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Plomari, Lesvos

Ouzo Capital of the World

Beach in Plomari, LesvosForty-two kilometers from Mytilini on the southern coast of Lesvos, Plomari, the ouzo capital of Greece, is built amphitheatrically near the sea and is the second largest town on the island after Mytilini. This is where the famous Barbayiannis Ouzo comes from as well as several other smaller labels like the excellent Ouzo Giannatsi, both distilled in the traditional method. Whether it's from drinking the extra strong ouzo that many of the inhabitants seem to favor or for some other reason, Plomarian's have the reputation of being a little bit crazy and enjoying life to its fullest. The women of Plomari have the reputation of being a bit stubborn or to put it in better terms strong-willed, as this child's rhyme which was taught to me by my wife's cousin implies:

Stin Agiassou y Plomari
Oute yeneka
Oute mulari

(Translation:From Agiassou or Plomari neither woman nor mule).

Plomari, lesvosEven though I actually received an e-mail from a knowledgeable and well-intentioned gentleman from Plomari telling me that by publishing this slanderous little poem I had insulted the village and actually caused a drop in tourism with more cancellations coming in daily, I tend to think he over-reacted or even misinterpreted the little song which could actually be seen as complimentary to the women of Plomari. Because after all who wants a weak-willed woman except for temporary purposes? On the contrary I think that publishing the song points out that the women of Plomari are indeed something special and any man looking for a wife as an equal partner might do well to begin his search here where the women are also as attractive as the architecture.

Ouzo Gianatsi, PlomariThere are several ouzo factories and also the Barbayiannis ouzo museum on the road leading into town and it is obvious that the people of Plomari take great pride in their ouzo. None seem to have taken a greater pride then George Kabarnos and his son who bought the traditional distillary of the famous (in Plomari) Ouzo Giannatsi. While many of the other ouzo companies have sold out to the big companies and perhaps sacrificed some of their traditional methods in order to keep up with demand, Mr. Kabarnos still used the old wood burning kasani (still) up to a few years ago when demand made it impossible to keep up without using some modern methods. His shop used to be in the main market area of the town but has moved to the hills above the city on the road to Melinda where you can drop in and get a short tour and buy a couple bottles or a case or two of their excellent ouzo. And where else can you get a lesson (in English or Greek) on what makes one ouzo better than another and why distilled ouzo is the healthiest. The hard work of Mr Kabarnos has paid off and you can not only find Ouzo Giannatsi in most of the cafeneons and restaurants of Lesvos but even some of the best mezedopoulions and ouzeries of Athens now carry his brand. For more on Ouzo Giannatsi and Ouzo in general see my Lesvos Ouzo Page

Plomari, LesvosThe architecture of the town is pretty amazing with giant old mansions and decaying factories, olive presses and tanneries amongst the houses of all different size shapes and colors. The town itself straddles each side of a ravine which in the rainy season turns into the Sedountas river. Some of the houses are built right on the river and their walls form the banks, keeping the flow contained and moving down towards the sea. While Plomari is impressive in the summer it must be a spectacular place when the river is rushing down the mountain. Plomari was originally up in the mountains where the beautiful village of Megalohori now stands. Both the mountain village and the port were destroyed by fires from 1841 to 1843, after which the city we now know as Plomari was built and became an important center for industry and commerce. There are a number of Turkish fountains in the village as well as many houses with the Turkish-style architecture and if you come here on a cool day you can spend hours walking around looking at the different buildings in the various neighborhoods. Sometimes Plomari reminds me of Venice without the water.

Agios Isidoros, Plomari, Lesvos, GreeceIf it is a hot day there are nice beaches in Plomari and also at Agios Isidoros which is one of the best areas on the island for swimming with a mixture of sand and a stone shelf and open sea. Agios Isidoros is actually the area where most of the hotels are located, including the Greek-American owned Hotel Pebble Beach which is right on the water and within walking distance of town where we stayed on our last overnight visit. Lately we have been visiting Plomari on daytrips from Vatera or a sidetrip when we explore the Gulf of Gera because it is such an exceptional place to swim. The snorkeling off the coast of Agios Isidoros is very interesting because of the rock formations which are like undersea platforms that are full of sea-life and the sea is such a spectacular color of blue that postcard makers don't even have to touch them up.

