Risk and Reward
The cafe owner was notably chatty as he served us our drinks on the patio of his tiny shop. The most captivating part of the day was upon us – we had a perfect view of the sparkling blue Molyvos harbour, lit up by the golden rays of the sinking sun – yet we were the only customers there to enjoy it. We savoured our fruity cocktails and prepared to linger long past the sunset, as you do when you can claim a spot of Greece all to yourself.
“In a couple of months I wouldn’t even be talking to you,” the owner insisted, “By then I am sick of tourists. Then towards the end of the season, I am more friendly again because there are fewer, and I will be sad to see them go soon.”
The cafe had just opened that day and we were some of his first customers. Several shops and restaurants down the street had yet to raise their shutters. By traveling to Greece that early in the tourist season, we were taking a bit of a risk with weather and commercial availability according to our travel guides.
We’ve been burned before.
We often travel in the off-season – lured by lower prices and fewer crowds – we’ve made conscious decisions to ignore weather forecasts and just hope for the best.
Sometimes, it’s not worth it. We’ve had to cut excursions short, endured nearly frozen limbs, or barely even caught sight of the main attraction through the fog.
And other times, thankfully for us during our one long weekend in beautiful Greece, everything lined up perfectly. Temperatures were near the 30s C (80s F), and we had the place nearly all to ourselves.
It’s no secret that Greece is struggling financially, and less-visited islands such as Lesvos feel it significantly as they rely heavily on tourism from their fellow citizens.
So while we reveled in having entire beaches, historic churches, and restaurants all to ourselves, we did wish for better times and more tourists to call on the charming island.
Starting NEXT weekend.
(Someone needs to stop the sheep from taking over the empty parking lots.)
So glad your off-season adventure was a lovely one!
Greece looks lovely.
Our tiny tiny little glimpse of Greece was so lovely! Looking for house-sits there now… 🙂
Beautiful pictures. I love the last one! Hopefully I can get to Greece in the next year. Looks like a beautiful trip.
I love traveling in the off seasons – lower prices and fewer crowds are also the lure for me. I find that travelng in the off seasons really allow you to explore a place and get to know the locals better 🙂
Great post 🙂
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Oh wow, those are really great photos! I tend to travel in the off season myself for money saving reasons and agree that it’s definitely a gamble. Glad to see that it worked out for you!
I’m going back to Greece again this year, also closer to shoulder season. I’m hoping hopping around the islands in early September will net me great weather, but smaller crowds. Fingers crossed!
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Hope it works out for you like it did for us! There’s been a lot of rain here otherwise, so we were pretty pleased!
We’ve had great luck traveling off season and it’s so nice to avoid the crowds. Recently in Yunnan, China, our hotel manager didn’t have any other guests to tend to so she drove us around to nearby villages and mountains, arranged our train tickets and took us to the station. She even made us breakfast every morning!
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Wow! Big time reward for you! 🙂
Love the restaurant at night shot 🙂 We travelled around New Zealand in the off season and managed to score lucky with the weather. Six weeks of glorious sunshine and empty roads 😀
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Thanks Laurence! It makes it a lot easier to set up these shots as well when you have the whole pier to yourself, definitely worth the risk in my eyes 😀
Great post. I traveled through Greece the May before the 2004 Olympics. We had the beaches of Santorini all to ourselves. What a treat!
Glad this off-season trip worked for you!
Oh boy, I can’t wait to get to Santorini someday. And to have the beach all to yourself? Amazing!
Traveling during the off-season can definitely be worth it. I was in Siem Reap, Cambodia during the shoulder season, and was able to explore Angkor Wat with almost no crowded. Heat nearly killed me, but it was worth it for the quietness.
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Ooh, that is one place that I agree it would be totally worth it to get there without crowds. Can’t wait to visit someday.
And this is why I travel in the offseason – for every reason you mentioned. Not as hot, fewer tourists, chance to connect with locals (nearly impossible to do in a destination like this in the summer). Quite honestly, not all that excited about Greece. However, with a scene and atmosphere like this, I would love to explore. I am a traveler who likes to travel without the crowds. I haven’t traveled during the summer IN YEARS!!! I stay at home during that time and travel during the rest of the year. This sounds like a perfect trip – warm weather, sun, place to yourself, no tourists!
I felt the same as you Jeremy, not all that jazzed about Greece. But now, after seeing just a brief glimpse – I want more! But also, not during the busy summer months. 🙂
Greece is way up high on my must see list, loved the photos!
That photo of those pesky sheep is hilarious! We’re sat in an empty campsite in the shadow of Mount Cook here in New Zealand and we haven’t seen a soul all day. There’s a lot to be sad for traveling in the off season. As you did we often find business owners to be more engaging and have picked up some great insider info through their desire to chat a while with us.
Fab photos 🙂
Thanks Charli. Overall, our rewards have outweighed the risk (as it sounds like they have for you!), and we will continue to try to hit popular places in the off-season.
I am with you—having experienced traveling in the high season vs low season, I would probably pick low season, but our personal sweet spot is definitely shoulder season. Sure high season might have better weather (then again, you can never depend on the weather!), but we have found that the prices and swarms of fellow tourists are often enough of a detraction to make traveling feel like more of a hassle at that time. There are a few destinations where I feel like being there during high season would be a boon, but it definitely doesn’t seem like your little Greek paradise is one of those places!
Too many tourists can definitely detract from an experience, and some places are worth avoiding entirely for that reason. Greece is probably one of those crazy places in summer, we’ll wait until at least next fall before coming back. 🙂
I am still in Greece enjoying off-season travel for five more days. Hardly another tourist in sight. Tomorrow might be different as I am visiting the Acropolis, Athens.
I will always try to travel off-season for all the above. There are less people to wander in front of you when you are taking pictures for a start
Ha, that is a very good point! You either need to travel in the off-season, or get really good at photo-shop!
And traveling in the off-season means you can take beautiful photos without tourists in them 🙂
It’s one of the reasons I love traveling in the off season — not too many people around and you can linger as long as your time allows. Lovely!
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Beautiful photos. You did really well with your off season gamble this time 🙂
I personally love traveling off season. Sure, some places really CAN’T reasonably be visited off season, but on the most part, I prefer my excursions free of other tourists. I particularly enjoyed the canyons of the US in late October. So serene.
No matter what, when traveling off season, you’re guaranteed a unique experience, good or bad 🙂
GREAT photos—I must of missed it, but when did you go??
We are starting to plan our first trip next Spring—
April-May or June—any suggestions?
Prefer off season any time any where!!