Mesmerizing timelapse video views of Athens after dark

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Here’s an intriguing video of Athens that I highly recommend watching — if you haven’t already seen it on social media, where it has been generating considerable buzz since its release yesterday (February 20 2018) by filmmaker / photographer Alexandros Maragos, 

City of Athens – A Portrait of a Changing Metropolis runs just under 5 minutes, and features “hyperlapse, timelapse and drivelapse cinematography of the urban area and the skyline of “το κλεινόν άστυ” / the glorious city,” a description on its Vimeo publication page explains.

Shot from such vantage points as rooftops, hills and mountains, the fascinating film captures stunning night-time scenes and images of the city center, the vast urban core, the international airport, the Parthenon, Acropolis and other monuments, and more.

The friend in Athens who sent me the video link called it a “marvellous” film to watch, and I agree that it truly is, showing the city from engaging and unique perspectives that I think will captivate visitors and city residents alike. (I’ve watched it several times already.)

I hope you will find it interesting and fascinating, too.

 

The quiet end of Divari, the mile-long golden beach in Messenia

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Divari beach on Navarino Bay

A bend near the northwest tip of Divari, also known as Golden Sands Beach

 

Divari beach on Navarino Bay

The shallow bay between Divari beach and Sfakteria Island

 

Delightful Divari: Sunshine, warm temperatures, two beautiful sandy beaches, a crumbling ancient castle and superb Greek food.  Combine those ingredients and you’ll cook up a perfect vacation day in Greece — as we discovered during our 2017 spring holiday in the western Peloponnese.

I recently wrote about our bucket-list visit to Voidokilia, one of the beaches we got to see on the third day of a  road trip through Messenia. The other beach we enjoyed was Divari (Ntivari in Greek), an enticing ribbon of golden sand that curves along the northwestern coast of Navarino Bay near the town of Pylos.   (I will tell you about the castle and food another time.)

Divari was the first stop on our agenda, since it would bring us close to a footpath leading to the ruins of the old Castle of Navarino,  a.k.a. Paleokastro, an historic site we were keen to explore. To get there from our hotel base in Marathopoli, we drove down the two-lane Kyparissia-Pylos highway (Route 9) to the village of Gialova, where signs directed us to the Divari access road. 

 

 

The beach extends a considerable distance — approximately 1.5 kilometers, in fact — and sections are visible from the dirt road that runs its full length. Evergreen trees, bushes, and dunes block some views of the beach, but open areas between the trees reveal plenty of tempting places to spread a towel or a mat. If you want to sit on a chair or under the shade of an umbrella, though, you have to bring along your own gear — unlike many popular beaches in Greece, Divari is not organized with rows of rental lounge chairs and umbrellas, and isn’t lined with beach bars and tavernas.

Please click on the link under the video below to continue reading and see more photos of Divari beach.

 

This aerial video by Manolis Gialyrakis features great views of Divari beach and a shipwreck close to the shore

 

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Even in severe winter weather, Greece’s scenic beauty shines through

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Little Venice Mykonos during January storm

Surf sprays two storeys high as roaring waves crash ashore at the Little Venice area of Mykonos Town, flooding the entire seaside strip of cocktail bar terraces. This photo was posted on the Mykonos LIVE TV Facebook page on January 18, the day gale-force winds raged across much of Greece.

 

Storm scenes: When wild winter weather swept across Europe this week, Greece wound up in the path of powerful winds that pounded some places, including Syros island, with gusts reaching as high as 122 kmh — the equivalent to force 12 on the Beaufort wind scale.

The fierce winds raged relentlessly on Thursday January 18, toppling trees on several islands, damaging one of the iconic windmills on Mykonos, and preventing planes from landing at Syros airport. The storm disrupted ferry travel and shipping, too, as rough seas forced the cancellation of many sailings as well as the closure of the ports at Lavrio and Rafina. At Piraeus port, the passenger ferry Panagia Agiasou broke away from its moorings during the tempest, while waterfront areas at Mykonos Town, and Kini Beach on Syros, sustained damage from massive waves that walloped the shore.

