Take flight over the Corinth gulf & canal

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A Greek Gulf from Panos Smirniotis on Vimeo.

 

Fun flight: While scanning through tweets by some of the people I follow on Twitter, I discovered a real gem of a film clip today — A Greek Gulf, an amazing aerial video by photographer Panos Smirniotis.

The 6-minute clip, which is posted on Vimeo, shows captivating coastal scenery in areas around the southeastern end of the Gulf of Cornith, including the Heraion Lighthouse, the Sanctuary of Hera, and the Vouliagmeni Lagoon in Perachora; the world-famous Corinth Canal; and the beach and resort at Loutraki.

I have seen the Gulf of Corinth a couple of times, but only from jet airplanes cruising thousands of feet high, so it was impossible to notice the delightful scenery passing beneath us. Although the places shown in A Greek Gulf are seen from the air as well, Panos’s camera skimmed closer to earth, capturing gorgeous high-definition views of the water, beaches and coastal landscapes in the Corinthia area.

The uplifting music that accompanies the video is Piano Dream, by Andreas Agiannitopoulos (aka DJ A).

To view the video, click the white arrow at the bottom left corner of the image at the top of this post.

Below is a Google map of Greece, on which I have circled the approximate area in which the film was shot.

 I suddenly have an urge to go for a swim in the Vouliagmeni lagoon!

 

Google map of Greece

 

 

Posted in Corinth, Greece mainland, Greece mainland beaches, Greece mainland villages & towns, Greece videos, Watersports | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Summer hotel prices skyrocketing on Mykonos as rates rise less sharply or drop on other islands

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Little Venice

The Little Venice seafront at Mykonos Town is a must-see attraction for hundreds of thousands of people who visit the island each year

 

 

Rising rates: Survey data from Trivago, the international hotel comparison website, has confirmed something I have been noticing for months — accommodation prices on Mykonos have risen sharply since last year.

In fact, the average nightly price for a Mykonos hotel room this month has climbed to a stunning €322 compared to €200 per night in July 2013 — a whopping 61% increase, Trivago’s research data indicates.

This news comes on the heels of a separate Trivago survey result released several days ago that ranked Mykonos as the 7th most expensive destination in the world in terms of hotel prices.

Many Mykonos hotels had frozen or even reduced their rates during the economic crisis that has devastated Greece for more than five years, with some properties losing money or barely breaking even each year as owners waited for the economy to improve. With Greek tourist traffic soaring to record levels this summer, it appears that hotels may be taking advantage of the increased demand for accommodation to try to recoup some of the losses they sustained.

 

Parikia on Paros

Parikia is the biggest town and port on Paros.  Average hotel prices for Parikia have increased 10% this month from the same time last year.

 

 

Hotel prices rise at 16 other destinations

But Mykonos isn’t the only popular destination in Greece where hotel prices have increased since last year.

The Trivago survey shows that rates have climbed anywhere from 3% to 38% in 16 other island and mainland locations.

Places posting single-digit price increases include Corfu (+3%), Agios Nikolaos, Andros and Hydra (each +5%), plus Iraklio, Naxos and Rethymnon (up 8% each).

Locations with double-digit increases include Parikia (+10%), Rhodes (+15%), Chania (+16%), Hersonissos and Kos (each up 17%), Elounda (+18%), Ios (+19%), Zakynthos (+21%) and Lefkada (+38%).

 

 

Rates dropped on 11 islands

 

Ermoupoli Syros

Trivago says room rates have dropped 13% at Ermoupoli on Syros

 

Higher prices are not a trend throughout Greece, however, since nightly room rates actually have dropped significantly on some islands or, in the case of Rhodes, at one of its most popular tourist destinations (Lindos), Trivago data indicates.

On Folegandros, for example, the average price for a hotel room this month is €97, down a startling 27% from the €133 average rate in July 2013. Sharp price cuts also occurred at Koukounaries on Skiathos (-24%), Spetses (-23%), Argostoli (-15%), Astipalea (-14%), Ermoupoli on Syros (-13%), Lindos on Rhodes (-10%). Lower reductions were noted on Koufonissi and Tinos (both -4%)  and at Molyvos and Apollonia (both -3%).

Curiously, the Trivago survey didn’t mention prices on Santorini which, like Mykonos, is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Greece.

 

Folegandros chora

Chora village on Folegandros. Average hotel room rates on this charming island dropped by 27% this month compared to July 2013, Trivago says.

 

 

Mykonos among Top 10 most expensive global destinations

Mykonos achieved notoriety for pricey hotel rooms on another Trivago report that made the news a few days ago. In a survey of summer 2014 trends for travellers from the United Kingdom, Trivago examined searches conducted between January 1 and June 15 for travel to take place during this month and August. (Trivago’s system compares rates from more than 700,000 hotels on more than 150 different booking sites around the world.)

The data showed that the average online price for a hotel in Mykonos Town was €244 Euros. This gave Mykonos the #7 spot on Trivago’s list of the Top 10 Most Expensive Global Destinations, behind #1 Velden, Austria; #2 Belek, Turkey, #3 Ascona, Switzerland, #4 Porto Vecchio, Corsica, #5 Montreux, Switzerland, and #6, Boston, USA.  Rounding out the top 10 behind Mykonos were #8 New York, USA, #9 Locarno, Switzerland, and #10 Lugano, Switzerland.

The results of the two Trivago surveys will cement Mykonos’s reputation as one of the most expensive places to visit in Greece — something that shouldn’t really come as a surprise, considering that the island was put on the map by the jet set in the first place, and remains a popular getaway destination for the world’s rich and famous.

Still, a 61% increase in prices is startling, even for a place frequented by affluent travellers.

 

Mykonos Town

Rooftops on buildings in Mykonos Town. Hotel rates on the island are practically going through the roof this year, rising 61% over prices for July 2013.

 

 

Complaints raised in emails seeking hotel advice

I noticed that Mykonos hotel prices were on the rise early this year when I was checking hotel rates to answer accommodation questions posted in the Mykonos travel forum on TripAdvisor.com. Prices seemed marginally higher than I remembered them being in 2013. As winter moved into spring, I received numerous private messages on TripAdvisor, and emails to my blog, from people seeking suggestions for cheaper accommodation because they were finding summer prices too high.

Many of the people complaining about high hotel rates were travellers from the United Kingdom who wanted to stay on Mykonos only one night. They were flying to Mykonos on EasyJet or British Airways direct flights, but immediately transferring to another island — usually Naxos, Paros or somewhere in the Small Cyclades. Because of awkward ferry schedules, many of these travellers would have to spend a night on Mykonos in order to catch their return flights home. Many were astounded not only by the high room rates on Mykonos, but also by the fact many hotels impose a minimum stay requirement of 3 nights or longer during peak travel season, which limited their accommodation options even further.

My advice for travellers seeking summer bargains is to shop around on Trivago and other online sites, and to compare prices found there to rates listed on hotel websites. Booking directly with a hotel can sometimes achieve either significant price savings or extras like complimentary shuttle service to and from the Mykonos ferry ports or airports.

If you still find Mykonos hotels too expensive for your budget, consider visiting nearby islands like Naxos or Syros instead, or one of the places where the Trivago survey showed that prices have dropped this year. There are many other islands where budget-minded tourists will get more bang for their buck. But if you’re looking for glitz, glamour and glitter, there’s only one Mykonos — and going there this summer could put a bigger dent in your wallet than you’re anticipating.

 

Kos Town harbour

Tour boats in the harbour at Kos Town. Trivago found that average hotel rates for Kos have gone up 17% for this month compared to the same time last year.

 

Posted in Astipalea, Corfu, Crete, Cyclades islands, Dodecanese islands, East Aegean Islands, Folegandros, Greek Island villages and towns, Greek Islands, Greek Islands hotels, Greek Islands photos, In the news, Ionian islands, Ios, Kos, Lefkada, Lesvos, Mykonos, Naxos, Paros, Rhodes, Skiathos, Sporades islands, Syros, Tinos, Zakynthos | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Greek Islands get travel mag cover treatment

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GEO magazine June 2014 cover

GEO magazine profiled Greece in its June 2014 issue with a cover photo of Mandrakia village on Milos and an “Escape” feature on the “Secret islands and archipelagos of Greece.” They’re obviously not secret anymore!

 

 

Summer reads: When I’m not in Greece I enjoy reading about it — in books, magazines, online travel forums and websites. Thanks to feature cover stories about Greece published by three major European travel magazines recently, I’ve got plenty to read while relaxing on my balcony this summer.

Here’s a look at what the three magazine cover stories say about Greece:

 

 GEO magazine June 2014

I discovered GEO magazine from France purely by chance — I was looking for another magazine at a newsstand when a photo on GEO’s bold green cover caught my eye. It was the picturesque harbour at Mandrakia, a fishing hamlet on Milos, under the headline: “Secret islands and archipelagos of Greece.” I couldn’t resist and bought the magazine after taking only a cursory glance at the contents.

It turns out there are 28 full pages of text and beautiful photos about several Greek islands including Kythera, Kalymnos, Milos, Santorini, Chios, Aegina, Tinos, Skyros, Folegandros and Rhodes. The stories aren’t travel guides — they don’t recommend hotels to stay in, for instance, or suggest the hottest restaurants and coolest beaches to visit. Some of the pieces provide brief descriptions and overviews of the destinations, while others take an insightful look into how the Greek Islands have been affected by the country’s devastating economic crisis. The sale of island real estate to foreign billionaires is considered in part of one report, for example, while another piece profiles people who have started new business ventures selling local agricultural products.

 

Island village photo foul-up

 

GEO magazine photo of Astipalea

Mon Dieu! GEO magazine mistakenly published this eye-catching photo of Chora village on Astipalea to illustrate a short piece about Chora on Kythera — another island in a completely different area of Greece.

 

 

One of the GEO feature’s excellent photos — spread across pages 36 and 37  — really piqued my curiosity. It shows a white-domed church rising from the middle of a huge stone castle perched on a hilltop. The slopes below the castle are stacked with white cube houses that descend to a row of derelict windmills. I instantly recognized the location — Chora village on Astipalea, a butterfly-shaped island in the Dodecanese archipelago. I had shot photos from almost the identical vantage point when we visited Astipalea in 2009. However, the picture accompanied an article about Kythera, which is part of the Ionian island group, and the text said the town in the photo is that island’s capital, also called Chora. (Most main towns on Greek islands are called Chora).

I haven’t been to Kythera yet, but I was absolutely certain the photo was from Astipalea. So I poured through my photos to confirm I was right (there’s more than 300 pictures in my Astipalea collection on Flickr). Sure enough, details in my pictures of Astipalea’s Chora matched the same features visible in the GEO image, which was credited to Velissario Voutsas /IML – Hemis.fr, a French photo agency. Obviously someone on the magazine staff had made a big boo-boo by purchasing the wrong stock image to illustrate the article!

(You can learn more about Kythera, and see photos showing what its Chora looks like, on the comprehensive Visit Kythera website.)

Photo flop aside, the GEO stories are compelling reads, and are bound to encourage people in France to consider island hopping in Greece on an upcoming vacation. Moreover, photos and information about Leros, Kalymnos, Chios, Skyros and Tinos will encourage travellers to visit charming islands that often get overlooked because they aren’t instantly-recognizable mainstream tourist destinations like Santorini, Paros, Naxos and Mykonos.

 

 

 Condé Nast Traveller July 2014

 

Conde Nast Traveller July 2014

The July 2014 edition of Condé Nast Traveller has a cover photo of the San Giorgio “Bohemian Luxury” Hotel on Mykonos plus a feature spread on “the hottest hotels” and “coolest hangouts” in the Greek Islands

 

 

I had been anxious to obtain the July Condé Nast Traveller after the San Giorgio Hotel on Mykonos announced in a post on its Facebook page several weeks ago that it was pictured on the cover of the magazine’s feature issue on Greece.

The magazine devotes 14 full pages to “The Best of the Greek Islands,” promising an “insider’s guide to the loveliest hotels, smartest new villas, tastiest tavernas and most beautiful beaches from the Ionians to the Dodecanese,” and more.

The Hotels article profiles “Five great little places you should know about,” including the aforementioned San Giorgio on Mykonos, Anemi Hotel on Folegandros, Onar Resort on Andros, Coco-Mat Eco Residences on Serifos, and Perivolas Hideaway on Thirassia.

The Favourite Islands section cites Symi, Antiparos, Hydra, Ithaca and Mykonos as “Five all-time greats,” and recommends select accommodations, restaurants and beaches on each. It also offers a “hot tip” on particular things to see or do, and provides directions on how to get to these islands.

 

Kiki’s Taverna worth a wait in line

For Mykonos, the guide recommends dining at what it calls “the island’s worst-kept secret” — Kiki’s Taverna at Agios Sostis beach.  “There’s no phone and they don’t take bookings, but it’s well worth the wait if there’s a queue,” the magazine says. It didn’t surprise me that Kiki’s was a top pick — I  praised a lunch we enjoyed there as one of “Our best food & drink experiences of 2013” and I described the taverna at length in my “Mykonos food and drink 2013: where we ate” report. I also wrote about Kiki’s in a post about the Most popular beach tavernas on Mykonos in 2013. I haven’t compiled a similar report for 2014 yet, but if I did Kiki’s would rank highly once more — as of this week, it’s the #6-ranked Mykonos restaurant on TripAdvisor.com.

 

Great people-watching at La Louche

For Hydra, the magazine suggests staying at Bratsera Hotel and dining at Taverna Gitoniko. The newly-opened Perantzada Art Hotel is described as the best accommodations in Ithaca, while the pasta dishes at Libretto Trattoria are recommended “for an alternative to traditional Greek food.” The new Beach House Antiparos is top pick for — where else? — Antiparos, and La Louche Restaurant & Café gets a rave recommendation not only for best brunch on that island, but also as the best nighttime people-watching spot. The Old Markets boutique hotel is singled out for Symi, as is seafood restaurant Tholos.

