Tag: coast (page 1 of 2)

Photo highlights from our trip to the Peloponnese and Hydra

Monemvasia

The fascinating fortress town of Monemvasia, where we spent three days and nights in early June

 

Amazing experience: I only need one word to describe our first-ever visit to Greece’s Peloponnese region and  Hydra island this month: Wow!

We weren’t even halfway through our holiday when we noted that the trip was shaping up as one of our best vacation experiences ever in Greece. Now that we’re back home, recalling all the places and sights we encountered and sorting through our photos,  we’ve agreed that it was our favourite trip of all. 

The Argolida and Laconia districts of the Peloponnese far exceeded our high expectations, while a spur-of-the-moment trip to Hydra impressed us immensely as well. The sights and scenery everywhere we went were simply amazing.

 

 

 

We enjoyed exhilarating views of sparkling turquoise seas and mountains extending as far as the eye could see. We roamed around charming villages and towns, visited historic archaeological sites, and walked dozens of kilometers along scenic coastal paths. We saw vast groves of olive trees, thousands of citrus trees laden with fruit, and dozens of picturesque churches, chapels and monasteries. We explored ancient castles, even spending three nights in a fortress town and swimming in the sea below its formidable stone walls. And we drank good wine and dined on delicious traditional and contemporary Greek cuisine. 

I will tell you more about our trip in detailed posts to come, but will launch my 2016 trip report with a series of photos showing some highlight sights and scenes from our travels.

Please click on the link below to view the pictures on page 2.

 

the monastery of Elona

The Monastery of Elona, which clings to the face of a cliff on Mount Parnon, was a breathtaking sight during our drive from Nafplio to Monemvasia

 

CONTINUED ON PAGE 2

Pages: 1 2

Glimpses of Gavrio, and a ferry ride from Andros to Tinos

Gavrio port at Andros

Gavrio harbourfront

The harbourfront at Gavrio, the port village on Andros island

 

Au revoir, Andros: When we arrived at Gavrio port on Andros at the start of our Greek holiday last May, we barely even noticed the village. Already groggy from our transatlantic travel and jet lag, we were struggling to shake off more cobwebs after dozing periodically during the ferry ride from Rafina. 

I saw a few shops and tavernas when we stepped off the ship, and can even remember thinking “there doesn’t seem to be much here” when I took a quick glance around. We didn’t have time for a longer look since we had to focus our attention on a more pressing issue — fitting luggage for four people into the compact car our friends had rented.

Soon we were pulling away from the port and driving up a narrow lane that squeezed tightly between rows of whitewashed houses before widening into the two-lane highway that would lead us to Andros Town. As we rounded a bend on the outskirts of Gavrio, we got our first views of exhilarating Andros scenery — fields, beaches and the wide open sea on our right side, and to our left a long line of mountains extending far into the distance.  It was a beautiful sight for our sore and very tired eyes.

View from highway on outskirts of Gavrio Andros

The mountain and sea view from the outskirts of Gavrio, seen in an image from Google Street View. This is the highway that leads from Gavrio to Batsi and onward to Andros Town.

 

We got a better look at Gavrio when we walked there from Batsi on the final full day of our Andros visit. As we turned onto the waterfront strip, we discovered there was much more to the town than we had seen while disembarking the ferry five days earlier.

On arrival day, we had basically seen just half of Gavrio’s commercial district — the extensive port authority area with its parking lots, loading zones, and of course the quays for ferries and ships, as well as a few of the businesses along the main street nearby.  We had not noticed that the street continued farther past the port, lined on one side with tavernas, shops and ferry ticket agencies, and a flagstone-paved walkway on the sea side. It took longer than we had anticipated to stroll the entire length of the road, and we were surprised by the large selection of restaurants and cafes — we had not been expecting to be so spoiled for choice in finding a place to have lunch. 

 

 

Though not as scenic as some other port towns in the Cyclades, Gavrio isn’t an unattractive place — it just doesn’t have the pretty, polished veneer of upscale boutiques and trendy cafe-bars that draw  the big-spending tourist and cruise ship crowds to places like Mykonos Town. And while Gavrio may be conveniently located for quick easy access to a variety of good beaches (see my post A bevy of beaches & coves on the scenic west coast of Andros), we were happy we had chosen to spend our holiday time at Andros Town and Batsi instead, since we preferred their overall look and feel.

