Category: In the news (page 1 of 5)

Discover more of Greece on my blog’s Facebook page

MyGreeceTravelBlog Facebook page

I regularly share photos & videos, as well as links to Greece travel news and information, on the MyGreeceTravelBlog page on Facebook. You don’t have to be a Facebook member to see what I post there.

 

What’s there: I love blogging about Greece, but since this website is a personal hobby that I work on during my limited spare time  (it’s not a commercial travel site, as some people think), it’s just not possible for me to post new articles every day. But it’s a whole different story with the MyGreeceTravelBlog page on Facebook, where I can easily share news, information, pictures and videos with just a few quick clicks on my mouse or smartphone. And that’s exactly what I do almost every day when I check my Facebook news feed to see what’s happening in Greece.

 

 

You don’t have to be a registered Facebook user to see what I post on my page — although you will encounter one of those annoying popup windows that asks you to either login or sign up for an account to see more of the MyGreeceTravelBlog page. (You don’t have to do that — just click the “Not Now” button and the box will drop to the bottom of the page, letting you scroll through the various items I have posted.)

If you do have a Facebook account, simply “like” or “follow” my blog page (if you haven’t done so already) so you can see my posts in your daily news feed.

Check out my page regularly, and you’ll discover more of Greece to complement the articles I publish here on the blog.

Click on the link below to turn to page 2 where you’ll see examples of the types of posts you’ll find on my Facebook page.

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Islands suffer flood damage after heavy rain soaks the Cyclades

Stormwater flooding on Naxos

Stormwaters surged across fields, farmlands and roads on Naxos after heavy rain lashed the island on Tuesday. This picture of an overflowing stream appeared in a January 23 2017 photo report published by Naxos Times.

 

Muddy Naoussa waterfront street

After the Tuesday rains, this waterfront strip in Naoussa village on Paros was left a complete muddy mess. This was one of several photos that Kay Will shared on Facebook to show the aftermath of the storm.

 

Devastating downpours: Winter weather has been packing a powerful punch in Greece this month.

First it was unusually cold temperatures and snowfalls that struck much of the country during the first week of January (see the stunning pictures and videos in my recent posts Amazing winter wonderland scenes from Greece and Greece in white winter glory).

The mercury has since climbed and the snow in many places has melted, but Mother Nature wasn’t finished — she decided to pound some of the Cyclades islands with heavy downpours that lasted throughout the day on Tuesday January 24.

 

 

The rain, occasionally accompanied by hail, pelted Paros, Naxos, Tinos, Mykonos, Sifnos, Andros and other islands for more than 24 hours.

Paros was particularly hard hit by the storm and seems to have suffered the most water damage. There was extensive soil erosion as well as some landslides, and flooding caused widespread damage to farm fields, shops, homes, churches, vehicles, and roadways.  

According to a January 25 report on the local news website ParosIn, damage to some areas was so severe, the island’s mayor has written to regional authorities requesting they declare a state of emergency so that resources can be deployed to assist with the massive cleanup and repair work that must now be undertaken.

The news story noted that the mayor’s letter described severe damage in the municipal areas of Naoussa, Kostos, Lefkon, Archilocus, and Marpissa, as well as places in and around Parikia.

According to the Naxos Times, the deluge doused Naxos with so much rain that streams turned into “rushing rivers” that “drowned” farms and fields, and flooded some roads.  Near Koronida village, where wildfires had burned several weeks before, the water washing down the streams was black from all the soot being carried away, the January 24 Naxos Times report stated.

 

This short videoclip, shared by the Maistros Panormos Tinos page on Facebook, shows some of the rainwater damage at Rochari beach on Tinos

 

Click on the link below to continue reading and see more storm photos and video on page 2 of this post.

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New Emirates route will link Athens and Newark with non-stop daily flights year-round

Emirates airline Boeing 777

An Emirates airline photo of the Boeing-777-300ER-2 aircraft it will fly on a new route linking Athens to Newark beginning in March

 

Four season flights:  There’s good news for North American travellers: Getting to Greece from the USA both during and outside the peak season summer months will soon be a lot easier.

Emirates airline today announced a new route that will provide daily non-stop service between Athens International Airport and Newark Liberty International Airport — year-round.  It will be the first time since 2012 that an airline will offer daily non-stops from the USA to Greece all year long.

