Category: Churches and chapels (page 1 of 2)

Photo highlights from our trip to the Peloponnese and Hydra

Monemvasia

The fascinating fortress town of Monemvasia, where we spent three days and nights in early June

 

Amazing experience: I only need one word to describe our first-ever visit to Greece’s Peloponnese region and  Hydra island this month: Wow!

We weren’t even halfway through our holiday when we noted that the trip was shaping up as one of our best vacation experiences ever in Greece. Now that we’re back home, recalling all the places and sights we encountered and sorting through our photos,  we’ve agreed that it was our favourite trip of all. 

The Argolida and Laconia districts of the Peloponnese far exceeded our high expectations, while a spur-of-the-moment trip to Hydra impressed us immensely as well. The sights and scenery everywhere we went were simply amazing.

 

 

 

We enjoyed exhilarating views of sparkling turquoise seas and mountains extending as far as the eye could see. We roamed around charming villages and towns, visited historic archaeological sites, and walked dozens of kilometers along scenic coastal paths. We saw vast groves of olive trees, thousands of citrus trees laden with fruit, and dozens of picturesque churches, chapels and monasteries. We explored ancient castles, even spending three nights in a fortress town and swimming in the sea below its formidable stone walls. And we drank good wine and dined on delicious traditional and contemporary Greek cuisine. 

I will tell you more about our trip in detailed posts to come, but will launch my 2016 trip report with a series of photos showing some highlight sights and scenes from our travels.

Please click on the link below to view the pictures on page 2.

 

the monastery of Elona

The Monastery of Elona, which clings to the face of a cliff on Mount Parnon, was a breathtaking sight during our drive from Nafplio to Monemvasia

 

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Focussing on Folegandros

Folegandros In Motion: Summer Timelapse & Dive! is a nearly 5-minute-long timelapse film showing beaches and many of the island’s top attractions, along with some undersea scenes from a scuba diving session

 

Photogenic island gem: I’m finding it hard to believe how quickly time has flown past since we spent a few days on Folegandros in 2007. It’s a charming little island we have always intended to revisit for a longer stay, but we just haven’t found a way to fit it into any of our island-hopping travel itineraries since — it’s off the main tourist ferry routes in the Cyclades, so it can be tricky to reach. And suddenly almost a decade has passed and a return trip isn’t on the immediate horizon for us. But I’m certain we will get to see it again. 

Fond memories of Folegandros came flooding back the other day when I found a fun short video that had recently been posted online. It’s about the passage of time, too, but in this instance it involves video timelapse photography of the island’s beaches and main attractions.

Produced by Indie Film Rebels filmmaking community, Folegandros In Motion: Summer Timelapse & Dive! opens with timelapse views of the Karavostasis ferry port, followed by four beaches — Agali, Galifos, Agios Nikolaos and Katergo — and the Chrysopigi monastery. The film then switches into real-time undersea footage from a scuba diving session with Folegandros Dive Center, then reverts to timelapse with views of Hora village, Church of Panagia, the seaside at Agios Georgios, Ampeli beach, a beautiful sunset, and a star-filled night sky observed from Livadi. There’s even a quick peek of the astounding views from the swimming pool at Provalma Studios.

 

Of course, as always happens whenever I find an interesting video about a Greek destination that fascinates me, I couldn’t just stop there — I had to hunt for more.

I found many, but the four I have posted below are the ones I enjoyed watching the most, since they took me right back to familiar sights and places that looked as if they haven’t changed since I saw them. If you’ve already been to the island, I’m sure you will recognize many if not most of the scenes in each clip. And if you haven’t been there yet, the films will give you a vivid visual feel for what it’s like to actually be on Folegandros. 

 

Folegandros 2015 is a 7.5-minute  video by YouTube contributor Xvijana.  It shows scenes from Hora, Pano Meria, the Panagia church, several beaches, the island’s bus, some hiking paths, and Ampelos Resort. If you like cats, you will love this clip — it features appearances by quite a few of the Folegandros felines.

