Category: Lesvos

Recognize these places?

Ikaria beach scene

Rugged cliffs and dramatic rock formations rise beside a beach on Ikaria, one of Greece’s East Aegean islands

 

It’s all in Greece!: From time to time one of my blog’s Facebook friends or contacts shares a link to a fun Where is this place? photo “quiz” that a Greek-language news and information website, e-fungus.gr, first published in November 2013.

Someone posted the link on Faceback again today and I thought I’d pass it along since the photos in it are so impressive and inspiring.

Entitled “Where is this place? Gia sou Hellas!”, the article shows a series of spectacular Greek destinations that people could easily confuse for places elsewhere in the world, like Hawaii, the Caribbean, Tibet, the Ukraine, the Alps, Jordan, and Bora Bora.

There are nearly 50 images of exceptional sights and remarkable scenery, including islands, mountains, beaches, castles, churches, fields, forests, coastlines and rock formations. I like viewing the photos every now and then to get ideas for places to visit on future holidays — though to date I have managed to see just 10 of the places on this particular list. Obviously, I need to get to Greece more often!

Click here to view the article and see how many places you’ve been to yourself, or that you might recognize as destinations in Greece. As the article introduction observes, “Heaven on Earth truly exists, and it is in Hellas, which is the correct name of Greece.”

I can’t wait to get back to heaven in May!

 Metereo Greece

A Greek Orthodox monastery crowns a tall crag of sandstone in the Meteora region of central Greece , near the town of Kalambaka

Summer hotel prices skyrocket on Mykonos as rates rise less sharply or drop on other islands

Little Venice

The Little Venice seafront at Mykonos Town is a must-see attraction for hundreds of thousands of people who visit the island each year

 

Rising rates: Survey data from Trivago, the international hotel comparison website, has confirmed something I have been noticing for months — accommodation prices on Mykonos have risen sharply since last year.

In fact, the average nightly price for a Mykonos hotel room this month has climbed to a stunning €322 compared to €200 per night in July 2013 — a whopping 61% increase, Trivago’s research data indicates.

This news comes on the heels of a separate Trivago survey result released several days ago that ranked Mykonos as the 7th most expensive destination in the world in terms of hotel prices.

Many Mykonos hotels had frozen or even reduced their rates during the economic crisis that has devastated Greece for more than five years, with some properties losing money or barely breaking even each year as owners waited for the economy to improve. With Greek tourist traffic soaring to record levels this summer, it appears that hotels may be taking advantage of the increased demand for accommodation to try to recoup some of the losses they sustained.

 Parikia on Paros

Parikia is the biggest town and port on Paros.  Average hotel prices for Parikia have increased 10% this month from the same time last year.

 

Hotel prices rise at 16 other destinations

But Mykonos isn’t the only popular destination in Greece where hotel prices have increased since last year.

The Trivago survey shows that rates have climbed anywhere from 3% to 38% in 16 other island and mainland locations.

Places posting single-digit price increases include Corfu (+3%), Agios Nikolaos, Andros and Hydra (each +5%), plus Iraklio, Naxos and Rethymnon (up 8% each).

Locations with double-digit increases include Parikia (+10%), Rhodes (+15%), Chania (+16%), Hersonissos and Kos (each up 17%), Elounda (+18%), Ios (+19%), Zakynthos (+21%) and Lefkada (+38%).

 

Rates dropped on 11 islands

 Ermoupoli Syros

Trivago says room rates have dropped 13% at Ermoupoli on Syros

 Higher prices are not a trend throughout Greece, however, since nightly room rates actually have dropped significantly on some islands or, in the case of Rhodes, at one of its most popular tourist destinations (Lindos), Trivago data indicates.

On Folegandros, for example, the average price for a hotel room this month is €97, down a startling 27% from the €133 average rate in July 2013. Sharp price cuts also occurred at Koukounaries on Skiathos (-24%), Spetses (-23%), Argostoli (-15%), Astipalea (-14%), Ermoupoli on Syros (-13%), Lindos on Rhodes (-10%). Lower reductions were noted on Koufonissi and Tinos (both -4%)  and at Molyvos and Apollonia (both -3%).

Curiously, the Trivago survey didn’t mention prices on Santorini which, like Mykonos, is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Greece.

