Category: Astipalea (page 2 of 6)

The allure of Astypalea

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Astypalea is an inspiring short film by Eva Rodriguez and Ignasi Llobet 

 

Intriguing imagery: We have been to Astypalea just once, for an introductory 3-day visit back in 2009, but after watching the video posted above, I regret that we didn’t spend more time there.  We missed so many amazing sights!

Astypalea is a short video that was created by Eva Rodriguez and Ignasi Llobet. It’s only two minutes long, yet the film is packed with intriguing images and spectacular scenery from what the two filmmakers rightly describe as “one of the most beautiful and unspoiled Greek islands.”

Filmed by Ignasi with a handheld Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera, the video follows Eva as she tours the butterfly-shaped Dodecanese island, pausing to admire and contemplate Astypalea’s striking landscape, beach, coast and village scenery.  I recognized the spellbinding views from some of Eva’s vantage points, but felt a strong tinge of disappointment that I didn’t get to personally see many of the other sights while we were there.  

Happily, Eva and Ignasi have shown me plenty of good reasons to consider a return trip.

 

Filming is a challenge under the intense Greek sun

But it isn’t just their film that has rekindled memories of our own brief visit six years ago. In notes describing their film, Ignasi said “it was practically impossible to see what I was shooting, focusing, exposuring and framing… under the Greek sun it’s impossible to see anything on the screen.”

That is so true.  The sun is always incredibly brilliant in Greece, but in Astypalea I found it exceptionally intense.  Even though I wore sunglasses, I couldn’t stop squinting, and my eyes often watered uncontrollably because of the searing sunshine. Like Ignasi, I couldn’t see anything through my camera viewfinder or LCD screen, either, and most of my photos wound up blurred, overexposed, or poorly framed because I could only point and shoot and hope for the best. (It didn’t help that I was in a jetlag haze much of the time — Astypalea was our first stop on a four-island itinerary that year, and it had taken us well over 24 hours of travel to get there.) You can see the  photos that turned out okay in my Astypalea album on Flickr.

But do watch Eva and Ignasi’s film a few times — I think it’s remarkable for capturing the allure and charm of Astypalea, and making you feel like you’re actually there, experiencing the island yourself. If you can’t get to Astypalea, this film is the next best thing.

Many thanks to Eva for inviting me to publish the film on my blog. This is one of my favourite videos of Greece!

Summer hotel prices skyrocket on Mykonos as rates rise less sharply or drop on other islands

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Little Venice

The Little Venice seafront at Mykonos Town is a must-see attraction for hundreds of thousands of people who visit the island each year

 

Rising rates: Survey data from Trivago, the international hotel comparison website, has confirmed something I have been noticing for months — accommodation prices on Mykonos have risen sharply since last year.

In fact, the average nightly price for a Mykonos hotel room this month has climbed to a stunning €322 compared to €200 per night in July 2013 — a whopping 61% increase, Trivago’s research data indicates.

This news comes on the heels of a separate Trivago survey result released several days ago that ranked Mykonos as the 7th most expensive destination in the world in terms of hotel prices.

Many Mykonos hotels had frozen or even reduced their rates during the economic crisis that has devastated Greece for more than five years, with some properties losing money or barely breaking even each year as owners waited for the economy to improve. With Greek tourist traffic soaring to record levels this summer, it appears that hotels may be taking advantage of the increased demand for accommodation to try to recoup some of the losses they sustained.

 Parikia on Paros

Parikia is the biggest town and port on Paros.  Average hotel prices for Parikia have increased 10% this month from the same time last year.

 

Hotel prices rise at 16 other destinations

But Mykonos isn’t the only popular destination in Greece where hotel prices have increased since last year.

The Trivago survey shows that rates have climbed anywhere from 3% to 38% in 16 other island and mainland locations.

Places posting single-digit price increases include Corfu (+3%), Agios Nikolaos, Andros and Hydra (each +5%), plus Iraklio, Naxos and Rethymnon (up 8% each).

Locations with double-digit increases include Parikia (+10%), Rhodes (+15%), Chania (+16%), Hersonissos and Kos (each up 17%), Elounda (+18%), Ios (+19%), Zakynthos (+21%) and Lefkada (+38%).

 

Rates dropped on 11 islands

 Ermoupoli Syros

Trivago says room rates have dropped 13% at Ermoupoli on Syros

 Higher prices are not a trend throughout Greece, however, since nightly room rates actually have dropped significantly on some islands or, in the case of Rhodes, at one of its most popular tourist destinations (Lindos), Trivago data indicates.

On Folegandros, for example, the average price for a hotel room this month is €97, down a startling 27% from the €133 average rate in July 2013. Sharp price cuts also occurred at Koukounaries on Skiathos (-24%), Spetses (-23%), Argostoli (-15%), Astipalea (-14%), Ermoupoli on Syros (-13%), Lindos on Rhodes (-10%). Lower reductions were noted on Koufonissi and Tinos (both -4%)  and at Molyvos and Apollonia (both -3%).

Curiously, the Trivago survey didn’t mention prices on Santorini which, like Mykonos, is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Greece.

 Folegandros chora

Chora village on Folegandros. Average hotel room rates on this charming island dropped by 27% this month compared to July 2013, Trivago says.

