Walls along a footpath on Sifnos


footpath in Artemonas village Sifnos

A footpath winds between tall stone walls in Artemonas village on Sifnos.  We appreciated the walls while hiking because they offered some protection from the strong cool winds that buffeted the island for three full days during our visit in late September 2007. Sifnos has an extensive network of trails and footpaths that link villages and lead avid walkers and hikers to scores of scenic locations. Click here to access directions for nearly 50 different walk itineraries on Sifnos provided by the popular multilingual website Walking, hiking and trekking in Greece.


Posted in Cyclades islands, Greece holiday pic of the day, Greek Island hiking, Greek Island villages and towns, Greek Islands, Greek Islands photos, September 2007, Sifnos | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Take home a Mykonos ‘sugar cube’ house!


Mykonos house souvenirs

Wooden Mykonos houses handcrafted by artist Eugenia Triantopoulou are available at Triciclo Art Shop in Mykonos Town


Super souvenirs: Brilliant white “sugar cube” houses with blue doors and window shutters are often the first images that come to mind for many people when someone mentions travelling to Greece.

It’s no surprise, of course, since a substantial proportion of travel guides, posters and tour brochures for Greece feature photos of the cute whitewashed houses as well as white churches with gleaming blue domed roofs — even though that particular style of architecture is found primarily in the Cyclades islands (but also in some villages in the Dodecanese and in a few other parts of the country).

The sight of white cube-shaped buildings clinging to barren brown rock hillsides is one of the features that tourists enjoy most about Mykonos in particular, since it boasts an extensive array of traditional Cycladic architecture both in Mykonos Town (one of the prettiest villages in all of the Greek Islands) and elsewhere on the island.

Mykonos visitors can now take one of the cute “sugar cube” houses home with them as a souvenir.  Local artist Eugenia Triantopoulou has created a collection of charming hand-made wooden houses which are available from Triciclo Art Shop in Mykonos Town.

Triciclo offers a variety of other hand-made gift items from a number of local artists. The shop is located a short walk behind the Mykonos Town Hall at 3 Voinovits Street, which is the lane that leads from one of the most popular restaurants on the island, Niko’s Taverna, to Skandinavian Bar, one of the most famous party clubs in all of Greece.

There’s more information and photos — as well as a map showing how to find the gallery — on the Triciclo Art Shop Facebook page.


Posted in Cyclades islands, Greek Islands, Mykonos | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Kokkari’s waterfront restaurant row


Kokkari village Samos

Taverna signs compete for customers’ attention along the waterfront pedestrian promenade in Kokkari village on Samos island.



Kokkari Samos

Another view of “restaurant row” from a position a bit farther along the strip



Kokkari village Samos

A view from across the bay of restaurants along part of the Kokkari waterfront



Kokkari village Samos

The tavernas have sheltered dining terraces either right next to the water or beside the narrow shore that extends along part of the harbourside



Kokkari village Samos

The tables offer scenic views of the harbour, in all directions …



Kokkari village Samos

… while some waterfront bars offer comfortable cushioned seats for customers to relax in while enjoying drinks and the Kokkari scenery


Posted in East Aegean Islands, Greece holiday pic of the day, Greek Island villages and towns, Greek Islands, Greek Islands photos, Samos | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Louis Cruises adds Samos, Symi, Syros, Ios, Milos, Kos & Chios to Greek island destinations for 2014


Louis Cristal cruise ship

I shot this photo of passengers an upper deck of the Louis Cristal as the ship (below) approached Mykonos for a port stop a couple years ago


Louis Cristal cruise ship



New ports & themes: Louis Cruises has added seven new Greek islands to the roster of destinations travellers will be able to visit on tour itineraries being offered this year by the Cyprus-based cruise operator.

Louis Cruises has long offered popular 3- to 8-day tour packages that take travellers to Istanbul and Kusadasi in Turkey as well as to the Greek islands Mykonos, Santorini, Patmos, Rhodes and Crete.

For 2014, the company has expanded its roster of destinations to include two more ports in Turkey — Bodrum and Cesme — along with seven new Greek island stops: Syros, Ios and Milos in the Cyclades island group, Kos and Symi in the Dodecanese, and Samos and Chios in the East Aegean.


New themed cruises available

Besides the new ports of call, Louis will be offering 60 specially-themed cruises with itineraries based on: gastronomy, wine & spirits; culture & heritage; history & archaeology; and music.

Representatives of the cruise line told a recent press conference in Athens that bookings for its cruises are up significantly so far this year — over 20% higher than in 2013.  The company is expecting to carry 820,000 passengers during 2014 on its ships the Cristal, Olympia and Aura.

Full details about itinerary themes and destinations, as well as the ships, are available on the Louis Cruises website.


Passengers enjoy the cruises & island itineraries

Although we haven’t yet taken a Louis cruise ourselves, we have spoken to dozens of people who have. Almost all of our flights to and from Greece have been on Air Transat, whose sister company, Transat Holidays, offers Louis cruises in many of its organized island hopping vacation packages. Dozens of the passengers on each of our flights have taken the cruises, and their feedback about the experience has been overwhelmingly positive, with everyone reporting that they fully enjoyed the ships and the islands they visited.

And while we were in Athens last October, we spoke with two friends who had just taken a Louis Cruise that included stops at Kusadasi, Patmos, Crete and Santorini. Both are very well-travelled in Greece, and raved about how much they enjoyed their cruise. They told us their rooms were comfortable, the crew were friendly and helpful, and the food was delicious. They highly recommended the cruise and, in fact, urged us to take one on a future trip to Greece. It’s a suggestion we will seriously consider in light of their comments.


Symi island Greece

This photo of a waterfront scene on Symi is from The Symi Visitor website, an online guide that’s packed with pictures and travel information about the island


Posted in Crete, Cyclades islands, Dodecanese islands, East Aegean Islands, Greek Island tours & excursions, Greek Islands, Greek Islands cruises, Greek Islands photos, Ios, Milos, Mykonos, Patmos, Rhodes, Symi, Syros | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Along the scenic clifftop path on Santorini


Anita's Villa Santorini

A man passes Anita’s Villas as walks the clifftop footpath through Imerovigli village on Santorini. The path extends from Fira to Oia and the walk between the two villages takes from two to four hours. The cliff walk offers superlative views of spectacular scenery the entire way, and is one of our favourite ways to enjoy Santorini. We would describe the hike from Fira to Oia as a “must do” activity for visitors to the island. Click the image to view a larger photo.



