Jun 30

KEFALONIA, AN ISLAND OF MYTHICAL BEAUTY (KEFALONIA)

As the largest Ionian island of Greece, Kefalonia offers tourists paradise-like experiences that include many kilometers of beautiful beaches. The dramatic mountain scenery and pine forests serve as background for fishing villages, traditional taverns and buildings in pastel shades, Venetian type. After having appearing in the Hollywood blockbuster “Captain Corelli’s Mandolin”, Kefalonia has had a plus in terms of tourism. Look what you can see and do in Kefalonia, perhaps the most beautiful island in the Ionian Sea.

Relax in Fiskardo during a hot afternoon. Known as the St Tropez of Greece, Fiskardo was once the richest fishing town of the country. With time, fishermen have lost importance and authority, and this is when the Fiskardo was reinvented into a destination spot for relaxation. Many international stars and celebrities were spotted by paparazzi in this splendid city. What makes a place so loved by tourists? It’s easy. The marine scenery, the rich specifics, the beauty of Venetian-style architecture, the houses colored in pastel shades and fascinating history of the city, the warmth of the locals and these are only a few things!

A fun fact about Fiskardo is that, in 2006, there was discovered a room full of gold jewelry, bronze goblets and dishes that lasted for over 2000 years. It was so well preserved during these last two millennia because it has been forgotten and rediscovered by chance and strangely, the doors’ pins are still functional.

Take a gondola ride on Lake Melissani. This underground lake was not discovered until 1951, when an explosion caused the roof to give way, leaving a massive hole in the cave ceiling. Get a boat and paddler and enjoy the clear waters of incredible electric-blue.

Explore the Drogarati caves. Drogarati Caves are less than 40 minutes’ walk from Arostoli and are breathtaking. They are situated 120 meters above sea level and have a depth of approximately 95 meters. Caverns with more than 150 million years old – you’ll definitely be impressed. Afterwards, you can climb down the rock steps and enter a quiet cavern adorned with stalactites and stalagmites.

See the Loggerhead turtles in the Gulf of Argostoli. Argostoli is the capital of Kefalonia. Here you will find restaurants, bars and souvenir shops. But the most important thing when it comes to this city is the Loggerhead turtles. In the morning, between nine and eleven the turtles are patrolling the gulf beaches, waiting for the fishermen to leave behind the fish that could not be sold. Sitting a few meters from them and watching them in their natural habitat is an experience that cannot be experienced in any zoo.

Find paradise on Myrtos Beach. You will recognize this beach as soon as you see her. Myrtos Beach is one of the most beautiful and most photographed beaches across Europe. Locals will remind you constantly that it is the beach that has made a considerable contribution to film Captain Corelli’s Mandolin. Myrtos is entirely covered with very fine white pebbles, which blend harmoniously with the crystal-clear sea. Limestone cliffs surround the beach, separating it from the rest of the island.

Go on a cruise under the Greek sunny skies. There are numerous types of boats that you can choose from to take a cruise in Kefalonia, and the ones with glass bottom are the most popular among tourists. The facilities of this type of boat are the possibility of admire the underwater beauty of the crystal-clear sea, the chance to do some diving, jumping off the bridge, a traditional Greek meal served on another sandy island and the karaoke session on the way back.

Also, enjoy a kayak ride: you’ll have the perfect opportunity to combine the sun, the sand and the sea in the best way. The calm waters around the island are perfect for kayak rides. You will enjoy beautiful landscapes and you’ll pass by caves and beaches accessible only by water. But don’t do it unless you are very experienced in this area, otherwise take an experienced person in a double kayak.

Another amazing experience that Kefalonia can offer you is visiting… a few other islands nearby; a ferry ride between Argostoli and Lixouri costs $ 6 per person and it goes every half hour. In addition, you can choose Ithaca, Lefkada or Zakynthos.

Don’t miss your chance to go to a Greek tavern. Perhaps you might think that it’s a joke, or a cliché. However, because the Greeks have an economy based on tourism, you will notice their tendency to offer a wide range of European cuisine, and not specifically Greek. So I suggest you to see where the locals dine and follow their example. There are many good taverns in Kefalonia.

