Falling for Pelion

Pelion – Greece – Fall 2015 is a breathtaking 4-minute film created by George Giampuranis and Christopher Dormoy

 

Autumn glory: Don’t be surprised if you feel a powerful urge to pack your bags and travel to the Pelion area of Greece after watching the video I posted above. That seems to be a common reaction for many people who have seen and shared it on social media this week.

Pelion – Greece – Fall 2015 is a gorgeous short film that spotlights beautiful autumn sights and scenery from the area around Mount Pelion, which is situated about an hour’s drive northeast of Volos, a city in Greece’s Thessaly region.

The video project was produced and directed by George Giampuranis and filmed by his friend,  Christopher Dormoy, a photographer and interactive graphic designer who works at the Montreal advertising agency Sid Lee.

 

In notes for the film’s profile page on Vimeo.com, Dormoy observes that Mount Pelion was “the mythical homeland to Chiron the Centaur and summer residence of the gods. Mount Pelion remains beautiful all year round with its pristine and diverse beaches, lush forests with miles of hiking trails, skiing in the winter, and picturesque villages that seem to refuse change as they maintain their traditional architecture with warmth and charm.”

As you watch the video, you’ll quickly see why the Greek gods chose Pelion for their summer home — and you’ll understand why you might suddenly want to go there, too.

Don’t worry if you haven’t got a clue where to stay or go for dinner once you arrive — in the film’s Vimeo profile, Dormoy has helpfully included links for several hotels and restaurants in the area where he filmed scenes for the video. Have a look in particular at the photo gallery on the website for The Lost Unicorn Hotel in Tsagkarada — its images of Pelion’s wonderful landscapes and amazing scenery will make you want to visit the area even more.

Better start packing!

 

Mount Pelion location in Thessaly region of Greece

This Google Map pinpoints the location of Mount Pelion in the Thessaly region of mainland Greece

Road to Gialos beach ravaged by November earthquake and landslides on Lefkada

Gialos beach Lefkada

From high above, Lefkada’s Gialos beach looks just as beautiful as it did before a 6.1-strength earthquake struck the island last November …

 

Gialos beach Lefkada

… and it appears essentially unscathed when viewed from sea level right on its long  stretch of coarse brown sand and pebbles …

 

Damage to Gialos beach Lefkada

… but it’s a different story for the 3 km road that leads to the beach from Athani village. The earthquake shifted the ground and cut jagged deep fissures along many stretches of asphalt …

 

Damage to Gialos beach on Lefkada

… while landslides triggered by the tremors caused hills on both sides of the road to collapse, carrying away entire sections of pavement ….

 

Damage to Gialos beach road on Lefkada

… and completely burying parts of the route under thick heaps of earth, rock, trees, shrubs and other debris. (All of the above photos are screen captures from a video by YouTube member TeaTimeCreations, who recently filmed the quake and landslide damage while walking down the road to see the beach. ) 

 

Road wreck: If you hope to visit Gialos beach during your holiday on Lefkada this summer, don’t expect to get there by driving — much of the access road from Athani village has been extensively damaged and some parts completely destroyed by the earthquake that triggered massive landslides on the island last November. Unfortunately, repairs and reconstruction will be an enormously expensive and time-consuming project that can’t possibly be completed in time for this year’s tourist season.

The good news is that the beautiful beach itself — apparently the longest strand on Lefkada — was unscathed by rockfalls and tremors, and is still accessible by boat.

 

 

 

As I reported in my November 28 2015 post Two of Lefkada’s top beaches buried by landslides during November 17 earthquake,  the island’s world-famous Egremni and Porto Katsiki beaches were devastated by the November quake and landslides, which left large swaths of both strands buried under tonnes of earth, rocks, trees and other debris. At the time I prepared that post, I didn’t see any reports about damage to Gialos which, while beautiful, is not as popular and heavily-visited as Egemni and Porto Katsiki.

This week, the fate of Gialos and other beaches (and their respective access roads) has been the subject of discussion in Lefkada beaches after the earthquake, a question-and-answer thread in the Lefkada forum on TripAdvisor.com.

