A journey above the scenic coasts of the southern Peloponnese

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Reflecting on Peloponnese, by Vimeo contributors Nestoras Kechagias and Athanasia Lykoudi, features aerial views of amazing coastal sites and scenery in the southern Peloponnese

 

Captivating coastlines: Two back-to-back trips have made us big fans of the Peloponnese, and its extensive, awe-inspiring coastlines in particular.

In 2016 we spent most of our time in the eastern Peloponnese, staying in the scenic seaside towns of Nafplio, Monemvasia, and Tolo, and driving along the beautiful coast in the Laconia region between Nafplio and Leonidio.

Much of this year’s trip took us to umpteen beautiful spots on the western Peloponnese seashore, including Pylos, Methoni, Voidokilia beach, Marathopoli, Kyparissia, Katakolo, Kyillini, Patras and many places in between.

It was an incredible visual feast of destinations, but it left us hungry for more. Luckily, there are many miles of spellbinding seasides we haven’t yet explored, including the southern Peloponnese coastline from the Mani peninsula all the way east to Elafonnisi island.

By chance, I found the film, Reflecting on the Peloponnese, shortly after returning home from our latest sojourn in Greece. With its captivating aerial views of such now-familiar places as Monemvasia, Methoni and Voidokilia, it instantly brought back vivid memories of our two most recent vacations. At the same time, it stirred our desire for another trip to the Peloponnese, so we can try to see the other fascinating sites shown in the video, including Kardamyli, Limeni, the Dimitrios shipwreck near Gytheio, Elafonissi, and more.

The film runs less than 3 minutes, but you’ll find it’s a wonderful aerial journey across an amazing part of the Peloponnese.

 

 

Tips & talk about Naxos: my interview with Hype Magazine

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Donny on Naxos

Enjoying the scenery on Naxos, one of my favourite Greek Islands

 

I love talking about Greece — that’s one of the main reasons why I write this blog, after all! — so I was delighted when Hype Magazine, the blog published by the U.K.-based Holiday Hypermarket, invited me to participate in a Q & A interview about one of my favourite islands.

I suggested talking about Naxos, since it’s not as well known as blockbuster destinations like Mykonos and Santorini, which receive the lion’s share of attention in the travel media.

Below is interview excerpt in which I describe  what I believe are three of the top places to see on Naxos. 

You can read the complete interview on the Hype Magazine site, where I answer questions and provide some personal “insider tips” about restaurants, cultural events, historic sites, beaches, island scenery, getting around Naxos, and more.

 

 

Hype Magazine: If a holidaymaker only has a few days on the island, what would you say is one thing he or she absolutely shouldn’t miss the chance to see and do in Naxos?

Me: Since it’s so big, Naxos can easily keep visitors entertained for a week or fortnight or even longer. But if you don’t have that much time available, aim to spend at least three full days and nights on Naxos. This is sufficient to comfortably explore what I think are the island’s top three ‘must see/must do’ features.

First is the port town, Chora, better known as Naxos Town. It has a bustling harbour-front promenade lined with dozens of stores, cafes and restaurants. Not to mention an Old Market district with cozy bars, coffee shops, stores and galleries nestled in a warren of narrow lanes. You can also expect an imposing castle which towers above the town. And St George’s beach, a long strand boasting soft brown sand and shallow clean waters – ideal for families with small children.

A short stroll from Chora’s harbour front is the Temple of Apollo monument. Also known as the Portara, this giant marble door frame is all that remains of a temple which was only partially constructed centuries ago. Since it’s on a hilltop overlooking the sea, it’s one of the best places on Naxos to watch a sunset, and to enjoy terrific views of Naxos Town.

The second must-see is one or more of the beautiful sandy beaches that extend, like a long chain, down the island’s western coast. Some, like Agios Prokopios and Agia Anna, have organized sections with rental sunbeds and umbrellas, as well as tavernas and bars close by.  At others, like Plaka, you’ll find some spots with sunbeds and restaurants nearby, but also incredibly long stretches of wide-open space and big dunes topped with tall grasses. All that space, and sand stretching for miles, are what draw many beachgoers to Naxos. St George’s and Mikri Vigla beaches also offer sailing, kayaking, windsurfing, kitesurfing and other watersports.