Mind you, we didn’t walk around any of the residential streets on the hills tucked behind the waterfront strip, so we didn’t get to see all of Gavrio. We may have been more impressed had we taken time to explore beyond the port and harbourfront.

Gavrio harbourfront

We didn’t get to explore the residential streets on the hill behind the commercial waterfront strip

 

The next day we got more glimpses of Gavrio during a taxi ride to the port, followed by panoramic sea views of all of Gavrio Bay as we stood on the outdoor decks of the ferry taking us to Tinos. It was a brilliantly sunny morning, and Gavrio looked picturesque as it glistened in the sunshine.  I’m sure we’ll be back sometime for another look around.

Click on the link below to see more photos of Gavrio, as well as pictures of the Andros coast that we passed during our ferry trip to Tinos. There also are photos of the ship that took us there, the Superferry II, as well as the western coast of Tinos.

CONTINUED ON PAGE 2

Pages: 1 2

Kokkari’s captivating coastal, beach and village scenery

Kokkari Village 2016 features breathtaking bird’s eye views of the scenic seafronts and harbour at Kokkari village on Samos 

 

Picture-postcard perfect:  We’ve got a lot of happy memories from our trip to Samos six years ago, and some of the best are from our visit to Kokkari one afternoon.

We had rented mountain bikes in Vathy for a day, and cycled to Kokkari to get a first-hand look at the village mainly because an online acquaintance had recommended it as a “must see” spot on the island. She warned me that it’s “super-popular” with tourists, but said we would love it nonetheless because “it’s just so gosh-darned pretty and picturesque — everything looks like a picture on a postcard.”

She wasn’t kidding when she cautioned us about the “touristy” side to Kokkari — we couldn’t believe the astounding number of bar, cafe and taverna signs we saw on the popular dining strip along the village harbour. (Take a quick peek at the photos in my posts Kokkari’s waterfront restaurant row, and What’s cooking in Kokkari? and you’ll see what I mean.) Although the signage suggested there might be cutthroat competition between the village’s dozens of eateries, we found Kokkari had a surprisingly laid-back atmosphere, and we didn’t encounter any of those annoying restaurant touts who try to coax and cajole people into patronizing some establishments on Naxos, Kos and Mykonos.

Gorgeous scenery and photo opps galore

My friend was absolutely right about the village’s picture-postcard appeal, too. There was gorgeous scenery all around, and photo opportunities galore — striking beach and coastal scenery, quaint lanes and alleys, the colourful village harbour, and the impressive backdrop of Mount Karvouris. We’ll certainly pay Kokkari another visit next time we’re on Samos.

The video I posted above, which was produced by the aerial photography firm Reel Drone, shows much of the village and coastal scenery that we found so captivating back in 2010 — even though it is, of course, filmed from a completely different perspective than tourists get to see while strolling around the area.

If you have been to Kokkari before, the video will probably bring back pleasant memories of your own. If you haven’t visited it yet (or haven’t even been to Samos), I’m sure you’ll enjoy the 2-minute aerial tour and find it inspiring for future holiday planning.

Kokkari website links

And just in case you might be thinking about a trip to Samos, the people at Reel Drone have offered the following helpful links to online information about Kokkari:

♦  https://www.facebook.com/Κοκκαρι-Δημοτικη-Κοινοτητα-1411154232520­339/

♦ http://www.kokkari-samos.gr/

http://www.kokkari.gr/

 

Booking.com

Sizing up Stivari

Stivari settlement on Andros

The Stivari settlement overlooks a scenic coast and bay on Andros

 

Stivari settlement on Andros

The road through Stivari is lined on one side with buildings of reasonably-priced rental studios for summer tourists  …

 

sea view from Stivari area of Andros

… while the other side of the road offers wide open views of the sea, sunset, some small nearby islands and the Andros coastline

 

Batsi village on Andros

The beach resort village of Batsi is less than a 10-minute walk away

  

Studio suburb: There’s a lot to like about Andros, as we discovered during our first trip to the island in late May 2015 — and as I have already described in a series of Andros posts I have published in recent months.

Something else we really liked was the Stivari area, which we passed through several times a day while walking between our hotel and the beach resort village of Batsi.