The non-stop transatlantic service is part of a new Dubai – Athens – Newark route that will launch on March 12 2017.

Emirates will fly a Boeing-777-300ER-2 on the route, providing 8 seats in first class, 42 in business class, and 304 in economy.

 

“Emirates flight EK209 will depart Dubai at 10:50 local time, arriving in Athens at 14:25 before departing again at 16:40 and arriving into Newark at 22:00 on the same day. The return flight EK210 will depart Newark at 23:45 local time, arriving in Athens the next day at 15:05. EK210 will depart once again from Athens at 17:10 bound for Dubai where it will arrive at 23:50, facilitating convenient onward connections to over 50 Emirates destinations in India, the Far East and Australia,” the airline said in its media release.

“Passengers in all cabin classes can enjoy the friendly service from Emirates’ international cabin crew, meals prepared by gourmet chefs, and over 2,500 channels of the latest movies, TV shows, and music hits on its award-winning ice inflight entertainment system,” the announcement added.

While the new Emirates route will greatly facilitate travel to Greece for Americans, it also will benefit travellers in Toronto and other parts of eastern Canada by providing a possibly more convenient alternative to flying to a major European city and then catching a flight to Athens. I’ve been considering off-season trips to Greece, so the forthcoming Emirates service is welcome news to me personally, as I’m sure it will be for the large Greek communities in Toronto, Montreal and the New York City area.

 

Greece in white winter glory

 Η χιονισμένη Ακρόπολη από ψηλά (The snowy Acropolis from above), is a 1-minute video filmed for the Eurokinissi news agency. It shows drone views of the Acropolis, the Parthenon and nearby historic sites following a light snowfall in Athens in early January 2017

 

Winter wonders: I previously published a 2-part post containing dozens of photos of winter scenes from Greece — pictures that had been shared on social media after severely harsh northern weather systems brought freezing temperatures and snowfalls to many parts of Greece, including islands, the Peloponnese, and the mainland. Dozens of winter scene videos have been published online, too, and in this post I’m sharing some of the many films that I have enjoyed watching.

On this page you’ll find films showing breathtaking aerial views of snowy Athens, Kastoria, Kavala,  Ioannina and Nafplio.  The videos on page 2 feature stunning storm and après-snowfall scenes from Alonissos, Skiathos, Skopelos, Sparta, Thessaloniki, Volos, Evia, Chios, Crete, Naxos, Lake Plastiras near Karditsa, and more of Athens and Nafplio.

 

 

International news reports about the snow and cold weather that struck Greece and other European countries earlier this month, along with the scores of snow photos and videos shared on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and YouTube, have surprised many people around the world who don’t realize that Greece gets winter weather, too.

Many mistakenly believe Greece enjoys balmy temperatures and sunny skies year-round, so some people have been absolutely astounded to see pictures showing snow on beaches, monuments and villages they have visited during summer trips to Greece. (In the various Greece travel forum pages on TripAdvisor, I regularly see  posts from people who are planning Greek island holidays for winter months because they believe it’s a good time to visit for swimming, sunbathing and beach parties. I would love to see the looks on their faces when they see videos like the ones in this post — or actually show up at a Mykonos beach in mid February!)

 

 

While the winter scenery in these videos is amazing to see, it simply confirms that Greece looks marvellous and is well worth visiting even in the off season. The island and mainland landscapes, the historic ruins and monuments, and the cities, towns and villages are breathtaking all year long.

If you can’t make it to Greece in spring, summer or autumn, why not consider a winter trip? You’ll find the scenery is just as lovely as it is in peak travel season, the locals are warm and friendly, and best of all — there are no crowds.

 

Studiotrasias created this superb aerial film of gorgeous winter scenery at Kastoria

 

These drone views of Kavala were filmed by Tetracopterakias after the city endured three consecutive days of snowfalls 

 

Nikos Roussis captures the winter beauty of Ioannina in this 4.5-minute film

 

Captivating aerial views of Nafplio, filmed by Kostas Ko

 

Please click on the link below to view more videos on page 2 of this post.

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Amazing winter wonderland scenes from Greece

Athens Acropolis with snow photographed by Maria Theofanopoulou

Maria Theofanopoulou captured this beautiful photo of the snow-dusted Acropolis in Athens on the morning of Tuesday January 10. She shot the image from a rooftop vantage point at the Electra Metropolis Athens hotel.

