Tag: winter (page 1 of 3)

Massive snowstorm gives Greece’s winter tourism campaign a big boost

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The Greece National Tourism Organisation released this video last month to kick off a campaign promoting the country’s mainland destinations for winter holidays. This week, a  massive snowstorm made international headlines and reinforced the campaign message that “Greece has winter, too.”

 

Snow wonder:  Was it simply good timing, a complete coincidence, or an incredible Greek drama directed by the mythical Greek gods at Mount Olympus?

Just days before Christmas, Greece’s ministry of tourism and its national tourism organization launched an advertising promotion to encourage winter tourism at destinations in mainland Greece — a campaign intended to show people around the world that there’s much more to experience in Greece than summer vacations on its famous sun-drenched islands.

The campaign was built around its centerpiece video, which we posted above. It begins with a press conference-style spokesperson greeting viewers with: “Dear World. We Greeks know that when you think of our country, you think of the islands, the sea, the endless summer. But today, we have a big announcement to make. It may sound confusing. You may be surprised. But Greece has a winter too!” 

The video goes on to show beautiful winter scenery and exciting outdoor activities at places in Central Greece, Epirus, the Peloponnese, Thessaly and West Macedonia. We were surprised that the film doesn’t mention or display any skiing or other alpine snow sports, even though mainland Greece does boast major ski centers — such as Parnassos and Kalavrita — along with 15 smaller but very popular alpine facilities.

 

Kalavrita Ski Resort in Greece

Kalavrita Ski Resort (Το χιονοδρομικό κέντρο Καλαβρύτων) in the Peloponnese, seen in a January 15  aerial photo  from its Facebook page

 

The promotional campaign was aimed primarily at Greece’s main travel markets — the U.K., Germany, France, Italy, Spain, Scandinavian countries and Israel. But less than a month later, the message that Greece has a winter season reached countless millions of people around the world loud and clear — not through the video or advertisements, but rather thanks to some unexpected free publicity from Mother Nature on Monday January 24.

That’s the day a massive weather system walloped Greece, dumping record-setting heavy snowfalls that virtually paralyzed traffic and transport in Athens and many parts of the country. The unprecedented snowstorm and its immense visual impact made international news headlines across the globe,  with television and social media reports showing almost surreal snowfall images that confused, surprised — and astounded — millions of people who didn’t realize that it snows in Greece in winter, including sometimes in Athens and on the islands, too.

Given the widespread media coverage of the storm — including videos of people skiing along streets below the Acropolis of Athens — it seems clear the tourism campaign achieved its goal of showing people there’s a winter season in Greece, albeit inadvertently. 

Perhaps tourism officials might consider updating their campaign to include images and references to skiing, snowboarding and other alpine snow adventure sports. Before the Elpis snowstorm, Greek ski enthusiasts were raving about this season’s superb snow conditions, which some reports described as the best in decades.  Imagine how good the skiing and boarding is now, with even more snow. We think it would be a shame for people outside the country not to learn there is much better skiing to be found in Greece than on the roads beneath the Acropolis!

Below are a few of our favourite Instagram photos of Elpis snow on globally-recognized Athens monuments, along with an aerial video showing some of the city’s landmarks the day after the storm.

 

spirostheodorou photo of snow at the Athens Parthenon

 An aerial view of the Parthenon with snowy mountainsides in the background, by @spirostheodorou

 

engelvolkersgreece Instagram photo of snow on the Athens Acropolis

Snow-covered Acropolis and Theatre of Herodes Atticus, captured in an image by @alkisk_

 

ioanniskoskoutis Instagram photo of snow on the Acropolis of Athens

Overhead aerial view of the Acropolis, by @ioanniskaskoutis

 

@slavmk23 photo of snow on Anafiotika in Athens

@slavmk23 captured this image of the Anafiotika neighbourhood on the lower slopes of the Acropolis

 

@imikov photo of Dromeas The Runner sculpture in Athens

@imikov captured this marvellous image of snow collecting on Dromeas (The Runner), the famous glass sculpture by artist Costas Varotsos on Vassilissis Sofias Avenue near the Athens Hilton hotel.

