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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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Even in severe winter weather, Greece’s scenic beauty shines through

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Little Venice Mykonos during January storm

Surf sprays two storeys high as roaring waves crash ashore at the Little Venice area of Mykonos Town, flooding the entire seaside strip of cocktail bar terraces. This photo was posted on the Mykonos LIVE TV Facebook page on January 18, the day gale-force winds raged across much of Greece.

 

Storm scenes: When wild winter weather swept across Europe this week, Greece wound up in the path of powerful winds that pounded some places, including Syros island, with gusts reaching as high as 122 kmh — the equivalent to force 12 on the Beaufort wind scale.

The fierce winds raged relentlessly on Thursday January 18, toppling trees on several islands, damaging one of the iconic windmills on Mykonos, and preventing planes from landing at Syros airport. The storm disrupted ferry travel and shipping, too, as rough seas forced the cancellation of many sailings as well as the closure of the ports at Lavrio and Rafina. At Piraeus port, the passenger ferry Panagia Agiasou broke away from its moorings during the tempest, while waterfront areas at Mykonos Town, and Kini Beach on Syros, sustained damage from massive waves that walloped the shore.

 

 

Although most residents stayed indoors to avoid the incessant blasts of wind, which made walking perilous and even driving difficult, some did venture out to observe nature’s fury and photograph the stormy conditions. I found numerous pictures and videos on social media showing skies filled with massive dark clouds, and huge waves crashing onto seafronts and beaches in Mykonos, Paros, Naxos, Syros, Rhodes, Lesvos, Samos, Skyros, Skopelos, Ithaca, Paxos, Kefalonia, Nafplio, Athens and elsewhere. Many of the images showed that, even in ferocious weather, the scenic beauty of Greece’s coastal areas still stands out.

 

Nafplio photo by Nafplio Kalimera

Takis Vassiliou shot this view of the Nafplio waterfront and Bourtzi sea castle, and shared the image on his Nafplio Kalimera page on Facebook

 

Paros photo by Waves on the seafront at Parikia on Paros photo shared on Facebook by ΠΑΡΟΣ like Facebook page

Maria Alipranti captured sunlight illuminating stormclouds and waves at the Parikia waterfront on Paros. Her photo, and more than 20 others she shot, were shared on the ΠΑΡΟΣ like page on Facebook.

 

Stormy sky on Lesvos photo by Eleonaora Pouwels

Eleonora Pouwels photographed this scene of waves, stormclouds and sunset at Psiriara beach on Lesvos 

 

Please click on the link below to turn to page 2, where I have posted more photos and several videos that were shared on social media.

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Spring colours at Epi Studios on Paros

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Epi Studios Matsas Windmill Paros

A bougainvillea-covered trellis shades a window at the Epi Studios Matsas Windmill hotel in Naoussa village on Paros

 

 

Colourful corner: It finally feels like spring in Toronto today, but we’ve got still got a few weeks to go before spring flowers begin to bloom. Gardens, yards and parks are foul-smelling, muddy swaths of brown and grey as remaining patches of dirt-covered snow and ice gradually melt away.

To get a glimpse of greenery and spring flowers in the meantime, I’ve been looking through photos from my May 2012 visit to Paros, where vibrant gardens and landscaping around whitewashed houses provided picture-postcard scenes throughout Naoussa village.

One corner in Naoussa was particularly colourful thanks to the bougainvillea,  flowers, bushes and trees growing on the grounds of Epi Studios Matsas Windmill, a hotel complex of 18 kitchen-equipped studios a short walk from Ag Anargyroi beach.

 

Not much information available online

Out of curiosity, I searched online for information about the hotel, to see what the rooms look like and find out what it costs to stay there.

Surprisingly, I couldn’t find a website for the property — only dozens of listings for it on booking sites like Expedia, otel.com, dhr and others. Although the listings include some photos showing the traditionally-decorated rooms, I couldn’t find prices — all the dates I entered into the various different search fields showed no availability. And there aren’t many online reviews providing descriptions of what it’s like to stay there. For instance, the Epi Studios listing on TripAdvisor.com only has four reviews, the most recent of which was posted in 2010.

Nonetheless, Epi Studios is still a picturesque place to see if you happen to stay elsewhere in Naoussa and take a walk around the town, as the photos below indicate.

 

Street view of the Matsas Windmill and adjacent hotel buildings at Epi Studios

Street view of Epi Studios Matsas Windmill

 

 

Street view of the Epi Studios building and Matsas Windmill

Another street view of the Epi Studios and Matsas Windmill

 

 

Epi Studios Matsas Windmill

Bougainvillea clings to the wall beside the Epi Studios sign

 

 

Epi Studios Matsas Windmill

Flowering shrubs add more bursts of colour in the gardens at Epi Studios

 

 

Epi Studios Matsas Windmill

A view of the Matsas Windmill, which stands proudly near the corner of an intersection in Naoussa village

 

 

Pic of the day: Astipalea’s castle and windmills

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Windmills and the Venetian Castle at Chora on Astipalea island

The imposing Venetian Castle towers above Chora village and a row of red-roofed windmills on Astipalea island

 

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