The feature piece includes profiles of new villas on five different islands, as well as “hot tips from the country’s top chefs” and advice about unique boat excursions.

This issue will be a keeper, primarily for the insider tips about beaches, restaurants and excursions.

 

 

  The Sunday Times Travel Magazine June 2014

 

The Sunday Times Travel Magazine June 2014

The Sunday Times Travel Magazine published a handy “Total Guide” to the Greek Islands, but didn’t identify the name of the Oia, Santorini resort whose enticing infinity pool is pictured on the cover.

 

 

According to the lead story in the GEO magazine spotlight on Greece, the country has 9,841 islands, of which only 227 are populated and accessible to tourists via ferries and flights. If you haven’t been to Greece yet, or have done only a bit of island hopping but want to do more, how the heck to you decide which of those 227 islands to visit?

Over 200 places is certainly a daunting number of destinations to research, but the June 2014 issue of The Sunday Times Travel Magazine will help solve the dilemma.

Its 22-page “Total Guide to the Geek Islands” is an excellent practical resource that profiles “the 36 most gorgeous isles” in an immensely practical, useful and fun-to-read format illustrated by absolutely gorgeous photographs. Unlike most magazine guides, it doesn’t simply pick a handful of “hot” or “secret” destinations and describe its choice of top accommodations, restaurants, beaches and activities. Instead, it advises readers of the best places to go for specific things they want to see, do and experience — such as where to find “the empty beach,” “the out-of-time refuge,” “the blinding blue domes,” “the bustling harbour,” “the romantic ruins,” “the atmospheric monastery,” and more.

 

Where to find empty beaches

In its “You want: The empty beach” category, for instance, the guide claims you’ll find it on Naxos — and I concur, having been there three times in the past 15 months. It suggests six specific south coast beaches where you can avoid crowds — Kastraki, Alyko, Pyrgaki, Agiassos, Psili Ammos and Klidos  — and recommends Psili Ammos Studios and Rooms at Pyrgaki, which it calls a “hideaway” with “good home cooking in its taverna.” (Check out the pictures on the studios’ website — they put me on the verge of booking a return trip to Naxos so I could stay there. I’ve bookmarked it for future reference.) 

For travellers seeking an alternative to the tourist-mobbed Shipwreck Beach on Zakynthos, the guide suggests going to Porto Katsiki and Egremni beaches on Lefkada instead. And for “sandy swatches that no-one‘s heard of,” Sikinos is the place to go. People seeking beach solitude should avoid Mykonos, however. “It has gorgeous sandy beaches, but none are anywhere near empty,” the guide points out.

 

Where to see iconic blue-domed churches

In the “You want: The blinding blue domes” section, the guide suggests three islands where visitors can view the iconic Greek Island images and scenery they’ve seen on postcards and in travel brochures. Santorini is, of course, the pick of the pack. “Come for the cliffside churches, but stay for the high style, dramatic history and knockout sunsets,” the guide says, and stay at Astra Suites in Imerovigli or Art Maisons in Oia. (Check out the websites for both properties to see jaw-dropping, eye-popping photos of their incredible sunset and scenery views.)

If Santorini is out of your price range, Skopelos is an affordable good alternative. “It’s as unique as anything on Santorini, and almost as famous” thanks to Agios Ioannis church, the chapel on the rocky hill where the wedding scene from the Mamma Mia! movie was set. Recommended accommodations on Skopelos are Adrina Resort & Spa at Panormos bay. Milos is perfect for solo travellers, the magazine insists, dvising that the island’s spectacular scenery is best experienced on a sea kayak tour. Mimallis Apartments at Plaka gets the nod for accommodations on this beautiful isle.

Other islands profiled in the Sunday Times Travel Magazine guide include Amorgos, Patmos, Chios, Karpathos, Folegandros, Astipalea, Hydra, Symi, Paros, Ithaca, Antiparos, Skiathos, Crete, Aegaina, Samothraki, Andros, Tinos, Mykonos, Kos, Nisyros, Rhodes, Corfu, Samos and Alonissos. A 4-page “Factfile” explains exactly how to get to each of the destinations.

I know I will be referring to this issue frequently for future trip planning and information for upcoming blog articles.

If you can’t find copies of these magazines at your local news agencies, check the websites for each publication to see if back issues are available. If the issues are sold out, you can still find extensive information about Greece in numerous articles on each website. Happy reading!

[Editor's Update: Conde Nast Traveller has published an online version of part of the content from its printed magazine article described above. Click here to read their "Five great Greek Islands insider guide to the most beautiful beaches from the Ionians to the Dodecanese."]

 

Posted in Crete, Cyclades islands, Dodecanese islands, East Aegean Islands, Greece in magazines, Greek Islands, Greek Islands beaches, Greek Islands hotels, Greek Islands photos, Ionian islands, On my bookshelf, Skopelos, Sporades islands, Travel guides | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Greeks of the Sea TV show debuts Down Under

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Click on the arrow to view a 2-minute promotional trailer for the Greeks of the Sea television series premiering July 19 in Australia

 

 

Aegean odyssey: Television viewers Down Under will be seeing and learning a lot about Greece’s centuries-long seafaring heritage in a multi-part program premiering next weekend — Greeks of the Sea, an engaging and visually striking documentary series about fishermen, boat builders, ferry captains, sponge divers and other Greeks who earn a living and spend their lives at sea.

Greeks of the Sea intertwines fascinating and moving stories of the sea within a rich tapestry of Greek culture, hospitality, religion, history and mythology.  Taking in breathtakingly beautiful islands and stepping aboard spectacular ships, viewers are in for a visual treat – the series is presented in stunning full 1080p High Definition,” the program website states.

 

July 19 TV premiere in Australia

The series premieres at 7.30 p.m. Saturday July 19 on Australia’s SBS TV. The program was produced by Greek Seadogs/Tadpole Studios in association with SBS Television. Two versions of Greeks of the Sea were created — a 3-episode version for the Australian domestic television market, and a 6-part series for international distribution. (No information is available at this time on when the program might be broadcast in other countries.)

Greeks of the Sea is hosted by an Australian-born Greek, Nikos Andronicos, who visits Athens and more than two dozen different Greek islands “to meet the world’s most acclaimed mariners, and to discover the key to their success.”

Full details about the production — including episode summaries, photos, and information about its cast and crew — are available on the Greeks of the Sea website.  Be sure to watch the series trailer (above), which will give you a sneak peak of Nikos’s adventures on the Aegean.

Fingers crossed that the show is a big hit with viewers so the producers will be encouraged to create a second season!

 

Posted in Greece on TV & Film, Greece videos, Greek Islands, In the news, TV programs | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Aegean in-flight mag lauds the marvels of Milos

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Aegean Airlines Blue magazine cover image

Fashion model Vasilianna strikes a pose on one of the seaside rock formations at spectacular Sarakiniko beach on Milos island in the Cyclades. The photo, by Olympia Krasagaki, graces the cover of the summer 2014 edition of Blue, the in-flight magazine of Aegean Airlines.

 

 

Cover story: One of my favourite islands will be getting a lot of international attention over the next three months thanks to Aegean Airlines.

Milos is pictured not only on the cover of the airline’s in-flight magazine Blue this summer, but also in a Nature focus article as well as in a fashion photo spread featuring some of the island’s breathtaking beaches and magnificent coastal scenery.

The articles laud Milos for its “extraordinary beauty,” “spectacular coastline” and gorgeous beaches, and points out that the volcanic island also “has plenty of pretty, traditional villages, ancient monuments, excellent local cuisine and an overall air of elegance.”

Milos is, of course, one of the splendid island destinations that can easily be reached from Athens on daily flights by Olympic Air, which merged with Aegean several years ago.

The release of the summer 2014 edition of Blue was announced today on the Aegean Airlines International Facebook page.

The 340-page glossy magazine will be available to passengers flying Aegean during the next three months, and also can be viewed online in an e-book format available on the airline’s website. Click here to peruse the online edition.

The magazine cover photo shows a fashion model posing on the seaside at Sarakiniko, which is one of the most fascinating and impressive coastal landscapes I’ve seen out of all the Greek islands I’ve been fortunate to visit so far.

More pictures of Sarakiniko are included in a women’s fashion feature that starts on page 212. The fashion spread includes photos shot at other spectacular locations on Milos, including the colourful fishing village at Klima, the picturesque mountain town of Plaka, the scenic seaside at Fyriplaka beach, and the Glaronissia islets off the north coast of the island near Pollonia.

 

Aegean Airlines Blue magazine

The coastline at Fyriplaka beach provides a breathtakingly beautiful backdrop for this fashion photo by Olympia Krasagaki. Click here to open the online edition of Blue magazine and view full-size photos of the superlative Milos scenery.

 

 

Places to see, eat and drink on Milos

The Nature focus Milos: natural wonder begins at page 116 and includes amazing photos of the majestic coastal rock formations at Kleftiko and the incomparable Papafragas, a sliver of sandy beach wedged between tall stone walls. The article describes popular tourist and natural attractions on Milos, including some of the island’s 75 remarkable beaches, and suggests places to eat and drink.

Restaurant recommendations include our personal favourite O Chamos at Papakinou beach in the port town of Adamas, as well as Archontoula and Fatses in Plaka, Ergina in Tripiti, Enalion in Pollonia, and a few others.

For nice spots to enjoy a drink, the magazine’s picks include Akri and Mikro in Adamas, along with Gatis, Bakaliko and Utopia Café in Plaka (see my April 4 2012 post Utopian sunsets on Milos for photos of the sensational sunset views from the terrace at Utopia Café’s outdoor terrace).

 

 

Profiles for other island & mainland destinations

Although Milos claimed bragging rights to the cover photo and two feature articles, it isn’t the only must-see Greek destination profiled in Blue magazine. The summer issue is packed with beguiling photos and interesting travel information about 17 other intriguing islands as well as several cities and regions on the mainland.

For foodies, there are appetizing descriptions of new restaurants that have opened recently on the islands of Rhodes and Mykonos, as well as in Halkidiki.

For fans of arts and culture, there are articles about the 2014 Sani Festival in Halkidi, plus the impressive Viannos Art Gallery in Keratokambos, a small town situated at the southernmost point on Crete.

And for travellers who’d like to plan some island hopping, there are informative reports on things to see and do on Syros, Kasos, Paros, Corfu, Kos, Leros, Naxos, Lemnos, Ikaria, Kastellorizo, Kefalonia, Santorini, Rhodes and Astipalia — all accompanied by captivating full-colour photos.

If you’re lucky to be flying Aegean while the summer edition of Blue is available, be sure to collect a free copy from the seat pocket — it will be an excellent research resource for future Greek holiday planning. (And please get a copy for me!)

 

Thalassitra Church Milos

If you haven’t been to Milos and want to see why it was an outstanding choice for Blue magazine’s cover, check out my Milos photo collection on Flickr. It includes images of Milos landmarks like Thalassitra Church at Plaka village (above).

 

 

Posted in Air travel, Cyclades islands, Greece in magazines, Greek Island villages and towns, Greek Islands, Greek Islands beaches, Greek Islands photos, In the news, Milos | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

2014 Greek holiday report Part 4: A walkabout in Naxos Town and a bikeride to Plaka beach

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Grotta beach and bay

Our fourth day on Naxos included visits to wind- and wave-battered Grotta beach at Naxos Town (above) as well as the tantalizing long stretch of soft sand and dunes at fabulous Plaka beach (below)

 

Plaka beach

 

 

[Editor's note: This is the fourth instalment in an ongoing series of reports about our 2014 spring vacation in the Cyclades and Athens. Click here to see Part 1, click here to access Part 2, and click here for Part 3. Full-size versions of all the photos posted below can be viewed in the Naxos May 22 2014 album on Flickr.]

 

 

Thursday May 22

 

Back on the bikes: Thursday brought more excellent summer weather — sunshine, clear skies and warm temperatures. The hotel swimming pool looked oh-so-inviting but, with 24 hours remaining on our mountain bike rental, we were keen to spend time riding rather than sunbathing and swimming.

The strong winds that blew in yesterday had stuck around, however, and after our challenging ride to Mikri Vigla we weren’t keen to pedal through gusts and dust in a second effort to reach Kastraki and beaches farther south. We would leave that trek for a future trip and ride into Naxos Town instead.

 

Cape Agios Prokopios

Blue skies prevail in this morning view from Lianos Village Hotel toward Cape Agios Prokopios on Naxos (left) and Paros island (right rear).

 

 

Lianos Village Hotel

There was lots of blue in the view from our breakfast table at Lianos Village — the hotel swimming pool, the Aegean Sea, and the clear sky overhead

 

 

Lianos Village Hotel

It was tempting to stay at the hotel just to sunbathe, swim and snooze, but we gave the pool a pass and pedalled our bikes to Naxos Town

 

 

A walkabout in Naxos Town

The bike ride from the hotel to Protodikeiou Square in Naxos Town took us around 25 minutes. The trip should have been faster, but construction work on the road through Stelida delayed us slightly, while the strong winds blowing inland from St George’s Bay slowed us down on the long straight stretch of highway between Stelida and the edge of Naxos Town.

When we finally got off the bikes to lock them to a lamp post near the Fotis Greek Cuisine restaurant, we felt a sudden blast of dry heat. The wind had kept us comfortable during the bike ride, but now that we weren’t moving the sunshine radiating from the pavement and reflecting off the whitewashed buildings made it feel as though Naxos Town was 20 degrees hotter than Stelida. We dashed to the shaded side of the street, but it didn’t feel significantly cooler standing out of the sun. This was going to be one heck of a hot day!

Before going any further, we stopped into Naxos Travel Agency (located at Protodikeiou Square a few doors down from Scirocco restaurant) to purchase the tickets for our Saturday ferry trip to Syros. With that important task out of the way, it was time to explore Naxos Town — one of our favourite port “cities” in the Cyclades — for a few hours.  We would walk to the Old Market area and then head up to the Castle that towers above the town, hoping we would be able to walk in shade as much as possible.

