Tag: Sifnos (page 1 of 3)

First-time island hopping in the Cyclades: How to do it, and what you’ll see when you get there

Cyclades hopping, an animated video published by g travel, shows how to arrange a simple island hopping holiday in the north and central Cyclades

 

Island itineraries: If you haven’t been to Greece before but dream about taking an island hopping holiday there, you’re probably wondering where to go, and how to get from one island to the next. With dozens of destination options in six distinct island chains, plus an array of ferry schedules to sift through, it can seem intimidating to set up a vacation. That’s one of the main reasons why many travellers take a Greek Isles cruise or a package tour, or ask a travel agent to arrange everything for them. There’s nothing wrong with any of those approaches if you’re more comfortable with them or you simply don’t have the time to do your own planning. But it’s not that daunting and difficult to do it yourself.

The video at the top of this post, Cyclades hopping, shows how to arrange a simple do-it-yourself trip to one of the most popular island chains in Greece.

The animated film focusses on a few of the Cyclades, the islands instantly recognizable for their “sugar cube” white houses and blue-domed chapels perched on rocky slopes high above gorgeous golden sand beaches and the stunning turquoise waters of the Aegean Sea.

Home to Mykonos and Santorini, two of the most world-famous and popular places in Greece, the Cyclades is where the majority of first-timers get introduced to the island hopping experience. Many get hooked and keep going back, or instead venture off to hop around the other island chains — the Sporades, Saronic, Dodecanese, Northeastern Aegean, and Ionian.

Crete, the biggest island in Greece, isn’t part of a distinct island chain, and is so vast that visitors are typically advised to devote a full two- or-three week holiday there to explore its incredibly wide variety of beaches, historic sites and attractions.  

 

When you watch Cyclades hopping, you’ll gain insights into travelling to Andros, Mykonos, Paros, Antiparos, Naxos, Ios and Santorini. I have posted several videos that highlight travel to those particular destinations on page 2 of this article, so you can see what each of those islands looks like, and get an overview of some of the top attractions and activities they offer. Additional videos offer peeks at other Cycladic island gems, including Sifnos, Folegandros, Syros, Amorgos, Tinos, Milos, Serifos and Kea.

 

Express Skopelitis ferry passenger

A passenger enjoys early morning views from the upper deck of the Express Skopelitis ferry as it departs Egali port on Amorgos en route to Naxos

 

Please turn to page 2 to continue reading and to view videos of islands in the Cyclades chain.

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Islands suffer flood damage after heavy rain soaks the Cyclades

Stormwater flooding on Naxos

Stormwaters surged across fields, farmlands and roads on Naxos after heavy rain lashed the island on Tuesday. This picture of an overflowing stream appeared in a January 23 2017 photo report published by Naxos Times.

 

Muddy Naoussa waterfront street

After the Tuesday rains, this waterfront strip in Naoussa village on Paros was left a complete muddy mess. This was one of several photos that Kay Will shared on Facebook to show the aftermath of the storm.

 

Devastating downpours: Winter weather has been packing a powerful punch in Greece this month.

First it was unusually cold temperatures and snowfalls that struck much of the country during the first week of January (see the stunning pictures and videos in my recent posts Amazing winter wonderland scenes from Greece and Greece in white winter glory).

The mercury has since climbed and the snow in many places has melted, but Mother Nature wasn’t finished — she decided to pound some of the Cyclades islands with heavy downpours that lasted throughout the day on Tuesday January 24.

 

 

The rain, occasionally accompanied by hail, pelted Paros, Naxos, Tinos, Mykonos, Sifnos, Andros and other islands for more than 24 hours.

Paros was particularly hard hit by the storm and seems to have suffered the most water damage. There was extensive soil erosion as well as some landslides, and flooding caused widespread damage to farm fields, shops, homes, churches, vehicles, and roadways.  

According to a January 25 report on the local news website ParosIn, damage to some areas was so severe, the island’s mayor has written to regional authorities requesting they declare a state of emergency so that resources can be deployed to assist with the massive cleanup and repair work that must now be undertaken.

The news story noted that the mayor’s letter described severe damage in the municipal areas of Naoussa, Kostos, Lefkon, Archilocus, and Marpissa, as well as places in and around Parikia.

According to the Naxos Times, the deluge doused Naxos with so much rain that streams turned into “rushing rivers” that “drowned” farms and fields, and flooded some roads.  Near Koronida village, where wildfires had burned several weeks before, the water washing down the streams was black from all the soot being carried away, the January 24 Naxos Times report stated.

