Category: Greek Islands hotels (page 2 of 23)

Top Greece travel reads of 2019: Best articles, stories & profiles of Greek islands

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Tinos island as seen from a departing ferry

Chania harbourfront at sunset

Arkoi island ferry port

cliffs below Chora village on Folegandros island

Sarakiniko beach on Milos island

the western coast of Andros island IMG_1111

From the top: Tinos seen from a departing ferry; the Chania harbourfront at sunset; the small port pier at Arkoi; soaring cliffs beneath the whitewashed buildings of Chora village on Folegandros; rock formations at Sarakiniko beach on Milos; a mountain and beaches on the west coast of Andros. These are some of the places profiled in my favourite articles about Greek islands in 2019.

 

Magazine articles and newspaper stories about Greek Islands are the focus of this post, the latest instalment in my series of “best travel reads of 2019.”

The reports I have included in this list are the ones I liked the most last year because they me made wish I could rush right away to the island being discussed; taught me about interesting places, attractions and activities I wasn’t aware of previously; or provided thoughtful insights by exploring destinations from a unique and captivating perspective. Some are educational; some are inspirational; others are simply fascinating or fun to read.

 

Though they were published during 2019, all of the reports and profiles are worthwhile reads for anyone planning or thinking about a trip to one or more of the islands either this year or sometime in the near future.  They provide helpful practical information about intriguing things to see and do,  suggest areas to stay in or specific accommodations to consider, and offer ideas for discovering and experiencing the unique local character, history and features of each island. I have included links to the online source of the articles so readers can bookmark the ones that interest them for further reference.

The islands featured in my best articles round-up are:

♦ Amorgos, Andros,Folegandros, Ios, Kea, Milos, Paros, Santorini, Serifos, Syros and Tinos in the Cyclades;

♦ Ikaria in the eastern Aegean;

♦ Arki in the Dodecanese; and

♦ Crete

I’ve listed the articles in alphabetical order by island name so readers can easily scroll to a specific destination that interests them.

— Amorgos —

Screenshot of National Geographic article about Sister Irini on Amorgos

Screenshot of National Geographic article about Sister Irini on Amorgos

 

A highlight of our trip to Amorgos back in 2009 was a visit to the island’s best-known monument, the Chozoviotissa Monastery. Founded in the 11th Century, the whitewashed, fortress-like edifice clings to the face of a rugged cliff hundreds of meters above the sea. It is such an incredible sight, my first glimpse of the brilliant white building literally took my breath away.  I’m still so fascinated by Chozoviotissa that I get excited whenever I see photos of it on my Instagram feed, or find video views of it on YouTube.

While I’m certain we will pay it another visit next time we return to Amorgos, there’s a much newer monastery I’m equally keen to see. It didn’t exist when we travelled to the island, and I didn’t learn about it until I read Meet the tourist who became the only nun on Amorgos, a National Geographic piece published on January 17 2019. 

 

 

Written by Terri Steel, the article is an engaging story of transformation — a profile of a woman who decides to turn her life in a totally new direction while restoring a derelict church property into a lush garden “paradise” now known as Agios Georgios Valsamitis Monastery.

“She first came to the island as a young mother and wife 35 years ago; after her husband passed, she chose a new path. Her name is Sister Irini, now, and she remains Amorgos’s only nun,” Steel writes, noting that Sister Irini took her vows as a Greek Orthodox nun in 2011. 

“Seven years ago, Sister Irini began transforming a long-abandoned monastery into an oasis. Visitors come throughout the year to walk her bountiful garden lined with Byzantine frescoes, to hear her story, and to purchase her magnificent paintings of religious icons.”

Steel relates part of the sister’s story, outlines how the nun spends her days and speculates on how the “heavenly landscape” of Amorgos may have encouraged Sister Irini to pursue a simple, holy life there.

The article is illustrated with images of beautiful Amorgos sights and scenes captured by photographer Chiara Goia.

 

— Andros —

Screenshot of Conde Nast Traveller September 2019 article about Andros island

 

In 2019, prolific travel writer Rachel Howard penned two feature articles about Andros — one for Conde Nast Traveller magazine (top), the other for The Sunday Times newspaper (below).

 

Screenshot of Rachel Howard Sunday Times article about hiking on Andros island

 

Andros is a big island, and we knew we would barely scratch the surface when we spent six days there in late May of 2015, even though we split our stay between towns on opposite sides of the island. Last year, when I read two revelatory articles about Andros, it really hit home just how much we didn’t get to see or experience. I felt hugely disappointed when I realized we had missed some of the island’s best features.

Both stories were written by Rachel Howard, for different publications.

