Tag: Sifnos (page 1 of 6)

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

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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

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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

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 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

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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

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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.

 

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