Please click on the link below to continue reading on page 2 of this post, where you can see additional photos and view the TeaTimeCreations video showing the extensive damage to the Gialos beach access road.

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An entrancing visit to Arcadia, the mythical land of Pan

The Arcadian is a captivating short film by PanoVerino

 

Domain of Pan: Just two days ago, I published Experience Greece’s glorious off-season sights & scenery with winter walks and drives, a post packed with photos of beautiful winter scenes in Greece. The Arcadia region of the Peloponnese was one of the regions featured prominently in that post.

I just discovered a fascinating short video of Arcadia that filmmaker PanoVerino published the same day on the film and video sharing website Vimeo.com.

Entitled The Arcadian, the 3-minute film shows entrancing ground and aerial winter time views of impressive mountain and valley landscapes, breathtaking hillside villages and the extraordinary Monastery of Prodromos, which was constructed into the side of a sheer cliff face around the year 1167.

In notes on his Vimeo page, PanoVerino explains that “The Arcadian is a person who leads and prefers a simple rural life. According to Greek mythology, Arcadia of Peloponnesus was the domain of Pan, a virgin wilderness home to the god of the forest and his court of dryads, nymphs and other spirits of nature. It was one version of paradise, though only in the sense of being the abode of supernatural entities, not an afterlife for deceased mortals.”

The spellbinding scenery in Pan’s domain is beautifully filmed, and The Arcadian makes me eager to explore this scenic and mythical area of the Peloponnese, hopefully on our upcoming late spring trip to Greece. Give it a watch to see if the video has the same compelling effect on you.

[If the name PanoVerino sounds familiar, you may recall seeing his film Postcard from Mykonos Greece, which I shared in  my July 11 2015 blog post, A breathtaking video postcard from Mykonos. Take a look at the PanoVerino Vimeo page to see more of his marvellous films.]

Experience Greece’s glorious off-season sights & scenery with winter walks and drives

Greece on foot walking tour photo 01

A light layer of snow on the ground didn’t deter participants in a Greece on Foot walking tour from enjoying the awe-inspiring mountain and valley scenery in the Arcadia region of the Peloponnese on January 24 …

 

Greece on foot walking tour photo 02

… nor did cold temperatures just two days later, when walkers got to trek through vibrant green olive groves like this one under brilliant sunny skies. (Photos provided courtesy of Greece on Foot tours.)

 

Winter wonders: Take a winter vacation in Greece? Sure! Why not?

The seething  crowds of summer tourists have long since disappeared, as have the scorching temperatures and the startling high prices of peak season. There’s no waiting in long queues for seats on buses or in restaurants, and no jostling with mobs of organized excursion groups or gaggles of selfie-snapping sightseers at monuments and museums. Hiking paths are almost deserted, and roads aren’t clogged with tour coaches. The magnificent historic and natural scenery remains glorious despite the drastic change in seasons, the legendary Greek hospitality continues unabated, and the food is superb as always.

Of course, winter is the wrong time to visit if your primary holiday preferences are swimming and water sports, lounging on beaches, or all-night-long dancing and carousing at bars, clubs and beaches on Mykonos, Ios or any of the other legendary Greek “party islands.” 

But you’ll still find dynamic nightlife in Athens and Thessaloniki, cities which abound in world-class dining, shopping, entertainment and cultural activities all year round. And if you’re a winter sports enthusiast, you can challenge your alpine mountaineering or snow kiting skills on Crete, or go snowboarding and downhill skiing at Kalavrita or one of several other major resorts on the Greek mainland.

Mountaineering in Crete

Two alpine mountaineers ascend the steep snow-covered peak of Mt Dikti on Crete, in this image shared on Facebook in late January by Festivalaki: Cretan festival of Arts & Culture. The organization’s Facebook post said mountaineering in Crete offers “a wonderful experience combining alpine terrain with breathless views of both the Libyan & Aegean sea.”

 

Vouliagmeni beach photo by John de Castelberg

A beach near the Vouliagmeni beach suburb of Athens is seen in this December 29 2015 photo by John de Castelberg.  Most tourists might find the sea too chilly for a winter dip, but the scenic beach- and café-lined coast of the Athenian Riviera is pleasant to visit throughout the off season.

