Longing for Lefkada

Glimpses of gorgeous sights and scenes abound in Essence of Lefkada, a 2.5-minute film by Vimeo contributor Ambanja 

 

Three looks at Lefkada: For me, the worst thing about taking a spring vacation in Greece is what happens after I return home.

First there’s the typical post-holiday depression and disappointment that dig in deeply while I try to adjust to the reality of not being in Greece anymore. This “downer” mood tends to linger for months, and looking through our holiday photos often makes it worse (which is the reason why I typically don’t publish trip reports  or write about our vacations until later in the year.)

Then, over the next five or six months, I have to endure seeing countless pictures, videos and comments that people post on social media during their own vacations in Greece.  Many are familiar sights and scenes from places we have already visited, but most show and describe bucket list destinations that I dream about seeing some time in the future.  They instantly aggravate the symptoms of my post-holiday blues, and make me wish I could hop on a plane and fly back to Greece immediately.

Which of course is what happened when I discovered the three videos I have posted here.

 

 

The first film, Essence of Lefkada, was published in July, while the two videos below were posted online in late August. All show scenes from Lefkada which, along with all the other islands in the Ionian chain, is a destination on my lengthy “must visit” list. 

Lefkada is the favourite summer holiday island for a Greek-Canadian acquaintance who kept saying “you don’t know what you’re missing,” and frequently asked when we were finally going to go there. After watching these films, I now understand why he kept urging me to bump Lefkada higher up our list.

Give them all a look and see if they leave you wishing you could be on Lefkada right now, too.

 

Summer Dream is a 4.5-minute video by Jorde Angjelovik, showing aerial views of Lefkada landscapes, beaches and coastal scenery

 

Lefkada … in beauty is a 4.5-minute film by Drone Photography, capturing views of beautiful beaches and seasides on the island’s western coast

The 7 restaurants you simply must try on Mykonos

Spilia restaurant and seaside bar Mykono

Lobster pasta and freshly-caught sea urchins are two of the signature dishes that writer Heather Warburton recommends ordering at Spilia. It was one of her seven favourite restaurants on a recent trip to Mykonos.

  

Guest post by Heather Warburton

There are many reasons to go to Mykonos—the color of the water alone, the music, and the stunning villas—but, undoubtedly, the food scene will convince you. If you intend to eat light and vegetarian, you’ll find no better place, and then again, if you’re more into feta cheese and baklava, you’ll be just fine, too.

I spent five days in Mykonos in early July, and these were my favorite restaurants:

♦ Scorpios

 

Scorpios Mykonos

 

Scorpios is one of the only places to succeed in being both a terrific restaurant, and a really fun party. On a charming stretch of Paraga Beach, Scorpios is a sprawling compound. There’s an indoor area that’s light and spacious, with comfortable couches and a well-designed bar. If you come early in the day (read: before noon), you might see people working on their laptops sipping a green juice. Outside there is one large bar, a deck, a beach with over 40 lounge “beds,” and finally, a restaurant.

Despite its massive size, Scorpios boasts impeccable, friendly service and an intimate vibe. Graze on tzatziki, hummus, and spicy pita chips while waiting for a table. They’ll be the best pita chips of your life. You’ll find a vegetable driven menu once seated, with Mykonian salads (tomatoes, capers, cucumbers and feta cheese), whole roasted fish with your choice of sauce, and so many others. (I loved the quinoa with raisins and the zucchini with fresh mint). Their cocktail list is particularly impressive and long, with innovative and not-overly-sweet takes on your spirit of choice.

Go for a late lunch or sunset dinner.

sunset party at Scorpios Mykonos

A sunset party scene on the Scorpios seafront

 

Please click on the link below to read about the other 6 restaurants that Heather recommends on Mykonos. 

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Visual delights in Greece’s Dodecanese islands

Dodecanese Promenade Part A is a 10-minute film featuring highlight attractions on Rhodes, Kasos, Chalki, Symi, Kastellorizo and Karpathos …

 

… while Part B  presents 10 more minutes of beautiful sights and scenes from Patmos, Leros, Kalymnos, Kos, Nisyros and Astypalea

 

Delightful dozen: Four down, eight to go. That’s how many places we have already been to in the Dodecanese island chain, and the number of other islands we want to see there, as we continue to explore Greece in our annual travels.

