Tag: Crete (page 1 of 9)

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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In the works: ‘Street views’ of Crete’s trekking trails

This 16-minute videoclip shows several popular hiking routes on Crete being photographed for Google Trekker — a version of the popular Street View feature on Google Maps

 

Crete on foot: Hiking enthusiasts may soon see what Crete’s trekking paths look like without having to take a single step on any of the trails.

The Region of Crete and Google are participating in a project to photograph some of Crete’s major hiking routes for Google Trekker, a version of the company’s popular Street View app that lets people take virtual tours of places from their computers and mobile devices. The Trekker program has an ambitious goal of mapping the world — including out-of-the-way and hard-to-reach places where camera-equipped vehicles can’t travel. Footpaths are filmed by hikers who walk the routes wearing a backpack equipped with Google Trekker photography equipment.

The video above was published on the Region of Crete YouTube page in January, and shows a hiker mapping trails in several areas across the island, including Agia Roumeli, Psiloritis, the Asterousia Mountains, the Lassithi Plateau, and Agios Nikolaos.

 

There were no notes accompanying the video to indicate when the various trails will be available for viewing on Google Maps, but the 16-minute film will be interesting to hikers planning trips to Crete since it shows what the terrain and scenery are like on some of the routes, and gives a good impression of the degree of difficulty on the different trails.

Sifnos, another Greek island that’s popular for trekkers and walkers, already has four of its scenic hiking routes available for viewing on Google Maps, as I reported in my recent post Sifnos: A Walker’s Paradise.

If you’d like to take a virtual trek along some of the Sifnos paths to see what the experience is like, and get an idea of what the Crete Trekker views will be like when they’re available,  click here

Escape to Crete’s exotic Balos beaches and lagoons

Balos Crete photo 01 by Antoine Nikolopoulos

 Balos Crete photo 02 by Antoine Nikolopoulos

Cape Tigani and the Balos beaches and lagoons in northwest Crete are seen from two different perspectives in beautiful photos shot in early October 2015 by Antoine Nikolopoulos of Odyssey Art Photography

 

Longing for lagoons: I’ve had an insatiable craving for Vitamin Sea and sunshine recently … symptoms, no doubt, of a severe case of midwinter blues. Deep-freeze temperatures here in Toronto most of last week, followed by two days of snowfalls this week, have only made my condition worse. So I’ve been looking at photos and videos of Balos, what I consider to be one of the most sensational beaches in Greece, to take my mind off the cold and snow.

It’s a self-prescribed treatment I call the “Balos boost.” Even though I haven’t yet been to what is widely regarded as the most iconic and most photographed beach on Crete, it always lifts my spirits to see images of this exotic-looking seaside area.  

 

Balos Crete photo from Flickr photostream of Caroline Martinez

It’s dreamy scenes like this, photographed by Flickr member Caroline Martinez, that make me yearn for an escape to Balos.

 

Balos Crete photo by Giannis Fountoulakis

Here’s another image that instantly makes me daydream about going to Balos. This scene, photographed by Giannis Fountoulakis, is just one of two dozen impressive images, all captured by Giannis, that appear in a Balos photo gallery on the website for the Elizabeth Estate Agency in Crete.

 

Why Balos?

Because it has everything I imagine in the Fantasy Island beach of my dreams: alluring shallow lagoons shimmering with more than a dozen different hues of tempting turquoise water; curving ribbons of white sand (pinkish from crushed seashells in some places); visually-striking natural landscapes with steep rust-coloured hills and cliffs, and rugged rocky seashores; marvellous scenery in every direction; and mesmerizing sunset views. All in a rather out-of-the-way location that can be an adventure to reach. 

It’s my personal notion of a Greek island paradise, a place that has “special,” “incomparable” and “wow” written all over it. From what I’ve seen and read, that’s the general impression Balos has made on many people who have been there and seen it with their own eyes. In fact, Balos was ranked as the #3 beach in Greece, and the #11 beach in Europe, in the recently-announced TripAdvisor Travellers’ Choice awards for 2016.