 

Surreal snow scenes:  Since the Christmas holiday period, I have been fascinated viewing hundreds of images of stunning winter scenery that people throughout Greece have been sharing on social media. Although the news feed for the MyGreeceTravelBlog Facebook page is usually filled with breathtaking photos of beautiful beaches, stunning seasides, charming villages and historic monuments, I have been surprised to see that familiar places look almost completely different under dark, stormy skies and blankets of crisp white snow.

At times the pictures of snow-covered beaches, ruins and villages in Greece have seemed surreal to me, especially since there is almost no snow anywhere near my home in downtown Toronto.  Scenes of streets knee-deep in fluffy soft snow are something I would expect from most places in Canada this time of year, but not on Greek islands like Skiathos, Skopelos or Evia!

 

 

I find the images particularly impressive because they show how spectacular Greece looks even in extremely severe weather during a season few tourists get to see and experience. 

If, like me, you have only visited Greece during spring, summer or fall, you probably will be pleasantly surprised to see just how striking and amazing various regions looked during the cold snap that has gripped much of the nation since Christmas.

Below are photos of wintry scenes in several popular Greece destinations, followed on page 2 of this post by dozens of photos from Athens, Rhodes, Chios, Evia, Skiathos, Skopelos, Skyros, Sparta, Mystras, Lakonia, Corinth and Ioannina.  Part 2 includes photos from Crete, Nafplio, Epidaurus, Thessaloniki, some of the Cyclades and Ionian islands, plus various locations in the Peloponnese and mainland Greece. With links to scores of additional snow pictures and videos, this two-part feature is one of the most comprehensive collections of Greece winter storm photos you’ll find in one spot.

(Please note that I have done my best to credit the original photographers for each image. However, it wasn’t always possible to trace back all sources. if you notice an incorrect attribution for any of the pictures, please let me know and I’ll be happy to correct the photo credits.)

So bundle up and enjoy a photo tour of winter wonderlands in Greece! 

 

Constantinos Mg photo of snow in Kymi village on Evia

Evia island (also spelled Evvoia and Euboea) was one of the places hardest-hit by snowfalls, with some regions receiving nearly 2 meters of white stuff. Constantinos Mg photographed this snow-filled street in Kymi.

 

Snow on Mandraki beach on Skiathos

It looks like a scene from the Arctic, but this actually is Mandraki beach on Skiathos, photographed by Nikos Mavropoulos 

 

Snow at Parga Greece

Parga looks pretty all dressed in white. This image of the popular seaside resort in northwestern Greece was shared on the Meteo Gr Facebook page

. snow on Skiathos

This photo of snow on Skopelos island has been widely shared on social media, including the Meteo Gr page on Facebook

 

Snow at Myrtos beachon Kefalonia

Myrtos beach on Kefalonia after a snowfall. The image appeared on the Amazing Greece / Incroyable Grèce Facebook page.

 

Snow at Knossos Palace on Crete

Snow blankets the Palace of Knossos near Heraklion, seen in a photo from the My Crete Guide page on Facebook

 

Snow on Charaki beach on Rhodes

A Christmas Eve view of Charaki beach on Rhodes, seen in an image shared by the Rhodes Through My Eyes page on Facebook

 

Snow at Chania Crete

Léandrou Simeonidis captured this breathtaking scene as stormclouds filled the sky above the city of Chania on Crete

 

Lagada village on Chios island

It looks like a scene from a Christmas card, but it’s a photo by George Zournas showing Lagada village on Chios island after a snowfall

 

Snow at Nafplio

The Bourtzi sea castle at Nafplio is surrounded by snowy mountains and  white landscapes in this image by Σεραφείμ Ζίου 

 

Snow at Thessaloniki Greece

Αλέξανδρου Παπαδόπουλου took this photo of the Thessaloniki waterfront during a snowstorm

 

Snow at Mystras Greece

Sunshine illuminates one of the churches at Mystras, a UNESCO World Heritage Site near Sparta. The image appears in a collection of Mystras snow photos published on the Evrotas blog of landscape photography from the Sparta region. 

 

Please click on the link below to view more photos on page 2 of this post.

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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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Why Naxos is setting tourism records this summer

Naxos: The Land for a Young God is a professionally-produced video that shows some of the island’s top attractions, including its gorgeous beaches, scenic mountain villages and historic monuments

 

Good press: “Naxos is breaking every record on tourist arrivals this year,” declares the headline of an article published August 12 on naxos.gr, the website for the municipality of Naxos and the Small Cyclades.