Stivari is a small hillside settlement that’s basically a coastal “suburb” of Batsi, which is a mere 5- to 10-minute walk up the road.  There are more than a dozen different accommodation options right at Stivari or within close walking distance, and most of the rooms have nice garden or sea views from their balconies or terraces. The area has a popular taverna and a small shingle beach (actually just a few steps apart from each other), and is within a scenic 15-minute coastal walk of two better beaches, one of which boasts a superb seaview restaurant.

 

Stivari is a convenient base for Andros vacationers, especially those who don’t want to rely on a rental vehicle to get around  — it’s so close to all the amenities that Batsi village has to offer, yet still just far enough away to offer a little more peace and quiet than you’ll find in and around the village’s popular tourist center and beach.  

What we particularly liked about Stivari is the area’s impressive scenery: the surrounding steep hills are dotted with houses, villas and the accommodation properties; crystal-clear turquoise seawater sparkles beneath the rocky cliffs that line the coast; and there are beautiful island, sea, and sunset views from the hillsides and from the pebbly sand on Stivari beach. Whether we passed by in morning, afternoon or at night, there was always a pleasant and calming atmosphere  — though our favourite time was evening, when Stivari was bathed in the golden glow of the setting sun.

Please click on the link below to continue reading on page 2, where I have posted some of our photos of Stivari, and on page 3, where I have provided a listing of accommodations in the area, complete with photos and hotel contact information.

CONTINUED ON PAGE 2

Pages: 1 2 3

A visual feast of Crete

Here’s a video that will whet your appetite for a trip to Crete! Produced by the checkinCreta travel website, Crete — feel the island is a  nearly 4-minute-long film featuring mouth-watering views of honey, cheese and wine production, a γιαγιά (Greek grandmother) preparing home-made pies, an olive harvest, and tantalizing Cretan beach, coast and landscape scenery. καλή όρεξη!

A teasing glimpse of Korthi

Ormos Korthious photo from islandandros.com

Korthi Bay and the village of Ormos Korthiou are seen in a photo from the Andros travel and information website Island Andros.

 

Quick peek: Have you ever experienced that nagging feeling, while travelling from one scheduled holiday destination to the next, that you’re missing out on some really worthwhile sights and attractions you simply don’t have time to stop and visit along the way? We certainly did during our trip to Andros last spring.

After spending 3 nights in Andros Town at the beginning of our vacation, it was time to move on. Our friends had to return to Athens, and they agreed to drop us off at our next stop — a hotel near the resort area of Batsi, on the northwest coast of Andros — while they drove to Gavrio port to catch their ferry back to the mainland. 

So that we could all see a little more of Andros during the drive, we avoided the most direct highway route from Andros Town to Batsi and detoured to the south, following a highway that winds through the island’s Korthi region. The plan was to stop at the fishing harbour and seaside village of Ormos Korthiou to have a coffee before resuming the drive to Batsi.

Click here or on the link under the next photo to turn to page 2 of this post, where you can continue reading about Korthi and view more pictures of some of its top  attractions.

Grias Pidima beach Andros

One of the iconic sights we didn’t get to see in Korthi was Tis Grias to Pidima beach (also called Old Lady’s Leap), shown in this photo from airbnb.gr.  Pictures of the sandy beach and its towering stone pillar can be found on scores of postcards, websites and travel publications for Andros.

 

CONTINUED ON PAGE 2

Pages: 1 2

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.

 

CONTINUED ON PAGE 2

Pages: 1 2

A Sifnos island icon: The Church of the 7 Martyrs

Chapel of the 7 Martyrs

Like hundreds of other picturesque chapels in the Cyclades, the Church of the 7 Martyrs on Sifnos has a traditional Cycladic design with whitewashed walls and a shiny blue dome

 

Chapel of the 7 Martyrs

but its startling location — perched atop a rocky peninsula pounded by powerful winds and waves — makes it one of the most memorable and impressive shrines in the region

 

Windswept wonder: We have seen hundreds if not thousands of blue-domed churches in Greece, but the Chapel of the 7 Martyrs on Sifnos easily ranks as one of the most memorable.

We got to see it during a four-day visit to Sifnos in late September 2007, and were practically blown away by the experience — and not just because the chapel is such an impressive sight. 