 

This clip is an extended slide show of excellent Folegandros photographs shot in 2013  by ΠΑΝΑΓΙΩΤΟΥ ΧΡΗΣΤΟΣ

 

Folegandros 2015 features nearly four minutes of video vignettes filmed by Carlitos Iglesias

 

Although the narration for this film by Netherlands-based de Griekse Gids (Greek Guide) is in Dutch, you don’t have to understand the language to enjoy the 9-minute scenic tour in Eiland Folegandros

Experience Greece’s glorious off-season sights & scenery with winter walks and drives

Greece on foot walking tour photo 01

A light layer of snow on the ground didn’t deter participants in a Greece on Foot walking tour from enjoying the awe-inspiring mountain and valley scenery in the Arcadia region of the Peloponnese on January 24 …

 

Greece on foot walking tour photo 02

… nor did cold temperatures just two days later, when walkers got to trek through vibrant green olive groves like this one under brilliant sunny skies. (Photos provided courtesy of Greece on Foot tours.)

 

Winter wonders: Take a winter vacation in Greece? Sure! Why not?

The seething  crowds of summer tourists have long since disappeared, as have the scorching temperatures and the startling high prices of peak season. There’s no waiting in long queues for seats on buses or in restaurants, and no jostling with mobs of organized excursion groups or gaggles of selfie-snapping sightseers at monuments and museums. Hiking paths are almost deserted, and roads aren’t clogged with tour coaches. The magnificent historic and natural scenery remains glorious despite the drastic change in seasons, the legendary Greek hospitality continues unabated, and the food is superb as always.

Of course, winter is the wrong time to visit if your primary holiday preferences are swimming and water sports, lounging on beaches, or all-night-long dancing and carousing at bars, clubs and beaches on Mykonos, Ios or any of the other legendary Greek “party islands.” 

But you’ll still find dynamic nightlife in Athens and Thessaloniki, cities which abound in world-class dining, shopping, entertainment and cultural activities all year round. And if you’re a winter sports enthusiast, you can challenge your alpine mountaineering or snow kiting skills on Crete, or go snowboarding and downhill skiing at Kalavrita or one of several other major resorts on the Greek mainland.

Mountaineering in Crete

Two alpine mountaineers ascend the steep snow-covered peak of Mt Dikti on Crete, in this image shared on Facebook in late January by Festivalaki: Cretan festival of Arts & Culture. The organization’s Facebook post said mountaineering in Crete offers “a wonderful experience combining alpine terrain with breathless views of both the Libyan & Aegean sea.”

 

Vouliagmeni beach photo by John de Castelberg

A beach near the Vouliagmeni beach suburb of Athens is seen in this December 29 2015 photo by John de Castelberg.  Most tourists might find the sea too chilly for a winter dip, but the scenic beach- and café-lined coast of the Athenian Riviera is pleasant to visit throughout the off season.

 

 

Main tourist season is April to October

For people like me and my partner, who couldn’t bear either the blistering heat and sun or the heaving hordes of tourists in midsummer, winter could well be one of the best times to visit Greece. So why, then, have we travelled there only in spring or fall?

That’s a question we have been pondering a lot lately. We used to believe it was better to travel during the regular tourist season, which generally starts in late April and winds down by the end of October (particularly on the islands). In fact, most of our Greek holidays have been fairly early in the season, typically sometime between mid-May and early June. But we have gone twice in the autumn — we went island hopping in the Cyclades in late September 2007, and we explored Naxos and Athens during the first half of October 2013.

What we like about our spring trips in particular is the palpable local excitement and anticipation for the new travel season and approaching summer period, an atmosphere we find invigorating and refreshing after our long winter hibernation at home in Canada. Also, the weather is usually perfect for some of our favourite holiday activities — hiking and walking, and dining outdoors (especially near the sea). We weren’t keen to visit Greece during the off-season because we were worried we might not enjoy it as much with colder temperatures, inclement weather and few tourists around. 

Samos flamingo photo by Nikolaos Housas

Winter shouldn’t keep us away from Greece — it didn’t stop this pretty pink flamingo and a dozen of its feathered friends from visiting the Alyki wetland reserve on Samos island for several days at the end of January 2016.  Local photographer Nikolaos Housas captured this splendid image on January 27 and shared it on the Samos Island public group page on Facebook. 

 

Social media show the winter appeal of Greece

But recently we’ve really been warming up to the idea of a winter getaway to Greece.  What changed our minds? In two words: social media.

With their photos on Facebook, Flickr and Twitter (some of which I will share with you on page 2 of this post), friends, acquaintances and dozens of people we don’t even know have shown us that Greece can be just as delightful and charming in winter as it is during spring, summer or fall. In fact, they have demonstrated that it’s a terrific time to see the country’s wonderful sights and scenery either on foot or by driving around, and it can often even be comfortable to eat outdoors, or at least sit outside with a coffee to people watch and enjoy the scenery.  What’s more, colourful Carnival celebrations held each February and March in scores of villages and towns provide traditional festive fun and excitement we wouldn’t find in spring.