 

Flamingo Restaurant Naxos

Scarlet bougainvillea spills over the whitewashed walls of Flamingo Restaurant in Naxos Town. See the Olympic rings logo in the merchandise display in front of the restaurant? It’s a flag from the 2004 Athens Olympics, one of several Olympic souvenir items that the sportswear store partly visible at right was selling. I was hoping to find an Athens 2004 Olympic Emblem T-shirt to replace the well-worn one I bought 10 years ago, but the shop only had children’s-sized merchandise with images of Athena and Phevos, the Olympic mascots.

 

 

Flamingo Restaurant

Want to enjoy a drink or meal while watching a sunset and watching a live Greek music show? These signs suggest Flamingo Restaurant is the place to go.

 

 

a lane in Naxos Town

The gently sloped lane outside the Flamingo Restaurant

 

 

a lane in Naxos Town

Red bougainvillea blooms add a bold jolt of colour to a lane near the Old Market

 

 

bougainvillea in Naxos Town

The bougainvillea matches the colour on the sign for Maria Rooms

 

 

a building in Naxos Town

Looking for an investment property that’s centrally located in the Old Market area of Naxos Town? This fixer-upper might fit the bill!

 

 

 

a building in Naxos Town

Another fixer-upper in the Old Market area. This one is situated just below the Castle, and has a large, bright balcony.

 

 

a passageway near the Naxos Castle

A view toward the Taverna To Kastro from a passageway near the Naxos Castle (it occupies the building with the green vines and red bougainvillea at right, and the terrace with the stacks of blue and white tables and chairs on the opposite side of the street). The entrance to another popular dining spot, Oniro Restaurant, is off to the right. With a second-floor dining area, Oniro can rightly boast that it has the “highest elevated restaurant” terrace in Naxos Town.

 

 

view from Braduna Square

Taverna To Kastro‘s open-air dining terrace in Braduna Square has a view of the Naxos Town waterfront and Stelida mountain on the far side of St George’s Bay

 

 

Taverna To Kastro

We’ve heard good things about Taverna To Kastro, but haven’t dined there yet. Although it was lunch time, the restaurant was closed when we walked past — in May, it doesn’t open until 6:30 p.m. But whenever we have seen it at night, the taverna has been busy, usually with a full house on the outdoor terrace.

 

 

Art galleries and a fascinating antique shop

The Old Market area was exceptionally quiet. In fact, we saw fewer than half a dozen other tourists wandering around at the same time, and only a few local residents. The Old Market had been similarly empty whenever we visited in the daytime last October but we knew it would be a different story after dark, when hordes of tourists flock to the area for shopping, drinks and dinner.

The Castle (kastro) was equally quiet, with just a few people wandering the flagstone-paved lanes and alleys. The only businesses that were open here were art galleries and antique shops, so that’s where we would usually encounter other tourists.

The first shop, which sells souvenir art, handicrafts and gift items, is tucked into a passageway at the kastro entrance off Braduna Square, just steps from Taverna To Kastro. From there, the lane leads uphill to Petalouda Art Gallery, which displays paintings, an extensive selection of intriguing glass, metal and stone sculptures, and a variety of other fine artwork.

A short walk down the road is the Antico Veneziano antique shop, situated in a building that once housed living and working quarters for servants employed in the castle during ancient times. Even if you don’t collect or admire antiques, you’ll find the shop worth a quick visit to see four archaic pillars that originally were part of an acropolis that had once stood on the site where the castle was built. The building’s owners, Nikos and Elena Dellaroka, are immensely proud of their property, and Elena clearly enjoyed telling us and other visitors about its history and the Dellaroka family’s decision to open the premises to public view. I can’t think of a better location for an antique shop than a castle building that’s eight centuries old itself!

 

art and souvenir shop in the castle

The souvenir art and gift shop inside a Castle passageway

 

 

a lane in the castle

Steps in a lane lead uphill to lanes that provide access to the homes, churches, museums and galleries situated in the heart of the Castle. The Petalouda Art Gallery is located at the top of the steps. Note the interesting construction of the section of castle wall at left.

 

 

Naxos castle

A segment of an archaic column — possibly from the ancient acropolis that once stood on the castle site — appears to have been recycled into the stone wall

 

 

Antico Veneziano antique shop

The photograph on this sign shows the archaic stone columns that can be seen inside the wonderful Antico Veneziano antique shop. The pillars are more than 800 years old.

 

 

Petalouda Art Gallery

Figures in traditional Cycladic style are among the many sculptures of all sizes displayed in the upscale Petalouda Art Gallery in the castle.

 

 

 Strolling the cobblestone streets and courtyards

After taking a look in Antico Veneziano, we headed deeper into the Castle. Nobody else was around; presumably, most tourists had gone to the row of tavernas on the waterfront paralia to have lunch. We had the Castle completely to ourselves until we reached a courtyard near the Catholic church where a teacher was giving an outdoor drawing lesson to a class of about a dozen elementary schoolchildren. To the teacher’s chagrin, some of the students seemed more interested in our cameras and watching us take photos, and ignored her admonishments to concentrate on their assignment. But most of the kids appeared to be totally absorbed in their sketches, and didn’t seem to notice us. We hurried out of the courtyard so we wouldn’t continue to be a distraction to the class.

Once we were past the Catholic church the streets were empty and silent again. It felt eerie hearing only the sounds of our footsteps and the clicks from our camera shutters. We took our time walking around before gradually working our way out of the Castle and down dozens of steps leading to ground level.

 

 Naxos Castle

Potted plants sit on steps in a Castle passageway near the antique shop

 

 

a cat in the Naxos castle

The sleepy cat was comfortably curled up on a ledge beside a Castle street

 

 

Naxos castle

A palm tree occupies the corner of a terrace on an upper level of the Castle near the Catholic church

 

 

Naxos Castle

The belltower on a chapel behind the Catholic church

 

 

Naxos Castle

The exterior of the Catholic church is clad with panels of shiny marble

 

 

Naxos Castle

A passageway in the Castle

 

 

 Naxos Castle

Stairs next to a narrow castle street

 

 

Naxos Castle

A long, narrow lane in the castle

 

 

Naxos castle

A window in an archway above the door to a private residence in the castle

 

 

 Naxos Castle

Street view of the stone exterior of a private home in the castle

 

 

Naxos castle

Stone arches grace the corner entrance to another home in the castle

 

 

Naxos Castle

Construction elements of a stone buttress are visible above this castle lane

 

 

Naxos Castle

An old staircase on the rustic exterior of a home in the castle

 

 

Naxos Castle

 Steps lead to a dilapidated house in the castle

 

 

Views of mountains and the Grotta neighbourhood

Our path led us to a lookout point on the outside of the castle, from which a series of long staircases descended toward street level. From this vantage point, we were treated to excellent views of the areas of Naxos Town behind the castle, the row of mountains that forms a scenic backdrop for the town (when viewed from sea), and the hillside Grotta neighbourhood to the northeast of the Castle.  We shot some photos here before walking down the dozens of steps toward the ringroad that links the Naxos port to the island’s beaches and mountain villages.

 

Naxos Town

A view of a white-domed church and buildings on the east side of Naxos Town behind the Castle

 

 

Agios Nikodimos church

Castle view of the big, blue-domed Agios Nikodimos church in Naxos Town

 

 

Grotta neighbourhood

The Grotta neighbourhood above the coast on the northeast side of Naxos Town.  The yellow building near the top of the hill is the popular Hotel Grotta. Some of the hotel’s rooms and common areas have spectacular views of the sea and the Portara monument on the Palatia peninsula.

 

 

Grotta neighbourhood

A view of the central part of the hillside Grotta neighbourhood. The Adriani Hotel is situated in this area, which is just a short walk from the heart of Naxos Town.

 

 

Theologaki cave church

The Theologaki cave church high up one of the mountains behind Naxos Town

 

 

 Theologaki cave church

A zoom view of Theologaki, one of numerous churches built against mountain caves on Naxos

 

 

Naxos Castle

One of several sets of stairs that lead down the hill from the Castle

 

 

Naxos Castle

Another long set of steps offers great views of the Grotta neighbourhood

 

 

buildings in Naxos Town

Homes and studio apartment buildings on the hillside below the Castle

 

 

Naxos Town

Steps in a lane on the hillside below the Castle

 

 

Naxos Town

Potted plants decorate a lane on the hillside below the castle

 

 

Naxos Town

Decorative blue and white railings on a balcony in Naxos Town

 

 

potted plants in Naxos Town

We came across a courtyard terrace that contained dozens of blue planters filled with flowers, herbs and plants

 

 

Discovering Metropolis Square

We wound our way down the hill from the Castle, passing through a neighbourhood with a mix of private homes as well as rental studios and hotel accommodations. This area was considerably more lively and active than the Castle and Old Market areas, with local residents busy cleaning, painting and tidying up their properties to prepare for the summer tourist season.

Even though we have strolled around Naxos Town numerous times over the years, we haven’t seen it all, and we always discover something new. Today we found something quite old that we had never seen before — Metropolis Square, a site where archaeologists found remains of the ancient town of Naxos, dating from the 2nd and 1st millenium B.C. We have walked within just a few meters of Metropolis Square on past vacations, and have even taken photos of the distinctive green domes of the biggest building there — the Cathedral of Zoodochos Pigi. But for some reason we had never set foot on Metropolis Square itself — we had always gone around it, without realizing what we were missing.

Today, the square is home to five different churches, some of which date back to the 17th Century. The floor of one, the church of Saint Nicolas, was constructed at the same level as archaeological remains that date between the 4th and 7th Centuries A.D. The impressive Zoodochos Pigi cathedral, which was dedicated to the Virgin Mary as Fountain of Life, was built in 1787 on the site of what had once been an older and smaller chapel. A couple of the other churches were built where older chapels had previously existed. It’s amazing to think of the extensive church and local history that’s packed into this single town square!

 

Metropolis Square in Naxos Town

A sign points the way to historic Metropolis Square

 

 

Zoodochos Pigi cathedral

The green domes of Zoodochos Pigi Cathedral

 

 

Zoodochos Pigi Cathedral

Front view of Zoodochos Pigi Cathedral, which dates from 1787

 

 

Church of Saint Nicolas and Zoodochos Pigi Cathedral

Church of Saint Nicolas, left, and Zoodochos Pigi Cathedral

 

 

Panagia Chrysopolitissa church

Another of the churches at Metropolis Square, Panagia Chrysopolitissa (Our Lady of the Golden City), is a complex of four single-aisled basilicas built at different periods of time. The oldest dates to the 17th Century.

 

 

Panagia Chrysopolitissa

View of Panagia Chrysopolitissa from an open area strewn with remnants of columns and other parts of ancient buildings that once occupied the site

 

 

Panagia Chrysopolitissa

Bits and pieces of ancient buildings lay on the ground in a tree-shaded area in front of Panagia Chrysopolitissa

 

 

a building in Naxos Town

This building beside Metropolis Square would regain its past elegance if someone were to invest money to spruce it up

 

 

a building in Naxos Town

Weeds are gradually overtaking the steps outside the building entrance

 

 

a lane near Metropolis Square

A lane leads from Metropolis Square toward the Old Market area of Naxos Town

 

 

Watching the waves at Grotta beach

From Metropolis Square we crossed Leof. Naxou Eggaron, the busy road that starts at the Naxos port and winds its way behind the Castle hill, leading to villages and resorts to the north, east and south. A flagstone path between Funway Rent a Bike and Kozi Taverna & Grill House took us to a dirt trail that ends at Grotta beach, a pebbly strand that has superb views of the Grotta neighbourhood as well as the monumental Temple of Apollo on the Palatia peninsula. 

Grotta Bay tends to be windy, and today was no exception — the steady gusts propelled large waves across the bay and crashed them against the stone beach. We paused to take in the scenery and listen to the roar of the waves for awhile, then walked across the beach to the causeway that joins the Palatia peninsula to the Naxos Town waterfront. We were tempted to walk up to the Portara, but were feeling hungry and thirsty and thought it was time we stopped for a bite to eat. We had visited the peninsula several times last October to watch the sunset, so we didn’t feel like we were missing out by not going up the hill to see the Portara once again on this holiday. Viewing the grand Naxos monument from a distance was perfectly fine by us.

We strolled along the pedestrian path on the marina side of the Naxos Town waterfront and made our way over to Protodikeiou Square, where we had parked our mountain bikes. The shaded outdoor terrace at Fotis Greek Cuisine looked inviting, so we took seats at a table there and had a light lunch before riding back to our hotel.

 

the Portara

Grotta beach view of the Portara (Temple of Apollo) monument on the Palatia Peninsula. It’s just a short walk from the Naxos Town waterfront.

 

 

Grotta beach on Naxos

Me posing for an “I was there!” photo, with the Apollo Temple landmark identifying my location on Grotta beach

 

 

 Grotta beach and bay

Large waves roll across Grotta Bay toward the pebbly shoreline

 

 

Grotta beach on Naxos

Grotta beach isn’t suitable for swimming because of the rough seas and large rocks in the water just a few meters off shore. However, it’s a great spot to take photos of the Portara and the scenic Naxos coastline.

 

 

Palatia Peninsula on Naxos

Grotta Bay and the rocky seashore of the Palatia Peninsula

 

 

the Portara

A view of the Portara from the causeway linking the Palatia Peninsula to the Naxos Town waterfront. This sheltered bay is a popular swimming spot for locals.

 

 

Panagia Mirtidiotissa church

A fishing boat is docked at a pier in the harbour near Panagia Mirtidiotissa, a picturesque church on an islet at the Naxos port

 

 

octopus hanging on a line

Octopus drying in the sun on the Naxos Town waterfront

 

 

octopus drying in the sun on the Naxos Town waterfront IMG_5218

That’s me sitting on a front-row seat at Fotis Greek Cuisine, one of half a dozen restaurants and cafes that line two sides of Protodikeiou Square

 

 

Bikeride to Plaka beach

When we got back to our room at Lianos Village Hotel, we debated whether to spend some time by the swimming pool or take another bikeride. We only had a few hours remaining on our mountain bike rental, so we decided to go to Plaka beach for awhile and return the bikes afterward. We rode to the end of the dirt road that extends about two-thirds of the way down Plaka, and spent some time enjoying the late afternoon sun on the beach before slowly making our way to Agios Prokopios to return the bikes.

