New 4-star hotel set to open at Platis Gialos beach on Mykonos

The George Hotel Mykonos

This photo, from The George Hotel’s Facebook page, shows the Platis Gialos hillside location of the soon-to-open accommodations

 

 Hillside hotel: Mykonos-bound travellers will have more accommodation choices at Platis Gialos once a brand-new hotel, The George, opens for the 2015 summer season.

The George Hotel only has a presence on Facebook so far, where it has billed itself as a 4-star property and posted several photos showing the hotel exterior, a sample room interior, and a typical hotel room view.

The hotel is built into the side of the rocky hill that stands behind Platis Gialos beach, one of the most popular strands on the island. The George appears to be situated next door to the 5-star Myconian Ambassador Hotel, which just happens to be the first hotel we ever stayed at in Greece. It’s an excellent location: George Hotel guests will enjoy wonderful views of the Platis Gialos area while being just a 5-minute walk from the beach in one direction, and a similar walking distance from the nearest bus stop in the other.

Platis Gialos is one of the best resort areas to stay at on Mykonos, since it offers a good selection of restaurants right on the beach and close by, along with several convenience stores, and is walking distance from four nearby beaches — Psarou, Agia Anna, Paraga and Paradise. Moreover, it takes less than 15 minutes to get to Mykonos Town by regular bus service or by taxi.

The George is affiliated with the Acrogriali Hotel, which is one of several hotels fronting on Platis Gialos beach. 

The George’s Facebook page says the hotel is “opening soon,” but doesn’t offer further details. I have contacted the hotel to ask if they can provide me with information about the opening dates, rates, facilities and room sizes, but I have not yet heard back. I will update this post once I do receive a response.

Below are several photos from The George Hotel Facebook page.

See my August 23 2011 post for photos and information about Platis Gialos beach.

 The George Hotel Mykonos

I have circled The George Hotel location on this aerial photo of Platis Gialos

 The George Hotel Mykonos

From The George Hotel Facebook page, a view of the hotel exterior

 The George Hotel Mykonos

This is one of three room interior photos posted on the hotel Facebook page

The George Hotel  Mykonos

Guests of The George will enjoy views like this of the Platis Gialos area

Agency approves SkyGreece bid for licence to fly to Canada

SkyGreece Airlines aircraft

Facebook page photo of the SkyGreece Airlines aircraft

 

Application approved: Canadian travellers may soon have a third option for direct flights to and from Athens now that the Canadian Transportation Agency has approved SkyGreece Airlines’ application to offer scheduled service between Canada and Greece.

In a ruling released January 20, the Agency said it has approved the SkyGreece request “for a licence to operate scheduled international services between member states of the European Community and Canada.”

SkyGreece is a private company incorporated in Athens, It has offices in Montreal, Toronto and New York.

In a post on the SkyGreece Airlines Facebook page today, the airline said it is “extemely happy” with the Agency’s long-awaited decision.

“More great news about SkyGreece Airlines S.A. and its new and exciting flight program will be unveiled in the next few days,” the airline added.

There is no word yet on the results of SkyGreece’s similar application for a licence to offer service between Greece and the USA.

As I reported in a March 25 2014 blog post, Greek media had reported that SkyGreece was hoping to commence flights between Greece and New York during the summer of 2014. But the applications for licences to fly to Canada and America took longer than expected, and as I reported in a post on June 18 2014, SkyGreece began operating charter flights to certain destinations in Europe and north Africa instead.

Although SkyGreece has only one aircraft at present, service to Canada would give travellers an alternative to Air Canada and Air Transat, which are the only Canadian airlines currently offering direct flights between Canada and Greece.

I’ve been curious to see how competitive the SkyGreece fares will be, but even if they’re dirt cheap I won’t be flying SkyGreece to Athens — I’ve already booked flights with Air Transat for my next Greek holiday this spring. But if their prices are good, and their schedule reasonable, I definitely would consider SkyGreece for subsequent flights.

I will keep you posted on any forthcoming route and fare announcements from the airline.

 

Captivating colours on the coast of Paros

Paros coast

A rugged section of coastline near Parasporos beach on Paros

 

True colours: One of the things we most remember from our first trip to Paros 10 years ago was an afternoon walk along the island’s rocky coast just west of Parasporos beach. We were mesmerized by the constantly-changing sea colours, which ranged from a deep cobalt blue to a vivid emerald green, with an astonishing array of turquoise shades in between. It was fascinating to observe the colours shift as we moved from one cove to the next. Below are some of the photos we shot during our hike. You can view those and more images in larger format in the Coastal Colours on Paros album on the MyGreeceTravelBlog Flickr page.

 

Paros coast

 

Paros coast

 

Paros coast

 

Paros coast

 

Paros coast

 

Paros coast

 

Paros coast

 

 Paros coast

 

Paros coast

 

Paros coast

 

Paros coast

 

Paros island coast

 

Paros coast

 

Sunset’s glow at Roditses beach on Samos

Roditses beach on Samos

The setting sun casts a warm golden glow on Roditses beach (foreground) and nearby Vathy, the capital and main commercial center on Samos island 

 

Roditses beach and Tasos Taverna

Roditses beach is about a 15-minute walk from Vathy, in a predominantly residential area with apartment buildings, elegant holiday homes, rental studio accommodations and a few hotels. It’s also the location of Tasos Taverna, whose open-air dining terrace is visible at upper left.

 

Roditses beach

Roditses is a rather unremarkable small beach, with a surface comprised mainly of stones and pebbles.  There are scores of beautiful and more scenic beaches on Samos, but Rodises is quick to reach on foot from Vathy,  and it’s suitable for some quiet time or sunbathing.

 

 Roditses beach

Two big apartment buildings on the hill behind Roditses beach

 

Roditses beach

Looking toward the Tasos Taverna seaview dining terrace, from the rocky southeast end of Roditses beach.  Tasos is the #1-ranked restaurant for Vathy on TripAdvisor.com, where reviewers praised the reasonably-priced Greek cuisine and the taverna’s views of Vathy Bay and the sunset.

 

sunset over Vathy Bay Samos

Although Roditses beach is far from spectacular, that’s not the case for the views from Tasos Taverna, where diners can watch as the sun sets in the distance beyond Vathy Bay

 

Snow scenes from the Cyclades

Achim Eckhardt photo of snow on Tinos, as seen from nearby Mykonos island

This might look like Alaska or the Arctic, but it’s actually Tinos in the Cyclades islands of Greece. Achim Eckhardt shot this amazing photo from a vantage point on nearby Mykonos island after a severe winter storm passed over the Cyclades last week. Click on the picture to enlarge the image.

 

snow on Tinos

The storm dumped a thick blanket of snow up to 2 meters deep on some mountain areas of Tinos. This image of snowdrifts towering above a 4WD vehicle is a screen capture from a video posted on Facebook by Emmanuel Delasoudas from Tinos.

 

 

Snow wonder: Mention the words “Greek Islands” to people around the world, and many instantly think of the Cyclades, recalling iconic postcard images of rustic villages with white “sugar cube” houses clinging to steep slopes high above the sparkling Aegean Sea.

Last week those scenic towns and buildings looked breathtakingly whiter and brighter after a ferocious storm system swept rain, sleet, snow and below-freezing temperatures across the Cyclades on January 6, quickly transforming the region into a winter wonderland.

While some isles got dusted with a light blanket of snow that soon melted away, the storm thumped mountain areas of Andros, Tinos and Naxos with heavy snowfalls, leaving parts of those islands looking more like the Alps than Aegean islands.

 

Islanders shared dramatic storm images on social media

Residents quickly took to social media to post dramatic photos and videos of snow scenes that resembled winter images depicted on Christmas cards people exchanged during the holiday season. Though both shocking and delightful to many viewers who have only seen the islands in warm seasons, Cyclades residents pointed out that snowfalls, while rare, do occur about once or twice a decade — most recently in 2008.

But while the snow-laden islands look pretty in pictures, the storm had calamitous consequences for Andros and Tinos, which bore the brunt of the brutal weather conditions and received the heaviest snowfalls as the unexpectedly strong storm cut a wide swath across the Aegean. 

Authorities declared a state of emergency after an electrical grid failure left many residents on both islands without power and running water for up to four days, and snowplows had to be shipped from the mainland to clear roads to remote villages rendered inaccessible by the snow that measured two and a half meters deep in spots. Schools, shops and businesses were forced to close, while emergency personnel had to rescue senior citizens and ill residents who were snowbound in mountain hamlets. On Tinos, farmers suffered extensive snow damage to fruit and olive trees and greenhouses, while livestock breeders lost sheep and other livestock that perished in the cold.

What follows is a selection of photos and videos I have collected from social media, showing scenes from several Cyclades islands in the aftermath of the storm. I have endeavoured to credit the original sources for all images and videos; however, some photos were widely shared without naming the source. Please let me know of any inaccurate credits so I can make immediate corrections.

You can view additional photos of winter scenes in my January 2 2015 post Wild winter weather wallops Greece, and in my December 15 2013 post Greece gets winter, too!

 

  Andros

 

Leonidas Triantafyllakis posted this video of Apikia on January 6

 

 

Scenes from Apikia in a January 8 clip by Leonidas Triantafyllakis

 

 

Mixalis Karelis posted this on January 7. It shows views from a terrace in the midst of a heavy snowfall, but the location on Andros is not mentioned.

 

 Click on the 2 in the link below to open page 2 of this post. It contains dozens of startling snow photos and videos from Tinos, Mykonos, Milos, Santorini, Paros, Syros, Naxos and Sifnos.

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Tuesday food & drink promotion kicks off at bars, restaurants & cafes in Central Athens

Have Fun in Athens poster

The Have Fun in Athens (Βγαίνουμε Αθήνα) food and drink promotion launched today at 39 participating establishments in the city center

 

 

Cheap ‘n’ cheerful: More than three dozen restaurants, bars and cafés have teamed up to offer special food and beverage discounts every Tuesday as part of a City of Athens initiative to boost local business and enliven the city center.

The Βγαίνουμε Αθήνα promotion, which translates as “Going out in Athens,” is a weekly event that will take place every Tuesday starting today.

Participating establishments will be offering special tasting menus at a price of €10, coffee beverages for €2, drinks for €5 and bottles of wine for €12. The specials are available all day on Tuesdays, and each restaurant will offer its own menu.

 

City staging a comeback from the economic crisis

With Βγαίνουμε Αθήνα, the City aims to maintain momentum in the ongoing revival of its historic and commercial center, which has been staging a remarkable comeback from the financial crisis that devastated the country’s employment and economy for five years.

The goal is to draw more people into the city’s central core to further animate and enliven the area and enhance social and economic activity.

Though just under 40 businesses have signed up so far, the City is actively encouraging more establishments to participate. Click here to see a list of places already in the program.

Click here to read an announcement about the Βγαίνουμε Αθήνα program, in Greek, at this page on the City of Athens website. (I have written to the City’s press office to ask if information about the program is available online in English, but haven’t heard back yet. However, you can use a program like Google Translate to read a reasonable translation of the program description.)

 

A warm reminder of a spring day on Syros

Kini beach

To distract myself from our January deep freeze in Canada, I’ve been looking through photos of Greek Island beaches, like this one of Kini Bay from our visit to Syros last May. If you’d like to see more photos of this lovely family beach to take your mind off winter weather wherever you might be, click here to access my Kini beach album on Flickr.

 

Athens: A hot travel spot on a cold winter day

Athens Greece viewed from Mars Hill on Jan 3 2015 in a photo by Athens Walks Tour Company

Central Athens as seen from Mars Hill near the Acropolis, in a photo by Athens Walks. Click on the image to view a full-size version of the photo.

 

View from the hill: My friends at the Athens Walks tour company captured this exhilarating view of Athens last Saturday (January 3 2015).

Shot from a vantage point on Mars Hill near the Acropolis, the image was posted to the Athens Walks Facebook page shortly before 8 in the morning, with the caption: “Winter Athens is so cool! -2 C this morning.” Brrr!

But even though it may have been bone-shivering cold on that crisp sunny morning, travel experts consider Athens one of the world’s hottest destinations to visit in 2015. Just last month, Condé Nast Traveller magazine included Athens in its list of the Top 10 Destinations to Watch in 2015.

 

City is experiencing a ‘cultural revival’

The magazine noted that Athens is basking in a long-overdue “renaissance” thanks to artists and young entrepreneurs who are leading “a cultural revival with pop-ups and start-ups and creative ventures, cool little shops and exciting hotels.” Major new cultural venues are opening, too, including the National Museum of Contemporary Art and the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Center.

Athens is a year-round travel destination, and by visiting in low season periods like January you can avoid the tourist crowds and long lineups that travellers encounter from spring to fall.

The many monuments and historic sites in Central Athens are best explored on foot, something you could do on your own provided you have a detailed map of the city. Speaking from experience, however, I recommend taking a private tour offered by firms such as Athens Walks who will show you fascinating places you probably would never discover on your own.

 

Mars Hill in Athens

Mars Hill is a great spot to view the Acropolis, too, seen here in a photo I shot on May 30 2014.

 

Going to Mykonos this summer? Check hotels now for early booking discounts & special offers

De.light Mykonos

The gorgeous seaview swimming pool at De.light Boutique Hotel looks oh-so-inviting in this photo from the hotel website. De.light is among numerous Mykonos resorts currently offering early booking deals for summer travel.

 

 

Reserve now: If you plan to visit Mykonos this summer, consider booking your accommodations as soon as possible to get a good deal on the price — and ensure you get to stay at the hotel of your choice.

On New Year’s Eve, a travel tip entitled 5 things smart travelers should do in January caught my eye on the Condé Nast Traveler magazine website.  Item #5 recommended reserving summer hotel rooms on Mykonos and Santorini now to take advantage of early-booking bargains.

The article quoted Leftheris Papageorgiou of St Paul Minnesota-based Hellenic Adventures as saying this is the time of year many hotels on the two hugely popular Cycladic islands offer special promotions. “Not only will you get your top pick of hotels, but you’ll get them at a reduced rate,” he said.

 

 

Mykonos popular on travel website searches

But there’s another good reason to reserve soon — rooms at your preferred hotel could sell out quickly. Mykonos recorded one of its best-ever years for tourism in 2014, and the island’s popularity could soar even higher this summer.

In fact, Mykonos ranked in the world’s top 5 travel destinations for 2015 in data analyzed by Skyscanner, one of the major travel search engines. Additionally, Skyscanner found that Mykonos was the #2 most-searched destination for Australians, and #3 for travellers in the United Kingdom. (People around the globe conduct more than 30 million searches per month on the travel site. Working with trend forecasting firms, Skyscanner studied its treasure trove of data to predict the top places in the world “to be and be seen in 2015.”)

And just a few days ago, The Huffington Post singled out Mykonos and Santorini when it ranked Greece #4 in its Top 15 International Destinations for 2015. “These magnificent islands are every bit as gorgeous, romantic, laid back, and fun as any place you can find on earth. There’s Mykonos for romance, Santorini for breathtaking beaches, Crete for natural wonders, and so much more to discover.” the Huffington Post explained.

 

 Mykonos Town

A view of Mykonos Town and its harbour area. The Skyscanner travel search website has predicted that Mykonos will be one of the world’s top 5 travel destinations in 2015.

 

Random search for bargains at Mykonos hotels

To see if early booking bargains are indeed available right now, I randomly checked websites for dozens of hotels on Mykonos (sorry, Santorini fans — I just didn’t have the time to check hotels on that island, too). I discovered that many sites don’t explicitly indicate if any special promotions are available at all, while several still advertise early booking deals for last year. Quite a few sites have banners or navigation menus promising “special offers,” but the links took me to blank pages or basic online booking forms that didn’t indicate rate reductions. Clearly, many hotels haven’t updated their webpages in a long time! But with tourist arrivals expected to be strong on Mykonos again this year, I’m sure many hotel proprietors won’t need to offer discounts to fill their rooms. Nevertheless, I did find deals for certain room categories or specific travel dates indicated on the websites for several popular hotels and resorts.

What follows is summary of promotions I discovered during my random survey, listed by island location. If you’re interested in a different resort on Mykonos or any other island, for that matter, carefully check their websites for mention of early booking bonuses. If you don’t see any deals advertised, email or telephone the hotel to inquire if any benefits are available if you book now. It never hurts to ask, and many Greek hotels will be pleased to provide discounts if you reserve directly with them rather than through one of the major online third-party booking agencies.

Please click on the link below to continue reading on page 2 of this post.

 

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Wild winter weather wallops Greece

Skopelos Greece after snowfall

Photographer Costas Andreou captured this photo of Skopelos after a winter storm left the island covered in a blanket of white. On December 30, snow fell on Skopelos and the neighbouring islands of Skiathos and Alonissos.

 

Winter wonderlands: I was envious when a friend in Athens told me it was sunny and 17 degrees Celsius there on Christmas Day. But I didn’t feel jealous just a few days later when I logged into Facebook to find my news feed filled with reports and photos of wild winter at places all over Greece — including several islands.

Beginning this past Monday (December 29),  storm systems blasted many parts of Greece with a wide mix of severe weather conditions that included icy cold temperatures, gale-force winds, rain, sleet, and snow.

On Tuesday (December 30), friends in Athens posted pictures of snow-dusted mountains near the city, while numerous individuals and Facebook groups like Amazing Greece/Incroyable Grèce posted links to websites and Instagram pages featuring photos of snowy scenes on the islands of Skopelos and Crete, and such mainland locations as Attiki, Kastoria, Meteora, Florina, Tripoli and Arachova.

Online videos showed gale-force winds pummelling island coastlines and harbours with relentless tall waves, while photos showed pretty Christmas card scenes of snow-covered mountain villages in Crete.

 Tripoli Greece

This photo shows the city of Tripoli (in the Arcadia region of the Peloponnese) following a snowfall on December 28. It was posted on the Amazing Greece/Incroyable Grèce Facebook page.

 

 Ancient Theater of Epidaurus

This pic of snow at the Ancient Theater of Epidaurus was circulated on numerous Facebook profiles and pages, including Amazing Greece/Incroyable Grèce 

 

A January 1 report on the Newsbomb website said fierce winds caused power outages at such diverse locations as the cities of Chania on Crete, Mytilini on the Northeast Aegean island of Lesvos, and Ioannina on the western Greece mainland. Heavy snow caused power failures and road closures at numerous spots on the mainland and in northern Greece, where temperatures plummeted to -10 Celsius and colder. A January 1 report on Protothema News also described how the New Year got off to a frigid and snowy start in many parts of Greece.

Some of the most-shared items on social media were reports and photos of snow and brutal winds at Skopelos, Skiathos and Alonissos in the Sporades island group. Many people seemed surprised that it snowed on Skopelos and Skiathos, which they’re familiar with from the hit movie Mamma Mia!, where many scenes were filmed.

 

Achliades beach on Skiatho

A dog plays on snow-dusted Achliades beach on Skiathos in a photo posted on the theseus.aegean Instagram feed.

 

Alonissos island

Another widely shared image was this shot of snow-covered fishing boats in a harbour at Alonissos island

 

 However, it’s not unusual for snow to fall in the Sporades, or for the mercury to plummet to bone-chilling temperatures on other Greek islands, too. This fact often comes as news to many people, like someone in the United States whose December 30 post on the TripAdvisor Santorini forum asked why the Bahamas are more popular in winter months than Greek Islands like Mykonos and Santorini. After several people explained that Greece doesn’t have a tropical climate, the poster replied: “I guess I got the wrong feeling from looking at the postcards and watching the History Channel as I had the impression that the “eternal summer” is the norm in the islands!!”

They aren’t alone in thinking that way — as I noted in my December 15 2013 post, Greece gets winter, too!, many friends and acquaintances of mine in North America think Greece is a balmy beach destination all year round, too.

Although winter is off-season for travel to many parts of Greece, especially smaller islands, the cities of Athens and Thessaloniki are year-round tourist destinations, as are many locations on the Greece mainland. And as a December 29 2014 CNN Travel article pointed out, winter is an excellent time to visit Greece for “romantic escapes,” “city breaks,” “dramatic scenery” and more.  “Falling temperatures sprinkle new magic on stone-built villages lost in deep forests and medieval castles built into that beautiful Greek coastline,” the CNN feature story says.

 

Ippokrateios Politeia in Attiki

The Amazing Greece Facebook page posted this photo showing a dog in the snow at Ippokrateios Politeia in Attiki on December 31 2014

 

sheep in snow on Crete

Michael Kokkinos posted this Facebook image of a long line of sheep trudging through deep snow near Psiloriti on Crete

 

 Should you be interested in taking an off-season holiday to Greece, be sure to read the article Top 5 winter destinations on VisitGreece, the official website of the Greek National Tourism Organisation. It provides information about visiting Mount Pelion, the Zagorochoria villages, Arcadia, Arachova and Karpenissi.

For information about skiing and snowboarding, the Discover Greece website offers advice on where to enjoy mountain ski holidays.

If you’d rather just view winter scenes in Greece, you can see more photos of snow on Skopelos on the Potami House photo blog and on the Skopelosnews blog, as well as on the Facebook page for photographer Costas Andreou. On Instagram, check out the theseus.aegean page to see several pictures of snow falling on Achladies beach on Skiathos. There’s a few photos and a couple of video clips of storm scenes elsewhere in Greece in a December 31 post on the Protothema News website, too. And for those of you who use Facebook, don’t miss the excellent photos in the album White…snowy vineyards all over Greece!, posted by New Wines of Greece.

Below is a Winter in Greece videoclip from VisitGreece.

Keep warm and enjoy!

 

 

Happy Holidays!

Greek Island Christmas scene

Best wishes for a Merry Christmas and Happy Travels in 2015!

 

Athens bounces back: NY Times travel report sees rise in Greek capital’s confidence & creativity

 Click the arrow to view 36 Hours in Athens by The New York Times

 

 

On the rebound: As tourists continue pouring into Athens in record numbers, visitor statistics aren’t the only things on the rise — so is the city’s self-confidence and creativity, The New York Times reports.

That surge in local pride is in turn reflected in the city’s burgeoning arts and culture scene, where new shops, restaurants, bars and, museums and cultural venues have been popping up all over Athens, Joanna Kakissis notes in a travel piece published by the venerable American newspaper.

 

New cafés & restaurants revive city squares

“After years of dreadful press that defined Athens as a broken-down capital prone to fiery riots, the city’s self-confidence and creativity are stirring again. Enterprising young fashion and graphic designers are opening shops celebrating the classic lines of ancient Greece and the anarchic wit of modern times. In reviving city squares, there are new restaurants and cafes serving native delicacies like Cretan sausage and sheep’s milk yogurt with preserved quince. The five-year-old Acropolis Museum is consistently rated one of the top museums in the world, and the National Museum of Contemporary Art is set to move into a new building later this year. Even rough times have silver linings,” she writes in 36 Hours in Athens, published this week.

The article chronicles a weekend visit Joanna paid to the city, describing the various landmarks and tourist attractions she visited, the restaurants and bars where she ate and drank, and the shops and cultural centers she discovered.

 

36-hour weekend visit

The informative travel feature includes a map showing the locations of places referred to in the article, plus a “details” list of addresses and websites (where available) for the various venues.

The article is accompanied by the video I posted above, which includes insightful brief interviews interspersed with colourful scenes of city streets and attractions. The video was created by the team of Fritzie Andrade, Max Cantor, Chris Carmichael and Aaron Wolfe.

Click here to read the complete article by Joanna Kakissis in The New York Times‘ online travel section.

 

 Heteroclito wine bar Athens

One of the places The New York Times visited was Heteroclito cav & bar à vin, seen here in a screen capture from the newspaper’s 36 Hours in Athens video

 

2014 Greek holiday report Part 6: Off to Syros

Naxos Town

This was one of our final views of Naxos Town on May 24 2014, as we departed Naxos on the Aqua Jewel ferry

Ermoupoli Syros

bound for Ermoupoli, the port and capital city of Syros island

 Parikia town on Paros

with a brief stop en route at Parikia. the main port and town on Paros

 

[Editor’s note: This is the sixth instalment in an ongoing series of photo reports about our 2014 spring vacation in the Cyclades and Athens. The previous posts reviewed our 5 days on Naxos. To see any or all of the earlier reports, click on the following underlined links:  Part 1 ; Part 2 ; Part 3 ; Part 4 and Part 5 .]

 

Saturday May 24

Moving on: It was another sunny morning, but we wouldn’t get to enjoy the beautiful weather. After breakfast, we had to pack, take a taxi to the port, and ride a ferry to Syros for the next leg of our 2014 Greek holiday.

We didn’t want to leave Naxos. After three consecutive visits here in the past 12 months (and three others in previous years), it almost feels like a second home, and the island has become our favourite holiday destination. And why wouldn’t it be? Naxos has everything we want for a vacation — Wonderful scenery, unpretentious attitude and laid-back ambience, friendly and hospitable local residents, delicious food, reasonable prices, and plenty of things to see and do. 

But it was time to move on and, much as we love Naxos, we were equally eager to visit Syros. We have heard countless good things about it during the past 10 years — including lavish praise from people who live on Naxos, as well as from other regular Naxos visitors. In fact, I can’t recall ever hearing anything bad about Syros. By all accounts, Syros could well be another island we would fall in love with and want to revisit again and again. And if, for some reason, Syros didn’t strike our fancy, Naxos would still be there for us.

Please click on the link below to continue reading the report on our journey from Naxos to Syros.

 

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Syros: Our favourite new island destination

Kini Bay

Harbour view of Kini, a scenic beach resort area on the west coast of Syros

 Ermoupolis Syros

Ermopoulis, the marvellous port city and capital of Syros

 

Hits the spot: Our Greek holiday in May included a long-overdue first-time visit to Syros, an island in the Cyclades that has piqued our curiosity and been on our must-see list for the past 10 years.

We got our first quick peek at Syros back in May 2004 when the highspeed ferry we were riding from Athens to Mykonos stopped briefly at Ermoupolis, the port and capital city of Syros. We managed only brief glimpses of the city’s grand neoclassical mansions and its hundreds of colourful houses seemingly stacked one atop the other on the two steep hills behind the port, but we were intrigued — especially by Ermoupolis’s stark contrast to the brilliant white “sugar cube” architecture we saw everywhere else in the Cyclades.

We have briefly seen Syros during a couple of ferry rides since then, and also got a great bird’s eye view of it during a flight from Athens to Naxos in May. We finally got to set foot on Syros soil on May 24, and almost instantly fell in love with the island.

We spent our first two nights in the enchanting port city, Ermoupolis, followed by four nights at Kini, a village and beach resort on the west coast. We thoroughly enjoyed Ermoupolis, but we particularly loved Kini, and wish we could have spent more time in both places. In fact, we now consider Kini one of our favourite beach destinations in Greece.

I’ll be telling and showing you a lot more about Ermoupolis, Kini and other parts of Syros soon. In the meantime, I have posted a few more photos of Kini Bay below. Click here to see hundreds of additional Kini photos, and click here to see my Flickr albums for Ermoupolis, Ano Syros, Lotos beach, Delfini beach, and other places on Syros.

  Kini Bay

Hillside view of the Kini Bay harbour (top) and beach

 Kini Bay

A view of the garden- and farm-filled valley behind Kini

Kini Bay

A view of Kini Bay from a hillside near the hamlets of Dani and Chrisonisos

 Kini Bay

View from peaceful Lotos beach on the west side of Kini Bay

 Kini Bay

Evening view of Kini village and beach

 Sunset view from Kini Bay

Sunset view from our terrace at Kini Bay Rooms and Apartments on May 27

 

Earth’s most romantic place: The Greek Islands

Milos sunset viewing

A couple relaxes with wine while enjoying the sunset views from Plaka village on Milos. With their superb sunsets and spectacular natural scenery, the Greek Islands are ideal destinations for honeymoons and romantic getaways.

 

Guest post by Jane Robert

 Greece has more than 6,000 islands which are mostly huge chunks of rock located in the eastern Mediterranean Sea. Only about 230 are inhabited, with just 80 having a population of more than 100 people.

The islands are grouped into six basic clusters:

♦ the Ionians to the west of Greece include the islands Zante, Kefalonia, Lefkas and Corfu;

♦ the Cyclades in the central Aegean contain Mykonos, Santorini, Paros, and Naxos;

♦ the Dodecanese chain in the east, near Turkey, comprises such islands as Rhodes, Kos, Symi and Patmos;

♦ the Sporades group in the northeast of Greece includes Skiathos and Skopelos;

♦ the north Aegean group, home to Samos, Lesvos and Thassos; and

♦ the Saronic Gulf islands, which include Aegina, Hydra, Poros and Spetses.

And of course there’s Crete, the biggest Greek Island of all, situated on its own to the south.

 Plaka beach Naxos

A couple takes a romantic pre-sunset stroll along Plaka beach on Naxos

 

Click on the link below to continue reading  Jane’s article

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Fall foliage & autumn colours on Naxos

flower on Naxos

A flowering plant — possibly an artichoke — basks in afternoon sunshine in a field near Chalki village on Naxos on October 8 last year

 

 

Falling back a year: It’s unmistakably autumn here in Toronto. A week of sunshine and summer-like warm temperatures ended abruptly when Mother Nature sent us some cool wind and rain last Friday afternoon to remind us that the calendar says it’s October. Tuesday night she drenched us with heavy downpours, and Wednesday she blasted us with strong, cold winds that swept ominous dark stormclouds across the sky throughout the day. They didn’t pour rain, but the unceasing gusts of wind made walking outdoors unpleasant even during sunny breaks.

The weather made me wish I were somewhere else, of course — like on Naxos, where we spent the first two weeks of October last year. So when I got home from an uncomfortable walk in the chilly wind, I looked through the photos we had shot on Naxos on October 8 2013 to remind myself how autumn there compared.

 

Abundant greenery with hints of autumn

We had spent much of that day visiting several mountain villages, including Chalki, Kerami and Filoti. Although there was still abundant greenery everywhere, there were many signs of autumn in many places, too. Leaves on some trees were starting to change colour, while a few trees were completely bare already. Tall grasses in yards and fields had dried out, turning brown and crunchy. There was a definite fall look and feel, but it was warm and gloriously sunny, and it stayed that way for the duration of our trip.

That was our first-ever October visit to Greece, and we hope it won’t be our last. Early autumn usually is gorgeous there (though you can encounter some incredibly windy and wet weather on occasion), and if you don’t like tourist crowds, you’ll love the peace and calmness that prevails at this time. It’s an excellent time for hiking and sightseeing, and the sea is still warm for swimming.

To give you an idea of what autumn looks like on Naxos, here are some of the photos we shot last October 8. You can view full-size versions of each image, plus dozens more, in our Naxos October 8 2013 album on Flickr. Click here to view those photos.

 a house in Chalki

Tall brown grasses in a yard beside a stone house near Chalki

 

 fall foliage in Filoti

Scarlet leaves above a stone wall in Filoti

 

 a footpath near Chalki

A footpath passes a field full of olive trees near Chalki

 

 fall foliage in Chalki

Leaves changing colour on a plane tree next to a church in Chalki

 

 a road in Kerami village

A blue door at a building in Kerami, a hamlet between Chalki and Filoti

 

trees in Filoti

Leaves were still a verdant green on plane trees shading the strip of cafes and restaurants along the main road in Filoti

 

a flowerpot in Chalki

A flowerpot on a doorstep in Chalki village

 

 Church of Panagia Filotissa in Filoti

Fall foliage outside the Church of Panagia Filotitissa in Filoti

 

 hillside near Filoti

Olive trees on a hillside below Filoti village

 

 bougainvillea in Kerami village

A dazzling display of pink bougainvillea at a house in Kerami

 

 on the highway near Filoti

The highway on the outskirts of Filoti

 

 a church near Chalki

A blue-domed church near the highway between Chalki and Kerami

 

 a house in Chalki

Tall brown grasses outside a house in Chalki

  Please click on the 2 in the link below to continue viewing the fall photos.

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British Airways & Edelweiss Air launching new direct flights to Greek Islands in 2015

a street in Kos Town

Landmarks and popular historic sites in the center of Kos Town on Kos island. British Airways will offer London to Kos flights starting next May.

 

 

More flights in 2015: It will be easier to travel from London and Zurich to several Greek islands next summer thanks to new routes announced recently by British Airways and Edelweiss Air.

British Airways will launch flights from London Gatwick to Rhodes and to Heraklion, Crete beginning in late April, and will add routes from London Heathrow to Corfu and Kos starting on May 1.

Meanwhile, Edelweiss Air will increase its service from Zurich to Heraklion starting on April 29, and will begin direct flights from Zurich to Corfu starting in June.

 

New BA destinations

In a new routes announcement on its website, British Airways says it will start flying from London Gatwick to Heraklion commencing April 26. Flights have been scheduled for Tuesdays, Thursdays, Fridays and Sundays. When I checked the BA website today, it was showing flights available at prices from £69 (one way).

Only three days after the flights to Crete kick off, BA will begin new service to Rhodes. Flights will start on April 29, operating on Wednesdays and Saturdays. The BA website showed one-way fares available from £109.

From May 1 to September 20, BA will fly four times a week from London Heathrow to Corfu. Flights were available today at prices as low as £83 (one way).

Also from May 1 until September 20, BA will offer two flights per week from London Heathrow to Kos. Tickets were available today at prices from £73 (one way).

With the new routes, BA will be flying to six different Greek islands next summer. As I reported in a January blog post, BA commenced twice weekly flights to Mykonos and Santorini this past spring. It will continue flying to those islands again in 2015.

 

New Edelweiss routes from Zurich

Edelweiss Air already operates summer flights from Zurich to Crete, Kos, Mykonos, Santorini and Rhodes. When Edelweiss recently released its summer timetable for 2015, it announced it will increase the number of flights to Crete starting on March 29, and will launch new routes to Corfu beginning June 16.

Flights to Crete will now be available up to six times per week, while during peak summer season there will be two flights weekly to Corfu.

Check the Edelweiss 2015 timetable for further details, and consult the airline’s website for fares and other information.

 

“I’m an Athenian too” campaign lets visitors show the world what they love about Athens

This Discover Greece video shows how its “I’m An Athenian Too” campaign lets Athens visitors stamp their personal “Athenian identity” on their favourite travel photos to share with the world — and possibly win them a trip back to Greece. Click on the arrow to watch the video.

 

 

Be an Athenian: It happens every time one of our holidays in Greece comes to a close: I’m at Athens International Airport, waiting for our flight home to Canada, yet part of me feels like Athens is a home I’m about to leave behind. It’s an intense, heart-felt emotion that gets even stronger if I start reviewing vacation photos on my camera in the departure lounge to pass time before boarding the plane.

The people who promote tourism to Greece understand that millions of other tourists feel exactly the same way, so they have created a clever new promotional campaign that invites Athens visitors to show the whole world what they love about the fabulous Greek capital city — using their own holiday photos.

Called “I’m An Athenian Too,” the campaign is an initiative of Discover Greece, conducted in collaboration with Athens International Airport.

The promotional program is based on a smartphone app that “lets you express the Athenian inside you” by sharing personal travel photos on social media. Users simply download the special app from the I’m An Athenian website, choose one of their favourite Athens photos, and then select a hand-drawn stamp to apply to the image to describe how it captures their feelings for the city. When they share their stamped photo on social media, the picture will automatically appear in the campaign, and their name will be entered into a contest to win great prizes, including trips for two to Athens.

 I'm An Athenian Too

This image from the I’m An Athenian Too campaign shows some of the hand-drawn stamps that contest participants can attach to the Athens travel photos they plan to post and share on social media

 

 If you’ve been to Athens and want to enter the contest, click here to obtain further details and to download the app.

For those of you who haven’t been to Athens before, here are some photos from the I’m An Athenian Too campaign that just might inspire you to book a trip to this amazing historic city:

 I'm An Athenian Too

Three must-see Athens landmarks include the world-famous Acropolis and Parthenon plus Lycabettus Hill (upper right)

  I'm An Athenian Too

A vine-shaded passageway in the National Garden, my favourite place to visit when I want a break from the hustle and bustle of downtown Athens. The 15-hectare National Garden is a tranquil oasis of parks, gardens and ponds located directly behind the Greek Parliament Building in Central Athens.

 I'm An Athenian Too

The lanes, alleys and streets of the historical Plaka neighbourhood are packed with delightful cafes, bars, tavernas and shops

 I'm An Athenian Too

Besides its energetic city core filled with museums, galleries, historic ruins, shops and restaurants, Athens boasts an amazing natural attraction — the Athenian Riviera, an extensive coastline dotted with beautiful parks, footpaths, beaches, marinas, restaurants, nightclubs, and spectacular scenery.

 

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