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Greek Islands featured on covers of major travel magazines

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GEO magazine June 2014 cover

GEO magazine profiled Greece in its June 2014 issue with a cover photo of Mandrakia village on Milos and an “Escape” feature on the “Secret islands and archipelagos of Greece.” They’re obviously not secret anymore!

 

Summer reads: When I’m not in Greece I enjoy reading about it — in books, magazines, online travel forums and websites. Thanks to feature cover stories about Greece published by three major European travel magazines recently, I’ve got plenty to read while relaxing on my balcony this summer.

Here’s a look at what the three magazine cover stories say about Greece:

  GEO magazine June 2014

I discovered GEO magazine from France purely by chance — I was looking for another magazine at a newsstand when a photo on GEO’s bold green cover caught my eye. It was the picturesque harbour at Mandrakia, a fishing hamlet on Milos, under the headline: “Secret islands and archipelagos of Greece.” I couldn’t resist and bought the magazine after taking only a cursory glance at the contents.

It turns out there are 28 full pages of text and beautiful photos about several Greek islands including Kythera, Kalymnos, Milos, Santorini, Chios, Aegina, Tinos, Skyros, Folegandros and Rhodes. The stories aren’t travel guides — they don’t recommend hotels to stay in, for instance, or suggest the hottest restaurants and coolest beaches to visit. Some of the pieces provide brief descriptions and overviews of the destinations, while others take an insightful look into how the Greek Islands have been affected by the country’s devastating economic crisis. The sale of island real estate to foreign billionaires is considered in part of one report, for example, while another piece profiles people who have started new business ventures selling local agricultural products.

 Island village photo foul-up

 GEO magazine photo of Astipalea

Mon Dieu! GEO magazine mistakenly published this eye-catching photo of Chora village on Astipalea to illustrate a short piece about Chora on Kythera — another island in a completely different area of Greece.

 

One of the GEO feature’s excellent photos — spread across pages 36 and 37  — really piqued my curiosity. It shows a white-domed church rising from the middle of a huge stone castle perched on a hilltop. The slopes below the castle are stacked with white cube houses that descend to a row of derelict windmills. I instantly recognized the location — Chora village on Astipalea, a butterfly-shaped island in the Dodecanese archipelago. I had shot photos from almost the identical vantage point when we visited Astipalea in 2009. However, the picture accompanied an article about Kythera, which is part of the Ionian island group, and the text said the town in the photo is that island’s capital, also called Chora. (Most main towns on Greek islands are called Chora).

I haven’t been to Kythera yet, but I was absolutely certain the photo was from Astipalea. So I poured through my photos to confirm I was right (there’s more than 300 pictures in my Astipalea collection on Flickr). Sure enough, details in my pictures of Astipalea’s Chora matched the same features visible in the GEO image, which was credited to Velissario Voutsas /IML – Hemis.fr, a French photo agency. Obviously someone on the magazine staff had made a big boo-boo by purchasing the wrong stock image to illustrate the article!

(You can learn more about Kythera, and see photos showing what its Chora looks like, on the comprehensive Visit Kythera website.)

Photo flop aside, the GEO stories are compelling reads, and are bound to encourage people in France to consider island hopping in Greece on an upcoming vacation. Moreover, photos and information about Leros, Kalymnos, Chios, Skyros and Tinos will encourage travellers to visit charming islands that often get overlooked because they aren’t instantly-recognizable mainstream tourist destinations like Santorini, Paros, Naxos and Mykonos.

 Please click on the 2 in the link below to continue reading this report.

 CONTINUED ON PAGE 2

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Things I love about Greece: Waking up to gorgeous views at hotels in the Greek Islands (Part 3)

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Hotel Tagoo Mykonos sunset view

A dramatic sunset viewed from Hotel Tagoo on Mykonos in September 2007

 

Sunsets, sea views & windstorms: 2007 was the year we took our first-ever September trip to Greece, breaking a pattern of travelling in mid- to late May or early June.  This particular island-hopping holiday took us to Milos, Sifnos, Folegandros and Mykonos.