 

“A single glance is enough for someone to understand that this is not just a beach but one of nature’s finest masterpieces.” — Elizabeth Estate Agency

 

Balos photo from the Crete island, Greece Facebook page

According to a post about Balos in the Bulgarian-language travel blog My Trips in Pictures, visitors can observe 12 to 17 different shades of turquoise in the Balos lagoons and surrounding sea. A few of the fascinating hues are seen in this photo from the Crete island, Greece Facebook page.

 

Balos photo from Crete island, Greece Facebook page

This photo from the Crete island, Greece Facebook page shows people enjoying the shallow waters of the Balos lagoons with nearby Gramvousa island as an impressive scenic backdrop

 

 

Coming up on the next page, as well as in Part 2 of this post, you’ll see some of my favourite Balos videoclips and photographs — just a sample of the thousands of Balos images that have taken my mind off cold and snow dozens of times so far this winter. I’m sharing them here in case you could use a little Balos boost yourself, wherever you might be.  

I also have gathered links to online travel sites and blog posts that provide even more pictures plus detailed information about the beach, including directions on how to get there, in case you’d like to pay Balos a personal visit this summer or sometime in the future. Consider it a mini guide to Balos, if you will. The only information I don’t include is for hotels, studios or rental villas — you’ll have to research that yourself, but you’ll find links to accommodation resources on most of the websites I mention, as well as in source credits appearing under many of the photographs in my post.

To start off my “escape to Balos” feature, here is a video to help those of you who aren’t already familiar with Balos to get acquainted with its matchless location and sublime setting.

I love watching this film by Žiga Zupančič because it instantly makes me feel like I’m at Balos, basking in the sun, appreciating the grandeur of the landscapes and scenery, and chilling out to the laid-back beach vibe. 

 

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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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Experience Greece’s glorious off-season sights & scenery with winter walks and drives

Greece on foot walking tour photo 01

A light layer of snow on the ground didn’t deter participants in a Greece on Foot walking tour from enjoying the awe-inspiring mountain and valley scenery in the Arcadia region of the Peloponnese on January 24 …

 

Greece on foot walking tour photo 02

… nor did cold temperatures just two days later, when walkers got to trek through vibrant green olive groves like this one under brilliant sunny skies. (Photos provided courtesy of Greece on Foot tours.)

 

Winter wonders: Take a winter vacation in Greece? Sure! Why not?

The seething  crowds of summer tourists have long since disappeared, as have the scorching temperatures and the startling high prices of peak season. There’s no waiting in long queues for seats on buses or in restaurants, and no jostling with mobs of organized excursion groups or gaggles of selfie-snapping sightseers at monuments and museums. Hiking paths are almost deserted, and roads aren’t clogged with tour coaches. The magnificent historic and natural scenery remains glorious despite the drastic change in seasons, the legendary Greek hospitality continues unabated, and the food is superb as always.

Of course, winter is the wrong time to visit if your primary holiday preferences are swimming and water sports, lounging on beaches, or all-night-long dancing and carousing at bars, clubs and beaches on Mykonos, Ios or any of the other legendary Greek “party islands.” 

But you’ll still find dynamic nightlife in Athens and Thessaloniki, cities which abound in world-class dining, shopping, entertainment and cultural activities all year round. And if you’re a winter sports enthusiast, you can challenge your alpine mountaineering or snow kiting skills on Crete, or go snowboarding and downhill skiing at Kalavrita or one of several other major resorts on the Greek mainland.

Mountaineering in Crete

Two alpine mountaineers ascend the steep snow-covered peak of Mt Dikti on Crete, in this image shared on Facebook in late January by Festivalaki: Cretan festival of Arts & Culture. The organization’s Facebook post said mountaineering in Crete offers “a wonderful experience combining alpine terrain with breathless views of both the Libyan & Aegean sea.”

 

Vouliagmeni beach photo by John de Castelberg

A beach near the Vouliagmeni beach suburb of Athens is seen in this December 29 2015 photo by John de Castelberg.  Most tourists might find the sea too chilly for a winter dip, but the scenic beach- and café-lined coast of the Athenian Riviera is pleasant to visit throughout the off season.

