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The awe-striking autumn and winter scenery at Kastoria in Northern Greece

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Τα Χρώματα Του Φθινοπώρου Kastoria (The Autumn Colours of Kastoria) is a beautiful 4-minute film by Kastoria-based Studio Trasias

 

“Let me guess — I bet you are thinking you would rather be in Greece right now.”

That’s what a friend remarked when he saw me gazing wistfully out the windows at our gym as snow fell over downtown Toronto today — our second major winter storm in less than a week.  At daybreak, the neighbourhood had looked lovely under a blanket of wet snow, but morning rush hour traffic had turned the streets and sidewalks below us into a sloppy mess of puddles and dirty slush. Meanwhile, the snow on rooftops, trees and gardens had already lost its crisp white brilliance as a grimy film of brownish-grey dust from traffic, construction and air pollution started to settle on its surface.  My friend was right: I wasn’t looking forward to the wet slog home after my workout.

“Yes, I really do wish that I could be in Greece right now instead of here,” I replied. “I would much rather be in Kastoria when it’s snowy.”

Although my friend  has travelled to a few island and mainland destinations in Greece, he didn’t recognize Kastoria by name and wanted me to tell him more about it — as well as why I would be happy to travel there in off season.

 

I explained that Kastoria is a small city situated in northern Greece, nearly 600 kilometers northwest of Athens. Internationally famous for its centuries-old fur garment industry, the city is built on hillsides overlooking Lake Orestiada. One of the city’s top attractions is a pedestrian promenade that extends along the lake shore, offering panoramic views of the nearby Grammos and Vitsi mountains. I haven’t been to Kastoria myself yet (it’s on my bucket list), but I have seen plenty of photos and videos, and know I would enjoy strolling the lakeside path to see the beautiful fall colours or admire the snowy winter vistas.

“It would be so much prettier than here,” I said. “Kastoria looks like something you would see on a Christmas greeting card.”

“You must show me pictures of it sometime,” my friend said. I knew I had bookmarked several Kastoria videos I had watched on YouTube, so I promised that I would share my favourites here on the blog so that he — and any of my readers who also aren’t familiar with the city — could see how beautiful it is, and why it fascinates me so much.

On this page, you can watch two beautiful short films by Studios Trasias of Kastoria; one showing the city with fabulous fall foliage, and the other capturing Kastoria’s wonderful winter scenery. You can see several more short videos on page 2.

 

There’s nearly 4 minutes of beautiful winter scenery in ΚΑΣΤΟΡΙΑ ΜΑΓΙΚΗ ΟΜΟΡΦΙΑ (The Magic Beauty of Kastoria), another film by Studio Trasias 

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Art, food, fashion, hotels, shops, clubs, parties & more: What’s new on Mykonos for 2019

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Rizes Folklore Farmstead in Mykonos exterior photo from the business page on Facebook

Olive Tree Mykonos sunset view dining terrace photo from the restaurant page on Facebook

Blue Marlin Ibiza Mykonos beachfront photo from the official club page on Facebook

Mykonos Olive Oil Tasting photo from its official page on Facebook

Aegon Mykonos exterior photo from the hotel page on Facebook

Contemporary sculpture in the garden at the Blue Fusion Art Restaurant

Open air dining patio at Taverna Kandavlos on Mykonos

Moussaka photo from the Olive Tree Mykonos restaurant website

Apiro Mykonos hotel website photo of a standard triple room interior

Sea bass tartare dish photo from the I Frati Mykonos restaurant page on Facebook

Sanctus Mykonos photo from the nightclub page on Facebook

Fresh fish on the grill at Sealicious by Kounelas restaurant on Mykonos

Sunset view from Chill Out Lounge Bar Cafe at the Chill Out Studios on MMykonos

Nusr-et Steakhouse Mykonos photo from the restaurant page on Facebook

Evripides Art Gallery Art & Fashion Project with Dimitris Ntasios at 30 Kalogera Street in Mykonos