 Folegandros chora

Chora village on Folegandros. Average hotel room rates on this charming island dropped by 27% this month compared to July 2013, Trivago says.

 

Mykonos among Top 10 most expensive global destinations

Mykonos achieved notoriety for pricey hotel rooms on another Trivago report that made the news a few days ago. In a survey of summer 2014 trends for travellers from the United Kingdom, Trivago examined searches conducted between January 1 and June 15 for travel to take place during this month and August. (Trivago’s system compares rates from more than 700,000 hotels on more than 150 different booking sites around the world.)

The data showed that the average online price for a hotel in Mykonos Town was €244 Euros. This gave Mykonos the #7 spot on Trivago’s list of the Top 10 Most Expensive Global Destinations, behind #1 Velden, Austria; #2 Belek, Turkey, #3 Ascona, Switzerland, #4 Porto Vecchio, Corsica, #5 Montreux, Switzerland, and #6, Boston, USA.  Rounding out the top 10 behind Mykonos were #8 New York, USA, #9 Locarno, Switzerland, and #10 Lugano, Switzerland.

The results of the two Trivago surveys will cement Mykonos’s reputation as one of the most expensive places to visit in Greece — something that shouldn’t really come as a surprise, considering that the island was put on the map by the jet set in the first place, and remains a popular getaway destination for the world’s rich and famous.

Still, a 61% increase in prices is startling, even for a place frequented by affluent travellers.

 Mykonos Town

Rooftops on buildings in Mykonos Town. Hotel rates on the island are practically going through the roof this year, rising 61% over prices for July 2013.

 

Complaints raised in emails seeking hotel advice

I noticed that Mykonos hotel prices were on the rise early this year when I was checking hotel rates to answer accommodation questions posted in the Mykonos travel forum on TripAdvisor.com. Prices seemed marginally higher than I remembered them being in 2013. As winter moved into spring, I received numerous private messages on TripAdvisor, and emails to my blog, from people seeking suggestions for cheaper accommodation because they were finding summer prices too high.

Many of the people complaining about high hotel rates were travellers from the United Kingdom who wanted to stay on Mykonos only one night. They were flying to Mykonos on EasyJet or British Airways direct flights, but immediately transferring to another island — usually Naxos, Paros or somewhere in the Small Cyclades. Because of awkward ferry schedules, many of these travellers would have to spend a night on Mykonos in order to catch their return flights home. Many were astounded not only by the high room rates on Mykonos, but also by the fact many hotels impose a minimum stay requirement of 3 nights or longer during peak travel season, which limited their accommodation options even further.

My advice for travellers seeking summer bargains is to shop around on Trivago and other online sites, and to compare prices found there to rates listed on hotel websites. Booking directly with a hotel can sometimes achieve either significant price savings or extras like complimentary shuttle service to and from the Mykonos ferry ports or airports.

If you still find Mykonos hotels too expensive for your budget, consider visiting nearby islands like Naxos or Syros instead, or one of the places where the Trivago survey showed that prices have dropped this year. There are many other islands where budget-minded tourists will get more bang for their buck. But if you’re looking for glitz, glamour and glitter, there’s only one Mykonos — and going there this summer could put a bigger dent in your wallet than you’re anticipating.

 Kos Town harbour

Tour boats in the harbour at Kos Town. Trivago found that average hotel rates for Kos have gone up 17% for this month compared to the same time last year.

 

5 reasons to take another look at Lesvos

Aegean Airlines Blue magazine

The spring edition of Aegean Airlines’ Blue magazine features a cover photo of the town of Molyvos and its Byzantine-era hilltop castle on Lesvos island

 

On our list: Friends who haven’t yet been to Greece keep wondering why I find it so difficult to decide where we should go on our Greek holidays. They think that if you’ve seen one Greek island, you’ve seen ’em all, so they simply can’t comprehend why I spend so much time checking flights and ferry schedules to see if we could visit places in an island group we haven’t been to before, or perhaps explore the Peloponnese, Pelion or other parts of mainland Greece instead.

“Why not just stick to Mykonos or Santorini? The islands can’t be that different from one another,” one friend has remarked several times. It’s a reaction I find hard to fathom, particularly since she — and most of our other friends, family and acquaintances who have made similar comments — return to the exact same vacation resorts in Florida, California, Hawaii and Mexico year after year.