 

 

Main tourist season is April to October

For people like me and my partner, who couldn’t bear either the blistering heat and sun or the heaving hordes of tourists in midsummer, winter could well be one of the best times to visit Greece. So why, then, have we travelled there only in spring or fall?

That’s a question we have been pondering a lot lately. We used to believe it was better to travel during the regular tourist season, which generally starts in late April and winds down by the end of October (particularly on the islands). In fact, most of our Greek holidays have been fairly early in the season, typically sometime between mid-May and early June. But we have gone twice in the autumn — we went island hopping in the Cyclades in late September 2007, and we explored Naxos and Athens during the first half of October 2013.

What we like about our spring trips in particular is the palpable local excitement and anticipation for the new travel season and approaching summer period, an atmosphere we find invigorating and refreshing after our long winter hibernation at home in Canada. Also, the weather is usually perfect for some of our favourite holiday activities — hiking and walking, and dining outdoors (especially near the sea). We weren’t keen to visit Greece during the off-season because we were worried we might not enjoy it as much with colder temperatures, inclement weather and few tourists around. 

Samos flamingo photo by Nikolaos Housas

Winter shouldn’t keep us away from Greece — it didn’t stop this pretty pink flamingo and a dozen of its feathered friends from visiting the Alyki wetland reserve on Samos island for several days at the end of January 2016.  Local photographer Nikolaos Housas captured this splendid image on January 27 and shared it on the Samos Island public group page on Facebook. 

 

Social media show the winter appeal of Greece

But recently we’ve really been warming up to the idea of a winter getaway to Greece.  What changed our minds? In two words: social media.

With their photos on Facebook, Flickr and Twitter (some of which I will share with you on page 2 of this post), friends, acquaintances and dozens of people we don’t even know have shown us that Greece can be just as delightful and charming in winter as it is during spring, summer or fall. In fact, they have demonstrated that it’s a terrific time to see the country’s wonderful sights and scenery either on foot or by driving around, and it can often even be comfortable to eat outdoors, or at least sit outside with a coffee to people watch and enjoy the scenery.  What’s more, colourful Carnival celebrations held each February and March in scores of villages and towns provide traditional festive fun and excitement we wouldn’t find in spring.

Haroula taverna at Marpissa on Paros

We thought we would miss eating outdoors if we took an off-season trip to Greece. But occasional mild weather means outdoor dining can be possible even in winter, as this photo posted by the Parosweb Facebook page attests. Taken on January 21 2016, the picture shows a table laden with delectable dishes of home-cooked Greek cuisine in the courtyard at Haroula’s Taverna in Marpissa village on Paros.

 

A place to escape our usual winter blahs

Of course there can be gloomy days with rain, cold temperatures, gale-force winds and even snowstorms, as I have reported in posts on December 31 2015, January 17 2016, and January 23 2016. But we get unpredictable and occasionally severe weather conditions at home, too. Yet we continue to drag ourselves through our  December and January doldrums, and the brutal February blahs, daydreaming about Greece and counting the days until we can go back.  Why not just battle the blahs by getting a winter fix of Greece instead?  With luck we might encounter pleasantly mild weather conditions, as you’ll see in many of the photos below. At worst, it will feel almost like winter back home — but at least we will be passing the time enjoying the off-season beauty in our favourite travel destination. We’re already looking into the possibility of doing exactly that next December or January.

Please click here or on the link below the following picture to turn to page 2 and see some of the photos that have convinced us we’re long overdue for an off-season trip to Greece. Fingers crossed that we’ll be posting our own winter pictures at this time next year. 

Athens winter night view photo by Wendy Gilops

Athens is a bustling year-round travel destination, as evidenced by the throngs of people strolling past historic monuments in the center of Athens, just below the illuminated Acropolis and Parthenon (upper right). Wendy Gilops captured this scene on December 27 2015. 