From the top: Rizes Folklore Farmstead & Restaurant; the seaview patio at Olive Tree restaurant; sunbeds at Blue Marlin Ibiza Mykonos beach club; a flight of sampling glasses at Mykonos Olive Oil Tasting; Aegon Mykonos hotel at Kalo Livadi; one of the artworks in the sculpture garden at Blue Fusion Art Restaurant; the patio at Taverna Kandavlos; moussaka at Olive Tree restaurant; inside a room at Apiro-Mykonos hotel; sea bass tartare at I Frati restaurant; a lounge at Sanctus after-hours nightclub; fresh fish on the grill at Sealicious by Kounelas; sunset view from Chill Out Lounge Bar Cafe; a signature Salt Bae steak at Nusr-Et; contemporary art and one-of-a-kind designer fashions at the Dassios boutique/Evripides Art Gallery.

 

New & noteworthy: Besides the iconic white Cycladic architecture, sparkling Aegean Sea and brilliant sunshine, there’s much to bedazzle first-time visitors to Mykonos — a dizzying array of glitzy shops, glam restaurants, bustling bars and chic accommodations among them. With dozens of new establishments opening on the island each year, Mykonos maintains its famously vibrant and exciting atmosphere for returning visitors and local residents alike.

This summer has been no exception, as I have discovered: More than thirty new enterprises that have set up shop in and around Mykonos Town, at some of the famous beaches and elsewhere on the island. The newcomers include places to eat, drink, party, shop and sleep, plus some enlightening and fascinating attractions and activities.

 

Among the noteworthy highlights of this year’s arrivals:

♦ A new beach club at Kalo Livadi, sunset boat party cruises to Rhenia island, and a really, really, really cool place to get an ice cold drink. And, for night owls, three new spots to party into the wee hours of the morning;

♦ Fun olive oil tasting workshops where participants can sample some of the best Greek extra virgin olive oils and learn how to pair oils with food to elevate flavours and make their home cooking shine;

♦ Four art new galleries and exhibition spaces — including one outdoors — showcasing contemporary Greek art and sculpture; 

♦ Over half a dozen boutiques and summer pop-ups offering fashionistas even more places to shop and browse exclusive designer clothing and accessories in Mykonos Town and at Psarou beach;

♦ A meticulously recreated Mykonian farmstead where tourists can experience what life was like on the island in the days before electricity and Internet, view folk art exhibitions, take cooking and bread baking classes, and dine on breakfasts and traditionally-prepared meals in the farm restaurant;

♦ A wide range of accommodations with lodging options ranging from rental studios and apartments to luxury hotels and beach resorts boasting suites and villas with private pools;

♦ A vast array of appetite-whetting places to enjoy food and beverages, including new coffee and dessert shops; street food cafes; vegan and healthy food eateries; and restaurants specializing in fish, seafood or sushi; meat dishes; pizza; crepes; breakfast & brunch; comfort food; and Greek, Italian, Mediterranean and international cuisine. 

iVisa.com

Starting on page 2, I have compiled profiles of the new businesses, complete with photos, videos and links to their websites and social media pages (where available) so you can learn more and follow them if interested. I have deliberately packed this blog post with images so that readers who haven’t been to Mykonos before can get a good grasp of what Greece’s most sophisticated, cosmopolitan and international island is all about.

And just in case you think Mykonos is only a place where people go to party, bear in mind that the island also happens to be a major dining destination. With more than 400 places to eat, it’s a foodie delight, offering not just traditional and gourmet Greek food, fish and seafood, but also contemporary, internationally-inspired cuisines from around the globe.

Since many of the newcomers to Mykonos this season are restaurants and cafes, I have included plenty of pictures to show some of the food they serve — appetizers, main courses, breakfasts and desserts. But here’s an important warning: Don’t continue reading if you’re the least bit hungry; otherwise, you could feel absolutely ravenous by the time you finish scrolling through all the food photos!

