounda. There is a large and beautiful platia with not one, but three enormous platanos trees that make the village a very cool place to come on a hot afternoon.

Antissa square There are several restaurants in the square and an equal amount of cafeneons. There's a pharmacy, something that none of the other villages in the vicinity have and a post office. There is also a medical center which serves as a hospital for this part of the island. The only drawback to the area is that besides the rooms at the Paradise in Gavatha, there are few if any places to stay. But it's a nice place to come for a day and especially nice to come for dinner. Even when the rest of the island is hot, the Platia in Antissa is usually comfortable and there are several very good tavernas here which specialize in local meat, fresh fish and vegetables. If you are looking for a good place to buy an affordable house in Lesvos, Antissa is a great place to look because it is big and lively enough to be here year round and though not on the beach it is close enough. You can probably find something inexpensive on the website of SapphoEstate

Gavatha, LesvosBelow Antissa through a sea of olive trees you come to a small harbor full of fishing boats and a long beach with a few trees that offer shade, a beach taverna and a cantina that serves drinks, sandwiches, a few simple dishes and plays a lot of Santana. Gavatha is built upon a peninsula that shelters the main beach. There is a small Church of St. Pandelemon on the rocks above the village, guarded by a rusted old tank with it's gun pointed at Turkey. There was an excellent fish taverna in the closest thing Gavatha has to a village square, called the Aegion, which was sold to an Athenian who struggled with the menu until he finally got it right which was about the time he began struggling with his health. It is now empty.

Gavatha, LesvosMost of the tourists who come here can't be called tourists any longer because they have been coming for years and are almost a part of the village. Many have bought homes in the area. It's a very quiet place with virtually no nightlife beyond whatever may be happening at the beach taverna. Most people go up to Antissa which by comparison is cosmopolitan. The Paradise was one of the best restaurants on the island and people came from all over to eat and enjoy the view. The owner was an extremely hard working woman named Stacy, who moved to the island from New Jersey 25 years ago. She has been closed the last couple years they say because her beautiful daughters have gotten married and moved to the city and she does not have the help she needs to run a restaurant of such high quality. Hopefully she will find someone to rent the restaurant and maybe she will stay on and oversee the menu and food quality since her rooms for rent are upstairs and she has to be there anyway. (If you are looking for a restaurant to rent you can contact her through Sappho Estates)

Gavatha, LesvosThe beach at Gavatha is a good one for those who like sandy beaches, though when the wind blows from the north there can be waves and flying sand, though it is usually calm the closer you are to the town. There used to be a lot of seaweed which washed up on the shore but the villagers made a courageous effort to get rid of it, perhaps believing it makes the area undesirable to tourists, and have been pretty successful. But the truth is that even when there was a lot of seaweed, once you walk out a few meters the sea is as clear as anywhere. The best place to swim is the far end of the beach near the Cantina that serves drinks and food. Snorkling along the rocks is fine though there are not a lot of fish. If you snorkle far enough you will come to the beach at Kampo Antissa. You can also drive there by following the signs through the valley which is probably a better way to travel.

campo antissa beach, lesvosKampo Antissa is full of olive trees, orchards, farms and gardens and the dominant color is green. Campo Antissa has even bigger waves with a strong north wind and if you are not a good swimmer you may want to stay close to shore. But even in the summer the beach can be empty and if you are a practicing nudist looking for privacy or a Deadhead with a satchel full of shrooms then this is the place to go if you want to be left alone. When the wind comes from the north east there are great waves. When it blows from the south the sea is calm and when there is no wind at all it's like a millpond. There are a couple conveniently placed changing cabanas, not that you will need them since there probably won't be anyone here. There are also showers and a covered area with a picnic table.

tank, lesvosIn Campo Antissa there is no village but the center of the area is the popular Kostas Taverna above the paved riverbed that leads to the sea and the long empty beautiful beach. The valley is a collection of farms and gardens. Directly across the sea Turkey is close enough to be clearly visible every day. If you follow the riverbed which has been paved it will take past Kostas Taverna on the right and down to the beach. There is a pond at the end that is full of eels, frogs and turtles and there are lots of interesting birds around. One you get to the beach you can choose to drive to your right or walk to your left where the promontory that seperates Campo Antissa from the beach of Gavatha begins and you can have as much privacy as you like. On the road between Kampo Antissa and Gavatha is a sign to the village of Liota which has a nice square, one of the oldest platanos trees on the island, a healing spring and a very nice little taverna that can get quite festive on a Saturday night. At the far end of the beach in Campo is an abandoned tank that you can climb in and see what it is like to be in one.

Ancient Antissa, LesvosIf you follow the road east past Campo Antissa you will pass brilliant green fields of clover and drive alongside a river. The road actually crosses the river (no bridge but it's not too deep and the kids love it) and goes through a small settlement before coming to the ruins of ancient Antissa on a promontory. It's an interesting area with ancient stones scattered around and some big walls still standing. The beach is secluded and there is a very pretty church that sits above it that provides shade for the hottest part of the day. There is also a taverna nearby that has live music on Saturday nights during the summer, though finding your way back after the party could be tough. The road is hell on small cars and should be taken slowly and sober or with a jeep. You can continue along the coast and go all the way to Skalohori.

Antissa and Gavatha Review

So here's a few odds and ends that I may have mentioned above but may not have. Anyway they should make your trip more interesting....

Antissa, Lesvos, Greece

Perivoli Monastery, Lesvos, Greece

One of the best restaurants in the area and a great place to stop for a drink on a hot afternoon is Pedinon, in the platanos shaded main square in Antissa. People come from all around for his paidakia (lambchops).

The Perivoli Monastery between Antissa and Vatoussa is a garden paradise. The caretaker is quite nice with an ability to speak in rhyme a good portion of the time.

Zithra, Lesvos, Greece

Zithra, Lesvos, Greece

The village of Zithra between Antissa and Vatousa has known better times. Most of the houses are now in ruins and this old couple are two of only a handful of people still living there.

What will happen to Zithra is anybody's guess. It may end up being totally deserted or bought up by foreigners and there is evidence of some houses being fixed, perhaps by relatives.

To Kati Allo Restaurant, Antissa, Lesvos, Greece

Kosta's, Campo Antissa, Lesvos, Greece

The whole island is full of Greek-Americans and Australians who have returned to their home to retire or start new businesses. Pablos Kalfas is one of those. The former Eressos taxi driver from Australia has opened To Kati Allo in the tree-shaded square of Antissa and his food is a step above what you will find in most villages.

Lunch at Kostas in Campo Antissa is a tradition. Just find the paved river-bed and follow it down till you see it on your right up a small hill or just turn right at the sign to Kampo Antissa on the road to Gavatha. His family came back to Greece from Melbourne, Australia. he just recently got married so congratulate him.

More about Antissa from In Search of Sardeles Pastes

Heliotopos Hotel, Lesvos

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