 

 

Although most residents stayed indoors to avoid the incessant blasts of wind, which made walking perilous and even driving difficult, some did venture out to observe nature’s fury and photograph the stormy conditions. I found numerous pictures and videos on social media showing skies filled with massive dark clouds, and huge waves crashing onto seafronts and beaches in Mykonos, Paros, Naxos, Syros, Rhodes, Lesvos, Samos, Skyros, Skopelos, Ithaca, Paxos, Kefalonia, Nafplio, Athens and elsewhere. Many of the images showed that, even in ferocious weather, the scenic beauty of Greece’s coastal areas still stands out.

 

Nafplio photo by Nafplio Kalimera

Takis Vassiliou shot this view of the Nafplio waterfront and Bourtzi sea castle, and shared the image on his Nafplio Kalimera page on Facebook

 

Paros photo by Waves on the seafront at Parikia on Paros photo shared on Facebook by ΠΑΡΟΣ like Facebook page

Maria Alipranti captured sunlight illuminating stormclouds and waves at the Parikia waterfront on Paros. Her photo, and more than 20 others she shot, were shared on the ΠΑΡΟΣ like page on Facebook.

 

Stormy sky on Lesvos photo by Eleonaora Pouwels

Eleonora Pouwels photographed this scene of waves, stormclouds and sunset at Psiriara beach on Lesvos 

 

Please click on the link below to turn to page 2, where I have posted more photos and several videos that were shared on social media.

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Santorini sights and attractions– just as a tourist sees them

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 Pierre Marteau compiled this overview video of places and attractions he visited during a trip to Santorini in 2017

 

Eye level views:  I discovered a brand-new Santorini travel video on Vimeo today, and wanted to share it immediately so any of my readers planning a first-time visit to the island can see how it really looks in person.

Santorini 2017 is a 9-minute film that Pierre Marteau published on January 14. What I particularly like about the clip is that it wasn’t filmed with a drone, as so many Santorini videos tend to be nowadays. Although drones capture amazing aerial views of the island’s spectacular landscape scenery, no visitor is ever going to see it from the same perspective. On the other hand, Pierre’s eye-level video shows exactly how sights and attractions will appear as you look around while exploring the island.

Places shown in the video include:

♦  Santorini’s main town, Fira

♦  the traditional village of Pyrgos

♦  the black sand beach at Kamari

♦  the romantic and extremely picturesque clifftop village of Oia, which is perhaps the most famous place for sunset viewing in all the Greek islands.

The video also shows what you’ll see riding the cable car to the cruise ship and excursion boat docks in the Old Port below Fira, and while taking one of the popular boat tours to the hot springs and the nearby volcano island of Nea Kameni.  Of course, the video also captures views of some of the beautiful bougainvillea and flowers, colourful houses, iconic blue-domed chapels, and marvellous sunsets that together make Santorini one of the most-photographed places in Greece.

And you’ll see some of the island’s controversial donkeys and mules, which I hope none of my readers will ride while visiting Santorini. If you don’t know why you shouldn’t climb atop any of these animals for a ride up or down the caldera cliff paths, please read my post Don’t ride the donkeys! Why tourists should avoid taking the mule ‘taxis’ on Santorini

Note that Santorini 2017 is a compilation video that Pierre put together from several other clips he shot on Santorini. You can view all of those films — which show other top Santorini attractions, such as Akrotiri and Ancient Thera, on Pierre’s VIMEO page.

