Tag: Naxos (page 1 of 24)

Greek tourism businesses urge travellers to ‘stay safe’ now, make plans to visit Greece later

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TillThenStaySafe image of Lindos Rhodes by makeup artist Natalia J

The Aegean Sea, Lindos village and the Acropolis of Lindos, on Rhodes, are depicted in a fabulous face painting by makeup artist Natalia J of Rhodes.  This image is one of several she shared on her Facebook page; Natalia also posted a photo of the painting on her Instagram. Her facial artwork was inspired by the Till Then, Stay Safe campaign for Greek tourism.

 

Dream now, travel later:  The Covid-19 pandemic has completely upended travel plans for millions of people (including us) who were supposed to holiday in Greece this spring and summer. Lockdowns, quarantines and international travel restrictions have put Greece off-limits to visitors since March, and as of mid-April it’s still far too early to tell if or when Greece will be able to welcome tourists back.

At this point, no-one knows if travel can resume sometime this summer or fall, or if there will even be a 2020 travel season at all.

Although their own livelihoods and personal well-being are in peril during the pandemic, Greeks who work in the tourism industry fully understand the frustration travellers are feeling because their Greek holiday plans have either been cancelled already, or remain in limbo. Feeling hopeful and positive despite the tremendous international upheaval caused by Covid-19, Greeks have been encouraging anxious travellers to stay optimistic, too, and to keep dreaming about going to Greece as soon as it’s safe to travel. To that end, the operators of hotels, resorts, tavernas, tour operators, promotional agencies, Greek destination websites, and many more, have been filling their social media pages with inspiring, positive posts and alluring images of beautiful sights and scenes in Greece.

They’re participating in an innovative initiative launched in mid-March by Marketing Greece,  a private sector company established by the Association of Greek Tourist Enterprises (SETE) and the Hotel Chamber of Greece (XEE) to promotes travel and tourism to Greece.  

Marketing Greece photo of a Serifos island church photographed by Stefanos Addimando

One of several dozen images that Marketing Greece has made available to tourism businesses as part of its “Till Then, Stay Safe” campaign. This photo of a whitewashed chapel on Serifos island was shot by travel photographer Stefanos Addimando, better known to Instagrammers as @stef_greece.

 

“Nowadays, humanity is called upon to respond to a shocking challenge, with the messages of hope and optimism being more necessary than ever. Greek tourism, perfectly identified with the feelings of freedom, immediacy and escape from everyday life, sends its own message of anticipation for the next day,” Marketing Greece noted in a press release. Seizing upon that, the company kicked off a campaign called Till Then, #stay safe,  and created promotional content for Greek tourism businesses to share with the international travelling public, urging them to remain safe while waiting for the better days that undoubtedly will come.

“Utilizing photographic material and accompanied by the copy ‘When the time is right, we’ll be there for you. Till then #staysafe,’ Marketing Greece emphasizes the hopeful Greek light, the refreshing blue of our country, our relaxing nature and invites travelers to continue dreaming the next time that carefree people can enjoy the uniqueness of Greece,” the press release explained.

Greeks joined in the campaign instantly and enthusiastically, and have since shared thousands of messages on social media pages and websites, using either the “Till Then, Stay Safe” catchphrase and hashtag, or substituting similarly-themed messages like “stay home,” “don’t cancel — reschedule,” “dream now,” and “till we meet again.”

 

Stay Home I Wanna Go To Mykonos knockoffs of @dudewithsign

The “I wanna go to Mykonos” photo at left — a knock-off of a popular Instagram post by @dudewithsign — went viral on social media in late March and early April. The image was frequently reposted with the word “Greece” or the names of other islands or Greek destinations Photoshopped in place of “Mykonos.”

 

Acropolis image tweeted by @CityofAthens

This is Athens shared this image on Twitter to remind travellers that the Acropolis and Parthenon have endured tumultous events for centuries, and will still be around to visit after the Covid-19 pandemic is over.

 

The tourism center for the city of Volos and the region of Pelion shared this enticing short video to remind viewers of the immense natural beauty of Greece they will be able to enjoy once travel resumes.

 

We have collected dozens of Till Then,  Stay Safe images that evoke happy memories from our own past vacations in Greece and make us eagerly anticipate our next trip, whenever that can happen. We have compiled them on page 2 of this post, where you can see popular places, attractions and holiday activities in Greece that will be waiting to welcome you once the pandemic-related travel restrictions are lifted. If you haven’t yet decided where you would like to holiday once it is possible to arrange a trip to Greece, the pictures should give you plenty of ideas for amazing places to consider.

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Top Greece travel reads of 2019: Best island-hopping guides, articles and trip reports

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Cover of the May 2019 issue of The Sunday Times Travel Magazine

The May 2019 edition of The Sunday Times Travel Magazine featured a special Greek Islands travel guide, replete with gorgeous photos of dreamy destinations. I tell you more about the guide on page 2 of this post.