Our first foray into the Dodecanese was back in 2004 when we spent three days on Rhodes during our first-ever island hopping holiday in Greece. Our second trip into the region came several years later when we kicked off our 2009 vacation on Astypalea. We returned to the Dodecanese for a third time in 2010, when our travels took us to Kos and Patmos (with ferry stops that teased us with brief looks at Kalymnos and Leros en route).

Seeing only four islands in one chain is nothing to be embarrassed about, but it’s still just one-third of the dozen major destinations in the Dodecanese, and we definitely would like to boost that number. Topping our list of the other Dodecanese islands we would like to experience are Karpathos and Kastellorizo, though we’d be happy spending time on any of the others, too — including Kasos, Chalki and Symi.

 

I doubt we’ll get back to the Dodecanese before 2018 at the earliest, but I keep bookmarking photos and videos of the area for research and inspiration, just in case we get the opportunity to go there sooner.

I have shared two of the inspiring videos above. Dodecanese Promenade Parts A and B were both shot by photographer / filmmaker Constantinos Tseklenis in a project for Aegean Airlines two years ago. However, the clips posted above are original Director’s Cut versions that were not shown on Aegean flights. 

Part A brought back fond memories of our time on Rhodes, while Part B showed us many familiar sights and scenes from the days we spent on Patmos and Kos. In both parts, Tseklenis brilliantly captures the gorgeous colours and impressive scenery that we remember seeing first-hand.

If you’ve got 20 minutes to spare,  give the films a watch — they’ll take you on a spectacular visual promenade through the Dodecanese.

Why Naxos is setting tourism records this summer

Naxos: The Land for a Young God is a professionally-produced video that shows some of the island’s top attractions, including its gorgeous beaches, scenic mountain villages and historic monuments

 

Good press: “Naxos is breaking every record on tourist arrivals this year,” declares the headline of an article published August 12 on naxos.gr, the website for the municipality of Naxos and the Small Cyclades.

In July alone, the news report says, more than 99,000 people arrived at Naxos by ship, easily smashing the previous record of 97,498 set back in 2001. Notably, that total didn’t include passengers who arrived either on Sea Jets ferries, or on Olympic Air flights from Athens, which would have pushed the July tourist numbers far north of 100,000.  

Although I cringed slightly when I read that July saw “27% more trucks, 28% more motorcycles and 48% (!!) more cars” arrive on Naxos than than a year ago, I wasn’t surprised at all by the news that tourism is booming on Naxos. 

Two visits to the island in 2013 prompted me to call it our destination of the year and to write what has continued to be one of the most popular posts on my blog — Our Top 15 reasons to visit Naxos.  After returning for our sixth time in 2014, I got a strong sense that Naxos was at a tipping point, on the cusp of attracting wide international attention as an all-around great Greek island destination.

Sure enough, during 2015 I noticed that Naxos was being mentioned regularly by newspapers, blogs and travel guides. This year, Naxos has been an even bigger media darling, spotlighted around the world by major newspapers and travel blogs as well as the popular CNN television show Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

With all that good press over the past two years, it’s really no wonder that Naxos is expecting to draw record numbers of tourists this month. In fact, occupancy rates for August are virtually 100%, according to the naxos.gr report, and visitor traffic for the month should easily exceed the record numbers for July.

If you haven’t yet been to Naxos and want to see why it has become such a popular holiday destination, check out the links I have posted below to some of the reports that have appeared in news and travel media  this year alone: 

 

Naxos articles in major newspapers

♦ In its February 16 article The 50 best beaches in the world,  the U.K.’s Guardian newspaper ranked St George’s Beach at Naxos Town at #13 and rated it the “Best in Europe for families.” 

♦ On May 5, CNN published Naxos: Lush Greek island delivers the good life, an article by Athens-based blogger and travel writer Marissa Tejada

♦ On June 4 , the U.K.’s Daily Mail newspaper published Seeking out the summer in Naxos: Dancing waiters and empty beaches – it can only be glorious, happy Greece by Kyle Staib

♦ On July 6, the U,K.’s Telegraph newspaper published Sally Peck’s article Is Naxos the most family-friendly island in Greece? 

