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Greek Islands featured on covers of major travel magazines

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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 – Hemis.fr, 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.

 CONTINUED ON PAGE 2

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Imagine swimming with this view of Syros!

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An infinity pool with an amazing view of the Kini Bay region of Syros island

 

I felt a tinge of envy when we saw the infinity swimming pool at this hilltop villa while hiking through the Danakos area of Syros island last week. The pool and adjacent terrace enjoy jaw-dropping views of the scenic Kini Bay region of Syros as well as Giaros island in the distance. The sunset views from the pool must be incredible since they’re spectacular even from sea level in Kini village. Below is a side view of the pool and villa. Click on the photos to see larger-size images.

 

 A villa with an infinity swimming pool on a hilltop in the Danakos area of Syros

 

 

Aenaon Villas’ traditional design blends beautifully into Santorini’s spellbinding caldera landscape

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Aenaon Villas Santorini

Aenaon Villas sits nestled against the side of a rugged cliff on Santorini’s spectacular caldera. Designed in traditional Cycladic architecture, Aenaon’s seven luxury villas boast breathtaking views of nearby Thirasia island (upper left)

 

 

Aenaon Villas swimming pool views of the Santorini caldera

as well as Imerovigli village and Skaros Rock (upper left), the Nea Kameni volcano island (top center) and of course the mesmerizing blue waters of the Aegean Sea. Click on the image to view a larger-size photo.

 

 

Perfect fit: Spectacular scenery and magnificent views are the top two natural attractions that always take my breath away on Santorini.  But the island’s outstanding architecture can leave me almost as speechless — particularly some of the traditionally-designed homes and hotels perched precariously on the crests and sides of the precipitous caldera cliffs.

In fact, one of the things I enjoy most about walking the scenic clifftop path from Fira to Oia is admiring the architecture and design of buildings we pass along the way. I am absolutely fascinated by the sight of hotel suites, terraces and infinity swimming pools built into the sides of sheer cliff walls that rise hundreds of feet above the sea. I am also amazed to see villas and boutique hotels under construction on cliffside real estate I would have considered to be unlikely places for new building development.

 

Captivating views on the Fira to Oia cliff walk

We haven’t done a cliff walk since our last visit to Santorini in 2006, but I know I will blown away by the natural and man-made scenery whenever we return to take the hike again. The views of the caldera, the sea, the Nea Kameni volcano and nearby Thirasia island are timeless, and will eternally be captivating. The four cliffside villages (Fira, Firostefani, Imerovigli and Oia) will still be impressive, too. And some new (since our last visit) developments along the caldera — like Aenaon Villas near Imerovigli — will be waiting to “wow” me.

A complex of seven luxurious villas, Aenaon was built in 2009 and occupies a superb vantage point along the cliff path between Imerovigli and Oia. Its traditional Cycladic architecture, designed by Giorgos Zacharopoulos, features natural elements including boulders and stone walls that enable the villas to blend perfectly into their surroundings. Though they’re certainly eye-catching and beguiling, the brilliant white buildings don’t detract from the spectacular scenery or appear out of place — they actually complement the rocky, rugged terrain and add drama to the location’s imposing landscape.

 

Killer views from terraces and the infinity pool

But Aenaon isn’t just beautiful buildings with killer views from the villas, terraces, infinity pool and other points on the property. According to travellers who have reviewed the villas on sites like TripAdvisor.com, Aenaon is a “paradise” and a place “dreams are made of.” As of May 10, Aenaon was the #1 B&B and Inn property on the TripAdvisor chart for Imerovigli (out of 23 listings). It had 297 reviews, 293 of which rated it “excellent” and the other four “very good.”

Below is a series of photos of Aenaon Villas which proprietors Giorgos and Alexandra have kindly permitted me to republish on my blog. Check the Aenaon Villas website for further information about the villas as well as more stunning photos of the property, including the interiors of the suites. The website includes a chart listing rates for the four main travel seasons that Aenaon is open, and has a section where you can check availability and book online. Dozens more beautiful photos of the villas can be seen on the Aenaon Villas Facebook page, or by clicking on this link to the Aenaon Villas Pinterest profile.

 

 View toward the villas from the infinity pool at Aenaon Villas in Santorini

An evening view of the villas from the terrace next to the infinity pool. Click the image to view a full-size photo.

 

 

Aenaon Villas Santorini

A panoramic view from the infinity pool terrace at sunset

 

 

Aenaon Villas Santorini

Villa view from the far side of the infinity pool

 

 

Aenaon Villas  Santorini

Villa Elidami, one of the seven luxury villas at Aenaon

 

 

Aenaon Villas Santorini

I love the sharp colour contrasts between the brown volcanic landscape, the cobalt sky, the turquoise pool water and the stark white buildings and grounds

 

 

Aenaon Villas Santorini

This photo by Vangelis Beltzenitis captures the infinity pool and terrace at sunset. The pool and deck offer jaw-dropping views of Imerovigli village and Skaros Rock (left) as well as the volcanic isles Nea Kameni and Palia Kameni (center).

 

 

Aenaon Villas

Swimming pool and terrace view toward Thirasia island

 

 

Aenaon Villas

I could admire the scenery from one of those lounge chairs for hours on end

 

 

Aenaon Villas

The caldera cliffs loom large to the south of the infinity pool

 

 

Aenaon Villas

This photo by Vangelis Beltzenitis shows two of the beautiful pools and a view of the marvellous caldera scenery

 

 

Aenaon Villas

Photographer Louisa Nikolaidou captured this side view of Aenaon Villas with part of Oia village visible in the background.

 

 

Aenaon Villas

The entrance to a quiet courtyard sitting area

 

 

Aenaon Villas

Another view from the swimming pool

 

 

Aenaon Villas

A Vangelis Beltzenitis photo capturing the sky, one of the villas, and some of the surrounding landscape

 

 

Aenaon Villas

Twilight view from the seaview terrace

 

 

Aenaon Villas

Twilight view of one of the villas

 

 

Aenaon Villas

The villas and a large stone wall behind the swimming pool

 

 

Aenaon Villas

A breathtaking view from the swimming pool at sunset

 

 

Aenaon Villas

This photo of a surreal cloud formation passing above the infinity pool was posted on the Aenaon Villas Facebook page on May 3

 

 

Giorgos and Alexandra from Aenaon Villas

Giorgos and Alexandra are the proprietors and hosts at Aenaon Villas 

 

 

Aenaon Villas

Succulent vegetation on the rugged landscape beside the villas

 

 

Aenaon Villas

Just one of the many exhilarating views from Aenaon Villas

 

 

Aenaon Villas

This is my favourite photo of Aenaon Villas because it highlights the buildings’ traditional Cycladic architecture while clouds provide a dramatic backdrop. The villa complex was designed by Giorgos Zacharopoulos.

 

 

All walled in: A hillside estate on Patmos

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a house on Patmos

Stone walls enclose a private villa on a hillside above Grikos Bay on Patmos

 

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