 

 agispeterson Instagram photo of snow on the Athens Acropolis

The Acropolis and its recently-upgraded lighting system are seen in one of a series of sunrise images captured by @agispeterson 

 

imikov Instagram photo of snowy trees and the Athens Acropolis

The Parthenon, photographed through snow-laden trees by @imikov

 

katerinakatopis Instagram photo of snow on the Zappeion in Athens

A @katerinakatopis aerial photo of snow on the Zappeion Megaron and on Mount Lycabettus in the background

 

Καλημέρα Αθήνα – Καλημέρα Ελπίδα is a 2:25-minute aerial video by Up Stories showing views of snowy Athens landmarks the day after the Elpis snowstorm struck the city

 

Thousands more photos and videos are available online; if you’re keen to see more, here are links to several news and information websites that have published photo galleries of Elpis images from across Greece:

In pictures: snow covers Athens and Greek Islands by Greece Is;

Athens after Elpis snowstorm by Greek City Times;

Frozen fountains, snowed in Evzones, and blanketed Monastiraki by Greek City Times;

Snow blankets Greece’s ancient city of Athens; disrupts life by Greece High Definition;

The most beautiful snowy photos and videos from Greece by Greek Gateway;

Parthenon covered in snow as rare cold front hits Greece by Greek Reporter;

 

You might also be interested in seeing our own recent posts with photos from Greek islands that were struck by Elpis, and by a different storm, Diomedes, just a few days earlier:

After the Elpis snowstorm: Amazing Mykonos landscape photos by Leanne Vorrias;

The powdery white Mykonos beaches few tourists ever see;

After the storm: Snowy streets and landscapes on Samothraki island

Snow scenes from Thassos island

After the Elpis snowstorm: Amazing Mykonos landscape photos by Leanne Vorrias

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Leanne Vorrias photo of Mykonos island after a snowfall

Local resident and photographer Leanne Vorrias captured this striking image of Mykonos on January 22 after a storm system named Elpis blasted Greece’s Aegean islands with cold temperatures and snowfalls.  

 

Ornos Bay and Agios Ioannis beach Mykonos after a snowfall

Leanne photographed this hilltop view of snow-dusted slopes near Agios Ioannis beach (right) and Ornos bay (upper left) as a wide curtain of grey stormclouds hung over Mykonos.

 

Snow dusted hillsides near Ornos Bay on Mykonos

Emerald-green fields that were left largely untouched by the storm offer a colourful contrast to the surrounding snow-powdered hills that Leanne photographed near Ornos. 

 

Mykonos winter marvels:  After a cold weather system named Elpis dumped snow on many areas of Greece’s Aegean islands on January 23, we happily spent a few hours scrolling through hundreds of snow scene photos and videos that island residents had shared on Instagram and Facebook. It was both amusing and amazing to see how different, and sometimes completely unrecognizable, so many familiar places looked under an uncharacteristic blanket of white. 

This was certainly the case with images showing some of the famous Mykonos beaches covered in layers of crisp white snow. We have seen Ornos, Psarou, Agios Stefanos and other top Mykonos beaches often, their golden sands radiant under clear blue skies and brilliant sunshine. Not this time! With the seasides and surrounding hills covered in snow from the Elpis storm, and thick grey stormclouds lurking overhead,  some of the beach areas were almost impossible to identify.

Much more surprising and remarkable were a series of breathtaking landscape photos that photographer Leanne Vorrias, a Mykonos resident, had posted on Facebook.

Shot from hilltop and coast locations in the Kanalia, Ornos and Agios Ioannis areas of Mykonos after the storm had let up, the photos capture marvellous winter vistas and scenery we’ve never seen ourselves, or even imagined. With snow cover changing the island’s appearance so drastically, some of the panoramic images left us wondering just what parts of Mykonos we were looking at.

(In the photo at the top of this post, for instance, it took us a few minutes to figure out that we were seeing a stretch of the island’s western coast, extending from the Tourlos and New Port areas all the way over to the Little Venice seaside and Kato Mili windmills in Mykonos Town. The source of confusion? The hills and mountains that rise behind the port.  We are used to seeing rocky brown terrain dotted with whitewashed houses and villas — not completely white peaks and slopes!)

Leanne also captured spectacular views of  nearby islands, including Delos, Rhenia, Syros and Tinos.