♦ On July 7, Canada’s national newspaper, The Globe and Mail, profiled Naxos in the article Hellenic Happiness: Explore Greece’s beauty in these often-overlooked regions by Elizabeth Warkentin.

 

Naxos on television:

♦ On May 8, CNN released the Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown episode The Greek Islands, which was filmed on Naxos

 

Naxos profiles on travel and lifestyle blogs:

Why Naxos is the best of the Greek islands, published on Compass & Fork.

Trip in Greece: Les Cyclades — Naxos published January 14 2016 by Days of Camille

Naxos Island, Greece post published April 17 2016 by welltraveledwife.com

The local guide to Naxos, Greece post published June 1 2016 by Bon Traveler

Naxos: The quietly traditional heart of the Cyclades, a guest article by Mike Andrew that I published here on MyGreeceTravelBlog in March.

 

More scenes from Naxos in a 3.5-minute video by Eleni Giorgiafandis 

Mykonos party events during September 2016

Cavo Paradiso Mykonos

Cavo Paradiso, the premier night party venue on Mykonos, will present major DJ events until September 23 this year

 

Late summer lineups: For weeks I’ve been receiving daily email requests for details of September party events on Mykonos, but haven’t been able to give anyone any information because nothing had been announced. Until today (August 9), that is, when Cavo Paradiso updated its summer 2016 DJ lineup to show events scheduled up to the middle of September (the club traditionally ends its season around mid month).

Cavo will be holding 13 parties in September, with the last set for September 23.

See page 2 of this post for more details of the events taking place at Cavo, as well as to see flyers for parties being presented at other clubs and bars.

 

 

I will be adding other September parties at Mykonos bars and clubs to this post once dates have been announced, so keep checking back for updates. Keep in mind that many clubs do not announce events until as little as 24 to 48 hours before they are scheduled to take place, and some events are not advertised at all.

No events for October have been announced yet.

Click here to see a list of live jazz, rock, Greek and other music shows taking place on Mykonos during September.

And click here if you would like to see party events that have taken place during other months of 2016.

 

Scorpios Mykonos party events on Thursdays in September 2016

This is the schedule for events being held on Thursdays this month at Scorpios

 

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Aspects of Astypalea

The Astypalea experience 2016 is a delightful 2-minute video by Marion Marema and Daniel Kempf-Seifried

 

All about Astypalea: In my post The allure of Astypalea last November, I shared an enjoyable short video that Eva Rodriguez and Ignasi Llobet had created following their visit to the butterfly-shaped island in the Dodecanese chain.

I just found another wonderful Astypalea film that I simply have to share — and this one is accompanied by a superb travel blog post packed with dozens of gorgeous photos and lots of helpful information about the island. 

The video, The Astypalea experience 2016, was published and posted on Vimeo this past June by Marion Marema and Daniel Kempf-Seifried of Marion & Daniel Photography + Films.  Running just under 2 minutes, it shows a variety of beautiful sights and scenes that will give you a solid impression of what the island has to offer. But since the video is so short, it’s almost a tease — it will definitely leave you wanting to see more.

Happily, you can — Marian and Daniel have published an extensive collection of marvellous Astypalea photos on their travel blog, Marian & Daniel: Geschichten von Unterwegs

 

 

Their blog post is entitled Astypalea – Der Schmetterling in der Aegaeis (Astypalea — The butterfly in the Aegean),  and it’s essentially a mini-travel guide that I think should be required reading for anyone planning to visit the island. 

The blog post explains how travellers can get to Astypalea, and its long gallery of beautiful photos takes viewers on a scenic tour of Chora (the main town) and its impressive Venetian castle, as well as other parts of the island.

The text is written in German; however, you can read it in English or other languages by using Google Translate or other programs.

Where to find live jazz, rock and Greek music on Mykonos

Vocalist and saxophonist Giuseppe Fabris makes frequent live appearances in Mykonos, including Tuesday and Friday nights this summer at Vinos wine bar. Check out the video (above) to watch him perform to the backdrop of a magnificent Mykonos sunset.

