At his Greece Summer 2020 press conference on Santorini on June 13, Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis formally announced Greece’s re-opening for summer tourism. Impressive backdrops for the international media event included views of the island’s clifftop village of Imerovigli (top photo) and a glorious sunset over nearby islands (bottom). Greece went into lockdown in late March to protect its citizens from the Covid-19 pandemic, and on June 15 began reopening its borders to tourism.
“Greek tourism is back.”
Those words — spoken by Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis during an international press conference on Santorini island June 13 — must have been sweet music to the ears of people around the world who have been hoping to holiday in Greece this summer.
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If you ever get the chance to visit Samos, here’s a few sage words of advice: Stay for at least a week, and rent a car for either all or part of your holiday. You’ll need that time, and access to a vehicle, to see even just a few of the fabulous sites and scenic locations spotlighted in the video This is my island, This is Samos by Michali’s Films.
We spent 4.5 days on Samos during an island-hopping holiday through the Dodecanese and East Aegean regions of Greece exactly 10 years ago this month. (How time flies — we can’t believe a full decade has passed since that vacation).
We knew when we arrived that we would only be scraping the tip of the iceberg, so to speak, by basing ourselves in and near the island’s capital city, Vathy, and not having a car at our disposal. Samos is a big island, as evidenced by the fact it boasts three ferry ports and an airport; spellbinding mountain, valley and coastal landscapes; dozens of beautiful beaches; charming villages, churches and monasteries; noteworthy historic places and monuments (including UNESCO World Heritage Sites); vineyards that produce the island’s world-famous muscat wine; scores of tavernas serving delicious local and traditional Greek cuisine; and much much more.
We weren’t stuck in Vathy the whole time, though, since we did rent mountain bikes for a day. That gave us the opportunity to take a fun ride to and from the picturesque seaside village of Kokkari, and to explore the countryside north of the city.
Still, we missed out on seeing so much, as This is my island, This is Samos made clear.
The 4-minute film shows dozens of remarkable places all over the island, and captures impressive aerial views of:
♦ the villages of Platanos, Kokkari, Pyrgos, Miloi, Irion, Pythagorion (and its striking Blue Street), Mesokampos, Posidonio, Mitilinii and Ormos Marathokampou;
♦ the beaches Klima, Potami, Mourtia, Mykali, Proteas, Psili Ammos, Megalo Seitani, Klima, Glikoriza, Tarsanas, Remataki, Livadaki, Limnionas, and Balos;
♦ the Temple of Hera, Ancient Walls of Samos, an ancient observatory, and other historic sites;
♦ the 2,500-year-old olive tree “Eva” at Miloi village;
♦ numerous churches and holy sites including the Church of Profitis Ilias, Agias Triada Monastery, Agios Nikolaos Church at Pandroso village, Panagia Church at Mitilinii village, the Church of Panagia Eleousa, the Church of Profitis Ilias near Spatharaioi village, the Church of Agiris Chrysostomos of Smyrna at Mykali, the Monastery of Zoodochos Pigi, Agios Nikolaos Church at Posidonio, the Monastery of Panagia Spiliani at Pythagoreion, and Agios Nikolaos Church at Potami;
♦ a flamboyance of flamingos at Alikes Mykali;
♦ the islands of Samiopoula, Karavopetra, Agios Nikolaos, Diaporti and Vareloudi;
♦ Mount Kerkis and the Profitis Ilias mountain region;
♦ the statue of Pythagoras at Pythagoreion village;
♦ tour boats, and more.
If you’d like to see more of the island after taking this aerial tour, you’ll find nearly 20 other Samos videos to watch on the Michali’s Films channel on YouTube.
Our flight to Greece this month was cancelled by Covid-19 travel restrictions, but that hasn’t stopped us from daydreaming about taking a trip later this summer to enjoy some desperately-needed holiday downtime. One spot we find particularly appealing is a new luxury resort on Crete, where we fantasize of pampering ourselves with elegant accommodations and amenities, superb food and scenic surroundings — the perfect tonic to relieve pent-up stress and worry from the extended period of pandemic lockdowns this spring.
That place is The Royal Senses Resort & Spa near Rethymno, where we see ourselves social distancing in style in one of the spacious double rooms or a junior suite equipped with a private swimming pool. Or perhaps we would splurge on a chic elite suite or a roomy grand villa with a stunning private infinity pool. For a change of scenery we would lounge by one of the four communal pools, explore the resort’s farm and gardens, recharge with a massage or an herbal spa treatment, and then savor a delicious meal at one of the three restaurants or some of the pop-up food bars in the hotel’s Market Place. And of course we would take day trips to explore the island’s amazing sites and attractions. How sweet it would be to revel in such comfort and luxury — and discover spectacular Crete — while putting the world’s tumultuous troubles temporarily out of mind!
It’s unlikely we will personally be able to visit Crete in the near future, since spring was the only time we could go to Greece in 2020, but other travellers will get to experience that dreamy holiday bliss when The Royal Senses welcomes its first guests this summer.
The resort is situated on the northern coast of Crete close to Panormos, a traditional seaside fishing village with charming cobblestone streets, a medieval church and picturesque coves with sandy beaches. Also in convenient close proximity are Crete’s three biggest cities — Rethymno, just 20 minutes away, and Chania and Heraklion, each about an hour’s drive. All boast fascinating historic sites and a tremendous variety of beautiful attractions for visitors to discover.
The Royal Senses occupies a hillside location overlooking the 100-acre seafront property of its older sister hotel, The Royal Blue, which recently underwent a major renovation. The two are showpieces of the Troulis Royal Collection, a locally-owned and operated brand of destination lifestyle resorts which aim to make guests “feel like they are part of the unique life force of Cretan culture.”
“We share a vision for heartfelt hospitality. We are agents of the Cretan culture and community. We create places that give value to guests, employees and the island. We are fully committed to our responsibility to the island, its people and our cultural says,” says a mission statement on the Collection’s website.
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The marvellous mountain and seaside landscapes at Elounda, a small town in northeastern Crete, are the stand-out attractions in this newly-released video created by Zameer Pactyan. Elounda 2020 was published May 11 and features five full minutes of splendid scenery, with soaring views of the town and its seafront, the impressive mountain backdrop, and the picturesque Gulf of Elounda. Pactyan is a prolific filmmaker who has produced dozens of scenic videos showcasing towns, villages, beaches and top tourist destinations all over Crete. If you’re considering a visit to the island, be sure to take a look at the Zameer Pactyan channel on YouTube for ideas and inspiration — and a sneak peak of the many amazing places to discover on Crete. You can also view videos and photos on Zameer’s Facebook page.