Tag: restaurants (page 1 of 2)

The 7 restaurants you simply must try on Mykonos

Spilia restaurant and seaside bar Mykono

Lobster pasta and freshly-caught sea urchins are two of the signature dishes that writer Heather Warburton recommends ordering at Spilia. It was one of her seven favourite restaurants on a recent trip to Mykonos.

  

Guest post by Heather Warburton

There are many reasons to go to Mykonos—the color of the water alone, the music, and the stunning villas—but, undoubtedly, the food scene will convince you. If you intend to eat light and vegetarian, you’ll find no better place, and then again, if you’re more into feta cheese and baklava, you’ll be just fine, too.

I spent five days in Mykonos in early July, and these were my favorite restaurants:

♦ Scorpios

 

Scorpios Mykonos

 

Scorpios is one of the only places to succeed in being both a terrific restaurant, and a really fun party. On a charming stretch of Paraga Beach, Scorpios is a sprawling compound. There’s an indoor area that’s light and spacious, with comfortable couches and a well-designed bar. If you come early in the day (read: before noon), you might see people working on their laptops sipping a green juice. Outside there is one large bar, a deck, a beach with over 40 lounge “beds,” and finally, a restaurant.

Despite its massive size, Scorpios boasts impeccable, friendly service and an intimate vibe. Graze on tzatziki, hummus, and spicy pita chips while waiting for a table. They’ll be the best pita chips of your life. You’ll find a vegetable driven menu once seated, with Mykonian salads (tomatoes, capers, cucumbers and feta cheese), whole roasted fish with your choice of sauce, and so many others. (I loved the quinoa with raisins and the zucchini with fresh mint). Their cocktail list is particularly impressive and long, with innovative and not-overly-sweet takes on your spirit of choice.

Go for a late lunch or sunset dinner.

sunset party at Scorpios Mykonos

A sunset party scene on the Scorpios seafront

 

Please click on the link below to read about the other 6 restaurants that Heather recommends on Mykonos. 

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What’s new on Mykonos for summer 2016

~ updated on Monday September 5 2016 ~

 

Mykonos Town and harbourfront

Overlooking the Mykonos Town harbourfront from one of my favourite vantage points on a hill behind the Remezzo area of town

 

Boom town: Many of the tourists who visited Mykonos last summer must have been wondering why they didn’t see obvious signs of the economic crisis that has ravaged the country for more than five years.  

Seemingly unscathed by the financial problems that have plagued the rest of Greece, Mykonos was absolutely thriving in 2015, with more than 100 new travel-related businesses opening up on the island last summer alone. The unprecedented renovation and building boom saw the arrival of new hotels, restaurants, bars, shops, galleries and personal services, many of which were aimed at the island’s rapidly growing luxury travel market.

 

 

It would be hard to top 2015’s astounding array of brand-new businesses again this year, but recent announcements about more upcoming new openings suggest the resilient Mykonos economy is poised for even further prosperity and growth.

So far there have been announcements on social media to herald the imminent debut of several new restaurants, retail shops, beach clubs, hotels, bars and nightlife venues, while rumours abound that many more are in the works.

Please click on the link below to read about the new businesses that have opened or been announced so far. I will update this post regularly as I receive more information about the newcomers.

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Top smoke-free Athens bars and restaurants for non-smokers

Mama Roux Athens

The open-air terrace at Mama Roux is shown in a  photo from the restaurant’s Facebook page. Mama Roux is among 10 top Athens cocktail bars & restaurants that expressly forbid smoking on their premises, according to an article from the Greece Is culture and gastronomy website.

 

Breathe better: From a visitor’s point of view, there are very few negative things I can say about Greece. I love going there, and wouldn’t publish this website if I didn’t. But like any place on Earth, it’s not a perfect paradise and it does have some drawbacks. The biggest, from my personal perspective, is the wide prevalence of smoking — not just by locals, but by tourists, too.

I’m seriously allergic to tobacco smoke — it makes me intensely nauseous, and it hinders my breathing. It also stings my eyes and sticks to my contact lenses, leaving them scratchy and uncomfortable. And it doesn’t matter if I’m inside a building or outdoors — if someone lights up nearby, the impact of their smoke is just as severe.

