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Modern sculptures amid ancient ruins: An extra visual delight for Delos visitors this summer

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Photograph of an Antony Gormley iron sculpture displayed among the ruins on Delos island

Sculptures by Sir Antony Gormley, including this 2015 work entitled Connect,  have been installed on Delos island as part of a landmark  art exhibition on display this summer only 

 

Modern art on ancient site: After exploring the historic ruins on Delos three separate times between 2004 and 2010, I haven’t felt an urge to make a return trip to the island in recent years.  After all, the monuments and the island itself wouldn’t look noticeably different from my previous visits, so there wouldn’t be anything particularly “new” for me to discover. And besides, there are dozens of other major archaeological sites in Greece that I haven’t seen at all — so going to some of those has been a higher priority than  a fourth trip to Delos.

But this summer  I have really been regretting that I can’t get to Delos to see something that is in fact completely new and different, and available for viewing only during this year’s tourist season.

It’s a groundbreaking modern art installation called SIGHT, which features 29 iron “bodyform” sculptures that acclaimed British artist Antony Gormley has positioned among the historic Delos monuments and antiquities — on the island’s coast and harbourfront, atop Plakes Peak and Mount Kynthos, and in one of the galleries in the Delos archaeological museum.

 

Sir Antony Gormley and one of the sculptures in his SIGHT installation on Delos as seen in a photo from the NEON page on Facebook

Antony Gormley poses with his 2017 work, Reflect, on Delos island. The photo was shared on the Facebook page for NEON, the non-profit cultural organization that commissioned and organized the SIGHT exhibition.

 

The SIGHT exhibit is noteworthy for two key reasons: It’s the first time an artist has taken over the archaeological site since Delos was last inhabited 5,000 years  ago, and it’s the first time the Greek Archaeological Council has approved a contemporary art installation on the island.

It’s an historic art event I would certainly appreciate: I enjoy sculpture (from any era) and I would love to see some of Gormley’s work up close. Viewing his pieces on Delos — five of which were created specifically for this event — would give me fresh new perspectives of the island and its significant historical and mythical past. I have been intrigued and moved by photos of the sculptures I have seen on websites and social media, so I know that seeing the pieces in person would be a fascinating experience.

Unfortunately,  a trip to Greece isn’t possible for me before the exhibit ends. But if you are a fine arts and sculpture enthusiast yourself, and you will be visiting Mykonos (or Naxos or Paros, from which daytrips to Delos are also available) before October 31, don’t miss the unique opportunity to experience the island while the Gormley “bodyforms” are on display. 

 

 

SIGHT is a project that the Greek non-profit cultural organization NEON organized in collaboration with the Ephorate of Antiquities of Cyclades. The exhibition continues until October 31 2019.

Extensive details and information about Delos and the sculpture exhibit are available on the SIGHT page of the NEON website

Below is an 8-minute video in which Antony Gormley discusses Delos and the inspiration for his work, followed by photos of several of the sculptures displayed on the island.

 

 

From the NEON page on Instagram a photo of an Antony Gormley sculpture on the coast of Delos island Greece

 

From the NEON page on Instagram a photo of an Antony Gormley sculpture atop Mount Kynthos on Delos island Greece

 

Photograph of the Antony Gormley sculpture Cast III on Delos island

 

A sculpture from the Sir Antony Gormley SIGHT exhibition on Delos island seen in a photo from the NEON page on Facebook

 

From the NEON page on Instagram a photo of an Antony Gormley sculpture positioned in the ruins on Delos island Greece

 

An Antony Gormley sculpture on the coast of Delos island seen in a photo from the NEON page on Facebook

 

Photograph of the Antony Gormley sculpture Shift II from 2000 in the Delos Archaeological Museum

 

One of the Antony Gormley iron sculptures on Delos island in 2019

 

Promotional image for the Antony Gormley contemporary sculpture exhibition Sight on Delos island in 2019

 

All ferries to and from Mykonos now docking at the New Port

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This photo from one of our Mykonos holidays shows four charter yachts docked at the island’s Old Port at Mykonos Town (foreground), and a cruise ship berthed at the New Port in Tourlos, nearly 2 kilometers away by road.

 

Ferry straightforward: Where does my ferry arrive at  / depart from on Mykonos?

That question has vexed visitors for years, since the island has two ports — the original one at the Mykonos Town harbour (commonly called the Old Port) and a newer, substantially larger facility in the island’s Tourlos district (regularly referred to as the New Port, of course).

The standard answer used to sound simple enough: ferries that carry passengers and vehicles sail to and from the New Port, while smaller ferries that just carry passengers operate from the Old Port.  But since most travellers didn’t have a clue if the ship they were booked on carried vehicles or not, that advice wasn’t always helpful. Not surprisingly, many people missed their ferries because they arrived at the wrong port and didn’t have enough time to get to the right departure point.