If you want to retire in a quieter place, similar to Fiskardo, Agia Efimia is right place. It is an old fishing town in eastern Kefalonia, where you can feel the atmosphere of the old days. Although it is much less known than Fiskardo, Agia Efimia is the ideal place where you can have a drink or lunch without worrying that a busload of tourists will shatter the silence.

Photo source

Picture 1: www.thomascook.com; Picture 2: www.loyal-travel.com; Picture 3: www.itaka.pl; Piture 4: www.efrosinivillage.com; Picture 5: www.thomson.co.uk; Picture 6: thomson.co.uk; Picture 7: www.pinterest.com
Jun 24

CORFU, THE NYMPH WHO SEDUCED NAPOLEON BONAPARTE (KERKYRA)

Since ancient times, the island named after the nymph Kerkyra (the daughter of the God of the Rivers,), also known as Corfu has represented an important cultural center since the days of yore; largely inhabited by Phoenicians, it was later conquered by Philip II and his Macedonians took control of the island. With time, he was attacked and conquered by the Spartans, Illyrians and Romans, the latter remaining the absolute rulers for next five centuries, but were granted autonomy in exchange for using the island’s biggest port as a transit point in their expeditions. So the Roman mark is yet easily observed in the architecture and infrastructure. Also Corfu is hosting the first modern Greek University built in 1824.

A holiday in Corfu will make you feel like a god. As an Olympian god, namely, whether you’d like to be Poseidon and patron over the crystal clear waters surrounding the island or you would rather be Dionysus, god of wine – a drink appreciated by the Greeks during toga parties organized in Corfu. The island has everything you could want: the imposing Venetian palaces, durable fortresses, captivating museums and lively nightlife. You should know that Corfu has a rather different history, compared to the rest of Greece. The island has never been a part of the Ottoman Empire, so you will see no Turkish influences there; however, Napoleon Bonaparte had fallen in love (like the rest of us) with the island and decided to annex it to his empire. And there is a great Venetian heritage, due to the influences throughout the centuries – hence the amazing architecture.

Corfu is characterized by lush vegetation, complemented by olive groves and harmoniously embraced by the waves. To see all of the island’s scenery and wealth of attractions you would need at least two weeks. On the other hand somewhere around five days here could be enough – to begin with! -, because it will give you time to tick all the major attractions. And then you will want to return and enjoy the rest.

You could begin you close encounter with the two fortresses called simply the Old Fortress and the New Fortress, which certifies buildings Venetian architectural heritage. Venetian culture is not the only one that has put its mark on the appearance of buildings in Corfu, the city was subjected to French and English domination over time, then take a walk in the Palace built during Empress Elisabeth of Austria.

You can then discover the finesse of sand, pamper yourself for the day on one of the beaches of Corfu. You have plenty of choices, because Corfu has more than 30 beaches. You might choose the south, which is said to be the best, with fine sand, or you could head to the north. Here you will enjoy landscapes that are difficult to describe in words, but you have to bear the naughty white pebbles that cover most beaches in the area.

The most popular among tourists are the beaches of Paleokastritsa and Benitses.

Book one day to visit the archaeological sites. The ancient Palaiopolis site brings together samples of the most interesting monuments of the Greeks: Agora, the Roman baths and two temples in Doric style.

Near Mon Repos you will discover the Temple of Artemis Gorgous, built in the late sixth century BC. Menekratis’s tomb, located in Garitsa, is also worth seeing, especially if you love history.

Even if sunshine and the overall specific Mediterranean climate will tempt you to spend as much time outdoors, resist and assign one days visiting the most important museums. The Archaeological Museum, the Byzantine Museum and the Asian Art Museum you will surely love. Do not neglect the Solomon Museum, the Sea Shell Museum and the Municipal Art Gallery.

Rest a bit in one of the taverns of Corfu and enjoy Greek specialties that you can find here: Bourdeto (a stew very spicy fish stew seasoned with lots of red pepper), Bianco (a kind of stew, but made from white fish, garnished with a lot of garlic). You can still order Sofrito (a specialty made from slices of veal marinated in vinegar and seasoned with garlic and parsley). Of course, all these delights should be filled with ouzo, the Greek anise raki.

