Category: Greece holiday October 2013 (page 1 of 4)

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

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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.

Fall foliage & autumn colours on Naxos

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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.

 CONTINUED ON PAGE 2

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An Athens hidden gem: the TAF art space & café

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The Art Foundation in Athens

An art installation in one of the cool gallery spaces at metamatic: taf

 

 

Cool spaces: If you’d like to have a coffee or drink in a cool and truly unique setting, and have the opportunity to view contemporary art exhibitions at the same time, make plans to visit metamatic: taf (formerly called TAF: The Art Foundation) next time you’re in Athens.

One of the most fascinating cultural venues we’ve ever seen, metamatic: taf is an incredibly innovative multi-purpose facility that features cool gallery and performance art spaces along with a fabulous courtyard-café bar that received praise in the New York Times Magazine last year.

metamatic: taf is secluded inside a rustic old building at 5 Normanou Street in the Monastiraki flea market neighbourhood of Athens, and is so inconspicuous from the dingy, dark street that it’s almost hard to believe more than 200,000 people visit each year. Until you see what’s inside.

 

Our friend promised to show us something amazing

A friend showed us the place last October while we were on our way to a birthday party in the nearby Psirri neighbourhood. Leading us along a series of dark and narrow cobblestone streets, she promised there was something “amazing” that we just had to see while we were in the area. (Of course, we couldn’t help but wonder where the heck she was taking us, since the streets were practically vacant and everything appeared to be locked up tight.)

We had absolutely no idea what to expect when we stepped through a pair of wrought iron doors into a stone-walled, ground-level room that was almost empty.  The room had a few pieces of furniture, including two televisions that were both turned on, one displaying the words “super cool” above an image of a ceramic owl. We walked up a flight of stairs, turned a corner and found ourselves on a walkway overlooking the impressive courtyard café. I distinctly remember saying “Wow!” and thinking what a great place it would be to have a drink.

Our friend led us down the walkway, where windows and doors offered views into rooms housing a variety of interesting and provocative contemporary art installations. The works reminded me of art projects we had seen during some of the annual Nuit Blanche events back home in Toronto. After we spent a short period of time checking out the art displays, our friend led us through the courtyard — which was buzzing with dozens of people enjoying conversation over wine, beer and cocktails — and eventually back out to the street.

 

Look for a small, illuminated logo next to a doorway

When I asked “how the heck would anyone even know how to find this place,” our friend pointed to a small illuminated metamatic: taf logo on the wall next to the entrance gate. If we had been trying to find the place on our own, I think we probably would have walked past without even seeing the sign. Of course, it was obvious once it was pointed out to us.

Unfortunately, we didn’t have time to stay for a drink and enjoy the atmosphere because we had to join other friends for a birthday dinner celebration at a taverna. But next time we’re in Athens, we’ll see if we can find our way back.

If you need to be convinced that metamatic: taf is worth a visit, consider that it got good press in the New York Times Magazine. The magazine’s April 7 2013 food and drink edition included the feature A World of Secret Watering Holes, in which overseas-based New York Times reporters described “their most memorable drinking spots.” Correspondent Rachel Donadio’s pick for Athens reads: “It’s on a gritty street in downtown Athens, under the shadow of the Acropolis. At night, you have to wander through a shuttered flea market to find it. But inside, the Art Foundation, or TAF, is a hidden garden — a courtyard where trees are strung with lights; an oasis, young and alive.”

metamatic: taf also was profiled in an October 11 2013 article that Nelly Paraskevopoulou wrote for USA Today’s 10Best Travel Advice for Travelers website in October 2013.

You can obtain more information about the venue and its events by visiting the metamatic: taf Facebook page.

 

metamatic: taf in Athens

A small illuminated logo marks the location of the entrance to the metamatic: taf galleries and café-bar at 5 Normanou Street

 

 

metamatic taf in Athens

Televisions we saw inside the gallery & café entrance

 

 

metamatic: taf in Athens

The cozy courtyard café and bar

 

 

metamatic: taf Athens

A daytime view of the café courtyard. I found this photo on the metamatic: taf blog. The gallery and performance spaces are contained in the two level structure that encloses the courtyard. The rickety building looks like it’s ready to crumble, but its dishevelled appearance enhances the courtyard’s ambience and atmosphere, thanks to the café’s subtle nighttime lighting.

 

Footsteps in Filoti

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Filoti village on Naxos

A view of Filoti village, captured from a video I shot while we were riding a bus on Naxos last October. Click the image to see a larger-size photo.

 

 

Filoti on foot: There are more than 30 different mountain villages on Naxos, but Filoti makes a bigger and more memorable impression than most when you approach by bus, by car or on foot.

That’s not just because Filoti is the largest village on the island, but because of its dramatic amphitheatrical layout across the lower slopes of Mount Zas, the tallest mountain in the Cyclades.

The village looks quite impressive when it first comes into view as you approach on the road from Chalki. The first time I caught a glimpse of Filoti eight years ago, I was so fascinated by the sight that I had to stop the car so I could get out and take a better look.  Seeing it for the second time last October, while walking there from Chalki, was equally as breathtaking.

