Category: Lefkada

Greece’s best destinations for budget travellers

Chora on Astipalia island

A Venetian castle towers above Chora village on Astipalea island. The quiet and unassuming Dodecanese island boasts beautiful scenery, some of which you can see in the video featured in my post Aspects of Astipalea.  

 

Budget friendly: Are you considering a trip to Greece this summer, but wondering where you can go to avoid draining your bank account paying for food and accommodations at expensive destinations like Mykonos and Santorini? Although it’s possible to holiday on a tight budget on both those islands. as well as other high-profile destinations, there are numerous alternatives that offer great Greek holiday experiences at considerably cheaper prices. You’ll find some excellent suggestions in the article Best low budget summer destinations in Greece, published by the informative and insightful travel website  HIP GREECE.

The article lists more than a dozen islands plus one mainland Greece resort area that won’t break the bank, and offers brief descriptions of highlight attractions at each place, with links to additional in-depth articles about some of the destinations.

The spotlighted destinations include:

♦ The Small Cyclades islands of Iraklia, Koufonissia (Pano and Kato Koufonissi), Donousa and Schinoussa

♦ Kythira

♦ Serifos

♦ Tinos

♦ Ios

♦ Ikaria

♦ Astipalea

♦ Lefkada

♦ Skopelos, and

♦ Parga, a picturesque coastal resort area near the town of Preveza in western Greece.

You can read the complete HIP GREECE article by clicking here.

 

 

We’ve been to three of the recommended islands — Astipalea, Ios and Tinos — and have had brief peeks at the Small Cyclades during port stops on a ride from Amorgos to Naxos on the Express Skopelitis ferry. We would agree that all are good choices for travellers visiting Greece on a budget. We haven’t yet been to the other destinations cited by HIP GREECE, but several friends have told us Kythira, Serifos and Ikaria are wallet-friendly, while others have said the same for the Small Cyclades. However, we were surprised that Naxos wasn’t mentioned — we have found it to be the most reasonably priced island of all we have been to so far and it remains one of our favourite places to visit in large part for that reason. (See my article  Our Top 15 reasons to visit Naxos for further information about that wonderful island). 

Keep in mind that the main tourist period in Greece runs from late April until early October, with July and August being peak travel season. July and especially August also happen to be the most expensive months to visit, so if you’re on a limited budget, try to schedule your vacation for April, May, June, late September or early October, when prices tend to be much lower. Hotel rates usually skyrocket for August, and hostel, camping and cheaper basic accommodations typically tend to book up early in the year. If you can only travel during peak season, make arrangements for your accommodations as soon as possible to secure the lowest prices.

Chora village on Ios

Chora village on Ios is chock full of restaurants and bars, while the island is blessed with numerous gorgeous beaches including Mylopotas (which is walking distance from Chora) and Manganari.

 

Amazing winter wonderland scenes from Greece: Part 2

Kalavrita Ski Center in Greece

There is snow as far as the eye can see along the road to Kalavrita Ski Center in the northern Peloponnese. The picture was posted to the ski resort’s Facebook page on January 6 

 

Winter wonders: This is the second set of photos I’m publishing on the blog to profile remarkable winter scenery in different regions of Greece — images that have been shared on social media after much of the nation was struck by icy cold temperatures and some surprisingly heavy snowfalls during the 2016 Christmas holidays and up to the second week of January 2017.

Part 1 of the photo feature included snow scenes from Athens, Ioannina, Corinth, Chios, Evia, Rhodes, Sparta, Mystras, Skiathos, Skopelos and Skyros.

 

 

Here in Part 2 I have collected photos from Crete, Nafplio, Epidaurus, Thessaloniki, some of the Cyclades and Ionian islands, plus various locations in the Peloponnese and mainland Greece. Many of the photo captions include links to social media pages or websites where you can find countless more pictures of snowy sites in Greece. (It could be spring by the time you manage to finish looking at the photos on all of the links!)

Click on the link beneath the next photo to view the full series of pictures on page 2 of this post.

 

Winter stormclouds above Nafplio

One of my favourite Greece winter scenes is this spectacular photograph by Thanos Komninos, which captures dark, fluffy storm clouds swirling above and around the Nafplio Old Town and Acronauplia fortress, before leaving the town dusted with a layer of light snow. The photo appeared on the Nafplio Kalimera page on Facebook.

 

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Longing for Lefkada

Glimpses of gorgeous sights and scenes abound in Essence of Lefkada, a 2.5-minute film by Vimeo contributor Ambanja 

 

Three looks at Lefkada: For me, the worst thing about taking a spring vacation in Greece is what happens after I return home.

First there’s the typical post-holiday depression and disappointment that dig in deeply while I try to adjust to the reality of not being in Greece anymore. This “downer” mood tends to linger for months, and looking through our holiday photos often makes it worse (which is the reason why I typically don’t publish trip reports  or write about our vacations until later in the year.)