We could not have picked a better time to visit the gorgeous long beach. There weren’t many people around — just a handful of sunbathers and walkers here and there, some of whom were nude — and we had a long stretch of sand all to ourselves most of the time. The wind had eased up considerably, so there was just a pleasant light breeze blowing off the sea — a welcome change from yesterday. With the sun sparkling on the channel between Naxos and Paros, and no noise but the sound of waves and birds and the breeze rustling through tall grass on the dunes, the beach was delightfully calm and quiet. I couldn’t believe how relaxed and mellow I felt in mere minutes.

After chilling out at Plaka beach for a couple of hours we got back on the bikes and rode north toward Agios Prokopios. When we were cycling past Tonia’s Courtyard at Agia Anna beach, Tonia gave us a wave from her restaurant terrace. We stopped to say hello and ask what she would be cooking for dinner tonight. She led us into the kitchen to show us what she had made and, since every item looked so appetizing, we decided on the spot that we would come back later for dinner.

We dropped off the bikes at Niko’s, returned to the hotel to shower and change, and then walked down to Tonia’s for dinner. We were glad we returned to her restaurant for the second night in a row — a wonderful meal of Tonia’s delicious Greek cuisine capped off a great day of cycling and walking.

 

 Agios Nikolaos church

Zoom view from our hotel room terrace of Agios Nikolaos church on the rocky point between Agia Anna and Maragas beaches. In the background is part of Plaka beach, where we rode to on our mountain bikes.

 

 

Plaka beach Naxos

Lounge chairs and blue umbrellas on a section of Plaka beach. Unlike most of the popular beaches on Mykonos, which are lined end-to-end with rows of sunbeds, most Naxos beaches boast long, wide-open stretches of sand with only small sections occupied by rental loungers.

 

 

Plaka beach

View toward Paros island from dunes at Plaka beach

 

 

Plaka beach

Powdery-soft sand dunes extend much of the length of Plaka beach

 

 

Plaka beach

Looking south along Plaka beach toward Orkos and Mikri Vigla

 

 

Marine Dream Studios

Accommodations along and near Plaka beach include hotels and self-catering studios, like Marine Dream Studios and Apartments

 

 

Sea Melody Studios

The dirt road along Plaka beach ends near Sea Melody Studios, so that was as far as we rode on the mountain bikes

 

 

Plaka beach on Naxos

The end of the road along Plaka beach. It’s too difficult to ride mountain bikes on the soft sand, so from this point you have to walk to reach the southern section of Plaka. The hillside with all the white buildings is the Orkos area of Naxos.

 

 

Plaka beach on Naxos

Looking south along Plaka beach toward Orkos

 

 

Plaka beach on Naxos

Most people on Plaka beach were wearing swimsuits or other clothing, but some — like the couple on the far side of the bay — were completely naked

 

 

the channel between Naxos and Paros

Late afternoon sunshine sparkles on the channel between Naxos and Paros

 

 

Plaka beach on Naxos

This couple had a very long stretch of beach all to themselves

 

 

Plaka beach

A boardwalk leads from the road to a row of sunbeds on Plaka beach

 

 

Plaka beach on Naxos

Five people strolling on the sand made this one of the busiest sections of Plaka

 

 

Picasso restaurant Naxos

Picasso is a hugely popular Mexican restaurant at Plaka beach. We still haven’t had a meal here ourselves, but friends and other travellers we have spoken to all have recommended the place for good food and drinks.

 

 

Plaka beach

A view of Plaka and the dirt road that runs alongside part of the beach

 

 

 Paradiso Studios and Apartments

Big palm trees grace the yard in front of Paradiso Studios and Apartments at the north end of Plaka beach near Maragas

 

 

Plaka beach

Paros island viewed from the dunes at Plaka beach

 

 

road along Plaka beach

Approaching the Maragas resort area on Plaka beach road

 

 

studio apartments in Stelida

Part of a complex of studio apartments that we pass on the road from Stelida to Agios Prokopios

 

 

Hotel Proteas

Bougainvillea vines cling to the walls on each side of a terrace at Hotel Proteas

 

 

mountains on Naxos

An evening view, from Stelida, of the mountains that rise behind Naxos Town

 

 

bougainvillea in Stelida

A colourful bougainvillea canopy above a terrace at a house in Stelida

 

 

 a villa in Stelida

Lush vegetation surrounds a private villa in Stelida

 

 

road to Agios Prokopios

Walking along the road to Agios Prokopios at twilight, after a wonderful dinner at Tonia’s Courtyard at Agia Anna

 

 

Liana Hotel

The Liana Hotel near the south end of Agios Prokopios beach. It’s one of the most popular hotels in the resort area.

 

 

Agios Prokopios beach

Twilight view of the southern end of Agios Prokopios beach

 

 

Hide Away Cafe

Hanging lamps at the Café Hide Away on the main commercial strip at Agios Prokopios. The Hide Away is a great spot for breakfast and is a cozy place to go at night for light meals or drinks.

 

 

Lagos Mare Hotel on Naxos

The outdoor bar and the giant chess set in the yard at Lagos Mare Hotel

 

~

[Editor's Note: Full-size versions of all the photos in this post can be viewed in the Naxos May 22 2014 album on Flickr.]

 

Posted in Cyclades islands, Greece holiday May 2014, Greek Island villages and towns, Greek Islands, Greek Islands beaches, Greek Islands photos, Naxos | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Where I wish I was going for dinner tonight

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Alati seafood restaurant

I love the high arched ceiling and rustic stone walls of the dining room at Alati, a new seafood restaurant that has just opened at the Vedema Resort on Santorini. Located in Megalochori village, the Starwood Luxury Collection member resort consists of suites and villas in 45 coquette houses built around a 400-year-old winery. This photo of Alati’s stunning interior caught my eye when it was posted on the Vedema Resort Facebook page today. To see more of the exclusive resort, which follows “a barefoot chic philosophy,” check out this 1 minute 46-second promotional video (below) from the Vedema website.

 

 

 

Posted in Architecture & design, Cyclades islands, Greek Islands, Greek Islands hotels, Greek Islands photos, Hotel of the week, Santorini | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

An awe-inspiring Aegean Airlines video trip to some of the ‘most magical places in Greece’

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 Enter Greece is a fabulous 11-minute Aegean Airlines-produced film that will give you “a taste of the most magical places in Greece!”

 

 

Sensational scenery: If Greece isn’t already on your “bucket list” of places to visit, the Enter Greece video from the Aegean Airlines YouTube channel might well convince you to include it among your top “must see” destinations.

Even if you have been to Greece before, whether as a one-time or repeat visitor, you’ll still enjoy watching sensational cinematography of what the airline calls some of “the most magical places in Greece.”

The 11-minute film clip includes amazing views of the Athens Acropolis, the Acropolis Museum, Cape Sounion, Spetses, Santorini, Mykonos, Delos, Milos, Crete, Zakynthos, Lefkada, Meteora, Monemvasia, the Corinth Canal and many more outstanding island and mainland Greece destinations.

“Travel through the blue sky and sea, the taste and history, unique landscapes, art and tradition of Greece,” the video summary states.

It delivers as promised — I developed an immense craving for Greek food and wanted to book a flight to Athens immediately after watching the video!

 

Posted in Crete, Cyclades islands, Greece mainland, Greece mainland villages & towns, Greece videos, Greek Island villages and towns, Greek Islands, Greek Islands beaches, Greek Islands videos, Ionian islands, Ionian islands, Lefkada, Milos, Monemvasia, Monuments & historic sites, Mykonos, Peloponnese, Santorini, Tourist attractions, Zakynthos | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Santorini claims #1 spot on T+L magazine readers’ ranking of best islands in Europe & the world

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Oia Santorini

Luxury hotels crown the spectacular caldera cliffs in Santorini’s Oia village

 

Reader favourite: Santorini is the world’s best island for 2014, according to a survey of Travel + Leisure magazine readers.

Santorini beat out three Hawaiian islands as well as Bali, Indonesia to claim top spot in T+L’s World’s Best Awards 2014. Last year, Santorini held fourth place.

The American travel magazine announced the results of its 19th annual reader poll on July 2.

Although Santorini was the top-rated island globally and the only European island to make the worldwide Top 10, Greek islands scored well on the Top Islands in Europe poll, claiming three of the top 5 spots.  Santorini captured the #1 rating, of course, while Crete took #3 and Mykonos claimed #5. (Two Italian islands, Capri and Sicily, took the #2 and #4 places, respectively).

Last year, Santorini and Crete held the same rankings for best islands in Europe, while Mykonos failed to crack the Top 5.

The annual reader survey is highly influential and should help Greece maintain its record-setting appeal to travellers from North America. Last year, Travel + Leisure had an average monthly print circulation of nearly 1 million copies, and its web edition achieved an average of 38 million page views per month. The publication has a readership of 6.5 million people, more than 2.4 million of whom are considered “affluent” travellers with a high personal net worth.

When the magazine announced Santorini’s top ranking in a post with a photograph of Oia on the T+L Facebook page, one reader added the comment: “Now I understand why gods choose Greece to live  :-)

Indeed!

You can view hundreds of photos of the world’s #1 island in my Santorini photo collection on Flickr.  There are thousands of pics of Europe’s #5 island in my Mykonos photo collection, also on the MyGreeceTravelBlog Flickr page. Unfortunately, there’s no collection of Crete photos at this time — I haven’t been to that island since 2004 and don’t have images from that vacation online. Clearly, I’ve got to get back to Crete!

 

 

Posted in Cyclades islands, Greek Island villages and towns, Greek Islands, Greek Islands photos, In the news, Santorini, Tourist attractions | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Cyclades islands celebrate summer with festivals for food & wine, arts & literature, culture & sports

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International Festival of the Aegean

A promotional poster for the 10th Annual International Festival of the Aegean taking place July 6 to 19 in Ermoupoli on Syros island.

 

Food & culture fests: I love travelling to Greek islands during low season, particularly in the spring, but that means I always miss out on major cultural and gastronomical celebrations that are held only during the summer.

Just in the Cyclades group of islands this month alone, a wide variety of food & wine festivals, painting & photography shows, arts & literature events and fun sport competitions will be taking place on Antiparos, Naxos, Paros, Santorini, Schinoussa, Serifos and Syros.

(Cultural events abound in other island groups, too, and of course there are scores of religious festivals throughout the country, many of which take place during the summer. But those are topics I’ll cover in future posts.)

Below is an outline of just a few of the festivities you can check out if you happen to be island hopping in the Cyclades between this weekend and the end of September. You’re in for a big surprise if you thought the Greek islands were only about picturesque villages, beautiful sandy beaches and gorgeous scenery!

 

 

ANTIPAROS

Antiparos is a small laidback island known for its famous cave, a picturesque harbour town, a long scenic coastline and scores of golden sand beaches and coves. Accessible only by ferry from nearby Paros island, it’s popular with people seeking peace and quiet off the busy tourist route between Mykonos and Santorini (part of the reason it’s where a number of Hollywood celebrities, like Tom Hanks, own secluded luxury villas).

I haven’t been to Antiparos yet, but correspond online with some regular visitors who insist that I’ll fall in love with the island and keep going back once I finally make my first visit. This month would have been a good time to go, since Antiparos will be buzzing with two main events — a photography show and a four-day celebration of summer with cycling, running, sailing and swimming competitions.

 

Antiparos Photo Festival

This promotional flyer lists the photographers whose work will be displayed during the Antiparos Photo Festival, opening Friday July 4 at the Anti Art Gallery in Kastro.  Additional information about the event is available on the Antiparos Photo Festival 2014 Facebook page.

 

 

Antiparos Summer Festival

The Antiparos Summer Festival offers a variety of fun sports competitions for active vacationers and local residents. Events include a sailboat regatta, marathon runs, adult bicycle races, and a swim across the channel between Paros and Antiparos. Activities are scheduled for four separate days, while celebrations with traditional Greek dancing will be held on the evenings of July 5 and 17.

 

 

SANTORINI

The island famous for its marvellous scenery, breathtaking sunsets, clifftop villages, wineries and volcano tours also is home to one of my favourite bookstores — the internationally-acclaimed Atlantis Books. (It’s included on BuzzFeed‘s list of 17 bookstores that will literally change your life and has been named one of the world’s best bookstores by numerous publications and literary websites.)

Atlantis Books is celebrating its 10th anniversary this year by hosting the 3rd Caldera Arts & Literature Festival from July 4 to 6. The festival promises “a weekend of reading, writing, live music and performance” with events for adults and children in and around the bookstore premises on Nomikos Street in the beautiful village of Oia.

You can view a promotional trailer for the festival below. For additional information about both the store and the festival, consult the Atlantis Books Facebook page.

Meanwhile, in Pyrgos village, a special exhibition of work by renowned American travel and architecture photographer William Abranowicz starts July 6 and runs until August 15. Abranowicz has photographed extensively in Greece for about three decades, and the show will feature some of his Greece photography from 1988 to 2007. The exhibition is being held in the showroom of the corner tower in the main square of Pyrgos. (If you can’t make it, check out The Greek Work page of the artist’s website to view some of his images from Greece. You can also see more of his photography, including pictures shot on Pyrgos this week, on the William Abranowicz Tumblr page.)

