Category: Places on my bucket list (page 1 of 2)

Kalymnos keeps calling

Kalymnos summer 2016 (above) and Kalymnos island (below) are short videos that spotlight sights, scenery and summer activities on the Dodecanese island famous for its sponge fishing past and its present popularity as one of the world’s premier rock climbing destinations

 

Extra enticement: There are times I’m convinced that somebody in Greece is secretly monitoring my email and text communications so they can plant my social media pages with photos, news and videos about places mentioned in my conversations. I couldn’t begin to count the number of times I have chatted with or messaged people about specific areas in Greece, only to see posts about those destinations suddenly appear on my Facebook page or Twitter feed soon afterward.

It happened again this week after a friend texted to ask if I have been to Kalymnos, which she has been considering for an island hopping holiday in the Dodecanese this year. I haven’t been there yet, but I was able to refer her to Kalymnos rocks!, a post I published last year to showcase a video that four young Scottish rock climbers made when they visited Kalymnos to test their skills on its world-famous cliffs. Exhilarating landscapes and scenery in the 4-minute-long film convinced me that Kalymnos is just the kind of island my partner and I would thoroughly enjoy — so I promptly added it to our travel bucket list.

 

 

Mere days after the text chat with my friend, two more Kalymnos videos curiously appeared in the news feed for the MyGreeceTravelBlog Facebook page, no doubt to tempt and tease me into wanting to visit the island even more. Sponsored by the Kalymnian Union of Attica, both clips were produced late last summer and show even more island sights and scenes than the fun rock-climbing film I previously shared on the blog. Since I have found myself contemplating a future trip to Kalymnos once again, I am sharing the clips here for the benefit of any readers who may be planning to spend some time on the island this summer.

Meanwhile, in text messages a few days ago, my friend and I discussed Kefalonia and Lefkada, as well as some destinations in mainland Greece. Sure enough, my social media feeds quickly filled with images and information about both islands and the other places we had discussed. Spooky? Absolutely! But maybe it’s just a goodhearted online spy who is simply trying to assist with my holiday travel planning. Whether it’s purely coincidental or not, don’t be surprised if I start blogging about how much I would like to see Kefalonia, Lefkada and certain other places this summer!

In the meantime, have a look at Kalymnos to see if it should be on your own Greek holiday bucket list.

 

 

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

Visual delights in Greece’s Dodecanese islands

Dodecanese Promenade Part A is a 10-minute film featuring highlight attractions on Rhodes, Kasos, Chalki, Symi, Kastellorizo and Karpathos …

 

… while Part B  presents 10 more minutes of beautiful sights and scenes from Patmos, Leros, Kalymnos, Kos, Nisyros and Astypalea

 

Delightful dozen: Four down, eight to go. That’s how many places we have already been to in the Dodecanese island chain, and the number of other islands we want to see there, as we continue to explore Greece in our annual travels.

Our first foray into the Dodecanese was back in 2004 when we spent three days on Rhodes during our first-ever island hopping holiday in Greece. Our second trip into the region came several years later when we kicked off our 2009 vacation on Astypalea. We returned to the Dodecanese for a third time in 2010, when our travels took us to Kos and Patmos (with ferry stops that teased us with brief looks at Kalymnos and Leros en route).

Seeing only four islands in one chain is nothing to be embarrassed about, but it’s still just one-third of the dozen major destinations in the Dodecanese, and we definitely would like to boost that number. Topping our list of the other Dodecanese islands we would like to experience are Karpathos and Kastellorizo, though we’d be happy spending time on any of the others, too — including Kasos, Chalki and Symi.

 

I doubt we’ll get back to the Dodecanese before 2018 at the earliest, but I keep bookmarking photos and videos of the area for research and inspiration, just in case we get the opportunity to go there sooner.

I have shared two of the inspiring videos above. Dodecanese Promenade Parts A and B were both shot by photographer / filmmaker Constantinos Tseklenis in a project for Aegean Airlines two years ago. However, the clips posted above are original Director’s Cut versions that were not shown on Aegean flights. 