 

Mykonos among Top 10 most expensive global destinations

Mykonos achieved notoriety for pricey hotel rooms on another Trivago report that made the news a few days ago. In a survey of summer 2014 trends for travellers from the United Kingdom, Trivago examined searches conducted between January 1 and June 15 for travel to take place during this month and August. (Trivago’s system compares rates from more than 700,000 hotels on more than 150 different booking sites around the world.)

The data showed that the average online price for a hotel in Mykonos Town was €244 Euros. This gave Mykonos the #7 spot on Trivago’s list of the Top 10 Most Expensive Global Destinations, behind #1 Velden, Austria; #2 Belek, Turkey, #3 Ascona, Switzerland, #4 Porto Vecchio, Corsica, #5 Montreux, Switzerland, and #6, Boston, USA.  Rounding out the top 10 behind Mykonos were #8 New York, USA, #9 Locarno, Switzerland, and #10 Lugano, Switzerland.

The results of the two Trivago surveys will cement Mykonos’s reputation as one of the most expensive places to visit in Greece — something that shouldn’t really come as a surprise, considering that the island was put on the map by the jet set in the first place, and remains a popular getaway destination for the world’s rich and famous.

Still, a 61% increase in prices is startling, even for a place frequented by affluent travellers.

 Mykonos Town

Rooftops on buildings in Mykonos Town. Hotel rates on the island are practically going through the roof this year, rising 61% over prices for July 2013.

 

Complaints raised in emails seeking hotel advice

I noticed that Mykonos hotel prices were on the rise early this year when I was checking hotel rates to answer accommodation questions posted in the Mykonos travel forum on TripAdvisor.com. Prices seemed marginally higher than I remembered them being in 2013. As winter moved into spring, I received numerous private messages on TripAdvisor, and emails to my blog, from people seeking suggestions for cheaper accommodation because they were finding summer prices too high.

Many of the people complaining about high hotel rates were travellers from the United Kingdom who wanted to stay on Mykonos only one night. They were flying to Mykonos on EasyJet or British Airways direct flights, but immediately transferring to another island — usually Naxos, Paros or somewhere in the Small Cyclades. Because of awkward ferry schedules, many of these travellers would have to spend a night on Mykonos in order to catch their return flights home. Many were astounded not only by the high room rates on Mykonos, but also by the fact many hotels impose a minimum stay requirement of 3 nights or longer during peak travel season, which limited their accommodation options even further.

My advice for travellers seeking summer bargains is to shop around on Trivago and other online sites, and to compare prices found there to rates listed on hotel websites. Booking directly with a hotel can sometimes achieve either significant price savings or extras like complimentary shuttle service to and from the Mykonos ferry ports or airports.

If you still find Mykonos hotels too expensive for your budget, consider visiting nearby islands like Naxos or Syros instead, or one of the places where the Trivago survey showed that prices have dropped this year. There are many other islands where budget-minded tourists will get more bang for their buck. But if you’re looking for glitz, glamour and glitter, there’s only one Mykonos — and going there this summer could put a bigger dent in your wallet than you’re anticipating.

 Kos Town harbour

Tour boats in the harbour at Kos Town. Trivago found that average hotel rates for Kos have gone up 17% for this month compared to the same time last year.

 

Hotels we’ve stayed at: the Fildisi on Astypalea

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Fildisi Boutique Hotel

Fildisi Boutique Hotel is a 10-suite property on a quiet “away from it all” hillside location overlooking the Livadi valley area of Astypalea island

 

 

Fildisi Boutique Hotel

The hotel boasts superb views of scenic Chora village 1.5 kilometers away

 

 

Suite stay: Seeing some old vacation photos that friends posted online today inspired me to sort through pictures of hotels we have stayed at in Greece and start a “Throwback Thursday” feature to profile some of those places from time to time.

To kick things off, here’s a look at the Fildisi Boutique Hotel, which is situated on a hillside near the popular Livadi resort and residential area of Astypalea in the Dodecanese island group.

The Fildisi is a small luxury property with only 10 units — 3 suites, 3 lofts, 2 spa-apartments and 2 double rooms, each named after precious gems (Emerald, Opal, Ruby, Sapphire, etc.). The hotel has a seaview swimming pool, along with an indoor breakfast room / lounge / bar area. A basic breakfast is provided each morning.

 

Exceptional panoramic views

The hotel faces northeast and has an enviable vantage point from its hillside location, with sweeping views of much of the Livadi region as well as the island’s scenic Chora village, which is perched on the crest of a mountain over 1.5 kilometers away.

We stayed at the Fildisi in May 2009 on an island-hopping holiday that took us from Astypalea to Amorgos, Naxos and Mykonos. I discovered the Fildisi while doing online research about Astypalea, and must admit I chose the hotel mainly because of its great views.

 

The Fildisi Boutique Hotel has a view of Astipalea's Livadi area (center) and Chora (top right)

Click on the image to see a full-size photo showing the panoramic view we enjoyed from the two private verandas for the Fildisi’s Pearl suite.

 

 

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Houses on the hills below Astipalea’s kastro

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Chora village on Astipalea

Early evening sunshine illuminates the historic Venetian-era kastro (castle) and Chora village on Astipalea island

 

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