 

A promotional trailer for the 3rd Caldera Arts & Literature Festival being held from July 4 to 6 in scenic Oia village on Santorini

 

 

Arts & Literature Caldera Festival

A promotional flyer for the Third Caldera Arts & Literature Festival, being hosted by Atlantis Books as part of its 10th anniversary celebrations

 

 

William Abranowicz photography exhibition

A promotional flyer for the William Abranowicz photography exhibition being held in Santorini’s Pyros village July 6 to August 16

 

 

NAXOS

When it comes to islands offering plenty of things to see and do, it’s hard to top Naxos — this island is absolutely bursting with attractions and activities, including the annual Naxos Festival that presents a wide variety of cultural events — including concerts and art exhibitions — from April until October. Festival activities take place in the Della Rocca-Barozzi Tower in the historic Castle of Naxos Town, which also happens to be home to the Venetian Museum of Naxos.

Additional cultural events are presented at other venues in the Castle and elsewhere on the island as well.

For instance, the castle’s Cultural Center is presenting Road Journal, an exhibition of paintings by artist Mariela Konstantinidou. The show opened on July 1 and continues at the castle under July 18. It then moves to the Labyrinth Wine Restaurant in the Old Market area of Naxos Town, where Mariela’s work will be on display from July 20 until September 30.

Another restaurant in the Old Market, L’Osteria Wine Bar, is holding an summer exhibition that features work by three different artists. The shows are From nowhere time, a mixed media exhibition by Kristian Zara, Synecdoche of Athens, an exhibition of fine art photography by Aigli Drakou, and Epic Art by Blank, a painting exposition by Blank. The show runs until August 30.

Meanwhile, Elli’s Bar-Restaurant in the Grotta area of Naxos Town is the place to go for live musical performances by Istanbul Orchestra this summer.  The four-member group — Zekiye Yurekli (vocals), Dimitris Bousounis (guitar & vocals), MIkko Papadopoulos (bouzouki) and Peter Macray Jacques (clarinet & trumpet) — performs every Friday and Saturday until July 12, and then daily from July 13 to the end of August.

 

 

Cultural events at Bazeos Tower

Arts and music events take place outside of Naxos Town, too. This summer will witness an extensive series of shows and performances at the historic Venetian-era Bazeos Tower, situated 12 km from Naxos Town along the main road to Halki, Filoti and the coastal area of Agiassos.

From now until September 9, the Bazeos Tower is hosting Syn-opsis, an exhibition of work by photographer Costis Antoniades. The show features “Portraits and intriguing environments as well as a surprising and unexpected view of Naxos landscapes processed under the “day for night” technique i.e. pictures taken in broad daylight with the use of a blue filter,” according to an event listing on the Bazeos Tower webpage for the 2014 Naxos Festival.

The summer cultural program at Bazeos Tower also includes mis en scène performances of relay operas from  the 2014 Festival of Aix-en-Provence in France; screenings of six French films (with Greek subtitles); a performance by the Groove Catchers jazz group; a puppet show and theater performance for children; a Greek music concert by Nikos Portokaloglou; and other events. Click here to access the Bazeos Tower webpage with full event descriptions and information about admission prices and show times.

 

Road Journal painting exhibition by Mariela Konstantinidou

A promotional flyer for the Road Journal painting exhibition by Mariela Konstantinidou, being held at two locations in Naxos Town

 

 

Elli's Bar in Naxos

The four-member group Istanbul Orchestra will be appearing live at Elli’s Bar-Restaurant each day from July 13 to the end of August.

 

 

 

PAROS

Paros is much like its next-door neighbour Naxos in that it offers plenty of attractions and activities to entertain visitors. Paros boasts dozens of beaches, scenic seaside and mountain villages, a Valley of Butterflies, the remarkable Church of 100 Doors (Ekatontapyliani), and top-rated facilities for windsurfing world cup competitions.  It, too, features numerous cultural, social and sporting events each summer.

Many of those activities — including the annual eight-day Jazz in Paros Festival — take place at the Environmental and Cultural Park of Paros (Paros Park), an 800-acre peninsula with walking trails and beaches at Ai Yannis Detis near Naoussa.  The park has an amphitheatre where cultural events are put on, as well as the Cine Enastron outdoor cinema that screens Greek and foreign films under the stars during July, August and September.

The Festival at the Park program for this summer includes musical, theatrical and dance performances, and concludes in late September with triathlons for adults and kids. The Jazz Festival, which runs from July 19 to 27, will feature singers Heleen Schuttevaêr from Netherlands, Anna Lauvergnac from Italy and Chloé Cailleton from France, plus a performance of the  “Electric” Paris Paros Project with musicians from Greece and France. In addition, a creative performance of poetry and jazz will be held at the amphitheater in Lefkes village.

One of the key celebrations of the season is the 2nd annual Festival of Products of Paros, which takes place this weekend (July 4 to 6). The festival focusses on the island’s vineyards and wineries, and is aimed in part at increasing global awareness of Parian wine. Events include tastings, workshops and meetings, concerts and live entertainment. (I have been a fan of Parian wine ever since we visited the Moraitis family winery at Naoussa during an island bus tour. I’ve made it a point to buy bottles of Moraitis wine, whenever we can find some, to enjoy on our hotel room balconies and terraces during our island-hopping holidays.)

 

Paros Jazz Festival

The 4th annual Paros Jazz Festival will take place July 19 to 25

 

 

Products of Paros Festival

A promotional image for this month’s 2nd Festival of Products of Paros and Parian Wine Gladdens celebration

 

 

Paros Park

A promotional image for the July 8 Sunset Walk at the Cultural and Environmental Park (Paros Park) near Naoussa. Further information about events and activities at the 800-acre park can be obtained from the Paros Park Facebook page.

 

 

SCHINOUSSA

One of the Small Cyclades islands near Naxos, Schinoussa is only 9 square kilometers large with two tiny villages and a population of less than 300.  Schinoussa is named after a mastic tree shrub that grows throughout the island, but is famous for two other things — its 18 beautiful beaches and the local katsouni fava (yellow split peas) it produces. (It’s known for other agricultural products, too, such as beans, cucumbers, tomatoes and melons, as well as beef, pork and goat meat and local cheese.)

The big summer event on Schinoussa is the 3rd Annual Fava Festival, which takes place this coming Monday (July 7) in the courtyard of the local school. The festival is timed to coincide not just with the start of the island’s main tourist season, but also the end of the fava harvest period. The celebration will include live music, dancing, wine, raki and lots of fava dishes. I love fava, and really wish I could be on Schinoussa next week to partake in the party. (It’s yet another island I haven’t been to but would like to see, especially since I have have heard nothing but positive comments about it from people who have travelled there more than once).

If you think you might like to visit the island some time, you can find a wealth of travel information on the Schinoussa website. And if you’d like more information about Schinoussa fava, click here to read an article on the Naxos and Small Cyclades website.

 

fava dish

 This photo of a classic Schinoussa fava purée is from the Naxos and Small Cyclades website. Schinoussa produces approximately 5 tons of the katsouni variety of fava (yellow split peas). Click here to access recipes for several tasty fava side dishes you could try making to enjoy at home.

 

 

Schinoussa Fava Festival

A promotional poster for the 2014 Fava Festival on Schinoussa

 

 

SYROS

Syros is a wonderful island we got to visit for the first time in May — and hope to revisit in the near future. I’ll be telling you more about it in soon in upcoming instalments of my 2014 Greek holiday report.

For now, I’ll just say that Syros is the place to go for cultural entertainment during the next six weeks.

Fans of opera, classical music and jazz will want to visit Syros from July 6 to 19 to take in the 10th Annual International Festival of the Aegean at the city of Ermoupoli’s landmark Apollo Theater, which just happens to be celebrating its 150th anniversary. A full schedule of performances is provided on the main page of the festival website.

That big event is followed by the 21st Hermoupolis Guitar Festival July 21 to 25, and then the Syros International Film Festival July 26 to August 1.

 

21st Hermoupolis Guitar Festival

A promotional image for the 21st Hermoupolis Guitar Festival on Syros

 

 

Syros International Film Festival

The full program for the Syros International Film Festival (SIFF) will be announced at a press conference in Athens on July 10. The festival will take place July 26 to August 1 at various locations in Ermoupoli, including the Pallas outdoor cinema, the Tarsana shipyard, the Cycladic Art Gallery and the Stars beach bar. The first SIFF was held last year and featured 24 films along with professional workshops. This year’s program is expected to include around 50 films, as well as workshops, seminars and an art exhibition. Further information about the event is available on the Syros International Film Festival Facebook page.

 

 

SERIFOS

There’s a big summer celebration on another small island I haven’t yet visited — Serifos, situated in the western Cyclades between Sifnos and Kythnos. I’ve heard very good things about it from a few people, who have said it’s a generally quiet and relaxing place to visit even in peak season (though apparently it can get busy on weekends since it’s a convenient destination for people in Athens seeking a quick getaway from the mainland).

From late July until late August, you can bet the island will be popular with Athenians and tourists alike for another reason — the 3rd annual Serifos Festival.

The event, which begins with a concert on July 27 and ends with an art exhibition and concert on August 20, takes place mainly in Kato (Lower) Hora village, where an amphitheater with views of the sea is situated.

The Serifos Festival features musical concerts, theatrical productions, traditional music and dance performances, music workshops, art and painting exhibitions, and creative writing workshops (including sessions that focus on travel writing).

Click here to see the schedule of events for this summer’s festival. Information about the writing workshops is available (mostly in Greek) on the Serifos Travel Writing 2014 blog.

 

Serifos Festival 2014

A promotional poster for Serifos Festival 2014. Information about the event is available on the Serifos Festival Facebook page.

 

Posted in Antiparos, Art, Arts & culture, Cyclades islands, Film, Greek Islands, Literature, Naxos, Paros, Photography, Santorini, Schinoussa, Serifos, Syros | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

New club openings & more July events announced as Mykonos summer party scene starts to sizzle

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Nova Club Mykonos

Promotional image for tonight’s (July 1 2014) grand opening of Nova, an exclusive new private members’ social club on Mykonos

 

 

Summer sizzle: July 1 marks the start of the peak summer party season on Mykonos, and with two new club openings and a host of additional entertainment events just announced, the island is set to cement its reputation as one of the top party destinations in the Mediterranean.

Here’s a look at some of the parties and special performances that will be rocking Mykonos this month:

 

Nova Club grand opening

July kicks off with opening celebrations for a new high-end social club and special event venue, Nova, which is located in the Lakka Square area of Mykonos Town. The exclusive private members’ club will be open from 23:00 (11 p.m.) every night and promises to offer “the highest class and sophistication.” The Nova Club Facebook page recommends “dressy” attire for guests, and says walk-ins are welcome, though table reservations can also be made by contacting the club.

Check the club’s Facebook page as well as the Nova Mykonos Twitter feed for further information.

 

Nova Club Mykonos

This teaser image was posted on the Nova Mykonos Twitter feed to show “a little of what is yet to come” from the brand-new social club and special performance venue in the Lakka Square area of Mykonos Town

 

 

Kaz James & Sneaky Sounds at Paradise Club

Tonight is the first of four “Show Me Mykonos” parties that DJ Kaz James is presenting at Paradise Club during July and August. The July 1 event features a guest performance by Sneaky Sound System, while the July 23 party will star Nervo, Ivan Gough and Kaz James. The roster for July 31 includes Steve Aoki, Autoerotique and Kaz James.

Paradise Club has 16 special events scheduled for July alone; click here to see the entertainment lineup that has been announced so far.

 

Paradise Club Mykonos

A promotional flyer for four separate Kaz James events at Paradise Club, the first of which takes place tonight (July 1)

 

 

 

Ballshevik dance club grand opening

July 2 marks the big debut of Ballshevik, a new dance club venue located in the Klouvas area of Mykonos (roughly midway along the road between Mykonos Town and Ano Mera). With weekly “Mongays” and “Frigays” plus Thursday “Fruit Dance” events, the club clearly appears to be targeting the island’s sizable gay travel market, but hasn’t branded itself as an entertainment venue for any specific lifestyle and should have wide appeal.

Ballshevik’s opening night party is being presented by Red Bull Music Academy and will feature a special DJ set by legendary synth-disco artist and producer Giorgio Moroder (see this entry on the RBMA events page for further info about Moroder’s appearance).

Ballshevik has events scheduled for every night in July. Below are promotional flyers that were posted on the Ballshevik Facebook page for some of this week’s upcoming parties.

 

Ballshevik Club Mykonos 

The red symbol in the center of this Google map image shows the location of the new Ballshevik club on the highway between Mykonos Town and Ano Mera

 

 

Ballshevik Mykonos

A promotional image for the grand opening party at Ballshevik, where the “godfather of electronic dance music,” Giorgio Moroder, will headline a DJ set

 

 

Ballshevik club Mykonos

House Twins will be headlining the July 3 Sugar on Top party at Ballshevik

 

 

Ballshevik Mykonos

Anstascia and Vivie-Ann of Blond:ish will entertain at Balshevik’s first Frigays event on July 4

 

 

Ballshevik club Mykonos

The full July 2014 special event lineup at Ballshevik club

 

 

Live Funky Jazz at Notorious Bar

Jazz music afficionados are in for a treat on Wednesday the 2nd when Notorious Bar-Café presents its first Funky-Jazzy Night of July. (The bar previously held a Funky-Jazzy Night on June 25).

The event stars saxophonist Giuseppe Fabris and gets underway at 22:30 (10:30 pm). Notorious Bar is located at 3 Kampani Street near Ag. Kiriaki Square.

 

Notorious Bar Mykonos

A promotional flyer for the July 2 2014 jazz party featuring Giuseppe Fabris at Notorious Bar in Mykonos Town

 

 

 July 4 parties at Little Venice

The popular Little Venice seafront of Mykonos Town will be buzzing on Friday July 4 with special events at two of the area’s most popular bars.

Omega Club will be hosting what it calls “the ultimate Mykonos party,” featuring DJ/music producer Sotiris Soulfellaz.  Further details are available on the Omega Club Facebook page.

Only a few steps away at Veranda Bar, George Siras will be headlining the club’s first Friday House party of July. Veranda will hold three more Friday’s House events during the month; see the image below and check the Veranda Club-Cafe Facebook page for further details.