It seems I have plenty of company: I’ve received messages from other people with smoke allergies, and I’ve spoken to numerous travellers (mainly from the USA and Canada) who have commented on the pervasiveness of smoking even in places where it’s supposed to be illegal. 

Happily, I have found cigarette smoke less of a nuisance in recent years than it was during each of our Greek holidays prior to 2009. That was the year Greece enacted legislation to ban smoking in many public places, and though the law has often been ignored since it took effect, I have encountered far fewer people puffing in places where I can’t easily escape their smoke, such as in shops, restaurants and hotels, or on public transit. I still have occasional problems, but I breathe much easier in Greece now than I did up to 2009.

Nevertheless, a meal in a restaurant or a coffee break in a cafe can be ruined for me if another customer or someone on staff lights up. No matter how far away I sit from a smoker (and I actually have changed tables to avoid some), their smoke will waft in my direction and give me grief. 

 

Since I’ve often wondered if there’s anywhere I could go where I could be guaranteed someone wouldn’t be smoking at the table beside me, I was glad to find an article entitled Athenian Hangouts Without Smoke, which was published at the end of March on the excellent Greece Is culture and gastronomy.

Written by Maria Coveou, the article profiles 10 Athens restaurants and cocktail bars “which are smoke-free in theory and in practice, and where exceptions are never made.”

I haven’t been to any of the establishments yet (though I have walked past one — the legendary Zonars restaurant and lounge), but I have bookmarked the article to keep on hand for my next trip to Athens.

If you’re planning to visit Athens and you’re a non-smoker yourself, click here to read Maria’s article and save it for future reference. 

And if you happen to know of other bars and restaurants in Athens (or anywhere else in Greece) that steadfastly forbid tobacco smoking on their premises, please let me and my non-smoking readers know by adding a comment to this post (simply click on the word “comments” under the headline at the top of this article, and write your response in the “Leave a Reply” box.) Those of us with cigarette smoke allergies will be immensely grateful for the information!

 

Zonars restaurant Athens Greece

One of the city’s most famous restaurants and lounge bars, Zonars is another establishment where non-smokers can enjoy a drink or meal in an environment free of tobacco smoke. This street-view photo of Zonars was shared on Facebook by Aspasia Taka Architects.

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.

Heed the siren’s call for standout seafood & Greek food at Rafina

Seirines restaurant at Rafina

Street view of Seirines (Sirens) restaurant on the harbourfront strip near the port of Rafina. (This photo, from the Seirines Facebook page, was originally posted on TripAdvisor with a 5-star rating by reviewer erythnul.)

 

Tempting tastes: If you find yourself feeling hungry while waiting for a ferry at Rafina port, or after arriving there on one, I recommend making your way directly to Seirines restaurant for a meal. You won’t be disappointed, especially if you enjoy fresh seafood.

Friends took us there for lunch last May when we had several hours to pass before catching a late afternoon ferry to Andros. They had assured us that Seirines would be a great spot to enjoy the first meal of our holiday after arriving in Greece on a long overnight flight from Canada, and they were absolutely right — it was perfect. With a harbour-view table on the taverna’s open-air terrace, and a nice variety of delicious seafood and Greek dishes, we could not have asked for a better “welcome back” to Greece.

The tremendously satisfying lunch and waterfront setting got our vacation off to a great start, and in retrospect may have been an omen of good food to follow  — over the next 16 days, we enjoyed the best dining of all our trips to Greece since 2004.

 

Our selection of dishes included feta, white fish roe dip (a richer and much less salty version of the pinkish-coloured taramasalata typically found on taverna menus), calamari, toasted bread, grilled calamari, grilled sardines, vegetable croquettes, and ouzo (for those of you who love ouzo or tsipouro, take note that Seirines is an ouzotsipouradiko, offering an extensive selection of the two spirits).

The dishes provided more than enough food for the four of us, and we barely managed to clear all the plates. Everything was good, but for me the fish roe dip and sardines were exceptional.  Although our friends picked up the tab and wouldn’t let me see the bill, they said the price for our lunch had been very reasonable. We will definitely go back to Seirines if any of our future travels take us through Rafina.