 

 

Main tourist season is April to October

For people like me and my partner, who couldn’t bear either the blistering heat and sun or the heaving hordes of tourists in midsummer, winter could well be one of the best times to visit Greece. So why, then, have we travelled there only in spring or fall?

That’s a question we have been pondering a lot lately. We used to believe it was better to travel during the regular tourist season, which generally starts in late April and winds down by the end of October (particularly on the islands). In fact, most of our Greek holidays have been fairly early in the season, typically sometime between mid-May and early June. But we have gone twice in the autumn — we went island hopping in the Cyclades in late September 2007, and we explored Naxos and Athens during the first half of October 2013.

What we like about our spring trips in particular is the palpable local excitement and anticipation for the new travel season and approaching summer period, an atmosphere we find invigorating and refreshing after our long winter hibernation at home in Canada. Also, the weather is usually perfect for some of our favourite holiday activities — hiking and walking, and dining outdoors (especially near the sea). We weren’t keen to visit Greece during the off-season because we were worried we might not enjoy it as much with colder temperatures, inclement weather and few tourists around. 

Samos flamingo photo by Nikolaos Housas

Winter shouldn’t keep us away from Greece — it didn’t stop this pretty pink flamingo and a dozen of its feathered friends from visiting the Alyki wetland reserve on Samos island for several days at the end of January 2016.  Local photographer Nikolaos Housas captured this splendid image on January 27 and shared it on the Samos Island public group page on Facebook. 

 

Social media show the winter appeal of Greece

But recently we’ve really been warming up to the idea of a winter getaway to Greece.  What changed our minds? In two words: social media.

With their photos on Facebook, Flickr and Twitter (some of which I will share with you on page 2 of this post), friends, acquaintances and dozens of people we don’t even know have shown us that Greece can be just as delightful and charming in winter as it is during spring, summer or fall. In fact, they have demonstrated that it’s a terrific time to see the country’s wonderful sights and scenery either on foot or by driving around, and it can often even be comfortable to eat outdoors, or at least sit outside with a coffee to people watch and enjoy the scenery.  What’s more, colourful Carnival celebrations held each February and March in scores of villages and towns provide traditional festive fun and excitement we wouldn’t find in spring.

Haroula taverna at Marpissa on Paros

We thought we would miss eating outdoors if we took an off-season trip to Greece. But occasional mild weather means outdoor dining can be possible even in winter, as this photo posted by the Parosweb Facebook page attests. Taken on January 21 2016, the picture shows a table laden with delectable dishes of home-cooked Greek cuisine in the courtyard at Haroula’s Taverna in Marpissa village on Paros.

 

A place to escape our usual winter blahs

Of course there can be gloomy days with rain, cold temperatures, gale-force winds and even snowstorms, as I have reported in posts on December 31 2015, January 17 2016, and January 23 2016. But we get unpredictable and occasionally severe weather conditions at home, too. Yet we continue to drag ourselves through our  December and January doldrums, and the brutal February blahs, daydreaming about Greece and counting the days until we can go back.  Why not just battle the blahs by getting a winter fix of Greece instead?  With luck we might encounter pleasantly mild weather conditions, as you’ll see in many of the photos below. At worst, it will feel almost like winter back home — but at least we will be passing the time enjoying the off-season beauty in our favourite travel destination. We’re already looking into the possibility of doing exactly that next December or January.

Please click here or on the link below the following picture to turn to page 2 and see some of the photos that have convinced us we’re long overdue for an off-season trip to Greece. Fingers crossed that we’ll be posting our own winter pictures at this time next year. 

Athens winter night view photo by Wendy Gilops

Athens is a bustling year-round travel destination, as evidenced by the throngs of people strolling past historic monuments in the center of Athens, just below the illuminated Acropolis and Parthenon (upper right). Wendy Gilops captured this scene on December 27 2015. 

 

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