Category: Greek Island villages and towns (page 1 of 55)

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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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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Savoring the Cycladic scenery: enticing views of Santorini, Mykonos, Milos, Sifnos & Folegandros

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Filmmaker/photographer Raphael Pöham created this captivating short video of enchanting scenery on five islands in the Cyclades 

 

Mesmerizing moments: Filmmaker Raphael Pöham took a trip to Greece last year, and produced this stunning video souvenir of scenic holiday highlights from the five Cyclades islands he visited — Santorini, Mykonos, Milos, Sifnos and Folegandros.

The film’s views of beautiful beach, landscape and sunset scenery brilliantly illustrate why the Cyclades island chain is so immensely alluring to travellers from around the world.

The film runs for three minutes, and I enjoyed it so much I wish it had been longer — I really wanted to see more! It also made me feel eager to plan a return trip to the Cyclades.  We have already been to each of the islands that Raphael spotlighted, and recognized most of the scenes in his film, but the video makes me yearn to visit those places again.

Give Raphael’s video a look and see if it puts you in a similarly dreamy Cyclades state of mind, too!

Lonely Planet profiles NE Aegean plus 4 ‘secret,’ timeless islands

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Lonely Planet magazine

Greece gets front-cover prominence on the cover of the Lonely Planet newsstand issue for May 2018

 

The secret’s out: I had a strong hunch I might find something interesting to read about Greece when I walked into the magazine department at my local bookstore yesterday.  When I turned into the travel section, my premonition instantly proved accurate — standing at eye level on the front shelf was the latest edition of Lonely Planet, its cover graced with a photo of a blue-roofed Greek Orthodox church illustrating its “Secret Greece” feature story. 

In another pleasant delight, I realized I had seen that very same church in person — on Astypalea, during our island hopping holiday in 2009.

Astypalea is one of seven islands featured in Lonely Planet’s May issue and, in another curious coincidence, the article about it recommends staying in the very accommodations where we spent several nights: Fildisi Boutique Hotel

The magazine highlights two other islands we have been to — Hydra and Sifnos — and, in yet another surprising stroke of serendipity, spotlights four more that I had been seriously considering for our upcoming vacation: Lesvos, Chios, Ikaria and Kythera. (We have already made plans to spend our time in and within sight of the Peloponnese, but Lonely Planet suddenly has me wondering if I may have made a mistake.)

 

 

The main focus of the magazine’s Great Escape cover feature is the Northeast Aegean group of Greek islands; specifically, Lesvos, Chios and Ikaria. Stepping ashore on these particular isles “introduces olive farmers and wild honey, hidden villages and untouched beaches, and perhaps the secret to long life,” the feature story introduction says.

Reading the Lesvos profile quickly made me crave Greek cuisine, though I should have expected that given the article’s headline: “Savour the many flavours of Greece on Lesvos, from olive oil to ouzo and orange wine.”

The second feature story invites readers to “discover a centuries-old tradition of mastic cultivation and the fortress-like villages that grew rich from it” in southern Chios.

The third main article introduces Ikaria, one of the world’s unique Blue Zone locations where residents “enjoy longer lives than anyone else in Europe.”

One-page mini profiles for Astypalea, Kythera, Sifnos and Hydra appear in the magazine’s “Secret Greece” feature as examples that, “even in the well-known Greek island groups,” visitors can find “the odd place that’s little changed over the decades.” Each profile includes short thumbnail descriptions for “Why am I going?”, “Where should I stay?”, “What am I eating?”, and “What am I drinking?”

The island articles are all good reads, and just might entice you to consider the Northeast Aegean for a future trip to Greece, especially if you haven’t considered that region of the country before. (They probably will make you feel peckish for Greek food and beverages, too.)

See if you can find a copy of the magazine at your local newsstand before it sells out.

 

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