Reserve yourself a day or several hours to take a trip to the Mourtos. You will see so with your eyes where the Greek fleet was hidden during the Second World War.

When you come back, check the nightlife of Corfu. Pink Place and Palladium Night Club are two places which stand out and to any local would recommend them to you.

You have probably seen a t least a few American movies when college students take part in toga parties; it’s a habit borrowed from an ancient – and rather unusual, some might say – habit from the time their ancestors. Let yourself be enveloped by the rhythms and unmistakable Sirtaki, socialize with other tourists and befriend locals and you will never forget attending such a party. Just so you can say with hand on heart that you’ve received your initiation in having fun Greek style.

Before you go and say farewell to Corfu, even if you are not among those who love water sports, exceed your limits and try to scuba diving.

P.A.D.I. (Professional Association of Diving Instructors) licensed professional instructors will help you discover the lesser known side of the waves. Dive Easy, Die Seven Islands and Corfu Achilleon Diving centers are the most popular scuba diving clubs. On the other hand, if you’re more courageous and you’re not afraid of diving to the depths (up to seven meters), buy a special fork for snorkeling and hunt for octopuses!

Photo source

Picture 1: vamostour.ro; Picture 2: de-weekend.ro; Picture 3: infotravelgrecia.ro; Picture 4: deltagroup-travel.com; Picture 5: planetware.com; Picture 6: boomsbeat.com.

May 24

SANTORINI, THE LAND OF MAGIC SUNSETS AND AMAZING NIGHT LIFE

Situated in the Cycladic archipelago, the island of Santorini is one of the most popular holiday destinations and alsoone of the most expensive. In the middle of the island, there is a lake with blue water, which was formed on a very old volcano crater; according to legend, this volcano destroyed the lost continent, Atlantis, when it erupted 3,600 years ago, burying the ancient city of Akrotiri (which is now excavated ) under tons of ashes. Because of this tragedy, in later times Santorini has gained “celebrity” due to its black, white and red-sanded beaches that are unique in the world.

pictures-santorini.com

pictures-santorini.com

There are two well-known beaches accessible: Perissa and Kamari, both with volcanic black sand. The most popular, and most expensive resorts in Santorini are Fira (the capital of the island) and Oia, located in the highest areas. Here you can find luxurious hotels, restaurants, bars and plenty of other facilities. On the island there are a few resorts where prices are much lower: Kamari, Perissa, Akrotiri, Imerovigli, Thira, Firostefani and Kallistis Pyrgos.

It is the perfect place for a perfect holiday and it is said that Santorini is the place where “there are more churches than houses, more wine than water, more donkeys than men.”

www.renasuites.com

www.renasuites.com

The most popular beaches are situated on the eastern part of the island: Kamari beach hass black sand, and is frequented by many tourists also because there is a popular diving center. In Perissa you will find a seafront resort with great restaurants, terraces and nightclubs. Fira and Oia have no beaches, instead there are some overhanging rocks, offering a spectacular view and many hotels have pools. And if you are passionate of history, some 12 km from Fira there is the Akrotiri Archaeological Site. Here you will discover the remains of a castle, two churches, and the impressive view over Caldera. The frescoes which had been discovered there can be admired at the National Archaeological Museum in Athens.

hypertomb.com

hypertomb.com

Another three km from Kamari, there is Thira Antica, a city built in the nineteenth century b.C, where you can admire numerous relics full of history. The ruins are located on top of a mountain known as Mesa Vouna. The rocks Thira offer one of the most beautiful landscapes: blue sea create a stunning contrast with the rugged rocks. The monument can be visited every day between 08.00 – 14.30 at a price of 4 Euros. If you choose to stay in Santorini, then you shall not miss the Museum of Prehistoric Thera, located in the island’s capital, Fira, where you can admire figurines and pottery and other pieces of ceramics discovered at the archaeological site of Akrotiri. The museum can be visited every day (except for Monday, when it’s is closed) between 08.30 – 15.00. The price  of the ticket is 3 Euros