We’ve posted several more photos below, with the photographer’s kind permission, but recommend visiting Leanne’s Facebook page using a computer, so you can click on the individual images to view their impressive full-size detail on a bigger screen.

You can see more of Leanne’s work, including galleries of portrait and performing artist photography, on her website: Leanne Vorrias PhotoRevelation Mykonos.

 

Snow on Mykonos photo by Leanne Vorrias

View toward Ornos Bay from a hilltop road high above Agios Ioannis

 

Leanne Vorrias photo of snow on Mykonos island

Snow-dusted hills near Ornos Bay (upper left)

 

Leanne Vorrias photo of Agios Ioannis Bay Mykonos and Delos island

A sweeping view of the Aleomandra peninsula, Agios Ioannis bay and beach, and Delos island

 

Leanne Vorrias photo of Delos island and Rhenia island near Mykonos

A view of Delos and Rhenia islands under heavy stormclouds

 

Leanne Vorrias photo of Tinos island viewed from Mykonos

Tinos island under a shroud of grey clouds

 

Leanne Vorrias photo of snow capped mountains on Syros island

Dramatic clouds pass above snow-capped mountains on Syros. In the foreground is part of Rhenia island.

 

Leanne Vorrias photo of snow on Tinos island

Ominous stormclouds loom over Tinos

 

Leanne Vorrias photo of snow on Tinos island

Another view of snow-blanketed mountains on Tinos 

 

Leanne Vorrias photo of Baos island Tinos island and Mykonos

From the left: little Baos island, snowy Tinos, and the northwestern coast of Mykonos

 

The powdery white Mykonos beaches few tourists ever see

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Snow on the Mykonos Town beach

The snow on Agia Agia beach at the Mykonos Town harbour had at least one of the island’s resident geese in a flap. This photo by Argiris Chatzis has gone viral on social media.

 

Snow on Psarou beach on Mykonos

People who have danced on the sand at the world-famous Nammos beach club would probably never have imagined that Psarou beach could look like this in winter. The photo was shared on social media by Mykonos Live TV.

 

Snow on Kalafatis beach on Mykonos

Snow covers Kalafatis beach while ominous stormclouds lurk above the two hills at Divounia that Mykonos locals have nicknamed “Aphrodite’s Breasts.”  Ηλίας Παναγάκος shared this image to the Meteo GR weather group page on Facebook.

 

Snowy strands: Mykonos is renowned for its dozens of beautiful beaches, but few tourists have ever seen them transform overnight from gorgeous golden sands to fluffy white powder.  That’s what happened this week when a winter weather system that meteorologists named Elpis swept across Greece’s Aegean islands, leaving a layer of crisp white snow in its wake.

On Sunday January 23, Mykonos residents awoke to find their homes, yards and vehicles under a blanket of snow — the heaviest snowfall the island has received in nearly 40 years.

While parts of the island got just a light dusting of the white stuff, some areas attracted deeper accumulations — and some no snow at all. That resulted in the striking sight of patches of vibrant green winter vegetation — another feature most Mykonos tourists never get to see during the dry, barren months of summer — surrounded by wide expanses of snow-topped fields and hills.

On the other side of the Atlantic, we awoke to snowfalls, too (a normal January sight here in Canada), but were taken aback to find our social media pages filled with stunning pictures and videos showing Mykonos with snow-covered landscapes and moody winter stormclouds looming overhead — just like here!

The famous Mykonos beaches looked amazing, though rather than showing off their usual tones of golden brown, they appeared just as white as the island’s iconic sugar-cube buildings.

Below, we have re-posted some of the social media photos, to show you how striking the beaches looked in their white winter coats.

We’re sure the images will astound people who have spent summer holidays partying , sunbathing and swimming at these beaches, but never imagined how drastically different they might appear in winter. The photos might even come as a complete shock to many people around the world who mistakenly believe Mykonos weather is similar to the Caribbean’s, since they’ve only seen pictures and videos showing the island in summer, with beaches, palm trees and swimsuit-clad tourists basking in the sunshine.

— Ornos beach —

 

Ornos beach area of Mykonos after a snowfall

The Ornos beach area is seen in a photo that was widely shared on social media formats and credited to Dimitris Paterakis

 

Snow on Ornos beach on Mykonos

Snow on Ornos beach on Mykonos

Above, two ground-level views from the southern end of Ornos beach as snow continued to fall. The images were both shared on Facebook by Kostantis restaurant, one of the beach tavernas at Ornos.