Haroula taverna at Marpissa on Paros

We thought we would miss eating outdoors if we took an off-season trip to Greece. But occasional mild weather means outdoor dining can be possible even in winter, as this photo posted by the Parosweb Facebook page attests. Taken on January 21 2016, the picture shows a table laden with delectable dishes of home-cooked Greek cuisine in the courtyard at Haroula’s Taverna in Marpissa village on Paros.

 

A place to escape our usual winter blahs

Of course there can be gloomy days with rain, cold temperatures, gale-force winds and even snowstorms, as I have reported in posts on December 31 2015, January 17 2016, and January 23 2016. But we get unpredictable and occasionally severe weather conditions at home, too. Yet we continue to drag ourselves through our  December and January doldrums, and the brutal February blahs, daydreaming about Greece and counting the days until we can go back.  Why not just battle the blahs by getting a winter fix of Greece instead?  With luck we might encounter pleasantly mild weather conditions, as you’ll see in many of the photos below. At worst, it will feel almost like winter back home — but at least we will be passing the time enjoying the off-season beauty in our favourite travel destination. We’re already looking into the possibility of doing exactly that next December or January.

Please click here or on the link below the following picture to turn to page 2 and see some of the photos that have convinced us we’re long overdue for an off-season trip to Greece. Fingers crossed that we’ll be posting our own winter pictures at this time next year. 

Athens winter night view photo by Wendy Gilops

Athens is a bustling year-round travel destination, as evidenced by the throngs of people strolling past historic monuments in the center of Athens, just below the illuminated Acropolis and Parthenon (upper right). Wendy Gilops captured this scene on December 27 2015. 

 

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The splendour of Santorini

Santorini was filmed during April 2013  by dimid, a timelapse photographer from Minsk, Belarus, and his colleague Zweizwei from Korea.

 

Bedazzling beauty: Now that it’s a brand-new year, people around the world are beginning to book their spring, summer and fall trips to Greece. Since many will be spending some time on Santorini, I’m posting some inspiring videos that may help them plan what to see — and perhaps even where to stay.

The film at the top of this post is a gripping 2.5-minute timelapse video that highlights some of the island’s superlative scenery, and shows why Santorini is not only one of the most popular destinations in Greece, but also one of its most well-known islands worldwide.

Expedia’s Santorini Vacation Travel Guide video features five minutes of magnificent island views and scenery

 

The video above was produced by Expedia several years ago to accompany its Santorini Vacation Travel Guide, but its images are timeless. Slightly more than 5 minutes long, the film features many of the island’s renowned sunset and caldera views, but also shows some of Santorini’s stunning beaches and coastal scenery.

The video below is over 15 minutes long and it, too, showcases the enticing views and mesmerizing scenery that enthrall the nearly two million people who visit the island each year. But it also spotlights many of the island’s most popular places to stay, dine and drink, and demonstrates how dozens of Santorini’s cliff-edge hotels, infinity swimming pools, bars and restaurants look as luscious as the surrounding natural landscapes and seascapes.  

And if you’re still trying to decide where to stay and dine during your trip, this video could help you narrow your options — signs for many of the resorts and restaurants can be seen in the film.

Enjoy the amazing views, and happy planning!

Santorini HD The best island in Greece was filmed by Sim-Xat HD (YouTube contributor Σιμος Χατζης)

Christmas greetings with a special touch of Greece

Hellenic Seaways Christmas greeting 2015

The Hellenic Seaways ferry company extended holiday greetings on social media with this shiny red Christmas tree ornament decorated with a golden satellite view-image of Greece

 

Scenes of the season: My social media news feeds have been filled with hundreds of holiday greetings this week, but the ones that inspire me the most are Christmas wishes that include a photo or image of a place in Greece that I’ve either been to or hope to see someday. 

Just for fun, I have collected some of my favourites to share here on the blog.

Please click on the link below to turn to page 2 and see some of the Christmas greetings that have been spreading joy to me and many other Greece fans this festive season.