Seirines restaurant rAFINA

Seirines photo of platters with a selection of seafood and Greek food delights

 

But you don’t have to take only my word that Seirines is an ideal choice for dining near the port.  Check out the rave review that the New York City-based food blog Fritos and Foie Gras gave the restaurant in its photo-illustrated post, The Fish Lunch of My Dreams at Seirines, Rafina. (With its comments like “it’s impossible not to love this restaurant,” and “I would come back here in a heartbeat if I could,” you’ll see I have good company in highly recommending the restaurant. Be sure to click on the photos in the review to get a better look at the scrumptious dishes the writer enjoyed, including tzatziki, a country salad, a smoked and cured fish plate, and souvlaki-style shrimp.)

If you need more convincing, read the Seirines review in the article CB on the road: Eating in Rafina, which the international city dining blog Culinary Backstreets published less than two weeks before we discovered the restaurant.

You can read additional reviews on TripAdvisor, where Seirines is ranked as the #1 restaurant in Rafina.

Google Street View image of Seirines restaurant at Rafina Greece

This Google Street View image shows the close proximity of Seirines (left) to the Rafina ferry docks

Mykonos 2014 restaurant update (Part 3)

Pasaji restaurant at Ornos beach Mykonos

One of the newest restaurants on Mykonos this summer is Pasají, which opened in July at Ornos beach.  It features Mediterranean fusion cuisine and sushi, and boasts a chic beach bar and beachside swimming pool.

 

 More choices: Mykonos is probably best known for its nightlife and beaches, but with well over 300 restaurants and bars catering to all tastes and budgets, it’s also one of the most interesting and exciting destinations for dining and drinking in all of the Greek Islands.

Choosing from such an extensive variety of restaurants is no easy task, especially since dozens are critically acclaimed and come highly recommended by websites and print publications geared to foodies and travellers.

Deciding where to go for a meal or cocktail became even more difficult this year when more than 20 newcomers arrived to spice up the island’s restaurant scene with additional flavours, tastes and unique dining environments.

I have already written two reports profiling some of the new arrivals for 2014: Remezzo club gets restyled into restaurant & bar as new places to eat, stay & play open on Mykonos, published on April 13, and Mykonos 2014 restaurant & club update (Part 2), posted on May 5.

In this third instalment, I’ll introduce you to 12 more new establishments that are waiting to whet your appetite when you visit Mykonos. Some of the restaurants opened as recently as July, while others launched at the end of last autumn. But this is the first summer all have been operating, and the feedback about food and service has been extremely favourable for most.

Not surprisingly, Greek and Mediterranean cuisine (including seafood) figure prominently on the menu selections at most of the new eateries. But in line with recent trends, several restaurants focus on sushi, while three specialize in either Thai, Indian or Italian dishes. Two are the Greek equivalent of “fast food” joints — grill houses that serve cheaply-priced gyros and souvlaki.

More than half of the new dining spots are located in Mykonos Town, while the rest are at beach resort areas including Agia Anna/Paraga, Ornos and Paradise.

Follow the link below to page 2, where you’ll find photos and information about the new restaurants.

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2board summer issue features food guide, hotel profiles + tour ideas for Athens & Chania

2board Magazine Gastro Guide

The July–September issue of 2board magazine features a gastronomy guide, suggested tours for Athens and Chania, and profiles of top boutique hotels

 

 Tons of great tips: If you’re passing through Athens International Airport anytime this month, be sure to grab a copy of the July–September issue of 2board magazine while you’re in the terminal.

The 212-page glossy publication is packed full of useful travel tips about hotels, restaurants, and attractions at a variety of destinations — information that could come in handy during your current travels in Greece, or for planning a future holiday.

2board is the official magazine of the Athens airport. Copies are available free of charge from magazine racks situated at various locations in the terminal building.

I always find a wealth of interesting information, travel ideas and helpful research material in 2board, and this summer’s edition is no exception. In fact, it’s one of the better issues, content-wise, that I’ve seen. (And, as always, it’s packed with photos of luxurious resorts, villas and restaurants I can only dream about visiting someday … but it’s still great fun to imagine what it would be like seeing these places and photographing them with my own camera.)

 

Gastro Guide to 10 top restaurants

Foodies will want to flip directly to page 21 for 2board‘s “Gastro Guide to Greece,” which profiles “Ten restaurants that do not simply dish up Greek high gastronomy, they consistently take it one step further.”