 

Snow at Ornos beach on Mykonos

Another  photo by Kostantis restaurant, this time showing  Ornos from the northern end of the beach

 

— Super Paradise beach —

 

Snowfall at JackieO Beach Club and Super Paradise beach on Mykonos

Views of snowy Super Paradise beach and the JackieO Beach Club, seen in images shared in the club’s Instagram stories

 

— Kalo Livadi beach —

 

snow on Kalo Livadi beach Mykonos

With this layer of snow giving it a different look, Kalo Livadi beach might be unrecognizable to people who have been to Solymar Beach Restaurant or Lohan Beach House in summer months. The photo was shared on Instagram by Island Mykonos Suites.

 

— Agios Stefanos beach —

 

Snow on Agios Stefanos beach on Mykonos

Agios Stefanos beach next to the Mykonos New Port is seen in an image, credited to O. Kyrantoni, shared on the Delos Tours Instagram page

 

Snow on Agios Stefanos beach on Mykonos

A ground-level view of Agios Stefanos beach from the opposite direction to the image posted above. This picture was shared on Facebook by Olga Pavlidi.

 

Snowy Mykonos beach photo shared on Instagram by o_lofos

The view toward Delos and Rhenia islands from Agios Stefanos beach, as seen in an image shared on Facebook by  O Lofos Luxury Boutique Suites

 

— Psarou beach —

 

@kostis_krg Instagram photo of snow at Psarou beach on Mykonos

The snowy slopes surrounding Psarou beach seen in an image shared by @kostis_krg

 

Aerial view of snow at Psarou beach on Mykonos

Another aerial view of the snow-covered hills and beach at Psarou. This image was shared on Instagram by Betty Chanozidou.

 

Snow on Psarou beach Mykonos

Mykonos Live TV captured this image of sunshine sparkling on the turquoise waters at snowy Psarou beach

 

Snow on Psarou beach on Mykonos

 Another Mykonos Live TV view of Psarou

 

snow on Psarou beach Mykonos

Snowy Psarou beach and the surrounding hillsides are shown in an image Mykonos Animal Welfare shared on its Instagram account, along with a message urging island residents to open their hearts and doors for strays and farm animals that might need food, water and shelter during the cold snap that will last several days.

 

— Agrari beach —

 

 snow on Agrari beach on Mykonos

A Mykonos Live TV social media image of snow-laden Agrari

 

snow on Agrari beach on Mykonos

The golden sand of Agrari beach is completely covered by snow in this image shared on social media pages for Mykonos Live TV and Agrari Beach

 

— Paraga beach —

 

Snow on Paraga beach on Mykonos

Snow on Paraga beach on Mykonos

Snow-dusted Paraga beach is seen in two screen captures from a video that Paraga Cafe shared in its Instagram stories

 

— Kalafatis beach —

 

Snow on Kalafatis beach

Skandinavian Bar shared this photo showing a view toward Divounia from the snow-powdered sands of Kalafatis beach

 

snow at Kalafatis beach on Mykonos

A view of Kalafatis from the southern end of the beach. The photo was widely shared on social media and credited to Stacey Papaiannou.

 

— Elia beach —

 

@yioris_gk Instagram photo of snow on Elia beach Mykonos

Sunshine breaks through clouds above Elia beach in an image shared on Instagram by yioris_gk

 

— Agia Anna beach at the Mykonos Town harbour — 

 

Snow on Agia Anna beach at Mykonos Town

This photo of Agia Anna beach in Mykonos Town was shared on social media by Delos Tours and credited to photographer V Delarosa

 

Snowy Agia Anna beach in Mykonos Town

An Agia Anna beach photo shared on the Facebook page for Mykonos Promo

 

Geese pigeons and snow on Agia Anna beach at Mykonos Town

The wing-flapping goose and its companions are joined by a flock of pigeons for this shot, which was shared on social media by Mykonos Animal Welfare. 

After the storm: snowy streets and landscapes on Samothraki island

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Snow on Samothraki island

This photo, shared on Facebook by Nenia Vav, shows tall snowdrifts in a street near the old town hall in Chora on Samothraki island. A weather system named Diomedes dumped heavy snow on the island on January 12 2022.