 

Mountain road offers spectacular views of the village

But the village is even more spectacular to see from numerous vantage points on the road that climbs the mountainside high above Filoti en route to Apeiranthos and other hamlets to the northeast. If you’re driving a vehicle, there are a few lookout points where you can pull over and get good views of Filoti. But if you’re riding on a bus, you’ll get to see the village much better and for longer periods of time. We saw Filoti on four bus rides to and from Apeiranthos and Koronos last fall, and I was blown away by the views each time.

Although Filoti is a predominantly residential area, the road that runs through it is lined with taverna and cafés, a few shops and fruit markets, banks, a post office and various local businesses and municipal service offices. Top tourist attractions include the Panagia Filotitissa (Our Lady Filotitissa Church) and the Venetian-era Barotsi Tower, as well as a café-lined main square shaded by a giant plane tree.

 

Panagia Filotitissa  on naxos

Panagia Filotitissa, the Our Lady of Filotitissa Church in Filoti

 

 

A memorable visit to Panagia Filotitissa

Our favourite moment in Filoti occurred while we were taking photos outside Panagia Filotitissa. As I was snapping a picture of the church’s beautiful belltower, an elderly woman, dressed head-to-toe in black, quietly emerged from one of the church’s front doors and beckoned us to approach. She could speak only a few words of English, and I could understand even less of her Greek, but her gestures made it clear we were being welcomed to the church and urged to take a look inside. The interior is marvellous … if you ever get to Filoti, be sure to have a look inside the Panagia if the church is open.

There are a few photos of the church interior, along with more than 200 pictures of the town, in my Filoti Village album on the MyGreeceTravelBlog Flickr page.

Below is a video I filmed while we were walking through the village. The first minute of the clip shows the narrow lane that leads to Panagia Filotitissa, while the second half of the video shows part of a residential area we explored near the opposite end of the village. Although restaurants and shops are located along the flat (but slightly sloped) main road, the rest of the village is built on hillsides. That means you’ll have to do a lot of stair climbing if you want to wander around Filoti!

 

The first minute of this clip shows the walk to Panagia Filotitissa. The rest of the video shows some residential “streets” on the opposite side of the village.

 

Ambling through Apeiranthos

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Apeiranthos is one of the mountain villages most visited by tourists to Naxos island

Apeiranthos is sometimes referred to as “the marble village” because many of its buildings, lanes and public squares have been constructed from marble and stone. Click on the photo to see a full-size image.

 

 

Marble marvel: One of our memorable excursions on Naxos last October was a visit to Apeiranthos, described in many travel guides and websites as one of the island’s prettiest mountain villages.

Literally made of stone, Apeiranthos is often called “the marble village” since many of its squares, streets and buildings have been constructed with slabs and sheets of the crystalline rock.

The village is home to four separate museums (Archaeological, Folk Art, Geological and Natural History), the Zevgoli Tower (which dates to the 17th Century), several tavernas and cafés, and some local artcraft and gift shops.

 

Village is situated 28 km from Naxos Town

We got to Apeiranthos by taking one of the local buses which, at that time of season, operated only a few return trips per day on the 28 km route between Chora (Naxos Town) and the village. Return fare cost €12.40 — a price of €3.10 per person each way. The highlight of the ride was the tremendous scenery we got to enjoy, particularly the mountain and valley views on the twisting section of highway above Filoti village (check out the post below for a videoclip showing some of the fabulous views from the bus). Despite the limited departure and return bus trips, we still had several hours at Apeiranthos — plenty of time to explore the village and vicinity, as well as stop for a drink and snack at Samaradiko Café.

The village was fairly quiet during the several hours we spent visiting the museums and walking around. We saw several small tour groups and perhaps three dozen other tourists (at most) wandering through the village or having coffee or lunch in one of the cafés. Besides the people working in restaurants and shops, we saw just a handful of local residents plus a few cats and dogs. We had most of the village entirely to ourselves which was wonderful, since we don’t like crowded places.

 

A video walk along the marble-paved streets

Below is a two and a half-minute videoclip that I shot while we were walking through passageways and up some of the marble- and stone-paved steps. I think it will give you a reasonably good impression of what it’s like to actually wander the village’s residential hillside streets.

To see more of this charming mountain village, click here to view over 300 photos in the Apeiranthos album on the MyGreeceTravelBlog Flickr page.

If you would like to learn more about Apeiranthos, click here to read a richly detailed article that was written by Konstantinos Toubakaris and published on the travel website This is Naxos. Take note that if you plan to do further research, you will probably encounter several variations in the spelling of the village name. Besides Apeiranthos, I have seen guides, maps and websites use Apiranthos, Aperanthos, Aperathos and Aperathou. They’re all one and the same place.

 

Here’s a 2.5-minute videoclip I shot while walking around “the marble village” of Apeiranthos on October 9 2013.

 

 

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