The guide highlights two acclaimed restaurants on Mykonos, three on Santorini, one each on the islands of Corfu, Crete and Rhodes, and two on the Greek mainland — one at Preveza and another in Halkidiki:

Etrusco at Kato Korakiana on Corfu;

♦ Old Mill at the Elounda Mare Hotel at Elounda on Crete;

♦ The Squirrel, one of the restaurants at Danai Beach Resort & Villas in Halkidiki;

♦ the dining room at Bill & Coo Suites & Lounge above Megali Ammos beach on Mykonos;

♦ the brand new White Star at Lakka Square in Mykonos Town;

♦ the restaurant at SESA Boutique Hotel at Kanali beach in Preveza;

♦ The Greek, a new dining room at the Sheraton Rhodes Resort on Rhodes;

♦ Selene in Pyrgos village on Santorini;

♦ Sea Side by Notos at Santorini’s Perivolos beach; and

♦ the dining room at the Grace Santorini hotel in Imerovigli.

The Gastro Guide includes full-page photos of the respective restaurants’ chefs and some of their tantalizing creations, along with suggestions of signature dishes to try if you get the opportunity to dine at one of these fine establishments. A word of warning: don’t read this article on an empty stomach, because the stunning food photos and descriptions of the unique dishes will instantly make you feel hungry!

 

Facebook page photo of the dining terrace at The Squirrel restaurant

The seaside dining terrace at The Squirrel restaurant in the Danai Beach Resort & Villas in Halkidiki. The photo is from the Danai Beach Resort Facebook page.

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

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Greek Islands featured on covers of major travel magazines

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.

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Aegean in-flight magazine lauds the marvels of Milos

Aegean Airlines Blue magazine cover image

Fashion model Vasilianna strikes a pose on one of the seaside rock formations at spectacular Sarakiniko beach on Milos island in the Cyclades. The photo, by Olympia Krasagaki, graces the cover of the summer 2014 edition of Blue, the in-flight magazine of Aegean Airlines.

 

Cover story: One of my favourite islands will be getting a lot of international attention over the next three months thanks to Aegean Airlines.

Milos is pictured not only on the cover of the airline’s in-flight magazine Blue this summer, but also in a Nature focus article as well as in a fashion photo spread featuring some of the island’s breathtaking beaches and magnificent coastal scenery.

The articles laud Milos for its “extraordinary beauty,” “spectacular coastline” and gorgeous beaches, and points out that the volcanic island also “has plenty of pretty, traditional villages, ancient monuments, excellent local cuisine and an overall air of elegance.”

Milos is, of course, one of the splendid island destinations that can easily be reached from Athens on daily flights by Olympic Air, which merged with Aegean several years ago.

The release of the summer 2014 edition of Blue was announced today on the Aegean Airlines International Facebook page.

The 340-page glossy magazine will be available to passengers flying Aegean during the next three months, and also can be viewed online in an e-book format available on the airline’s website. Click here to peruse the online edition.

The magazine cover photo shows a fashion model posing on the seaside at Sarakiniko, which is one of the most fascinating and impressive coastal landscapes I’ve seen out of all the Greek islands I’ve been fortunate to visit so far.

More pictures of Sarakiniko are included in a women’s fashion feature that starts on page 212. The fashion spread includes photos shot at other spectacular locations on Milos, including the colourful fishing village at Klima, the picturesque mountain town of Plaka, the scenic seaside at Fyriplaka beach, and the Glaronissia islets off the north coast of the island near Pollonia.

 Aegean Airlines Blue magazine

The coastline at Fyriplaka beach provides a breathtakingly beautiful backdrop for this fashion photo by Olympia Krasagaki. Click here to open the online edition of Blue magazine and view full-size photos of the superlative Milos scenery.

 

Places to see, eat and drink on Milos

The Nature focus Milos: natural wonder begins at page 116 and includes amazing photos of the majestic coastal rock formations at Kleftiko and the incomparable Papafragas, a sliver of sandy beach wedged between tall stone walls. The article describes popular tourist and natural attractions on Milos, including some of the island’s 75 remarkable beaches, and suggests places to eat and drink.

Restaurant recommendations include our personal favourite O Chamos at Papakinou beach in the port town of Adamas, as well as Archontoula and Fatses in Plaka, Ergina in Tripiti, Enalion in Pollonia, and a few others.

