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Travel + Leisure magazine serves up a taste of Syros island

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Travel + Leisure magazine spotlights the architecture, culture and cuisine of Syros in its February 2019 issue

 

Appetizing island: “Island Escapes” is the theme for the February 2019 issue of Travel + Leisure, and Syros steals the spotlight as the only Greek isle on the menu of getaway destinations profiled in the magazine.

In a three-page article entitled “Beyond the Beach,” the prolific author /  journalist / travel scribe Eleni N. Gage describes her family’s first-ever visit to Syros, an island that doesn’t register on the radar for most North American travellers, who tend to gravitate to the tourist hotspots of Mykonos and Santorini.  (The majority of visitors to Syros hail from France and Skandinavia, Eleni writes, and they’re drawn by the island’s vibrant arts and culture events, its elegant Neoclassical architecture and its “incredible cuisine,” rather than the whitewashed villages and scenic beaches that lure the huge tourist crowds to other Cycladic isles.)

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Ermoupolis, the colourful capital and port town of Syros. “The fact that the island has a thriving city by the sea makes it alluring to those interested in life beyond the beach,” Eleni notes in her article.

 

Since Syros is one of our personal favourite places in Greece, I couldn’t resist buying the magazine when I saw the island mentioned on the front cover. I was curious to read what kind of impression Syros had made upon Eleni, whose feature articles about a number of destinations in Greece have appeared in top international travel and lifestyle publications.

Not surprisingly, she fell in love with Syros, too.

Island features and highlights described in her article include:

♦ a rich roster of annual arts events and festivals;

♦  stately “aristocratic buildings,” including the magnificent Town Hall and Apollon Theater,  in the visually stunning port town of Ermoupoulis;

♦ the seafront of the Vaporia neighbourhood of Ermoupolis, where Eleni had wonderful views of the palazzo-lined shore while she swam in the sea; 

♦ the hilltop village of Ano Syros, which was established during the 1200s; and

♦ restaurants where Eleni and her family dined (they had a memorable meal at one place we thought was excellent, too:  Peri | Tinos, on the Ermoupolis waterfront).

While we’re familiar with most of the places Eleni described,  I was glad she did mention a few we haven’t seen — they’re now on a list of things to do next time we travel to Syros.

My only disappointment was that the article wasn’t longer — I really wanted to read more about Syros. Nevertheless, it did made me yearn to go back.

Please click on the link below to turn to page 2, where I have posted some of our photos that show a few of the places mentioned in Eleni’s article.

 

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Nafplio’s scenic seaside walks: The Arvanitia promenade and the Karathona beach path

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The Arvanitia promenade is a stone-paved walkway that winds along the seaside from Nafplio’s historic Old Town to Arvanitia beach 1 kilometer away

 

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The sand and dirt path to Karathona beach begins near Arvanitia, and meanders southward along the Argonic Gulf coast. The walking distance between the two beaches is roughly 2.7 kilometers, about a 30- to 40-minute trek.

 

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Boats docked in the north corner of Karathona Bay. From here, Karathona beach extends nearly 2 kilometers around the bay. It takes half an hour to walk from this spot to the south end of the beach.

 

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A separate, third trail leads from Karathona beach to Agios Nikolaos church, which sits on a windy slope above the sea. It’s a pleasant, short hike that’s worthwhile if you reach the south end of Karathona Bay and wish to view more coastal scenery before your return walk to Nafplio.

 

Wonderful walks:  Nafplio is commonly called “one of the most beautiful towns in Greece,” and rightly so — its historic Old Town is one of the prettiest places we have seen during our travels to more than two dozen islands plus a wide variety of places on the mainland and in the Peloponnese. 

With its picturesque alleys, lanes and streets, charming old buildings, impressive public parks and squares, myriad monuments and historic sites, and an extensive selection of restaurants, bars and shops, Nafplio is fascinating to visit, whether just on a daytrip or for several days or more.

Though the town itself is lovely, one of the features we personally love most about Nafplio is the surrounding natural scenery — an exhilarating expanse of rolling hills and mountains, rugged rocky peninsulas and shorelines, and captivating sea colours in the bays, beaches, coves and harbours that indent the  Argolic Gulf coast.

Walking is the best way to observe and savour the marvellous scenery, and Nafplio boasts two wonderful seaside paths that rank among our favourite coastal walks in all of Greece — the Arvanitia promenade, and the footpath to Karathona beach. We make a point of walking at least one of the paths each day we are in Nafplio.

 

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Aerial view of the Acronauplia peninsula’s south side. The Arvanitia promenade can be seen at the base of the rocky cliffs and is partially visible where it snakes through the line of trees above the shore. The walkway ends at a square above Arvanitia beach (bottom right).

