Street view of Palia Agora, where a selection of scrumptious mezes topped off our enjoyable visit to Kyparissia
Fab food & drink: Take us to a town or village with sensational views and scenery, and we will probably like it. If there are archaeological sites, or historic buildings or places close by, we will certainly like it even more. Picturesque streets and interesting architecture? Beautiful beaches, majestic mountains or scenic seasides in the vicinity? A relaxed setting and laid-back atmosphere? Those are guaranteed to tick off even more boxes on our “like” list.
But a destination won’t completely win our hearts if we don’t go home with fond memories of restaurants and cafes. (We’re not foodies or wine snobs by any stretch of the imagination, but we do like to eat, we love good coffee, and we enjoy sipping some nice wine as well.) Since Kyparissia has many of the characteristics that make us happy on holiday — plus really good food and drink in particular — we couldn’t help but love our short visit there in May 2017.
What impressed us on the food & drink front were three places we discovered in the charming Ano Poli (Old Town) district of Kyparissia: a shop selling a wide range of local food items and other Made in Messenia products, a comfortable cafe-bar; and a delightful estiatorio – mezedopoleio. Conveniently and coincidentally enough, all three establishments were located just a stone’s throw apart on Eleni Chameri Street, the main road of Ano Poli.
Here’s a closer look at each:
Palia Agora’s beautifully decorated bar and dining room
A late lunch at Palia Agora was the highlight of our afternoon in Kyparissia. We took one of the tree-shaded tables in front of the restaurant and ordered wine and a selection of cold and hot mezes (small plates perfect for sharing), then sat back and relaxed while our meal was prepared. The local wine was delicious, and the food was amazing. In fact, it was one of the best meals of our spring 2017 vacation. Some of the standout dishes included the grilled pleurotus mushrooms, local sausage, pork slices accompanied by potatoes and pieces of oranges, the fava with olives and onions, and cheese balls rolled in chopped pistachios. Equally impressive was the friendly and efficient service. We would go back to Kyparissia just to have another meal here, the food was that good.
Not surprisingly, Palia Agora is ranked as the #1 restaurant in Kyparissia by TripAdvisor, and it recently received the 2018 Gold Award for Quality and Taste from the leading Greek gastronomy website estiatoria.gr
You can read over 200 customer reviews, and see more than 100 photos of the restaurant and its tasty dishes, in the Palia Agora listing on TripAdvisor. There are dozens of additional photos on the Palia Agora Facebook page.
The grilled pleurotus mushrooms (left) were divine. Also tasty were the cheese balls rolled in chopped pistachios, and served with a salad and pita.
From the restaurant’s Facebook page, a photo showing the Palia Agora sign, entrance and part of its streetside dining area
If you visit Palia Agora for a meal but sit outdoors as we did, make sure to take a peek inside the restaurant to check out the lovely decor and the interesting interior design details, like the light fixture above.
Street view of Algo-rithmos Cafe Bar, which occupies the ground floor of this beautiful building on Eleni Chameri Street
In addition to its streetside tables and indoor seating area, Algo-rithmos has an open-air balcony out back, where customers can enjoy views of Kyparissia and the sea
We stopped at Algo-rithmos for two coffee breaks during our walkabouts through the Old Town and to the Castle of Kyparissia. We sat at one of the tables out front, next to the street, both times, but we could have chosen to sit inside or on the town- and seaview veranda at the rear of the building had we preferred.
Though we only ordered coffees and tea, the cafe has a full bar serving beer, cocktails and other alcoholic beverages. Snacks and light food dishes are available, too. The shop interior is cozy and comfortable, with an eclectic interior design (there’s a bicycle, musical instruments and several bookshelves mounted on the walls, and a stack of hardcover books suspended from the ceiling in the middle of the room.)
The service was friendly and prompt, and we liked the music that was playing.
You can read more about the cafe-bar in the customer reviews posted on the Algo-rithmos listing on TripAdvisor.
This image, which Algo-rithmos provided for its listing on TripAdvisor, shows part of the cafe-bar interior
Travelling shopaholics won’t find many stores to browse in Ano Poli, but they will find it worthwhile visiting Messinia Gi, especially if they like to support regional artisans by “shopping local” for food, fashion accessories and other items to give as gifts or to take home for personal use or souvenirs.
Messinia Gi boasts an extensive selection of food, beverage, fashion and souvenir products made either locally or in the Messenia region. Food items on offer include sweets, healthy snacks, honey, packages of handmade pasta, olive oil, olives, herbs and spices, nuts and many more. General merchandise includes jewellery and other women’s fashion accessories, personal care products, and ceramics. (You can view dozens of photos of the shop’s seasonal and regular merchandise in the albums and posts on the Messinia Gi Facebook page, and see additional pictures on the Messinia Gi listing on TripAdvisor.
We picked up postcards and several local food items to bring home for friends and ourselves, including jars of delicious figs stuffed with nuts, while our friends walked out with several bags containing what looked to us like enough food to prepare a week’s worth of meals once they returned to Athens.