Milos was our first stop; we flew there on an Olympic Airways flight from Athens the same day we arrived in Greece. We stayed at the Santa Maria Village hotel near Adamas, the main port town on Milos. Santa Maria Village is a hillside complex of hotel rooms, suites, apartments and bungalows less than a 15-minute walk from the Adamas harbour. The hotel overlooks the Gulf of Milos, and the balcony to our room had views of the gulf, 748-meter Mt. Profitis Elias and other mountains on the west side of the bay, and Adamas. No sunset views from this location, but we did get to see a spectacular sunset from Utopia bar in Plaka one evening.

Sifnos was our second destination. We stayed at Hotel Delfini, which sits directly across from the Kamares ferry port on the far side of Kamares Bay. The hotel has a beautiful swimming pool that overlooks Kamares and the bay. In our room, one of the tiniest hotel rooms we’ve stayed in anywhere, the window and the balcony both gave good views straight down the wide bay toward open sea. We saw some brilliant sunsets during our stay — a stroke of luck considering that a bad weather system moved over the Aegean during our first night on Sifnos, bringing cloudy skies and a fierce windstorm that disrupted ferry travel for several days. We actually had to spend one extra night on the island because there were no ferries going anywhere on our scheduled departure day.

Folegandros was our third stop, and we arrived more than a day late because of the ferry cancellations caused by the weekend windstorm that “stranded” us on Sifnos. We stayed at the Fata Morgana Studios, a small clifftop complex of 14 apartments near the island’s main town, Chora.This place has incredible views, including sunsets! The swimming pool and bar overlook the sea and the mountainous western half of the island, while our balcony gave us even better views — the same breathtaking sea and mountain views, plus sightlines of Chora and the stunning church of Koimisis tis Theotokou (Assumption of the Virgin Mary), perched high on the mountain above the town.

Mykonos was our final island-hopping destination, and this time we decided to stay close to Mykonos Town, rather than at a beach resort like Elia or Platis Gialos where we had stayed three times before. We chose Hotel Tagoo not only because of its many positive reviews on TripAdvisor.com, but also since it came highly recommended first-hand by some people from Toronto we knew who had stayed there the previous year. (I had recommended the Lianos Village to them for their Naxos visit; they loved it and suggested we try Hotel Tagoo next time we went to Mykonos because it had many similarities and they felt certain we would love it. They were right.)

We actually got to stay in two different rooms. Our first room was situated on the east side of the Hotel Tagoo complex, with a semi-private partial sea-view terrace that was cozy, comfortable and quiet. We couldn’t watch the sunset from that terrace, but if we wanted to see it, all we had to do was walk a few flights of stairs to the swimming pool and pool bar deck. The panoramic vistas from there are spectacular; on clear days, you can see several other Cyclades islands including Tinos, Syros, Rinia and sometimes even Giaros. As you can imagine, the sunsets look sensational from up there, too. And for our last night on Mykonos, we got to move into a room with a direct sunset view. When guests checked out of one of the hotel’s front-facing rooms earlier in the day, hotel manager Anna asked if we wanted to switch rooms for the night. We did, of course, so we got to watch a brilliant sunset while enjoying a bottle of wine on the comfort of our own terrace. It was the perfect place to spend our final evening on the island!

Below are photos of our views from the Santa Maria Village on Milos, the Hotel Delfini on Sifnos, the Fata Morgana Studios on Folegandros, and Hotel Tagoo on Mykonos.

