Category: Greece holiday May 2014 (page 1 of 2)

Thanks for more than 3 million views of our Greece photos!

Screenshot of the mygreecetravelblog page on Flickr

This is a screenshot of the MyGreeceTravelBlog photostream on Flickr, which contains more than 23,000 of our photos of Greece

 

Thanks in large measure to readers of this blog, the MyGreeceTravelBlog photo collection on Flickr reached a major milestone this week, surpassing the 3,000,000-view mark.

I have posted 23,000 images on Flickr to date and still have at least 10,000 more pictures from Greece to upload, if I can ever find the time. (I’m certain that number will rise substantially after our next visit to Greece later this spring.)

A few surprises were in store when I checked Flickr’s viewing statistics for the photos this week.

The individual photo with the all-time most views was a picture of Agios Prokopios beach on Naxos. But I doubt it was popular because the beach is so beautiful — I suspect some nudists wading in the water were of more interest than the golden sand and turquoise water! (If you want to view the image and won’t be offended seeing several middle-aged and older tourists displaying some skin, click here.)

 

Syros photos were the most popular

I also was amazed that our set of 18 albums from last year’s trip to Syros was the most popular individual collection on our Flickr page. I had been expecting that our Mykonos collection would be the most viewed, but people seemed to prefer looking at pics of Syros. (You can access the Syros photos by clicking here.) Mykonos did claim the #2 spot, though.

So far, there are album collections for 13 islands — Amorgos, Astipalea, Crete, Folegandros, Ios, Milos, Mykonos, Naxos, Paros, Patmos, Samos, Santorini, and Syros — plus one set with photos of many (but not all) of the hotels we have stayed at during our Greek holidays. More collections, including one for Athens, are in the works.  Click here to access the main Flickr page showing cover pages for all of the album collections.

Thanks very much for viewing the photos, and please feel free to comment on any of them at any time.

 Kini beach on Syros

Our photo sets of Syros had the most views of any collection on our Flickr page. They included shots of Kini (above), our favourite beach resort on Syros.

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.

 

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

 

2014 Greek holiday report Part 5: A coastal walk and an evening in town for our last day on Naxos

Naxos west coast

Cape Agios Prokopios view toward a recently-built residential neighbourhood on the west side of Stelida mountain. We walked a coastal trail below the houses and followed a dirt road back to Agios Prokopios beach.

 

[Editor’s note: This is the fifth instalment in an ongoing series of reports about our 2014 spring vacation in the Cyclades and Athens. Click here to see Part 1, click here to access Part 2, click here for Part 3, and click this link for Part 4. You can view full-size versions of all the photos posted below in the Naxos May 23 2014 album on the MyGreeceTravelBlog Flickr page.]

 

Friday May 23

 Final full day: Time passes far too quickly when we’re on vacation! We were completely relaxed and feeling right at home on Naxos, but already it was our last full day on the island. After breakfast tomorrow we would have to pack, check out of the hotel and get to the port for our ferry to Syros. Where did the time go?

I had been certain we would see and do a lot more on Naxos than we actually did. Before coming to the island, we had tentatively planned to visit at least one village — Koronos and Apollonas were the likely candidates — and to mountain bike as far down the south coast as we could possibly go. Windy conditions forced us to scale back our biking plans, while this morning we simply didn’t feel like hurrying into Naxos Town to catch a bus and spend more than an hour riding it to one of the villages. I felt guilty that we didn’t get to scratch more Naxos destinations off our must-see list, but a whirlwind sightseeing tour could wait for a future trip — today we found it more important to unwind and take it easy.