 

Omega Club Mykonos

A promotional image for the July 4 party featuring DJ Sotiris Soufellaz at Omega Club in the Little Venice area of Mykonos Town

 

 

Veranda Club Mykonos

A promotional flyer showing July 2014 events at Veranda Club

 

 

COOH Sunset Bar & Club on the Kastro seafront

During the two weeks starting Friday, there are four special events on the calendar for the new COOH Sunset Bar & Club on the seafront in the Kastro area of Mykonos Town (near the Mykonos Town Hall and the Delos ferry boat pier).

Below are promotional flyers with details for each of the events:

 

COOH Sunset Bar & Club Mykonos

COOH’s July 4 party features Kenny Larkin, Junior Pappa and Claudia

 

 

COOH Sunset Bar & Club Mykonos

COOH’s July 5 bash features sets by Edu Imbernon, Endie Kenzak and Claudia

 

 

COOH Sunset Bar & Club Mykonos

Valentino Kanzyani, Anestie Gomez and Claudia headline at COOH on July 11

 

 

COOH Sunset Bar & Club Mykonos

COOH’s July 12 lineup includes Sidney Charles, Endie Kenzak and Claudia

 

 

Nammos brings Angelique to Psarou beach

It’s one of the top beach restaurants and nightclubs on Mykonos, but on July 4 Nammos by the Sea will look and feel more like one of the hottest nightspots in Turkey instead. The trendy Psarou beach resto and bar will host its much-anticipated Nammos Presents Angelique Gourmet & Party extravaganza, with participation of the entire staff team from Istanbul’s popular Anjelique restaurant and nightclub.

The event starts at 22:30 (10:30 p.m.) on Friday, and tickets cost €80 per person.  Check the Nammos by the Sea Facebook page for information about how to RSVP for the event.

On the afternoon of July 26, Nammos will hold another special event — this time an “ultra beach party” featuring a main set by DJ & music producer Vassili Tsilichristos, whose latest CD, Made in Mykonos, is being released July 2.

 

Nammos by the Sea Mykonos

From the Nammos Facebook page, a promotional flyer for the July 4 Nammos Presents Angelique Gourmet & Party

 

 

 Nammos by the Sea Mykonos

A flyer for the Made in Mykonos beach party that will take place July 26 at Nammos by the Sea on Psarou beach. DJ Vassili Tsilichristos will headline for this event, which is named after his latest CD.

 

 

 Kalua parties at Paraga beach

Visitors to Paraga beach can get a taste of the Istanbul club scene, too,  when Kalua Bar & Restaurant throws its Kalua Meets Lucca Style party starting at 17:00 (5 p.m.) this coming Saturday (July 5). DJ Murat Tokuz will spin for the event, which will feature cocktail and drink tasting sessions presented by the bartending team from Lucca Bistronomique Bar & Lounge in Istanbul.  Lucca is the chic bar and lounge that Conde Nast Traveler magazine has described as “the super-hip Istanbul restaurant.” Admission to the event is free.

Kalua has eight more parties planned for July, plus more in August, and admission is free for all of the events. The lineup includes Agent Greg on July 9, Valeron on the 11th, DJ Angelo and DA Mike on the 16th, Ms Leyki on the 18th, Best Seller on the 23rd, Johnny Gerontakis on the 25th, and Agent Greg closes out the month on the 30th.  See the lineup calendar below for acts scheduled to appear at Kalua’s August events.

 

Kalua Bar Mykonos

Promotional flyer for the Lucca Meets Kalua party on July 5

 

 

Kalua bar restaurant Mykonos

The special events lineup for July & August at Kalua bar & restaurant at Paraga beach. Follow the Kalua Facebook page for updates and photos.

 

 

esthète party at Kivotos Hotel at Ornos beach

The 5-star Kivotos Hotel at Ornos beach will be the place to go on July 25 — that’s where Alexandros Christopoulos will host his latest esthète Mykonos Edition.

The event begins at 22:00 (10 p.m.) with an introductory set by DJ Richard Horn. Advance table reservations are “highly recommended.” Full details are available on the esthète Mykonos Edition Facebook page.

 

Esthete Mykonos Edition

Promotional flyer for the esthète Mykonos Edition event at Kivotos Hotel

 

 

Scream and shout @54

The new @54 lounge and discotheque at Taxi Square in Mykonos Town will be celebrating July 4 with a Scream and Shout party featuring DJ Matt.

 

@54 Mykonos

A promotional poster for the July 4 Scream and Shout party @54

 

 

Another Solymar party at Kalo Livadi

Solymar restaurant and beach bar at Kalo Livadi has added another party to its summer lineup of six major events. (Two took place in June and there will be two more this month and another two in August.)

The extra event is set for Saturday July 12 and will feature DJ Stelios Ioannou on the decks. The fun gets going at 19:00 (7 p.m.).

 

Solymar Mykonos

A promotional poster for Solymar’s July 12 2014 party with DJ Stelios Ioannou

 

 

Updated summer DJ lineup for Cavo Paradiso

On July 3, Cavo Paradiso released an updated schedule of events for this month and next. The new lineup fills in the names of several headline acts that had been marked “to be announced” in earlier schedules. The new list contains three dates for which DJs are still “TBA” — that’s down from eight unconfirmed acts shown on the last schedule the club released. The DJs appearing on those nights should be announced in the next couple of weeks.

 

Cavo Paradiso Mykonos international DJ lineup for summer 2014

Cavo Paradiso released this updated schedule on July 3 2014. Click on the image to view a full-size version.

 

~

Editor’s note: This was the latest in a series of reports about the 2014 summer dining, entertainment and party scene on Mykonos. Previous posts have described upcoming special events as well as new places to eat and play on Mykonos this year. You can view those posts by clicking on the links below:

 ♦ June 6: Mykonos town & beach party clubs ready to rock with Holy Spirit long weekend special events

 ♦  June 6: Cavo & Tropicana release summer DJ lineups

 ♦  May 14: Beach parties on Mykonos this summer

 ♦ May 5: Mykonos 2014 restaurant & club update (Part 2)

 ♦ April 16: Cavo Paradiso opening on May 17

 ♦ April 13: Remezzo club gets restyled into restaurant & bar as new places to eat, stay & play open on Mykonos

 ♦ March 31: Paradise Club to kick off Mykonos party season with all-night opening bash on May 21

 

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

2014 Greek holiday report and photos Part 3: Our breezy afternoon bike ride to Mikri Vigla beach

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Kitesurfers challenge the wind and wavs off Mikri Vigla beach on Naxos

Kitesurfers challenge the wind and waves off Mikri Vigla beach on Naxos. We shot this photograph from our dune- and seaview table at Kontos Taverna. Click on the picture to view a full-size image.

 

 

[Editor's note: This is the third instalment in an ongoing series of reports about our Greek holiday in the spring of 2014. Click here to see Part 1, and click here to access Part 2. Full-size versions of the photos shown below can be viewed in the Naxos May 21 2014 album on Flickr.]

 

 

Wednesday May 21

Hikes & bikes: Warm, bright and breezy would summarize Wednesday succinctly. Morning brought a clear sky, light breeze and warm temperatures that would climb into the high 20s (Celsius) during the afternoon. Our big decision of the day would be figuring out whether to just chill out and relax for awhile at the Lianos Village Hotel pool, do something more active like hiking or cycling, or do a bit of both.

During our leisurely breakfast, Dan and I agreed to take a short hike along the coast in the Stelida area to get some exercise first, and then see how the rest of the day would unfold. So we left the hotel and made our way down the hill to the northwest end of Agios Prokopios beach, where we could access hiking trails on Cape Agios Prokopios from the end of the road near Avali restaurant.

 

buildings in Stelida

This telephoto image, shot from our terrace at Lianos Village Hotel, shows two white and blue apartment buildings on a hill overlooking the north side of Cape Agios Prokopios. That’s Paros island across the channel. Walking trails on the Cape offer excellent views of the east coast of Paros.

 

 

a building in Stelida

Studio apartments along the road to Agios Prokopios beach

 

 

Naxos Imperial Hotel

Pedestrians get a good view of the Naxos Imperial Hotel and its swimming pool as they pass the resort on the main Stelida road to Agios Prokopios beach

 

 

 a building in Stelilda

Pink bougainvillea provides a pop of bright colour on a white apartment building with blue trim next to the road to Agios Prokopios beach

 

 

sheep on Naxos

Sheep snooze under a shade tree on a farm field in Stelida

 

 

a church in Stelida

Springflowers fill a churchyard at the northwest end of Agios Prokopios beach

 

 

a road in Stelida

Tall bamboo lines one side of a Stelida road at the end of Agios Prokopios beach

 

 

Agios Prokopios beach

A view of Agios Prokopios beach from the dirt road shown in the photo above

 

 

Avali restaurant  Naxos

Avali restaurant is located on the hillside at the northwest end of Agios Prokopios beach. Walking trails on Cape Agios Prokopios can be accessed from the road that runs past the restaurant. Avali has the best beach views of any restaurant at Agios Prokopios; its seaview terraces are perfect places to enjoy the Naxos coastal scenery while having a drink or meal.

 

 

Cape Agios Prokopios

Wildflowers flank a footpath on Cape Agios Prokopios

 

 

Cape Agios Prokopios

A quiet bay on the southern coast of Cape Agios Prokopios

 

 

Cape Agios Prokopios

Looking out to sea from Cape Agios Prokopios

 

 

 A sudden change in plans

We got partway along Cape Agios Prokopios when we changed our minds and decided we’d prefer to spend the afternoon riding bikes rather than walking. So we turned back and hiked across the full length of Agios Prokopios beach to the main resort area, where we could visit two different vehicle rental agencies to check out mountain bikes and compare prices.

Though it was an absolutely gorgeous morning, there were only a couple of dozen people on the entire beach so far, and surprisingly no nudists in sight. That was a remarkable change from last May and October (and our previous Naxos holidays), since we would usually see more than a dozen people near the midsection of the beach, sunbathing and swimming au naturel. (Last year I shot a beach photo that showed several nudists wading in the sea; it has since become the #1 picture with the most all-time views on the MyGreeceTravelBlog Flickr page.)

Another obvious change was the presence of more than 100 organized sunbeds on one section of sand near the Stelida beach access road. We had not seen any lounge chairs and umbrellas there last year, and only saw a few on some of our previous Naxos holidays. Signs suggested the loungers might be for guests of the Naxos Imperial Hotel, but nobody was using any of the chairs at the time. I suspected there might be fewer nudists at Agios Prokopios because the sunbeds would attract more people — particularly families with kids — to that area. The naturists seemed to prefer getting naked in places with fewer people around, and may have relocated to another beach.

 

Agios Prokopios beach

The view from the north end of Agios Prokopios beach

 

 

Agios Prokopios beach

Rows of lounge chairs and umbrellas on Agios Prokopios beach. We had never seen so many sunbeds near the north end of the beach.

 

 

Agios Prokopios beach

Looking out to sea from Agios Prokopios beach

 

 

Agios Prokopios beach

A view of the north end of the beach and the rocky hill on Cape Agios Prokopios

 

 

A bike ride to the west coast beaches

Our first stop was the Moto Power Naxos office on the main road near the Eko gas station. We had rented mountain bikes here last October, but today they had cars and scooters only. So we strolled down the road to Niko’s Bikes Moto Center, which is situated next door to Niko’s Taverna near the bus stop. (I have no idea if only one man named Niko owns both businesses, but there’s a strong possibly that’s actually the case.)

Cost for a 2-day rental would be €16 — a reasonable €4 per bike per day. We picked out two mountain bikes, signed the paperwork, and set off, riding first to Agia Anna beach and then inland to reach a smooth asphalt road that the Niko’s staff said would take us to a point near the south end of Plaka beach. From there, we would follow a dirt road to Orkos, Mikri Vigla and possibly points beyond. (The coast road leading south from Agia Anna and Maragas doesn’t extend the full length of Plaka beach, so we had no choice but to take the highway route). 

We didn’t have a specific goal or destination in mind — we just wanted to have a good bikeride and enjoy the Naxos countryside, beaches and coastal scenery.

 

our cycling route on Naxos

The red line on this Google map of Naxos shows the approximate route we took while cycling from Agios Prokopios beach to Mikri Vigla beach, and back.

 

 

Asphalt highways and dirt roads

About half of our ride would be along a recently-built two-lane highway with smooth asphalt pavement. The rest would be along a dirt road. The route took us through a sizeable agricultural district that extends between Plaka beach and a row of moderately-sized hills to the east. We wound our way past farm fields, small houses, luxurious-looking private villas, dozens of studio apartment buildings, and a few churches, including one with a blue domed roof. There was a considerable amount of building development along the way, with dozens of rental apartment buildings and villas in various stages of construction.

The highway eventually ends at a junction where a left turn would have taken us up into the hills. We turned right onto a dirt road that heads west to Plaka beach. We were thankful there wasn’t much traffic because every passing motor vehicle — truck, car or even just a scooter — stirred up thick clouds of dust that lingered up to a minute or two before dissipating. Although several considerate motorists slowed their speed when they saw us, to try to minimize the amount of dust their vehicles would kick up in our faces, truck drivers weren’t so courteous. I’m certain they were all chuckling and cackling “Eat my dust!” in Greek as they barrelled past, almost forcing us off the road.

 

cycling on Naxos

Cycling along a paved country road that runs in a southerly direction a few hundred meters inland from Agia Anna and Plaka beaches

 

 

farm fields on Naxos

One of the dozens of farm fields we passed during our bike ride

 

 

blue domed church

A blue-domed church next door to Mateus Studios near Plaka

 

 

buildings on a hill on Naxos

There were numerous studio apartments, houses and villas on the hills east of the highway, but this large white building really stood out

 

 

 

villa on Naxos

and this telephoto image offered a better view of what appeared to be either a massive family estate or a multi-level complex of several individual apartment units. I had not seen a design like this before.