The pleasant young lady who was minding the store was very helpful in explaining the contents and sources of the various food items we were considering, and in making suggestions for products to try.
If you’d like to take home some tastes of Messenia, be sure to visit the shop while you’re in or near Kyparissia.
If you visit the Old Town, you’ll find a vast variety of local products at Messinia Gi. The made-in-Messenia items make great gifts or personal souvenirs. This photo of the storefront is from the Messinia Gi page on Facebook.
Local product displays are shown in this photo that Messinia Gi management provided for the shop’s listing on TripAdvisor. Below is another photo of the store interior, also from its TripAdvisor listing.
There is snow as far as the eye can see along the road to Kalavrita Ski Center in the northern Peloponnese. The picture was posted to the ski resort’s Facebook page on January 6
Winter wonders: This is the second set of photos I’m publishing on the blog to profile remarkable winter scenery in different regions of Greece — images that have been shared on social media after much of the nation was struck by icy cold temperatures and some surprisingly heavy snowfalls during the 2016 Christmas holidays and up to the second week of January 2017.
Part 1 of the photo feature included snow scenes from Athens, Ioannina, Corinth, Chios, Evia, Rhodes, Sparta, Mystras, Skiathos, Skopelos and Skyros.
Here in Part 2 I have collected photos from Crete, Nafplio, Epidaurus, Thessaloniki, some of the Cyclades and Ionian islands, plus various locations in the Peloponnese and mainland Greece. Many of the photo captions include links to social media pages or websites where you can find countless more pictures of snowy sites in Greece. (It could be spring by the time you manage to finish looking at the photos on all of the links!)
Click on the link beneath the next photo to view the full series of pictures on page 2 of this post.
One of my favourite Greece winter scenes is this spectacular photograph by Thanos Komninos, which captures dark, fluffy storm clouds swirling above and around the Nafplio Old Town and Acronauplia fortress, before leaving the town dusted with a layer of light snow. The photo appeared on the Nafplio Kalimera page on Facebook.
CONTINUED ON PAGE 2
A panoramic view of Fira, the capital and main town on Santorini
Octopus at Amoudi Bay on Santorini
Do you wonder what it’s like visiting Greek islands for the first time? Especially as a solo female traveller?
Two fascinating trip reports by a travel blogger from Vancouver, Canada will give you excellent insight into the entire experience. (They’re also great fun to read even if you have already been to Greece yourself.)
Blogger Christine visited Santorini and Mykonos earlier this month during a two-week holiday — her first-ever trip to Greece. She posted a thorough account of her journey, complete with dozens of photos, on her Christine in Vancouver blog.
I love the reports not just because they show Greece through the eyes of an island-hopping “newbie,” but also since they include scores of food pictures and valuable information about costs and prices — important details that I think will be extremely helpful to others considering a trip to Greece.
The two photos from Santorini posted above, as well as the two photos from Mykonos shown below, are just four of the dozens of fabulous pictures you’ll get to see in Christine’s reports (you’ll be able to view her photos full-size in a slide-show format.)
Enjoy your trip to Santorini and Mykonos with Christine!
Streets in the heart of Mykonos Town
Ornos, one of the top “family” beach resort areas on Mykonos
Panoramio member Papadakisioannis snapped this shot of visitors enjoying the Giola lagoon and the terraced seashore surrounding it
Last week I published a post profiling popular Greek Island swimming spots that don’t have sandy beaches. Here’s another one — the Giola lagoon on Thassos — which is arguably far more spectacular but also much more difficult to reach.
Carved into the southeast coast of Thassos, several kilometers from the village of Astris, Giola is a natural pool approximately 20 meters long and over 15 meters wide. It’s enclosed by rock terraces that rise up to 8 meters high, creating convenient platforms from which visitors can jump and dive into the crystal-clear water, which is regularly refreshed by waves from the sea.
A Huffington Post Travel article called Giola “epically beautiful and crazy cool to swim in,” while Condé Nast Traveller magazine from the U.K. hailed Giola as one of the “best swimming pools in the world.”
Although it’s a visually stunning place to sunbathe and swim, Giola is a bit off the beaten path and not quite so easy to reach. But getting there is all part of the fun. You can find directions to the lagoon, complete with photos showing parts of the driving route and the hiking path to the coast, in FeelGreece.com’s Giola listing, as well as in the Let’s Find Giola post from the Discover Thassos travel website.
Below is a Google Maps image showing the lagoon’s location, followed by photos offering views of Giola from several different perspectives.
This Google image shows the Giola lagoon location on Thassos, an island in the Northeast Aegean Sea. Giola is situated at a secluded seaside spot around 4 km from Astris village. You can drive most of the way, but then you’ll have to hike a trail to reach the coast.
An aerial view of Giola lagoon. This image is from the website for the Potos Hotel located at Potos, about 16 km from the lagoon. You can see two more excellent photos of Giola on the hotel’s website.