Posted in Cyclades islands, Greece holiday pic of the day, Greek Island villages and towns, Greek Islands, Greek Islands hotels, Greek Islands photos, Santorini | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

In photos: Two weeks on Naxos


Filoti village Naxos

Approaching Filoti, one of more than two dozen fascinating mountain villages on Naxos. This image is one of just 600 photos from the Two Weeks on Naxos album on the MyGreeceTravelBlog Flickr pageClick here to open the album and view the photo highlights from our Naxos vacation last October.


Posted in 2013 destination of the year, Cyclades islands, Greek Island villages and towns, Greek Islands, Greek Islands photos, Naxos | Tagged | Leave a comment

Hotels we’ve stayed at: the Fildisi on Astypalea


Fildisi Boutique Hotel

Fildisi Boutique Hotel is a 10-suite property on a quiet “away from it all” hillside location overlooking the Livadi valley area of Astypalea island



Fildisi Boutique Hotel

The hotel boasts superb views of scenic Chora village 1.5 kilometers away



Suite stay: Seeing some old vacation photos that friends posted online today inspired me to sort through pictures of hotels we have stayed at in Greece and start a “Throwback Thursday” feature to profile some of those places from time to time.

To kick things off, here’s a look at the Fildisi Boutique Hotel, which is situated on a hillside near the popular Livadi resort and residential area of Astypalea in the Dodecanese island group.

The Fildisi is a small luxury property with only 10 units — 3 suites, 3 lofts, 2 spa-apartments and 2 double rooms, each named after precious gems (Emerald, Opal, Ruby, Sapphire, etc.). The hotel has a seaview swimming pool, along with an indoor breakfast room / lounge / bar area. A basic breakfast is provided each morning.


Exceptional panoramic views

The hotel faces northeast and has an enviable vantage point from its hillside location, with sweeping views of much of the Livadi region as well as the island’s scenic Chora village, which is perched on the crest of a mountain over 1.5 kilometers away.

We stayed at the Fildisi in May 2009 on an island-hopping holiday that took us from Astypalea to Amorgos, Naxos and Mykonos. I discovered the Fildisi while doing online research about Astypalea, and must admit I chose the hotel mainly because of its great views.


The Fildisi Boutique Hotel has a view of Astipalea's Livadi area (center) and Chora (top right)

Click on the image to see a full-size photo showing the panoramic view we enjoyed from the two private verandas for the Fildisi’s Pearl suite.




Posted in Astipalea, Dodecanese islands, Greek Island villages and towns, Greek Islands, Greek Islands hotels, Greek Islands photos, Hotels we have stayed at, May 2009 | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Cavo Paradiso Mykonos opening on May 17


Cavo Paradiso

The massive Cavo Paradiso special events venue on Mykonos posted this announcement on its Facebook page today



Cavo’s kickoff: Mark your calendar for Saturday May 17 if you want to be on Mykonos to experience the first big party weekend of the summer at Paradise beach.

That’s the date that Cavo Paradiso, one of the island’s biggest and most internationally famous special event venues, will be opening for the 2014 travel season.

The kickoff party date was announced today on the Cavo Paradiso Facebook page, ending weeks of speculation about exactly when it would start its season.

Paradise Club, the other giant party place at Paradise beach, had beaten Cavo to the punch a few weeks ago by announcing its own opening party has been set for Wednesday May 21 (see my March 31 2014 post for further details about that).

There’s no word on which DJs will be headlining the opening night events at either club, and the full summer party schedules haven’t been announced yet, either. Those details should be released within the next couple of weeks.


Cavo Paradiso Mykonos

This image of a party crowd at the cavernous Cavo Paradiso entertainment venue is from the Cavo Paradiso Facebook page


Posted in Arts & culture, Cyclades islands, Greek Islands, In the news, Mykonos, nightclubs & parties, Party places | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Corfu’s picturesque Paleokastritsa beach


Paleokastritsa beach on Corfu as photographed by Flickr member Marite2007

When freezing rain, snow and icy cold temperatures returned this week after our agonizingly brief interlude of pleasant spring weather, this lovely photo of a gorgeous beach at Paleokastritsa on Corfu instantly calmed me down and took my mind off the wintry conditions outside. The photograph was shot by Flickr member Marite2007 and appears in her Corfu Island photo set on Flickr.  Click here to view her Flickr page, which includes beautiful photo sets for a variety of charming Greek islands I haven’t yet had a chance to visit myself, including Karpathos, Lipsi, Kimilos, Kalymnos, Poros, Agistri, Paxos, Antipaxos, Kythnos, Serifos, Leros and Symi. And if you’d like more information about Paleokastritsa,
check out the Paleokastritsa Bliss website.


Posted in Corfu, Greece holiday pic of the day, Greek Islands, Greek Islands beaches, Greek Islands photos, Ionian islands, Ionian islands, Through another lens: Greece photos by other travellers | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Remezzo club gets restyled into restaurant & bar as new places to eat, stay & play open on Mykonos


Anna's Place Mykonos

The new Anna’s Place Restaurant & Bar overlooks Paradise beach from its hillside location next to the Cavo Paradiso nightclub complex. This photo of the restaurant’s beach view appears on the Anna’s Place Facebook page.



New this season: It has been a busy week on Mykonos, and next week will be even busier, as dozens of hotels, restaurants and shops open their doors for Easter celebrations and officially launch their 2014 tourist season.

Several new businesses — restaurants and bars plus Bohème Mykonos, a luxury boutique hotel — are opening for the first time, adding more variety to the island’s diverse and exciting mix of accommodation, drinking, dining and entertainment venues.

New restaurants have already opened at two of the most popular beach resort areas on Mykonos: Anna’s Place Restaurant & Bar at Paradise beach, and Apagio seafood and Aegean cuisine at Ornos. Two more dining spots opening soon in Mykonos Town are the noodle and sushi joint Noodle Mykonos, and the chic new restaurant and cocktail lounge Remezzo Mykonos. And a newcomer to the island’s notoriously intense nightlife scene will be the gay-friendly Sofi’a Thalami Bar.