 

This short videoclip, shared by the Maistros Panormos Tinos page on Facebook, shows some of the rainwater damage at Rochari beach on Tinos

 

Click on the link below to continue reading and see more storm photos and video on page 2 of this post.

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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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Sifnos: A walker’s paradise

You’ll wish you could head straight to Sifnos to take some scenic walks after watching this promotional film for the island’s network of footpaths

 

Trekker treat:  A video released just today has me aching to visit Sifnos to walk all over the island.

Sifnos Trails, hike on an authentic Greek Island! is a nearly 6-minute-long promotional film that spotlights the island’s vast network of professionally signposted hiking trails. With fabulous aerial and trail-level videography by Photo Kontos, the video is bound to inspire legions of trekking enthusiasts to visit Sifnos to explore some or all of the 19 different trails that extend more than 100 kilometers in total.

As you would expect,  the film features beautiful mountain, valley, village and coastal scenery. What’s also impressive is the expertly-developed way-marking system, shown in the video, that helps guide trekkers along the trails. Viewers also are informed of a free app for Android smartphones, and are directed to a Sifnos Trails website that provides extensive information about the island and its paths, downloadable route maps, and galleries of gorgeous island images by four photographers.

 

Giorgos Zampelis photo of Sifnos Trail 10A

The Sifnos Trails website includes photo galleries featuring beautiful images by Giorgos Zampelis and three other photographers. There are hundreds of photos on the Sifnos Trails Facebook page, too.

 

When we visited Sifnos in 2007, we knew that the island had an extensive network of footpaths, but they weren’t easy to find or follow. I bought a booklet that described more than two dozen hiking itineraries, but the directions for the first three walks that we attempted led us to dead ends (quite literally — we wound up in a cemetery on one hike!) We eventually gave up on the brochure and simply wandered around. It was good fun nonetheless, but signposts and directional markings would have helped us see far more of the island.

When I discovered the Sifnos Trails video today, I immediately wondered when the way-marking system had been implemented, since I had heard nothing about it. Turns out that the island municipality undertook the Sifnos Trails project in 2015, collaborating with Paths of Greece to improve the trail network to “help the island’s visitors explore its natural and cultural beauties in a pleasant way.” The project is funded and managed by the municipality of Sifnos.

Besides the website the Android app, there is a Sifnos Trails Facebook page with further information and hundreds of photos of hiking paths and stunning Sifnos scenery.

If you’re planning to visit Sifnos this summer, be sure to bookmark the website and Facebook pages so you can read up on the walking routes before going.

Happy trekking once you’re there!

[Editor’s Updates: The Greek edition of The Huffington Post published an interesting article about Sifnos Trails on March 5, which you can see by clicking here.  If you don’t understand Greek, you can use a program like Google Translate to read the article. And on March 10, Sifnos Trails added to its website Google Trekker digital tours of several of its walking routes.]

 

Sifnos Trails website

A screenshot of the home page for the Sifnos Trails website, which describes the island’s trail project and provides extensive information about the routes and the island in general.

 

Sifnos Trails information page for one of the 19 walking routes

The website provides detailed descriptions and maps for each of the 19 walking routes, along with helpful tips and advice. This is a screenshot of the information page for Trail 9 (Kambanario — Cherronisos). 

 

screenshot of waymarking page on Sifnos Trails website

Signposts and painted markings helpfully point the way along the island’s various walking routes

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.

 

Snow scenes from the Cyclades

Achim Eckhardt photo of snow on Tinos, as seen from nearby Mykonos island

This might look like Alaska or the Arctic, but it’s actually Tinos in the Cyclades islands of Greece. Achim Eckhardt shot this amazing photo from a vantage point on nearby Mykonos island after a severe winter storm passed over the Cyclades last week. Click on the picture to enlarge the image.

 

snow on Tinos

The storm dumped a thick blanket of snow up to 2 meters deep on some mountain areas of Tinos. This image of snowdrifts towering above a 4WD vehicle is a screen capture from a video posted on Facebook by Emmanuel Delasoudas from Tinos.

 

 

Snow wonder: Mention the words “Greek Islands” to people around the world, and many instantly think of the Cyclades, recalling iconic postcard images of rustic villages with white “sugar cube” houses clinging to steep slopes high above the sparkling Aegean Sea.