That’s what passengers appeared to be doing on two different sailboats that arrived in Agios Prokopios Bay while we were having breakfast. One was a large sailing yacht, probably a private charter, flying flags for Turkey and Greece. The other was a private sailboat flying a German flag. Both dropped anchor in the bay a hundred meters or so offshore, where their occupants would enjoy impressive panoramic views of Agios Prokiopios beach, Stelida mountain, and the rocky southern shores of Cape Agios Prokopios. As I watched them float quietly on the sparkling sea, I started daydreaming about what it would be like to cruise the Greek Islands on a sailboat. I hope some day I’ll get the opportunity to find out …

 sailing yacht at Agios Prokopios

A Turkish-flagged sailing yacht approaches the west coast of Naxos

 sailing yacht at Agios Prokopios

and drops anchor in Agios Prokopios Bay, a short distance from shore

 sailboat at Agios Prokopios

joined soon afterwards by another sailboat

 

A walk along the Cape and west coast of Stelida

Although we felt lazy, we didn’t want to spend a day sitting around or laying in the sun — we needed to move around, but at a relaxed pace. So after breakfast we took a long, slow walk along Cape Agios Prokopios and the west side of Stelida mountain, eventually making our way back to the hotel.

Click on the 2 in the link below to continue reading the trip report and view dozens more photos of the sights we saw during our hike.

 

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2014 Greek holiday report Part 4: A walkabout in Naxos Town and a bikeride to Plaka beach

Grotta beach and bay

Our fourth day on Naxos included visits to wind- and wave-battered Grotta beach at Naxos Town (above) as well as the tantalizing long stretch of soft sand and dunes at fabulous Plaka beach (below)

Plaka beach

 [Editor’s note: This is the fourth instalment in an ongoing series of reports about our 2014 spring vacation in the Cyclades and Athens. Click here to see Part 1, click here to access Part 2, and click here for Part 3. Full-size versions of all the photos posted below can be viewed in the Naxos May 22 2014 album on Flickr.]

 

 Thursday May 22

 Back on the bikes: Thursday brought more excellent summer weather — sunshine, clear skies and warm temperatures. The hotel swimming pool looked oh-so-inviting but, with 24 hours remaining on our mountain bike rental, we were keen to spend time riding rather than sunbathing and swimming.

The strong winds that blew in yesterday had stuck around, however, and after our challenging ride to Mikri Vigla we weren’t keen to pedal through gusts and dust in a second effort to reach Kastraki and beaches farther south. We would leave that trek for a future trip and ride into Naxos Town instead.

 Cape Agios Prokopios

Blue skies prevail in this morning view from Lianos Village Hotel toward Cape Agios Prokopios on Naxos (left) and Paros island (right rear).

 Lianos Village Hotel

There was lots of blue in the view from our breakfast table at Lianos Village — the hotel swimming pool, the Aegean Sea, and the clear sky overhead

 Lianos Village Hotel

It was tempting to stay at the hotel just to sunbathe, swim and snooze, but we gave the pool a pass and pedalled our bikes to Naxos Town

 

A walkabout in Naxos Town

The bike ride from the hotel to Protodikeiou Square in Naxos Town took us around 25 minutes. The trip should have been faster, but construction work on the road through Stelida delayed us slightly, while the strong winds blowing inland from St George’s Bay slowed us down on the long straight stretch of highway between Stelida and the edge of Naxos Town.

When we finally got off the bikes to lock them to a lamp post near the Fotis Greek Cuisine restaurant, we felt a sudden blast of dry heat. The wind had kept us comfortable during the bike ride, but now that we weren’t moving the sunshine radiating from the pavement and reflecting off the whitewashed buildings made it feel as though Naxos Town was 20 degrees hotter than Stelida. We dashed to the shaded side of the street, but it didn’t feel significantly cooler standing out of the sun. This was going to be one heck of a hot day!

Before going any further, we stopped into Naxos Travel Agency (located at Protodikeiou Square a few doors down from Scirocco restaurant) to purchase the tickets for our Saturday ferry trip to Syros. With that important task out of the way, it was time to explore Naxos Town — one of our favourite port “cities” in the Cyclades — for a few hours.  We would walk to the Old Market area and then head up to the Castle that towers above the town, hoping we would be able to walk in shade as much as possible.

Click on the 2 in the link below to continue reading this report and view dozens more photos of Naxos.