Anna's Place Mykonos

The colourful logo for Anna’s Place at Paradise beach



Legendary nightclub revived as chic restaurant

If the name Remezzo rings a bell, that’s because it’s the latest incarnation of the legendary nightclub that opened in 1967. Located on the Mykonos Town harbourfront, Remezzo catered to the jet-set party crowd and for decades enjoyed a worldwide reputation as one of the island’s leading dance clubs.

This year, Remezzo is being transformed into what its Facebook page describes as “an exceptional restaurant with sophisticated Mediterranean cuisine and an impressively eclectic international wine list.” It will occupy the “same idyllic setting” near the Old Port as the original bar — upper levels of the big white building near the red-domed church and the neoclassical Mykonos Archaeological Museum, two familiar landmarks near the Mykonos Old Port. (Salparo Seafood and Kavos Cafe occupy the building’s ground level, beside the pedestrian path that leads from the Old Port to little Agia Anna beach in front of the Leto Hotel.)


Remezzo Mykonos

This promotional image, from the Remezzo Mykonos Facebook page, shows the new restaurant’s outdoor cocktail and dining terrace.


An outdoor harbour-view terrace at the old Remezzo Mykonos nightclub, which is being relaunched as a restaurant in 2014

The Remezzo Mykonos outdoor terrace has superb views of the Old Port, harbour and Mykonos Town waterfront, part of which are visible in this pic of the veranda that I shot three years ago.



Remezzo Mykonos

Looking toward the big white Remezzo building (center) from little Agia Anna beach at the Mykonos Town harbour.



Seaside seafood and ouzo at Ornos

After eight years, the man who created the popular Ithaki restaurant at Ornos beach has moved on to launch a new venture in premises a short walk away. Sikiniotis Lefteris has opened Apagio Authentic Aegean Cuisine on the east side of Ornos Bay near the Santa Marina Resort & Villas, only a couple of minutes’ walking distance from Ornos beach. (The name is spelled Apagio in some places, and Apaggio in others, but they’re one and the same place.)

The restaurant specializes in fish and seafood, but its menu includes appetizers, salads and some meat and pasta dishes. The Apagio bar serves beer and wine and boasts an impressive selection of more than 40 different raki and ouzo to accompany the delicious appetizers. The restaurant’s indoor dining area faces Ornos Bay, with a wall of glass panels that staff can slide open on beautiful days. Apagio also has a row of outdoor tables right next the seaside, offering unrivaled views of the beach and bay.


Apagio Mykonos restaurant

Apagio restaurant has a row of seaside tables offering views of Ornos beach and the entire Ornos bay area. The restaurant is located near the entrance to the five-star Santa Marina Resort & Villas. This photo was posted on the Apagio Facebook page by Petro Kalaris.



Apagio Mykonos

This photo shows the indoor and seaside dining areas of Apagio restaurant at Ornos. The photo is from the Apagio Facebook page.



Apagio Mykonos

Logos for the new Apagio fish and seafood restaurant at Ornos. The restaurant’s bar is stocked with an extensive selection of ouzo and raki.



 Asian cuisine in the Italian district

The neighbourhood around Mykonos Town’s Lakka Square is a bustling zone of shops, restaurants and bars close to Fabrica Square (location of the depot for buses servicing Ornos, Agios Ioannis, Psarou, Platis Gialos, Paraga and Paradise beaches). I have often heard people refer to Lakka as “the Italian district” because it’s home to several popular Italian restaurants, including Mediterraneo and Sale e Pepe. A new eatery, Noodle, will add some Asian spice and flavour to the area.

An “Asian fusion” restaurant featuring a noodle and sushi bar and takeout service, Noodle is promising “quick, fresh & healthy” meals. There’s no word yet on the precise date it will be commencing operations — the Noodle Mykonos Facebook page still has an “Opening Soon” banner. [Editor's update: Noodle will open on April 24.]


Noodle Mykonos

Noodle Mykonos will bring “quick, fresh & healthy” Asian fusion cuisine to the Lakka restaurant and bar district of Mykonos Town



Noodle Mykonos

An image of the restaurant logo, from the Noodle Mykonos Facebook page



 Anna’s piece of Paradise

Paradise beach is known around the world as the premier “party beach” on Mykonos, and for good reason — it has a strip of bars hosting wild and crazy daytime beach parties, plus it’s home to the island’s two biggest special entertainment venues, Paradise Club and Cavo Paradiso, where top international DJs spin for events that last from midnight to dawn.

This summer, the Paradise party crowd will have a new spot to drink and dine — Anna’s Place Restaurant & Bar has opened in sea- and beachview premises adjacent to Cavo Paradiso. Anna’s menu includes Greek cuisine as well as seafood, pasta and meat dishes. The restaurant has a sheltered dining room and bar terrace that overlooks Paradise beach and bay.


Anna's Place Mykonos

From the Anna’s Place Facebook page, a photo of the exterior of the new restaurant and bar at Paradise beach



Anna's Place Mykonos

Also from the Anna’s Place Facebook page, this photo shows part of the restaurant’s colourful interior dining space



New nightclubs in Tria Pigadia & former Space disco

Details are scant, but a new nightclub named ODE has opened in the Tria Pigadia (Three Wells) area of Mykonos Town, in the former Aigli bar premises across the street from Astra nightclub.

The club posted two photos on the ODE Facebook page, which was created April 15 to announce the bar’s April 16 premiere, but has not yet added further information.

Musician Alexandros Christopoulos will be one of his exclusive Esthete concept parties in the club on April 19.

That’s the same night that Dream City Mykonos will make its grand debut in the Lakka-area location formerly home to Space disco.  The new Mykonos club will be a sister to the Dream City restaurant and nightclub at 30 Iera Odos in Athens.


ODE Nightclub Mykonos

From the ODE Mykonos Facebook page, a view of the nightclub’s outdoor patio



 Sophie’s choice for a new gay venue

Sophie, a French “icon” well-known to many of the thousands of gay travellers who visit Mykonos each summer, is opening a new club called Sofi’a in the space formerly occupied by Thalami Bar (the lower back level of the Mykonos municipal building, right next to busy Niko’s Taverna).