 

Snow covered mountains on Samothraki island

Local landscape photographer Ξανθή Πεπέ  (aka Tommy) captured this splendid view of snow-dusted Samothraki mountains when the sun came out after the Diomedes storm

 

Winter whiteout: Our previous post, Snow scenes from Thassos island, featured photos that had been shared on social media after a major weather system called Diomedes struck Greece with strong winds, rain, snow and cold temperatures on January 12. However, Thassos wasn’t the only Greek island whose residents awoke to find themselves in a crisp white winter wonderland — the storm dumped even deeper snow on Samothraki. 

In fact, Samothraki got  blasted with blizzard-like conditions for nearly 12 hours as gale-force winds swept across the northeast Aegean island. When the storm finally let up, islanders discovered that streets were blocked with snowdrifts that had buried their cars and trucks up to their windows.

 

Google map showing location of Samothraki island

This Google map shows the location of Samothraki island in the Northeast Aegean Sea

 

We’re willing to bet the locals didn’t relish the task of digging out their vehicles and clearing away the deep snow that had fallen in front of their doors, but the photos several residents posted on social media certainly do look amazing, and show an off-season side of Greece that few tourists get to experience. We’ve shared some of the Facebook posts below, so you can see how Samothraki looked after Diomedes unleashed its fury.

We’re feeling a little red-faced in the realization that this, our first-ever post about Samothraki, is a collection of social media photos showing the island covered in snow during a season most tourists wouldn’t even dream of travelling there. (Samothraki has been mentioned in a few of our previous posts about travel publications that recommended the island, but this is our first time directly posting about it.) 

To see more of Samothraki in its full summer and travel season glory, and to learn more about the island, we recommend taking a look at the excellent local travel website mySamothraki and its official social media pages —  @mysamothrakicom on Facebook,  and @my_samothraki on Instagram. The website offers a wealth of helpful holiday planning information, while the social media pages contain hundreds of beautiful pictures showing the island at all times of the year.

Here is a collection of storm photos that have been shared on Facebook:

Winter harbour scene on Samothraki island

An after-the-snowfall harbour scene photo posted by ΠΑΝΑΓΙΩΤΗΣ ΜΑΚΡΗΣ

 

Snowy landscape on Samothraki island

A snow-covered landscape image shared by Ergostasio Samothrakis

 

Snow at Chora village on Samothraki island

A photo of Chora shared by Thanasis Tsoukalelis.

 

Snow covered houses on Samothraki island

More snow-covered houses seen in a photo by Παναγιωτης Χαρανας

 

A snowstorm on Samothraki island

Landscape photographer Ξανθή Πεπέ  (aka Tommy) captured this scene from the port town of Kamariotissa during blizzard conditions on January 12. She shared this photo on the My Samothraki page on Facebook.

 

Snow on Samothraki island

A snow-filled street seen in an image shared by Δημήτρης Ευγενίδης

 

Ice and snow covered houses on Samothraki island

Γιάννης Αντωνίου posted this photo of houses covered with icicles and snow

 

Snow in Chora village on Samothraki island

A snowy street in Chora, seen in a photo shared by Olga Pavlidou

 

Snow outside a taverna on Samothraki island

A Stefanos Maniotis photo of deep snow outside a taverna

 

Snow on Samothraki island

Snow surrounds a palm tree near the port, in this photo by ΠΑΝΑΓΙΩΤΗΣ ΜΑΚΡΗΣ

 

snowdrift in Chora village on Samothraki

This photo, shared by Thanasis Tsoukalelis, shows snowdrifts on a lane in Chora

 

Snow on Samothraki island

 Another snowy street photo shared by Thanasis Tsoukalelis

 

Snow covered trees on Samothraki island

A lovely winter landscape scene captured by Levent Osman

 

Snow covered house on Samothraki island

Stelios Siropoulos shared this image of a house surrounded by snow

 

Man shovelling snow on Samothraki island

Sakis Vasiloudias posted this image of a man shovelling a path through deep snow

 

snow on Samothraki island

An after-the-storm-stopped image of a plowed road and snowy hillside. The image was shared on the @my_samothraki page on Instagram.