 

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Mykonos bar & club openings and party events in 2016

~ Updated on February 1 2016 ~

 

Paradise Beach Mykonos 2016 promotional image 03

Paradise Beach Resort will launch its 2016 season in April … 

 

Guapaloca Mykonos promotional image for 2015 party season

… as will Guapaloca bar, also located at Paradise beach

 

Nammos Mykonos promotional poster for its April 2016 opening

The world-famous Nammos at Psarou beach will kick off another exciting season of upscale dining, parties and entertainment on April 23 … 

 

Scorpios Mykonos promotional image for May 2016 season opening

… while Scorpios will re-open its restaurant, bar and beach club in May. Brand-new to Mykonos last spring, Scorpios quickly became the island’s hottest and hippest place to hang out, and drew capacity crowds most of the season.

 

What’s happening:  It’s only the middle of winter, but I’m already receiving emails from people asking about party schedules and upcoming DJ appearances at bars and clubs on Mykonos. Most want information about summer events, but some are wondering what’s happening on the island as early as February and March.

Meanwhile, my Mykonos party events listing for 2015 continues to be one of the most-read posts on my blog, even though the island’s main party season wound down in October.

With so much interest and anticipation building so early in the year, it’s obvious there’s a lot of people eager to party at the island’s famous beach venues as well as the dozens of bars and clubs in Mykonos Town.

 

Right now it’s off season, though, and that means the vast majority of bars and clubs on Mykonos are closed. That doesn’t mean the island’s party scene is dead — far from it.  It’s just low-key, and more geared to local residents since this isn’t a popular time for tourism.

On January 15, for instance, DJs Argie and Heavy G were on the decks for a “Tropicana vs Super Paradise”-themed party at Music Only By Night, while Lucky Star hosted a ladies’ night on January 21 and Notorious Bar held one of its  “Keep on Rocking” events January 23 with live guitar and vocals by Jason Orozco, and special guests The Cyborg Rhythm Section & Friends. And Magas Cafe-Bar has been hosting regular live Greek music shows all through the fall and winter. So while there still are places to go for a good time, you won’t find the frenzied, 24/7 party atmosphere that puts Mykonos on the map every summer. Besides, it’s way too cold to party on a beach.

The good news is that the tourist-oriented parties resume in less than three months.

Made in Mykonos party at Nammos July 23 2016

DJ Vassili TsiliChristos returns to Nammos again this summer with his Made in Mykonos afternoon beach party. The hugely popular event takes place on Saturday July 23. It’s the first major summer party to be announced for 2016.

 

Party schedules will be posted here when available

Bookmark this page and keep checking back — I will be updating this post with information about bar & club openings, and DJ schedules, as soon as events are announced. Keep in mind that the island’s biggest party clubs generally don’t post detailed summer party lineups until late May to mid June, while many bars don’t publicize their season kick-off celebrations until shortly before they open their doors.

But if you want to get a general idea of what to expect around the time you’re planning to visit Mykonos, scroll through my 2015 party post, which lists club openings and party events that took place each month between March and November last year.  

And for those of you who might be interested in working at one of the top Mykonos clubs, get your resumes ready. As of this writing (January 25), club websites were showing job opportunities at Nammos and a variety of positions available at Scorpios. The most famous club in Mykonos Town, Skandinavian Bar, had posted a “casting call” for summer staff on its Facebook page early in December, but might still be looking for more employees.

To put yourself in a Mykonos party frame of mind in the meantime, check out the video below.

This was the official 2015 trailer for Paradise Beach Resort 

Heed the siren’s call for standout seafood & Greek food at Rafina

Seirines restaurant at Rafina

Street view of Seirines (Sirens) restaurant on the harbourfront strip near the port of Rafina. (This photo, from the Seirines Facebook page, was originally posted on TripAdvisor with a 5-star rating by reviewer erythnul.)

 

Tempting tastes: If you find yourself feeling hungry while waiting for a ferry at Rafina port, or after arriving there on one, I recommend making your way directly to Seirines restaurant for a meal. You won’t be disappointed, especially if you enjoy fresh seafood.

Friends took us there for lunch last May when we had several hours to pass before catching a late afternoon ferry to Andros. They had assured us that Seirines would be a great spot to enjoy the first meal of our holiday after arriving in Greece on a long overnight flight from Canada, and they were absolutely right — it was perfect. With a harbour-view table on the taverna’s open-air terrace, and a nice variety of delicious seafood and Greek dishes, we could not have asked for a better “welcome back” to Greece.

