Category: From other blogs (page 2 of 3)

Top smoke-free Athens bars and restaurants for non-smokers

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Mama Roux Athens

The open-air terrace at Mama Roux is shown in a  photo from the restaurant’s Facebook page. Mama Roux is among 10 top Athens cocktail bars & restaurants that expressly forbid smoking on their premises, according to an article from the Greece Is culture and gastronomy website.

 

Breathe better: From a visitor’s point of view, there are very few negative things I can say about Greece. I love going there, and wouldn’t publish this website if I didn’t. But like any place on Earth, it’s not a perfect paradise and it does have some drawbacks. The biggest, from my personal perspective, is the wide prevalence of smoking — not just by locals, but by tourists, too.

I’m seriously allergic to tobacco smoke — it makes me intensely nauseous, and it hinders my breathing. It also stings my eyes and sticks to my contact lenses, leaving them scratchy and uncomfortable. And it doesn’t matter if I’m inside a building or outdoors — if someone lights up nearby, the impact of their smoke is just as severe.

It seems I have plenty of company: I’ve received messages from other people with smoke allergies, and I’ve spoken to numerous travellers (mainly from the USA and Canada) who have commented on the pervasiveness of smoking even in places where it’s supposed to be illegal. 

Happily, I have found cigarette smoke less of a nuisance in recent years than it was during each of our Greek holidays prior to 2009. That was the year Greece enacted legislation to ban smoking in many public places, and though the law has often been ignored since it took effect, I have encountered far fewer people puffing in places where I can’t easily escape their smoke, such as in shops, restaurants and hotels, or on public transit. I still have occasional problems, but I breathe much easier in Greece now than I did up to 2009.

Nevertheless, a meal in a restaurant or a coffee break in a cafe can be ruined for me if another customer or someone on staff lights up. No matter how far away I sit from a smoker (and I actually have changed tables to avoid some), their smoke will waft in my direction and give me grief. 

 

Since I’ve often wondered if there’s anywhere I could go where I could be guaranteed someone wouldn’t be smoking at the table beside me, I was glad to find an article entitled Athenian Hangouts Without Smoke, which was published at the end of March on the excellent Greece Is culture and gastronomy.

Written by Maria Coveou, the article profiles 10 Athens restaurants and cocktail bars “which are smoke-free in theory and in practice, and where exceptions are never made.”

I haven’t been to any of the establishments yet (though I have walked past one — the legendary Zonars restaurant and lounge), but I have bookmarked the article to keep on hand for my next trip to Athens.

If you’re planning to visit Athens and you’re a non-smoker yourself, click here to read Maria’s article and save it for future reference. 

And if you happen to know of other bars and restaurants in Athens (or anywhere else in Greece) that steadfastly forbid tobacco smoking on their premises, please let me and my non-smoking readers know by adding a comment to this post (simply click on the word “comments” under the headline at the top of this article, and write your response in the “Leave a Reply” box.) Those of us with cigarette smoke allergies will be immensely grateful for the information!

 

Zonars restaurant Athens Greece

One of the city’s most famous restaurants and lounge bars, Zonars is another establishment where non-smokers can enjoy a drink or meal in an environment free of tobacco smoke. This street-view photo of Zonars was shared on Facebook by Aspasia Taka Architects.

Milos recasts its magical spell

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Tsigrado beach Milos

With dozens of unique beaches, like the cliff-enclosed Tsigrado cove 

 

Cape Vani on Milos

  an astounding array of natural scenery and rugged terrain, such as the Mars-like landscape at Cape Vani

 

Mandrakia village on Milos

 picturesque seaside fishing villages, like Mandrakia

 

Kleftiko coast at Milos

… spectacular coastal scenery, like the breathtaking cliffs and offshore rock formations at Kleftiko

 

Ageria mine site on Milos

 colourful mining sites, like the Ageria open pit operation 

 

O Xamos restaurant Milos

and superb Greek cuisine served at restaurants like O Xamos!, it’s easy to understand why travel blogger Dace was drawn to Milos two years in a row. (All of the photos in this post are by Dace and originally appeared on her website, Dace Travels. They are reposted here with her kind permission).

 

Well worth repeating: My regular readers know how much I enjoy Milos — I’ve published numerous posts about the island in the last several years, along with dozens of photographs we shot during two separate visits.  I’m always keen to hear and read what other travellers think of it, in particular to see if they had similarly delightful experiences (the feedback has been overwhelmingly laudatory, I’m happy to report). I also like to hear people’s impressions of places they managed to see in parts of Milos we haven’t yet explored ourselves since it gives us ideas about new places to check out next time we go back.

So when I discovered a Milos trip report link in a post on the TripAdvisor Milos forum, I was excited to read what the writer had to say, and to view her holiday photos. Clicking on the link actually was a double treat because it took me to not one but two separate trip reports for Milos, posted by Latvian writer Dace on her personal blog, Dace Travels.  

 

 

I was very pleased to find that both reports were packed with gorgeous photos and enticing descriptions of numerous Milos destinations that we haven’t yet seen (in large part because we haven’t rented a vehicle on either of our trips to the island, so we’ve been limited to what we could access by bus, taxi or walking, and couldn’t reach many of the remote areas that Dace drove to in her 4×4.)

In her first post, Greece: The beauty of Milos, Dace explains that she chose Milos after reading about it on a “hidden gem” list for Greece. 

