The history behind Santorini’s spectacular caldera cliffs

Click on the arrow to view Santorini volcano history, a fascinating 6-minute video by Santorini resident Nikos Korakakis

 

Captivating cliffs: Like most people who have visited Santorini, I know that the island’s distinctive crescent shape was created by hundreds of thousands of years of volcanic activity. I’ve read about it in travel guides, and I have seen illustrations of the island’s various different shapes over the centuries in some of the souvenir books I’ve collected on our travels.

But a video that I recently discovered does the best job, in my opinion, of showing precisely how the volcanoes and the course of time have shaped the Santorini of today.

Produced by Nikos Korakakis, an art director who lives and works in Santorini, the nearly 6-minute-long film is based on research by scientists, institutes and universities. It features narration (in Greek) by Anastasia Platanioti and music by Ross Bugden.

Although the narration is completely in Greek, you don’t have to understand the language to follow the video — the film includes explanatory English text superimposed on the animated illustrations.

Click the arrow at the bottom left corner of the video screen (top) to watch how centuries of volcanic activity created the spectacular island scenery that will enthrall more than a million visitors from around the world this year.

Below are just a few of the photos we have shot of the magnificent caldera cliffs that have taken our breath away on three visits to Santorini. You can full-size versions of those images, along with dozens of additional photos, in The Cliffs, an album on the MyGreeceTravelBlog Flickr page.

 

Imerovigli village

The homes and hotels in Imerovigli village are precariously perched atop cliffs that climb hundreds of meters above the sea

 

Oia village

Oia village at the northern tip of Santorini is seen in this distance photo shot from Skaros Rock at Imerovigli

 

Oia Santorini

Resorts cling to the steep upper slopes of the caldera cliffs at Oia

 

Santorini caldera cliffs

A view toward Imerovigli (center) and Skaros Rock (to the left of Imerovigli) from the Athinios ferry port on Santorini

 

Skaros Rock and Oia

A view of Skaros Rock and, in the distance, Oia village

 

Fira Santorini

Fira is the biggest town and the main commercial center on Santorini

 

cruise ships at Fira

Cruise ships anchored near the caldera cliffs below Fira

 

Firostefani village

The village of Firostefani is a short but very scenic walk from Fira

 

Firostefani village

The caldera cliffs below Firostefani

 

Santorini caldera cliffs

The rugged cliffs plunge hundreds of feet to the turquoise sea in the caldera

 

Imerovigli village

We shot this photo of Imerovigli from a terrace at our hotel in Firostefani

 

Armeni Village resort at Oia

A view of the Armeni Villas resort in Oia, with Imerovigli and Skaros Rock providing a backdrop across the caldera

 

Oia village on Santorini

Oia, seen from the top deck of a Blue Star ferry as we arrived at Santorini

 

Santorini caldera cliffs

We captured this view of the caldera cliffs during a walk from Fira to Oia along the island’s world-famous clifftop footpath

 

 Click here to view 125 photos of the caldera cliffs on the MyGreeceTravelBlog Flickr page.

Only on Mykonos! A bizarre ‘table dancing’ performance from a 1960s travel film

 This excerpt from a travel promotion shows scenes from Mykonos Town from sometime in the early 1960s

 

I love seeing old photos and films from Athens and the various Greek Islands we have visited so far — especially if they show places like Mykonos before traditional island life gave way to the glitz and glamour of high-end hotels, shops and restaurants aimed at affluent international tourists.

So it was fun to find this black and white tourism promotion film with scenes of Mykonos Town in the early 1960s before it was drastically transformed by extensive tourism-related development.

But besides views of the town’s iconic cube-shaped white buildings, its maze of cobblestone streets, and the island’s famous pelican mascot, Petros, the film includes an odd table dancing demonstration performed for the entertainment of tourists at a taverna.

Footage of what the film narrator describes as “a very strange performance” starts around the 2:10 mark of the video.

It shows “a very special talent by an enterprising young man,” the narrator says.

You’ll have to see it for yourself to believe it. It’s nothing like the Zorba the Greek dance that tourists might get to see while visiting Greece nowadays!

 

SkyGreece offering $899 fare for flights from Montreal & Toronto to Athens & Thessaloniki

SkyGreece Airlines

SkyGreece posted this promotional offer on its Facebook page March 21

 

[Editor’s note: this post was updated March 25 with information about Toronto-Athens and Toronto-Thessaloniki fares]

 

Fare deals: SkyGreece Airlines has finally released introductory fares for its new Toronto to Athens, Toronto to Thessaloniki  and Montreal to Athens routes, which launch on May 17, 20 and 23, respectively.

In a post on the SkyGreece Facebook page March 21, the airline announced that economy class fares for a limited number of round-trip flights between Montreal and Athens will start at $899 (taxes included) for departures between May 23 and June 13. The price includes advance seat selection and two pieces of luggage weighing up to 40 kg.  Presumably, the price is in Canadian dollars.

Fares must be booked before March 27 either through travel agents or by calling SkyGreece’s North American reservations desk at 1-855-781-8585.

A “comfort class” option is available; however, the Facebook page announcement does not indicate what those particular seats cost.