 

 

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A Sifnos island icon: The Church of the 7 Martyrs

Chapel of the 7 Martyrs

Like hundreds of other picturesque chapels in the Cyclades, the Church of the 7 Martyrs on Sifnos has a traditional Cycladic design with whitewashed walls and a shiny blue dome

 

Chapel of the 7 Martyrs

but its startling location — perched atop a rocky peninsula pounded by powerful winds and waves — makes it one of the most memorable and impressive shrines in the region

 

Windswept wonder: We have seen hundreds if not thousands of blue-domed churches in Greece, but the Chapel of the 7 Martyrs on Sifnos easily ranks as one of the most memorable.

We got to see it during a four-day visit to Sifnos in late September 2007, and were practically blown away by the experience — and not just because the chapel is such an impressive sight. 

It was warm and sunny when we arrived at Sifnos on a Friday afternoon, but conditions changed abruptly. Within less than two hours, near gale-force winds began blowing, followed overnight by thick, dark stormclouds and periods of light rain. The gusts were so strong that rough seas forced the cancellation of ferry service for the next three days. But we didn’t let the unrelenting wind stop us from sightseeing. Occasional breaks in the cloudcover motivated us to get out and explore,  and we spent one day hiking to the villages of Artemonas, Apollonia, Kato Petali and Kastro.  

 

A breathtaking sight below Kastro village

We got our first glimpse of the Chapel of the 7 Martyrs while following a clifftop footpath that winds along the the east side of Kastro, about 90 meters above the sea. It was breathtaking to look down and suddenly see the whitewashed, blue-domed church far below, perched atop a rugged, rocky peninsula that juts into the Aegean. We saw a group of tourists making their way down a twisting, stone-paved path that leads to the church, and decided to make the trek as well.  But the blasting winds actually stopped us in our tracks a few times, and more than once nearly blew us off balance. When one particularly strong gust nearly knocked down a woman walking behind me, she and her companions turned back, saying they felt it was too dangerous to venture any further. But we plodded on, climbing down dozens of steps and then up a short hillside to reach the church.  

The wind was even worse here, but we couldn’t go inside the church to escape it because the door was locked (apparently the chapel is open only several times a year for special occasions and feast days.) It was almost impossible to hold our cameras steady to take photos, even on the south side of the building where the wind was partially blocked. In fact, the blustery conditions were so unpleasant we stayed only a couple of minutes to view the coastal scenery before making a hasty climb back to the sheltered lanes in Kastro.

Despite the inclement conditions, it was well worth braving the elements to briefly see the chapel. If anything, the wind and the surrounding whitecapped sea gave the Chapel of the 7 Martyrs even more of an exhilarating “wow” factor.

Below are several more of our own photos of the church. You can see full-size versions of them, along with 20 additional images, in my Chapel of the 7 Martyrs album on Flickr.  At the bottom of the post are two wonderful pictures of the chapel that were shot by photographers from France and Greece.

 

Chapel of the 7 Martyrs

Much of the chapel’s tremendous visual appeal stems from its location on such inhospitable coastal terrain

 

Chapel of the 7 Martyrs

Dozens of stone steps lead down the cliffside to the church

 

 Chapel of the 7 Martyrs

Here’s a view of the steps from a point far down the cliff 

 

Chapel of the 7 Martyrs

After descending dozens of steps, visitors face a short uphill climb to the chapel. A terrace that wraps around the church offers amazing views of the sea, the Sifnos coast and Kastro village, but we weren’t able to enjoy the scenery because of the high winds.

 

Chapel of the 7 Martyrs

Looking northwest along the rugged coast of Sifnos 

 

7 Martyrs Chapel on Sifnos photo by Giannis Kontos

A view of the Chapel of the 7 Martyrs in weather conditions even more severe than we experienced. This image, which has been widely circulated in social media, was captured by Sifnos photographer Giannis Kontos.

 

7 Martyrs Chapel on Sifnos photo by Charley Lataste

Another image that has been shared extensively on social media is this sunset view of the chapel, shot by photographer Charly Lataste.

 

25 tongue-in-cheek reasons why you shouldn’t visit Greece

Messinia Golden Coast

“Mediocre” views, like this one of the Messinia Golden Coast in the beautiful Peloponnese region of mainland Greece, is one reason why BuzzFeed recommends that travellers stay away from Greece. This striking photo is from the fantastic Visit Greece photostream on Flickr.

 

Just stay home: Are you tired of winter? Could you use a good chuckle? Want to see some superb photos to inspire your next trip to Greece?

Then click here to view the tongue-in-cheek photo feature 25 Reasons You Should Never Visit Greece, which was published this week on the news and lifestyle website BuzzFeed.com.

