Posts for Tag: Greece

Thursday 25th June 2015 - A Nice Lazy Day on Agios Anna Beach - Well it is a Holiday!

It was 9.30am before we awoke and we were feeling quite exhausted.  We decide to have a lazy day on the beach to finally lay all of the stresses of the previous days travel to rest.

We had picked up the bus timetable the previous evening and it shows that there is a very good service on the island.

The buses run every 30 minutes from the port around to Plaka but today we decide to take the bus to the nearer beach of Agios Prokopios.

We got off as soon as we saw the sign for Prokopios but this was one stop too early.  No problems - it gave us the opportunity to look at some of the hotels in the area.  My sister was planning to come to Naxos so I was on the look out for something a bit upmarket for her.  It's a short walk from the bus stop to the beach.  I can feel the stress and tiredness peel away from me by the second!

Getting carried away with our exploring we find ourselves walking a bit further around the bay in Agios Anna and decide to settle on a nice quiet part of the beach by cafe bar By Ammo.  The sunloungers are free to customers too.  They sell some amazing loukoumades - it would be so rude not to! I did feel a bit sick afterwards but it was worth it.

This small stretch of beach is very attractive with powder white sand, shallow waters and areas where you can find a bit of seclusion.  It has a great selection of bars on offer mostly all with wifi.

Later in the afternoon we walk along the bay towards Agios Anna church
Watch out for the great white .............

Agios Anna Church
A nice beach side shack for my sister?  Maybe not!
This has been a nice start to the holiday.  Back to the hotel to shower and change.

First a wander around the Kastro area

My sister had mentioned an interest in Hotel Glaros in Agios Giorgios close to Naxos town so we decide to head out there to take a look.  There are some fabulous sunset views along the way.

Hotel Glaros is very nice though booking is through their website only.
After the loukamades earlier I'm not hungry so we walk to the portara in the hope that I'll build up an appetite.

Keen to explore the island further during our stay we book a bus tour for Saturday.

We buy giros and eat back on the balcony washed down with some retsina.

Wednesday 24th June 2015 - Arrival on Santorini and a Mad Dash to Naxos

We are so lucky to have 18 days for this trip.  Last year we had 16 days for our trip to Kea, Kythnos, Serifos and Sifnos and those extra couple of days really made all the difference to a regular two week holiday.  I had taken so long deliberating over which islands to visit this time but eventually decided to focus on the Little Cyclades.  After spreading out a large wall map on the carpet and my laptop with Greek Travel Pages open close by, I had worked out that it would be more efficient to fly to Santorini rather than Athens.  Not a choice I made lightly as I do love a few days in Athens at the end of an island hopping trip and I'm not a massive fan of Santorini.  Now let me clarify that last statement - it's not that I don't like Santorini - it's the fact that millions of other people love Santorini and it's way too busy for me!  

Naxos is the best island as a starting point for the Little Cyclades and it has been over 20 years since I had been there so I am really looking forward to visiting again.  The plan is from Naxos to visit Iraklia, Schinoussa and Koufonissi and if we are able to - a few days on one of my other favourite islands Amorgos!

There is an Easyjet flight from Manchester that is scheduled to arrive on Santorini at 13.50 and the last ferry of the day to Naxos leaves at 15.30.  If the flight is on time we should be able to make this easily.  Just to prevent a little bit of the faff, we pre booked and pre paid 40 euros for a taxi to pick us up and take us straight to the port.  I phoned their office to stress the importance of the taxi being on time as we had a ferry to catch at 15.30.  No problem!  Haha!

Thankfully the flight was on time and gave me a bit of confidence that we would easily catch the ferry.  As we start heading over the coast of mainland Greece I began to get my bearings and recognise that we are flying just west of Halkidiki - I can see the three fingers very clearly and the peak of Mount Athos jutting out in the distance.  Not a very clear photo however.