Crystal View Mykonos view photo from the rental property Facebook page

Healthylicious Mykonos breakfast dish seen in a photo from the restaurant page on Facebook

Displays inside the Philipp Plein boutique at Nammos Village shopping center on Mykonos

Venus Gallery at the Aphrodite Beach Resort Mykonos photo from Facebook

Sunset view from Apiro Mykonos Hotel

Yomamas street food restaurant Mykonos food photo from the restaurant page on Instagram

Mykonos Boat Club promotional image for its sunset boat party cruises to Rhenia island

Major J Breakfast and Branch patio photo from the restaurant page on Facebook

Bulgari pop up store on Mykonos seen in a photo from the Nammos Village shopping center page on Facebook

Street view of LAragosta Mykonos in a photo from the restaurant website

Jennys Summer Houses Mykonos grand villa room interior photo from the property website

Burger platter photo by Cantina Mykonos street food restaurant

Blue Fusion Art Restaurant Mykonos patio photo from the restaurants website

I Frati Mykonos wine racks photo from the restaurant Facebook page

Partying in dayglo faux furs at Ice Bar Mykonos as seen in a photo from the bar page on Instagram

Entertainment at Cirque Mykonos nightclub seen in a photo from the club page on Instagram

My Plate Mykonos chicken skewer dinners photo from the restaurant page on Facebook

From the top: The view from Crystal View rooms above Megali Ammos; a breakfast dish at Healthylicious; the Philipp Plein boutique at Nammos Village; Venus Gallery at the Aphrodite Beach Resort; a sunset view from Apiro-Mykonos Hotel; a breakfast meal at Yo’Mamas Street Food Cafe; partying on the Mykonos Boat Club cruise to Rhenia; the outdoor patio at Major J Breakfast & Brunch; the Bulgari boutique at Nammos Village shopping center; night view of L’Aragosta Italian restaurant; inside the Grand Villa at Jenny’s Summer Houses;  a burger platter at Cantina street food eatery; the patio at Blue Fusion Art bar & restaurant;  shelves of wine in the deli shop at I Frati restaurant; partiers wearing dayglo faux furs at Ice Bar Mykonos; one of the entertainment acts at Cirque nightclub; skewers of marinated & grilled chicken at My Plate Mykonos.

 

Please click on a link below to read about what’s new on Mykonos in 2019.

Page 2 profiles new bars, beach clubs, nightclubs and party boat cruises;

Page 3 presents new cafes and restaurants;

Page 4 looks at new attractions and activities, art galleries, and fashion shops.

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Modern sculptures amid ancient ruins: An extra visual delight for Delos visitors this summer

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Photograph of an Antony Gormley iron sculpture displayed among the ruins on Delos island

Sculptures by Sir Antony Gormley, including this 2015 work entitled Connect,  have been installed on Delos island as part of a landmark  art exhibition on display this summer only 

 

Modern art on ancient site: After exploring the historic ruins on Delos three separate times between 2004 and 2010, I haven’t felt an urge to make a return trip to the island in recent years.  After all, the monuments and the island itself wouldn’t look noticeably different from my previous visits, so there wouldn’t be anything particularly “new” for me to discover. And besides, there are dozens of other major archaeological sites in Greece that I haven’t seen at all — so going to some of those has been a higher priority than  a fourth trip to Delos.

But this summer  I have really been regretting that I can’t get to Delos to see something that is in fact completely new and different, and available for viewing only during this year’s tourist season.

It’s a groundbreaking modern art installation called SIGHT, which features 29 iron “bodyform” sculptures that acclaimed British artist Antony Gormley has positioned among the historic Delos monuments and antiquities — on the island’s coast and harbourfront, atop Plakes Peak and Mount Kynthos, and in one of the galleries in the Delos archaeological museum.

 

Sir Antony Gormley and one of the sculptures in his SIGHT installation on Delos as seen in a photo from the NEON page on Facebook

Antony Gormley poses with his 2017 work, Reflect, on Delos island. The photo was shared on the Facebook page for NEON, the non-profit cultural organization that commissioned and organized the SIGHT exhibition.