Thalami had been around for decades, and was perenially popular for its live Greek music and friendly, social atmosphere.  No word yet on when Sofi’a will be opening — there’s no website or Facebook page for it yet, but it’s getting plenty of buzz on social media as people continue to share photos of the bar’s logo (below). [Editor's update: Sofi'a Bar held an opening party on April 17.]

There is also talk that the Ramrod Club at Taxi Square will be reopening this season, offering gay and gay-friendly visitors another venue to meet and mingle.


Sofi'a Thalami Bar Mykonos

A photo of the sign for the new Sofi’a Thalami Bar in Mykonos Town



Mystery hotel opening in May

There are nearly two dozen 5-star hotels on Mykonos, but the vast majority are situated at beach resort areas like Agios Ioannis, Elia, Ornos and Psarou. Only four are either right in Mykonos Town or within a reasonable walking distance of the town center — the Theoxenia, Kouros, Cavo Tagoo and Tharroe. The Theoxenia is the most centrally-located of the bunch, sitting right behind the famous row of windmills at Little Venice. Kouros and Cavo Tagoo are a 10-minute walk away in the seaview Tagoo neighbourhood on the north side of the Old Port, while Tharroe is a slightly longer walk on the south side of town, high above Megali Ammos beach.

The newest member of the Mykonos 5-star club is Bohème Mykonos, which is also on a hill above Megali Ammos but much closer to town than Tharroe. Scheduled to open on May 15, Bohème will boast 20 luxurious suites with contemporary Bohemian decor in a sparkling white building of traditional Cycladic architecture. Bohème is one of 11 Mykonos hotels belonging to Small Luxury Hotels of the World.


Boheme Mykonos

This image of a model striking a sultry pose in a seaview swimming pool at sunset appears on the website and Facebook page for the new Bohème Mykonos boutique hotel in Mykonos Town



New 5-star accommodations on site of former budget hotel

Regular Mykonos visitors will be familiar with Bohème’s location — it’s the site formerly occupied by the 2-star Carrop Tree Hotel and Merolayia restaurant.

I’ve been curious to see how Bohème looks, and especially to learn how its creators transformed the old budget-friendly Carrop Tree building into high-end boutique accommodations. Unfortunately, no-one from Bohème, or from its sister hotel, Porto Mykonos, responded to requests for information that I emailed to their website contact addresses and Facebook pages. But perhaps they’re keeping those details under wraps as part of the new hotel’s online promotional campaign, built around the theme “Let’s get lost in the Bohème mystery.”

Indeed, while the Bohème website and the Bohème Mykonos Facebook page both feature impressive photos that photographer Christos Drazos shot of several different suite interiors, there are no images of the hotel’s exterior or main facilities (possibly because they could well have been under renovation at the time the website was constructed).  So until guests and passersby begin posting photos online, Bohème’s external appearance will remain secret.


Boheme Mykonos

This photo, from the Bohème Mykonos Facebook page, shows the interior of a superior sea view suite



Boheme Mykonos

From the Bohème Facebook page, another photo of a suite interior



Carrop Tree Hotel

The budget-priced Carrop Tree Hotel formerly occupied the property where the new 5-star Bohème Mykonos hotel will open on May 15. I shot this photo of the Carrop Tree in May 2012, and am very curious to see how the building has been transformed into its new incarnation as luxury accommodations.



Popular places opening in April

Popular restaurants in Mykonos Town that celebrated the start of the 2014 tourist season this week were D’Angelo and  M-eating, which both opened April 10, and Kalita, which welcomed guests on the 11th.  Aroma Bar also opened on April 11 with music by DJ Inspiro, while Scarpa nightclub in Little Venice threw its season-opening bash the same night with DJ Valeron. Nammos By the Sea got summer started at Psarou beach with its grand opening on April 12.

Restaurants opening in time for next weekend’s Easter festivities include Bakalo, which has announced it will open on April 14, and Catari on the 15th. Aneplora near Kalafatis beach, plus Marechiaro and Avra Restaurant in Mykonos Town, all will open on April 16 while Jackie O’ Beach at Super Paradise will follow on the 17th, offering a special Easter menu on the weekend. Salparo Seafood near the Old Port has given the trademark red and white fishing boat next to its patio a fresh coat of paint in time for the taverna’s April 17 opening. Karavaki restaurant at the Vencia Hotel also opens on the 17th, while Avli tou Thodori at Platis Gialos starts its season on the 18th.

The Mykonos Town nightlife will pick up steam with three club openings all on April 16 –  Semeli Bar in Little Venice plus Astra and the brand-new ODE Mykonos nightclubs, both in the Tria Pigadia area. Over at Panormos beach, Panormos Beach Bar is aiming to open on the 17th.


Avra Restaurant Mykonos

Avra Restaurant co-owner Sarah Pearson posted this photo of Avra’s elegant courtyard dining area to Avra Restaurant Facebook group page this weekend. Avra will celebrate its season opening on Wednesday April 16.


Places opening in May

Although many bars and restaurants target Easter weekend for their annual season opening, there’s always quite a few that don’t open until May.

The Nobu Matsuhisa Mykonos at the Belvedere Hotel is among them; it will start summer service on May 9.  Pinky Beach at Super Paradise will host a “soft opening” on May 21, while that night the Paradise Club at Paradise Beach will get the summer party circuit off to a rocking start (see my March 31 post for further information about that.) Interni Restaurant in Mykonos Town will throw open its doors on May 23.


Pinky Beach Mykonos

A promotional image announcing the 2014 opening for Pinky Beach at Super Paradise Beach


Posted in Bars and/or tavernas, Cyclades islands, Greek Island villages and towns, Greek Islands, Greek Islands photos, In the news, Mykonos | Tagged , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Windsurfers ride the waves at Naxos


Windsurfers catch some waves and late afternoon sun on St George's Bay near Naxos Town

We watched these windsurfers skim across Agios Georgios Bay (St George’s Bay) on a windy but sunny afternoon during our holiday on Naxos last October


Posted in Cyclades islands, Greece holiday October 2013, Greek Islands, Greek Islands photos, Naxos, Watersports | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Promotional videos mark a travel milestone — a full century of organized tourism in Greece


The English-narrated video Greek Tourism. An eternal journey features stunning views of some of the most beautiful and famous sights and attractions in Greece



Significant Century:  With its long and storied history, Greece has been associated with tourism for what seems like an eternity. Not surprisingly, tourism is the country’s oldest industry.