Then, over the next five or six months, I have to endure seeing countless pictures, videos and comments that people post on social media during their own vacations in Greece.  Many are familiar sights and scenes from places we have already visited, but most show and describe bucket list destinations that I dream about seeing some time in the future.  They instantly aggravate the symptoms of my post-holiday blues, and make me wish I could hop on a plane and fly back to Greece immediately.

Which of course is what happened when I discovered the three videos I have posted here.

 

 

The first film, Essence of Lefkada, was published in July, while the two videos below were posted online in late August. All show scenes from Lefkada which, along with all the other islands in the Ionian chain, is a destination on my lengthy “must visit” list. 

Lefkada is the favourite summer holiday island for a Greek-Canadian acquaintance who kept saying “you don’t know what you’re missing,” and frequently asked when we were finally going to go there. After watching these films, I now understand why he kept urging me to bump Lefkada higher up our list.

Give them all a look and see if they leave you wishing you could be on Lefkada right now, too.

 

Summer Dream is a 4.5-minute video by Jorde Angjelovik, showing aerial views of Lefkada landscapes, beaches and coastal scenery

 

Lefkada … in beauty is a 4.5-minute film by Drone Photography, capturing views of beautiful beaches and seasides on the island’s western coast

Road to Gialos beach ravaged by November earthquake and landslides on Lefkada

Gialos beach Lefkada

From high above, Lefkada’s Gialos beach looks just as beautiful as it did before a 6.1-strength earthquake struck the island last November …

 

Gialos beach Lefkada

… and it appears essentially unscathed when viewed from sea level right on its long  stretch of coarse brown sand and pebbles …

 

Damage to Gialos beach Lefkada

… but it’s a different story for the 3 km road that leads to the beach from Athani village. The earthquake shifted the ground and cut jagged deep fissures along many stretches of asphalt …

 

Damage to Gialos beach on Lefkada

… while landslides triggered by the tremors caused hills on both sides of the road to collapse, carrying away entire sections of pavement ….

 

Damage to Gialos beach road on Lefkada

… and completely burying parts of the route under thick heaps of earth, rock, trees, shrubs and other debris. (All of the above photos are screen captures from a video by YouTube member TeaTimeCreations, who recently filmed the quake and landslide damage while walking down the road to see the beach. ) 

 

Road wreck: If you hope to visit Gialos beach during your holiday on Lefkada this summer, don’t expect to get there by driving — much of the access road from Athani village has been extensively damaged and some parts completely destroyed by the earthquake that triggered massive landslides on the island last November. Unfortunately, repairs and reconstruction will be an enormously expensive and time-consuming project that can’t possibly be completed in time for this year’s tourist season.

The good news is that the beautiful beach itself — apparently the longest strand on Lefkada — was unscathed by rockfalls and tremors, and is still accessible by boat.

 

 

 

As I reported in my November 28 2015 post Two of Lefkada’s top beaches buried by landslides during November 17 earthquake,  the island’s world-famous Egremni and Porto Katsiki beaches were devastated by the November quake and landslides, which left large swaths of both strands buried under tonnes of earth, rocks, trees and other debris. At the time I prepared that post, I didn’t see any reports about damage to Gialos which, while beautiful, is not as popular and heavily-visited as Egemni and Porto Katsiki.

This week, the fate of Gialos and other beaches (and their respective access roads) has been the subject of discussion in Lefkada beaches after the earthquake, a question-and-answer thread in the Lefkada forum on TripAdvisor.com.

Please click on the link below to continue reading on page 2 of this post, where you can see additional photos and view the TeaTimeCreations video showing the extensive damage to the Gialos beach access road.

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Two of Lefkada’s top beaches buried by landslides during November 17 earthquake

Egremni beach on Lefkada

This photo of Egremni beach, from Lefkas.net, shows why it has often been cited as one of the world’s most beautiful beaches 

  Egremni beach Lefkada

Most of Egremni is now buried from landslides triggered by the earthquake that struck Lefkada on November 17, as shown in this aerial photo by Antonis Nikolopoulos for the Eurokinissi press agency

 

Clifftops collapsed:  An earthquake that struck Lefkada island on November 17 made headlines around the world, with international media reporting what little information was available at the time about collapsed buildings, widespread property damage and two deaths directly attributed to the Richter 6.1-magnitude tremblor. Greek media have since revealed that two of the island’s top beaches also sustained extensive damage from landslides that occurred during the quake.

Egremni beach, which has often scored high rankings on lists of the world’s best and most beautiful beaches, suffered the most severe damage, with landslides burying much of the long, narrow strand. Landslides also damaged the scenic beach strip at popular Porto Katsiki, but the rockfalls there apparently were much less extensive and destructive. Tons of soil, sand and rocks swept onto the beaches after being shaken loose from the dramatic 150-meter-tall cliffs that tower over the two spectacular seasides.