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2014 Greek holiday report and photos Part 3: Our breezy afternoon bike ride to Mikri Vigla beach

Kitesurfers challenge the wind and wavs off Mikri Vigla beach on Naxos

Kitesurfers challenge the wind and waves off Mikri Vigla beach on Naxos. We shot this photograph from our dune- and seaview table at Kontos Taverna. Click on the picture to view a full-size image.

 [Editor’s note: This is the third instalment in an ongoing series of reports about our Greek holiday in the spring of 2014. Click here to see Part 1, and click here to access Part 2. Full-size versions of the photos shown below can be viewed in the Naxos May 21 2014 album on Flickr.]

 

Wednesday May 21

Hikes & bikes: Warm, bright and breezy would summarize Wednesday succinctly. Morning brought a clear sky, light breeze and warm temperatures that would climb into the high 20s (Celsius) during the afternoon. Our big decision of the day would be figuring out whether to just chill out and relax for awhile at the Lianos Village Hotel pool, do something more active like hiking or cycling, or do a bit of both.

During our leisurely breakfast, Dan and I agreed to take a short hike along the coast in the Stelida area to get some exercise first, and then see how the rest of the day would unfold. So we left the hotel and made our way down the hill to the northwest end of Agios Prokopios beach, where we could access hiking trails on Cape Agios Prokopios from the end of the road near Avali restaurant.

 buildings in Stelida

This telephoto image, shot from our terrace at Lianos Village Hotel, shows two white and blue apartment buildings on a hill overlooking the north side of Cape Agios Prokopios. That’s Paros island across the channel. Walking trails on the Cape offer excellent views of the east coast of Paros.

 a building in Stelida

Studio apartments along the road to Agios Prokopios beach

 Naxos Imperial Hotel

Pedestrians get a good view of the Naxos Imperial Hotel and its swimming pool as they pass the resort on the main Stelida road to Agios Prokopios beach

  a building in Stelilda

Pink bougainvillea provides a pop of bright colour on a white apartment building with blue trim next to the road to Agios Prokopios beach

  sheep on Naxos

Sheep snooze under a shade tree on a farm field in Stelida

 a church in Stelida

Springflowers fill a churchyard at the northwest end of Agios Prokopios beach

 a road in Stelida

Tall bamboo lines one side of a Stelida road at the end of Agios Prokopios beach

 Agios Prokopios beach

A view of Agios Prokopios beach from the dirt road shown in the photo above

 Avali restaurant  Naxos

Avali restaurant is located on the hillside at the northwest end of Agios Prokopios beach. Walking trails on Cape Agios Prokopios can be accessed from the road that runs past the restaurant. Avali has the best beach views of any restaurant at Agios Prokopios; its seaview terraces are perfect places to enjoy the Naxos coastal scenery while having a drink or meal.

 Cape Agios Prokopios

Wildflowers flank a footpath on Cape Agios Prokopios

 

Please click on the 2 in the link below to continue reading and view dozens more photos from our day on Naxos.

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2014 Greek holiday report Part 3: Videos of Plaka, Orkos, Mikri Vigla & Agia Anna on Naxos

Above is a brief video that I shot from the southern end of Plaka beach, near Orkos, during our May 22 bikeride along the west coast of Naxos. This and the six other short clips (below) accompany Part 3 of my trip report (posted above).

 

Orkos Bay

 

Orkos beach

 

Mikri Vigla beach and bay

 

Views from Kontos Taverna at Mikri Vigla beach

 

Kitesurfers at Mikri Vigla

 

Agia Anna beach, viewed from the pier at Agia Anna harbour

 

More photos added to Naxos trip report album

windsurfers at Naxos

A windsurfer skims across St George’s Bay near Naxos Town

 

Bigger album:  Just wanted to advise that more photos have been added to the Naxos May 20 2014 Flickr album that accompanies Part 2 of my holiday trip report, which I recently posted on the blog.

More than 90 additional photos have been uploaded to the album, which you can view by clicking here.