“The Greek passion for travelling, for both knowledge and adventure, began long ago with Odysseus, the paradigm of the eternal traveller; with Herodotus, the first tourist and most famous story teller; and with Pausaniuas, who wrote the first travel guide 2,000 years ago,” narrator Donald Morgan Nielson notes in the promotional video Greek Tourism: An eternal journey

The five and a half minute film features utterly splendid video photography of spectacular scenery from the Greek mainland and some of the Greek islands, and is accompanied by soaring, uplifting music by Dimitris Papadimitriou. With a script directed by Andonis Theocharis Kioukas, the video was produced by QKas Productions for the Greece National Tourism Organisation (GNTO), and has been posted on the GNTO’s Visit Greece YouTube page.


From 10,000 tourists in 1914 to over 17 million in 2014

The video celebrates the 100th anniversary of officially-organized tourism in Greece. Back in 1914, respected Greek statesman Eleftherios Venizelos founded the first national service to oversee Greek tourism. That same year, 10,000 tourists visited the country, and the numbers just kept on growing from theret. They reached record proportions last year, when more than 17 million people visited the country — an all-time high. And even though it’s still early in 2014 and the main summer tourist season hasn’t even begun, Greece appears on track for another banner year.

There was an 8.4% increases in the number of international arrivals at Greek airports in January, February and March compared to the same quarter last year, while travel officials report that summer bookings from major markets like Germany and the USA have risen substantially. And with more than 150 new airline routes operating to Athens this season, along with numerous new international direct flights to Mykonos, Santorini, Crete and other islands, Greece appears likely to top its target of 18 million visitors by the end of the year.

Frankly, I’m surprised the number of visitors isn’t considerably higher. But once more people get to view Greek Tourism: An eternal journey, I’m sure they’ll consider planning trips to see the amazing sights and attractions for themselves.

Below is a slightly shorter version of the video which will let you enjoy Dimitris Papadimitriou’s inspiring music without the narration. Turn up the volume, sit back, and enjoy the 4-minute journey to “Greece … a small piece of heaven on earth.”




Posted in Greece mainland, Greece videos, Greek Islands, Greek Islands videos, Monuments & historic sites, Tourist attractions | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Folegandros … rediscovered


Conde Nast Traveler

The December 2004 edition of Condé Nast Traveler magazine featured a profile of Folegandros with this cover photo and headline calling it “The best little island in Greece…getting there is half the fun.”



Hidden gem?: I always have a good chuckle when I read a travel article describing a “secret,” “hidden” or “undiscovered” Greek island that few people are supposed to know about. Usually the island is fairly well-known, both to Greeks and to seasoned island hoppers or anyone who has been to Greece even just once.

Nearly 10 years ago, in its December 2004 edition, Condé Nast Traveler magazine published an intriguing feature story about Folegandros. Written by Adam Sachs, it was entitled Greece’s best-kept secret (until now). We had taken our first-ever trip to Greece just six months earlier, and I bought the magazine because I was eagerly researching destinations to visit during a return trip to Greece in 2005. I had heard and read about Folegandros (in fact, it was already on my “must see someday” list), but at that point in time couldn’t resist buying any magazine that contained photos or information about Greece. The fascinating account of Adam Sachs’ visit to Folegandros made me yearn to see the island even more.

I clipped the Condé Nast article to save in my travel reference files, and re-read it before we went to Folegandros in September 2007. I have perused the article several times since, and have given the link to the online version of it to a number of people during the past six years.


The Panaghia (Church of Our Lady) is perched high above Chora village on Folegandros

The stunning Panaghia (Church of Our Lady) clings to the steep mountainside high above Chora village



Panaghia on Folegandros

A view of the Panaghia (Church of Our Lady) at sunset. The remarkable white church is one of many mesmerizing sights on Folegandros.




Folegandros photos popular online

I also gave many people the links to my Folegandros pictures on the Webshots.com photo-sharing website where my Greece travel photos had been viewed by more than 2.5 million people before public access to the site was discontinued at the end of 2012. Four separate albums of Folegandros images were among my Top 20 most-viewed albums, and each was seen by more than 20,000 people.

Meanwhile, between 2007 and 2011, I talked about Folegandros in more than three dozen posts on the TripAdvisor.com travel forums, where plenty of people appeared to be familiar with the island. In the three years since then, even more travellers have been talking about Folegandros on TripAdvisor, and one regular Folegandros visitor recently rued the surge in tourist traffic to his favourite island in recent years (he complained that the increase in visitors had led some restaurants to hike their dinner prices, while his beloved nude beach has begun to get too crowded).


Angali beach

Cliffs soar above Angali, one of the most popular beaches on Folegandros



Karavostassis Folegandros

Whitewashed buildings cling to a hillside at Karavostassis, the port village of Folegandros




Folegandros included on Fodor Travel list

So I was more than a little amused earlier this week when I logged into the MyGreeceTravelBlog Facebook page to catch up on news, and found numerous posts on other Facebook pages reporting that Folegandros has been ranked among the Top 15 “undiscovered destinations” in Europe. Each post provided a link to the Huffington Post website, where Folegandros was indeed ranked #12 on a list of 15 Undiscovered European Destinations.

 Huffington Post published the list on April 7, but that was just a reprint of a photo feature with the same title that originally had been published March 11 on Fodor’s Travel.

According to the Fodor ranking, Folegandros “proposes a welcomed escape from the hustle and bustle of more popular Greek islands. Perched on a towering seaside cliff, the island doesn’t offer much in the way of attractions—but makes up for it with local charm. Visitors can explore untouched beaches, sample traditional food, and spend quiet evenings contemplating the breathtaking, sun-touched cliffs.”