The first, Andros: Greece’s hidden hiking hotspot, was published January 27 2019 in The Sunday Times.   

Noting that Andros is a lush, mountainous isle, Howard observes that the “forested peaks are ribboned with streams and ravines careen down to wetlands teeming with wildlife. One third of it is a nature reserve, there are dozens of stone villages camouflaged in the hills and it has about 70 beaches, many of the best accessible only by boat or on foot. So it’s hardly surprising that Andros is carving out a niche as a year-round hiking destination.”

Hiking is what drew Howard to the island — she spent several days walking segments of the island’s 200-mile network of footpaths, many of which have been cleared and waymarked by the Andros Routes volunteer organization.

She describes trekking a circular route in Livadia, “a valley dotted with magnificent manor houses, where some of Greece’s most illustrious shipping families hole up for the summer,” gentler walks from the Ktima Lemonies guesthouse estate to the villages of Lamyra and Menites and to the island capital, Chora, and a 6-mile trail from the mountain village of Vourkoti to remote Achla beach. 

“Venture towards the highlands and you’ll stumble upon abandoned watermills, medieval watchtowers and cascading waterfalls. It’s easy to imagine Pan charging through the woods, but you’re more likely to meet a farmer threshing with an ox or frying sausages and potatoes in pork fat in an outdoor wood-fired oven,” Howard says.

 

Although we did some scenic walks during our own Andros visit, we didn’t get to explore any of the specific paths Howard talked about, or any of the trails marked and maintained by Andros Routes.  I’d love to get back to Andros to check some of them out, and perhaps attend one of the programs at Melisses guesthouse, located above Paleopolis Bay on the west coast of Andros.  Howard says bloggers and authors visit Melisses “to present cooking workshops and creative retreats such as illustration and travel photography, hosted by Allegra Pomilio, a glamorous Italian food stylist and a wonderful cook.” An Andros holiday with plenty of scenic walks and the opportunity to attend a creative retreat would be right up my alley.

Howard’s second article, Is this Greece’s undiscovered island? appeared in the September 2019 edition of Conde Nast Traveller magazine. Unlike the previous story, which focussed on island walks, this report is a more general overview of the island’s recent history as well as its top sights and leading attractions.

Howard notes that three Greek shipping dynasties — the Embiricos, Goulandris and Polemis families — put Andros on the map in the early 20th Century.  These wealthy families shared some of their largesse locally: They “paved the streets in marble, built imposing mansions and museums filled with billion-dollar art,” constructed the island’s first high school and hospital, and built a beautiful retirement home.

“Because the island’s shipping families used patronage as a show of power, Chora has an embarrassment of cultural riches. There’s an archaeological museum, a maritime museum, the Kaireios library with archives stretching back to the 16th century, and an open-air theatre where Pandelis Voulgaris, one of Greece’s most accomplished directors, stages the Andros International Festival, a summer-long celebration of the arts,” Howard notes.

Since  shipping was the island’s primary source of employment and income for so long, Andros didn’t have to begin  developing a local tourism industry until just a few decades ago. Tourist traffic is now picking up as more people learn of the island’s scenic hiking opportunities, and visit to see its lush natural greenery and “densely wooded hills and ravines” — features they won’t find on other islands in the Cyclades.

“Divided by four towering mountain ranges, the landscape is surprisingly varied and the weather can change around each bend. One moment it looks and feels like Tuscany, the next the Scottish Highlands. Watermills, dovecotes and watchtowers materialise in misty valleys,” Howard says. “Andros has plentiful springs and streams, waterfalls and wetlands. Every village has a communal marble washbasin fed by ice-cold mountain water. Venturing deeper into the mountains, carved fountains in village squares give way to waterfalls cascading through forests of chestnut, white poplar, oak and maple,” she adds.

If you have been to the Cyclades before but haven’t yet seen Andros, try adding it to your next island-hopping itinerary; you’ll find it’s a striking contrast from the arid brown landscapes dotted with whitewashed villages that are so characteristic of its neighbouring isles.

Please click on the link below to continue reading island profiles on page 2 of this post.

 

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Above the rest: Panoptis Escape luxury villas set to open in May on a Mykonos mountaintop

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Aerial view of Panoptis Escape villas at Elia beach on Mykonos

From their lofty aerie overlooking Elia beach, guests of the Panoptis Escape villas will enjoy unrivalled 360-degree views of Mykonos and the sea, plus both the sunrise and the sunset.

Daytime aerial view of Panoptis Escape villas on Mykonos

Sunset view of Panoptis Escape villas on Mykonos

 

Peak perfection: An exquisite new mountaintop villa retreat will be opening on Mykonos this summer, promising “pure relaxation,” “laid-back luxury,” and exceptional personalized service  along with “breathtaking sunrise to sunset sea views.”