I’m currently putting Part 3 of the trip report together and hope to publish it later this week.

If you want to see more of Naxos in the meantime, click here for instant access to the Naxos photo collection on the MyGreeceTravelBlog Flickr page. The collection features thousands of pictures from our two Naxos holidays in 2013 as well as previous visits to the island, and also includes photos of the various hotels at which we have stayed.

Further information about Naxos is just a click away in one of my most widely-read posts: Our Top 15 reasons to visit Naxos

Revisiting the Parthenon … 10 years later

 The Parthenon

Crowds were so sparse the first time we visited the Acropolis in Athens (on the afternoon of Friday June 11 2004, to be precise)

 

 

the Parthenon

that we were able to get this shot of me standing in front of the Parthenon — with nobody else in sight!

 

 

The Parthenon

However, it was impossible to get photos of the Parthenon without any other people around during our return visit to the Acropolis on Sunday June 1 2014

 

 

No all-by-my-selfies possible: We practically had the Acropolis and the Parthenon all to ourselves when we visited the historic Athens monuments for the first time late on the afternoon of Friday June 11 2004. Even though it was only two months before the opening of the Athens Summer Olympics, the site — one of the most famous tourist attractions in the entire world — wasn’t crowded. In fact, Dan managed to take a photo of me standing by myself in front of the Parthenon — with nobody else around.

There was no chance of getting another photo like that when went back to the Acropolis for a repeat visit two weeks ago. It was late in the morning on a Sunday this time (June 1), and we were among hundreds of people who kept jockeying for prime positions to get the perfect Parthenon picture. With huge throngs of tourists all around, including some guided groups with dozens of participants apiece, there was absolutely no way to take a frontal photo of the Parthenon without getting a bunch of people in the shot. Or without getting constantly jostled and bumped while making a valiant attempt.

 

34% increase in foreign tourists to Athens

We shouldn’t have been surprised to find the Acopolis so busy — tourism in Greece is booming this year. In fact, statistics reported by the Association of Greek Tourism Enterprises (SETE) show that 500,000 more foreign visitors arrived in Greece during the first five months of this year than during the same period last year — an increase of nearly 21%.  Specifically for Athens, the number of foreign visitors surged by a whopping 34% between January and May (compared to 2013), and rose by nearly 31% in May alone.

SETE expects that Greece will reach its target of 19 million international visitors for 2014 — a tourism record for the country.

Based on the number of tourists we saw wandering around Athens during the weekend of May 30 to June 2, I’m certain Greece will set that record.

Below is a brief videoclip I shot showing a few of the tourists who were visiting the Acropolis at the same time as us on June 1. Notice that almost everyone is moving briskly — no doubt to quickly find the perfect place to take selfies with the Parthenon in the background!

 

Tourists at the Athens Acropolis on June 1

 

2014 Greek holiday report and photos Part 2: Summer arrives for our first full day on Naxos

woman on air mattress on Naxos

Ah, this is the life! A bikini-clad young woman catches some rays from the comfort of an air mattress floating on the calm waters at St George’s Beach. Naxos basked in gorgeous summery weather on May 20.

 [Editor’s Note: Full-size versions of all the photos that appear in this post can be viewed in the Naxos May 20 2014 album on the MyGreeceTravelBlog Flickr page.]

 

Tuesday May 20

Suddenly summer: When I woke up around 9 a.m., I almost felt scared to open the curtains to see what the weather was like. Would it be another day of clouds and rain, as had been forecast? Or would we get lucky and have a hint of nice weather instead?

We got lucky! There was sunshine and a bright blue sky — an absolutely gorgeous morning. It looked like our spring vacation was starting off the exact same way our holiday had begun last fall — with clouds and rain our first day on Naxos followed by sunny clear skies the rest of the trip. I couldn’t wait to to have breakfast outside — our first outdoor meal since we were in Greece last October.

