Showing posts with label Greece. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Greece. Show all posts

Friday 28 June 2013

City Breaks in Greece

Greece has many historical cities just waiting to be explored, with archaeological sights, museums and monuments to discover along with fantastic hotels, restaurants and shopping on offer, a city break in Greece comes with the hot sunny climate and stunning scenery.
There are many affordable vacation deals available most of the time and both of my faithful readers can probably remember my latest trip to the island of Corfu, when I took such an opportunity (everybody else can check it out by clicking on the Corfu label).

Athens is the Greek capital. It took its name from the Greek goddess Athena and is steeped in myth and history. Thought to be 3000 years old, Athens is one of the oldest cities in Europe, known widely as the cradle of great civilization and for Acropolis. Politics, science and philosophy began here. Today it is the bustling centre of Greece’s financial, commercial, political and cultural markets. Visit the many ancient monuments and temples here whilst staying in one of the many excellent centrally located hotels.

Thessaloniki is situated in the north and is the second largest city in Greece. A popular choice for those looking to explore many historical landmarks, as well as enjoying relaxing on nearby beaches and by night, taking in the vibrant nightlife. The white tower at the waterfront is probably the most famous landmark, symbolising the town through the years. The Kamara is another popular sight; an arch that Roman general Galerius constructed to celebrate its victory against the Persians in the 3rd century AD. This picturesque town has lots to see and do and comes to life at night.

Patras is the third largest city situated on the northern most point of Peloponnese and is best known for its port which is where many of Greece’s trade goods come and go. Each year a vibrant carnival is held here, bringing many crowds to this beautiful town. There are many historical sights to see as well as the delightful beach promenade where you can enjoy a coffee or something to eat.

Vacations in Greece don’t have to be spent lazing on a beach - why not discover the hidden gems and ancient history of this amazing country on a city break?


Monday 27 May 2013

Crete: an ancient Greek treasure

I was truly shocked when a couple of days ago I realized 18 years has passed from my first visit to Greece. It was a week long trip to the country's largest island - Crete. I have visited Greece since then - most recently it was a trip to Corfu.

Crete is a brilliant location to take a holiday, particularly if you’re after somewhere with loads of history and culture, as well as pretty much guaranteed good weather most of the year round. All though it’s a Greek island, Crete is more like a little country of its own, with so much to offer in terms of sightseeing. It’s the largest of the Greek islands and there’s bags to do here, whether you’re after a family holiday, a couple’s romantic getaway or a break in the sunshine with a group of mates.

So, what exactly is on offer in Crete in terms of history and culture? There are the many Byzantine monasteries and ancient mosques to start with, then the Venetian fortress of Rethymo and of course the legendary cave said to be the mythical birthplace of Zeus, Greek king of the gods. If you’re after somewhere to stay in close vicinity to historical sights, Aphrodite Beach Club is a recommended choice, sitting just a short drive away from Heraklion, which houses the fabulous ruins of the Minoan Palace of Knossos. If Greek history and a bit of myth and legend float your boat, Crete won’t disappoint in terms of fascinating stuff to see and do.

Of course, there’s not just historical beauty here, Crete is well known for its stunning natural beauty too. The island is covered in a rugged landscape of wonderful mountain ranges scattered with caves and gorges spilling out to sea. The interior of the island is dotted with fertile plains, as well as Europe’s only palm tree forest beach and some truly gorgeous beaches and coves along the south coast in particular.

When you visit, look out for Cretans in authentic Greek dress and keep your ears open for some traditional Greek music on your holiday here; Crete is a place which has managed to hold on to lots of its culture and tradition, which makes for a really nice change to some of the more touristy-fied holiday spots.

When you come to Crete don’t forget to sample the gorgeous Greek cuisine too. There are loads of restaurants taking advantage of all of the fresh produce Crete has on offer, from olives, to fruit, fish, seafood and a whole host of other tasty treats. No wonder nearly a quarter of all Greece’s tourist choose Crete! Don’t worry though, you can escape the hustle and bustle by simply coming out of season; the good thing about Crete is that you don’t have to visit in the height of summer to get decent weather.

I suggest you pack your bags and visit Crete the moment you see a good holiday deal somewhere out there! You will probably like it. A lot!


Wednesday 16 November 2011

Wordless Wednesday: Bell Tower of Agios Markos


Monday 14 November 2011

How to find a typical old village on Corfu?

No matter where I go, I always enjoy visiting typical local villages. That is easily achieved in some countries and can be quite a challenge in others. Since Greece is a country where you can literary stumble upon history on every step you take, I was expecting to find numerous nicely preserved, traditional old villages also on the island of Corfu.

I was surprised to find every coastal town and village turned into a place suitable only for mass tourism. Unfortunately this means those places were robbed of any charm long time ago. This new architecture has little or no regard for the old beauty and historical value of the area. It seems like the only two aims were to build fast and to build cheap.

