Tag: Symi

Visual delights in Greece’s Dodecanese islands

Dodecanese Promenade Part A is a 10-minute film featuring highlight attractions on Rhodes, Kasos, Chalki, Symi, Kastellorizo and Karpathos …

 

… while Part B  presents 10 more minutes of beautiful sights and scenes from Patmos, Leros, Kalymnos, Kos, Nisyros and Astypalea

 

Delightful dozen: Four down, eight to go. That’s how many places we have already been to in the Dodecanese island chain, and the number of other islands we want to see there, as we continue to explore Greece in our annual travels.

Our first foray into the Dodecanese was back in 2004 when we spent three days on Rhodes during our first-ever island hopping holiday in Greece. Our second trip into the region came several years later when we kicked off our 2009 vacation on Astypalea. We returned to the Dodecanese for a third time in 2010, when our travels took us to Kos and Patmos (with ferry stops that teased us with brief looks at Kalymnos and Leros en route).

Seeing only four islands in one chain is nothing to be embarrassed about, but it’s still just one-third of the dozen major destinations in the Dodecanese, and we definitely would like to boost that number. Topping our list of the other Dodecanese islands we would like to experience are Karpathos and Kastellorizo, though we’d be happy spending time on any of the others, too — including Kasos, Chalki and Symi.

 

I doubt we’ll get back to the Dodecanese before 2018 at the earliest, but I keep bookmarking photos and videos of the area for research and inspiration, just in case we get the opportunity to go there sooner.

I have shared two of the inspiring videos above. Dodecanese Promenade Parts A and B were both shot by photographer / filmmaker Constantinos Tseklenis in a project for Aegean Airlines two years ago. However, the clips posted above are original Director’s Cut versions that were not shown on Aegean flights. 

Part A brought back fond memories of our time on Rhodes, while Part B showed us many familiar sights and scenes from the days we spent on Patmos and Kos. In both parts, Tseklenis brilliantly captures the gorgeous colours and impressive scenery that we remember seeing first-hand.

If you’ve got 20 minutes to spare,  give the films a watch — they’ll take you on a spectacular visual promenade through the Dodecanese.

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.

 CONTINUED ON PAGE 2

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Louis Cruises adds Samos, Symi, Syros, Ios, Milos, Kos & Chios to Greek island destinations for 2014

Louis Cristal cruise ship

I shot this photo of passengers an upper deck of the Louis Cristal as the ship (below) approached Mykonos for a port stop a couple years ago

 

Louis Cristal cruise ship

 

 

New ports & themes: Louis Cruises has added seven new Greek islands to the roster of destinations travellers will be able to visit on tour itineraries being offered this year by the Cyprus-based cruise operator.

Louis Cruises has long offered popular 3- to 8-day tour packages that take travellers to Istanbul and Kusadasi in Turkey as well as to the Greek islands Mykonos, Santorini, Patmos, Rhodes and Crete.

For 2014, the company has expanded its roster of destinations to include two more ports in Turkey — Bodrum and Cesme — along with seven new Greek island stops: Syros, Ios and Milos in the Cyclades island group, Kos and Symi in the Dodecanese, and Samos and Chios in the East Aegean.

 

New themed cruises available

Besides the new ports of call, Louis will be offering 60 specially-themed cruises with itineraries based on: gastronomy, wine & spirits; culture & heritage; history & archaeology; and music.

Representatives of the cruise line told a recent press conference in Athens that bookings for its cruises are up significantly so far this year — over 20% higher than in 2013.  The company is expecting to carry 820,000 passengers during 2014 on its ships the Cristal, Olympia and Aura.

Full details about itinerary themes and destinations, as well as the ships, are available on the Louis Cruises website.

 

Passengers enjoy the cruises & island itineraries

Although we haven’t yet taken a Louis cruise ourselves, we have spoken to dozens of people who have. Almost all of our flights to and from Greece have been on Air Transat, whose sister company, Transat Holidays, offers Louis cruises in many of its organized island hopping vacation packages. Dozens of the passengers on each of our flights have taken the cruises, and their feedback about the experience has been overwhelmingly positive, with everyone reporting that they fully enjoyed the ships and the islands they visited.

And while we were in Athens last October, we spoke with two friends who had just taken a Louis Cruise that included stops at Kusadasi, Patmos, Crete and Santorini. Both are very well-travelled in Greece, and raved about how much they enjoyed their cruise. They told us their rooms were comfortable, the crew were friendly and helpful, and the food was delicious. They highly recommended the cruise and, in fact, urged us to take one on a future trip to Greece. It’s a suggestion we will seriously consider in light of their comments.

 

Symi island Greece

This photo of a waterfront scene on Symi is from The Symi Visitor website, an online guide that’s packed with pictures and travel information about the island