Part A brought back fond memories of our time on Rhodes, while Part B showed us many familiar sights and scenes from the days we spent on Patmos and Kos. In both parts, Tseklenis brilliantly captures the gorgeous colours and impressive scenery that we remember seeing first-hand.

If you’ve got 20 minutes to spare,  give the films a watch — they’ll take you on a spectacular visual promenade through the Dodecanese.

Quietly spectacular Skyros

Enjoy aerial views of some of the wonderful coastal, mountain, valley and village scenery on Skyros in this 5-minute film by TreeZone

 

Real deal: Want to visit an authentic Greek island that isn’t a mainstream tourist magnet like Mykonos, Rhodes, Santorini, or even its nearby neighbour, Skiathos? Then have a look at Skyros, the southernmost and largest island in the Sporades archipelago. Skyros has everything you would want and expect from a great Greek island holiday destination — impressive landscapes and coastal scenery, inviting beaches, picturesque villages, historic sites, good food, and age-old local traditions — without the massive crowds and commerciality of other islands that have become household names around the world.

Though it is becoming increasingly popular with visitors from around the world, and has an international airport that receives direct charter flights from several European cities during July and August, Skyros is a relatively low-profile destination that isn’t even on the radar for most tourists planning vacations in the Greek islands.

In fact, there were only 3 question-and-answer threads posted on TripAdvisor’s Skyros travel forum in all of 2015, and just 10 in total since 2010. The Skiathos forum, by comparison, had  more than 6,100 conversation threads as of mid-May 2016.

 

Booking.com

 

With so much going for the island, It’s rather surprising that Skyros doesn’t get more attention from travellers — especially considering that it gets good press whenever it’s mentioned in social and regular media.

For instance, Skyros was cited as the best destination for alternative travel and holistic holidays in The Telegraph’s January 2016 feature The 19 best Greek islands, and was included in a piece the Independent published about Holidays for single travellers. Also in January, The Irish Examiner published A letter from paradise on the Greek island of Skyros, a journalist’s account of her writing holiday. And in 2015, Thomas Cook Airlines named Skyros as best destination for “healthy lifestyle holidays” in its profile of Greece’s top 10 islands.

Perhaps it’s a good thing Skyros hasn’t become hugely popular — that means it will remain a unique and special place to charm and delight those travellers who do venture off the main tourist paths to pay it a visit. (And that’s one of the chief reasons why Skyros is on my bucket list of islands to see.)

Skyros photo from sail-la-vie.com

Built on the steep slopes of a craggy peak topped by a Byzantine fortress and a  monastery, Chora village is a striking sight on Skyros (Photo from the Municipality of Skyros travel guide)

 

Please continue reading on page 2, where you’ll find more pictures and videos along with links to more than a dozen different websites with Skyros travel information and photos.

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The scenic charms of Serifos

 

Beautiful Serifos scenery is spotlighted in the two aerial videos above, both of which were shared online by YouTube contributor Loris Trian.  Click on the arrows to view the films.

 

Cycladic gem: One of my readers has been asking where she should look on the blog to find photos and reports from our trips to Serifos, as she’s been having trouble tracking them down. Unfortunately, there aren’t any — purely because we haven’t been to Serifos yet.

But since it’s one of the many places on our bucket list of islands to see in Greece, I have been bookmarking Serifos websites and videos I come across so the links are handy for future reference.

Rather than just pass that information along in an email reply, I’m posting the links and three of the videos here in case other readers considering a holiday on Serifos might find them interesting and helpful.

 

Booking.com

Besides reading many good things about Serifos, I have heard only positive feedback about it from well-travelled friends and contacts who have highly recommended paying the West Cyclades island a visit. Several have used the words “wonderful” and “gem” to describe it, and “gem” is exactly what some online travel sites have called it as well. A few of the people I have spoken to are repeat visitors to Serifos, and have been to other islands that my partner and I have visited and enjoyed. They have assured me that we would not be disappointed with Serifos, and would find it just as delightful as our favourite isles.