 

Sun, sea & sax: Although most people associate Mykonos with frenzied beach parties and a vibrant dusk-to-dawn club and bar scene boasting music by top Greek and international DJs, musical entertainment on the island isn’t limited to dance, house, techno and hip hop.

Visitors can enjoy live jazz, rock and Greek music, too, at performances presented by some of the island’s bars and restaurants on a regular basis during the summer tourist season.

 

 

I post promotional flyers for many of these events in my directory of Mykonos party events for 2016,  but I’m launching this separate list of “alternative” music shows and performances since many people think that article is devoted only to DJ appearances at dance and party venues.

Please click at the bottom of this post to turn to page 2, you’ll find flyers for jazz, rock, Greek and other music events taking place during August 2016. 

 

Dionisis Sxoinas appearance at 4711 nightclub Mykonos

Located in Mykonos Town, 4711 is a live Greek music venue open nightly during the summer. Some of the club’s regular feature entertainers include Dionisis Sxoinas as well as  the duo Nancy Alexiadi and Tilemachos Zeis.

 

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Seeking a VIP clubbing, dining and luxury villa vacation on Mykonos? Book it here!

Mykonos nightclub logos

Enjoy the ultimate Mykonos clubbing and entertainment experience with exclusive VIP table and bottle service at the island’s top nightclubs and beach venues, including Guzel, Toy Room Club, Astra, VOID, Charlie, Rock N’ Roll, Bonbonniere, Kalua, Nammos, Scorpios and more 

 

It’s no surprise that Mykonos is one of the top luxury destinations in Europe. The island boasts everything one could desire for the ultimate VIP summer vacation experience:

♦ an impressive variety of gorgeous beaches, many of which boast some of the top beach restaurants, bars and clubs in the Mediterranean; 

♦ dozens of fine dining and award-winning gourmet restaurants;

♦ picturesque shopping streets lined with boutiques presenting exclusive luxury brands and styles from the world’s leading fashion, jewellery and eyewear designers;

♦ art galleries and special exhibitions showcasing works by Greek and internationally-acclaimed artists;

♦ unforgettable day, evening and night parties and special entertainment events at world-famous beaches, including legendary Paradise, Super Paradise, Paraga and Psarou;

♦ some of the best summer nightlife in Europe at a host of iconic bars and exclusive nightclubs in the heart of charming Mykonos Town;

♦ a wide range of exquisite and luxuriously-appointed private villas; plus

♦ luxury vehicle rentals and yacht charters, and private helicopter and jet charter services.

If you’re looking to treat yourself to the ultimate Mykonos VIP experience, or simply want to make the dream vacation of a lifetime a reality, you can now book your nightclub and restaurant tables and villa accommodations right here. MyGreeceTravelBlog is partnering with Concierge VIP Mykonos — the island’s leading luxury concierge service — to offer special VIP table reservations for the summer’s most exclusive nightclubs and beach parties, and to arrange private villa accommodations and luxury transportation services.

Villas can be selected from a portfolio of 40 different luxury properties, including Villa Gina (shown below and on page 2 of this post; other villas will be profiled here on MyGreeceTravelBlog from time to time). And reservations can be made for exclusive VIP tables at leading nightclubs and beach party venues (though a minimum spend — ranging from US $1,000 to $5,000 — will be required, depending upon the particular event and venue being booked.)

For further details and to make reservations or inquiries, please click on the image below or contact us at: mykonosconcierge2016@gmail.com

VIPServicesV2

 

Villa Gina in Mykonos Town

Situated on a hillside right in Mykonos Town, Villa Gina is an elegant 2-bedroom house with a separate 1-bedroom guest apartment. 

 

Villa Gina in Mykonos Town

Villa Gina offers fabulous views of the town, the harbour and Old Port areas, the sea and the sunset

 

Please click on the link below to see more of Villa Gina on page 2 of this post.