In July alone, the news report says, more than 99,000 people arrived at Naxos by ship, easily smashing the previous record of 97,498 set back in 2001. Notably, that total didn’t include passengers who arrived either on Sea Jets ferries, or on Olympic Air flights from Athens, which would have pushed the July tourist numbers far north of 100,000.  

Although I cringed slightly when I read that July saw “27% more trucks, 28% more motorcycles and 48% (!!) more cars” arrive on Naxos than than a year ago, I wasn’t surprised at all by the news that tourism is booming on Naxos. 

Two visits to the island in 2013 prompted me to call it our destination of the year and to write what has continued to be one of the most popular posts on my blog — Our Top 15 reasons to visit Naxos.  After returning for our sixth time in 2014, I got a strong sense that Naxos was at a tipping point, on the cusp of attracting wide international attention as an all-around great Greek island destination.

Sure enough, during 2015 I noticed that Naxos was being mentioned regularly by newspapers, blogs and travel guides. This year, Naxos has been an even bigger media darling, spotlighted around the world by major newspapers and travel blogs as well as the popular CNN television show Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

With all that good press over the past two years, it’s really no wonder that Naxos is expecting to draw record numbers of tourists this month. In fact, occupancy rates for August are virtually 100%, according to the naxos.gr report, and visitor traffic for the month should easily exceed the record numbers for July.

If you haven’t yet been to Naxos and want to see why it has become such a popular holiday destination, check out the links I have posted below to some of the reports that have appeared in news and travel media  this year alone: 

 

Naxos articles in major newspapers

♦ In its February 16 article The 50 best beaches in the world,  the U.K.’s Guardian newspaper ranked St George’s Beach at Naxos Town at #13 and rated it the “Best in Europe for families.” 

♦ On May 5, CNN published Naxos: Lush Greek island delivers the good life, an article by Athens-based blogger and travel writer Marissa Tejada

♦ On June 4 , the U.K.’s Daily Mail newspaper published Seeking out the summer in Naxos: Dancing waiters and empty beaches – it can only be glorious, happy Greece by Kyle Staib

♦ On July 6, the U,K.’s Telegraph newspaper published Sally Peck’s article Is Naxos the most family-friendly island in Greece? 

♦ On July 7, Canada’s national newspaper, The Globe and Mail, profiled Naxos in the article Hellenic Happiness: Explore Greece’s beauty in these often-overlooked regions by Elizabeth Warkentin.

 

Naxos on television:

♦ On May 8, CNN released the Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown episode The Greek Islands, which was filmed on Naxos

 

Naxos profiles on travel and lifestyle blogs:

Why Naxos is the best of the Greek islands, published on Compass & Fork.

Trip in Greece: Les Cyclades — Naxos published January 14 2016 by Days of Camille

Naxos Island, Greece post published April 17 2016 by welltraveledwife.com

The local guide to Naxos, Greece post published June 1 2016 by Bon Traveler

Naxos: The quietly traditional heart of the Cyclades, a guest article by Mike Andrew that I published here on MyGreeceTravelBlog in March.

 

More scenes from Naxos in a 3.5-minute video by Eleni Giorgiafandis 

More high-end clubs, shops, hotels & restaurants planning to open on Mykonos

Bill & Coo Coast Suites image from the hotel's Facebook page

The owners of the award-winning Bill & Coo Suites & Lounge will be opening another 5-star hotel on Mykonos in May — the Bill & Coo Coast Suites, seen in this image from its Facebook page

 

Boom times: It looks like the great Mykonos gold rush is going to continue again this year, with numerous top-flight international  nightclubs, restaurants, shops and hotels hoping to gain a toehold in the island’s booming market for luxury travel services.

2015 was a banner year for Mykonos, which witnessed the arrival of more than 100 new businesses, many of which were aimed at affluent travellers with insatiable tastes for 5-star accommodations, fine dining, upscale bars and nightclubs, and exclusive retail boutiques.

Their success has attracted the attention of more international luxury brands, which have been scouring the island for available real estate or partnership opportunities with established local entrepreneurs and landowners.

