Category: Astipalea (page 1 of 6)

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.

 

Greece’s best destinations for budget travellers

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Chora on Astipalia island

A Venetian castle towers above Chora village on Astipalea island. The quiet and unassuming Dodecanese island boasts beautiful scenery, some of which you can see in the video featured in my post Aspects of Astipalea.  

 

Budget friendly: Are you considering a trip to Greece this summer, but wondering where you can go to avoid draining your bank account paying for food and accommodations at expensive destinations like Mykonos and Santorini? Although it’s possible to holiday on a tight budget on both those islands. as well as other high-profile destinations, there are numerous alternatives that offer great Greek holiday experiences at considerably cheaper prices. You’ll find some excellent suggestions in the article Best low budget summer destinations in Greece, published by the informative and insightful travel website  HIP GREECE.

The article lists more than a dozen islands plus one mainland Greece resort area that won’t break the bank, and offers brief descriptions of highlight attractions at each place, with links to additional in-depth articles about some of the destinations.

The spotlighted destinations include:

♦ The Small Cyclades islands of Iraklia, Koufonissia (Pano and Kato Koufonissi), Donousa and Schinoussa

♦ Kythira

♦ Serifos

♦ Tinos

♦ Ios

♦ Ikaria

♦ Astipalea

♦ Lefkada

♦ Skopelos, and

♦ Parga, a picturesque coastal resort area near the town of Preveza in western Greece.

You can read the complete HIP GREECE article by clicking here.

 

 

We’ve been to three of the recommended islands — Astipalea, Ios and Tinos — and have had brief peeks at the Small Cyclades during port stops on a ride from Amorgos to Naxos on the Express Skopelitis ferry. We would agree that all are good choices for travellers visiting Greece on a budget. We haven’t yet been to the other destinations cited by HIP GREECE, but several friends have told us Kythira, Serifos and Ikaria are wallet-friendly, while others have said the same for the Small Cyclades. However, we were surprised that Naxos wasn’t mentioned — we have found it to be the most reasonably priced island of all we have been to so far and it remains one of our favourite places to visit in large part for that reason. (See my article  Our Top 15 reasons to visit Naxos for further information about that wonderful island). 

Keep in mind that the main tourist period in Greece runs from late April until early October, with July and August being peak travel season. July and especially August also happen to be the most expensive months to visit, so if you’re on a limited budget, try to schedule your vacation for April, May, June, late September or early October, when prices tend to be much lower. Hotel rates usually skyrocket for August, and hostel, camping and cheaper basic accommodations typically tend to book up early in the year. If you can only travel during peak season, make arrangements for your accommodations as soon as possible to secure the lowest prices.

Chora village on Ios

Chora village on Ios is chock full of restaurants and bars, while the island is blessed with numerous gorgeous beaches including Mylopotas (which is walking distance from Chora) and Manganari.

 

Visual delights in Greece’s Dodecanese islands

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Dodecanese Promenade Part A is a 10-minute film featuring highlight attractions on Rhodes, Kasos, Chalki, Symi, Kastellorizo and Karpathos …

 

… while Part B  presents 10 more minutes of beautiful sights and scenes from Patmos, Leros, Kalymnos, Kos, Nisyros and Astypalea

 

Delightful dozen: Four down, eight to go. That’s how many places we have already been to in the Dodecanese island chain, and the number of other islands we want to see there, as we continue to explore Greece in our annual travels.

Our first foray into the Dodecanese was back in 2004 when we spent three days on Rhodes during our first-ever island hopping holiday in Greece. Our second trip into the region came several years later when we kicked off our 2009 vacation on Astypalea. We returned to the Dodecanese for a third time in 2010, when our travels took us to Kos and Patmos (with ferry stops that teased us with brief looks at Kalymnos and Leros en route).

Seeing only four islands in one chain is nothing to be embarrassed about, but it’s still just one-third of the dozen major destinations in the Dodecanese, and we definitely would like to boost that number. Topping our list of the other Dodecanese islands we would like to experience are Karpathos and Kastellorizo, though we’d be happy spending time on any of the others, too — including Kasos, Chalki and Symi.

 

I doubt we’ll get back to the Dodecanese before 2018 at the earliest, but I keep bookmarking photos and videos of the area for research and inspiration, just in case we get the opportunity to go there sooner.

I have shared two of the inspiring videos above. Dodecanese Promenade Parts A and B were both shot by photographer / filmmaker Constantinos Tseklenis in a project for Aegean Airlines two years ago. However, the clips posted above are original Director’s Cut versions that were not shown on Aegean flights. 

Part A brought back fond memories of our time on Rhodes, while Part B showed us many familiar sights and scenes from the days we spent on Patmos and Kos. In both parts, Tseklenis brilliantly captures the gorgeous colours and impressive scenery that we remember seeing first-hand.

If you’ve got 20 minutes to spare,  give the films a watch — they’ll take you on a spectacular visual promenade through the Dodecanese.

Aspects of Astypalea

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The Astypalea experience 2016 is a delightful 2-minute video by Marion Marema and Daniel Kempf-Seifried

 

All about Astypalea: In my post The allure of Astypalea last November, I shared an enjoyable short video that Eva Rodriguez and Ignasi Llobet had created following their visit to the butterfly-shaped island in the Dodecanese chain.

I just found another wonderful Astypalea film that I simply have to share — and this one is accompanied by a superb travel blog post packed with dozens of gorgeous photos and lots of helpful information about the island. 

The video, The Astypalea experience 2016, was published and posted on Vimeo this past June by Marion Marema and Daniel Kempf-Seifried of Marion & Daniel Photography + Films.  Running just under 2 minutes, it shows a variety of beautiful sights and scenes that will give you a solid impression of what the island has to offer. But since the video is so short, it’s almost a tease — it will definitely leave you wanting to see more.

Happily, you can — Marian and Daniel have published an extensive collection of marvellous Astypalea photos on their travel blog, Marian & Daniel: Geschichten von Unterwegs

 

 

Their blog post is entitled Astypalea – Der Schmetterling in der Aegaeis (Astypalea — The butterfly in the Aegean),  and it’s essentially a mini-travel guide that I think should be required reading for anyone planning to visit the island. 

The blog post explains how travellers can get to Astypalea, and its long gallery of beautiful photos takes viewers on a scenic tour of Chora (the main town) and its impressive Venetian castle, as well as other parts of the island.

The text is written in German; however, you can read it in English or other languages by using Google Translate or other programs.

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