Category: Arts & culture (page 1 of 18)

Our Covid-19 quarantine travel reads: Feature profiles of Athens, Thessaloniki, the Peloponnese & mainland Greece

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Kastoria city and lake photo from Issue 6 of Sky Express airlines Fly magazine

Kokkoras Bridge in Epirus Greece photo from Sky Express airlines Fly magazine Issue 6

These striking photos of the city of Kastoria in northern Greece and the historic Kokkoros Bridge in Epirus are from The White Issue of Fly, the magazine of Sky Express airline. The  picture-packed issue spotlights visit-worthy mainland Greece destinations that aren’t on typical tourist itineraries.

 

Armchair travels: Since we can’t take our scheduled spring trip to Greece because of Covid-19 lockdowns and travel restrictions, we have been travelling there vicariously — by reading magazine and newspaper articles about destinations, hotels, attractions and a wide variety of aspects of Greek life and tourism. Armchair travel lacks the thrill and pleasure of actually going to Greece, of course, but it’s a heck of a lot better than brooding about the cancellation of our 2020 holiday plans while we’re cooped up in home quarantine.

On the positive side, our time catching up on articles published over the past six months has been well spent, introducing us to incredible places in Greece we weren’t too familiar with, and giving us ideas and inspiration for trips we hope to take once the pandemic has passed and Greece re-opens its borders to international visitors.

Since the articles and photo profiles could be interesting and helpful to readers dreaming about their own future trips to Greece, we will be sharing our “quarantine travel reads” in a series of  blog posts, beginning with this one.

Destinations and topics profiled in this instalment include:

♦ Thessaloniki and the Halkidiki peninsula;

♦ Athens

♦ the southern Peloponnese, including Costa Navarino, the Mani and Monemvasia; and

♦ Impressive towns, villages and scenic areas in mainland Greece

 

 

Upcoming blog posts will spotlight:

♦ stylish luxury hotels and hot dining spots in Athens, Crete, Mykonos, Paros, and Santorini;

♦ travel writer accounts of trips to Athens and various Greek Islands, including Evia, Milos, Paros and Symi;

♦ Cretan food and the Mediterranean diet;

♦ mini guides to Greek islands, and more.

 

Athens and the southern Peloponnese

 

Bloomberg News article on Greece travel destinations

Dimitsana, a mountain village in Arcadia, is among the places writer Nikos Chrysoloras recommends visiting in the southern Peloponnese

 

“…there will be so much Greek paradise for you when this viral outbreak is behind us” says Nikos Chrysoloras, whose article The Greece I long to visit isn’t on your average travel brochure was published by Bloomberg News on April 24.

Greece does indeed abound with places people would consider paradise, but Chrysoloras devotes his article to describing a travel itinerary that will let visitors experience the true essence of Greece first in Athens and its surrounding area, and secondly during a scenic road trip through the southern Peloponnese peninsula.

A must-see in the historical center of Athens, he says, is Monastiraki Square, which “epitomizes my country perhaps more than any island or beach.” He recommends two rooftop bars overlooking the square, from which visitors can enjoy spectacular views of the Parthenon and other historic monuments. “It’s the weight of millennia packed in the space of a single block,” Chrysoloras notes. He also recommends a day trip along the Athens Riviera and a visit to the clifftop Temple of Poseidon at Sounion, famous for its sensational sunset view, which he describes as “Greece, Profound.” He also suggests specific places to drink and dine, so visitors planning to spend time in the city would be wise to bookmark the article for easy reference once in Athens.

 

 

For the Peloponnese portion of his suggested roadtrip, Chrysoloras recommends starting off in the area around the Costa Navarino resort and the incredible Voidokilia beach (which I wrote about in my blog post A bucket list visit to Voidokilia), and then exploring the rugged Mani region. “It’s a mountainous terrain with stone-built villages and very narrow roads leading to pebbled beaches. This area is the land of the ancient Spartans, people as defiant as history suggests.” Again, Chrysoloras recommends places to stay, dine, hike, swim and enjoy a drink with a fabulous sunset view.

From Mani, the drive continues to the castle town of Monemvasia, whose “medieval alleys are full of mystery and wonder, like a set that Game of Thrones producers ought to have used.” On the way back to Athens from there, Chrysoloras urges a detour to Dimitsana — his mother’s home town — “one of the most characteristic specimens of the mountainous side of Greece. Surrounded by conifer trees, you can enjoy unspoiled traditional stone architecture and hike in the area’s beautiful forests and nearby villages.” Although worth a look nearby is Panagia, a now-deserted village where Chrysoloras recommends a taverna that serves outstanding traditional dishes. 