 

snow covered mountains on Samothraki island

A photo of snowy mountains shot by Tommy and shared on the @my_samothraki page on Instagram

 

snow on Samothraki island

A snowy seaside scene captured by photographer Tommy for the @my_samothraki page on Instagram

 

 

Snow scenes from Thassos island

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Snowfall on Thassos island

Snowfall on Thassos island

Panagia and Potamia villages on Thassos island look lovely sporting their new winter coats of freshly fallen snow on January 12 2022.  Both pictures were posted on the Facebook page for the travel website Thassos View under a caption reading: “For those who don’t believe Thassos can be too cold in winter. Today we woke up and the island was covered by snow…” Keep scrolling to see an aerial video of the two villages after the snowfall.

 

Winter scenery: Our blog posts about Greek islands usually feature photos from the spring, summer and fall tourist seasons, but sometimes we can’t resist sharing images of snowy isles  to show that Greece gets winter, too — a fact that surprises many people who aren’t familiar with the country’s climate.

 This is one of those times, courtesy of a harsh weather system named Diomedes that swept across Greece today (January 12 2022), dumping snow in some places (like Thassos) while dousing many regions of the country with heavy downpours that flooded streets and roads and caused spillways and culverts to overflow. As if snow and rain weren’t enough, Diomedes also battered much of Greece with severe winds and bitterly cold temperatures. 

Our social media news feeds were filled with photos and videos of rainstorms and their aftermath in Naxos, Mykonos and other Cyclades islands, so the pictures we shared above, showing two Thassos villages under a light layer of snow, really stood out from the rest. We subsequently found a few more Thassos snow photos on Instagram, and have shared them below.

 

Snow covered trees on Thassos island

Snow-laden trees line a stretch of highway on Thassos island on January 12 2022.  The image was shared on Instagram by @san_giorgio_thassos, the social media page for the San Giorgio Apartments at Skala Potamia.

 

Snow covered trees on Thassos island

Another winter highway scene from Thassos that San Giorgio Apartments at Skala Potamia shared on social media

 

Snow on Thassos island

Snowy Potamia village is pictured in an image shared on Instagram by @vasilistoptsis

 

Aerial views of Panagia and Potamia villages under snow, in a 2:20-minute film by Thassos View

 

If you’d like to see more of Diomedes’ impact, including snowfall and rainstorm photos and videos from various places in Greece, here are links to two online news reports:

♦ From the Keep Talking Greece website: ‘Diomedes’ strikes Greece with dense snowfalls, disrupts sea traffic; and  

♦ From Greek Reporter: ‘Diomedes’ weather system brings snow, heavy rain to Greece

 

A Christmas fairy tale in Sparta

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The Drop Cafe in Sparta Greece

Christmas elves have transformed The Drop Cafe in Sparta into a fairy-tale wonderland for the holiday season

 

All decked out: With snow on the ground and ski resorts opening in various parts of the country this month, it’s beginning to look at lot like Christmas in Greece. Especially in the Peloponnese city of Sparta, where festive elves have turned The Drop Cafe into a sensational Christmas wonderland.

The cafe describes itself as a “themed coffeehouse,” serving coffees, cocktails and deliciously decadent desserts  in a quirky yet cozy mansion-style living room space. The place delights in dressing itself up for special seasonal events, and for Christmas it goes over-the-top with fantastically festive decor.

This year, decorating duties were assigned to a team of exuberant elves who magically transformed the place into a dreamy setting that looks like something you would see in a Hollywood Christmas movie.

“Many times you may have wondered what it might be like to live in a Christmas fairy tale. The elves took care of that!” says the caption for a video The Drop Cafe posted on its social media pages on December 10, showing the sparkling lights and festive trim that adorn the shop from top to bottom, inside and out.

Besides going all-out with garlands, Christmas tree ornaments and twinkling lights, the multi-talented elves concocted a special Christmas cocktails list (the red velvet is one of the most popular drinks on the menu), along with heart-warming seasonal beverages like cinnamon apple tea and hot chocolate “bombs,” all of which pair well with the cafe’s scrumptious cakes and sweet treats.

You can bet that children will be thrilled by the display, which features countless lights and ornaments, stuffed animals, toy elves, a circus carousel and a giant Christmas cake, while adults are bound to feel like they’re experiencing Christmas as kids all over again.