The Folklore Museum is in Kontochori, Fira is located in a house that resembles a cave and was built in 1861. The cave-like museum is an old winery with workshops for carpenters, shoemakers and tinsmiths and has an art gallery where local artists display their works. Inside the museum you will find a library, a garden and a courtyard where the seating area is placed among the trees and flowers. The museum can be visited daily between 10.00 – 14.00, the price of a ticket is 2 Euros.

hypertomb.com

hypertomb.com

The Naval Museum is in the picturesque Oia resort. Here are exposed marine objects coming from different historical stages of the island, especially from the 19th century. The museum can be visited daily (Tuesday is closed), between 11.00 – 12.00 and 17.00 – 20.00.

The Wine Museum is located in the Vothonas, on the way to Kamari and shows the history of the wine industry of Santorini between 1660 and until 1950, with mobile and immobile figures and sound effects. The museum can be visited daily, between 12.00 – 20.00 o’clock, from April to November, and between 09.00 – 14.30 o’clock from November to March, except Sundays.

Fira is Santorini’s capital and most important city. Located in the western part of the island, 10 km from Athinios port, Fira fascinating due to the contrast of white buildings shaped like boxes, with blue windows that display the crystal clear sea and steep cliffs. During the summer season, the streets of Fira are full of tourists eager to have fun. Many cafes, terraces, taverns, nightclubs and souvenir shops attract thousands of customers.

The most picturesque resort in Santorini is Oia (pronounced Ia), famous worldwide for the quiet life and fantastic sunsets. Situated atop a cliff, 11 km from Fira, Oia Palia offers stunning views of the volcano, the Caldera and Thirassia island. Winding streets, churches with blue roofs, terraces overlooking the sea, the white houses, Oia resort offers a special charm.

In Santorini you have the opportunity to visit two volcanic islands: Palea Kameni and Nea Kameni. Islands can be visited via 1-day trips that take place in the area. The spectacular landscapes and volcanic rocks guarantee a trip not to be missed.

ariasuites.com

ariasuites.com

Like all summer resorts, and Santorini are a lot of shops with souvenirs, shoes, sunglasses or clothing. Here you will find many handmade jewelry made of volcanic rock. Greek wines, olive oil cosmetics are a few obligatory souvenirs.

The nightlife of Fira is the most thrilling nightlife you will discover in all Santorini. Once it gets dark, narrow streets that there are numerous pubs and clubs are crowded with tourists eager to spend time and money until morning.

However, in Kamari and Oia, evenings are quiet, the main attractions being nocturnal restaurants and terraces overlooking the sea. For an authentic Greek evening, go to Club 33. Located in downtown Fira, Club 33 is just listen Greek music, and often professional dancers entertain troops.

Koo Club is the largest club in Santorini, where renowned DJs mixing the latest music. Situated on a cliff of Fira, the club has an outdoor dance floor, surrounded by palm trees and a pool room where the atmosphere turns into fire after midnight. Blue curtains, velvet sofas and divans covered with ruby silk  will take you back in time.

Enigma has been one of the most popular clubs in Fira since 1979. You listen to the latest music, the atmosphere is one of the most pleasant and drinks are not expensive at all. The club has three sections linked together, including a covered terrace and 2 rooms with air conditioning. The bar has a terrace are the best places where you can admire the sunset. Here you can enjoy cocktails with champagne, and music is a clever mix of classical music with modern pieces, from Maria Callas to Secret Garden.

A unique atmosphere you will find in restaurants or taverns in which organizes Greek nights, where everybody is dancing and feeling good, and the icing on the cake is the moment of the broken dishes.

There’s no place like Santorini and you must visit it at least once in your life.

May 09

Thessaloniki – The Greek Capital of Fun, Good Style and Nightlife (Θεσσαλονίκη)

Named by Alexander the Great after one of his sisters, the city of Thessaloniki is one of the most visited places in Europe thanks to its elegant architecture, fascinating history and awesome vibe.

http://www.greece.com/

http://www.greece.com/

Thessaloniki, the capital of Northern Macedonia and the 2nd largest city in Greece, is a city of staggering beauty where the ancient blends very well with the new.