 

Friends have urged us to visit Lesvos

Although we do have favourite islands we’re always happy to revisit, we try to expand our horizons by going to new places whenever we can work them into our travel dates. We have a list of nearly a dozen islands that we’re eager to see in the next three to five years, but some aren’t easy to reach in May (our typical travel period) because of extremely limited or awkward ferry connections at that time of year.

However, one place we’re confident we will see sooner, rather than later, is Lesvos — an island we’ve been urged to visit by numerous friends who are well-travelled in Greece, and who understand how each destination there is special and unique.

Although we won’t get to see Lesvos when we return to Greece next month, I continue to read up on it from time to time — and so far I have been liking everything I have seen (I haven’t read a single negative comment yet). And when Aegean Airlines published a profile of Lesvos in the recently-released spring edition of its in-flight magazine, Blue, I honestly felt a strong tinge of regret for leaving Lesvos for a future vacation.

 

‘The island that has it all’

With an appealing photo of beautiful Molyvos village on its cover, Blue magazine invites readers to “Explore Majestic Lesvos,” and offers five key reasons explaining why “the island that has it all” deserves attention:

 

◊ The traditional cuisine

Article author Fotis Vallatos recommends several tavernas and ouzeris that serve scrumptious meals, including mezedes, fresh fish and other “delights from the sea.” They include Ermis and Kalderimi in the port town of Mytilene, Papeli’s at Agiasos, Baluchanas in Perama, Stratis Maganas’s ouzeri in Skala Neon Kydonion, Petri Taverna in Petri village, Mrs Maria’s canteen on Chrousos beach, and Ouzadiko tou Baboukou at the Molyvos harbourfront.

 

◊ Charming villages

“Many of the island’s hamlets remain untouched by development and tourism,” Vallatos notes, and certain driving routes — like the road from Mytilene to Plomari — pass through “enchanting landscapes and villages.”

“Agia Paraskevi is a wonderful traditional settlement. Mantamados is famous for its ceramics and dairy products, mainly cheese.  Molyvos is home to a magnificent fortress. the beautiful Sykaminia seems to have stepped out of an old movie, while Skala Sykaminias is where you will find the impressive Panagia Gorgona (Mermaid Madonna) Church, which is built on a rocky outcrop in the harbour,” he writes.

 

◊  Beautiful beaches

Vallatos points out that Lesvos can proudly lay claim to one of the country’s “most stunning” beaches, at Chrousos, and boasts many other “standout” strands, including the four adjoining beaches at Agioi Anargiroi, just past the Eftalou thermal baths.

 

◊  Unique bays

“Wonderful, off-the-beaten track fishing villages” are scattered along Gera Bay, while the Rodotihos, an Archaic stone wall measuring 50 meters long by 6 meters high, is a top attraction at Apothika.

 

◊  The petrified forest

Rounding out Vallatos’ convincing set of reasons for revisiting Lesvos is what he feels could well be “the country’s most amazing natural heritage site” — the petrified forest near Sigri village.

 

Baluchanas Taverna in Perama on Lesvos

The Baluchanas taverna in Perama. This photo, by Perikles Merakos, appears in Blue magazine’s feature article about Lesvos.

 

 

 

Superb food, scenery and local hospitality

But as anyone who has already been to Lesvos is bound to tell you, there are countless more reasons why the island is a must-see destination. One that I hear repeated most often is the welcoming, friendly nature of the local residents. The people, the food, the scenery and the history all combine to create an outstanding vacation experience that keeps drawing people back for more.

As one of my friends insists, “You will fall in love with Lesvos and keep coming back.”

That seems to be a sentiment commonly expressed online by repeat Lesvos visitors — as well as by people who loved visiting the island so much they moved there.

As TripAdvisor.com members RobandCarol posted in TA’s Lesvos travel forum in January, “BEWARE. Lesvos will capture your heart. Be it Molyvos, Petra, Anaxos or anywhere else on Lesvos. This island has a magical quality, even Aristotle was seduced.”

Other forum participants have agreed, saying Lesvos stole their hearts, too — and now they can’t wait to make their annual holiday trips to the island. Several have said they would love to move their, too, as RobandCarol did five years ago.

Click here to read the online version of the Blue magazine feature and see more Lesvos photos by Perikles Merakos.

For additional information about Lesvos, check out the websites Lesvos: The unspoiled beauty and Travel to Lesvos.