Most of that description is spot-on correct, but it’s actually just the main village, Chora, that is perched atop a seaside cliff — not the entire island! Grammatical errors aside, Folegandros does boast a spectacular coastline of precipitous and breathtaking sheer cliffs, as well as numerous small beaches that are popular with the thousands of people who visit the island each summer. It also has a pronounced local charm, a generous selection of excellent restaurants, and quiet evenings. But Folegandros is far from “undiscovered.”


Chora village Folegandros

Residents of the historic Kastro section of Chora live literally on the edge — their homes are built atop a sheer cliff that plunges hundreds of feet to the sea



north coast of Folegandros

Another view of buildings in the Kastro section of Chora (upper left) and the rugged landscape and coastline on the north side of Folegandros




Tourism surged after the magazine profile

When we finally got to the island in September 2007, staff we spoke to at our hotel and at some of the restaurants in Chora told us that tourism had been booming ever since Folegandros made the cover of Condé Nast Traveler. (Just what you’d expect for any place profiled in a travel magazine read by more than a million North Americans each month.)

One fellow told us that, during August, just one month before our visit, dozens of people with no hotel reservations stepped off a ferry, expecting it would be easy to find rooms — but every bed was sold out.  Locals scrambled to collect blankets and pillows and create makeshift sleeping quarters so the extra travellers would have a place to bed down for the night. Meanwhile, a mini construction boom was underway, with new hotels and private accommodations being built to cash in on the steadily growing traffic. A concrete frame for a new building was under construction right next to Fata Morgana Studios, where we were staying. And ferry companies had begun serving Folegandros with highspeed passenger catamarans to get more travellers to the island faster than the “milk run” car and truck ferries that stopped at multiple islands en route and took all day to get there.

So it clearly was Condé Nast, and not Fodor’s, that “discovered” Folegandros — and that was a full decade ago. But enough nitpicking about media hype. Ten years from now, some other publication or website will probably post a gushingly positive profile proclaiming that Folegandros is a “hidden gem” still waiting to be discovered.


Fata Morgana Studios

The Fata Morgana Studios swimming pool at sunset. The property has a view of several nearby islands, including Sifnos, which is faintly visible in the distance behind the umbrella.



Add this captivating island to your must-see list

If you haven’t been to Folegandros yet, consider giving it a visit. The island truly is as wonderful and captivating as the travel journalists claim. And chances are high that you, like us, will instantly fall in love with the place.

We have long been keen to pay Folegandros a return visit, but just haven’t been able to work it into any of our island hopping itineraries because of awkward ferry schedules and connections. Which is a good thing, because as long Folegandros remains off the main beaten path, it should retain its unique charm and character. And that’s what we want to experience again when we finally do make it back.

Below are links to two of my Folegandros photo album collections on the MyGreeceTravelBlog Flickr page. The main Folegandros album contains nearly 260 pictures of the island, while the second set features more than 70 photos of Fata Morgana Studios.


 Folegandros island

Rugged sheer cliffs on the coastline below Hora village provide some of the jaw-dropping natural scenery that delights visitors to Folegandros. Click here to view more than 250 more photos of the island in my Folegandros album on Flickr.



 Fata Morgana Studios

A view of the swimming pool and part of the rental apartment complex at Fata Morgana Studios, where we stayed during our trip to Folegandros. Click here to view my Flickr album with dozens more photos of the hotel.


Posted in Cyclades islands, Folegandros, Greek Island villages and towns, Greek Islands, Greek Islands beaches, Greek Islands hotels, Greek Islands photos, In the news, Our Greece holidays in past years, September 2007 | Tagged , | 2 Comments

Visiting Delos will be easier this summer with Sunday openings, longer hours & extra ferries


Tourists explore some of the historic ruins on Delos island near Mykonos

This summer’s extended hours and Monday openings mean tourists will enjoy the best opportunity ever to visit the historic ruins on Delos island near Mykonos



Delos every day: Tourists travelling to Mykonos this summer are in for a big treat — they’ll be able to visit the ancient city and archaeological museum on nearby Delos island seven days a week, and even during the early evening for a change.

Delos is one of the most important archaeological locations in all of Greece, and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

It’s easily reached on a short ferry ride from Mykonos, but restrictive opening hours have long made it difficult for many people to see Delos — especially thousands of cruise ship passengers who visit Mykonos for only part of a day during a short call into port. Indeed, the island is totally off-limits to the public at night, and for years has also been completely closed to tourists on Mondays (as has been the case with most museums and archaeological sites elsewhere in Greece).

But “never on Monday” isn’t the case for Delos this summer, thanks to operating hour changes that the Greek government announced several weeks ago for the 2014 tourist season.

As I reported in my March 4 post, Delos is one of 33 major Greek museum and archaeological sites that will be open 12 hours a day, seven days a week, from April 1 until the end of October.

For years, the Delos ferries have departed Mykonos Town at 9, 10 and 11 a.m., making return trips at 12:15, 1.30 and 3 p.m. (In low season and winter, when there is substantially less demand, there is only one return ferry on Fridays and Sundays). When I learned that the government would be extending the visiting hours for Delos, and opening it to the public on Mondays, I contacted Delos Tours to find out what, if any, schedule changes might be forthcoming for excursions to the historic island. (Delos Tours is the joint venture company that operates the boats which are used to ferry passengers from the Mykonos Town harbour to Delos and back.)


New return trip in late afternoon/early evening 

Delos Tours owner Maria Chatziioannou told me that plans were in the works to add an extra afternoon ferry departure; however, she was still waiting for the Greek shipping ministry to officially approve additional ferry trips and couldn’t confirm any schedule details for me at that time.

Just this afternoon, however, Maria was able to send me Delos Tours’ new summer ferry schedule.

From Tuesday through Sunday, ferries will depart Mykonos as usual at 9, 10 and 11 a.m. and return as usual at 12:15, 1:30, and 3 p.m. The big change is that a late afternoon/early evening return trip has been added to the roster — a ferry will depart Mykonos at 5 p.m. and return from Delos at 8 p.m. That’s excellent news for people whose cruise ships or ferries don’t arrive at Mykonos in time for them to catch the morning departures (and good news, as well, for anyone already on Mykonos who might happen to sleep in after a late night enjoying the island’s infamous restaurant, nightclub and party scene).