 

Please click on the link below to continue reading on page 2, where we discuss excellent magazine articles about Thessaloniki, noteworthy destinations in mainland Greece, and fascinating places to explore in Athens.

CONTINUED ON PAGE 2

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Lesvos island stars in Dutch singer’s music video

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Danielle van Doorn filmed the video to her inspirational song Fly at Molyvos, Petra and other places on Lesvos island

 

Scenic backup: Lesvos island plays a co-starring role in Fly, a pop music video released this month (April 2020) by talented young Dutch singer/songwriter Danielle van Doorn.

The beautiful town of Molyvos, the historic Molyvos Castle, Petra village and numerous inland and coastal locations on Lesvos provide scenic backdrops for the 3.5-minute video which van Doorn made as a posthumous birthday gift for Justin G. Valk, who produced the studio recording of the song prior to his death two years ago from Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy.

Known professionally as JRedsun, Valk also produced van Doorn’s 2017 single, Leave Me Alone.

We recognized several of the video filming locations since we stayed in Molyvos and visited Petra and other places  during our first-ever trip to Lesvos in spring 2019, but I’m sure many more sites shown in the clip will be familiar to regular island visitors.

If you haven’t been to Lesvos before, the video will give you glimpses of some of the pretty town, coast and landscape scenery that await your discovery on this truly wonderful East Aegean isle.

How to visit Greece during your Covid-19 home quarantine

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Greecefromhome website screenshot

If you’re stuck at home in Covid-19 quarantine, you can visit and explore Greece through inspirational videos, dreamy photos and informative destination profiles on the new #greecefromhome website

 

Just because you can’t physically travel to Greece right now doesn’t mean you can’t pay it a visit and enjoy a Greek holiday experience in mind and spirit.

Like billions of other people around the world, you probably can’t go far from home — if you’re even able to leave it at all — because of Covid-19 quarantines, lockdowns and self-isolation measures. You definitely can’t go to Greece, because it’s totally off-limits to travellers for the time being. And while it’s far too soon to tell when countries will re-open their borders to visitors, you can still explore and experience Greece — and get ideas and inspiration for a future holiday there — by clicking over to #greecefromhome.

Launched at the beginning of March 2020, #greecefromhome is a multifaceted campaign that aims “to offer people from all over the world meaningful content from Greece during the Covid-19 crisis.” It’s a special initiative developed by the Greek government, its national tourism organisation, and a private sector tourism group that promotes Greece as a travel destination.

“[t]his is where we share our love for Greece – connecting you with Greeks doing amazing things on our YouTube channel and letting you experience the best of Greece right now, on Discovergreece.com. And if you work in tourism or any other sector, as an individual or business, you can learn new digital skills through a series of free courses in partnership with Google,” the #greecefromhome website explains.

To that end, the #greecefromhome web portal provides quick and easy access to a wealth of photos, videos and information about Greek culture, destinations and travel experiences. It includes:

♦ the Visit Greece channel on YouTube, which features videos spotlighting “Greek personalities and creators from around the world,” as well as “Greek-inspired music, mythology, cuisine, arts, crafts, fashion, sport and style” — and, of course, travel destinations and holiday activities and experiences;  

Greecefromhome website link to the Visit Greece YouTube Channel

Screenshot of two videos from the Greecefromhome website

Screenshot of two videos from the Greecefromhome website

Above: screenshots of the #greecefromhome website links to some of the hundreds of videos available for free viewing on the Visit Greece YouTube channel

 

♦ the Discover Greece tourism website, which is packed with inspiring images and information about “archaeological sites and museums, the glorious sea, the mountains and lakes, the villages and traditions, even gastro and walking tours – exploring, sailing, hiking, rafting, tasting, discovering” and other activities to keep you merrily dreaming about — and perhaps even planning — a future holiday in Greece.

 

Screenshot of Discover Greece website experiences homepage

Screenshot 01 of discovery tours on the greecefromhome website

Screenshot 02 of discovery tours on the greecefromhome website

Screenshot 03 of discovery tours on the greecefromhome website

Above: Screenshots showing some of the travel experience profiles available through links on  the #greecefromhome site

 

online training courses, developed by Grow with Google, that will help participants “learn about creating a digital marketing plan, using social media effectively, the art of storytelling,” and more. 