The $899 fare breaks down to $334 for the flight and $565 for applicable taxes, fees and surcharges.

 

Flights from Toronto to Athens & Thessaloniki

In a Facebook post on March 25, SkyGreece announced that prices for its direct flights from Toronto to Athens and Toronto to Thessaloniki will start at $899 (taxes included) for departures between May 17 and June 14. These seats must be booked by April 4, and include the same advance seat selection and luggage allowances as on the Montreal to Athens flights.

As I reported in a January 29 post, the airline said it will offer three flights per week between Toronto and Athens, commencing May 17. A once-weekly flight from Toronto to Thessaloniki will start on May 20, and the Montreal to Athens route will begin operations on May 23.

The new airline will offer Canadian travellers an alternative to Air Transat and Air Canada rouge, which until now have been the only airlines with direct flights between Canada and Greece. The Transat and rouge flights are only seasonal, however, whereas SkyGreece is proposing to fly year-round.

Earlier this month, the Internet has been abuzz with word that return SkyGreece flights could be booked online for as low as US $415, including all taxes and fees. (That would be CDN $521 under current exchange rates.) Several people contacted me to say they had seen these prices on Google Flights Explore; however, when I checked, I couldn’t find any SkyGreece flights listed at all. Another person later told me he had seen a July return fare of CDN $561 for a July 5 flight.

The $899 special fare is a good deal — but I’m glad I didn’t delay booking my next trip to Greece to see if I could save money once SkyGreece released its prices. I found an even cheaper fare on Air Transat in early January and will be flying to Athens on that airline for the 11th time this spring.

Still, I’m sure the seats available at that price will be snapped up quickly. It will be interesting to see how SkyGreece’s regular fares will compare to those offered by its competition. The new routes could be appealing not just to Canadian travellers, but also to Americans living in border states a reasonable driving distance from Montreal and Toronto. With the US greenback so strong against the Canadian dollar at the moment — US $1 = CDN $1.26 at today’s exchange rates — more Americans are bound to consider flying to Greece from Canada this year.

 

SkyGreece Airlines

On March 25, SkyGreece posted this announcement about promotional fares for direct flights from Toronto to Athens and Toronto to Thessaloniki

 

Paradise Club owners saying goodbye after 10 years of making party history on Mykonos

Paradise Club Mykonos thank you banner

This banner was posted on the Paradise Club Facebook page March 16

 

End of an era: The owners of Paradise Club, one of the biggest and most popular party places on Mykonos, are bidding adieu to their business.

In a post to the club’s Facebook page on Monday March 16, Thomas Heyne and Mario Hertel announced they are saying goodbye after entertaining hundreds of thousands of people from around the world at the famous Paradise Beach nightspot.

“Dear Friends:  After 10 years and another phenomenal season in 2014 we announce our decision to say goodbye to Paradise Club Mykonos. We want to thank everyone who supported us in the last 10 years! Whats next? Stay tuned, we´re excited to announce our new project very soon! See you in Mykonos!” Heyne and Hertel say in their Facebook post.

Paradise Club has been one of the top party venues in the Mediterranean and in the world; last year, it was ranked #20 on the DJ Mag list of the Top 100 clubs in the world. DJ Mag has also rated it as “one of the 7 best clubs by the sea.” Many of the world’s most popular DJs have appeared at Paradise Club over the last decade.

 

Fans mistakenly feared club was shut down

The announcement did not indicate if the Paradise Club venue has been sold to someone else who will continue to operate it as a party club, or if Heyne and Hertel’s new project will be opening in the space instead. That sparked a torrent of Facebook posts from club fans expressing shock, dismay and disappointment at the news. Many assumed the announcement meant Paradise Club had closed its doors for good, throwing a wrench into their party plans for summer vacations they have already scheduled.

However, on Tuesday March 17 a post on another Paradise Club Facebook page announced that the venue will host its grand opening party on Wednesday May 20, indicating that the venue will continue to operate without Heyne and Hertel at the helm. The post also said the summer’s DJ lineup “is full of your favorite stars & will be announced soon. Get ready for summer 2015. It’s gonna be mad!!!”

I thought something might be in the works with the club since, for the past several months, its website has redirected visitors to the site for the San Giorgio Hotel, which Heyne and Hertel also own.

I will update this report once I hear any news about what Heyne and Hertel’s new venture will be.

Click here to see my list of Mykonos parties and special events that have already been announced for the spring and summer of 2015.

Majestic Meteora

Although Vimeo member TKYSSTD produced Meteora: Six Monasteries on the Rocks just for editing “practice,”  I was blown away by the video’s breathtaking bird’s eye views of Meteora’s remarkable scenery

 

Since we’re big fans of island vacations, we haven’t travelled much on mainland Greece yet. Besides several stays in Athens and its beach suburbs of Glyfada and Voula, our exposure to the mainland has been limited mainly to the city and to places along or near the Athenian Riviera as far as Cape Sounion. We do plan to venture farther afield, though, and are considering some mainland destinations for our upcoming Greek holiday in May.

One of the places I’d love to see is Meteora, famous for its soaring rock “towers” crowned with monasteries originally constructed in the 16th Century. 