However, on Mondays there will be only two ferry trips, with boats departing from Mykonos Town at 10 a.m. and 5 p.m., and returning from Delos at 1.30 and 8 p.m.


Small increase in ferry ticket prices on May 1

As of May 1, prices for return ferry tickets will increase slightly from the current fares, which have not changed in several years.  An adult ticket will cost €18 (up from €17), while the price for children aged 6 to 12 will be €9 (a nominal increase from €8.50 at present). Kids under 6 can travel for free.

Guided tours also are available at a cost of €40 for adults and €20 for kids aged 6 to 12 (no charge for younger children). Guided tours are offered every day, but only on the 10 a.m. ferry departure. Full pricing and schedule information — as well as online advance ticket booking — is available on the Delos Tours website: www.delostours.gr.

For more information about Delos, click on the links below to see some of my previous posts:

♦ Visiting Delos, the sacred cradle of the gods

♦ Visiting Delos: So much to see, indoors & out

♦ Visiting Delos: How to get there


The Orca Delos ferry

A view of the Orca, one of the Delos ferry boats, as it departs the Old Port at Mykonos Town en route to Delos island


Posted in Arts & culture, Cyclades islands, Delos, Greek ferry travel, Greek Island tours & excursions, Greek Islands, Greek Islands photos, In the news, Monuments & historic sites, Mykonos, Tourist attractions | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

A Kos beach view toward Turkey


View toward Turkey from one of the beaches at Kos Town on Kos island

Clouds pass above the coast of Turkey in this evening view from one of the beaches at Kos Town on the Dodecanese island of Kos



Posted in Dodecanese islands, Greece holiday pic of the day, Greek Islands, Greek Islands beaches, Greek Islands photos, Kos | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Spring colours at Epi Studios on Paros


Epi Studios Matsas Windmill Paros

A bougainvillea-covered trellis shades a window at the Epi Studios Matsas Windmill hotel in Naoussa village on Paros



Colourful corner: It finally feels like spring in Toronto today, but we’ve got still got a few weeks to go before spring flowers begin to bloom. Gardens, yards and parks are foul-smelling, muddy swaths of brown and grey as remaining patches of dirt-covered snow and ice gradually melt away.

To get a glimpse of greenery and spring flowers in the meantime, I’ve been looking through photos from my May 2012 visit to Paros, where vibrant gardens and landscaping around whitewashed houses provided picture-postcard scenes throughout Naoussa village.

One corner in Naoussa was particularly colourful thanks to the bougainvillea,  flowers, bushes and trees growing on the grounds of Epi Studios Matsas Windmill, a hotel complex of 18 kitchen-equipped studios a short walk from Ag Anargyroi beach.


Not much information available online

Out of curiosity, I searched online for information about the hotel, to see what the rooms look like and find out what it costs to stay there.

Surprisingly, I couldn’t find a website for the property — only dozens of listings for it on booking sites like Expedia, otel.com, dhr and others. Although the listings include some photos showing the traditionally-decorated rooms, I couldn’t find prices — all the dates I entered into the various different search fields showed no availability. And there aren’t many online reviews providing descriptions of what it’s like to stay there. For instance, the Epi Studios listing on TripAdvisor.com only has four reviews, the most recent of which was posted in 2010.

Nonetheless, Epi Studios is still a picturesque place to see if you happen to stay elsewhere in Naoussa and take a walk around the town, as the photos below indicate.


Street view of the Matsas Windmill and adjacent hotel buildings at Epi Studios

Street view of Epi Studios Matsas Windmill



Street view of the Epi Studios building and Matsas Windmill

Another street view of the Epi Studios and Matsas Windmill



Epi Studios Matsas Windmill

Bougainvillea clings to the wall beside the Epi Studios sign



Epi Studios Matsas Windmill

Flowering shrubs add more bursts of colour in the gardens at Epi Studios



Epi Studios Matsas Windmill

A view of the Matsas Windmill, which stands proudly near the corner of an intersection in Naoussa village



Posted in Cyclades islands, Greek Island villages and towns, Greek Islands, Greek Islands hotels, Greek Islands photos, Hotel of the week, Paros | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Paradise Club to kick off Mykonos party season with all-night opening bash on May 21


Paradise Club Mykonos

The 2014 opening party announcement from Paradise Club


All-nighter: One of the premier party clubs on Mykonos has finally announced the date of its official opening party for 2014.

Paradise Club will kick off the Mykonos party season with an event that will start at 11 p.m. on Wednesday May 21 and continue until sunrise.

There’s no word yet on which DJs will be spinning for the opening party; nevertheless, the news will be welcomed by clubbers from around the world who have been planning to travel to Mykonos in late May. People have been asking me about Mykonos party club opening dates, and have also been inquiring on the TripAdvisor.com Mykonos forum, but until today’s announcement I couldn’t confirm when the Paradise beach party scene would be getting underway this year.


Resident DJs announced

Paradise Club says it will announce its 2014 lineup in a few weeks, but in the meantime has confirmed that its resident DJs for the summer will be Brad Wilder, 15grams and Soheil.

Tickets for the May 21 event will be available at Paradise beach and from members of a promotional team that will be circulating in Mykonos Town. Admission can also be purchased right at the club door starting at 11 p.m. that night. VIP tickets can be ordered by email by contacting this address: vip@paradiseclubmykonos.com.

Cavo Paradiso, the other major party venue at Paradise Beach, has not yet announced its opening date or summer lineup. But the club’s website says news will be coming soon about appearances by Skrillex, Richie Hawtin and Sven Vath.

Paradise Club and Cavo Paradiso both ranked high on the DJ Mag listing of the Top 100 Clubs for 2014, placing 20th and 24th, respectively.