The cafe unveiled its Christmas look in mid-November. We reached out to ask how long management plans to keep the decorations up, but haven’t heard back yet. If you’re within driving distance of Sparta, we recommend taking a roadtrip there ASAP to partake in some holiday cheer and experience a real-life Christmas fairy tale.

_________________________

The Drop Cafe

Likourgou 142, Sparta

Instagram: @the_drop_cafe

Facebook: @thedropcafebistrot

_________________________

Below are several photos of the cafe’s glowing and glittering holiday decor, all of which were shared on The Drop Cafe’s social media pages. Check out their Instagram and Facebook profiles to see more photos and videos of their Christmas garb, as well as their theme decors from this past Halloween, last Christmas, and seasons in between.

 

The Drop Cafe in Sparta Greece

The Drop Cafe in Sparta Greece

The Drop Cafe in Sparta Greece

The Drop Cafe in Sparta Greece

The Drop Cafe in Sparta Greece

The Drop Cafe in Sparta Greece

The Drop Cafe in Sparta Greece

 

A winter daytrip to Paleochora in southwest Crete

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This 9-minute film by  fitness and travel buff William Taudien shows Paleochora, Crete from ground level, in the air, and even under water.

 

Just a few weeks back, I wrote about a new promotional video that tourism authorities on Crete had produced to encourage more travellers to visit the island in winter.

Since then, I’ve been keeping an eye on social media to watch for current photo and video posts, to get a better feel for what the island is like at this time of year. The latest we have ever been to Crete ourselves was in late October and early November 2017, when the tourist season was wrapping up and most hotels and restaurants were either already closed or shutting down. Despite a few days of inclement weather, we had a great time, but we often wondered how visiting in winter would compare. It seems other people are curious, too — in online travel forums, I’ve noticed an uptick in the number of people asking whether winter travel to Crete and other places in Greece would be worthwhile.

This week I got some answers when adventure traveller, fitness buff and vlogger William Taudien published the video I posted above.

William has been living near the Crete city of Chania for the past three months. In late December, he took a daytrip to Paleochora, a small town on the island’s southwest coast which happened to be the last stop on our late autumn holiday two years ago.

After a bumpy 90-minute bus ride through gorgeous mountain scenery, William arrived at Paleochora to sunny skies and comfortable temperatures in the low 20s Celsius — weather similar to what we had experienced. Conditions were ideal for William to film ground-level video while wandering the streets, the seafront on the east side of town, and beautiful big Pachia Ammos beach to the west, which he had all to himself. With his drone, he captured amazing aerial views of the colourful town, the beach, and the spectacular mountain and Libyan Sea surroundings. He even shot some underwater scenes while swimming and snorkeling.

Everything looked pretty much as it had when we spent three days in Paleochora, with one major difference — as William explains in the video, restaurant options are extremely limited in winter, especially if you’re looking for somewhere to have lunch.  

Although he had an enjoyable trip to Paleochora on that particular day, William told me in an email that “It seems like the weather is a bit unstable in the winter.” In fact, right after his daytrip, the weather changed rapidly when a massive storm system that meteorologists named Zenobia swept across Greece, lashing the country with gale-force winds, heavy rains, and snowfalls in some regions. Zenobia pounded Greece for the final four days of 2019, and weather conditions remained unsettled into the first week of the new year.

But conditions improved, and sunshine and mild temperatures returned. In his email, William told me he took another daytrip a few days ago, this time to explore the village of Hora Sfakion on Crete’s southern coast. And, once again, he went swimming. “It was really sunny and nice,” he said.

Now, as I look out my window at gloomy grey skies and the temperature below the freezing mark here in Toronto, I keep daydreaming about paying a winter visit to Chania, and taking daytrips to places like Paleochora and Hora Sfakion if the weather is decent. Definitely something to keep in mind for next winter!

Travel video promotes Crete as a winter holiday destination

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This 2-minute promotional video by Incredible Crete features enticing views of Cretan food and wine, and wonderful winter scenery

 

If you think Crete is a place worth visiting only in summer to experience its exquisite beaches, historic archaeological sites, outdoor activities, food, wine and culture, the island’s regional tourism authority wants you to think again — and to consider paying Crete a winter visit.