This photo of the lagoon is from the Greece travel website Alternatrips.gr
The A Beach A Day web guide for beach lovers published this photograph of swimmers enjoying the lagoon. Even though Giola is refreshed by waves from the sea, its waters apparently are much warmer than the sea.
This unique seaview photo of the Giola lagoon is by Flickr member Ivonka. It shows the terraced flat rocks surrounding the pool on the seashore — perfect for sunbathing.
Flickr member Chrysanthie Ak posted this image of a sizeable group of people enjoying the lagoon both in the water and from the adjacent rocks
This image by Flickr member Remus Pereni shows people on the narrow rock ledge that separates the lagoon from the Northeast Aegean Sea
Take an exhilarating aerial tour of Aegina island in this 3-minute video from the AeginaGreece.com travel & information website
Want to see a Greek Island while visiting Athens, but don’t have time for an overnight trip? Consider hopping over to Aegina for a day.
Situated in the Saronic archipelago, Aegina is one of several islands that can easily be visited on a daytrip from the city. It’s just 20 kilometers from the Athens port of Piraeus, and can be reached in a mere 40 minutes on a Flying Dolphin ferry. (If you’re not keen on riding a hydrofoil, you can get to Aegina in around 75 minutes or so on a conventional ferry ship.)
But since there’s so much to see and do on Aegina, it’s a great spot to spend several days or longer, if you’ve got the time.
Explore the island in tours, on foot or by bicycle
The island is famous for its pistachio nut production, but it also boasts beautiful beaches, charming villages, and numerous historic sites and museums. Organized sailing and on-land tours are available, but many of the island’s attractions can be visited on foot or by bicycle.
You’ll see many of those places in the video posted above, which was produced by the AeginaGreece.com travel website in the summer of 2014.
Directed, filmed and edited by Alexander Berg, the video shows the harbour at Vagia, the top of Mount Oros, the famous Aphaia temple, a small church in Vathi, the ancient site of Kolona, the areas around Portes, Agia Marina, Souvala and Agii, as well as “the waters south from Agia Marina, the view from top of Moni island towards Marathonas and Vrochia, Perdika, the cathedral and monastery of Agios Nektarios, the hill side of Palaiachora, the area around Mesagros, fields around Vagia, view from top of Moni island towards Perdika and area around and view towards the port of Aegina town.”
Consult AeginaGreece.com for comprehensive information on how to get to Aegina, where to stay, and what to see and do there.
Aegina Town, the port and commercial center of Aegina island. The photo is from the website for Gritzas Cruises, one of numerous companies offering daytrips from Athens to Aegina and other Saronic islands.
This banner was posted on the Paradise Club Facebook page March 16
End of an era: The owners of Paradise Club, one of the biggest and most popular party places on Mykonos, are bidding adieu to their business.
In a post to the club’s Facebook page on Monday March 16, Thomas Heyne and Mario Hertel announced they are saying goodbye after entertaining hundreds of thousands of people from around the world at the famous Paradise Beach nightspot.
“Dear Friends: After 10 years and another phenomenal season in 2014 we announce our decision to say goodbye to Paradise Club Mykonos. We want to thank everyone who supported us in the last 10 years! Whats next? Stay tuned, we´re excited to announce our new project very soon! See you in Mykonos!” Heyne and Hertel say in their Facebook post.
Paradise Club has been one of the top party venues in the Mediterranean and in the world; last year, it was ranked #20 on the DJ Mag list of the Top 100 clubs in the world. DJ Mag has also rated it as “one of the 7 best clubs by the sea.” Many of the world’s most popular DJs have appeared at Paradise Club over the last decade.
Fans mistakenly feared club was shut down
The announcement did not indicate if the Paradise Club venue has been sold to someone else who will continue to operate it as a party club, or if Heyne and Hertel’s new project will be opening in the space instead. That sparked a torrent of Facebook posts from club fans expressing shock, dismay and disappointment at the news. Many assumed the announcement meant Paradise Club had closed its doors for good, throwing a wrench into their party plans for summer vacations they have already scheduled.
However, on Tuesday March 17 a post on another Paradise Club Facebook page announced that the venue will host its grand opening party on Wednesday May 20, indicating that the venue will continue to operate without Heyne and Hertel at the helm. The post also said the summer’s DJ lineup “is full of your favorite stars & will be announced soon. Get ready for summer 2015. It’s gonna be mad!!!”
I thought something might be in the works with the club since, for the past several months, its website has redirected visitors to the site for the San Giorgio Hotel, which Heyne and Hertel also own.
I will update this report once I hear any news about what Heyne and Hertel’s new venture will be.
Click here to see my list of Mykonos parties and special events that have already been announced for the spring and summer of 2015.
… is one of the entrances to the departures level of Athens International Airport, since it means another Greek holiday is coming to an end. Unfortunately, we had to pass through these doors yesterday to catch a flight home after yet another stellar vacation in Greece. You’ll be hearing more about the time we spent on Naxos and Syros islands, as well as in Athens, in the weeks ahead.