 

 

azaleas on Naxos

The terrain along our cycling route was predominantly brown and green, but every now and then flowering plants — like this long, tall row of pink azaleas — added brilliant bursts of colour to the landscape

 

 

a country road on Naxos

To reach the beaches, we had to turn off the highway and follow this dirt road

 

 

a road on Naxos

The dirt road twisted and turned along a flat stretch of land behind Plaka beach, winding its way past farms, fields, private villas and rental studios

 

 

a garden on Naxos

Pink and red geraniums fill a front yard garden space

 

 

a villa on Naxos

One of the many construction sites we passed during our ride. This is a side view of what is actually two large and inter-connected buildings. I couldn’t tell if this is going to be two private residences or an apartment or hotel complex.

 

 

bamboo plants on Naxos

Bamboo plants tower along a dead-end dirt road behind Plaka beach

 

 

apartments near Plaka beach

A crisp white studio apartment building near Plaka beach

 

 

a hill on Naxos

Farm fields and a terraced hillside dominate the view to the east

 

 

Akti Karras Maria Hotel

The Akti Karras Maria Hotel didn’t appear to be open for the season yet. More than 90% of the accommodation properties we passed probably won’t be occupied until peak travel season (July and August).

 

 

Brisk winds along the coast

The light morning breeze had become a brisk, steady wind by the time we reached the south end of Plaka beach near Orkos, where the dirt road runs close to the coast as far as Mikri Vigla. It had been an easy, comfortable bike ride up to this point, but now that it was quite windy we had to put more effort into pedalling the bikes over the uneven sand and dirt surface.  We were only about 15 minutes from Mikri Vigla beach, but we paused at the roadside next to Plaka beach for about 10 minutes to catch our breath, drink some water, and take photos of the gorgeous long beach to the north, and the scenic coastline along Orkos bay to the south.

 

Plaka beach

The dirt road eventually reaches the coast at this point near the southern tip of Plaka beach. Part of the Orkos area of Naxos is visible at left.

 

 

Plaka beach

The soft sands of Plaka beach curve to the north as far as the eye can see

 

 

road to Orkos beach on Naxos

From the end of Plaka beach, this dirt road twists uphill along the coast, passing the Orkos and Mikri Vigla areas of Naxos

 

 

coastline at Orkos on Naxos

The Naxos coastline at Orkos

 

 

Orkos Bay on Naxos

The sea at Orkos always fascinates me with its striking shades of turquoise

 

 

the coastline near Orko

The hillside at Orkos is dotted with dozens of private homes as well as studio apartment buildings and other rental accommodations

 

 

Plaka beach

The road through Orkos offers great views of Plaka beach across the bay

 

 

Orkos beach

The coastline at Orkos features rocky coves and several beaches with soft light brown sand, like this one. We didn’t see a soul on any of the Orkos beaches.

 

 

Mikri Vigla beach

Approaching Mikri Vigla, the rocky hill and peninsula partly visible at center rear of the photo. There are two beaches here — one on each side of the cape. The beach seen here is popular with windsurfers and kitesurfers because it’s prone to windy conditions. The long beach on the opposite side of the hill gets considerably less wind and has calmer seas.

 

 

Mikri Vigla beach

Two kitesurfers test the wind and waves at Mikri Vigla beach

 

 

A drink and snack break at Kontos Taverna

As we got closer to Mikri Vigla, strong gusts of wind blasted sand into our faces and forced us to slow our pace considerably. Our plan had been to cycle at least as far as Mikri Vigla Taverna (which I profiled in Our best food & drink experiences of 2013 post) before taking a break, but we were thirsty and feeling a bit weary from riding against the wind. When we saw the sign for Kontos Taverna coming up on our right side, we decided to stop there instead. We had never been to Kontos before, but I had heard good things about it, and was familiar with the restaurant because I had been following the Kontos Facebook page.

Kontos is located a few dozen meters back of the beach, behind a row of tall dunes, and has an open-air dining terrace with exhilarating views of the beach and sea. The scenery is wonderful, but the live entertainment — skilled kitesurfers riding the choppy sea on the north side of Cape Mikri Vigla — is an added bonus. At one point nearly a dozen kitesurfing enthusiasts were challenging the wind and waves, and it was interesting and fun to watch them skim back and forth across the bay and fly through the air from time to time.

(I will tell you about the food at Kontos Taverna in an upcoming post describing our restaurant dining experiences during our Naxos holiday.)

 

 Kontos Taverna

The open-air seaview dining terrace at Kontos Taverna

 

 

Kontos Taverna

There are excellent views from the sheltered dining area at Kontos Taverna, too

 

 

Kontos Taverna

My “ringside seat” at Kontos Taverna was the perfect spot to sit back with an ice cold beer and watch the kitesurfers and scenery at Mikri Vigla

 

 

kitesurfers at Mikri Vigla

Three kitesurfers test their skills in the wind and waves at Mikri Vigla

 

 

Mikri vigla beach

The dunes between Kontos Taverna and Mikri Vigla beach

 

 

Mikri Vigla beach on Naxos

The silhouette of Paros island provides a backdrop for the kitesurfers

 

 

kitesurfers at Mikri Vigla

Two kitesurfers ride the waves in Mikri Vigla Bay

 

 

kitesurfer on Naxos

This kitesurfer appears to have a GoPro camera mounted on his helmet to catch the action just as he’s seeing it himself

 

 

Mikri Vigla beacn

One final view of Mikri Vigla beach

 

 

An ancient tower, windmills and church

While we were at Kontos, customers at a nearby table asked the restaurant owner to recommend some sights worth seeing in the immediate area. He suggested some places they could visit, including the remains of an ancient watch tower on a hill behind Plaka beach. He told them a section of only one of the tower walls is still standing, but is an impressive sight nonetheless considering that it’s probably more than 1,000 years old. While I was paying our bill, I asked for directions to the tower. It should be easy to find — just a few hundred meters from the end of the paved highway we rode through the countryside from Agia Anna to Plaka. Since we would be heading that way for our eventual ride back to our hotel, I made a mental note to take a short detour to view the tower.

We got back on our bikes with full intentions of riding farther south to the Alyko beach area, which have never seen before, but 10 minutes into our ride we gave up and turned around — it was too much work riding against the wind, and it wasn’t fun being blasted repeatedly with blowing sand. We would go see the ancient tower instead, and gradually make our way back to Stelida.

 

road at Orkos

Riding back the way we came — along the road through Orkos

 

 

Naxos coastline near Orkos

A view of several of the secluded coves on the coast at Orkos

 

 

coastline at Orkos

Small sandy coves and one larger beach strip are scattered between rock outcroppings that jut into the bay at Orkos

 

 

ancient watch tower in Plaka

This section of stone wall is all that remains of an ancient watch tower on a hill behind Plaka beach. We were told it’s more than 1,000 years old.

 

 

windmills on Naxos

The remains of two old windmills atop of a hill near the ancient watch tower

 

 

Agios Mathiou church

Agios Mathiou church sits on the edge of a farm field near the remains of the century-old Plaka watch tower

 

 

Agios Mathios church

This side view shows a curious feature of Agios Mathios church — two different styles of roof construction on one building.

 

 

 

A cave church on the hill

That short detour of only a few hundred meters gave us views of an ancient watch tower,  two crumbling windmills, and that curious Agios Mathios church. Not far from there, we got to see another interesting site — the Agios Nikoloas cave church, a narrow chapel built against the peak of a hilltop. (It’s one of numerous Naxos chapels constructed on the outside of caves). We didn’t feel like hiking up the hill to take a closer look, so we settled for taking some telephoto pictures of it instead.

 

Aghios Nikolaos cave church

The Agios Nikolaos cave church is nestled against the peak of a rocky hilltop

 

 

Aghios Nikoloas cave church

A zoom view of the Agios Nikolaos cave church high up the hill

 

 

Naxos countryside

Some of the countryside we cycled through on the highway behind Plaka beach

 

 

agave flower stems

When we reached the main highway leading back to Agia Anna, we could see the whitewashed buildings of Naxos Town in the distance (behind these three agave flower stems on the roadside).

 

 

A brief stop at Agia Anna beach

We had planned to stop at the Agia Anna resort area to pick up some items we needed at the Aspasia supermarket, but we first rode to the harbour pier to briefly check out the views from there. The pier divides Agia Anna beach in two; the north side is lined with tavernas and is very popular with families, while the south side is a long, narrow strand that curves partway around a bay in which fishing boats and sailboats drop anchor. After a 10-minute stop to take photos and enjoy the views, we did our shopping at the supermarket and returned to our hotel room.

 

Agia Anna harbour

The harbour pier divides Agia Anna into two separate beaches

 

 

Agia Anna beach

The north beach section is lined with restaurants and beach bars, and is a popular destination for families with small children

 

 

Agia Anna bay and beach

Boats anchored in the bay off the southern stretch of Agia Anna beach

 

 

 

Back to Agia Anna for dinner

After enjoying a glass of wine on our terrace it was time to head out for dinner, and our destination tonight was Tonia’s Courtyard (Η Αυλή της Τόνιας), an Agia Anna taverna we had never tried before. We considered riding the bikes down, but they weren’t equipped with lights and we didn’t want to ride in the dark on the way back. So we walked. (Heck, what’s a mere 30-minute walk after spending a good part of the day cycling against the wind?) 

I’ll tell you more about our meal at Tonia’s in a separate upcoming post. For now, let me just say that Tonia’s home-cooked Greek cuisine was amazing.

 

view from Lianos Village

Early evening view of Cape Agios Prokopios from our hotel room terrace

 

 

 Tonia's Courtyard

Evening sun illuminates the dining terrace at Tonia’s Courtyard

 

 

 view from Tonia's Courtyard

Tonia’s terrace has a view of Agia Anna beach, the sea, and Paros island

 

 

Agia Anna beach on Naxos

Evening view of part of Agia Anna beach

 

 

sunset view from Tonia's Courtyard

A big tree on Agia Anna beach is cast in silhouette by the slowly setting sun. We shot this photo from the terrace at Tonia’s Courtyard while eating our dinner.

 

 

Agios Prokopios beach Naxos

Looking north toward Agios Prokopios beach at nightfall

 

 

Agios Prokopios main road

Looking down the main Agios Prokopios commercial strip toward the Super Market Naxos convenience store (left), the new Cafeateria restaurant (right), and Cafe Hideaway (partly visible behind Cafeateria).  I bought an interesting book of Naxos photographs in the convenience store.

 

 

 A souvenir book of Naxos photographs

After an excellent dinner during which we got to see another impressive sunset, we had one final half-hour hike ahead of us. We took our time walking back to the hotel, and stopped in to the Super Market Naxos convenience store at Agios Prokopios to pick up ice cream treats to eat on the way to Lianos Village. 

While in the store, a hardcover book called Top 7 Naxos caught my eye. It contains more than 110 pages of photographs that author Manolis G. Santorinaios shot at scenic locations all over Naxos — some of which we instantly recognized, but most of which we have yet to see in person (including rivers, waterfalls, water mills, bridges, bays, olive mills, ruins, threshing floors and more).

The shop owner told me that Manolis is his uncle, and that he self-published a 1,000-copy print run of the book in 2010. The pictures in the book are some of his uncle’s favourite images from an extensive collection of photos he shot on the island during the last couple of decades. I thought the book would be a unique souvenir from our Naxos holiday, and when I heard it was the last copy still available for sale, snapped it up immediately.

Twenty-five minutes later we were back at the hotel. I started looking at the photographs in Top 7 Naxos but couldn’t keep my eyes open — I was utterly exhausted from all the cycling and walking we had done during the day. It was time to get some sleep after another excellent and active day on Naxos.

 

Top 7 Naxos book cover

The cover of the Manolis G Santorinaios book, Top 7 Naxos, that I purchased as a holiday souvenir for myself

 

 

Top 7 Naxos book

The Top 7 Naxos book contains more than 100 pages of colour photographs of Naxos landscapes, sights and attractions

 

 

[You can view full size versions of all of the photographs included in this post, along with hundreds of additional pictures, in the Naxos May 21 2014 album on the MyGreeceTravelBlog Flickr page. For general information about travelling to Naxos island, see my post Our Top 15 reasons to visit Naxos.]

 

Posted in Cyclades islands, Greece holiday May 2014, Greek Islands, Greek Islands beaches, Greek Islands photos, Naxos | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment

2014 Greek holiday report Part 3: Videos of Plaka, Orkos, Mikri Vigla & Agia Anna on Naxos

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Above is a brief video that I shot from the southern end of Plaka beach, near Orkos, during our May 22 bikeride along the west coast of Naxos. This and the six other short clips (below) accompany Part 3 of my trip report (posted above).

 

 

Orkos Bay

 

 

Orkos beach

 

 

Mikri Vigla beach and bay

 

 

Views from Kontos Taverna at Mikri Vigla beach

 

 

Kitesurfers at Mikri Vigla

 

 

Agia Anna beach, viewed from the pier at Agia Anna harbour

 

Posted in Cyclades islands, Greece holiday May 2014, Greek Islands, Greek Islands beaches, Greek Islands videos, Naxos, Watersports | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

More pics added to Naxos trip report album

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windsurfers at Naxos

A windsurfer skims across St George’s Bay near Naxos Town

 

Bigger album:  Just wanted to advise that more photos have been added to the Naxos May 20 2014 Flickr album that accompanies Part 2 of my holiday trip report, which I recently posted on the blog.

More than 90 additional photos have been uploaded to the album, which you can view by clicking here.

I’m currently putting Part 3 of the trip report together and hope to publish it later this week.

If you want to see more of Naxos in the meantime, click here for instant access to the Naxos photo collection on the MyGreeceTravelBlog Flickr page. The collection features thousands of pictures from our two Naxos holidays in 2013 as well as previous visits to the island, and also includes photos of the various hotels at which we have stayed.