 

The Nafplio Old Town is positioned on the northern slopes of Acronauplia, a thumb-shaped peninsula that juts into the Argolic Gulf (a body of water between the Arcadia and Argolida regions of the Peloponnese). The Arvanitia promenade begins at the Nafplio waterfront area known locally as The Shore, and curves around the western tip of Acronauplia, hugging the base of imposing steep cliffs covered in wide swaths of prickly pear and other cactus plants. The walkway ends at Arvanitia Square, a walking distance of approximately 1 kilometer.  The town’s popular sunbathing and swimming spot, the stone and pebble Arvanitia beach, is a short downhill walk from the square. 

The footpath to Karathona starts a mere stone’s throw beyond the Arvanitia beach entrance. As it meanders south, it passes above several coves and secluded inlets as well as the pebble and stone strands known as Neraki beach. The path is a favourite route for local residents to power walk, jog, cycle and exercise their dogs. At a casual pace, it takes about half an hour to walk the 2.7 kilometer distance to a small harbour at the northern tip of Karathona beach. 

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Beach view from the south side of Karathona Bay

 

Karathona is an exceptionally wide and gently curved beach that stretches nearly 2 kilometers — almost as long as the path from Arvanitia. While it has several sections organized with beach chairs, umbrellas and bars, there are plenty of wide-open spaces in between.  There is another small harbour at the southern end of the beach, along with several houses and Agios Konstantinos Church.  Across the road and parking area behind the houses is the starting point of yet another coastal path, this one a short, narrow trail that leads up and over a hill to the small whitewashed church of Agios Nikolaos. It takes less than 15 minutes to hike to the church, with superb views of the gulf and the mountainous coast of Arcadia throughout the trek (followed by excellent views of Karathona Bay and beach on the way back.)

Strolling the Arvanitia promenade is often suggested as a “must-do” activity for Nafplio visitors, and we certainly agree. But we recommend that walking enthusiasts also make the invigorating hike to Karathona and onward to take a quick look at Agios Nikoloas Church.  These walks offer a great opportunity to get some exercise and fresh sea air while enjoying the tremendous views of coastal landscapes and the Argolic Gulf.

 

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From the Arvanitia promenade, walkers can view two castles: the Bourtzi sea fortress, seen from a lookout spot above the Banieres swimming area …

 

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… and the massive Palamidi castle on the peak high above Arvanitia beach, seen as evening sun casts a golden glow on the mountain

 

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Both walking paths overlook alluring turquoise waters in the Argolic Gulf …

 

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…  exhilarating coastal landscapes …

 

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… mountains in the Arcadia region of the Peloponnese to the west …

 

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… pretty bays and quiet coves along the rugged shoreline …

 

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… organized beaches, like Arvanitia, which offer bars, restaurants, lounge chairs and umbrellas …

 

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… and quieter beaches, like Neraki, with no facilities (or crowds)

 

Please click on the links below to continue reading and to see many more photos of the Arvanitia promenade, Arvanitia beach, the Karathona path,  Karathona beach, the trail to Agios Nikolaos Church and of course the church itself.

Page 2 contains some general information about the walking routes, as well as photos of the Arvanitia promenade.

Page 3 features photos of the Karathona footpath and Karathona beach.

Page 4 has pictures of Agios Nikolaos Church and its access trail.

 

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Video views of Poros Island

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This 6-minute film from the Videos from Greece channel on YouTube made me feel like I was back on Poros, since it features many familiar sights and scenes that we experienced during our own time on the island

 

Saronic gem: My previous post, Saronic island sojourn, contained a collection of photos that we shot during a very enjoyable week-long stay on Poros in the spring of 2018.

If you haven’t been to Poros before, I hope the photos may have stirred you to consider visiting the lovely Saronic Gulf island on one of your future trips to Greece.

But if you weren’t  completely convinced that Poros might be a good place for you to spend some of your holiday time, perhaps you’ll feel more inspired by the three videos I have included in this post.

The top film in particular might do the trick, since it accurately shows exactly how things appear when you stroll and look around Poros Town.  (The other two videos feature exhilarating aerial photography of the island so, unless you have wings, Poros won’t quite look the same when you’re there. But they’re fun to watch all the same.)

If you wish to take things a step further and start researching accommodations, attractions, activities and transportation options, bookmark the Poros.com tourism guide as well as the Poros Portal site. Both contain extensive information about the island, along with lots of photos and travel planning links.  Also worth a peek is the Visit Poros Island Greece page on Facebook. 