The tremendously satisfying lunch and waterfront setting got our vacation off to a great start, and in retrospect may have been an omen of good food to follow  — over the next 16 days, we enjoyed the best dining of all our trips to Greece since 2004.

 

Our selection of dishes included feta, white fish roe dip (a richer and much less salty version of the pinkish-coloured taramasalata typically found on taverna menus), calamari, toasted bread, grilled calamari, grilled sardines, vegetable croquettes, and ouzo (for those of you who love ouzo or tsipouro, take note that Seirines is an ouzotsipouradiko, offering an extensive selection of the two spirits).

The dishes provided more than enough food for the four of us, and we barely managed to clear all the plates. Everything was good, but for me the fish roe dip and sardines were exceptional.  Although our friends picked up the tab and wouldn’t let me see the bill, they said the price for our lunch had been very reasonable. We will definitely go back to Seirines if any of our future travels take us through Rafina.

Seirines restaurant rAFINA

Seirines photo of platters with a selection of seafood and Greek food delights

 

But you don’t have to take only my word that Seirines is an ideal choice for dining near the port.  Check out the rave review that the New York City-based food blog Fritos and Foie Gras gave the restaurant in its photo-illustrated post, The Fish Lunch of My Dreams at Seirines, Rafina. (With its comments like “it’s impossible not to love this restaurant,” and “I would come back here in a heartbeat if I could,” you’ll see I have good company in highly recommending the restaurant. Be sure to click on the photos in the review to get a better look at the scrumptious dishes the writer enjoyed, including tzatziki, a country salad, a smoked and cured fish plate, and souvlaki-style shrimp.)

If you need more convincing, read the Seirines review in the article CB on the road: Eating in Rafina, which the international city dining blog Culinary Backstreets published less than two weeks before we discovered the restaurant.

You can read additional reviews on TripAdvisor, where Seirines is ranked as the #1 restaurant in Rafina.

Google Street View image of Seirines restaurant at Rafina Greece

This Google Street View image shows the close proximity of Seirines (left) to the Rafina ferry docks

Set your sights on Skiathos!

André Eckhardt shot Skiathos — Eyes wide open (2015) during a week-long visit to the island and its neighbours, Skopelos and Alonissos

 

Island beauty: I’ve been in a Skiathos state of mind today. I haven’t been to the island yet, but hearing some of the soundtrack for the 2008 hit movie Mamma Mia!, which was partly filmed there, got me daydreaming about it this morning. Then I logged onto my blog’s Facebook page, where my news feed was filled with photos and videoclips showing streets, trees, fields, houses and beaches blanketed in snow (flurries fell on Skiathos today during a storm that left parts of the island without electricity for over six hours). You can see some of those pictures in my Mamma Mia! Here it snows again post below.

A link in a Facebook post subsequently led me to the André Eckhardt video of Skiathos that I posted above, and a quick peak on YouTube took me to a few more travel films of the island, one of which I’ve posted below.

Happily, the videos show Skiathos in sunny, summery conditions, so I’m sharing them here in case you’re in the throes of  gloomy winter weather wherever you might be — the sight of some gorgeous Greek island scenery is bound to boost your spirits. Only 149 more days until summer!

 

 Skyframe.gr isn’t kidding when it describes its short video Skiathos Summer 2015 volume 2 as “a small teaser of aerial footage for Skiathos Island.” Teaser indeed! It will certainly leave you wanting to see more.

 

Mamma Mia! Here it snows again … on Skiathos

snow on Skiathos photo from the Skiathos Facebook page

The Skiathos Facebook page posted this photo of a little girl poised to toss a snowball on one of the island’s golden sand beaches, now covered in a blanket of white after a snowfall on Saturday January 23

 

Snow day: Barely five days after light flurries dusted it with snow, Skiathos was struck by an even stronger storm  that turned the island’s red-tiled rooftops white and left some areas without power for several hours on January 23.