I have never been to either beach,  but have been enthralled by both from awe-inspiring photos I have viewed online and in travel publications, and from all the good things I’ve heard about them — and about Lefkada in general — from a Greek-Canadian acquaintance who has long been urging me to visit the island, his personal favourite holiday destination in Greece.

Although I didn’t have plans to visit Lefkada in the next two years, I did hope to get there sometime in the future. It’s sad to think the two beaches might never look as gorgeous as they did before the quake, though there is a strong chance that Porto Katsiki, at least, may eventually regain much of its former glory with the help of Mother Nature. Greek news reports have quoted geological engineering experts as saying that winter weather will probably wash away much of the soil debris that currently covers parts of Porto Katsiki beach. In fact, the normal course of nature could restore much of that beach to its former look by the time next summer’s tourist season rolls around, one expert surmised. 

 

Porto Katsiki beach Lefkada

Dreamy Porto Katsiki beach is seen in this inviting image that Flickr member Out to Lunch captured during a visit in the summer of 2014. It’s one of my favourite photographs of the beach, and illustrates one of the reasons why I hope to visit Lefkada sometime — I want to see the amazing scenery in person.

 

Porto Katsiki beach Lefkada

Large mounds of sand and stone cover much of Porto Katsiki beach in this image provided to Greek website newsbeast.gr by Efthimios Lekkas, a professor at the University of Athens and President of the Earthquake Planning and Protection Organisation (EPPO)

 

Please click here or on the link below to continue reading on page 2 of this post, where you can view more photos along with videos showing Egremni and Porto Katsiki before, during and after the earthquake.

 

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Where to find five of the best beaches in Greece

Shipwreck beach on Zakynthos island Greece

Majestic limestone cliffs soar above alluring light blue seas at Navagio Beach, seen in this image by Flickr member Cristi Sinca

 

Guest post by Christofer Adam

Are you counting the days till summer arrives? Can you not wait till your next holiday trip? Are you living and breathing for your next adventure? Then you are reading the right article! Since we know how important and desirable it is for you to swim in crystal clear waters, we have chosen some of the top beaches you can find in Greece — the country where the sea, sun and summer are taken for granted!

Follow our guide and get ready to have the most remarkable beach holidays!

 

Porto Katsiki, Lefkada

This famous golden sandy beach is located around 40 kilometres southwest of the island’s capital city, Lefkada Town. The magnificent hills surrounding this beautiful beach are well worth the effort it takes to arrive there – which involves an exhausting but adventurous hike of 80 steep steps! But before you follow the track, it might be a good idea to buy yourself a frappe (the famous Greek iced coffee) from the snack bars you can find at the top of the hill so that you won’t find yourself thirsty half way!  However, if you are not excited about this idea, there is always an alternative solution — just take one of the taxi boats available from the nearby towns of Nidri or Vassiliki for a magical journey. Porto Katsiki provides a range of water activities including swimming (of course!), sailing and surfing.

 Porto Katsiki beach

Porto Katsiki beach, seen in an image by JuzaPhoto member Robepate

 

Navagio Beach, Zakynthos

Situated on the north-west shore of the island of Zakynthos, Navagio beach — also popularly known as Shipwreck beach — is one of the most photographed beaches in the world. And this is not random at all, as the steep limestone cliffs, white sands, crystal clear waters and the incredible abandoned shipwreck stuck on the sand create an astonishing scenery. The location is also a favourite spot for base jumpers, as the view from above is mesmerizing! You can only access the beach by boat, unless you are a base jumper, in which case you can jump from the cliff and smoothly land on the soft sands!

 

Base jumping is the fastest way to reach extroardinary Navagio beach

 

Faliraki, Rhodes

With its golden sands spread for more than 5 kilometres, Faliraki beach in Rhodes is one of the most beautiful on the island. As a very well organized beach, Faliraki will keep you busy and satisfied with its wide range of services and activities provided. Umbrella and sunbed rental is available, while you can also find a variety of water activities such as bungee-jumping! Furthermore, the area doesn’t lack of any good restaurants, night clubs and cafeterias. Bear in mind that the beach gets crowded, so it’s a good idea to wake up early in the morning if you would like to secure yourself a spot near the shore. However, if you are on hangover from having too many cocktails the night before, then you can take a nap at the beach while sunbathing! Just remember to put your sunscreen on, as you don’t want to wake up later with sunburns! To check out some of the best places to stay in Faliraki, click here.