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Travelling to Thessaloniki? Read this magazine before you go — or while you’re there

Greece Is special Thessaloniki magazine issue

The cover of Thessaloniki, a free magazine published by the Greece Is online guide to culture, gastronomy and Greece destination experiences

 

Essential reading: A free magazine I picked up at the Athens International Airport in June, while waiting to fly home after my latest Greek holiday, has me wishing I could take a trip to Thessaloniki soon.

Entitled Thessaloniki, the 176-page glossy magazine is packed with dozens of beautiful photos and interesting articles describing the city’s fascinating history, its important cultural institutions, monuments and landmarks, its exciting arts, entertainment and food scenes, and much more.

 

 

The second-largest city in Greece, Thessaloniki is a dynamic port center and capital of the Central Macedonia region of Greece.

It’s “a cauldron of gods and heroes, civilizations and religions; a place where the old and new cohabitate fruitfully. You can sense it everywhere; during a stroll, at the markets and museums, in the architecture, food and music. It’s in the air!” says a welcome page message penned by Giros Tsiros. He’s the editor-in-chief of Greece Is, the wonderful culture and gastronomy website which has published several destination-specific magazine guides, like the one for Thessaloniki, during the past two years.

 

Thessaloniki waterfront

The historic WhiteTower and the long Thessaloniki waterfront strip are seen in a photo from the online edition of Thessaloniki magazine

 

I’m gradually working my way through the issue, learning about the city’s annual arts events and festivals, its popular port and waterfront areas, its thriving design community, its exciting  gastronomy scene, and nearby attractions like the scenic Halkidiki peninsula and the historic Mount Athos monastery. There are still many more articles for me to peruse, but already I’m amazed at the astounding variety of things to see and do in and near the city — almost overwhelmed, in fact, since there is just so much that has captured my interest. It makes me wonder why I haven’t heard more people talk about Thessaloniki, as well as ask myself why I haven’t made it a priority to go there.

But even though Thessaloniki is blessed with so many places to explore, one of the magazine’s contributors says that simply being in the city is an enchanting and enjoyable experience in itself — visitors don’t have to rush to all the tourist attractions or scour back streets for “secret” shops and restaurants and other hidden gems to discover what the place is all about.

“A great way to get to know Thessaloniki is to do nothing to ‘explore’ her, but instead just ‘be’ there. Just relax,” advises writer Rika Z. Vayianni, an Athenian who has been visiting Thessaloniki for decades. If you pause to linger and listen you will hear the city speak volumes, Rika notes in “The art of doing nothing,” the magazine’s introductory article. “Some of the things she will say, or show to you, will remain in your memory for a long, long time. Some of them will perplex you, take you out of your comfort zone. But the city does speak.”

With luck I will one day have the opportunity to listen as Thessaloniki speaks to me. In the meantime, I will be learning more about the city as I read the rest of the magazine articles over the summer.

 

Trigonian Tower in Thessaloniki

The Trigonian Tower in Thessaloniki’s Ano Poli (Upper Town) district, seen in a photo from the Greece Is website

 

If you will be travelling to Thessaloniki this year, or if you are considering the city for a future trip, be sure to pick up a copy of the magazine so you can get valuable background information, ideas and recommendations for your visit.

Thessaloniki is available at several locations in the city itself, as well as in central Athens and at the Athens airport. 

In Thessaloniki, you can obtain a copy at:

♦ the Kathimerini offices at 99 Tsimiski Street;

♦ the Archaeological Museum at 6 Manoli Andronikou Street; and

♦ the State Museum of Contemporary Art, 21 Kolokotroni St. 

In Athens, the magazine can be found at:

♦ the Kathimerini offices at 47-49 Panepistimiou Street, and

♦ the Acropolis Museum at 15 Dionysiou Areopagitou Street

Pickup locations at Athens International Airport include:

♦ Press Point

♦ Kir-Yianni Wine Bar

♦ Gate A, and

♦ the Athens Municipality information desk on the Arrivals level

If you can’t get to one of those locations, or if you’d rather read the magazine online, click here to access the collection of Thessaloniki articles on the Greece Is website.

Greece Is magazine distribution stands

Look for distribution racks like the one shown above so you can pick up a copy of Thessaloniki or other special edition magazines published by Greece Is

Aspects of Andros

Andros Greece Cyclades is a 3.5-minute video published June 21 by click

 

Andros revisited: If you’re a regular reader of my blog, you probably have seen some of the photos and posts I published following our visit to Andros in late May 2015. (If you missed them, click here for a quick link to the articles.)