Island residents quickly took to social media to share photos and videos of their suddenly white winter wonderland, and my Facebook page news feed filled with dozens of images of snow-laden trees, beaches, roads and buildings.

I have collected a few of the pictures that appeared on Facebook to show the aftermath of the exceptional winter storm — one of several that have struck different regions of Greecem, including islands, since the beginning of 2016.

Click on the link under the next two pictures to turn to page 2 of this post and view more Skiathos snow photos.

You can view additional images, along with several videos, on the Skiathos Facebook page and on the Skiathos Life community page on Facebook.

If you would prefer to see beautiful summer scenes from the island instead, check out the three videos in my Set your sights on Skiathos! post from January 23.

Skiathos Life Facebook page photo of snow on Skiathos

Stormclouds linger above snow-dusted rooftops in this photo shared by the Skiathos Life Facebook page

 

Skiathos Life Facebook page photo of snow on Skiathos

Also from the Skiathos Life Facebook page, this photo shows a crew working to restore power. Heavy snow and falling trees caused power cuts to parts of the island, including the area around Profitis Ilias.

 

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Greeking.me — Visit Greece like a local!

Greeking me website screenshot

The Greek Parliament building at Syntagma Square is seen in this screenshot from the Greeking.me website

 

Greeking.me, the newly launched start up offering customized experiences and tours  of Athens, is launching on 27 January, 2015 at Indiegogo. The innovative venture, offers the chance to explore Athens like a local as all experiences are carefully designed so as to represent the authentic Greek culture.

Whatever it is you want to experience from seeing the best of Athens in a morning stroll, learning how to cook mouthwatering Greek recipes with the help of a food expert, discovering the Zorba inside you and learning the steps of your favorite Greek dance or exploring mythology traces throughout the city, Greeking.me offers inspiring packages or even the opportunity to design a completely hands-on personalized vacation just the way you like it. Needless to say that the holidays can be booked online through the user-friendly booking system, in just 4 easy steps.

 

Morning Strolls: See the best of Athens in a morning walk full of surprises and contradictions.

 

Night Crawlers: Athens by night is more attractive than by day!

 

Greeking.me is launching a campaign at Indiegogo, the crowdfunding and fundraising website, where users can support the project while having the opportunity to win amazing gifts! These are some great traditional greek products, such as Bariamis greek delights, Oreanthi herbal tea, Fisika soaps, Meraki herbal herbs and The Family Beez organic raw honey. Of course, there will be many discount vouchers for Greeking.me experiences for those that will support the crowdfunding campaign.

To stop being a tourist and start becoming an explorer, visit the newly launched website: Greeking.me and book your tailor-made dreamy vacation today!

Greekingme banner ad 728x90

This is a sponsored post by Greeking.me

Wind and waves lash Mykonos, Samos & Dodecanese islands

Pthagoras sculpture on Samos photographed by Manolis Marg

Samos island resident Manolis Marg captured this striking image of surf spraying the Pythagoras sculpture on the seafront at Pythagorion

 

Winter wallop: Just before this weekend, I was jealously viewing photos of sunny Greek island beach and village scenes that local residents and business operators had been sharing on social media. Weather reports showing temperatures in the mid to high teens (Celsius) made me even more envious. Until today. When I logged into my blog’s Facebook page this afternoon, the photos and posts in my news feed were telling a completely different story — severe winds and heavy rain were lashing many of the Aegean islands as a ferocious winter storm surged across Greece.

Despite the gale-force winds, some hardy residents of Agathonisi, Samos and Rhodes ventured outdoors to capture dramatic photos of waves and stormy skies at their respective islands.

 

Waves damaged the seafront at Ornos beach on Mykonos

On Mykonos, a local restaurant owner stayed inside his vehicle to shoot photos of flooded roads, wave debris on the Ornos bay seafront, and boats that had been ripped from their moorings and tossed ashore. 

The winds were so strong– exceeding force 8 and 9 on the Beaufort scale — that they prevented flights by Aegean Airlines and Ryanair from landing on Rhodes, the Greek news website The Rodiaki reported. Rough seas forced the cancellation of shipping and ferry services to many islands as well.