Thankfully, the reign of ferry port confusion could soon be history:  As of Saturday April 6 2019, all ferry traffic to and from the island will use the New Port only.

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I shot these photos of travellers queuing to board passenger-only catamaran ferries at the Old Port in Mykonos Town several years ago. As of April 6 2019, the Old Port will no longer handle ferry traffic.

 

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One of my Mykonos holiday photos of the New Port at Tourlos.  All ferry ships will now arrive at and depart from this harbour.

 

I learned about this development from Mykonos news websites, but the reports were all in Greek and Google Translate offered an awkward translation. To make certain I wasn’t misinterpreting what I had read, I contacted the top ferry booking agency on Mykonos, Sea & Sky Travel, to confirm if the news was accurate. 

“Yes, it’s true. All the boats, including the small passengers ones , will be leaving from the new port from now on,” a Sea & Sky representative told me.

 

The news reports said the change was implemented by the Mykonos port authority, upon request by the Greek government ministry responsible for shipping and marine regulation, to eliminate confusion and help prevent passengers from missing their ferries.

It’s a welcome change, but I think some confusion may persist for awhile. For one thing, many repeat visitors have travelled to and from Mykonos on passenger-only catamarans that operated in and out of the Old Port. If they don’t hear the news, their travel plans could get screwed up if they head to the Old Port, out of habit, when leaving the island. For another, many first-time visitors won’t be aware of the change, or may have read outdated posts on the TripAdvisor travel forums, or other online travel sites, that describe the old distinction between the two Mykonos ports. Hopefully word will get out and fewer people will miss ferries this year. 

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This Google image shows the Mykonos New Port (top) and the Old Port at Mykonos Town (bottom), a 2 kilometer walk or drive apart. Also shown are the main pick-up and drop-off points for the Mykonos SeaBus, an inexpensive water taxi service that operates between the two ports.

 

Which leaves the next most popular question about ferry travel to Mykonos: How do I get from the port to my accommodations?

For a list of transport options, please click on the link below to continue reading on page 2 of this post, and to view photos of things visitors will see if they travel along the coastal road between Tourlos and Mykonos Town.

CONTINUED ON PAGE 2

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Crete clinches 4th place ranking on TripAdvisor list of the world’s top destinations for 2019

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Views of the historic Venetian harbourfront and the iconic lighthouse at Chania, a perenially popular travel destination in northwestern Crete

 

Crete shines: Millions of travellers around the world have spoken, and their positive reviews, ratings and comments have landed Crete island in 4th place on the prestigious TripAdvisor listing of the Top 25 destinations in the world this year.

The 2019 TripAdvisor Traveler’s Choice awards were announced this week (on March 26), lauding London as the #1 destination in the world, followed by Paris, Rome, Crete, and Bali in Indonesia. Last year Crete placed fifth, behind Bali. 

TripAdvisor is the globe’s largest travel website, containing listings for more than 156,000 destinations. Each year it presents its Travelers’ Choice awards to top international destinations, honouring the places that are most popular with people who post reviews on the website.

A press release announcing this year’s winners quoted TripAdvisor’s VP of Global Communications, Desiree Fish, as saying: “The Travelers’ Choice awards for Destinations recognize major cities and islands that continue to deliver an outstanding experience and are beloved by our global community of travelers.”

The news release explained that award winners “were determined using an algorithm based on reviews and ratings for hotels, restaurants and experiences in destinations worldwide over a 12-month period. The methodology takes into account quality and volume of reviews to surface destinations that consistently deliver the best overall experience for travelers.”

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Loutro village in southwestern Crete

 

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Looking along the spectacular southwestern coast of Crete from one of the many beaches near the town of Paleochora

 

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A taverna courtyard in the heart of the historic old town area of Chania

 

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Sweet Water Beach in southwestern Crete, between the villages of Chora Sfakion and Loutro

 

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A view of Agia Roumeli village, situated at the foot of the world-famous Samaria Gorge. Extending for 16 kilometers, the gorge is the longest in Europe and is one of Crete’s top tourist attractions.

 

We spent more than two weeks on Crete in late fall of 2017, and could easily see why it has been ranked among the world’s Top 5 travel destinations two years in a row — it truly delivers outstanding travel experiences. Crete has something to suit every traveller’s taste, style and budget: fascinating cities, towns and villages; vibrant resorts; breathtaking landscapes, stunning scenery and gorgeous beaches;  superb food and wine; significant historical sites and attractions; a diverse range of outdoor activities for all ages and lifestyles; myriad hotel and lodging options, and much more. 

Crete also claimed two spots in the list of the world’s Top 25 Beaches: Balos ranked #15, while Elafonissi took 21st place. Though both are situated in western Crete, the region in which we focussed our 2017 holiday travels, we never made it to either beach, so they remain on our bucket list of places to see. The island is blessed with a bounty of beautiful beaches, however, so visitors still have countless strands to choose from if they can’t get to Balos or Elafonissi.  (We saw many impressive beaches along the island’s southwestern coast.)