Below are links to three travel websites specifically dedicated to Serifos. Confusingly, they all have the words “Serifos Island” in their titles, but they’ll take you to three completely different sites:

♦  Serifos Island Greece

♦  Serifos Island

♦  Serifos-island 

 

Below are links to several major Greece travel websites that offer photos, travel guides and general visitor information for Serifos:

♦ The Serifos page on The Greek Travel 

♦ The Serifos travel guide on the Cycladia travel portal

♦  The Serifos holiday guide on the Greeka specialty website for Greek island travel

♦ The Serifos information page from the Discover Greece website for Greece tourism

 

And last but not here, here is another aerial video of Serifos:

Explore Serifos from the air in this 6-minute film by Photo Kontos

Thessaloniki: Greece’s historic yet young-at-heart second city

If you haven’t been to Thessaloniki yet, this promotional film will leave you wondering how to include the city on your next trip to Greece

 

Cultural capital: Thessaloniki, the second biggest city in Greece, is already on my list of must-see destinations for future vacations. But an impressive promotional video produced on behalf of the city has left me wishing I could go there ASAP.

Released on March 18 2016, Thessaloniki, the inside track includes enticing aerial and ground-level views of some of the city’s top attractions, including monuments, historic sites, public squares, the beautiful waterfront and other public places.

Notes accompanying the YouTube video say that “Thessaloniki, historically one of Europe’s oldest and most multiethnic cities, widely considered as the cultural capital of Greece, is truly unique in the sense that it intricately marries its thousands-year-old multicultural heritage and the architectural marvels with the Roman, Byzantine, Ottoman and Sephardic Jew history.  With a student-strong population of 150,000, Thessaloniki boasts an under-30s do-it-yourself youth culture-creative movement seen nowhere else in the Southern part of Europe.”

The notes also describe Thessaloniki as “Gastronomic Capital of Greece,” best party city and best mid-sized European city of the future for human capital and lifestyle.

All perfectly good reasons why the city clearly deserves a visit.

Should you need further convincing, just give the 3.5-minute clip a watch. I’m willing to bet it will make you want to see Thessaloniki, too.

 

Booking.com

 

Escape to Balos (Part 2)

Most of this video by Carlos Torres was filmed on the beaches and in the lagoons, so it gives you a very good impression of what it’s like to be at Balos. The video also includes views from the drive on the dirt road, as well as from the footpath to the beach. 

 

More of Balos — in photos

 

Part 1 of my Balos “escape” post provided information on ways to get to the beach, and described what you’ll find there. Here, in Part 2, I share some of my favourite pictures and videos of the beaches, lagoons and surrounding coast. Many are from Crete-based travel websites, while others have appeared in blogs and on social media sites like Facebook. 

I have included credit lines to indicate where I obtained each photo. However, since so many images are shared without proper attribution on social media nowadays, it’s possible that some photos may not be correctly credited to the proper photographer or copyright holder. If one of your images appears here with incorrect attribution, please let me know and I will be happy to either amend the credit line or remove the image from this post at your request.

Balos photo by Kolory Krety

Photo shared on Facebook by Kolory Krety

 

Please click on the link below to view several videos and over three dozen more beautiful Balos photos on page 2 of this post.

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Set your sights on Skiathos!

André Eckhardt shot Skiathos — Eyes wide open (2015) during a week-long visit to the island and its neighbours, Skopelos and Alonissos

 

Island beauty: I’ve been in a Skiathos state of mind today. I haven’t been to the island yet, but hearing some of the soundtrack for the 2008 hit movie Mamma Mia!, which was partly filmed there, got me daydreaming about it this morning. Then I logged onto my blog’s Facebook page, where my news feed was filled with photos and videoclips showing streets, trees, fields, houses and beaches blanketed in snow (flurries fell on Skiathos today during a storm that left parts of the island without electricity for over six hours). You can see some of those pictures in my Mamma Mia! Here it snows again post below.

A link in a Facebook post subsequently led me to the André Eckhardt video of Skiathos that I posted above, and a quick peak on YouTube took me to a few more travel films of the island, one of which I’ve posted below.