“What a great choice it was!,” she wrote. “The island has 70 different beaches, it’s not overcrowded by tourists; the western part is more wild while the eastern part is more developed. We spent 6 days there but it was not enough.”  But in those six days, she saw a variety of places I’ve only read about in online travel guides — Thiafes beach, Tria Pighadia, Kolymbissionas, Amoudaraki and Manddrakia.

 

Spellbinding nature, beaches and good food

In her second report, Greece again. Yes to Milos!, Dace reveals why she returned to Milos for another holiday. “So why Milos again? It really got its spell on us, so much of beautiful nature and beaches and good food :),” she wrote.  (I totally understand; the exact same features drew us back to Milos for our own second visit.)

Once more, Dace posted lots of beautiful photos and descriptions of even more amazing places I haven’t seen, leaving me feeling a strong tinge of envy. Those spots included Cape Vani, Voudia Bay, Pollonia, and a slew of splendid beaches — Angathia, Agios Ioannis, Triades, Firiplaka, Paleochori, Plateina, Agio Kyriaki and Tsigrado. 

Both reports are fascinating and fun to read. Dace has a great sense of humour, so I chuckled at some of her stories (like the “quad people” they encountered at some beaches) and cringed at another (her account of a stomach-churning ferry ride to Milos).  And of course there’s dozens of photos of stunning Milos scenery that are bound to make you dream about going there yourself.

Click here to read Dace’s first report, and then click here to read about her return visit. (The second report includes photos and information about her stay in Athens, too, and elsewhere on her blog you can read about her trip to Santorini.)

Tips for budget travel from Turkey to mainland Greece

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Orestiada Bus Station

The bus station at Orestiada, a town in eastern Greece near the Turkish border, is seen in a photo by EcoTripSos.com. The website’s “Travel Tips for Greece” guide provides detailed information about local bus travel. 

 

Survival Guide: Readers occasionally email me for advice on ways to travel overland from Turkey to mainland Greece, and onward to some of the Greek islands. They are typically younger travellers who intend to backpack throughout Europe, as well as individuals who simply want to combine trips to Turkey with a budget-friendly foray into parts of Greece. 

Since I haven’t been to Turkey yet and have never travelled east of Athens to the Greece-Turkey border, I haven’t been able to answer their questions. But an information-packed article published by EcoTripSos should be a valuable research rescource  for anyone seeking economical ways to travel to Greece from Turkey.

Founded by Turkish travel enthusiasts Özge Çetinkayar and Kutay Uzun, EcoTripSos is an online guide offering advice on budget and eco-friendly travel, particularly for inexperienced or beginner travellers.

On November 15, they published Travel Tips for Greece, a photo-illustrated “Greece Survival Guide for Travelers.” It recounts a 10-day journey to seven Greek villages and cities, including Kastanies, Orestiada, Alexandroupolis, and Thessaloniki on the eastern Greece mainland, plus Heraklion, Rethymno and Chania on the island of Crete. The guide describes how the travellers crossed the border at Pazarkule (9 km from the city of Edirne in Turkey) to reach the Greek town of Kastanies, used local bus transportation to travel onward to Alexandroupolis and Thessaloniki, and from the latter city flew to Crete and back. 

Besides providing practical information about how to use Greece’s intercity and local city bus systems (including how and where to buy bus tickets), the article describes air travel between Thessaloniki and Crete,  and offers myriad useful tips about hotels and “Daily Life in Greece from Travelers’ Eyes,” including such topics as food, beer, water and wi-fi service. 

Click here to read the EcoTripSos Guide to Greece.

Kastanies railway station

The tiny train station at Kastanies, near Greece’s border with Turkey

 

A travel blogger’s first-time visits to Santorini and Mykonos

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Fira Santorini panoramic image by Christine from Vancouver blog IMG_20150508_102459

A panoramic view of Fira, the capital and main town on Santorini

 

Octopus at Amoudi Bay Santorini image by Christine from Vancouver blog IMG_20150511_130719_hdr

Octopus at Amoudi Bay on Santorini

 

Do you wonder what it’s like visiting Greek islands for the first time? Especially as a solo female traveller?

Two fascinating trip reports by a travel blogger from Vancouver, Canada will give you excellent insight into the entire experience. (They’re also great fun to read even if you have already been to Greece yourself.)

Blogger Christine visited Santorini and Mykonos earlier this month during a two-week holiday — her first-ever trip to Greece. She posted a thorough account of her journey, complete with dozens of photos, on her Christine in Vancouver blog.

I love the reports not just because they show Greece through the eyes of an island-hopping “newbie,” but also since they include scores of food pictures and valuable information about costs and prices — important details that I think will be extremely helpful to others considering a trip to Greece.

Click here to read Christine’s report for her May 6 to 13 stay on Santorini, and click here to read about her May 13 to 19 visit to Mykonos.

The two photos from Santorini posted above, as well as the two photos from Mykonos shown below, are just four of the dozens of fabulous pictures you’ll get to see in Christine’s reports (you’ll be able to view her photos full-size in a slide-show format.)

Enjoy your trip to Santorini and Mykonos with Christine!

 

Mykonos Town streets image by Christine from Vancouver blog IMG_2819

Streets in the heart of Mykonos Town

 

Ornos beach Mykonos image by Christine from Vancouver blog IMG_20150516_135434_hdr

Ornos, one of the top “family” beach resort areas on Mykonos

 

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