Last week those scenic towns and buildings looked breathtakingly whiter and brighter after a ferocious storm system swept rain, sleet, snow and below-freezing temperatures across the Cyclades on January 6, quickly transforming the region into a winter wonderland.

While some isles got dusted with a light blanket of snow that soon melted away, the storm thumped mountain areas of Andros, Tinos and Naxos with heavy snowfalls, leaving parts of those islands looking more like the Alps than Aegean islands.

 

Islanders shared dramatic storm images on social media

Residents quickly took to social media to post dramatic photos and videos of snow scenes that resembled winter images depicted on Christmas cards people exchanged during the holiday season. Though both shocking and delightful to many viewers who have only seen the islands in warm seasons, Cyclades residents pointed out that snowfalls, while rare, do occur about once or twice a decade — most recently in 2008.

But while the snow-laden islands look pretty in pictures, the storm had calamitous consequences for Andros and Tinos, which bore the brunt of the brutal weather conditions and received the heaviest snowfalls as the unexpectedly strong storm cut a wide swath across the Aegean. 

Authorities declared a state of emergency after an electrical grid failure left many residents on both islands without power and running water for up to four days, and snowplows had to be shipped from the mainland to clear roads to remote villages rendered inaccessible by the snow that measured two and a half meters deep in spots. Schools, shops and businesses were forced to close, while emergency personnel had to rescue senior citizens and ill residents who were snowbound in mountain hamlets. On Tinos, farmers suffered extensive snow damage to fruit and olive trees and greenhouses, while livestock breeders lost sheep and other livestock that perished in the cold.

What follows is a selection of photos and videos I have collected from social media, showing scenes from several Cyclades islands in the aftermath of the storm. I have endeavoured to credit the original sources for all images and videos; however, some photos were widely shared without naming the source. Please let me know of any inaccurate credits so I can make immediate corrections.

You can view additional photos of winter scenes in my January 2 2015 post Wild winter weather wallops Greece, and in my December 15 2013 post Greece gets winter, too!

 

  Andros

 

Leonidas Triantafyllakis posted this video of Apikia on January 6

 

 

Scenes from Apikia in a January 8 clip by Leonidas Triantafyllakis

 

 

Mixalis Karelis posted this on January 7. It shows views from a terrace in the midst of a heavy snowfall, but the location on Andros is not mentioned.

 

 Click on the 2 in the link below to open page 2 of this post. It contains dozens of startling snow photos and videos from Tinos, Mykonos, Milos, Santorini, Paros, Syros, Naxos and Sifnos.

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Walls along a footpath on Sifnos

footpath in Artemonas village Sifnos

A footpath winds between tall stone walls in Artemonas village on Sifnos.  We appreciated the walls while hiking because they offered some protection from the strong cool winds that buffeted the island for three full days during our visit in late September 2007. Sifnos has an extensive network of trails and footpaths that link villages and lead avid walkers and hikers to scores of scenic locations. Click here to access directions for nearly 50 different walk itineraries on Sifnos provided by the popular multilingual website Walking, hiking and trekking in Greece.

 

Promotional videos mark a travel milestone — a full century of organized tourism in Greece

The English-narrated video Greek Tourism. An eternal journey features stunning views of some of the most beautiful and famous sights and attractions in Greece

 

 

Significant Century:  With its long and storied history, Greece has been associated with tourism for what seems like an eternity. Not surprisingly, tourism is the country’s oldest industry.

“The Greek passion for travelling, for both knowledge and adventure, began long ago with Odysseus, the paradigm of the eternal traveller; with Herodotus, the first tourist and most famous story teller; and with Pausaniuas, who wrote the first travel guide 2,000 years ago,” narrator Donald Morgan Nielson notes in the promotional video Greek Tourism: An eternal journey

The five and a half minute film features utterly splendid video photography of spectacular scenery from the Greek mainland and some of the Greek islands, and is accompanied by soaring, uplifting music by Dimitris Papadimitriou. With a script directed by Andonis Theocharis Kioukas, the video was produced by QKas Productions for the Greece National Tourism Organisation (GNTO), and has been posted on the GNTO’s Visit Greece YouTube page.

 

From 10,000 tourists in 1914 to over 17 million in 2014

The video celebrates the 100th anniversary of officially-organized tourism in Greece. Back in 1914, respected Greek statesman Eleftherios Venizelos founded the first national service to oversee Greek tourism. That same year, 10,000 tourists visited the country, and the numbers just kept on growing from theret. They reached record proportions last year, when more than 17 million people visited the country — an all-time high. And even though it’s still early in 2014 and the main summer tourist season hasn’t even begun, Greece appears on track for another banner year.