Happily, the videos show Skiathos in sunny, summery conditions, so I’m sharing them here in case you’re in the throes of  gloomy winter weather wherever you might be — the sight of some gorgeous Greek island scenery is bound to boost your spirits. Only 149 more days until summer!

[Editor’s update: If you enjoy these videos, click here to see another enticing film that I shared on February 25 2016.]

 

 Skyframe.gr isn’t kidding when it describes its short video Skiathos Summer 2015 volume 2 as “a small teaser of aerial footage for Skiathos Island.” Teaser indeed! It will certainly leave you wanting to see more.

 

Views of Vai and Preveli, Crete’s amazing palm grove beaches

Palmtree forest of Vai beach, by Emmanouil Papadopoulos, will show you what it’s like to gaze out to sea from the shade of a palm tree on the sand 

 

Palm tree paradise: In a recurring daydream, I’m laying on a golden sand beach, looking at a tempting turquoise sea, while the gently swaying fronds of a palm tree shade me from the blazing sun. It’s something I have done on Hawaii and in the Caribbean, but in this particular fantasy I’m on a Greek island vacation.

It’s a dream that could come true for me on Crete, where Vai beach boasts the largest natural palm tree forest in Europe — over 250,000 square meters of Cretan date palms.

Vai is situated near the northeastern tip of Crete, a 30-minute, 24-km drive from the town of Sitia, which I wrote about in my December 23 post, Sitia casts its spell. Once a haven for hippies in the 1970s, Vai is now one of the most popular tourist beaches in eastern Crete.  

 

 

 

It’s not the only scenic beach with a palm tree grove on Crete.  There is a unique palm-tree-lined river lagoon behind Preveli beach on the island’s south-central coast near Plakias (about 43 km south of Rethymno). 

You can find photos and detailed information about Vai beach, including driving directions, on the Explore Crete website.

Photos and helpful information about Preveli beach can be found on the We Love Crete website.

Below are several videos that have led me to picture myself relaxing on a palm tree beach. The first two show Vai, while most of the bottom video shows the Preveli beach area, followed by some views of Vai.

 

Το Βαϊ από ψηλά – Vai palm grove on high is a 6.5-minute aerial video shot by Heraklion-based filmmaker Nikos Sarantos. If features impressive views of the palm forest, as well as the beach, bay, and surrounding coast.

 

The Miracle of Vai is an artistic time-lapse film showing the palm forest and beach from breathtaking day and night perspectives. Shot by Manos Efchetzis, it was compiled from “more than 6,000 images of night and day long exposure photography, taken over a month of photo shooting and edits.”

 

Lake Preveli & Vai, by YouTube contributor milero1000, shows scenes primarily from Preveli lake and beach in southern Crete, but also includes views of Vai during the final minute of the clip

Enchanting Alonissos

The Secret Magic of Alonnisos – Teaser is a short film by Costas Kalogiannis 

 

While we were visiting Andros last month, we met a Swiss woman who spends her summers on Alonissos, a verdant isle in the North Sporades. When she heard how much we were enjoying our walks and hikes on Andros, she assured us that we would equally love Alonissos, which boasts scenic mountain walks and villages, ravines, forests and wildlife, and picturesque coves and bays. (It’s also part of a national marine park which happens to be the largest marine-protected area in Europe.)

The island looked gorgeous in the dozens of photos she showed us on her ipad, and her descriptions of things to see and do on Alonissos easily convinced us to add it to our list of Greek holiday destinations to visit on future trips.

Once we got home from our latest vacation, I discovered a short video of Alonissos that I’m sharing for readers who, like me, might not be familiar with the island. The Secret Magic of Alonnisos – Teaser is part of a “movie in progress” project by photographer / cinematographer Costas Kalogiannis, who is from Alonissos. The film is only a minute and a half long, but it spotlights some beautiful landscape and village scenery that have sold me on a future visit to this enchanting island. Give it a look to see if the island’s magical allure has the same effect on you!