The third ‘must do’ is to visit one of the charming inland villages, including Chalki, and the picturesque mountain villages of Filoti, Apeiranthos and Koronos – no visit to the island would be complete without spending some time in at least one of them.

 

Plaka beach on Naxos

One of the things I love most about Naxos is being able to walk for miles along spacious, uncrowded beaches like Plaka (above), which extend one after the other down the isle’s western coast.

 

Want to read more about Naxos? Take a look at my popular article, Our Top 15 reasons to visit Naxos, as well as other top Naxos posts from my blog. 

To see more of the island, check out my Naxos photo collection on Flickr.

Much ado about Milos

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Travel magazine articles about Milos

Two top travel magazines profiled Milos island this summer.  The article Milos’ Moment appeared in the May edition of the American Conde Nast Traveler, while Orange Crush was published in the UK’s Conde Nast Traveller in June.

 

Media darling: If you’re considering a visit to Milos in 2018, you might be wise to start making your holiday plans and hotel reservations ASAP — especially if you have your heart set on staying in any of the island’s upscale accommodations (which are in rather limited supply), or if you wish to spend time in the Skinopi village area, in particular.

The reason? Milos has been profiled numerous times this year by leading international publications and travel websites, some of which have hailed it as an “undiscovered” and “secret” Greek island “paradise.” With all the positive publicity — boosted by scores of shared posts on social media — I suspect there could be a surge in tourist traffic to Milos next year, and likely for summers to follow.

As for Skinopi, its favourable mention in three highly influential publications could turn the little-known settlement into a trendy new Greek Island getaway destination for upmarket travellers seeking seclusion, style and scenery.

 

 

I can’t explain why so many media have developed such keen sudden interest in Milos, or why some of the magazines think they have just stumbled upon a fabulous place few people know about. I first read about Milos in Greek Islands travel guidebooks back in 2004, and my partner and I went there in 2007, the same year another major travel magazine, Islands, published Milos Rocks, a cover story heralding the so-called “undiscovered” isle in the western Cyclades. Has Milos remained a hidden hideaway for the 10 years since Islands “discovered” it? Hardly. 

We went back for a second visit in 2011, while numerous friends and acquaintances have also made one or more trips there during the last seven years.  I have seen Milos included in Greek Island travel guides published since at least 2009 by major British publications, including The Sunday Times Travel Magazine and even Conde Nast Traveller, which that year highlighted Milos in a two-page “Best Beaches” write-up. Meanwhile, I have noticed steadily increasing interest in Milos on TripAdvisor and other travel forum sites in the last few years and, for my own part, I have published half a dozen posts about Milos here on the blog since 2012.

Although I won’t further debate whether Milos is indeed “secret” or “untouched,” I do believe it’s a remarkable Greek Island in many respects, and well-deserving of greater attention from travellers.  I could explain why by repeating some of my previous blog posts, but instead will let some extremely well-travelled writers describe why you should visit Milos yourself. Please click on the link below to continue reading on page 2.

 

Kleftiko coast on Milos

Sailboats at Kleftiko, one of the most popular coastal stops for round-the-island tours of Milos

 

CONTINUED ON PAGE 2

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Samarina: The beautiful Byzantine church in Messenia

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Church of the Virgin Zoodochos Pigi Samarina

The Byzantine Church of Zoodochos Pigi Samarina cuts a striking figure set amidst a valley of rolling hills lush with olive trees

 

Lady of the valley:  There were lovely landscapes everywhere we looked while we drove through Messenia in late May. One of the most memorable and marvellous sights along the way was the Byzantine Church of Zoodochos Pigi Samarina, located between the villages of Ellinoekklisia and Kalogerorrachi. 

We first glimpsed the church from afar — from the top of an access road which winds down a wooded hillside to the clearing in which the 800-year-old shrine sits. From this vantage point, Samarina looks simply sublime: a beautiful Byzantine-style building surrounded by rolling hills and lush green groves of olive trees that extend for miles in all directions.  Although the distance offered a breathtaking panoramic perspective of the impressive monument and its pretty surroundings, we of course had to drive down to take a closer look.