They say that one of the shortcomings of the city is the traffic and the lack of parking space, but once you arrive there, the best way to enjoy the experience is walking and discovering every inch and every hidden corner of Thessaloniki.

torhotelgroup.gr

torhotelgroup.gr

The landmark of the city is the White Tower, which now lodges the Museum of Thessaloniki, a place that preserves the once troubled history of this millennial settlement.

If you are uncertain of going around on your own, there are organized group tours that will help you settle a route downtown; this itinerary might last includes the Archaeological Museum, Church of St. Sofia, Saint Demetrious Byzantine Cathedral, the Byzantine Castle, Aristotlous Square (always crowded with tourists) and the Port of Thessaloniki.

europcar.com

europcar.com

You will admire a the statue of Alexander the Great – which matches the grandeur of the character who inspired the sculpture, you can see a play at Aristotelian State Theater – since you find yourself in the homeland of European theatre, which can be spotted close to the Radio House (easy to find as it has a very tall antenna), go and check the local market and indulge yourself with the delicious vegetables, fish, meat, spices and more.

We recommend the Triumphal Arch of Galerius and close after, a visit to the marvelous and great Saint Demetrius Byzantine Cathedral, which holds relics lasting from the dawn of Christianity; the Church of Holy Sofia, where the pious atmosphere is as impressive as its beautifully built interior. There are plenty of benches for rest or prayer and pay attention to your posture when you sit on a chair: try to avoid keeping one leg over the other, as it might be considered offensive.

http://www.enjoythessaloniki.com/

http://www.enjoythessaloniki.com/

The Roman Arenas are well maintained and you will have the feeling that you went back in ancient time.

The Greek people have an admirable respect for their history and past, which they carefully preserve and expose. Here, in Thessaloniki, you can go shopping for the newest luxury accessories while you pass by thousand year old walls and columns, among orange trees filled with oranges!

http://www.thessaloniki.gr/

http://www.thessaloniki.gr/

The Aristotlous Square is absolutely charming with its large opening, elegant buildings and hotels and of course the beautiful view of the Aegean Sea.

And since Thessaloniki is well-known for its crazy and vivid nightlife, take a walk through its Old Center and the Ladadika district, where outdoor bouzouki parties can burst out any moment, inviting you to improve your dance steps and learn new ones on famous syrtaki, zeibekiko or kalamatiano songs.

http://siskata.com/

http://siskata.com/

Since this settlement has been inhabited by numerous civilizations throughout the ages, you will recognize plenty influences from several cultures, such as Byzantine, Ottoman, Jewish, Persian or Roman and once you arrive here, you will enjoy a live history lesson, but don’t imagine you will be thrown back to school, as this lesson is be, by far more alluring, enriching and interesting than anything you may have learned in class.

 

Apr 08

GREECE – THE LAND OF LIGHT AND NEVER-ENDING MYSTERIES

The Olympic Riviera is definitely one of the most inspired choices when it comes to visiting Greece. If you want to have a relaxing holiday with the family, visit historical artifacts and religious sites, or, on the contrary, if you’re looking for vivid nightlife in a modern and cosmopolitan area, you can have it all-in-one – and much, much more – gathered in this amazing region watched over by the mythical gods.

http://cgcforum.gpanalysis.com/

Statue of Alexander the Great in Thessaloniki http://cgcforum.gpanalysis.com/

Situated in the Northern part of Greece (Continental Greece), in Central Macedonia, the Olympic Riviera lies all along the shore of the Aegean Sea, between the second largest city and most important port of Greece, Thessaloniki, and the worldwide known soft-sanded beaches towards the southern part of the regional unit of Pieria. The capital of Pieria is Katerini, a posh touristic town with numerous elegant cafés, tavernas and shopping spots, only a few minutes away from your accommodation place, if you take the local public transport.

beach

Olympic Riviera https://www.flickr.com/

One can speak endlessly about this ancient land, with millenary history and blending cultural influences, but the most poignant is the eternal mark of Alexander the Great, that can still be noticed, not only in the historical relics, but in people’s way to be: lively, passionate, dignified, self aware – as proud descendants of the illustrious leader.