Does anyone else play Spot the Island from their window seat?  I'm such an anorak!


Paros with Antiparos in the foreground


As we came into land on Santorini, my window seat offered spectacular views over the caldera and volcano!

Passport control was a breeze.  All we have to do is get into the waiting taxi and head off to the port, buy our ferry tickets and Bob's your uncle!

As we exited the airport we were pleased to see a taxi driver holding up a card  with our name.  He told us to wait whilst he tracked down another couple but so far it's looking promising.  The other couple arrived and the taxi driver (who had had his phone glued to his ear since we saw him) was frantically making call after call - I'm assuming to find out where the other taxi was.  After 15 minutes of this, us and the other couple were getting a bit irritated - the only words we could get out of the taxi driver was "wait".  

After another 5 minutes of this he told us to wait and another taxi would be arrive shortly to take us to the port.  The other couple were  staying on Santorini - but we had a ferry to catch but in his wisdom he decides to take them as a priority - not very happy! 

After another 20 minutes we realise that the taxi isn't going to arrive so we had to make a judgement call and decided to take one of the taxi's from the stand.  We were now under great time pressure to get to the port.   The taxi driver understands our plight and takes those bad boy bends down to the port like he's on a life saving mission!

As we get out of the taxi the Blue Star Delos was already arriving into port.  The queue for the ticket office was really long with least another 20 people queuing to purchase tickets.  The temperature is quite high at this point - and so are my stress levels!

After 25 minutes in the queue Peter comes back with the tickets and we make our way towards the "cattle shed"  to join the queue - I say queue - it's more of a disorganised crowd moving vaguely in the same direction.  Getting off the ferry are hoards of people - thank God we're going in the opposite direction!

The sheer relief when I eventually make it under the shade of the cattle shed!  Back out into the searing heat again as we head towards the BS Delos but before long we are dumping our luggage on the car deck and making our way up to the top deck.  Now I can relax!

With a cup of tea in hand I can now admire the amazing views of Santorini from a distance - just how I like it!

I enjoyed the 2 hour journey but can't wait to unpack and get that first glass of wine in my hand.

We had booked 4 nights at Panorama in the town just below the Kastro.  I'd booked directly with them saving a few euros off the price.  A couple of friendly email exchanges with Irene confirmed that Marcos would be waiting for us at the port when we arrived.

As we arrived at Naxos port we could see Panorama from the deck.

Down to the car deck we head - this is one of the most exciting parts of ferry travel - the anticipation of what this island and this trip has to bring.   We disembark and look around for a sign saying Panorama. We couldn't see Marcos so after a while we decided to head straight up to Panorma - we kind of know roughly where it is but there is a chance we will get lost in the winding streets.

And we do!  We keep trying to reposition ourselves so that we are heading towards the Kastro.  It's hot, it's all up hill and my suitcase weighs a ton!  After a few wrong turns we eventually find ourselves at the steps of Panorama.  Coming up another set of steps is an out of breath Marcos who had been searching the whole of the port area  for us!

After a nice welcome drink we are shown our room.  Marcos is very informative and helpful.  There is a little shared balcony outside our room and a huge roof terrace with amazing views over the port. 

Irene had promised me a room with a good view and look what we got!  Amazing!

We're shower and change and now it's time to relax.  We head up to the roof terrace to watch the sun set.  We can see groups of people already gathering by the portara but we get a much better view here!

On our way out to eat we see Marcos who passes on regards from Irene who wishes us an enjoyable stay.  He also tells us about the cultural shows that take place in the Kastro.  If we want to go to any of them he can get discounted tickets for us - brilliant!

Starvation has now hit us to we have a quick wander around streets below the Kastro before deciding to eat at Metaxi Mas, a little taverna sitting on one of the pretty little streets.