Incredible Crete, the island’s official tourism agency, recently released a promotional video entitled Crete: Sense the authentic winter! in a bid to boost off-season travel to Greece’s largest island.

Crete is one of the most popular islands in Greece, but many people mistakenly believe it’s a summertime destination “open” only from April to October. While it’s true that winter isn’t suitable for beach fun like swimming, sunbathing and water sports, and the Samaria Gorge (one of the island’s top outdoor tourist attractions) is closed to hikers for weather and safety reasons, that doesn’t mean Crete completely shuts down for the season.

On the contrary, Crete is a veritable winter wonderland.

Lakkoi village in Crete seen in a winter photo from mapio.net

This winter photo of Lakkoi village, in the Chania prefecture, is from the Lakkoi page on mapio.net 

 

Chania and Heraklion are superb city-break destinations year-round, while many of the island’s museums, historic and archaeological sites remain open, albeit on reduced hours of operation. Plenty of tavernas and restaurants continue serving renowned Cretan cuisine and wine, while outdoor activities are available, including scenic walks and trekking, and adventure snow sports in some areas. And of course there’s one thing that doesn’t disappear just because it’s winter: Crete’s gorgeous natural scenery — from mountains and valleys to coastlines and beaches — is beautiful to behold 365 days a year.

 

Venetian Harbour at Heraklion Crete seen in a photo by the municipality of Heraklion

The Koules Fortress and the Venetian Harbour at Heraklion are seen in a photo from the municipality of Heraklion website. Below is a picture we shot at Chania’s harbourfront during a late October trip to Crete.

The historic harbour at Chania Crete

 

As the Sense the authentic winter video demonstrates, Crete can overwhelm your senses even in winter, and that’s why tourism officials are hoping to encourage more travellers to give the island a look during the off-season.

Should you be interested in exploring Crete during the winter, you’ll find information about activities, accommodations and attractions in these online resources:

Incredible Crete, the island’s official tourism website, is packed with an extensive array of information and photos to help travellers plan island visits;

♦ The Creti.co blog article suggests its Top 10 reasons for spending your winter holidays in Crete, while …

♦ the Cretan Beaches website suggests its own 11 Reasons to visit Crete in winter;

♦ The Crete in Winter page of CreteTravel.com describes places to visit, and includes links to accommodations;

♦ The official website for the city of Heraklion is loaded with information about the city, including news and event listings, maps, photos and videos, and offers a  special Visitor section with details about museums and attractions.

♦ the official tourism website for Chania also features extensive information for visitors, while

♦ the Fabulous Crete blog post Winter in Crete from a different side of view has descriptions and photos showing what the island is like in the off-season.

Additionally, a simple web search for “winter travel to Crete,” or similar topics will yield scores of additional sites and articles, including websites for specific accommodations that are open year-round on the island.

 

Below are more winter photos of Crete, followed by a video of breathtaking mountain and valley scenery in the Lasithi region in early winter of 2019.

Winter view of Heraklion Crete harbourfront in a photo from the Festivalaki page on Facebook

The snowy Psiloritis mountains provide an impressive winter backdrop to this photo of the Heraklion harbourfront. The image is from the Facebook page Festivalaki: Cretan festival of Arts & Culture.

 

Rethymno Crete harbourfront photo from the Facebook page for Festivalaki Cretan festival of arts and culture

The harbourfront of Rethymno is captured in a winter photo by Theofilis Papadopoulos.  The image was shared on the Festivalaki page on Facebook.

 

Festivalaki Facepage page photo of Chania Crete harbour

Another photo from the Festivalaki Facebook page, this time showing Chania’s historic harbourfront with a snow-capped mountain backdrop

 

Winter hiking photo from Incredible Crete page on Facebook

From the Incredible Crete site, a photo of winter trekkers visiting old mountaintop windmills

 

Incredible Crete photo of climbers on Spathi peak of Dikti Mountains in Lasithi region of the island

Also from Incredible Crete, an image of adventure climbers on the Spathi peak of the Dikti Mountains

 

Stunning winter views of the Lasithi region are shown in this clip of photos and videos by Renos Drone Works

 

Zameer Pactyan published this video of Mount Psiloritis and the White Mountains on January 4 2020. Breathtaking panoramic views of the mountains can be seen starting from the 45 second mark in the film.

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