And this was just the beginning of even worse weather expected nationwide for the next several days.  In a separate report, The Rodiaki said many parts of Greece can expect cold to freezing temperatures by Monday, along with continuing strong winds, while some regions of the mainland can expect snowfalls. 

 

Winter storms struck Greece same time last year

Coincidentally, it’s almost exactly one year ago that brutal winter weather struck Greece, dumping snow on some of the Cyclades islands (see my Snow scenes from the Cyclades post for winter storm photos from islands including Andros, Tinos, Naxos, Milos and Paros).

But, as always, the islanders aren’t letting bad weather get them down.  On its Facebook page, Super Paradise beach observed: “No winter lasts forever. Mykonos awaits.” And the Mykonos Palace Hotel posted this quote from W.R. Alger: “After every ‪‎storm the sun‬ will smile; for every problem there is a solution, and the soul’s indefeasible duty is to be of good cheer.” Good points indeed — there’s only 154 more days until summer!

Please click here or on the link beneath the next picture to turn to page 2 of this post, where you can view storm photos from Samos, Mykonos, Agathonisi and Rhodes.

 

Flooded road at Ornos Mykonos

A flooded road in the Ornos beach area of Mykonos is seen in this photograph shot by Sikiniotis Lefteris, who owns the Apaggio restaurant at Ornos. Several more of his photos, showing wave damage on the Ornos bay seashore, can be seen on page 2 of this post. 

 

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Kalymnos rocks!

Marvellous mountain & coastal scenery plays a starring role in Kalymnos, an exhilarating rock climbing video that film maker Kieran Duncan shot on the rugged Dodecanese island last year

 

Sheer excitement: I’ve had Kalymnos on my mind all week after watching a splendid short video that was shot on the island by Kieran Duncan, an adventurous film maker from Scotland.

Duncan’s nearly 4-minute-long film follows four young Scots who visit Kalymnos to test their skills at climbing some of its world-famous mountain cliffs and rock formations. Besides exhilarating and spine-tingling scenes of the lads scaling perilously steep rock walls, the film showcases the island’s marvellous mountain and coastal scenery, and gives viewers an impression of what it’s actually like to drive around the island. It also includes underwater scenes from a scuba diving session, and shows several spectacular sunsets.

 

 

 

I haven’t set foot on Kalymnos yet, but I have seen parts of its coast as well as its main port town, Pothia, during a ferry ride from Kos to Patmos in 2010.  At the time, I knew little about the island, apart from being vaguely aware of its long and storied history of sponge diving. I later learned that Kalymnos is nowadays more noteworthy as a challenging rock climbing destination for adventure sports enthusiasts from around the world.

I haven’t done any rock climbing since I was a kid, and wouldn’t plan a holiday in Greece just to give it another try. But after discovering Duncan’s film earlier this week, I couldn’t get the captivating Kalymnos scenery out of my head. From quick online research, I Iearned that the island offers excellent hiking opportunities in addition to its popular climbing, diving and water sports activities. Since my partner and I are avid Greek island walkers, this information instantly made Kalymnos even more appealing as a destination for us to include on a future island-hopping trip in the Dodecanese.

A village on Kalymnos seen in photo from Discover Greece

This photo, from the Kalymnos page of the Discover Greece website, captures quintessential Greek island scenery — the deep blue sea, a beach, a village, mountains and a blue-domed church

 

But what really “sold” me on Kalymnos were comments Duncan included on the Vimeo page for his film

“4 pale Scots went to Greece in search of some world class rock climbing, but found so much more!” he wrote.  “The island’s incredible presence, locals, food, scenery, and adventurous opportunities make it one of my favourite destinations yet. I hope this film will inspire you to check it out, you won’t regret it!”

Duncan’s film has certainly encouraged me to consider travelling to Kalymnos sometime. If his video has similarly inspired you, here are a few websites to bookmark for future reference and trip planning assistance:

Kalymnos — The real island experience is the official tourist website operated by the Municipality of Kalymnos. It features dozens of photos along with helpful information about the island’s history, arts and culture, traditional products, places to visit, and sports activities. 