Featuring gorgeous photos from Visit Greece and other sources, the article addresses a number of modern “myth”conceptions about Greece, considering whether Athens “isn’t really that special,” if the country’s beaches are truly only “average at best,” and whether the views, scenery and sunsets in Greece are worth seeing at all.

The BuzzFeed piece gave me a much-needed good laugh today, while the spectacular photos took my mind off the snow and deep-freeze temperatures outside.

If you want to forget winter for awhile yourself, and learn 25 reasons why you really should visit Greece as soon as possible, be sure to check out the article.

 Windmills at Chora on Amorgos

Hectic places, like this crowded hilltop with windmills near Chora village on Amorgos, is another reason why travellers might want to avoid Greece, according to the website BuzzFeed.com.

Bay watching on Milos

Bay of Milos

Halara Studios view of the Bay of Milos and the island’s west side

 

Scenic viewpoints: Several readers recently asked about places to stay or visit on Milos to enjoy amazing views and scenery. On our last trip to the island we stayed at Halara Studios in Plaka village, where we had inspiring views of the Bay of Milos from our windows and from the long terrace outside our room.  (Plaka is the capital of Milos island.) Another option for accommodations is Studios Betty, about which I’ve heard good comments. It’s located only a few meters from Halara, and offers substantially similar views.

But the best vantage point on the island is Kastro, the summit of the peak that rises a few hundred feet above Plaka. If the thigh-burning uphill hike to Kastro doesn’t take your breath away, the views from there certainly will — especially at sunset. (If your legs and lungs can’t handle the hike all the way to the top, the terrace outside Thalassitra church part way up is a good viewing spot, too.)

And if you have mobility issues and can’t climb the steep stairs to either Thalassitra church or Kastro, head for the Korfiotissa church in Plaka. The wide terrace on the west side of the church offers marvellous views as well. Want to sit back and sip a drink or glass of wine while watching the sun go down? You can’t beat the patio at Utopia Cafe (see my April 4 2012 post about sunset watching from the bar.)

Below are several pics showing some of the Bay of Milos views from Halara Studios, Plaka and Kastro.  You can view additional photos in the Milos 2011 photo collection on the MyGreeceTravelBlog Flickr page.  Take a look, in particular, at the Halara Studios, Plaka village and Kastro at Sunset albums.

Also visit the Plaka Milos Facebook page for more photos and information.

 

Bay of Milos

Another Halara Studios view of the Bay of Milos

  Kastro view of Milos

Kastro view of Plaka village and the Bay of Milos

 

Kastro view of Milos

Kastro view of Plaka (right), Tripiti village (center) and the bay

 

Kimisi of Theotokou church Milos

The church of Kimisi of Theotokou (Assumption of the Virgin church) is a superb sunset viewing spot on Kastro, high above the Bay of Milos (left)

 

Thalassitra church Milos

Thalassitra church sits roughly halfway up the mountain peak between Plaka and Kastro. Its terrace is an excellent place to view the sunset if you can’t make it all the way up to Kastro. 

 

Steps to Kastro  on Milos

Looking down some of the steps on the mountainside below Kastro. At left is the Thalassitra church.

  Steps from Kastro to Plaka

A great view of the Bay of Milos from steps farther down the hill

 

Korfiotissa church in Plaka

The terrace at Korfiotissa church in Plaka is an excellent place to take in the sunset and the superb Bay of Milos scenery

 

View from Plaka Milos

An afternoon view from Plaka toward Cape Vani, the rocky point at the mouth of the Bay of Milos (upper left), and nearby Antimilos island

 

Happy Holidays!

Greek Island Christmas scene

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

 

A little white church in the valley below Lagada

Stormclouds pass above Lagada village and a little white church on Amorgos island

Dark grey stormclouds swirl above Lagada village as a spring storm moves across Amorgos. Although the weather looked bleak the morning we arrived on the island, the clouds cleared away during the afternoon and left us with sunny skies for the rest of our visit. Click the image to view a full-size photo.

 

Pic of the day: A church path on Sifnos

Chapel of the Seven Martyrs on Sifnos island

A stone path leads up a hill to the Chapel of the Seven Martyrs, situated on a windy peninsula below Kastro village on Sifnos

 

 

Pic of the day: A street of churches on Patmos

Stormclouds pass above churches in Chora village on Patmos

Stormclouds pass above churches in Chora village on Patmos. Part of the Monastery of St John is visible at the end of the street.

 

 

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