 

The SIGHT exhibit is noteworthy for two key reasons: It’s the first time an artist has taken over the archaeological site since Delos was last inhabited 5,000 years  ago, and it’s the first time the Greek Archaeological Council has approved a contemporary art installation on the island.

It’s an historic art event I would certainly appreciate: I enjoy sculpture (from any era) and I would love to see some of Gormley’s work up close. Viewing his pieces on Delos — five of which were created specifically for this event — would give me fresh new perspectives of the island and its significant historical and mythical past. I have been intrigued and moved by photos of the sculptures I have seen on websites and social media, so I know that seeing the pieces in person would be a fascinating experience.

Unfortunately,  a trip to Greece isn’t possible for me before the exhibit ends. But if you are a fine arts and sculpture enthusiast yourself, and you will be visiting Mykonos (or Naxos or Paros, from which daytrips to Delos are also available) before October 31, don’t miss the unique opportunity to experience the island while the Gormley “bodyforms” are on display. 

 

 

SIGHT is a project that the Greek non-profit cultural organization NEON organized in collaboration with the Ephorate of Antiquities of Cyclades. The exhibition continues until October 31 2019.

Extensive details and information about Delos and the sculpture exhibit are available on the SIGHT page of the NEON website

Below is an 8-minute video in which Antony Gormley discusses Delos and the inspiration for his work, followed by photos of several of the sculptures displayed on the island.

 

 

From the NEON page on Instagram a photo of an Antony Gormley sculpture on the coast of Delos island Greece

 

From the NEON page on Instagram a photo of an Antony Gormley sculpture atop Mount Kynthos on Delos island Greece

 

Photograph of the Antony Gormley sculpture Cast III on Delos island

 

A sculpture from the Sir Antony Gormley SIGHT exhibition on Delos island seen in a photo from the NEON page on Facebook

 

From the NEON page on Instagram a photo of an Antony Gormley sculpture positioned in the ruins on Delos island Greece

 

An Antony Gormley sculpture on the coast of Delos island seen in a photo from the NEON page on Facebook

 

Photograph of the Antony Gormley sculpture Shift II from 2000 in the Delos Archaeological Museum

 

One of the Antony Gormley iron sculptures on Delos island in 2019

 

Promotional image for the Antony Gormley contemporary sculpture exhibition Sight on Delos island in 2019

 

More moments in the Mani peninsula of the Peloponnese

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This short film offers a short but sweet tour of what its producer,  Fist AK Productions, describes as “one of the most beautiful areas of Greece.”

 

More Mani: Regular readers might recall my Magical moments in the Mesa Mani post last summer, in which I shared a video and travel information links for a region of Greece that truly fascinates and intrigues me — the rugged Mani peninsula of the Peloponnese. I mentioned that the Mani was on our bucket list of places to see, and in fact it was on a short list of destinations we were considering for our upcoming spring holiday. We ultimately chose an island for our next trip, but still intend to make it to the Mani.

While I was organizing bookmarked articles and photos of the Mani to keep for future reference, I discovered a short video that had been published on Vimeo in March, by Fist AK Productions.  Rather than relegate it to a bulging bookmarks folder where I could easily overlook or even lose it, I’m sharing the short film here, along with a pair of older clips that I was going to file away as well — just in case any of my readers might be planning a Mani visit themselves.

 

Aerial views of the Laconian Mani, captured by fabdrone

 

In background notes posted with this film, fabdrone observes that “Until recent years many Mani villages could be reached only by sea. Today a narrow and winding road extends along the west coast from Kalamata to Areopoli, then south to Akrotainaro (the pointy cape which is the most southward soil of continental Greece) before it turns north toward Gytheio. Another road, that is used from the public buses in the line Piraeus – Mani and exists several decades now, comes from Tripoli through Sparta, Gytheio, Areopoli and ends in the Gerolimenas port near Cape Matapan.”

 

This video by YouTube contributor Stelios Hontas includes alluring scenes of Porto Kayo, Lagia, Marmari, Kokkala, Paliros, Castro, Achilleion, Cape Tainaro, Kokkinogia and Diamistastika.

 

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