 

Athens is amazing, mainland Greece is marvellous, and the Peloponnese peninsula is pretty darned impressive. But for many people, it’s the Greek Islands that typically come to mind when talk turns to the subject of vacations in Greece.  Indeed, if you tell someone that you’re heading to the Hellenic Republic for a holiday, they’ll probably ask which islands you’re planning to visit. 

Since island hopping draws millions of tourists to Greece each year, many of whom are first-time visitors,  there’s tremendous demand for information about where to go, how to move between places, and what to see and do.  Likewise, there is a massive amount of Greece travel material available on newsstands and on the web. A simple Google search will produce links to articles and guides galore; thousands in fact, published by major magazines, newspapers, bloggers and social media influencers. One could easily spend weeks sifting through all the self-described “best” or “ultimate” island hopping guides, along with scores of feature stories trumpeting “hidden gems,”  “undiscovered islands,” or the newest trendy “paradise.”

I read hundreds of them in 2019, but found the vast majority disappointing and a waste of valuable reading time since they lacked originality and didn’t offer much useful  information. Most were simply puff pieces full of flowery descriptions and little else. Many were so similar, I’m sure the content was cribbed from quick online searches, then hastily rewritten and repackaged with stock photography. 

But several magazine and website guides stood out because they contain what I consider to be good, practical advice to help travellers pick the islands best suited to their personal travel preferences and lifestyles, and to plan how to get where they want to go.

Also noteworthy was a small selection of fascinating stories and engaging essays in which travel writers and even some high-profile authors recounted delightful and eye-opening personal experiences while visiting multiple islands.

 

This post spotlights the guides and stories that were my personal favourite reads during 2019. They’re the magazines I keep on my bookshelf, or the blog posts and website articles I have bookmarked on my computer, to keep close at hand for easy future reference. They include:

♦ A superb, detailed guide by The Mediterranean Traveller blog that promises — and delivers — “everything you need to know” about island-hopping;

♦ An excellent 26-page guide by The Sunday Times Travel Magazine

♦ General island profiles and trip suggestions in pieces published by the travel magazines Indagare, Afar and Lonely Planet

♦ An insightful 5-part report by a travel writer for The Guardian on his personal odyssey to explore six out-of-the-way islands;

♦ Reports by writers for the Boston Globe newspaper and Travel + Leisure magazine on trips that combined enormously-popular Santorini with visits to lesser-known and much-less-busy islands in the Cyclades; 

♦ An intriguing essay from Town and Country magazine in which a prominent author reflects on his  holiday travels to Spetses, Paros, Antiparos and Crete;

♦ Two separate stories on travelling by charter yacht or sailboat in the Ionian islands, from The Sunday Times Travel Magazine and World Traveller magazine;

♦ An account of a superyacht island-hopping tour of the Greek Riviera and several islands in the Argo-Saronic Gulf; and

♦ An article profiling small cruise ships with itineraries that include stops at several Greek islands.

Though they were published last year, these reports will still provide an excellent reference resource for travel in 2020 and the next several years. Even if you don’t need them to plan your own vacation, they’re all interesting and  fun reads that will quickly put you in a blissful Greek holiday state of mind.

 

— Best island hopping guide — 

Screenshot of The Mediterranean Traveller guide to Greek island hopping

 

It’s easy to make the decision to spend a vacation on one or more islands in Greece. The hard part is figuring out how to get to and from the island(s) you want to see. Many first-timers think it will be a breeze planning their itineraries, but quickly discover that the Greek Island ferry system isn’t as straightforward as they expected. In fact, it can be a rather daunting task to plan a multi-island holiday, particularly for ferry travel in off-season or low-season periods.

However, help is just a couple of quick clicks away, thanks to a superb guide published by The Mediterranean Traveller blog on February 5, 2019.

Aptly entitled Greek Island Hopping 101 — Everything You Need To Know, it’s the most comprehensive blog post I’ve seen on the subject, packed with tons of helpful tips, advice, information and links, and presented in a format that is super-easy to read and understand.  Topics include things travellers need to consider when initially planning their trip; flights versus ferries; an explanation of how the Greek ferry system works; ferry schedules and pricing; descriptions of the different island chains; deciding where to go and when is  best to visit; organized group tours, and plenty more. 

 

 

Please turn to page 2 to continue reading about the guides and articles that may help you determine which islands to visit, or give you inspiration for future holiday destinations.

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Greek Island icons & landmarks: Shark Rock on Naxos

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Shark Rock

Shark Rock is an amusing attraction on the western coast of Naxos, between Agia Anna and Maraga. We shot this photo of the grinning Great White during our first trip to Naxos in 2005.

 

This is the first instalment of Greek Islands Icons & Landmarks, a planned series of occasional posts about curious, unusual and extraordinary sights and places we have seen on our travels in the Greek Islands

 

Rock star: My first close encounter with the most famous fish on Naxos occurred in June 2005, during our first visit to the island. It happened while we were walking along the wide smooth rocks and giant boulders that line the seashore on the southern side of Agia Anna Bay.  From this point there is a sweeping, unobstructed view of the Agia Anna and Agios Prokopios beach resort areas, as well as pyramid-shaped Stelida mountain to the north, so I paused to take some photos. When I turned to continue on my way, I nearly stumbled against the snout of the island’s fabled landshark.