Perched on a rocky peak high above Elia beach, Panoptis Escape is an enclave of luxuriously-appointed boutique accommodations that include honeymoon suites and 1-, 2- and 3-bedroom villas.  While the villas can be booked on an individual basis, the complex can be reserved in its entirety as well. Featuring more than 1,900 square meters of indoor space, 2,500 meters of outdoor space, 12 swimming pools and 21 bedrooms that can sleep up to 69 people (42 adults and 27 children), Panoptis will provide a perfect private getaway space for a wedding party or large group of family, friends or business associates on a corporate retreat.

 

Panoptis is the 10th and newest 5-star property in the Myconian Collection luxury hotel and villa chain, owned and operated by the Daktylidis family of Mykonos. It is scheduled to open in May.  Five other Myconian Collection hotels are clustered on the same steep mountainside at Elia — the Imperial, Royal, Villa Collection, Utopia and Avaton. Panoptis overlooks these sister properties from its enviable summit position. 

 “Panoptis” translates as “where man meets his gods,” and villa guests could well feel like they’re in heaven as they savour the scenery and serenity at their lofty lair.

Each of the accommodations include “en-suite multi bathroom facilities and luxury toiletries and amenities, separated living rooms with mini kitchenette facilities, refrigerators, wine coolers, coffee machines and electric kettles and a fully equipped kitchen.”

The property features a welcome area, lounge, open-air bar, outdoor open-air kitchen with BBQ, restaurant facilities, and a wellness studio. Guests can relax on sunbeds on the Myconian Collection’s private section of Elia beach, and have access to spa facilities. Private vehicle parking is available, while a helipad can accommodate up to three helicopters for guests who arrive by air. A staff of 20 — receptionists, bar and kitchen personnel, housekeepers and maintenance crews — work on site.

Daytime aerial view from Panoptis Escape villas on Mykonos

Daytime (above) and sunset-time views (below) from one of the private swimming pools at Panoptis Escape

Sunset view from the Panoptis Escape villas on Mykonos

 

I can only imagine the fabulous impression Panoptis will make on visitors — and how amazing it will be for them to spend their vacation relaxing amidst such sumptuous surroundings and spectacular scenery. We have thoroughly enjoyed staying in two of the Myconian Collection properties — the Ambassador at Platis Gialos (our first hotel on our very first trip to Greece), and the Imperial — so we have an idea of what the Panoptis guest experience will be like. And we’ve already seen its breathtaking views with our own eyes. During our stay at the Imperial, we climbed to the top of the mountain above the hotel, and stood near the spot where Panoptis now sits. The views were outstanding, so I feel a tad envious of the lucky guests who will enjoy them from the comfort of private pools and patios at the Panoptis.

 

Seaview patio at Panoptis Escape villas on Mykonos

A seaview patio for one of the villas

 

Open air dining room at Panoptis Escape villas on Mykonos

An open-air dining space on one of the villa patios

 

Panoptis is a member of Small Luxury Hotels of the World, and can be booked through its listing on the SLH website.

Please click on the link below to turn to page 2, where I have posted additional photos showing some of the villa interiors and outdoor spaces.

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Moments in Molyvos Part 2: Exploring the old market and hillsides below the castle

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Houses on the hills below the Castle of Molyvos on Lesvos island

Even though it meant climbing up and down hundreds of stone steps, we couldn’t resist exploring the residential districts that line the steep slopes beneath Molyvos Castle. 

 

My first Moments in Molyvos post included of photos we shot, during our spring 2019 vacation, of sights along on the town’s main road and harbour. 

In this instalment, we venture uphill to explore the residential areas situated on the steep slopes that descend from the hilltop Castle of Molyvos to the main road. Photos in this collection include elegant stone houses, villas and hotels; four of the town’s major churches; shops and restaurants lining the cobblestone lanes of the historic market district; a lovely pine-forested park; the municipal cemetery; and occasional scenic views from the hillsides. We will visit the castle in Part 3.

 

 

buildings cling to the steep hills below the Castle of Molyvos on Lesvos

Tile-roofed stone buildings, many of which are centuries-old, cling to the steep hills below the Castle of Molyvos. In this post, we enter the maze of lanes and steps between the buildings to take a closer look at what’s there.

 

Please click on the link below to continue the photo tour of Molyvos. 

Page 2 contains pictures from our walkabouts in the town’s traditional market and surrounding neighbourhood, while

Page 3 features photos of our walks on the hillsides below Molyvos Castle.

Page 4 has pictures from our walks on the hills northwest of the castle, high above the harbour.

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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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