The perfectly clear blue waters and the wide beaches have gained the European Blue Flag distinction, which marks the high level care for the environment. The most famous touristic resorts are Paralia Katerini, Olympiaki Akti, Leptokarya, Paralia Panteleimonas and Platamonas, but there are many other more quiet and less crowded small villages, where you can enjoy the tranquility of Aegean sunrises and delicious breakfasts prepared by your hospitable host. The low depth of the water is preferred particularly by the families with small children, but you can go on organized diving trips by boat, as well.

It does not matter which one of the above-mentioned resorts you are going to chose, as the distances between your place and the numerous sights that are not to be missed are pretty much the same; therefore, whether you decide to go to Paralia Katerini, or Nei Pori, you will find countless opportunities to go on a one-day trip to the (literally) other-worldly sight of Meteora, the gorgeous Isle of Skiathos, the colorful city of Thessaloniki, all the way “down” to old Athens, or to the beautiful village of Litochoro that will give you the feeling that you’re walking on the set of a Hollywood movie, and, of course, not miss the chance to visit the Mount Olympus National Park and pass across the residency of the Olympian gods. Do not expect them to expose themselves in front of you, but be sure that they are keeping an eye on you, while enjoying their ambrosias.

Leaving the jokes aside, the famous Olympus is made up of three major peaks: the highest is the Mytikas – the Peak of Zeus, the second is the Skolio, the third is Saint Stephen and their imposing presence has been guarding the surroundings since the days of yore.

It is quite difficult to describe any of these places in a few words, or decide which one is closer to your heart, but I suggest Meteora as the first must-see attraction.

The home of Greek Orthodoxy, together with Mount Athos, Meteora allows women to visit (you probably know already that at Athos the presence of women is forbidden). It is part of the U.N.E.S.C.O. Word Heritage and is the realm of the monks who live in monasteries built on high columns of smooth sandstone of a unique geological structure, believed to have been a former bottom of an ocean in unknown times, when Mother Earth was still creating herself. The surreal shape of these “towers” represented the perfect hiding place and protection against conquerors and, at the same time, it seems to bring you closer to the state of serenity and inner peace that devoted believers seek – hence the name Μετέωρα in Greek, meaning the center of the heavens, or suspended in the sky. Hence, the Christian ecclesiastic tradition has been kept undisturbed throughout the centuries between the quiet walls suspended in time and space and blessed by the divinity.

http://wallpapers.brothersoft.com/white-tower-96653.html

The White Tower of Thessaloniki http://wallpapers.brothersoft.com/

The six monasteries that are waiting for you to discover them are: the Holy Monastery of the Great Meteoron (also known as the Transfiguration of Jesus), The Holy Monastery of Varlaam, The Holy Monastery of Rousanou – St. Barbara, The Holy Monastery of St. Nicholas Anapausas, The Holy Monastery of St. Stephen and The Monastery of the Holy Trinity.

meteora

Meteora https://pixabay.com/

If the describing words for this place are: silence, piousness, tranquility, at the other end of the Olympian experience is Thessaloniki, one of the most vivid cities in the world. It was proudly named by Alexander the Great himself, after one of his sisters, and its historical path throughout the ages is beyond captivating. Guarded over by its emblem – the Thessaloniki Tower -, the city is known as the homeland of music and artists, but it hasn’t always been a fun place to be. As any strategic area, it had been the battlefield of countless conflagrations between the locals and the transient armies that thought they could subdue its untamed spirit. There’s a trace of melancholy in the temperament of its people that you can also sense in the song lyrics and the strains of the music eluding from the rembetika and filling the paved alleys of Ladadika district, late at night.

Ladadika https://www.pinterest.com/pin/417145984207805928/

Ladadika https://www.pinterest.com/

Need I say that the locals are real party animals and their music is so addictive that, when you return home, first thing you will do is attend dance classes, just to keep that feeling vivid?

The Greek people are well known for their proverbial kindness and sociability, features that are also found in the numerous accommodation spots that range from two stars, all the way up to five stars. No matter what your wallet suggests, you will always find the best conditions for a memorable holiday.

So, after you settle in your cozy hotel on the Olympic Riviera, you are one step away from the rest of the adventure!