The only exception among coastal town I saw, was the protected centre of Corfu city (Kerkyra).

Even though I didn't like this fact one bit, I didn't give up. Soon I figured out all I needed to do was stop concentrating on coastal towns and look inland instead.
I didn't need to look far, since the nearest such town was just a short ride from the town of Ipsos into the hills. This old town is called Agios Markos. Actually it is a small mountain village of some 30 buildings - one of them being a small church with a separate bell tower.

However charming the village might look, quite a few of the buildings have been deserted a while ago and are already falling apart.

So if you are looking for an old picturesque village on the island of Corfu - take a random mountain road and your chances for finding one are quite good.
I guess roads ending in the middle of nowhere, near a small mountain village are the best choice.


Monday 7 November 2011

Stunning Beaches of Corfu

Greece is known to have some of the prettiest beaches in Europe. With countless islands (actually there are more then 6.000 islands and islets in Greece) it should not be a surprise at all...

Corfu is known as the greenest Greek island and not as the one with the prettiest beaches - the nearby Zakynthos, Cephalonia and Lefkada are usually mentioned in this context. I was visiting Corfu for the first time and I was expecting to see at least some nice beaches. Let me just say I was not disappointed with what I saw.

Since we were stationed in the town of Ipsos (North-Eastern part of the island) and renting scooters, we mainly concentrated on the northern part of the island.

We tried to visit a different beach every day. There are quite a few to choose from...

I particularly enjoyed Logas Beach near the village of Peroulades. There is even a cute café/restaurant (7th Heaven Café) at the top of the cliff overlooking the beach.
However I have to point out that when we were there a strong wind started blowing in the afternoon and high tide literary flooded those few meters of this cute sandy beach under high cliffs. I am not sure if this is something that happens there every day, but could be quite inconvenient getting there just to find a flooded beach. If you find yourself in a situation like that, I suggest to take it easy and order a cocktail or two at the panoramic bar on the top of the cliff. I am sure you'll feel much better afterwards.

A bit harder to get to is Myrtiotissa beach, located nearby the much more popular and usually overrun with tourists - Glyfada beach. The road leading to this beach is quite narrow and steep. There is a beautiful Monastery of Virgin Mary Myrtiotissa located just above the beach.
It is quite isolated, unorganized, pretty much unspoiled and unofficially nudist. You can easily find your almost private spot behind one of many large boulders scattered on the whole length of this beach.

Another beach worth mentioning is Sidari Beach with the famous coves of Canal d'Amour located to the west of the town of Sidari. The main part of the beach can get quite busy and loud. If you walk to the cliffs on the western part of the beach, chances are you will find a place to enjoy by yourself. However getting there will probably include following a path through some bushes and jumping off a cliff to get to the sea. For me this was just perfect.

There are also many other popular beaches we didn't visit on purpose. We tried to avoid the most popular and crowded ones. If those are the ones you are after, you should definitely visit the above mentioned Glyfada (large surface of fine sand, surrounded by tree-covered cliffs), Paleokastritsa (surrounded by green cliffs and many sea caves that can be visited by boat) and Agios Gordios beach (a sandy beach, surrounded by impressive rock formations, greenery and tourist facilities).

Since these are just some of the beaches on the northern part of Corfu island it is obvious the island is well worth visiting it even if beautiful beaches are all you are after.


Wednesday 26 October 2011

Wordless Wednesday: Boat put to rest


Thursday 20 October 2011

Arriving to Corfu

Corfu - the northernmost of the six main Ionian islands is also supposed to be the greenest of them all. It has been a crossroad where many different nations and cultures have been mixing for centuries. It is still a bit like that today.

We had arranged a reservation of an apartment in the town of Pirgi which is inseparably connected to a bit more famous party town of Ipsos. This town is actually a Greek version of Ibiza. If you are wondering what is the cheapest way to get to Corfu, you should check out one of my previous posts, but if you still prefer Spain, there are always many cheap flights to Ibiza available from many destinations around Europe.

This time our chosen mean of transport was a ferry from Venice to the town of Corfu (Kerkyra). Pirgi (or Pyrgi) is located 15 kilometres north of this largest town on the island of Corfu.

From the first look of the island I did not know what exactly to think of it - it was dark when we arrived. I guess this might be the main reason we were quite impressed with our apartments when we saw them. There was a nicely lit pool in front of the house with a well stocked bar standing right next to it.

Even in the morning apartments with a rather fancy pool looked quite nice - from afar that is.
When I took a closer look it was evident everything was put together with little attention to detail. Tiles around the pool were not put in place very accurately and quite a few of them were already broken (laying on a pile in a corner). There was also a new LED lighting installed on the rail around the pool which might have even looked nice in dark, but in daylight all the wiring was visible and everything was attached with large silicone blobs. It also did not look very rain resistant - luckily it does not rain all that often in Greece...