 

A bucket list visit to Voidokilia, the extraordinary Ω-shaped beach in the Peloponnese

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Voidokilia beach

I got my first in-person peek at beautiful Voidokilia beach from this breathtaking vantage point in the ruins of the Castle of Navarino …

 

Voidokilia beach

… and shot this picture two hours later while walking along Voidokilia’s amazing arc of soft brown sand 

 

My Omega moment: I’m a big fan of beaches, as you’ve probably gathered from perusing my blog posts. I love looking at them, walking on them, and of course taking photos of them. It doesn’t matter if they consist of soft sand, pebbles or stone; are situated in secluded coves, scenic bays or along lengthy stretches of coastline; or face onto calm water, rolling waves  or rough seas — they all make me happy. I can’t explain exactly why, but there’s something about beaches that makes me feel surprisingly calm yet incredibly invigorated at the same time. (Mountains have the same effect). It’s no wonder I love Greece so much: since the country is blessed with myriad beaches on its islands and mainland coasts, I feel great wherever I go. (Greece has mountains aplenty, too, but I’ll write about those another time.)

Although there are dozens of must-see places on my Greece travel wish list, only 13 are beaches per se (though many of the other spots are located at or near beaches I’d love to visit). All are stunning, some are world-famous, and each has  a unique appeal, distinctive feature or superlative natural beauty I want to witness in person at some point during my lifetime, even if only briefly or from afar.

My beach bucket list (no pun intended)  includes five on Crete — the Balos lagoons, plus Preveli and Vai, Matala, and Stefanou/Seitan Limania;  Navagio (better known as Shipwreck Beach) on Zakynthos; Porto Katsiki on Lefkada; Myrtos on Kefalonia;  Simos on Elafonisos island in the Peloponnese; Manganari on Ios; Papafragas on Milos, and Agios Demetrios on Alonissos. Though not technically a beach, the Giola lagoon on Thassos is right up there, too.

Until last spring, there had been 14 beaches I particularly wanted to see, but last May I finally got to visit the incomparable  Voidokilia in the Messenia region of the Peloponnese. 

 

 

Voidokilia first enthralled me in 2011 when  the Greek National Tourism Organisation published an aerial photo in the Beaches Album on its Visit Greece Flickr page. Voidokilia’s semicircular arc of light brown sand, strikingly similar in shape to the Greek letter Omega Ω, seemed surreal and almost other-worldly.  It looked too perfect to be natural. I instantly wanted to see it, but didn’t foresee having the opportunity anytime soon. We had been hooked on island hopping at the time, and didn’t have a Peloponnese holiday in our near-term plans. But in 2016 we finally made our first foray into that part of Greece, visiting several places in the eastern Peloponnese, and we paid the region a return visit last year to explore some of its southern and western reaches. I was excited when I discovered that Voidokilia was one of the top attractions on our scheduled driving route along the Messenian Gulf coast.

Since Voidokilia was the first bucket list beach I was going to see, I nervously wondered if it would live up to my lofty expectations.  But it  didn’t disappoint. If anything, it made an even better impression than I had imagined. I gasped when I first observed Voidokilia from a lookout point in the Navarino Castle, and when I later walked along its soft brown sand a short time later, and gazed  across the sparkling turquoise bay it encircles,  I felt like I was living a dream. I was utterly gobsmacked, as some Brits might say. I now like to describe the experience as a personal OMG moment — though I pronounce it O-Me-Ga instead of Oh-My-God (pun intended this time).  I savoured every second I was there, and now consider Voidokilia one of my favourite beaches anywhere in the world. I will go back again.

I did take plenty of photos, of course, but I’m not entirely happy with how they turned out — they simply don’t make Voidokilia look as stunning as it actually appears in person.  I suppose I was just too busy enjoying the moment and the captivating scenery around me to pay more attention to what I was doing with my camera. I have posted some of the images on page 2, so you can be the judge. But I really think you should just go and see Voidokilia for yourself. It truly is a marvellous sight.

Below is a video that I believe does do justice to Voidokilia’s striking beauty. Beneath that is a link to page 2, where you can see our photos as well as a few more videos of this fantastic place in the Peloponnese.

 

This 5.5-minute film from Studio Gaël Arnaud features stunning drone views of Voidokilia as well as the hilltop Paleokastro (Castle of Navarino) from which I shot some of my Voidokilia beach photos in May 2017.

 

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