Screenshot of the Greecefromhome website digital skills learning channel

Screenshot of online digital training courses available through the greecefromhome website

Above: Screenshots showing some of the digital training courses available through #greecefromhome

 

While the goal of #greecefromhome is to keep Greece as a top of mind destination for whenever international travel resumes, it offers a great opportunity in the meantime for people to give their minds a break from the pervasive doom and gloom of the coronavirus crisis, and dream about going to one of the most beautiful places in the world. Hopefully, that will soon be possible once again.

Mykonos bar & club openings, parties & events in 2020

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Final update: November 5

 

Couldn’t make it to Mykonos to party this year? The music video Mama Bonita by Kristo Featuring Eva, released September 14, was shot primarily on the island and is chalk full of Mykonos town, beach, sea, villa and hotel scenery.

 

 

El Burro Mykonos live DJ events November 5 and 6

DJ Giannis Papasilekas will play at El Burro on Thursday November 5 and Friday November 6

 

Taverna Kandavlos live music event on Sunday November 1

Taverna Kandavlos will present live musical entertainment on the afternoon of Sunday November 1

 

El Burro Mykonos exterior photo from the restaurant page on Facebook

Beginning with the weekend of October 24 & 25, El Burro will present music entertainment by DJ Giannis Papasilekas every Saturday and Sunday at 7 p.m. Because of limited indoor table seating availability, reservations will be required for these events. 

 

 Going to Mykonos after the middle of September? Some Covid-related restrictions that could impact your vacation are still in effect on the island.

From September 15 until further notice from the government, bars and restaurants must continue to close at midnight every day, and cannot reopen before 7 a.m. However, businesses can offer food and beverage takeaway and delivery service beyond the midnight closing time.

In addition, there is a limit on the number of people allowed to participate in any public or social event. No more than 50 people can attend public or social gatherings, regardless of whether they take place in a public or private location. These include ceremonies such as weddings, baptisms and funerals, banquet-type receptions and festivities, and other events geared to large groups.

The special measures are part of the Greek government’s efforts to control and limit the spread of coronavirus, as new cases of Covid-19 continue to rise in many parts of the country.

Stringent restrictions were implemented on Mykonos on August 19 after the island experienced an increase in the number of people testing positive for the coronavirus around the middle of that month.

The rules took effect on Friday August 21, and stipulated that:

♦ Masks had to be worn indoors AND outdoors;

♦ Live parties, trade fairs, public markets, parades and processions could not take place;

♦ There was a ban on any kind of gathering of more than 9 people, for any reason, whether in public or in private

♦ in restaurant dining areas, a maximum of 4 people would be allowed to sit at the same table (a maximum of 6 in the case of immediate members of families)

In addition, the existing requirement that bars and restaurants close from midnight to 7 a.m. every day was extended until August 31. (The midnight shutdown originally was supposed to end on August 23.)

The government has since extended all of the above restrictions to September 15 as it strives to fend off an expected second wave of the coronavirus after cases spiked in a number of destinations in Greece.

Police on Mykonos had been enforcing the mask rule by issuing €150 tickets to some  people who didn’t comply; however, mask wearing was not required for people sunbathing or swimming at beaches and pools. Government officials also inspected businesses on the island to ensure they were complying with the coronavirus safety measures.

The government’s strict enforcement of some measures made international headlines on Tuesday September 1, when officials with the General Secretariat of Civil Protection conducted surprise inspections on two of the island’s best-known beach clubs, Nammos and Scorpios, and tested their employees for coronavirus. Following the inspection, the government ordered the two clubs to cease operations until September 4.  According to media reports, the Scorpios staff all tested negative for the virus, so the club was allowed to re-open on September 4. At Nammos, on the other hand, two employees tested positive, and authorities ordered the club to stay closed for an additional 10 days. The club hired lawyers to appeal that decision, but ultimately decided to close early for the season and shuttered the premises on September 7, saying the club will reopen at the end of April in 2021.

Since then, at least three other beach clubs — Lohan Beach House, Solymar and Pinky Beach — have closed for the season, and a number of restaurants and bars have also shut for the winter, including Adelon Sunset Bar, Busulas, Bakalo, Catari and Fokos Taverna. More restaurants as well as hotels are expected to close unusually early this year because tourist traffic is down tremendously this September — normally a busy month.

If you do travel to the island toward the end of this month, expect a quiet low-season atmosphere without the typical September buzz.

To see listings of events that have already taken place this month, including closing parties, check page 2 of this post.

 

 

Related articles:

♦  Mykonos parties, live music events & DJ shows during 2019

♦  What’s new on Mykonos for 2019

 

Please click on the link below to turn to page 2 where you can see club openings, events and closing parties that have already taken place this year.

CONTINUED ON PAGE 2

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