For nice spots to enjoy a drink, the magazine’s picks include Akri and Mikro in Adamas, along with Gatis, Bakaliko and Utopia Café in Plaka (see my April 4 2012 post Utopian sunsets on Milos for photos of the sensational sunset views from the terrace at Utopia Café’s outdoor terrace).

 

Profiles for other island & mainland destinations

Although Milos claimed bragging rights to the cover photo and two feature articles, it isn’t the only must-see Greek destination profiled in Blue magazine. The summer issue is packed with beguiling photos and interesting travel information about 17 other intriguing islands as well as several cities and regions on the mainland.

For foodies, there are appetizing descriptions of new restaurants that have opened recently on the islands of Rhodes and Mykonos, as well as in Halkidiki.

For fans of arts and culture, there are articles about the 2014 Sani Festival in Halkidi, plus the impressive Viannos Art Gallery in Keratokambos, a small town situated at the southernmost point on Crete.

And for travellers who’d like to plan some island hopping, there are informative reports on things to see and do on Syros, Kasos, Paros, Corfu, Kos, Leros, Naxos, Lemnos, Ikaria, Kastellorizo, Kefalonia, Santorini, Rhodes and Astipalia — all accompanied by captivating full-colour photos.

If you’re lucky to be flying Aegean while the summer edition of Blue is available, be sure to collect a free copy from the seat pocket — it will be an excellent research resource for future Greek holiday planning. (And please get a copy for me!)

 Thalassitra Church Milos

If you haven’t been to Milos and want to see why it was an outstanding choice for Blue magazine’s cover, check out my Milos photo collection on Flickr. It includes images of Milos landmarks like Thalassitra Church at Plaka village (above).

 

2014 Greek holiday report and photos Part 2: Summer arrives for our first full day on Naxos

woman on air mattress on Naxos

Ah, this is the life! A bikini-clad young woman catches some rays from the comfort of an air mattress floating on the calm waters at St George’s Beach. Naxos basked in gorgeous summery weather on May 20.

 [Editor’s Note: Full-size versions of all the photos that appear in this post can be viewed in the Naxos May 20 2014 album on the MyGreeceTravelBlog Flickr page.]

 

Tuesday May 20

Suddenly summer: When I woke up around 9 a.m., I almost felt scared to open the curtains to see what the weather was like. Would it be another day of clouds and rain, as had been forecast? Or would we get lucky and have a hint of nice weather instead?

We got lucky! There was sunshine and a bright blue sky — an absolutely gorgeous morning. It looked like our spring vacation was starting off the exact same way our holiday had begun last fall — with clouds and rain our first day on Naxos followed by sunny clear skies the rest of the trip. I couldn’t wait to to have breakfast outside — our first outdoor meal since we were in Greece last October.

I always love starting my day with a cup of coffee on the poolside breakfast patio at Lianos Village Hotel. With colourful gardens and a swimming pool just steps from our table, views of the beautiful blue Aegean Sea,  and a few of the neighbourhood cats lingering at our feet, the sun-shaded terrace is the place where I have enjoyed eating breakfast the most out of all our trips to Greece. The setting and atmosphere make me feel completely carefree, content and relaxed.  A little voice inside my head keeps repeating: “Kalimera! You’re on vacation! You’re in Greece!” I wish every morning could begin like this!

 Lianos Village Hotel

Sunshine and an almost cloudless sky greeted me when I pulled open the door and stepped onto our terrace our first morning on Naxos. This was our view looking south to Agios Prokopios and Agia Anna.

 

Please click on the number 2 in the link below to continue reading my trip report and view dozens of photos from our day on Naxos.

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Mykonos 2014 restaurant & club update (Part 2)

Funky Kitchen Mykonos

The bar at Funky Kitchen Mykonos, a new restaurant that opened recently in the Lakka district of Mykonos Town. The photo is one of several posted recently on Funky Kitchen’s Facebook page.

 

More openings: Several weeks back I posted photos and information about brand-new tourist-related businesses opening on Mykonos for the summer of 2014 (see my April 13 2014 report headlined: Remezzo club gets restyled into restaurant & bar as new places to eat, stay & play open on Mykonos).