I didn’t know what it was initially. I thought it was just a big, long, slender rock rising more than a meter above the ground at a 45-degree angle — nothing unusual for a rocky seashore. Then I noticeda row of small stones had been arranged inside the long, narrow crack that curved around the raised end of the rock. It struck me as odd until I took a few steps back and realized someone had cleverly given the fish-shaped rock a toothy grin so it would resemble a Great White shark.  Another stone had been carefully placed higher up the rock to resemble a right eye.  It looked hilarious, and I couldn’t stop laughing.

 

 

I paid Shark Rock a visit on all of our subsequent trips to Naxos, and it still made me smile and chuckle each time. But last year I was disappointed to see a photo of the landshark that had just been shared on a Naxos fan club page on Facebook. It showed that someone had given Shark Rock a makeover by painting its belly and nose white, and its eye and gills blue. Like other members of the Facebook group, I didn’t think it was an improvement — the shark had looked much better au naturel, and didn’t need a sloppy paintjob to catch attention. The colours detracted from the subtle, creative humour of the simple stone teeth and eye.  Less is more, right?

I’m hoping that rain, wind and waves wear off the paint by the next time I return to Naxos,  so the landshark looks the way I remember. 

There are additional photos of Shark Rock, and a satellite image showing where it’s situated, on page two of this post.

 

Shark Rock on Naxos

Shark Rock strikes a menacing pose with Stelida mountain and the Agios Prokopios beach resort area in the background

 

Shark Rock

This telephoto picture shot from across the bay shows how Shark Rock blends into the rocky shoreline near Agios Nikolaos church, perfectly poised to surprise passersby. (He’s just below the trees on the right side of the hill.)

 

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Tips & talk about Naxos: my interview with Hype Magazine

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Donny on Naxos

Enjoying the scenery on Naxos, one of my favourite Greek Islands

 

I love talking about Greece — that’s one of the main reasons why I write this blog, after all! — so I was delighted when Hype Magazine, the blog published by the U.K.-based Holiday Hypermarket, invited me to participate in a Q & A interview about one of my favourite islands.

I suggested talking about Naxos, since it’s not as well known as blockbuster destinations like Mykonos and Santorini, which receive the lion’s share of attention in the travel media.

Below is interview excerpt in which I describe  what I believe are three of the top places to see on Naxos. 

You can read the complete interview on the Hype Magazine site, where I answer questions and provide some personal “insider tips” about restaurants, cultural events, historic sites, beaches, island scenery, getting around Naxos, and more.

 

 

Hype Magazine: If a holidaymaker only has a few days on the island, what would you say is one thing he or she absolutely shouldn’t miss the chance to see and do in Naxos?

Me: Since it’s so big, Naxos can easily keep visitors entertained for a week or fortnight or even longer. But if you don’t have that much time available, aim to spend at least three full days and nights on Naxos. This is sufficient to comfortably explore what I think are the island’s top three ‘must see/must do’ features.

First is the port town, Chora, better known as Naxos Town. It has a bustling harbour-front promenade lined with dozens of stores, cafes and restaurants. Not to mention an Old Market district with cozy bars, coffee shops, stores and galleries nestled in a warren of narrow lanes. You can also expect an imposing castle which towers above the town. And St George’s beach, a long strand boasting soft brown sand and shallow clean waters – ideal for families with small children.

A short stroll from Chora’s harbour front is the Temple of Apollo monument. Also known as the Portara, this giant marble door frame is all that remains of a temple which was only partially constructed centuries ago. Since it’s on a hilltop overlooking the sea, it’s one of the best places on Naxos to watch a sunset, and to enjoy terrific views of Naxos Town.

The second must-see is one or more of the beautiful sandy beaches that extend, like a long chain, down the island’s western coast. Some, like Agios Prokopios and Agia Anna, have organized sections with rental sunbeds and umbrellas, as well as tavernas and bars close by.  At others, like Plaka, you’ll find some spots with sunbeds and restaurants nearby, but also incredibly long stretches of wide-open space and big dunes topped with tall grasses. All that space, and sand stretching for miles, are what draw many beachgoers to Naxos. St George’s and Mikri Vigla beaches also offer sailing, kayaking, windsurfing, kitesurfing and other watersports.

The third ‘must do’ is to visit one of the charming inland villages, including Chalki, and the picturesque mountain villages of Filoti, Apeiranthos and Koronos – no visit to the island would be complete without spending some time in at least one of them.

 

Plaka beach on Naxos

One of the things I love most about Naxos is being able to walk for miles along spacious, uncrowded beaches like Plaka (above), which extend one after the other down the isle’s western coast.

 

Want to read more about Naxos? Take a look at my popular article, Our Top 15 reasons to visit Naxos, as well as other top Naxos posts from my blog. 

To see more of the island, check out my Naxos photo collection on Flickr.

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