It was warm and sunny when we arrived at Sifnos on a Friday afternoon, but conditions changed abruptly. Within less than two hours, near gale-force winds began blowing, followed overnight by thick, dark stormclouds and periods of light rain. The gusts were so strong that rough seas forced the cancellation of ferry service for the next three days. But we didn’t let the unrelenting wind stop us from sightseeing. Occasional breaks in the cloudcover motivated us to get out and explore,  and we spent one day hiking to the villages of Artemonas, Apollonia, Kato Petali and Kastro.  

 

A breathtaking sight below Kastro village

We got our first glimpse of the Chapel of the 7 Martyrs while following a clifftop footpath that winds along the the east side of Kastro, about 90 meters above the sea. It was breathtaking to look down and suddenly see the whitewashed, blue-domed church far below, perched atop a rugged, rocky peninsula that juts into the Aegean. We saw a group of tourists making their way down a twisting, stone-paved path that leads to the church, and decided to make the trek as well.  But the blasting winds actually stopped us in our tracks a few times, and more than once nearly blew us off balance. When one particularly strong gust nearly knocked down a woman walking behind me, she and her companions turned back, saying they felt it was too dangerous to venture any further. But we plodded on, climbing down dozens of steps and then up a short hillside to reach the church.  

The wind was even worse here, but we couldn’t go inside the church to escape it because the door was locked (apparently the chapel is open only several times a year for special occasions and feast days.) It was almost impossible to hold our cameras steady to take photos, even on the south side of the building where the wind was partially blocked. In fact, the blustery conditions were so unpleasant we stayed only a couple of minutes to view the coastal scenery before making a hasty climb back to the sheltered lanes in Kastro.

Despite the inclement conditions, it was well worth braving the elements to briefly see the chapel. If anything, the wind and the surrounding whitecapped sea gave the Chapel of the 7 Martyrs even more of an exhilarating “wow” factor.

Below are several more of our own photos of the church. You can see full-size versions of them, along with 20 additional images, in my Chapel of the 7 Martyrs album on Flickr.  At the bottom of the post are two wonderful pictures of the chapel that were shot by photographers from France and Greece.

 

Chapel of the 7 Martyrs

Much of the chapel’s tremendous visual appeal stems from its location on such inhospitable coastal terrain

 

Chapel of the 7 Martyrs

Dozens of stone steps lead down the cliffside to the church

 

 Chapel of the 7 Martyrs

Here’s a view of the steps from a point far down the cliff 

 

Chapel of the 7 Martyrs

After descending dozens of steps, visitors face a short uphill climb to the chapel. A terrace that wraps around the church offers amazing views of the sea, the Sifnos coast and Kastro village, but we weren’t able to enjoy the scenery because of the high winds.

 

Chapel of the 7 Martyrs

Looking northwest along the rugged coast of Sifnos 

 

7 Martyrs Chapel on Sifnos photo by Giannis Kontos

A view of the Chapel of the 7 Martyrs in weather conditions even more severe than we experienced. This image, which has been widely circulated in social media, was captured by Sifnos photographer Giannis Kontos.

 

7 Martyrs Chapel on Sifnos photo by Charley Lataste

Another image that has been shared extensively on social media is this sunset view of the chapel, shot by photographer Charly Lataste.

 

Seaside houses in Andros Town

seaside houses in Andros Town

A view of houses built on the south side of the rocky peninsula that juts into the sea at Andros Town. We found Andros Town fascinating to explore because of its unique layout on the slender, long finger of land, particularly since the views of sea, coast and land change drastically from one vantage point to the next. At upper right is the Tourlitis Lighthouse, an Andros icon often seen on postcards, travel websites and island guidebooks.

Timeless treasures of Zakynthos

Treasures of Zakynthos – A Timelapse Film from Maciej Tomków on Vimeo

 

I haven’t been to Zakynthos yet (or any of the other Greek islands in the Ionian Sea, for that matter), but I already know I would love it.

I’m drawn to islands that boast superlative scenery and, based on the scores of photos and videos I have seen, Zakynthos would not disappoint. With its stunning landscapes — verdant mountains,  soaring cliffs, picturesque towns and harbours, and especially its spectacular coastlines, Blue Caves and magnificent beaches — Zakynthos would tick off a lot of boxes on my list of favourite features for an ideal Greek holiday destination.