Kalymnos Info is a travel guide loaded with details about activities, accommodations, dining, excursions, transportation, and more.

Climb Kalymnos is an excellent online resource and practical guide for rock climbing enthusiasts, with a climbing route database and regular news updates.

Kalymnos Climbing is a commercial site that offers guided rock climbing and climbing courses on Kalymnos. It has a dedicated section describing available hiking and trekking holidays on the island.

♦ The Kalymnos page on the Discover Greece travel portal lists island highlights and must-see attractions, and includes a number of beautiful photos. 

♦  Diving the Skafandro suit, by Sandra Hendrikse and André Merks, is a fascinating article about the rise and decline of the island’s historic sponge fishing business.

 

Pothia the main port of Kalymnos island

A mountain looms large behind Pothia, the main port of Kalymnos island. I snapped this photo during a brief ferry stop in May 2010, when we were travelling from Kos to Patmos.

Where to hit the beach at Batsi

Batsi beach on Andros

The main beach at Batsi village on Andros is a long ribbon of golden sand that rings the northern shore of Batsi bay. I took this photo at the southeast tip of Batsi beach, near the town’s waterfront strip and harbour …

 

Batsi beach on Andros

… and shot this picture from a hill at the opposite end of the beach.  It takes just under 10 minutes to walk the full length of the sand.

 

Five strands: Travelling to Andros this summer? Batsi village is an ideal base for swimmers or sun worshippers who want to stay within walking distance of several beaches and still have a good variety of places to eat and drink.

The biggest, best and most convenient beach is right at Batsi — a long arc of golden sand that hugs the north shore of Batsi bay. Bars and restaurants are situated only steps away across the beachside road, while it’s just a short stroll from Batsi beach to the town’s main commercial area, which offers many more drinking and dining opportunities.

Four more beaches are within reasonable walking distance of the village, making Batsi a perfect location for beach loving visitors who won’t have a rental vehicle during their stay (which was the case for us during our visit in late May).

Kolona beach on Andros

Kolona beach is on a small bay directly opposite the village

 

Kolona beach is located directly across the bay from Batsi harbour (you can see the golden sand crescent from the town’s waterfront), and is about a 15-minute walk from the northwest end of Batsi beach. It’s a scenic walk the entire way, since the route provides extensive views of the entire village and bay area, as well as surrounding mountains and the coast beyond Batsi.

Heading south from Batsi, a 10-minute walk will bring you to Stivari, a strip of rental studios and apartments on a hillside overlooking a small bay. Stivari beach is a small pebble, stone and sand cove that’s more suitable for sunbathing than swimming, but it does offer impressive sea and sunset views, and it’s conveniently straight across the road from O Viomichanos / Stivari Gardens restaurant, where drinks and good food are served on a large tree-shaded terrace.

Stivari beach on Andros

Stivari is a small sliver of pebbles and sand a short walk south of Batsi 

 

From Stivari, a 5-minute walk up and over the adjacent headland takes you to the Aneroussa Beach Hotel, where a stone staircase near the hotel’s driveway entrance leads down the hill to Delavoyia beach. There actually are three small sandy coves here, separated by narrow outcroppings of smooth rock, and the hotel operates a cafe-bar on the biggest of the beaches.

Agia Marina beach is a further 5-minute walk past the Aneroussa. It’s a narrow band of brown sand with trees at the north end near the entrance to the excellent Agia Marina Taverna. The restaurant’s terrace overlooks the beach and is a great spot to sip a cold beer or dine on delicious home-cooked food while savouring the superb sea and sunset views.  (We had two outstanding meals of Greek cuisine here.)

 

Delavoyia beach and Agia Marina beach

Delavoyia (foreground) and Agia Marina (center right) are about a 20-minute walk from Batsi along a road above the scenic coast

 

This is a short video I shot showing afternoon, evening and sunset views of Delavoyia beach

 

There are even more beach-hopping options for travellers with their own transport — several excellent strands are located a short drive away, along the highway linking Batsi to the port town of Gavrio. I will be publishing photos of those beaches in a separate future post.

Click on the link below to see additional photos of all five beaches on page 2 of this post.

 

CONTINUED ON PAGE 2

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