We have olive tapanade, Greek salad and garlic sauce with some nice crusty bread to start.  I have Greek sauasage and Peter has sardines.  I don't know whether it's exhaustion, elation at finally being here or starvation but we actually don't take photographs of this meal - we just relish it - our first Greek meal of the holiday.  Oh it's so good to be back!

Thursday 9th October 2014 - Exploring the Beaches and up to Perdika Village

Another bright day!  We decide to discover more of the coastline with an early morning walk.

We had only viewed Zavia beach from the main road above the other day so decide to walk down to the beach itself - it's only 700 metres from Sivota village. The walk down a steep path brings us to an olive grove and through the clearing is access to the beach.  The cyclamen growing amongst the wild grass are in splendid form this morning. A concrete terrace has a number of parasolled tables and chairs and stone steps lead down to the beach itself.  The beach is set in a deep narrow bay and the beach is sand/stone - very beautiful set against the backdrop of the greenery.

Although it's warm it isn't warm enough to swim in the sea.  We sit on the beach for half and hour then set off to Mega Ammos the next beach along the road.

Again the views of the coastline below are stunning.  

Mega Ammos is a beautiful beach - just 1.5 kilometres from Sivota Village.  The path to the beach is pretty steep - more noticeable on the way up!

We stay for a short while and then walk to Mikro Ammos beach.  We watch galleon style boat come into the bay.  Excursions are running from somewhere - probably from Corfu as there is absolutely nothing running from Sivota.

Despite the short distance between the beaches the walk up and down from the main road is strenuous work and it's quite warm today. Luckily we have times it just right to catch the bus back to Sivota village.

When passing through the village we had seen signs for The House of Sweets - Katie's Cakes up in Perdika and if there are cakes on offer I'll be there.  We check the bus time table and see there is a bus that goes there throughout the day and into the early evening so we catch the next one that leaves from the village.  

The House of Sweets is great with an extensive range of homemade cakes.  We stay for cake and tea.  The views of the bay below are stunning.  The village is quite charming and we imagine that is a really great place to watch the sunset from so we decide to come back the following evening for a meal but we will catch a taxi back.

The buses don't run very regularly so we ensure we catch the next bus back to Sivota.

That's a nice bit of exploration for the day!

Tuesday 7th October 2014 - More rain and a bus trip to Igoumenitsa

We awake to another grey and overcast day. No rain as of yet - but we know that its coming!

We head down for breakfast which again is a great feast.  The Danes have their maps spread out across the tables planning their drive to Meteora - obviously much braver than I!   

Today we decide to do a bit more exploring of the area and take a left out of the hotel and head towards Zavia beach.  We don't take the path down to the beach but  carry on on the road above it.  

Wild cyclamen are growing everywhere and we pass villas with gardens that have trees that are abundant with fruit including pomegranates.

We don't pass anyone else on the road except groups of cats languishing close to a rubbish bin and also a gang of dogs trotting down the middle of the road as if a daily routine.  I imagine them like a group of old men gathering together to stroll to the local kafenio where they will catch up on all the latest gossip!

The weather certainly isn't beach weather so that isn't an option.  We walk to Isabella travel agency again to see if there is any update on the Meteora trip.  No excursions are running - we'd also fancied the day trip to Albania but that is out too.  All she can offer us for the week we are there is a night out in Parga - not really what I'm looking for!

We take another walk around the Marina which isn't very big.  A gentleman standing in the doorway of one of the quayside taverna's catches our eye.  He is wearing a captains hat and tells us that his name is Vangelis and his restaurant cooks the best kleftiko in town.  Well lets see if it lives up to his claim - we will come back later.  For now we decide to catch the bus to Igoumenitsa.  It's a bit of a long shot but as it's a port I expect it to be busier than Sivota and possibly there are travel agencies there with trips to Meteora.  Besides it's now pouring down with rain again so at least by bus we get to see some of the local area and keep dry!