Plomari, Lesvos There are some great restaurants in town and of course many cafeneons which serve ouzo and mezedes to the young and old men of the village as well as the occasional tourist. The main area for eating is around the large Platanos across the bridge over the river. There are several churches of interest in the area including Agios Nikolaos, near the market, with it's interesting icons of Saint Demetrios and the Archangels Michael and Gabriel. The church of Agia Paraskevis is also lovely with it's iconostasis of white marble. Plomari has a hardbor full of fishing boats and pleasure craft and people prominade down the sidewalks and the coastal road in the early evening. Take a peak inside this cafeneon on the waterfront. It is one of the best in Lesvos. The town has an active marketplace and it's inhabitants are known for their high level of culture, distinguished as sailors and active nationally. There are several cultural centers including the old soap factory which has been restored and the building which houses the Benjamin of Lesvos cultural society. There is a large number of Greeks who have returned from abroad and English is widely spoken with a variety of interesting accents. It is hard to imagine a town which combines the traditional Greek culture with that of our contemporary society as comfortably as Plomari does. Combine this with the architecture and Plomari is as interesting a town as Corfu or Hermioupolis in Syros. Among the Greek Americans, Canadians and Australians living in Plomari are the family who own the Hotel Pebble Beach.

Places to Visit Near Plomari

Beaches near PlomariThe mountain roads in the area are enjoyable to drive on if you are the type who likes to drive and the people in your car are the type who like to look at spectacular scenary and views while you are driving. There are several beaches that can be reached by dirt road and the popular beach of Tarti too. Ten Kilometers north is the village of Megalochori formerly the site of Plomari and now known as the Switzerland of Lesvos because of it's high altitude, healthy climate, orchards and abundant water. There is a beautiful platia with several restaurants and cafeneons. The town has a number of Greek-Americans, Greek-Australians and Greek-Africans, some who have come for the summer and others who have returned to their ancestral home to live for the rest of their lives. The Platia has an old Platanos that died many years ago but has now been turned into some kind of shrine. Just beyond the tree is an old church in a beautiful flower filled courtyard that should not be missed.

Melinda, LesvosThere is a dirt road that leads from Megalohori to Agiassou which I don't advise using unless you have a jeep. But should you decide to take the trip it is a journey through forests of olives and chestnuts and a large area which had burned several years ago and even destroyed several of the houses on the outskirts of Megalohori. The beach town of Melinda is between Plomari and Vatera and there are a cuple good fish tavernas here. If you continue look for the signs for the Panagia Krifti (Hidden Madonna), a beautiful little church built in the rocks overlooking the sea and a hot spring. You can explore the area and swim by day and spend your evenings in one of the most interesting towns on Lesvos. Whether you like ouzo or old buildings or not, Plomari is well worth a visit and it is a great place to base yourself from to see this part of the island.  If you are coming for the day try to get here in the morning or in the late afternoon when people come out and start to fill the cafes after their afternoon naps. And if you are coming from Mytilini keep your eyes on the road which is very winding and the Greek drivers love to take wide turns.

Hotels in Plomari

Hotel Pebble Beach, Plomari, LesvosBesides the above mentioned Hotel Pebble Beach there are a number of nice hotels and self catering apartments in Plomari. Located by on the beach of Agios Isidoros, Pano sto Kyma offers self-catered accommodation with open sea views. Outdoor seating areas are available, and shady trees line the beachfront and surround the hotel. Situated on the hillside right above Ammoudeli Beach in Plomari, the family-run Irini Studios & Apartments offers self-catered accommodation with free Wi-Fi. All units feature a spacious, furnished balcony overlooking the Aegean Sea. The stone-built Elia Village offers traditional accommodation surrounded by olive groves, just 50 metres from Agios Isidoros Beach. It has a swimming pool with sun beds and umbrellas and a poolside bar. It is a bit of a trek into Plomari so you will need a car. Sea Sun is located in Agia Varvara of Plomari, only 50 metres from the seafront and 100 metres from Agios Isidoros Beach. The complex offers a swimming pool, children’s pool, a beautiful garden and free parking. Just 150 metres from the white-pebbled Agios Isidoros beach, Vicky Hotel consists of 2 buildings. It features an outdoor swimming pool and balconies with sea views. Free Wi-Fi and wired internet is available throughout. Only steps from Agios Isidoros Beach, family-run Akrogiali Hotel features studios with direct access to the garden and a furnished patio overlooking the Aegean Sea and Asia Minor coast. It offers a snack bar and free bicycles. You can find more hotels and apartments on Booking.com's Plomari Page

Plomari Ouzo Festival

Plomari Ouzo Festival, LesvosThe Municipality of Lesvos, the Cultural Association of Plomari “Polion” and Lesvos Distilleries Association, organize an event dedicated to ouzo titled “Traditional Culture of Ouzo”, at the Plomari marina at the beginning of August every year.

The two-day event includes presentations from specialists and distinguished lecturers regarding the historical and traditional ouzo paths in making and commercializing it, as well as its contribution in social relations. Lesvos island products, photographs and traditional material from the Lesvos Distilleries will be exhibited. Also, well known traditional music and dancing groups will participate in this event.

Traditional “ouzo meze” (finger food) will be sold by Lesvos Women Agro- cultural Associations.

Ouzo, which is the essential companion of friends gatherings, and contributes in the tightening of social nets, will be offered free of charge by Lesvos distilleries and at the same time they will present their products.

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