This trend could be noticed with most of the places lined up by the main road across from the beach in the towns of Pyrgi and Ypsos. However I am pretty sure many of the visitors do not even notice this. Most of those places were empty throughout the day and filled up well after dusk when such "details" are less obvious.

Since we were usually exploring the island during the day, we did not mind those things all that much. However if we wanted to do the exploring, we had to rent some kind of transport - we opted for a couple of scooters.
We visited some really nice places and idyllic beaches, but more on that in another post...


Tuesday 11 October 2011

The cheapest way to get to Greece

As I have already mentioned in one of my previous posts, I was lucky enough to take part in a prize trip to Corfu.
Since transport to the location was not a part of the deal and this was a more or less a last minute trip, I had to do some research to find the most affordable mean of transport from Slovenia to the Greek island of Corfu.

Flights from nearby airports (e.g. Ljubljana, Venice) were either full or too expensive, so I had to search for alternatives. I found out literary the only alternative was a ferry. There were a few options, but Venice seemed the most reasonable - it is the closest to Slovenia. You can expect a lower price if you book way ahead of time and if you can afford adapting your schedule for a day or two. We had to settle for the prices on the date of our scheduled departure.
Generally there are two ferry companies you should check out when traveling from Italy to Greece: Minoan Lines and Anek Lines.

For a moment we were even thinking of taking a car with us on the ferry. We saw many German and Italian cars on Corfu so I guess this is also a thing to consider. We decided to rent a vehicle when we get there.
We opted to travel as deck passengers, which is the cheapest option. If you are thinking of renting a cabin you can get a really good offer (substantially lower, compared to web prices) when the ferry is already on the way. Use your haggling skills to your advantage. However there is a risk involved when traveling in high season - there might be no room left by the time ship sets sail.
Usually there are also "Airtype Economy Seats" available, but in my opinion those are much more uncomfortable compared to simply sleeping in a sleeping bag on the floor.
In the end we were happy with our choice - we really enjoyed sleeping under the stars with a light sea breeze in our hair.

There is also a free bonus when taking a ferry from Venice. Even if you don't get to stroll through the streets of this charming Italian city, you get a great view from the deck of your ferry. To my surprise the ferry passed right by the famous Piazza San Marco (St Mark's Square). We got another chance to take beautiful photos on our way back.

Even though this may be the cheapest way to get to Greece from northern Italy, one should be aware this type of transport takes quite some time. It took us 26 hours to get from Venice to Corfu. Since Corfu is the northernmost Greek island, you can expect the travel to other Greek islands to last even longer (e.g. it takes more then a day and a half to get from Venice to Crete and it also includes switching ferries).

We did not mind the long journey. We simply tried to have fun from the first minute on the road and I think we did a great job. When you are travelling with the right group of people, you can always count on having a great time.


Thursday 8 September 2011

Back from Corfu

We have just returned from a too short trip to the island of Corfu. We spent only a week on this green Greek island and another couple of days on a ferry ride there and back.

We visited beautiful beaches, enjoyed great food and of course partied as much as we could. I will try to put my observations and some useful tips in a following series of posts.

As always, I also took some nice photos you can look forward to. The one above is just a taste of things to come. It features a charming beach near the village of Peroulades. The beach is called Logas Beach.


Monday 15 August 2011

Prize trip to Corfu

Even though it was one of the top picks for our summer holiday destination last year, I definitely did not plan to visit Greece this summer. As lady luck would have it, I am going there anyway...

One of my friends won a free apartment on the Greek island of Corfu and since this did not comply with her plans, me and M. were more then glad to jump in. An additional surprise was, that it was actually a 6 person prize apartment. After some consultation we are going as a group of friends, simply hoping to have a great time there.

Unfortunately there is no such thing as a free lunch... As we found out we will have to cover transport expenses by ourselves. The whole thing still seems quite cheap, so this is not a problem.

We have been looking at Greece as our potential vacation destination for some time now. Other islands seemed more suited for us (for instance Kefalonia or Zakynthos), but we just could not afford to skip this chance.

The island of Corfu is one of the most popular European student destinations and partying and clubbing are main events on this island during the summer months.

Greek party destinations of choice are islands of Crete, Mykonos, Corfu and Ios. There are also many travel agencies offering really affordable deals for Greece. The one we are going with is definitely one of them, but is targeting only Slovenian customers.

The last time I was on such a trip it was a trip to Crete. It was a while ago, but we had a great time. I am really curious how it will work out this time. If nothing else now we are a decade older.

Despite everything I am sure we will enjoy the trip to the fullest. You can hope for a bunch of photos and an interesting story or two. Let's get the party started!

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