Not surprisingly, the church was locked up as tight as a drum, and nobody else was around, so there was no chance of taking a peek inside. 

 

 

According to an information plaque on the grounds near the church, Samarina is considered to be one of the most beautiful Byzantine monuments in the Peloponnese. It was built in the 12th Century on what some sources claim was the site of an ancient temple that had been dedicated to the goddess Rhea. Originally, Samarina was a church operated by the nunnery of Osia Mary of Egypt. It later was renamed church of Zoodochos Pigi (Virgin Mary), but hundreds of years have passed since any nuns last occupied the building.

Amazingly, “Nothing is known about the monument’s history, while the silence of textual evidence in regard with such a monument is remarkable,” the plaque says.

 

Samarina church

A Messenian mystery: Historians say the church dates from the 12th Century, but they don’t know anything about its history.

 

The plaque describes Samarina as “a two-column, domed cross-in-square building whose careful cloisonné masonry next to the variety of decorative brickwork compose a highly artistic complex.”

Between late 2011 and the end of 2013, a rehabilitation and restoration project was carried out to recover the tiled roof, restore the decorative brickwork, and install new wooden doors. Inside, “the wall paintings were entirely restored and the marble templon screen was cleaned to retrieve its white colour and to preserve the traces of inlaid wax and mastic gum.” 

Nearby are ruins of other buildings, believed to have been monastic cells, along with a vaulted Byzantine cistern.

It would have been interesting to see the interior, with its freshly restored frescoes, but we had to make do with  viewing photos in a brochure I had picked up at Messana Hotel at Ancient Messini the day before.  Nevertheless, we enjoyed examining the building exterior, and exploring its serene surroundings. (I have tried to find the brochure and its images online, so I could post a link here, but so far haven’t had any success.)

If you’re passing through the area on your way to or from Ancient Messini, be sure to stop and take a look at Samarina. She’s a beauty.

Below are several more pictures of Samarina. You can view additional photos in my Samarina  church album on Flickr.

 

Samarina church

 

Samarina church

 

Samarina church

 

Samarina church

 

Samarina church

 

Samarina church

 

Captivated by Kavala

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Gregory Liotakis published this aerial drone film of Kavala in April

 

Aerial appeal: Up until the end of 2016, I was completely clueless about Kavala.

I had heard of it, and I knew it was a place in mainland Greece. But I didn’t know exactly where, and I would not have been able to tell you for certain if was a mountain village, a big town or a seaside resort. So of course I had no idea what it looked like or what was there.

That changed over the Christmas holiday season when storms dumped snow on many parts of Greece and I found photos and videos of Kavala while putting together two blog posts that I published in January — Greece in white winter glory, and Amazing winter wonderland scenes from Greece Part 2

Suddenly I was intrigued. Kavala looked quite appealing and attractive (and not just because it was dusted with crisp white snow.)  With a few quick Google searches, I learned that Kavala is a bustling port city of 57,000 residents in the region of eastern Macedonia and Thrace, and is considered one of Greece’s “prettiest” and “most picturesque” cities. Some websites described Kavala as a “gem” and a “jewel” often overlooked by tourists or simply not on the radar for most people visiting Greece.

 

 

Since I had shared an aerial video of Kavala here on the blog, links to other Kavala films have appeared frequently in the “Up Next” sidebar when I have opened the YouTube webpage.  Most have been aerial videos showing the city in warm weather months, and I have been impressed by the scenes of seafront, beaches, city squares and historic sites — including a castle and aqueduct.  As you can probably expect, Kavala has now earned a spot on my travel bucket list.

In case you’re planning a trip to the area,  or just wondering if it’s a place you would like to visit yourself, here are several Kavala videos that will help get you acquainted with the city.

 

Scenes from Kavala in a 2.5-minute film by JL Aerial

 

This nearly 3-minute long video by Aerial View shows the city’s historic castle and the impressive scenery it overlooks. 

 

This “official” video by kavalaDimofelia shows top historic sites and attractions and near Kavala 

 

This is a Kavala time lapse video published by Theo Kavala

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