Greece in general fared well on other top rankings, particularly for hotels, where it won top honours in two categories. It nabbed the number 1 and 2 spots in the Top 25 all-inclusive hotel ranking, and it claimed the number 1 and 3 position on the awards list for the world’s Top 25 Small Hotels. Greece also achieved Top 25 rankings for best hotels, luxury hotels, best service, romantic hotels, family hotels, and bargain hotels.

I couldn’t help but chuckle when I read that Greece received TripAdvisor recognition for the world’s top two all-inclusive hotels because, in TripAdvisor’s own travel forums, regular visitors to Greece routinely advise travellers to avoid all-inclusive properties, urging them to stay at hotel or self-catering accommodations instead. In essence, the forum commentators claim Greece simply doesn’t do all-inclusives very well, and visitors don’t experience Greece if they stay at an AI resort. With this year’s awards, however, it’s quite clear that all-inclusive resort guests disagree! 

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Famous for its brilliant turquoise waters and pink-hued sand, Elafonissi beach is seen in an image from the Elafonissi page on the Cretico Blog.  Elafonissi ranked #21 on the TripAdvisor list of the Top 25 beaches in the world.

 

Balos Crete photo 02 by Antoine Nikolopoulos

Lagoons and sandy beach strips at Balos are seen in this photo shot by Antoine Nikolopoulos of Odyssey Art Photography. Balos ranked #15 on this year’s list of the world’s top beaches.

 

Please click on the link below to continue reading on page 2, where I have posted photos and rankings for the Greek hotels that placed in the world’s Top 25.

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Mykonos springs to life as more bars & restaurants open, first cruise ship of 2019 visits

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The beachfront of Tasos Taverna is seen in a photo posted on Facebook to announce its March 23 season opening.  Located on Paraga beach, Tasos has been serving customers since 1962.

 

Season starts: Spring has only just sprung, but the tourism season on Mykonos has kicked off with a spate of bar and restaurant openings, plus the arrival of the first cruise ship of 2019.

During the period of March 15 to 25, at least 10 establishments were set to officially open their doors, including two beach restaurants and, in Mykonos Town, several popular eateries and a bar.  March 15 also marked the start of cruise ship port calls into Mykonos, with a visit by the Celestyal Cruises ship, Olympia.

On most Greek islands, the annual tourist season is fairly short, and typically runs from the beginning of May until the end of September. With more than 10 places opening up during the third week of March, it might sound like Mykonos is getting things off to an unusually early start. But during the last four years, there has been a similar number of food and drink venues launching their seasons at this time, so I haven’t been surprised to hear of this month’s openings.

 

The cruise ship visits, on the other hand, have indeed commenced sooner than in previous years.  A March 18 news report by Greek Travel Pages notes that Celestyal launched its 3- and 4-night Aegean cruises two weeks earlier this year compared to last. It also is extending its season by two weeks in the fall, in response to what  Celestyal says is a rising demand for travel before and after the summer season.

I, too, have noticed a greater interest in off- or early-season travel to Greece this year, both in messages and inquiries sent to my blog, and from requests for advice posted on the TripAdvisor Greece travel forums.  This year I have fielded more questions than ever before from people who booked trips to Mykonos for dates in February, March and April. Many of those who wrote to me, or posted questions in online forums, were worried they wouldn’t have anywhere to eat or drink on Mykonos because they heard rumours that the island’s businesses are shut tight as a drum until May. That’s simply not true, since there are restaurants and bars that stay open all winter to serve the local population. The good news for people travelling to Mykonos between mid-March and May is that they will now have a much wider selection of places to enjoy a drink or meal, with more businesses opening each week until summer.

 

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Apaggio, located on the seaside at Ornos, is open every day of the year. In fact, it hasn’t closed since it opened in 2013. Apaggio specializes in fresh fish and seafood, but guests also can choose from salads, warm and cold appetizers, meat and pasta dishes, Greek dishes and more.  It has an extensive wine list, and a vast selection of ouzo and tsipouro.  During winter, Apaggio is open from 12 noon until 11 p.m. The restaurant has an indoor dining room as well as a large seaside patio, seen in the photo above from the Apaggio website.

 

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Raya, an all-day restaurant and bar positioned on the harbourside promenade in Mykonos Town, is one of the island businesses that doesn’t close up shop when the tourist season ends — it stays open all year. And it’s not just popular for food and drinks: Raya is known for its special Sunday parties, with music by DJs from Mykonos and Athens. This photo is from the Raya page on Facebook.

 

Please click on the link below to turn to page 2, where you can see which bars and restaurants have opened on Mykonos this month, along with places that opened even earlier, or have been open throughout the winter.

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