And if you saw my August 2 2014 post about Shipwreck Beach, you’ll know that Zakynthos is already on my bucket list of the places I most want to see in Greece.

The Treasures of Zakynthos video I posted above simply reinforces my strong belief that I would thoroughly enjoy visiting the island. The breathtaking film was produced, directed and photographed by cinematographer Maciej Tomkow, who captured astounding timelapse images of the island’s amazing natural treasures — its mountains and hills; sunrises and sunsets; towns and harbours; star-filled night skies; and its coastlines, bays, and beaches (Shipwreck plays a starring role, as you’d expect).

If you haven’t been to Zakynthos yet, either, I bet you’ll be adding it to your own travel bucket list after watching Maciej’s film.

Beguiling beaches on Ios

Visit inviting beaches on Ios in this 3.5-minute clip from luxurios.com

 

The first time I watched Ios Beaches, I instantly wanted to hop on a plane to Greece and catch the next available ferry to Ios. The second time I watched the video, I wanted to go to Ios even more. The urge to hit the beach on Ios felt even stronger after my third viewing.

I love Ios — I have been there twice, and absolutely will return  — yet this video made me feel a slight tinge of regret that I won’t be visiting the island on my upcoming trip to Greece.

The film shows several of the Ios beaches that I have seen in person, plus others that I haven’t yet had the opportunity to visit. The superb video photography of the island’s outstanding beach and coastal scenery has convinced me that I simply must get back to Ios to see all of the amazing places I missed.

(Ios has more than three dozen wonderful beaches, only some of which can be reached by local bus service or excursion boats. Both of my trips to Ios were in mid-May, before summer bus service and tour boat service to the island’s top beaches had begun, and since I didn’t have a rental vehicle at my disposal, I was limited to seeing beaches within walking distance of the ferry port and Chora, the main town).

Let me know if watching the video makes you want to book a trip to Ios, too (I’m pretty sure it will).

The film was produced by LuxurIOS Island Experience, a Greek-owned travel company that promotes responsible and environmentally sustainable tourism on Ios.

To see more of images from beautiful Ios, check out my Ios photo collection on Flickr.

No sandy beach? No worries at these seaside swimming spots on four Greek Islands!

sunbeds on the coast of Rhodes

Colourful umbrellas and lounge chairs brighten a rocky stretch of coastline near Kallithea Bay on Rhodes

 

Whenever I tell people we’re going to Greece, almost everyone says the same thing: “A beach vacation! Nice!”

Truth be told, we visit Greece for many more things besides sunbathing, swimming and water sports activities. Still, I’m not surprised that so many people associate the country with bountiful, beautiful beaches. With its thousands of islands and its mainland combined, Greece boasts nearly 16,000 kilometers of coastline and many of Europe’s best beaches.

But the Greek seashores aren’t long, continuous strips of stunning sand and pebble strands. While those number in the thousands, much of the country’s seafront is rugged and rocky, with no sandy shores in sight. But that doesn’t stop people from enjoying the seemingly endless waterfronts in Greece. In fact, it’s along craggy coastlines that you tend to find uncrowded swimming locations that are favourites for local residents and for in-the-know tourists, too.

There must be countless seaside swimming “holes” throughout the country, but in this post I will profile four that we have seen during our Greek Island travels over the past 11 years. The photo at top shows one we discovered on Rhodes back in 2004, while the three pictures below showing swimming spots on Naxos, Santorini and Syros, respectively:

 

swimming area below the Temple of Apollo on Naxos

Several stone staircases descend to the water’s edge at a swimming spot below the Temple of Apollo monument (also known as the Portara) near the ferry port and harbour at Naxos Town.

  Photo by Rocio Lluch if the swimming area near Amoudi Bay Santorini

A short walk from Amoudi Bay brings visitors to a narrow channel separating Santorini from little Agios Nikolaos island, seen in this photo by Flickr member Rocio Lluch. Tourists enjoy taking a dip in the channel and swimming to the islet, where they can dive from cliffs into the sea.

  Vaporia swimming spot

This is one of several jetties in the Vaporia district of Ermoupoli, on Syros, where locals and visitors alike can take a quick dip and soak up some sunshine

 

Click on the link below to continue reading and view more photos.

 CONTINUED ON PAGE 2

Pages: 1 2

Older posts