 Faliraki beach Rhodes

An aerial view of Faliraki beach, from the Discover Rhodes travel site

 

Golden Beach, Thassos

Golden Beach (Chrysi Ammoudia) is a long coast with golden sands, and it is without a doubt the most beautiful beach of Thassos Island. The shallow waters are so transparent you can see the bottom of the sea and all the little fish swimming there! The scenery is magnificent, as the beach is framed by little cliffs and green trees reaching down the sea, while Mountain Ypsarion arises over the bay, creating an irreplaceable view. As a very well organized beach, it is also a popular destination for families with small children. Check out the best places to stay near the beach by clicking here.

YouTube member Goran Tosic posted this 3-minute video showing a variety of views of gorgeous Golden Beach

 

Red Beach, Santorini

Situated in the most popular island of Greece, the Red Beach is famous for its unique colour of sands and the stiff red lava cliffs surrounding it. It is blessed with a beautiful sandy shore, clear blue waters and big rocks sitting around it, creating a magnificent scenery that would make you want to spend the whole day there! The beach is near Akrotiri area, and we suggest accessing it by boat which you can board from the areas of Perissa or Akrotiri. Otherwise, if you prefer walking and hiking, then you might as well reach the beach by foot, which is just 10 minutes away from Akrotiri.

 Red Beach Santorini

Santorini’s Red Beach seen in an image by Flickr member Alex Coppo

 

 Christofer Adam is a Content Marketing Executive at London’s leading Online Marketing Agency, passionate with Social Media, Creative Writing and the Travel Industry. Click here to view his profile on LinkedIn.

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.

 

An awe-inspiring Aegean Airlines video trip to some of the ‘most magical places in Greece’

 Enter Greece is a fabulous 11-minute Aegean Airlines-produced film that will give you “a taste of the most magical places in Greece!”

 Sensational scenery: If Greece isn’t already on your “bucket list” of places to visit, the Enter Greece video from the Aegean Airlines YouTube channel might well convince you to include it among your top “must see” destinations.

Even if you have been to Greece before, whether as a one-time or repeat visitor, you’ll still enjoy watching sensational cinematography of what the airline calls some of “the most magical places in Greece.”

The 11-minute film clip includes amazing views of the Athens Acropolis, the Acropolis Museum, Cape Sounion, Spetses, Santorini, Mykonos, Delos, Milos, Crete, Zakynthos, Lefkada, Meteora, Monemvasia, the Corinth Canal and many more outstanding island and mainland Greece destinations.

“Travel through the blue sky and sea, the taste and history, unique landscapes, art and tradition of Greece,” the video summary states.

It delivers as promised — I developed an immense craving for Greek food and wanted to book a flight to Athens immediately after watching the video!

New Ionian Islands travel guide available

Ionian Islands travel guide

The cover of The Ionian Islands online travel guide, published by the Greek National Tourism Organisation, features a photo of a sailboat anchored near Navagio beach on Zakynthos (Zante) island

 

 

Free download: A new online travel guide for the Ionian Islands is now available from visitgreece.gr, the official website of the Greek National Tourism Organisation (GNTO).

The 88-page guide features maps, useful phone numbers, descriptions of must-see sights and must-do activities on each island, plus dozens of gorgeous full-colour photos. It’s organized into seven separate sections: Corfu, Diapontia Islands, Paxoi, Lefkada, Kefalonia, Ithaca and Zakynthos.

The guide is available in English, German, Italian, Spanish, French and Russian versions. To obtain a copy of the guide, click on this link to the GNTO downloads page, scroll down, and click on the flag that represents the language you prefer.

Don’t be surprised if you start dreaming of a holiday in the Ionians after seeing just the first few pages of the guide! Below are two of the images that appear in the publication. click on each photo to view a fulls-size version.

 

G. Augoustinators photograph of Antisamos on Kefalonia island in Greece

The Ionian Islands guide credits photographer G. Augoustinatos for this beautiful image of Antisamos on Kefalonia

 

 

Porto Katsiki beach on Lefkada

The gorgeous sky-blue sea off Porto Katsiki beach on Lefkada. The GNTO guide credits this photograph to the Lefkada Prefecture.

 

 

Through another lens: Beach & coastal scenery on Ithaca, Kefalonia & Lefkada in the Ionian isles

Porto Katsiki on Lefkada island

Soaring cliffs provide a breathtaking backdrop to the brilliant blue sea and soft white sand beach at Porto Katsiki on Lefkada island. Photo by Franc Malečkar.

 

Eyes on the Ionians:  We haven’t yet travelled to the Ionian group of islands off the west coast of mainland Greece, but I’m hopeful we’ll finally get there during one of our holidays in the next several years.

There are 11 islands in the Ionian archipelago, with the largest being Zakynthos, Ithaca, Corfu, Kefalonia, Lefkada and Paxoi. As you’d expect from Greek islands, the Ionians boast spectacular scenery — verdant valleys, charming towns and traditional Greek fishing villages, enthralling coastal caves and grottoes, fascinating underground lakes, and beguiling white sand beaches along brilliant cerulean seas.

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