Posted in Arts & culture, Cyclades islands, Greek Islands, In the news, Mykonos, nightclubs & parties, Party places | Tagged , , , | 3 Comments

A colourful lane on the Kastro hillside on Milos


a blue lane on Milos island

Pots of pink and red geraniums add pops of colour to a blue-painted footpath on the Kastro hillside above Plaka village on Milos island. This is only one of many impressive sights visitors will encounter while hiking the steep footpath from Plaka to Kastro. The spectacular panoramic views from the Kastro mountain peak, especially at sunset, are a “must-see” attraction on Milos.



 a blue lane on Milos

That’s me at the blue lane during our climb to Kastro for sunset



pot of geraniums on Milos

Pink geraniums in a white pot beside the blue lane



a blue lane on Milos

You’ll pass the lane partway up the path to Kastro. It’s a pretty place to stop and catch your breath before climbing the rest of the steep steps to the mountaintop.



geranium in a wall pot on Milos

A wall-mounted planter brings the lane’s blue theme to eye level



a blue lane on Milos

The lane bathes in the golden glow of the slowly-setting sun



geraniums on Milos

The Gulf of Milos and mountains on the west side of the gulf are visible from the end of the lane …



Gulf of Milos

… as you can see from this shot, taken facing toward the west and looking down the steps we have climbed so far



a blue lane on Milos

We saw this cat sitting in the lane during our first visit to Milos back in 2007


Posted in Cyclades islands, Greece holiday pic of the day, Greek Island villages and towns, Greek Islands, Greek Islands photos, Milos | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Looking sheepish on Sifnos


sheep on Sifnos

Sheep watch warily from behind a thicket of bare shrubs at a farm property in a valley near Kastro village on Sifnos


Posted in Cyclades islands, Greece holiday pic of the day, Greek Islands, Greek Islands photos, Sifnos | Tagged , | Leave a comment

SkyGreece takes test flight; aims to start 5x weekly service between Athens and New York in June


SkyGreece airlines flight crew

This image of a flight crew posing beside the SkyGreece Airlines Boeing 767 ER was posted on the SkyGreece Facebook page this past weekend.



Excitement building: If the traffic to my blog and the number of emails I’ve been receiving recently are an accurate indication, there is a tremendous interest in SkyGreece Airlines — and especially its as-yet-unannounced schedule for flights between Athens and the United States.

For months, SkyGreece has been one of the top 3 most-searched topics on my website, while during the last few weeks I’ve received more email inquiries about SkyGreece than I’ve received about any other subject in the past two years.

People keep asking me when SkyGreece will launch flights to and from New York and Chicago, and also want to know what fares will cost. Some people are even asking if SkyGreece is hiring any flight crew or ground staff in the USA.

Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to answer any of the questions or provide up-to-date information because SkyGreece hasn’t released any. Until this past weekend.


Test flight over Taxiarchis Monastery on Lesvos

According to a news report on the Greek Travel Pages website, SkyGreece conducted a test flight of its Boeing 7667 ER aircraft last Friday, taking a group of airline executives and officials from the Civil Aviation Authority on a flight that passed over the Monastery of Taxiarchis at Mantamados on Lesvos island. The flight was highly symbolic since the SkyGreece plane is named Taxiarchis, after the Greek patron saint of aviators. The next day, SkyGreece updated its Facebook page with two photos of the flight crew posing next to the jet.

Without providing specific details, the GTP report added that SkyGreece will launch its year-round direct flights between Athens and New York City sometime in June.  There will be 5 flights per week between Athens and NYC in the summer, and 2 flights per week during winter. SkyGreece also plans to offer 3 flights per week from Athens to Montreal and Toronto, and at some future unspecified time will launch service to Chicago and to South Africa.


Airline awaiting flight permits from USA & Canada

GTP said that SkyGreece has obtained its licence in Greece, and is still waiting to receive permits from the United States and Canada that will allow it to operate scheduled flights to New York and Toronto. Until those permits are received, SkyGreece will offer flights on a charter basis only.

No information was provided about when the flights to Canada will commence, or what fares will cost — so please don’t email me to ask for those details! I do not have contact with anyone at SkyGreece, so I don’t have any “inside information” that I could share with you. I will post that information here on the blog if and when SkyGreece announces its schedules and prices.

And if you’re interested in employment with the airline, keep checking the SkyGreece website for possible career opportunities.  Today, the website indicated that applications for an E-Commerce IT Specialist, based in Athens, are being accepted until April 2.

For my previous reports about SkyGreece, see my January 10 2014 post and my June 25 2013 post.


Posted in Air travel, In the news | Tagged , | Leave a comment

All walled in: A hillside estate on Patmos


a house on Patmos

Stone walls enclose a private villa on a hillside above Grikos Bay on Patmos


Posted in Dodecanese islands, Greece holiday pic of the day, Greek Islands, Greek Islands photos, Patmos | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Marvellous winter moments on Mykonos


Mykonos Island “when no one’s watching” from Andreas Bekas on Vimeo.


Mention Mykonos, and most people instantly imagine sun-scorched rocky hills; crescent-shaped beaches packed end-to-end with people partying under searing sunshine; throngs of tourists swarming the iconic windmills on the hill near Little Venice; gigantic cruise ships docking at both of the island’s ports; and luxurious private yachts dropping anchor in almost every bay. That’s a fairly accurate image of what the island is like during the peak travel months of July and August.

But Mykonos has a completely different look during winter when the island’s 10,000 residents have the beaches and monuments entirely to themselves. The hillsides are verdant with winter flowers and greenery; the quiet beaches are empty of people, lounge chairs and umbrellas; and there’s nary a soul to be seen near the windmills or on the seaside at Little Venice.


Spectacular video by Andreas Bekas

In his spectacular time-lapse video Mykonos Island: When no one’s watching, photographer Andreas Bekas captures the Mykonos landscape in moments of peace, quiet, solitude and colour that few tourists ever get to see.

The 2.5-minute video opens with striking sunrise views of the Agios Iakovos chapel near Agios Sostis (which I profiled in a June 10 2013 post), and features scenes including: the five windmills at Alefkandra; the Armenistis lighthouse; the Bonis windmill on the hill above Mykonos Town; vast expanses of green countryside; the blissfully empty beaches at Paraga, Kalfatis and Panormos; the remarkable Paraportiani Church; and a moody view of the Little Venice seafront. The clip concludes with an aerial view of an eerily quiet Mykonos Town and harbourfront at sunset; a star-filled sky above a rustic dovecoat; and tall green grass rustling in wind.

Makes me wish I could take a winter trip to Mykonos!


Posted in Cyclades islands, Greek Island villages and towns, Greek Islands, Greek Islands videos, Mykonos, Winter in Greece | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments