Athens nightlife: Where to party with the locals

Millenium GAZI club in Athens

Scenes from Millenium GAZI, one of dozens of clubs, bars, restaurants and cafes within walking distance of the Karameikos metro station in the buzzing Gazi entertainment district of Athens

 

After dark: Wondering where to find a great party scene while you’re visiting Athens? Check out the article Athens nightlife: where do locals go? published recently on the Odiporikon travel tips website.

Written by an Athens-born blogger, the article notes that Athens offers “a very rich variety” of places to enjoy a night on the town. “Avoid the tourist traps and try out places a little further from the usual path,” the article advises.

To that end, it describes the top Athens party districts and how to reach them using the local public transit system and taxis.

Areas listed in the blog post include:

♦ Thissio

♦ Ag. Eirini Square

♦ Kolokotroni Street

♦ Gazi

♦ Psirri

♦ Exarcheia

♦ Chalandri

♦ Glyfada, and

♦ Mikrolimano

Be sure to bookmark the guide to keep on hand for your trip to Athens.

OPUS Inner Pleasure Glyfada

OPUS Inner Pleasure is one of many hot hangouts in the Glyfada coastal suburb of Athens. It’s a restaurant-cafe by day and a party club at night.

 

What’s new on Mykonos for summer 2016

~ updated on Saturday April 30 2016 ~

 

Mykonos Town and harbourfront

Overlooking the Mykonos Town harbourfront from one of my favourite vantage points on a hill behind the Remezzo area of town

 

Boom town: Many of the tourists who visited Mykonos last summer must have been wondering why they didn’t see obvious signs of the economic crisis that has ravaged the country for more than five years.  

Seemingly unscathed by the financial problems that have plagued the rest of Greece, Mykonos was absolutely thriving in 2015, with more than 100 new travel-related businesses opening up on the island last summer alone. The unprecedented renovation and building boom saw the arrival of new hotels, restaurants, bars, shops, galleries and personal services, many of which were aimed at the island’s rapidly growing luxury travel market.

 

 

It would be hard to top 2015’s astounding array of brand-new businesses again this year, but recent announcements about more upcoming new openings suggest the resilient Mykonos economy is poised for even further prosperity and growth.

So far there have been announcements on social media to herald the imminent debut of several new restaurants, beach clubs, hotels and nightlife venues, while rumours abound that many more are in the works.

Please click on the link below to read about the new businesses that have been announced so far. I will update this post regularly as I receive more information about the newcomers.

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Sky views of Santorini’s sensational cliffside scenery

 

Drone tour: Here’s a video to excite and inspire those of you who will be going to Santorini this summer — or possibly sometime in the future.

Created by NPro+ Aerial Production, the two-and-a-half minute film will take you on an exhilarating aerial tour of the western side of Santorini, renowned for the picturesque villages that cling to the peaks of rugged caldera cliffs towering nearly 1,000 feet (300 meters) above the Aegean Sea.

Although dozens of drone videos of Santorini are available for online viewing, I particularly like NPro+’s Santorini from the Sky because it starts with a superb view of Agios Theodori, the church that has been pictured on countless Santorini postcards, posters and travel guides.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Instantly recognizable by its shiny blue dome and brilliant white belltower overlooking the volcano island of Nea Kameni, Agios Theodori church was the first fascinating sight we saw moments after arriving at our hotel in Firostefani village on our first visit to Santorini in 2004. The video goes on to show other remarkable scenes that amazed us throughout that holiday, including views of four clifftop villages — Fira, Firostefani, Imerovigli and Oia — and beautiful Amoudi Bay below Oia. Of course, the film also shows some of the sensational sunsets for which Santorini is famous around the world.

Scenes from some of the shop-lined streets in the heart of Fira, and from a few of its many cliffside cocktail bars and cafes, also made me feel like I was right back on the island experiencing it in person all over again.

The only thing I didn’t like was the brief view of tourists riding donkeys on the path that winds down the cliff from Fira to the cruise ship tender port. Click here to read why you shouldn’t take a donkey ride if you visit Santorini.

Agios Theodori church in Firostefani

Even if you’ve never been to Santorini, you’ve probably seen Agios Theodori church — it has been pictured on scores of postcards, posters and travel guides. Located in Firostefani village, it was the first impressive sight we saw on our first visit to Santorini back in 2004. There’s a great view of the church, and the Nea Kameni volcano island (upper left), at the beginning of the Santorini from the Sky video I posted above.

Top smoke-free Athens bars and restaurants for non-smokers

Mama Roux Athens

The open-air terrace at Mama Roux is shown in a  photo from the restaurant’s Facebook page. Mama Roux is among 10 top Athens cocktail bars & restaurants that expressly forbid smoking on their premises, according to an article from the Greece Is culture and gastronomy website.

 

Breathe better: From a visitor’s point of view, there are very few negative things I can say about Greece. I love going there, and wouldn’t publish this website if I didn’t. But like any place on Earth, it’s not a perfect paradise and it does have some drawbacks. The biggest, from my personal perspective, is the wide prevalence of smoking — not just by locals, but by tourists, too.

I’m seriously allergic to tobacco smoke — it makes me intensely nauseous, and it hinders my breathing. It also stings my eyes and sticks to my contact lenses, leaving them scratchy and uncomfortable. And it doesn’t matter if I’m inside a building or outdoors — if someone lights up nearby, the impact of their smoke is just as severe.

It seems I have plenty of company: I’ve received messages from other people with smoke allergies, and I’ve spoken to numerous travellers (mainly from the USA and Canada) who have commented on the pervasiveness of smoking even in places where it’s supposed to be illegal. 

Happily, I have found cigarette smoke less of a nuisance in recent years than it was during each of our Greek holidays prior to 2009. That was the year Greece enacted legislation to ban smoking in many public places, and though the law has often been ignored since it took effect, I have encountered far fewer people puffing in places where I can’t easily escape their smoke, such as in shops, restaurants and hotels, or on public transit. I still have occasional problems, but I breathe much easier in Greece now than I did up to 2009.

Nevertheless, a meal in a restaurant or a coffee break in a cafe can be ruined for me if another customer or someone on staff lights up. No matter how far away I sit from a smoker (and I actually have changed tables to avoid some), their smoke will waft in my direction and give me grief. 

 

Since I’ve often wondered if there’s anywhere I could go where I could be guaranteed someone wouldn’t be smoking at the table beside me, I was glad to find an article entitled Athenian Hangouts Without Smoke, which was published at the end of March on the excellent Greece Is culture and gastronomy.

Written by Maria Coveou, the article profiles 10 Athens restaurants and cocktail bars “which are smoke-free in theory and in practice, and where exceptions are never made.”

I haven’t been to any of the establishments yet (though I have walked past one — the legendary Zonars restaurant and lounge), but I have bookmarked the article to keep on hand for my next trip to Athens.

If you’re planning to visit Athens and you’re a non-smoker yourself, click here to read Maria’s article and save it for future reference. 

And if you happen to know of other bars and restaurants in Athens (or anywhere else in Greece) that steadfastly forbid tobacco smoking on their premises, please let me and my non-smoking readers know by adding a comment to this post (simply click on the word “comments” under the headline at the top of this article, and write your response in the “Leave a Reply” box.) Those of us with cigarette smoke allergies will be immensely grateful for the information!

 

Zonars restaurant Athens Greece

One of the city’s most famous restaurants and lounge bars, Zonars is another establishment where non-smokers can enjoy a drink or meal in an environment free of tobacco smoke. This street-view photo of Zonars was shared on Facebook by Aspasia Taka Architects.

What’s new at Mykonos beach bar/restaurant venues in 2016

~ updated April 12 2016 ~

 

Rakkan Mykonos beach bar restaurant

Rakkan Mykonos will open at Kalo Livadi beach in May. It will occupy the beachfront premises previously occupied by Monarch beach club…

 

Monarch beach bar restaurant Mykonos

… which is relocating to Platis Gialos beach

 

Beach bar news: The vibrant Mykonos beach bar & restaurant scene will be getting bigger and more exciting in 2016 with the arrival of brand-new drinking, dining and party establishments at Kalo Livadi and Platis Gialos.

Meanwhile, Panormos Beach Resort will be unveiling significant changes to its bar, beachfront, and restaurant — enhancements that will take guests “to another level, offering a brand new decadent experience.”

 

Rakkan Mykonos

The newcomer to Kalo Livadi beach is Rakkan Mykonos, which is aiming to open during the second half of May. It’s a summer venture for Rakkan Bar Restaurant, a popular Japanese fusion restaurant and lounge in the Kifisia district of Athens. Rakkan will transform the beachfront location previously occupied by Monarch, a beach bar, restaurant and nightlife venue which opened in late May 2015.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Details about Rakkan are scant at this point — management told me staff are extremely busy with the “huge renovation” underway to prepare the venue for next month’s opening, but they have promised to send me information soon. However, they did hint that Rakkan will be paying keen attention to providing “high end services” for its customers.

Below are artistic renderings that illustrate the distinctive figure Rakkan will cut on the Kalo Livadi beachfront.

Rakkan Mykonos beach bar and restaurant

 

Rakkan Mykonos beach bar and restaurant

 

Rakkan Mykonos beach bar and restaurant

 

Monarch

 

Monarch beach club at Platis Gialos Mykonos

 

Monarch has moved to Platis Gialos beach, where it will host sunset beach parties and offer a new after-dark entertainment option for the popular family-oriented resort area, where nightlife in past summers has been limited to Greek nights, a couple of open-air beachside cocktail lounges, and occasional parties at several of the beach strip’s restaurants. Monarch will be located in premises near the Hotel Lady Anna. An opening date has not yet been announced.

Like Rakkan, Monarch has roots in Athens — it’s a summer business offshoot of the Dream City restaurant and nightclub located on Petrou Ralli street near the city’s Ilioupoli metro station.

I profiled Monarch last year in my post Mykonos set for 2015 season with over 100 new places to eat, drink, shop, sleep and party, an extensive report about the dozens of new businesses that opened on the island for the 2015 tourist season.

That post noted Monarch’s goal was to provide an upscale beach resort experience with fine dining, wine and cocktails, a luxurious beachfront with beverage service, a fashion and accessories boutique and a mini-spa facility. Monarch also made its mark as a special events party venue, hosting top international DJs as well as live performances by popular Greek music groups and singers including Melisses, which gave at least five shows at Monarch last summer.

 

Booking.com

Though details about the Platis Gialos location are few at this point, it’s clear that Monarch will continue to target luxury travellers, a lucrative market that has been rapidly expanding on Mykonos during the past several years.

A Monarch representative gave me the following description of what visitors can expect from the new venue: “Monarch is a place created with exquisite taste only for those who can appreciate it… For those who know how to enjoy a unique dining experience prepared by one of the best international chefs awarded with Michelin star… For those who want to embark on a refreshing and delicious trip by drinking a cocktail signed by a world class Barman… For all of you who are ready to indulge in sin of a unique party in Mykonos, when the sun goes down!!! Monarch… Forget what you’ve seen before…”

 

Panormos

 

Panormos Beach Resort Mykonos

A lounge area at Panormos Beach Resort, seen in this photo posted on the resort’s Facebook page in 2015

 

Returning visitors to Panormos Beach Resort will see some big changes this summer — the resort has redesigned both its beachfront and its restaurant menu. And repeat Mykonos vacationers who have regularly made the rounds to the island’s other top beach clubs will see a familiar face leading the Panormos restaurant team — George Papageorgiou. Well-known to many Mykonos regulars from his years managing Nammos at Psarou beach, as well as Scorpios at Paraga beach last year, George will bring to Panormos the trademark Mykonian hospitality and enthusiasm that has earned him a reputation as one of the island’s best restaurant hosts.

Restaurant guests will discover a new menu designed by executive chef Avgeria Stapaki. Dishes created by Avgeria  “and her team of culinary experts will lead us to experience mindblowing dining sensations through new colorful gastronomic delights that look as beautiful as they are delicious,” according to a Panormos press statement. 

More changes will be seen on the golden sands of the resort’s beautiful beachfront.

“The new spectacular settings of the revamped beach designed by prominent architect Thanassis Kyratsous create the backdrop for an unforgettable summer experience. With full respect to the natural beauty of the beach, every detail has been carefully considered to deliver luxury at its most unpretentious,” the press release stated.

The official 2016 opening date for Panormos has not yet been announced.

 I will update this post when photos and further details about all three venues are available.

The scenic charms of Serifos

 

Beautiful Serifos scenery is spotlighted in the two aerial videos above, both of which were shared online by YouTube contributor Loris Trian.  Click on the arrows to view the films.

 

Cycladic gem: One of my readers has been asking where she should look on the blog to find photos and reports from our trips to Serifos, as she’s been having trouble tracking them down. Unfortunately, there aren’t any — purely because we haven’t been to Serifos yet.

But since it’s one of the many places on our bucket list of islands to see in Greece, I have been bookmarking Serifos websites and videos I come across so the links are handy for future reference.

Rather than just pass that information along in an email reply, I’m posting the links and three of the videos here in case other readers considering a holiday on Serifos might find them interesting and helpful.

 

Booking.com

Besides reading many good things about Serifos, I have heard only positive feedback about it from well-travelled friends and contacts who have highly recommended paying the West Cyclades island a visit. Several have used the words “wonderful” and “gem” to describe it, and “gem” is exactly what some online travel sites have called it as well. A few of the people I have spoken to are repeat visitors to Serifos, and have been to other islands that my partner and I have visited and enjoyed. They have assured me that we would not be disappointed with Serifos, and would find it just as delightful as our favourite isles.

Below are links to three travel websites specifically dedicated to Serifos. Confusingly, they all have the words “Serifos Island” in their titles, but they’ll take you to three completely different sites:

♦  Serifos Island Greece

♦  Serifos Island

♦  Serifos-island 

 

Below are links to several major Greece travel websites that offer photos, travel guides and general visitor information for Serifos:

♦ The Serifos page on The Greek Travel 

♦ The Serifos travel guide on the Cycladia travel portal

♦  The Serifos holiday guide on the Greeka specialty website for Greek island travel

♦ The Serifos information page from the Discover Greece website for Greece tourism

 

And last but not here, here is another aerial video of Serifos:

Explore Serifos from the air in this 6-minute film by Photo Kontos

In the works: ‘Street views’ of Crete’s trekking trails

This 16-minute videoclip shows several popular hiking routes on Crete being photographed for Google Trekker — a version of the popular Street View feature on Google Maps

 

Crete on foot: Hiking enthusiasts may soon see what Crete’s trekking paths look like without having to take a single step on any of the trails.

The Region of Crete and Google are participating in a project to photograph some of Crete’s major hiking routes for Google Trekker, a version of the company’s popular Street View app that lets people take virtual tours of places from their computers and mobile devices. The Trekker program has an ambitious goal of mapping the world — including out-of-the-way and hard-to-reach places where camera-equipped vehicles can’t travel. Footpaths are filmed by hikers who walk the routes wearing a backpack equipped with Google Trekker photography equipment.

The video above was published on the Region of Crete YouTube page in January, and shows a hiker mapping trails in several areas across the island, including Agia Roumeli, Psiloritis, the Asterousia Mountains, the Lassithi Plateau, and Agios Nikolaos.

 

There were no notes accompanying the video to indicate when the various trails will be available for viewing on Google Maps, but the 16-minute film will be interesting to hikers planning trips to Crete since it shows what the terrain and scenery are like on some of the routes, and gives a good impression of the degree of difficulty on the different trails.

Sifnos, another Greek island that’s popular for trekkers and walkers, already has four of its scenic hiking routes available for viewing on Google Maps, as I reported in my recent post Sifnos: A Walker’s Paradise.

If you’d like to take a virtual trek along some of the Sifnos paths to see what the experience is like, and get an idea of what the Crete Trekker views will be like when they’re available,  click here

 

 

Daytripping from Mykonos to Tinos

You can enjoy whirlwind visits to Mykonos and Tinos in this fun hyperlapse video by Alex Baker Photography

 

Easy excursion: People planning trips to Mykonos frequently ask me if it’s possible to visit other islands for either all or part of a day. It certainly is!

Each year, in fact, tens of thousands of people make the short half-day trip from Mykonos to Delos, an uninhabited isle which is one of the most significant historic and archaeological sites in all of Greece. (See my recent post Visiting Delos in 2016 for information about the many different ways to get there.)

The next easiest getaway for a day is to Tinos, which can be reached either by regular ferry service from Mykonos, or on tours organized by excursion companies. Unlike hip Mykonos, which is one of the most contemporary and “touristy” destinations in Greece, Tinos offers a more authentic Greek island atmosphere and visitor experience.

Tom DeBelfore photo of Tripotamos village on Tinos island

Tripotamos, one of 40 traditional villages on Tinos, is seen in a Tom DeBelfore photo from the Tinos, Kykladen/ Τήνος, Κυκλάδες page on Facebook. There’s nothing even remotely comparable to these villages on Mykonos.

 

Mykonos is popular primarily for its beaches, its sophisticated hotels, bars, restaurants and nightlife, its picturesque Mykonos Town commercial center, and its legendary status as one of the leading holiday and party destinations for the international “jet set” since the 1960s.

Tinos has excellent beaches, bars and restaurants, too, but it also boasts sights and features you won’t find anywhere on Mykonos, including fabulous mountain scenery, dozens of traditional villages and settlements, thousands of dovecotes, and the Church of Panagia Evaggelistria, the country’s most-visited Greek Orthodox pilgrimage shrine.  An important center for religion with a long history of marble carving and stone artwork, Tinos gives visitors the opportunity to see a traditional side of Greece that’s almost impossible to find amidst the glitz and glamour of the designer boutiques, trendy nightclubs and posh resorts that abound on Mykonos.

Our Lady of Tinos church

The Church of Panagia Evaggelistria (Our Lady of Tinos) is visited each year by thousands of tourists and Greek Orthodox pilgrims. This photo of the church appeared on the Facebook page for the local TINOS About magazine.

 

Because of their sharply contrasting attributes and attractions, the two islands might seem worlds apart. But since they’re separated by just a short ferry ride across a narrow channel, a daytrip to Tinos would nicely complement a longer stay on Mykonos (or vice versa).

So how can you get to Tinos? If you’re not comfortable arranging your own itinerary, drop into travel agencies or ferry ticket offices in Mykonos Town to inquire about times and prices for guided tours that might be available during your holiday. When you purchase tickets, make certain to ask where you catch your ferry — Mykonos has two ports! (The Old Port is right at Mykonos Town, while the New Port is located over 2 kilometers from town at Tourlos.)

If you would prefer to see Tinos independently, check with the Mykonos ferry ticket agencies for boat schedules on the particular day you’d like to do your daytrip. For years, the Theologos P car and passenger ferry has offered the most reliable and convenient round-trip ferry service between the two islands, with breakfast-time departures and mid-evening returns. Theologos P typically departs the Mykonos New Port around 7:35 a.m., arriving at Tinos Town 30 minutes later. You’ll be able to enjoy a full day of sightseeing and even dinner at a local taverna before sailing back to Mykonos on Theologos P’s 9:35 p.m. return voyage to Mykonos (it reaches the Mykonos New Port shortly past 10 p.m.).

 

 

Several other ferries operate between Mykonos and Tinos, but their later departures and earlier returns allow only a few hours on Tinos.  That’s still enough time to take a walk around Tinos Town and visit the island’s world-famous Our Lady of Tinos Church. But after getting to see Tinos for just three hours on our last vacation (see my previous post Our brief intro to Tinos for photos), we strongly recommend arranging as much time on the island as possible.

Friends who have done numerous daytrips say that by catching the Theologos P in the morning, they can take a taxi or bus to one of the mountain villages above Tinos Town, hike back down and spend a few hours sightseeing and having dinner in town. The return trip of Theologos P gets them back to Mykonos while the night is still young. Another possibility, they say, is to rent a car at Tinos Town and spend the day driving around to see some of the 40 villages, thousands of dovecotes and hundreds of chapels scattered across the island’s hills and mountainsides.

Dovecote on Tinos island

Thousands of impressive dovecotes can be spotted all over Tinos. This particular dovecote was renovated and converted into a private residence. (Photo from the tinos-tinos.com travel information website.)

 

If you want to get an idea of what Tinos is like (and also Mykonos, if you haven’t been there yet, either), watch the Hyperlapsing Tinos and Mykonos video that I posted at the top of this article. The 6.5-minute film will give you a speedy tour through the lanes and alleys of Tinos Town and Mykonos Town, and will take you to other parts of each island as well. It even shows some of the coastal scenery you’ll see on both islands during the ferry ride.

You can see more of Tinos in the video Tinos Greece 2015, below. It’s actually a slideshow presentation of photographs that YouTube contributor Lusko18 shot at numerous different locations on the island last year. 

 

This is a 5-minute slideshow of photographs shot by Lusko18 during a trip to Tinos in 2015

Our brief intro to Tinos

Tinos Town

With its distinctive rugged peak, Exomvourgo mountain dominates the scene as our ferry approaches the port at Tinos island

 

Ferry change: We got a brief introduction to Tinos during a short stopover for a ferry connection last May, and left the island wishing we had arranged to spend several days of our vacation there in between our visits to Andros and Syros.

We arrived at Tinos on the Superferry II from Andros shortly before noon on May 31, giving us sufficient time to explore part of Tinos Town and have lunch before returning to the port for our 3 p.m. ferry to Syros. So as soon as we disembarked the ship, we headed directly to the town’s main commercial area, a mere five-minute walk away.  

 

Donny B at Tinos port

At the Tinos port moments after arriving on a ferry from Andros. 

 

We were hoping to find a travel or ferry ticket office that offered luggage storage, so when we passed Epineio restaurant we asked one of the waiters if he could direct us to one. He called over his manager, who kindly offered to stow our bags inside the restaurant — at no charge — so we could explore the town unencumbered. When I promised we would soon return to have lunch, he said: “No obligation. Eat anywhere you like.” Minding our luggage, he explained, was meant as a small gesture of hospitality to welcome us to Tinos.  “We would like you to enjoy our beautiful island and we hope you will come back to stay here next time,” he said.

With that first good impression, we set off to walk around and see if we might be interested in returning to Tinos on a future trip to the Cyclades.

 

Epineio restaurant in Tinos

Epineio restaurant is situated on the side of a small square directly opposite the Hotel Lito and the Hotel Aigli 1876.  The manager let us leave our luggage in the restaurant while we walked around Tinos Town.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Considering that it was a Sunday, Tinos Town was far busier than we had expected — the streets and lanes near Epineio were teeming with people and actually were uncomfortably crowded in some spots. Then we remembered it was the middle of a holiday long weekend. Here we were, visiting one of the most popular Greek Orthodox pilgrimage destinations in Greece on the day before Holy Spirit Monday, so of course it would be busy!

Another surprise was that Tinos Town was significantly  bigger than we had been anticipating. I had imagined it to be a relatively small seaside village, like the port towns on Ios, Milos and Sifnos, but the port authority property was huge and the town extended quite a distance along the coast. This wasn’t a sleepy harbour village by any means, and we quickly realized we would get to see only a fraction of the town.  

Our plan was to stroll some of the streets, take a peek at the pilgrimage shrine that put Tinos on the map (the Church of Panagia Evaggelistria, also called Our Lady of Tinos), and then return to the waterfront area for a bite to eat.

Church of Panagia Evaggelistri

Tinos is famous for its Church of Panagia Evaggelistria (also called Our Lady of Tinos), built on the site where the Icon of the Annunciation of the Virgin Mary was discovered after a nun had a vision about its location.  Thousands of Greek Orthodox pilgrims visit the shrine each year.

 

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Thessaloniki: Greece’s historic yet young-at-heart second city

If you haven’t been to Thessaloniki yet, this promotional film will leave you wondering how to include the city on your next trip to Greece

 

Cultural capital: Thessaloniki, the second biggest city in Greece, is already on my list of must-see destinations for future vacations. But an impressive promotional video produced on behalf of the city has left me wishing I could go there ASAP.

Released on March 18 2016, Thessaloniki, the inside track includes enticing aerial and ground-level views of some of the city’s top attractions, including monuments, historic sites, public squares, the beautiful waterfront and other public places.

Notes accompanying the YouTube video say that “Thessaloniki, historically one of Europe’s oldest and most multiethnic cities, widely considered as the cultural capital of Greece, is truly unique in the sense that it intricately marries its thousands-year-old multicultural heritage and the architectural marvels with the Roman, Byzantine, Ottoman and Sephardic Jew history.  With a student-strong population of 150,000, Thessaloniki boasts an under-30s do-it-yourself youth culture-creative movement seen nowhere else in the Southern part of Europe.”

The notes also describe Thessaloniki as “Gastronomic Capital of Greece,” best party city and best mid-sized European city of the future for human capital and lifestyle.

All perfectly good reasons why the city clearly deserves a visit.

Should you need further convincing, just give the 3.5-minute clip a watch. I’m willing to bet it will make you want to see Thessaloniki, too.

 

Booking.com

 

Glimpses of Gavrio, and a ferry ride from Andros to Tinos

Gavrio port at Andros

Gavrio harbourfront

The harbourfront at Gavrio, the port village on Andros island

 

Au revoir, Andros: When we arrived at Gavrio port on Andros at the start of our Greek holiday last May, we barely even noticed the village. Already groggy from our transatlantic travel and jet lag, we were struggling to shake off more cobwebs after dozing periodically during the ferry ride from Rafina. 

I saw a few shops and tavernas when we stepped off the ship, and can even remember thinking “there doesn’t seem to be much here” when I took a quick glance around. We didn’t have time for a longer look since we had to focus our attention on a more pressing issue — fitting luggage for four people into the compact car our friends had rented.

Soon we were pulling away from the port and driving up a narrow lane that squeezed tightly between rows of whitewashed houses before widening into the two-lane highway that would lead us to Andros Town. As we rounded a bend on the outskirts of Gavrio, we got our first views of exhilarating Andros scenery — fields, beaches and the wide open sea on our right side, and to our left a long line of mountains extending far into the distance.  It was a beautiful sight for our sore and very tired eyes.

View from highway on outskirts of Gavrio Andros

The mountain and sea view from the outskirts of Gavrio, seen in an image from Google Street View. This is the highway that leads from Gavrio to Batsi and onward to Andros Town.

 

We got a better look at Gavrio when we walked there from Batsi on the final full day of our Andros visit. As we turned onto the waterfront strip, we discovered there was much more to the town than we had seen while disembarking the ferry five days earlier.

On arrival day, we had basically seen just half of Gavrio’s commercial district — the extensive port authority area with its parking lots, loading zones, and of course the quays for ferries and ships, as well as a few of the businesses along the main street nearby.  We had not noticed that the street continued farther past the port, lined on one side with tavernas, shops and ferry ticket agencies, and a flagstone-paved walkway on the sea side. It took longer than we had anticipated to stroll the entire length of the road, and we were surprised by the large selection of restaurants and cafes — we had not been expecting to be so spoiled for choice in finding a place to have lunch. 

 

 

Though not as scenic as some other port towns in the Cyclades, Gavrio isn’t an unattractive place — it just doesn’t have the pretty, polished veneer of upscale boutiques and trendy cafe-bars that draw  the big-spending tourist and cruise ship crowds to places like Mykonos Town. And while Gavrio may be conveniently located for quick easy access to a variety of good beaches (see my post A bevy of beaches & coves on the scenic west coast of Andros), we were happy we had chosen to spend our holiday time at Andros Town and Batsi instead, since we preferred their overall look and feel.

Mind you, we didn’t walk around any of the residential streets on the hills tucked behind the waterfront strip, so we didn’t get to see all of Gavrio. We may have been more impressed had we taken time to explore beyond the port and harbourfront.

Gavrio harbourfront

We didn’t get to explore the residential streets on the hill behind the commercial waterfront strip

 

The next day we got more glimpses of Gavrio during a taxi ride to the port, followed by panoramic sea views of all of Gavrio Bay as we stood on the outdoor decks of the ferry taking us to Tinos. It was a brilliantly sunny morning, and Gavrio looked picturesque as it glistened in the sunshine.  I’m sure we’ll be back sometime for another look around.

Click on the link below to see more photos of Gavrio, as well as pictures of the Andros coast that we passed during our ferry trip to Tinos. There also are photos of the ship that took us there, the Superferry II, as well as the western coast of Tinos.

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Considering Corfu?

Take a 3-minute aerial cruise above Corfu in this newly-released video, produced on behalf of the island’s port authority

 

Video vacation: I feel like I have just taken an extensive and exhausting (but in a good way) sightseeing trip to Corfu — even though I haven’t been there yet. And courtesy of several online videos I’ve been watching the past couple of days, it’s entirely possible that I may have just seen more of the island from here at home than I might have been able to see had I actually been on Corfu for the same period of time.

On March 14, a link to Corfu, the Garden of Gods (above) popped up in my social media news feeds, and I watched the film a few times.  The three-minute aerial video was shared by Vangelis Koulouris,  who said the short clip “was created for the Port Authority of Corfu with a view to highlight the unique environment and the multicultural history of Corfu island.”

The film features soaring views of Corfu’s lush landscapes, its picturesque coastlines and beaches, the island’s beautiful capital (also called Corfu), and cruise ships calling at its port. Corfu is, of course, one of the top Greek island destinations for cruise ships, so a video by its port authority just wouldn’t seem complete without at least a few passenger liners appearing in the picture.

 

 

As tends to happen whenever I find something interesting on social media, one thing led to another — and before long I had compiled a playlist of several more Corfu videos to view.  But except for Garden of the Gods, and another 3-minute clip, the other films weren’t as short and sweet — with run times ranging from 10 and 24 minutes to nearly two hours, they were the equivalent of watching a few evenings of TV programs. But I considered it “time well wasted,” as the saying goes.

It’s time some of you might wish to spend, too, should you be considering Corfu for an upcoming or future vacation — or should you simply want to see what the island is all about. To that end, I have posted some of the videos below. Four of the six films (including the one above) were  published just within the last several weeks, while two were released last year. What I appreciated most about the videos is that they either show or tell you the names of places you’re looking at — something all too many travel videos fail to do. 

If you manage to make it through all the clips, you’ll probably feel like you’ve just gone to the island, too — or attended a Corfu film festival!

 

My Corfu in 3 minutes is a quick-view highlight version of the considerably longer My Corfu, which is posted directly below.  Produced by Petros Kapsokavadis and the Oasis Hotel in Perama, it’s intended for viewers who don’t have enough time to watch the full-length clip.

 

This is the full 24-minute My Corfu video by Petros Kapsokavadis and the Oasis hotel. Most of the clip is aerial videography of places all around the island, but there is a segment showing part of the Corfu Mountain Trail footpath from Perama to Gastouri. 

 

Corfu — the island of eternal returns is a 10-minute film released just this month by the Mouzenidis Group of companies. A guide takes viewers on a tour of many of Corfu’s marvellous attractions, sights and scenery while describing highlights of the island’s history.

 

Corfu Coast Line is an aerial tour around the Corfu coast. The 48-minute film is a project of Corfu Benitses, the Association for Culture and Redevelopment of Benitses, a fishing village 12 km from Corfu city. 

 

The Corfu Vacation Travel Video Guide title says it all! Nearly 58 minutes long, the informative narrated film is a production of Exposa Travel.

 

My Movie Corfu Trail clocks in at 1 hour and 50 minutes but it is, after all, a video diary of a 10-day, 150-mile trek around the island that Tim Beal and a friend took last September.  “It is a fantastic walk and should be a tonic for all who like fine views, fine food and great people. Take two weeks out and walk Corfu… you will love it!” Tim says. If you don’t have the energy to attempt the walk yourself, simply sit back and watch Tim and his friend do it instead!

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