Santa Maria Village hotel balcony view

This was the view looking straight out from our second-floor hotel room balcony at the Santa Maria Village hotel in Adamas on Milos

Santa Maria Village balcony view

Directly ahead is the Gulf of Milos, the wide bay that separates the east and west sides of the island

Santa Maria Village balcony view

Off to the right stands Mount Profitis Elias on the west side of the Gulf of Milos

Santa Maria Village balcony view

The mountains blocked sunsets from sight at the hotel — but there were many excellent sunset viewing spots in Plaka and Kastro

Santa Maria Village hotel swimming pool

Our balcony also overlooked the Santa Maria Village swimming pool and bar terrace

Santa Maria Village swimming pool

The swimming pool and its surrounding terrace had views of the Gulf of Milos …

Santa Maria Village view of Adamas

… as well as views towards the island’s main port town, Adamas, which was only a 15-minute walk from the hotel along the waterfront

Hotel Delfini Sifnos

The Hotel Delfini is situated on a hill above Kamares Bay on Sifnos

Hotel Delfini Sifnos

The Delfini has great views of the mountains that tower above the bay and port…

Hotel Delfini view toward Kamares

… while parts of the hotel property overlook the port town of Kamares

Hotel Delfini swimming pool

The Hotel Delfini has a beautiful infinity pool …

Hotel Delfini infinity pool

that faces straight down Kamares Bay toward the open sea …

Hotel Delfini Sifnos infinity pool

… has views of the island’s main port town, Kamares …

Delfini Hotel Sifnos sunset view

… and offers excellent sightlines as the sun sets over the Aegean Sea to the west

Delfini hotel Sifnos sunset view

Another sunset view from the Hotel Delfini’s infinity pool

Hotel Delfini Sifnos view

The window in our room overlooked the pool and the hotel’s outdoor restaurant area (under the bamboo roof), and had great views of Kamares Bay

Hotel Delfini balcony view

Our balcony faced right down Kamares Bay toward the open sea

Kamares Bay on Sifnos

Our balcony view of the rugged coastline and rocky mountain above Kamares Bay

Delfini Hotel Sifnos sunset view

Our balcony view of a sunset over the Aegean Sea

Fata Morgana Folegandros

The swimming pool terrace at Fata Morgana Studios on Folegandros has fantastic views. The island of Paros is visible in the distance in this photo.

Fata Morgana Studios Folegandros

This was part of the view from our terrace at Fata Morgana Studios; I say “part” because the second-floor balcony wrapped around the building, offering wonderful views in several different directions

Fata Morgana Studios Folegandros

We could see the village of Ano Mera on the mountaintop in the distance

Fata Morgana Studios Folegandros views

Looking straight out to sea from our balcony at Fata Morgana Studios

Fata Morgana Studios

A sitting area for the pool bar had amazing views of the island, sea and sunset

Fata Morgana Studios

The sitting area looks surrounded by nothing but deep blue sea

Fata Morgana Studios

Our balcony also had great views of Chora, the main town on Folegandros

Church of Koimisis tis Theotokou in Folegandros

This was our balcony view of the Church of Koimisis tis Theotokou at sunset …

Fata Morgana Studios balcony view

… and this was our view of the moon high above Chora at sunset one evening

Fata Morgana Studios Folegandros

With all those views, I loved sitting on the balcony when we weren’t hiking around Folegandros (which is one of the best islands for walking)

 

Hotel Tagoo balcony

This was the semi-private sea-view terrace for our first room at Hotel Tagoo

 

Hotel Tagoo Mykonos view

To the left was this view of the hotel next door to Tagoo. The hillside in the distance is the Apollonia area of Mykonos island.

Hotel Tagoo balcony view

This was the direct sea view from our second room at Hotel Tagoo

Hotel Tagoo balcony view

Our balcony overlooked the swimming pool deck for another hotel lower down the hillside in what is known as the Tagoo district of Mykonos

Hotel Tagoo Mykonos views

The upper levels of Hotel Tagoo offer superb views of the sea and nearby islands

Hotel Tagoo views

On a clear day, the shimmering sea looks silver under the glare of the blazing sun

Hotel Tagoo Mykonos view

Standing on the swimming pool deck, two Hotel Tagoo guests watch as a four-masted luxury cruise ship sails out of Mykonos port

Hotel Tagoo swimming pool terrace at sunset

Guests watch a sunset from the swimming pool terrace at Hotel Tagoo

Hotel Tagoo Mykonos sunset view

The incredible sunset views make the Hotel Tagoo swimming pool terrace a popular gathering spot for guests each evening