 

Enticing air & ground tours of Koukounaries beach on Skiathos

Click on the white arrow to view a fun aerial tour of Koukounaries beach. It was produced by Skiathos Air, a company that provide aerophotography and aerofilming services

 

I haven’t been to Skiathos yet, but I’ve heard endless good comments about its dozens of fabulous beaches, especially Koukounaries, which is one of the largest on the island and apparently the most famous.  After watching the two videos I’ve posted here, I understand why people love it so much — and I wish I could see it for myself this summer!

The first clip is an aerial video filmed with drone technology by Skiathos Air, while the one below was shot from ground level and posted online two years ago by Goran Tosic.

Koukounaries is a beautiful golden sand beach that curls along the edge of a verdant pine forest. (In Greek it’s called Chrisi Ammos, which means “golden sand,” while “koukounaries” means pine cones.) Organized with sunbeds, bars, restaurants and water sports, I’m told  it’s great beach destination for families but also a place where adults can have a blast, too.

It’s now on my bucket list for a future holiday!

 

Click the arrow to view Goran Tosic’s 6-minute video of Koukounaries

 

The Giola lagoon on Thassos

Giola lagoon on Thassos island photo from Panoramio member Papadakis Ioannis

Panoramio member Papadakisioannis snapped this shot of visitors enjoying the Giola lagoon and the terraced seashore surrounding it

 

Last week I published a post profiling popular Greek Island swimming spots that don’t have sandy beaches. Here’s another one — the Giola lagoon on Thassos — which is arguably far more spectacular but also much more difficult to reach.

Carved into the southeast coast of Thassos, several kilometers from the village of Astris, Giola is a natural pool approximately 20 meters long and over 15 meters wide. It’s enclosed by rock terraces that rise up to 8 meters high, creating convenient platforms from which visitors can jump and dive into the crystal-clear water, which is regularly refreshed by waves from the sea.

A Huffington Post Travel article called Giola “epically beautiful and crazy cool to swim in,” while Condé Nast Traveller magazine from the U.K. hailed Giola as one of the “best swimming pools in the world.”

Although it’s a visually stunning place to sunbathe and swim, Giola is a bit off the beaten path and not quite so easy to reach. But getting there is all part of the fun. You can find directions to the lagoon, complete with photos showing parts of the driving route and the hiking path to the coast, in FeelGreece.com’s Giola listing, as well as in the Let’s Find Giola post from the Discover Thassos travel website.

Below is a Google Maps image showing the lagoon’s location, followed by photos offering views of Giola from several different perspectives.

To see more excellent photos of Giola, click here to view a gallery of nine excellent Giola photos posted by Galeria Foto member moxxu.

 

Giola lagoon location shown on Google map of Thassos

This Google image shows the Giola lagoon location on Thassos, an island in the Northeast Aegean Sea.  Giola is situated at a  secluded seaside spot around 4 km from Astris village. You can drive most of the way, but then you’ll have to hike a trail to reach the coast.

 

Aerial view of Giola lagoon on Thassos

An aerial view of Giola lagoon. This image is from the website for the Potos Hotel located at Potos, about 16 km from the lagoon. You can see two more excellent photos of Giola on the hotel’s website.

 

 Giola lagoon on Thassos image 2_1 from Alternatrips.com

This photo of the lagoon is from the Greece travel website Alternatrips.gr

 

Giola lagoon on Thassos island photo from abeachaday.com

The A Beach A Day web guide for beach lovers published this photograph of swimmers enjoying the lagoon. Even though Giola is refreshed by waves from the sea, its waters apparently are much warmer than the sea.

 

 Seaview photo of Giola lagoon by Flickr member Ivonka

This unique seaview photo of the Giola lagoon is by Flickr member Ivonka. It shows the terraced flat rocks surrounding the pool on the seashore — perfect for sunbathing.

 

Giola lagoon on Thassos photo by Flickr member Chrysanthle Ak

Flickr member Chrysanthie Ak posted this image of a sizeable group of people enjoying the lagoon both in the water and from the adjacent rocks

 

Giola lagoon on Thassos photo by Flickr member Remus Pereni

This image by Flickr member Remus Pereni shows people on the narrow rock ledge that separates the lagoon from the Northeast Aegean Sea

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