I haven’t looked at any of my Andros posts or photos for a few months, but this morning discovered a newly-published video that instantly made me feel like I was right back on the island, enjoying it all over again.

Andros Greece Cyclades is a short video that Epameinondas Marmaras filmed, in part, with a drone. His camera captures many of the beautiful sights and scenes that we got to see during our holiday last year, as well as some that we just didn’t have enough time to experience for ourselves.

Take time to watch the clip to see the impressive Andros landscapes and coastal scenery. Andros isn’t one of the mainstream tourist islands of Greece, but one viewing of the video may make you wonder why more people don’t go there– and why you haven’t yet gone yourself.

Where we could have cooled off during this week’s heat wave

Tolo beach IMG_3496

The beautiful golden sand seafront at Tolo stretches for approximately one kilometer from Psili Ammos beach (seen here) to a harbour barely visible in the center-top area of this photo

 

Extreme temps: We’re never happy after we return home from one of our Greek holidays, as we did three days ago — we always wish we were still in Greece. But this time we’re actually a bit relieved that we’re not there — we simply could not have handled the heat wave currently sweeping across the country.

Sunshine and temperatures hitting the low 30s (Celsius) hindered some of our walking and sightseeing in Nafplio, Monemvasia, Tolo and Hydra on several days of our vacation from May 30 to June 16, but since we left Greece on Thursday temperatures have soared even higher, approaching and even exceeding an absolutely sweltering 40 degrees in many places, particularly on the mainland.

 

 

On Saturday, for instance, the temperature reached 43.4 at Sparta, which we had found hot when it was in the low 30s during the day we spent there. As I write this post today, it’s 37 in Nafplio, where a few 30-degree days forced us to limit our activities during the first week of June. And temperatures are forecast to remain scorching hot for several more days. If we were still in Greece, we would either be hiding inside our air-conditioned hotel rooms, or swimming as much as possible.

Fortunately there were plenty of excellent places to take a dip in the sea at most of the destinations we visited. Click on the link below to turn to page 2 and see photos of the great swimming spots we discovered near Epidaurus, Hydra, Monemvasia, Nafplio and Tolo.

 

Hydronetta swimming spot on Hydra

Bathers cool off in the gorgeous turquoise waters at Hydronetta, a popular coastal swimming spot on Hydra island

 

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Photo highlights from our trip to the Peloponnese and Hydra

Monemvasia

The fascinating fortress town of Monemvasia, where we spent three days and nights in early June

 

Amazing experience: I only need one word to describe our first-ever visit to Greece’s Peloponnese region and  Hydra island this month: Wow!

We weren’t even halfway through our holiday when we noted that the trip was shaping up as one of our best vacation experiences ever in Greece. Now that we’re back home, recalling all the places and sights we encountered and sorting through our photos,  we’ve agreed that it was our favourite trip of all. 

The Argolida and Laconia districts of the Peloponnese far exceeded our high expectations, while a spur-of-the-moment trip to Hydra impressed us immensely as well. The sights and scenery everywhere we went were simply amazing.

 

 

 

We enjoyed exhilarating views of sparkling turquoise seas and mountains extending as far as the eye could see. We roamed around charming villages and towns, visited historic archaeological sites, and walked dozens of kilometers along scenic coastal paths. We saw vast groves of olive trees, thousands of citrus trees laden with fruit, and dozens of picturesque churches, chapels and monasteries. We explored ancient castles, even spending three nights in a fortress town and swimming in the sea below its formidable stone walls. And we drank good wine and dined on delicious traditional and contemporary Greek cuisine. 

I will tell you more about our trip in detailed posts to come, but will launch my 2016 trip report with a series of photos showing some highlight sights and scenes from our travels.

Please click on the link below to view the pictures on page 2.

 

the monastery of Elona

The Monastery of Elona, which clings to the face of a cliff on Mount Parnon, was a breathtaking sight during our drive from Nafplio to Monemvasia

 

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