Lipsi

I visited Lipsi in 1998, after staying on Fourni. Fourni was then (and I hope still is) a town with few, if any, tourist pretensions. Lipsi is a village with tourist pretensions.

The Flying Dolphin times were adjusted between Fourni and Lipsi to allow politicians to travel in the run up to an election. Whilst I was waiting to leave Fourni about 100 politicians arrived. I hope they gave short speeches! In Lipsi I heard loud music and went out to investigate. The political road show had arrived. In the main square there were rows of chairs and lots of people gathered. The priest sat in the front row. Loudspeakers were at the front, balanced on heaps of beer crates. I asked a couple of tourists if they knew what was happening. Yes, one of them spoke Greek. Someone was about to make an election statement. The election is on Sunday. The speeches must have started at about 7.30 and ended at 9.30. All in Greek, of course. I caught bits - freedom, schools, tourists, sea, problems of Lipsi. Cynically I thought that the speaker would make the same speech in every island he visited - with the substitution of the name of the island, of course. At the end, about 12 people were called forward - the local candidate's for the speaker's party, I assume. [Note from England: later I was to read in the Athens News that 1 Greek in about 60 was standing for election that Sunday…] Every so often the politician chap's voice rose (who was he?) and the audience cheered. I could tell from his tone that he expected a cheer. There were a few hecklers but only occasionally. The biggest cheer was at the end for the local people. At times he seemed to be reciting long lists and his tone reminded me of the monotonous way a priest talks.

I may not have seen Lipsi at its best, as there was a spate of EC funded building work going on. Hartbour construction, road construction. Even the church of Panagia Harou had a notice bout the EC funded restoration work. I bought a local walking guide on the island. I am sure that the guide was accurate when published, but many of the paths mentioned had been bull-dozed. I later found that there was an annotated map in the post office, showing the changes to the footpath system.

What was new when I was on Lipsi?

  • a huge park on the harbour edge (called I recall a 'regeneration park').
  • crazy paved paths
  • new tracks everywhere. On some I noticed the remains of large marble slabs underneath. I dreaded to think of how many of those beautiful stone paths had been destroyed .
  • new looking white bus vans

Lipsi was full of people carrying carrier bag sized shoulder bags with various bits printed in blue, including 'Laskarina Survival Kit'. I went into a grocery. The owner said in English "English? Laskarina?" Last night a woman came up to me and said "Laskarina?" I feel I need a T shirt, "I AM NOT TRAVELLING WITH LASKARINA." The Laskarina types - (it sounds like an island - what is the origin of the name?) are all English, middle aged, middle class, "I don't like the idea of island hopping, let's go with Laskarina types." [Note from England: I looked in a 1987 Laskarina brochure - they took their name from the famous Greek heroine Laskarina Bouboulina , a native of the island of Spetses where they first started their holidays in c 1975, with a villa party in what used to be Laskarina's house]. One woman had her Laskarina survival kit (what DO they contain?) over her shoulder and a suit carrier in her hand. It seemed to epitomise her type of Greek island travelling. I must be careful I do not want to travel on a Laskarina mass departure day. They will be pre-booked, so too late to book early to avoid the rush. I often saw Laskarina sketchers and painters clsutered in the harbour. Above a fairly remote beach I found that a bar was open. If this is what Laskarina brings to Greece, I approve! Classical music, a bamboo shaded sitting area. Faded but comfortable director's chairs. Flowers. I know it is for tourists - but if it were not for tourists there would be no bar here.

So there you have Lipsi in 1998 - gentle tourism, massive EC funding and construction.