There are lovely views of the coastline from the bus.  Igoumonitsa itself has nothing really to offer - particularly in the rain.  After a scout around we don't find any travel agencies so haul off our festival ponchos and go to a local cafe for hot chocolate whilst we wait for the return bus.  Enough is enough.  We are going to have to bite the bullet and visit Meteora by taxi!

 At the bus station buses are waiting to begin their journeys to Thesalonika, Ionnina and Athens - what a thought to be able to jump on a bus and travel further across Greece - another ambition yet to be realised!  The bus we catch is fully of school kids returning to their villages.  The rain has not yet relented.  

We decide to take Vangelis at his word and go to sample the best Kleftiko in Sivota at restaurant Trehantiri.  The food is great and the service fabulous and the klefiko was one of the best. Vangelis spends most of his time trying to attract the tourists in - one of the things that I don't like about the more touristy islands of Greece but I have no complaints.  The marina is quite lively in the evenings (for out of season standards) and a lovely place to eat.

When we return to the hotel we ask Maria to book the taxi for us.  To hell with the expense - tomorrow we are off to Meteora!!

Thursday 15th May 2014 - Farewell Sifnos - Back to Athens

We woke up early to finish packing.  Pension Morfeus has been a fabulous place to stay both location wise, hospitality wise and definitely has the best ever bathroom for a pension.  We give Pension Morfeus 5 Stars!

Maria comes to say goodbye to us and she gives us a gift.  It is wrapped in tissue paper.  When we open it later we discover a prettily decorated piece of Sifnian pottery - we are absolutely delighted with it and touched at the thought!

We have a bit of time before we need to go to the ferry so we do a bit of last minute shopping in the pottery shops and then go for breakfast on the beach. 

It is time to go.  Amongst the small group of travellers leaving Sifnos is the elderly Greek man who gives a friendly greeting.  Through gesticulation and the odd word it transpires that he is from Athens and had been visiting the mining museum in Milos.  This was my opportunity to say how wonderful Milos was further to our conversation the other day.  

The sea is still choppy.

The Adamantios Korais arrives and we hoik our luggage up the ramp alongside lorries and cars.

Farewell Sifnos!

The sea is a bit rough but once we pass Serifos it calms down and we have a nice relaxing journey watching the views of passing islands from the deck of the ship.

It is easy to tell when we are approaching Athens - the densely populated towns and villages spew down towards the sea. Here we are at the port of Piraeus.  It seems such a long time since we left from Lavrio.

Once we leave the port we walk to the metro station where we catch the metro to Monistiraki. All we know is that the Arion Hotel is behind the Attalos Hotel somewhere but we lose our way down the backstreets and it takes ages to find it.  Eventually we arrive.  We have just one night in Athens before catching our flight back home tomorrow.

We've missed the sunset but we have great views of the Acropolis from the roof terrace (an absolute must when in Athens!)

We head out into the warm evening to find somewhere nice to eat.  So much choice but so little time.  

We stumble across a place called Veranda on the edge of Monistiraki and Plaka, right below the Acropolis.  It is quite late (especially out of season) and places are beginning to close so we decide to eat here.  The food is great!

Saturday 10th May 2014 - Sifnos - Exploring Apollonia and Beyond

From what we have deduced - most buses depart from the islands capital Apollonia so we catch the first bus up there.

First stop for breakfast is the cafe in Hotel Anthousa and Patisserie right in the centre of the town.  Before we leave we given a biscuit each from the patisserie.

We follow the path out of the village to Pano Petali.

The path continues on to the village of Artemenos where we stop in the pretty square for a cup of tea.  We can smell the freshly baked produce coming from the nearby bakery.  The pottery chimney pots are really something!

We continue down an almost deserted road towards the windmill which now provides accommodation for tourists.  

It is a bit overcast today but that doesn't detract from the amazing view of neighbouring islands.  I'm sure the islands we can see are Anti Paros, Paros, Naxos and maybe even a bit of Sikinos and Ios (pushing it a bit!).  I don't think I have ever seen so many islands from one vantage point like this before - it was pretty amazing!  

