Category: On my bookshelf

Greek Islands featured on covers of major travel magazines


GEO magazine June 2014 cover

GEO magazine profiled Greece in its June 2014 issue with a cover photo of Mandrakia village on Milos and an “Escape” feature on the “Secret islands and archipelagos of Greece.” They’re obviously not secret anymore!


Summer reads: When I’m not in Greece I enjoy reading about it — in books, magazines, online travel forums and websites. Thanks to feature cover stories about Greece published by three major European travel magazines recently, I’ve got plenty to read while relaxing on my balcony this summer.

Here’s a look at what the three magazine cover stories say about Greece:

  GEO magazine June 2014

I discovered GEO magazine from France purely by chance — I was looking for another magazine at a newsstand when a photo on GEO’s bold green cover caught my eye. It was the picturesque harbour at Mandrakia, a fishing hamlet on Milos, under the headline: “Secret islands and archipelagos of Greece.” I couldn’t resist and bought the magazine after taking only a cursory glance at the contents.

It turns out there are 28 full pages of text and beautiful photos about several Greek islands including Kythera, Kalymnos, Milos, Santorini, Chios, Aegina, Tinos, Skyros, Folegandros and Rhodes. The stories aren’t travel guides — they don’t recommend hotels to stay in, for instance, or suggest the hottest restaurants and coolest beaches to visit. Some of the pieces provide brief descriptions and overviews of the destinations, while others take an insightful look into how the Greek Islands have been affected by the country’s devastating economic crisis. The sale of island real estate to foreign billionaires is considered in part of one report, for example, while another piece profiles people who have started new business ventures selling local agricultural products.

 Island village photo foul-up

 GEO magazine photo of Astipalea

Mon Dieu! GEO magazine mistakenly published this eye-catching photo of Chora village on Astipalea to illustrate a short piece about Chora on Kythera — another island in a completely different area of Greece.


One of the GEO feature’s excellent photos — spread across pages 36 and 37  — really piqued my curiosity. It shows a white-domed church rising from the middle of a huge stone castle perched on a hilltop. The slopes below the castle are stacked with white cube houses that descend to a row of derelict windmills. I instantly recognized the location — Chora village on Astipalea, a butterfly-shaped island in the Dodecanese archipelago. I had shot photos from almost the identical vantage point when we visited Astipalea in 2009. However, the picture accompanied an article about Kythera, which is part of the Ionian island group, and the text said the town in the photo is that island’s capital, also called Chora. (Most main towns on Greek islands are called Chora).

I haven’t been to Kythera yet, but I was absolutely certain the photo was from Astipalea. So I poured through my photos to confirm I was right (there’s more than 300 pictures in my Astipalea collection on Flickr). Sure enough, details in my pictures of Astipalea’s Chora matched the same features visible in the GEO image, which was credited to Velissario Voutsas /IML –, a French photo agency. Obviously someone on the magazine staff had made a big boo-boo by purchasing the wrong stock image to illustrate the article!

(You can learn more about Kythera, and see photos showing what its Chora looks like, on the comprehensive Visit Kythera website.)

Photo flop aside, the GEO stories are compelling reads, and are bound to encourage people in France to consider island hopping in Greece on an upcoming vacation. Moreover, photos and information about Leros, Kalymnos, Chios, Skyros and Tinos will encourage travellers to visit charming islands that often get overlooked because they aren’t instantly-recognizable mainstream tourist destinations like Santorini, Paros, Naxos and Mykonos.

 Please click on the 2 in the link below to continue reading this report.


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On my bookshelf: Greek Island Hopping


Greek Island Hopping 2007 by Thomas Cook Publishing

The cover of my 2007 Greek Island Hopping guide by Thomas Cook Publishing


Great guidebook: It’s already five years old, but much of the information in my well-worn copy of Greek Island Hopping 2007 is still so relevant and useful, this is the first book I pick up whenever I need to plan a trip or find an answer for questions that friends or I might have about travelling in Greece.

Known as the Bible of Greece travel guidebooks, the Greek Island Hopping series is written and researched by Frewin Poffley, who packs an incredible amount of detailed and helpful information — along with maps, illustrations and photos – between the covers of each year’s thick paperback edition. (There are 720 fact-filled pages in my 2007 version.)

The book’s primary focus is on ferry travel, explaining how to go from one destination to another using Greece’s complicated and often confusing interisland ferry network.  But it also offers a wealth of information about things to see and do on each island, as well as in Athens and all of the ports on the Greek mainland. The book also provides advice about accommodations, but that content seems to be aimed chiefly at backpackers and budget travellers seeking wallet-friendly hotel options, as well as hostels and campsites. (It won’t give much guidance if you’re trying to decide between two 5-star caldera view hotels in Oia, on Santorini, but if you’re going to be paying €500+ per night for somewhere to sleep, you’ve probably got a travel agent making those arrangements for you anyways.)

I find the guidebook particularly useful for its maps of port towns, key island villages, and important tourist attractions, such as the archaeological ruins on Delos island and The Asklepieion on Kos, to name just two.  And while there’s a staggering amount of dry — but important — factual data in the guidebook, Poffley’s candid, personal descriptions of each destination make for an amusing and fun read. (I don’t always share the same impressions about some of the islands, but I can see where Poffley’s coming from with many of his sharp-witted observations.)

Greek Island Hopping 2012 hits bookstores later this month, and can be ordered online. Don’t go island hopping without one!


Greek Island Hopping by Thomas Cook Publishing

The Greek Island Hopping books provide incredibly detailed information about the Greek ferry network, including routes, ferry lines, and individual boats.


Greek Island Hopping by Thomas Cook Publishing

The book features information about each island and its ports, with maps, photos and illustrations showing how to get around and where to find key attractions


Greek Island Hopping by Thomas Cook Publishing

Not only does the book tell you how to ferry from one island to another, it even shows how to get from one village to another once you’re there. This 2-page map, for instance, shows hiking paths that run the length of Amorgos.


Greek Island Hopping by Thomas Cook Publishing

The book’s colour map and detailed descriptions of Delos Island will help you enjoy the historic archaeological ruins completely at your own pace, instead of in a huge tour group or with an expensive private guide