Although photos of the stunning Meteora landscape have fascinated me for years, I didn’t make an effort to get there because I was under the impression it was an area to see only for a couple of hours on an organized bus tour — and I personally can’t stand travelling on a tour coach. I suppose that hearing about Meteora only from travellers who had seen it on a quick coach tour or a during a brief stop on a driving holiday didn’t make me more motivated to go.

 

Meteora Greece

A Visit Greece Flickr photo of a monastery at Meteora

 

But when I stumbled upon the Visit Meteora website and discovered the variety of excursions available in the area (including sunset tours), as well as activities like hiking, mountain biking, horseback riding and rafting, I realized it was time to keep Meteora in mind for one of our future holidays.

Seeing the Meteora: Six Monasteries on the Rocks video that I posted above got me even more interested. I started Googling for more information about Meteora, and thought I’d share links to some of the websites I found in case any of my readers might be interested in visiting Meteora sometime, too.

 

 Websites with Meteora photos and travel info

Some of the links are for commercial tour or travel sites, while others are for personal blogs or travel journals. All contain lots of interesting and helpful information as well as photos.

Meteora-Greece.com offers a quick overview of the area, travel directions, general information and a few photos.

Visit Meteora is the destination marketing travel portal I mentioned earlier. It’s is packed with information about daytrips, tours, transfers, accommodations, activities, restaurants, and more.

Sacred Destinations offers an illustrated ecumenical guide to the six remaining Meteora monasteries.

AirPano features a 360-degree virtual tour along with a gallery of superb photos posted in June 2014 by Stas  Sedov, Dmitry Moiseenko and Mike Reyfman.

Communicating with the Gods in Meteora, Greece is a lively photo-illustrated account of a July visit by New Zealand-based travel enthusiast Liz, who writes the widely-followed Young Adventuress blog.

The Wonder that is Meteora is an illustrated and highly-detailed personal travel journal describing a 4-day trip to Meteora from Athens back in 2003.

Last but not least, the Greek language version of Trivago’s Checkin blog features a number of insightful articles about Meteora. It’s part of a project in which Trivago and the Visit Meteora website are promoting Meteora as a top destination for religious tourism.

 

Meteora Greece

A photo from the Visit Meteora travel site, which offers a variety of daytrips and organized tours to the historic area in Central Greece

 

New luxury design hotel to open in historic center of Athens

AthensWas Hotel

An image from the AthensWas Hotel Facebook page. The hotel is expecting to open its doors in early April.

 

New digs: A new “luxury design” hotel is preparing to open its doors next month on one of the top tourist thoroughfares in the historic center of Athens — the Dionysiou Areopagitou pedestrian walkway below the Acropolis.

The AthensWas Hotel is scheduled to open April 2. It’s the newest hospitality venture of the Anemi Hotels Group, which operates the luxury Anemi Hotel near Karavostassi port on Folegandros island.

AthensWas will occupy a completely refurbished neoclassical building at 5 Dionysiou Areopagitou, a pedestrian street that passes such iconic attractions as the Acropolis, the Parthenon,  and the Odeon of Herodes Atticus in the heart of the city’s monument-rich Ancient Athens district. The walkway — which is a hugely popular strolling route for Athenians as well as tourists — starts near Hadrian’s Arch and continues past the entrance to the Acropolis, where it becomes Apostolou Pavlou Street. From there it winds over to Ermou Street in the Monastiraki neighbourhood. (Click here to read a Visit Greece tourism article that provides more information about the pedestrian walkway and the attractions nearby.)

 

Launch date announced by sister hotel in Folegandros

AthensWas Hotel quietly launched its Facebook page in February, but that contains only the hotel address, telephone number, and the image I posted above, which appears to be the reception lobby. Two days ago, the Anemi Hotel Facebook page announced that AthensWas will be opening April 2, and provided a link to the new AthensWas website, which includes photos and details of the features for its various rooms, suites, and facilities.

According to the website, the hotel’s lobby lounge restaurant will feature “traditional flavours from Greece, the rest of the Mediterranean, and Asia, but all of them remastered to chime with the concept of ‘all-day modern comfort food.'” Guests will enjoy “truly astounding” views from the rooftop bar and restaurant terrace, which will be open from May through October, weather permitting. “The Acropolis looks more magnificent from up here than from anywhere else, because it looks like it might through a magnifying glass,” the website says. The hotel will have a fitness room, meeting room and business center as well.

 

Contact hotel for special opening offers

A banner on the website says “special launch rates” are now being offered; however, no further details are provided, and clicking on a “book now” button simply opens a contact form through which requests for further details may be sent directly to the hotel.

I emailed the hotel to request more information plus any available media photos of the hotel exterior, but I have not yet heard back. I will update this post when and if AthensWas does respond to my message.

Click here to visit the AthensWas website.

 

AthensWas Hotel

This image, from the AthensWas website, shows one of the suite interiors

 

AthensWas Hotel

The AthensWas Hotel location is marked with the red symbol on this map from Google. The Acropolis, one of the world’s top historic and archaeological attractions, is shown in the upper left quarter of the map.

 

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