Further information about Naxos is just a click away in one of my most widely-read posts: Our Top 15 reasons to visit Naxos

 

 

Posted in Cyclades islands, Greece holiday May 2014, Greek Island villages and towns, Greek Islands, Greek Islands beaches, Greek Islands photos, Naxos | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Pretty Petra bay on Patmos

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Petra beach and bay near Grikos on Patmos island

A view of Petra beach and bay, as seen from Kalikatsou Rock on Patmos island. Below is a view of the bay from the top of a cliff above the southwestern end of Petra beach. Although the long beach is comprised of stones rather than sand (see bottom picture), the waters of the bay are crystal-clear. Petra is just one among dozens of scenic beach and bay areas scattered along the Patmos coastline.  Click on the photos to view full-size images of each.

 

A view of Petra bay from a hillside above the southwest end of rocky Petra beach

View from a cliff near the western tip of Petra beach

 

 

 View toward Tragonissi Island from the stone shoreline of Petra Bay

Looking toward Tragonissi Island from the stone shore of Petra Bay

 

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

A colourful taverna terrace on Folegandros

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Chrisospilia restaurant

A chalkboard menu lists dinner specials at Chrisospilia restaurant

 

 

Missed opportunity: The colourful open-air dining terrace at Chrisospilia restaurant caught our attention while we were walking around Chora village shortly after arriving at Folegandros island several years ago.  It was late afternoon and the restaurant wasn’t open at the time, but the chalkboard menu indicated that the evening dinner specials would include a variety of chicken, pork, lamb, pasta and risotto dishes, along with grilled shrimp and grilled octopus.

We meant to return for a meal, but Chrisospilia somehow slipped our minds while we were busy exploring the island, and we never made it there (surprisingly, we didn’t get back down the street where it’s located, even though we thought we had walked every lane in Chora at least twice.) 

It wasn’t until we were reviewing our trip photos back home, and saw several pics of Chrisospilia, that we realized we had forgotten to drop by for dinner. We had delicious meals at other restaurants, but their dining areas weren’t as attractive as Chrisospilia’s. We’ll try to check it out if we ever return to Folegandros. It has received a series of excellent reviews this year on TripAdvisor.com, which currently ranks Chrisospilia as the #11 restaurant out of 44 on the island.

 

Chrisospilia restaurant

Scarlet and pink bougainvillea provide a colourful canopy for the open-air dining terrace at Chrisospilia restaurant

 

 

Chrisospilia restaurant

Side view of the Chrisospilia restaurant terrace

 

Posted in Bars and/or tavernas, Cyclades islands, Folegandros, Greece holiday pic of the day, Greek Island villages and towns, Greek Islands, Greek Islands photos | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Champagne showers forecast for Super Paradise beach on Mykonos Thursday afternoon

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Super Paradise Beach Club

An image of a cheeky white-winged “angel” advertises a champagne spraying party being held at Super Paradise Beach Club on Mykonos June 19

 

 

Bubbly angels: You won’t see warnings on The Weather Network or read about this on the comprehensive Greek weather website meteo.gr, but when a wild summer storm strikes Mykonos tomorrow afternoon, the heavens will open and angels will shower Super Paradise Beach in a torrent of bubbly champagne.

The deluge will begin at 16:30 (4.30 p.m. for you North American readers) at the Super Paradise Beach Club, which has posted the following storm advisory on its Facebook page: “Angels will fall at 16:30. Be there on time :-)

According to a promotional image posted on the Club’s Facebook page yesterday, visitors to the beach party venue are guaranteed to “get wet at the greatest champagne spraying event in Europe.”

The “Sexy Summer Days 2014″ event is being presented by Mykonos Exclusive, a 7-year-old Mykonos-based company that provides high-end VIP hotel, travel and entertainment services.

Promotional posters for the champagne party include a provocative rear view photo of a curvacious lingerie-clad white-winged angel and a simple caution about the suggested dress code for the event — “The less the better.”

You can bet that champagne corks won’t be the only things popping on Super Paradise beach tomorrow afternoon!

In case you’re wondering what the beach party scene is like at Super Paradise, check out the Mykonos Live TV video (below) that the Club also posted on its Facebook page.

 

A Mykonos Live TV video of beach party fun at Super Paradise beach

 

Posted in Arts & culture, Cyclades islands, Events, Greek Islands, Greek Islands beaches, Greek Islands videos, Mykonos, nightclubs & parties, Party places | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

SkyGreece now listed on signs at Athens airport … but still no news on flights to North America

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SkyGreece airlines

SkyGreece Airlines posted this photo on its Facebook page today, announcing that its name was just added to signage at Athens International Airport

 

 

Sign of things to come?: SkyGreece Airlines is one step closer to commencing flights — its name was added to signage on the departures level of Athens International Airport today, in preparation for tomorrow’s launch of charter service to Stockholm.

The photo shown above was posted on the SkyGreece Facebook page at what was lunchtime for the four North American cities to which it is supposed to eventually offer service — Montreal and Toronto in Canada, and New York and Chicago in the United States.

The photo was accompanied by the comment: “Officially today our sign went up at Athens International Airport,” but no further information was provided about possible schedules or fares.

The upstart airline’s last news release had been posted March 31 on its Facebook page, announcing that it had submitted documentation required to obtain all necesssary licences and permits from the American and Canadian Civil Aviation Authorities. It added that, “in order to respect the American and Canadian Civil Aviation procedures,” SkyGreece would not issue any further press releases until all required licences had been obtained.

Hours after posting the sign photo to its Facebook page today, SkyGreece added a post confirming that it will operate on a charter service basis until it secures the necessary legal paperwork to begin flying to North America, and will not comment further until that happens.

 

Charter service to Scandinavia, Eritrea and Somalia

The latest post drew swift reaction on social media, quickly receiving hundreds of “likes” and dozens of comments on Facebook.

In one comment, a Facebook member said: “First flight out tomorrow departing at 17:00 hours from Athens to Stockholm, Sweden! Routes will be as of June to / from Asmara – Eritrea, Mogadishu – Somalia, Stockholm – Sweden and London Gatwick – UK. Hope to see some more coming in soon. Good luck!

I thought the remark about flights to Africa was just a joke, but the fellow who posted the comment said he wasn’t kidding.

The US and Canada will be coming in at some point, as I gather once the permits have been granted from their Civil Aviation Authorities. It’s not so easy when one is new and wants to come in and have some of that pie that has been enjoyed all this time by Delta, US Air, Air Transat and Air Canada. I think we just need to be a little patient,” he said.

 

First flight to Stockholm on June 19

The Greek Air News Facebook page subsequently posted a photo of the sole SkyGreece airplane along with a statement confirming that the airline’s first commercial flight will indeed be to Stockholm, at 17:00 on June 19.

The airline SkyGreece signed a cooperation agreement with the Swedish Tour Operator Flyolympic.Se and on account of it flies in Europe, Africa and Asia,” an English translation of  the Greek Air News post indicates. “SkyGreece will perform and flights from – to Athens-London (Gatwick)-Stockholm (Arlanda)-Asmara (Eritrea)-Mogadishu (Somalia) For more information and ticket reservations, you can visit the official website www.flyolympic.se or FlyOlympic to your travel agent. Good start SkyGreece!!” the translated post concludes.

So perhaps there is a huge demand for flights between Greece and Mogadishu after all. Nevertheless, I’m hopeful SkyGreece will soon be able to announce fares and flights to North America — if their prices are competitive and their flight dates are decent, I would consider them for a return trip to Greece later this summer.

I previously reported on SkyGreece in posts published on the blog on March 25 2014, January 10 2014, and June 25 2013. Click on the links for each of those reports to see photos and obtain more information about SkyGreece Airlines. And stay tuned for further updates.

 

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

Sudden storm soaks Skiathos on Sunday

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This video showing a Skiathos Town street flooded by yesterday’s thunderstorm was posted on YouTube by the tsak Bpam crêperie. It reminded me of television newsclips reporting on flooding from monsoons in southeast Asia. This wasn’t a scene I would expect to see on a Greek island in June!

 

 

Stormy interlude: I keep a small travel-size umbrella in my luggage just in case we encounter some rainy weather while travelling in Greece, and we have had to use it a few times. If we manage to schedule a trip to Skiathos in the near future, news about some wild weather on the island yesterday may make me consider packing some rubber boots, too.

Only two weeks ago, in my June 4 post Greek islands take spring weather woes in stride, I reported about thunderstorms that brought several days of heavy rain and strong wind to many parts of Greece at the beginning of this month.

This past Sunday afternoon, Skiathos got thoroughly drenched by a sudden deluge that dumped over an inch of rain on parts of the island in less than an hour.

 

Torrential rain, power cuts and street flooding reported

News about the latest bout of bad weather broke on the TripAdvisor.com Skiathos forum where SkiathosLover1, a TripAdvisor destination expert for the island, started a conversation thread entitled “Violent Storms … affecting the island this afternoon,” and described “torrential rain,” thunder and lightning, power dips, and “reports of flooding in Papadamatis street.” SkiathosLover1 also included a link to the YouTube video which I posted above.

Numerous people quickly posted replies expressing concern and hopes that all residents and visitors to the island were safe and minimally affected by the tempest.

This morning TA member ShaunWin chided them for “getting so worked up about yesterday’s storm.” It lasted only an hour and “was fun to watch,” he wrote, but “that was it. It’s glorious again today, with not a cloud in the sky.”

“If you’ve got friends or fans out here and are worrying about them: Don’t! They’ll be on the beach or on the beers today and not worrying about you!!” ShaunWin observed.

However, while the storm may have been fun for some to watch, SkiathosLover1 pointed out that it did cause considerable damage bringing down trees, and did frighten passengers returning to the island on tour boats.

A description of the storm’s highlights can be read a June 15 post on The Skiathan blog, while two separate videos of the storm filmed by Gloria Davison can be seen on YouTube. Her clips, filmed from a balcony at the Atrium Hotel near Agia Paraskevi – Platanias beach, shows the the threatening stormclouds as they advance and then unleash a torrent of rain and lightning strikes. Click here to see her first video, which is nearly 8 minutes long, and click here to see the second, which runs almost five minutes.

 

Skiathos street flooding

Nikos Paschalis  posted this photo on Facebook, showing stormwater rushing down Papadamatis street in Skiathos Town during the late afternoon downpour.

 

Posted in Greek Island villages and towns, Greek Islands, Greek Islands videos, In the news, Skiathos, Sporades islands | Tagged , | 3 Comments

Evening colours at the Kos Town harbour

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fishing boat on Kos

A fisherman works on the boat Maria at the Kos Town harbour while other fishing boats and excursion vessels (below) catch the glow of the evening sun

 

 

boats at Kos Town

 

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

One minute in the air above Mykonos Town

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The Amazing Mykonos, a aerial video production by Aslanis Films

 

Air time: I’m willing to bet that the first thing a lot of you thought, when you read the headline for this post, was: “Oh here he goes, droning on about Mykonos again!”  Well, this time it’s the folks at Aslanis Films — a moving image production company — who are doing the actual droning. And I mean that quite literally. 

This 1-minute clip, which was created as a promotional video for their cinematic production services, shows amazing aerial views of popular Mykonos attractions that the vast majority of visitors will only ever get to look at from sea or ground level — the Mykonos Town harbour and Old Port, the Delos island ferry boat pier, the Little Venice seafront and the iconic row of windmills on the Alefkandra hilltop. (The first five seconds of the clip shows the drone that carried the video camera into the air for the film shoot.)

Aslanis Films specializes in commercials, music videos and video editing, and is spending the summer on Mykonos to film Little Venice, Super Paradise beach and numerous other island locations for the Travel Channel. You can view screen shots from some of their video shoots on the Aslanis Films Facebook page.

 

Posted in Cyclades islands, Greek Island villages and towns, Greek Islands, Greek Islands videos, Mykonos, Tourist attractions | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Revisiting the Parthenon … 10 years later

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 The Parthenon

Crowds were so sparse the first time we visited the Acropolis in Athens (on the afternoon of Friday June 11 2004, to be precise)

 

 

the Parthenon

that we were able to get this shot of me standing in front of the Parthenon — with nobody else in sight!

 

 

The Parthenon

However, it was impossible to get photos of the Parthenon without any other people around during our return visit to the Acropolis on Sunday June 1 2014

 

 

No all-by-my-selfies possible: We practically had the Acropolis and the Parthenon all to ourselves when we visited the historic Athens monuments for the first time late on the afternoon of Friday June 11 2004. Even though it was only two months before the opening of the Athens Summer Olympics, the site — one of the most famous tourist attractions in the entire world — wasn’t crowded. In fact, Dan managed to take a photo of me standing by myself in front of the Parthenon — with nobody else around.

There was no chance of getting another photo like that when went back to the Acropolis for a repeat visit two weeks ago. It was late in the morning on a Sunday this time (June 1), and we were among hundreds of people who kept jockeying for prime positions to get the perfect Parthenon picture. With huge throngs of tourists all around, including some guided groups with dozens of participants apiece, there was absolutely no way to take a frontal photo of the Parthenon without getting a bunch of people in the shot. Or without getting constantly jostled and bumped while making a valiant attempt.

 

34% increase in foreign tourists to Athens

We shouldn’t have been surprised to find the Acopolis so busy — tourism in Greece is booming this year. In fact, statistics reported by the Association of Greek Tourism Enterprises (SETE) show that 500,000 more foreign visitors arrived in Greece during the first five months of this year than during the same period last year — an increase of nearly 21%.  Specifically for Athens, the number of foreign visitors surged by a whopping 34% between January and May (compared to 2013), and rose by nearly 31% in May alone.

SETE expects that Greece will reach its target of 19 million international visitors for 2014 — a tourism record for the country.

Based on the number of tourists we saw wandering around Athens during the weekend of May 30 to June 2, I’m certain Greece will set that record.

Below is a brief videoclip I shot showing a few of the tourists who were visiting the Acropolis at the same time as us on June 1. Notice that almost everyone is moving briskly — no doubt to quickly find the perfect place to take selfies with the Parthenon in the background!

 

Tourists at the Athens Acropolis on June 1

 

Posted in Athens, Greece holiday May 2014, May/June 2004, Monuments & historic sites, Our Greece holidays in past years, Tourist attractions | Tagged , , | Leave a comment