Friends on Mykonos tell me the arrival of the new accommodation, bar and dining venues has heightened the positive energy and enthusiastic buzz that has been steadily building this spring as travel bookings indicate the island could see a whopping 40% increase in visitor numbers this year.

That excitement will continue to increase this week, and throughout May, as more of the island’s already-established restaurants and bars launch their season with opening parties and special events.

Here’s some information to update my previous report from last month:

 

 

Newcomers to Lakka Square

Located near the busy Fabrika bus depot, the area around Lakka Square in Mykonos Town has long been one of the island’s top destinations for drinking and dining. It’s home to a variety of hugely popular restaurants and tavernas, including Bakalo, Marco Polo Taverna, Mediterraneo, and Sale e Pepe, and is where the cavernous Space Mykonos nightclub was located.

This year has brought three noteworthy changes to Lakka’s vibrant restaurant and bar scene.

Space is gone, and a new venue — Dream City (DC) — has taken its place. DC kicked off the season on April 19 with a grand opening party featuring Melisses and Knockout, and threw another bash the next day with Claydee and Bang La Decks. During May, Dream City will be open only on Fridays and Saturdays, but after that will be party central every day for the rest of the summer.

 

Dream City Mykonos

This image was posted on Facebook to promote last month’s opening party for Dream City Mykonos, a new club in the old Space Mykonos space

 

 

Just around the corner from DC, Funky Kitchen has opened its doors and begun welcoming customers. The restaurant subscribes to the “slow food” philosophy in preparing its Mediterranean dishes from high-quality, locally-sourced products. Everything the restaurant serves is made in-house, from its bread and dips to its marmelade and sauces as well as its sweets, chocolate chili and cardamom ice cream. Funky Kitchen also boasts an extensive wine list and cocktail menu.

Funky Kitchen is situated at 40 Ignatiou Basoula street, next door to Marco Polo Taverna.

 

Funky Kitchen Mykonos

Street view of the new Funky Kitchen restaurant, which features Mediterranean cuisine prepared in line with the “slow food” approach to cooking

 

 

The third newcomer to Lakka Square is Noodle Mykonos, an Asian “fusion” restaurant with a noodle and sushi bar.

Noodle offers “quick, fresh and healthy” cuisine for on-site dining, take-out and delivery.

 

Noodle Mykonos

This map, from the Noodle Mykonos Facebook page, shows the restaurant’s prime location two blocks from the Fabrika bus depot

 

 

Noodle Mykonos

This photo of guests gathered outside Noodle Mykonos during the restaurant’s recent opening party was posted on Facebook.

 

 

Noodle Mykonos

Also from the Noodle Mykonos Facebook page, a snapshot of the menu

 

 

 Skandi Bar ready to rock

The Skandinavian Bar and Disco has been a veritable institution on Mykonos since 1978, ranking as one of the top places to party in the Greek islands every year since then. Its opening night event for 2014 takes place tonight (May 5), and the place will continue rocking all summer long.

 

Skandinavian Bar Mykonos

Opening party promotional image from the Skandinavian Bar Facebook page

 

 

Skandinavian Bar Mykonos

Skandinavian Bar posted this enthusiastic group photo on its Facebook page to promote the club’s opening party on Monday May 5

 

 

Kastro Bar launches new season

Also opening today is another popular bar that has developed a legion of fans and regular visitors from around the world since it opened in 1976 — Kastro Bar. It’s located steps from the famous Paraportiani Church and boasts great sea and sunset views.

 

Kastro Bar Mykonos

This photo of the Kastro Bar interior was posted on the Mykonos Facebook page today to announce today’s official opening.

 

 

 A Nice n Easy start at Kalo Livadi

 The Nice n Easy Bio restaurant cafe expanded from Athens to Mykonos last summer, and the island outpost became an instant hit. Nice n Easy Mykonos vaulted to the #37 ranking for Mykonos restaurants on TripAdvisor.com, supplanting Solymar as the trendiest eatery at Kalo Livadi beach. (Solymar had to settle for the #176 ranking on TripAdvisor’s Mykonos restaurant chart).

Will Nice n Easy duplicate its success in 2014? We may soon find out — it will be opening its doors on May 16.