I always love starting my day with a cup of coffee on the poolside breakfast patio at Lianos Village Hotel. With colourful gardens and a swimming pool just steps from our table, views of the beautiful blue Aegean Sea,  and a few of the neighbourhood cats lingering at our feet, the sun-shaded terrace is the place where I have enjoyed eating breakfast the most out of all our trips to Greece. The setting and atmosphere make me feel completely carefree, content and relaxed.  A little voice inside my head keeps repeating: “Kalimera! You’re on vacation! You’re in Greece!” I wish every morning could begin like this!

 Lianos Village Hotel

Sunshine and an almost cloudless sky greeted me when I pulled open the door and stepped onto our terrace our first morning on Naxos. This was our view looking south to Agios Prokopios and Agia Anna.

 

Please click on the number 2 in the link below to continue reading my trip report and view dozens of photos from our day on Naxos.

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2014 Greek holiday report and photos Part 1: Arriving at Naxos

Lianos Village Hotel view

This familiar and favourite view of the Agios Prokopios beach resort area of Naxos was a welcome sight for our tired, jet-lagged eyes when we stepped onto our private terrace minutes after arriving at Lianos Village Hotel on May 19

 

 Never enough Naxos: Regular readers of this website will recall that we visited Naxos island twice last year and named it our Destination of the Year for 2013 because of its wide range of activities, sights and attractions and its wallet-friendly price appeal. Our list of 15 top reasons to visit Naxos has since become one of the most widely-read reports on the blog.

Well, we didn’t get our fill of Naxos so we made a point to return for part of our two-week Greek holiday this spring.

Below is the first part of an ongoing series of photo-illustrated reports about places and things we saw while we were on Naxos (later installments will feature our other two destinations, Syros and Athens). I will include some information about specific hotels, restaurants and other tourist-related businesses that were either open or closed since it could be helpful to anyone planning low season trips to the Cyclades. People frequently post questions in online travel forums, wondering if beach areas might be too quiet to stay at in May, and I’ve noticed the responses often give the incorrect and misleading impression that virtually nothing is open at the beginning of the tourist season.

 

Monday May 19

We arrived in Athens early in the morning of May 19 on an Air Transat direct flight from Toronto. It was our 10th time flying to Greece on this particular airline, and probably the best flight of them all — smooth and uneventful throughout the 9.5-hour trip.

Athens was cloudy and a cool 12 degrees Celsius when we landed, and weather reports were calling for similar overcast conditions and also rain at Naxos and other Cyclades islands.

Despite the cloud cover, visibility was excellent and we had superb views of Syros and Paros as we passed over both islands during our 35-minute midafternoon Olympic Air flight to Naxos. We also got a good look at the long western coast of Naxos as the plane banked over Mikri Vigla beach during its descent to Naxos airport. [See the post below this one for important advice about carry-on baggage for flights to Naxos and other small island airports.]

The air felt warm with a touch of humidity when we stepped off the plane and walked to the tiny luggage claim room at the right-hand side of the small terminal building. By the time our bags came off the belt it was drizzling, and the light rain continued throughout our 10-minute drive to Lianos Village Hotel near Agios Prokopios beach.

This was our fourth consecutive stay at Lianos Village, and we were happy to be assigned Room 83 — the same one we had stayed in last October (there’s more information about the room, as well as photos of it and its beautiful views, in my report about Our best hotel experiences of 2013.)

Please click on the number 2 in the link below to continue reading my report and view photos from our arrival day on Naxos.

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Imagine swimming with this view of Syros!

An infinity pool with an amazing view of the Kini Bay region of Syros island

 

I felt a tinge of envy when we saw the infinity swimming pool at this hilltop villa while hiking through the Danakos area of Syros island last week. The pool and adjacent terrace enjoy jaw-dropping views of the scenic Kini Bay region of Syros as well as Giaros island in the distance. The sunset views from the pool must be incredible since they’re spectacular even from sea level in Kini village. Below is a side view of the pool and villa. Click on the photos to see larger-size images.

 

 A villa with an infinity swimming pool on a hilltop in the Danakos area of Syros

 

 

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