 

Take a short sightseeing flight over pretty Poros Town in this 1-minute film from the Drone Solutions Hellas channel on YouTube

 

Enjoy sights and sounds from all over the island in this 2-minute video from the Visit Poros Island Greece page on Facebook

 

Saronic island sojourn: Photos from our holiday week on Poros

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One of our first views of Poros Town, seen during our short ferry ride to Poros island from the town of Galatas on the eastern Peloponnese coast

 

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And here’s how Galatas looked from a vantage point beside the white clock tower shown in the previous photo of Poros Town

 

Postcard pretty:  If we had to pick a theme to describe our 2018 spring holiday in Greece, “something old and something new” would suit perfectly.  The “something old” was a repeat visit to the historic town of Nafplio, one of our most favourite places in Greece, followed one week later by “something new” — our first-ever trip to Poros, one of the Saronic Gulf islands off the coast of the eastern Peloponnese. 

 

Nafplio and Poros proved to be an ideal pairing, not just because we enjoyed both destinations tremendously, but because it was so easy to use local transportation to move from the Peloponnese to the island (as usual, we did not rent a car for our holiday).

 

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The red marker pinpoints Poros island’s location in the Saronic Gulf archipelago between Athens and the eastern Peloponnese. We reached Poros by taking a bus from Nafplio (shown at the center-left side of the map) to Galatas, followed by a quick ferry ride from there to the island.

 

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A 250-meter-wide strait separates Galatas, bottom left, from Poros Town and the Sferia peninsula of Poros island. The area at the top of this image is Kalavria, the largest part of the island. Sferia and Kalavria were distinct, individual isles in ancient times, and now are divided by a short, narrow canal.

 

The regional bus system KTEL Argolida operates two daily bus trips  (except Sundays) from Nafplio to Galatas, a coastal town separated from Poros by a narrow strait.  The 5:30 a.m. departure was far too early for our liking, so we bought tickets for the 2:30 p.m. bus instead (at a cost of just €9 per person).

 

The bus left Nafplio on time, stopping en route at the entrance to the Ancient Theatre of Epidaurus as well as at several villages before arriving at a crossroads where we transferred onto another bus for the remainder of the drive to Galatas. This part of the route was the most interesting and enjoyable, particularly as the road climbed through mountains and then emerged hundreds of meters above the scenic coast. As the bus descended the hillside highway, our seats on the left side of the vehicle gave us terrific views of the Methana peninsula, the Strait of Poros, and eventually Poros island itself.

 

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One of the coastal views from our bus trip from Nafplio to Galatas.  I shot this photo when our bus was about 10 minutes from Galatas.

 

The bus reached the Galatas harbourfront shortly past 4:30 p.m. , and let us out near the pier from which we could take a ferry to Poros Town, a mere 5-minute or so trip across the narrow Strait of Poros. We had time to purchase our ferry tickets (€1 per person one way), admire the excellent views of Poros Town, plus take a peek at some of the tavernas along the Galatas seafront before catching the next boat. The traditional Greek food being served to customers on the patio at Babis Taverna looked so delicious, we were tempted to stay for an early dinner and catch a later ferry to Poros instead (the boats ran every half hour, and water taxis also were available), but we decided to leave dining in Galatas for another time.

 

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Hotels and restaurant buildings along the waterfront strip at Galatas 

 

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One of the ferries that shuttles vehicles and passengers between Galatas and Poros each half hour throughout the day

 

The ferry crossing was as quick as expected, with superb views of Poros Town and its extensive seaside strip lined with shops, restaurants and hotels. When we disembarked at the Poros Town port,  we instantly spotted our accommodations, Dimitra Hotel, on the hillside overlooking the town’s waterfront street. It was just a short walk away, so within minutes we were settling into our room and checking out the great views. 

From a window and our balcony, we had good views of Poros Town, the edge of the island’s Kalavria region,  and the long string of mountains along the Peloponnese coast at the far end of the bay. The extensive panoramic views from the hotel’s large rooftop terrace two floors above us were even more striking, especially at sunset.  We could have sat and watched the scenery for awhile, but we were eager to get out and about to explore Poros Town. Since we would be staying at the Dimitra for three nights, we would have loads of time to enjoy the views. 

 

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Dimitra Hotel in Poros Town, where we stayed in a sea- and sunset-view room during our first three nights on the island

 

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Evening view of Poros Town from the rooftop terrace at Dimitra Hotel

 

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Sunset view from the terrace at Dimitra Hotel  

 

Please click the link below to continue reading and to see a random selection of photos from our week-long stay on Poros.

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