According to a February 21 2016 article by the Greek news and media website Ethnos, the operators of such elite nightclubs and restaurants as Bagatelle, Hyde Beach, Maddox, Bagatelle, Novikov, Okku and Vip Room have been scoping out space for possible new summer locations in Mykonos Town. They undoubtedly have been encouraged by the huge popularity of some of last year’s high-profile newcomers, which included Ling Ling by Hakkasan, Inyama Surf and Turf, Buddha Bar Beach, Toy Room Club, and Bonbonniere Mykonos.

 

Vassili Tsili Christos Made in Mykonos event at Maddox Club London

A promotional image for DJ Vassili TsiliChristosMade in Mykonos party taking place March 6 at Maddox Club in London.  

 

Maddox is an exclusive nightclub that is “strictly members only. Membership is only accepted on a referral basis,” says the club’s website. There’s no word on when it might be opening a Mykonos location — nor have any announcements been made about launch dates for any of the other swish clubs that are reportedly vying for space on the island. Coincidentally, Maddox Club is hosting a Made in Mykonos party on March 5. It’s a popular event that Greek DJ, music producer and social event organizer Vassili TsiliChristos hosts at the upscale Nammos restaurant and beach bar on Mykonos every summer. (He’ll be taking his show to Washington D.C. and New York City in March, and will be headlining at Nammos again on July 23).

 

Kalo Livadi beach Mykonos photo by MykonosGuide.co

The golden sand beach and turquoise waters at Kalo Livadi, seen in an image from Mykonos Guide.  The Four Seasons hotel and resort group reportedly plans to build a hotel in this area, while the W chain of hotels is looking to open a boutique property at nearby Agia Anna beach.

 

Meanwhile, the Four Seasons hotel group is reportedly seeking land for a large luxury resort at Kalo Livadi, and the W chain is exploring plans to build a 70-room specialty hotel at the Agia Anna beach near Kalafatis. 

Although those projects won’t be opening this season, a new 5-star luxury hotel at Agios Ioannis (the “Shirley Valentine beach”) will be launching this spring — a project by the owners of the 5-star Bill & Coo Suites & Lounge in Mykonos Town, which recently was fêted as Best Luxury Boutique Hotel at the World Tourism Awards 2016.

According to its website and Facebook page, the 15-room Bill & Coo Coast Suites will feature “barefoot luxury” design and ambience on a “10 acre oasis by the sea” at Agios Ioannis beach.

“The startling view to the sea and access to the beach ensure travellers a premium holiday experience beyond comparison in the alluring island of Mykonos,” says a February 23 2016 post on the Bill & Coo Coast Suites Facebook page

The hotel is scheduled to open in early May, but its online booking system shows that it’s already fully booked from May 9 to 15.  Rooms are available from May 16 onward, at nightly rates ranging from as low as €420 for a Sea View Coast Suite to  €1,390 for a Bill & Coo Coast Suite.

 

On the luxury retail shopping front, this year’s big news is that mining magnate Nikos Lascaris and his wife, Georgia, are investing millions of Euros to open a posh “super boutique” Tserkov store that will feature creations by many of the world’s top fashion designers.

According to a January 19 2016 article on the Cyclades24 news website, the boutique is being referred to as “paradise couture” because it will spotlight so many leading designers, and even couture lines.  According to the Facebook page for the first Tserkov store, which opened December 18 2015 in Zurich, the shop “is a destination for individualists looking for something rare and incomparable.”

Tserkov Store Mykonos

Tserkov, the fashion boutique for “individualists,” will open this spring on Mykonos. This image is from Tserkov website.

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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Mamma Mia! Here it snows again … on Skiathos

snow on Skiathos photo from the Skiathos Facebook page

The Skiathos Facebook page posted this photo of a little girl poised to toss a snowball on one of the island’s golden sand beaches, now covered in a blanket of white after a snowfall on Saturday January 23

 

Snow day: Barely five days after light flurries dusted it with snow, Skiathos was struck by an even stronger storm  that turned the island’s red-tiled rooftops white and left some areas without power for several hours on January 23.

Island residents quickly took to social media to share photos and videos of their suddenly white winter wonderland, and my Facebook page news feed filled with dozens of images of snow-laden trees, beaches, roads and buildings.

I have collected a few of the pictures that appeared on Facebook to show the aftermath of the exceptional winter storm — one of several that have struck different regions of Greecem, including islands, since the beginning of 2016.