 

Nice n Easy Mykonos

This photo was posted on the Nice n Easy Mykonos Facebook page to announce the restaurant’s official opening on May 16

 

 

Top beach eateries now open

Kalosta Restaurant quickly became one of the most popular new places to dine on Mykonos last year, vaulting into a high position on the TripAdvisor.com traveller reviews (where it is currently is rated as the #12 restaurant on the island.) It opened for a fresh season on May 7.

It joins several perennially-popular dining spots that have already opened for business at other beach areas, including Kiki’s Taverna at Agios Sostis, Aneplora at Kalafatis, Solymar at Kalo Livadi, Tasos at Paraga, Nammos at Psarou, Kostantis at Ornos and Hippie Fish at Agios Ioannis. Launching its season soon will be Fokos Taverna at Fokos beach, which has set its opening for May 15.

 

Kalosta restaurant Mykonos

This photo, from the Kalosta Restaurant Facebook page, shows part of the view of Panormos beach that restaurant guests will enjoy from the open-air dining terrace

 

 

Kostantis restaurant Mykonos

Kostantis restaurant is situated near the middle of Ornos beach. This photo of the beachside dining terrace appears on the Kostantis Restaurant Facebook page.

 

 

Mykonos Town hot spots

Fans of superb Italian food and fine wine will be happy to hear that Sale e Pepe is open for another season. The restaurant is located at Lakka Square and has won numerous accolades for its food and wine. It has been well-known for its wine list which is arguably the best on the island, and which has won acclaim from Wine Spectator magazine as one of the best restaurant wine lists in the world.

Lovers of authentic Neapolitan pizza will be delighted that Marechiaro is now open again, too.  Besides pizza, Marechiaro offers salads and appetizers as well as fish specials and rib eye steaks.  Pizza can be ordered for pick-up and take-away each day from 7 p.m. to 1 a.m.

Last but not least, the world-famous Nobu Matsuhisa Mykonos started its second decade of business on May 9. Situated in the chic Belvedere Hotel, the restaurant celebrated its 10th anniversary last year.

 

Sale & Pepe Mykonos

From the Sale & Pepe Facebook page, a photo of the restaurant’s open-air dining terrace near Lakka Square in Mykonos Town

 

 

New disco & lounge at Taxi Square

Boogie nights return to Taxi Square on May 16 when the new lounge & discotheque @54 Club opens in the premises formerly occupied by the Ramrod Club gay bar.

The island’s newest nightclub is promising “Exclusive weekly parties full of the sexiest & most glamorous jet setting crowd and pumpin’ jamz to boot!”

The grand opening celebration starts at 7 pm.

 

@54 Club Mykonos

Bartender Tassos stands outside @54 Club, a new disco & lounge opening on the premises once occupied by the Ramrod Club gay bar. The club, located next to Taxi Square in Mykonos Town, starts its boogie nights with a grand opening party on May 16. The photo is from @54 Club’s Facebook page.

 

 

Greek dancing & music at Roca Cookery

Roca Cookery isn’t a new restaurant (it has been in business for nearly three years now), but I noticed they have added something new that will probably be as huge a hit with tourists as their excellent seafood dishes and Greek cuisine.

One evening each week, Roca Cookery will host a Greek dancing show with live music. The spectacles will take place on Tuesdays at 21:30 (9:30 p.m.).

For reservation inquiries, contact the restaurant by telephone at 30 2289 022955 or drop by in person. Roca Cookery is situated next to the Mykonos Archaeological Museum on the road above the Mykonos Old Port.

 

Roca Cookery Mykonos

A promotional image for the new Greek dancing and live music shows being held every Tuesday night at Roca Cookery.

 

Kokkari’s waterfront restaurant row

Kokkari village Samos

Taverna signs compete for customers’ attention along the waterfront pedestrian promenade in Kokkari village on Samos island.

 

 

Kokkari Samos

Another view of “restaurant row” from a position a bit farther along the strip

 

 

Kokkari village Samos

A view from across the bay of restaurants along part of the Kokkari waterfront

 

 

Kokkari village Samos

The tavernas have sheltered dining terraces either right next to the water or beside the narrow shore that extends along part of the harbourside

 

 

Kokkari village Samos

The tables offer scenic views of the harbour, in all directions …

 

 

Kokkari village Samos

… while some waterfront bars offer comfortable cushioned seats for customers to relax in while enjoying drinks and the Kokkari scenery

 

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