There was an 8.4% increases in the number of international arrivals at Greek airports in January, February and March compared to the same quarter last year, while travel officials report that summer bookings from major markets like Germany and the USA have risen substantially. And with more than 150 new airline routes operating to Athens this season, along with numerous new international direct flights to Mykonos, Santorini, Crete and other islands, Greece appears likely to top its target of 18 million visitors by the end of the year.

Frankly, I’m surprised the number of visitors isn’t considerably higher. But once more people get to view Greek Tourism: An eternal journey, I’m sure they’ll consider planning trips to see the amazing sights and attractions for themselves.

Below is a slightly shorter version of the video which will let you enjoy Dimitris Papadimitriou’s inspiring music without the narration. Turn up the volume, sit back, and enjoy the 4-minute journey to “Greece … a small piece of heaven on earth.”

 

 

 

Looking sheepish on Sifnos

sheep on Sifnos

Sheep watch warily from behind a thicket of bare shrubs at a farm property in a valley near Kastro village on Sifnos

 

A captivating view of Kastro village on Sifnos

Approaching the medieval-era Kastro village on Sifnos island in Greece

One of the most memorable moments of our trip to Sifnos happened while we were hiking down the valley below Apollonia, and Kastro village suddenly came into view. The centuries-old settlement perched on a cliff high above the sea was one of the most exhilarating and breathtaking sights we have ever seen while walking in Greece. Built between the 14th and 18th Centuries, Kastro was the capital of Sifnos during the medieval period. It’s a must-see if you ever visit the island.

 

 

Our memorable meals at L’Osteria da Claudio and the Delfini Hotel restaurant on Sifnos

Delfini Hotel on Sifnos

The outdoor dining terrace at the Delfini Hotel on Sifnos. The Delfini restaurant is open to the public as well as to guests of the hotel, and serves excellent home-cooked Greek cuisine and seafood dishes.

 

 

Dining terrace at the Delfini Hotel on Sifnos sunset view

Clear windscreens shelter Delfini restaurant guests on windy evenings, but still allow views of the sunset and Kamares Bay

 

 

Fond food memories: An online conversation about Sifnos restaurants a few days ago prompted me to pore through my travel journal and hundreds of photos we shot during our four-day visit to the island back in 2007.

Good food was the topic of our message exchange, and it also happens to be something for which Sifnos has long been famous.

While researching islands to visit on that trip seven years ago, I learned that Sifnos has been well-known for fine cuisine for hundreds of years, largely because the excellent pottery and ceramics produced on the island gave Sifnian cooks an early edge in developing culinary techniques and honing their kitchen skills. I also read that many of the top chefs in Athens and elsewhere in Greece got their training and started their careers on Sifnos.

I don’t know how accurate those stories are, but I can confirm that we did eat well on Sifnos; in fact, we still talk about the food we enjoyed there.

 

Two excellent dinners at Delfini Hotel

Two of those meals were in the restaurant of the Delfini Hotel where we were staying on the far side of Kamares Bay, directly across from the ferry port at Kamares. 

Our room was situated right above the Delfini’s seaview restaurant terrace, and the delightful food aromas that wafted from the kitchen through our open windows enticed us to have our first dinner there instead of walking into town for the evening. We had home-made spinach pies, stuffed aubergines, a hearty seafood soup that was chock full of fish and vegetables, wine, and a yummy cheesecake for dessert. The meal cost €42 and was wonderful.

We walked into Kamares for dinner on our second night, and saw a queue outside L’Osteria da Claudio. We recognized several of the people waiting in line for a table — they, too, were staying at Hotel Delfini. They told us they had eaten at da Claudio before (some had been there more than once) and thought the Italian cuisine was amazing. The waiting time for a table inside the small dining room would be about an hour, but they said it would be worth it.

 

L'osteria da Claudio on Sifnos

A sign at L’Osteria da Claudio, on the main street in Kamares. The popular Italian restaurant had many repeat visitors when we stayed on the island.

 

Please click on the link below to continue reading and to view more photos on page 2 of this post.

 

 

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Picture yourself … watching a sunset on Sifnos

Sifnos sunset

This was one of the impressive sunsets we watched from the seaview terrace of our room at Delfini Hotel in Kamares on Sifnos island

 

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