Click on the link under the next two pictures to turn to page 2 of this post and view more Skiathos snow photos.

You can view additional images, along with several videos, on the Skiathos Facebook page and on the Skiathos Life community page on Facebook.

If you would prefer to see beautiful summer scenes from the island instead, check out the three videos in my Set your sights on Skiathos! post from January 23.

Skiathos Life Facebook page photo of snow on Skiathos

Stormclouds linger above snow-dusted rooftops in this photo shared by the Skiathos Life Facebook page

 

Skiathos Life Facebook page photo of snow on Skiathos

Also from the Skiathos Life Facebook page, this photo shows a crew working to restore power. Heavy snow and falling trees caused power cuts to parts of the island, including the area around Profitis Ilias.

 

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Santorini sets its sights on year-round tourism

 Click on the arrow to view Santorini The One, the lead video in a series of clips produced earlier this year to promote Santorini tourism. The island now hopes to become a popular travel destination all year long. 

 

Four seasons of splendour: If all goes according to plans currently under development, winter won’t be “off season” on Santorini anymore. That’s because the island has set its sights on becoming a year-round travel destination, beginning in 2016. 

And it’s already off to a good start — around 100 hotels will be open on the island this winter, as will a number of restaurants and shops.

Santorini’s plans fit nicely with the Greek government’s own announced goal of extending the country’s tourism season to 12 months a year and upgrade the quality of Greece’s tourism product. (On many islands, the season presently lasts only from late April until the end of October, with most tourist-related businesses closed the other months.)

 

More than sun and sea

Although many travellers associate Santorini and other Greek islands with summer sunshine, beaches, warm weather and water sports, the mayor of Thira Municipality, Anastasios Nikolaos Zorzos, says Santorini has many more features and attractions to offer tourists regardless of time of year.

“Santorini’s tourism model is not based on ‘sun and sea’ but on ancient treasures, geology, traditional architecture and gastronomy — features that are guaranteed to attract visitors throughout the year,” Mayor Zorzos said, according to a December 1 news report on the Greek Travel Pages (GTP) website. 

The GTP report said the tourism development plan, branded as “Santorini: Year-Round Destination,” is a collaborative effort between the municipal government and island businesses. The program will promote alternative forms of tourism and will seek to establish “new products and activities” to draw visitors during what are now off-season periods.

 

Online ad campaign underway

To promote the initiative, GTP says, Santorini has kicked off a 3-week online advertising campaign on European versions of some of the world’s top travel websites, including TripAdvisor, Airbnb, Expedia and Lonely Planet. Special banner and videos ads also will appear on various sections of the National Geographic website accessible to web users in the program’s target markets — the U.K., the Netherlands, Germany, France, Austria, Belgium, Italy and Scandinavia. 

Seeing Santorini’s stunning scenery, architecture and archaeological sites without the crowds and heat of summer appeals to me, and people I’ve spoken to who have been to Santorini in late fall and late winter have told me they found the island just as spectacular if not more enjoyable at those times. 

The large number of hotels remaining open this winter will be comforting news to people worried they will have trouble finding accommodations if they decide to pay Santorini a visit sometime between now and the spring. Last year, I saw online travel forum posts in which people who could only take winter holidays said they were considering last-minute trips to Santorini, but feared they would have few if any choices of hotels. They certainly won’t have such cause for concern this winter. 

 

Winter restaurant and wine bar listing

For visitors wondering where they will be able to dine if they do take a winter trip to the island, Santorini photographer Anna Sulte has posted on her website a list of more than a dozen restaurants and wine bars that will be open. The list includes establishments in Fira, Firostefani, Imerovigli, Oia, Exo Gonia, Megalochori, Akrotiri beach and Ag. Georgios Perivolos.

Another good reason to go to Santorini in the winter — bargains on air transportation, which can be hugely expensive during the regular travel season. A few days ago, a friend in Athens told me she saw flights from Athens to Santorini available this month for as low as €9.99. If I had been able to travel now, I would have purchased plane tickets to Santorini in a snap!

 

Anna Sulte photo of Fira Santorini on January 20 2015

Santorini photographer Anna Sulte posted this photo of Fira on her Anna’s Photo Facebook page on January 20 2015, with the caption: “This is how green it is right now.” It drew a response from one viewer who wrote: “Looks like there is just no time of year when it isn’t breathtakingly beautiful!” Indeed!

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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