From here we can also see the village of Poulati

It is very hard to resist to keep on walking to keep discovering what is around the corner.  We do keep on walking along the coastal road until the road almost grinds to a halt.  Down below we can see what we think is the Kastro but it looks so far away.  To get to it we need to start walking through farmland and down winding paths that look quite labyrinthine from where we are standing.  Peter goes on ahead to explore and I wander around photographing the wildlife!

So close and yet so far - but we decide to call it a day anyway.  We head back through the same little villages again in reverse.

As we pass through Pano Petali again, an elderly lady waves her arms to Peter to attract his attention.  She beckons him to climb the steps to her little balcony and through gestures asks him to unpeg her washing from the washing line (like being at home eh Peter!).

We have just missed the bus back to Kamares and it is 3 hours before the next one.  We decide to go to the bakery near to the bus stop to have a cup of tea and some baklava and Kanaifa to warm us up - it is getting a bit chilly.  

There is no way we can spin out 3 hours in the bakery so catch a taxi back to Kamares.  The sun is already beginning to set on the surrounding hillside.  The lovely warm orange hue bounces off our walls back in Pension Morfeus.  We are then treated to the pinkest sunset I have seen in a long while.

After a shower and change we head out for cocktails on the beach at the Captains bar on the recommendation of Matt Barrett's Travel Guide.

We then take short walk to one of the beachside restaurants to eat.  Peter has goat and I have stuffed tomatoes - all washed down with a bit of ouzo!  I'm in love with Sifnos already!

Saturday 3rd May 2014 - On to Kythnos

George was still asleep when we left so we didn't get chance to say goodbye.

On the way to the port we pick up some pastries from the bakery for breakfast.  The Aqua Spirit is on time and she is virtually empty.  Farewell Kea!

Hello Kythnos!

When we arrive at Kythnos we still hadn't decided where to stay - Port or Chora.  I had read that the Chora was very pretty but had limited accommodation.  I had read great reviews about a small place called Filoxenia in the Chora.  We decide to deliberate over a cup of tea.  I'd managed to pick up free wifi - the island has it's own - and I emailed Maria the owner of Filoxenia.  I didn't know how long it would take to get a reply so in the end we decided to take a chance and get a taxi up to the Chora anyway.

When we arrived at Filoxenia, a lady was waiting for us in a beautiful, flower filled courtyard.  Maria had phoned her mother to tell her to expect us - Maria was in Athens.

Katerina showed us to a room which was absolutely delightful with lots of little extras.  The view of the mountains from the balcony was breathtaking.

After a quick unpack we set out to explore the Chora - and the description if it was right - it really is a pretty little Chora.

There are wooden signs around giving the distance of various walks from the Chora. We decide to walk to Apokrousi which is 3 Km away.  We follow the signs which takes us past fields full of spring flowers and bee hives.  The road is empty and undulating.  We couldn't see beyond the curves of the hill so it was hard to judge how much further we had to walk.  It felt as though we had walked further than 3km already.

Eventually we could see the sea.

We began our descent down to the beach. To the left we saw a couple of men doing some building work in preparation for the beginning of the season.  Apokrousi beach was completely empty and pre season still had litter along the shoreline that had been washed up from the sea.  There wasn't another soul in sight.  A little beach taverna was shuttered up and looked a little desolate.

Kolona is the islands best beach.  To get to this beach we needed to walk along to the end of Apokrousi beach and climb over a hill via a narrow dirt track.  This is only accessible on foot or by motorbike and the hill is quite steep.  The view from the top of the hill is fabulous.  Kolona beach is a narrow strip of sand that runs between the island and the little islet of Agios Loukas.

As much as we were tempted to walk to this beautiful beach I think we (I) was daunted by the thought of the walk back in the midday heat.  So far we had walked mainly in a downwards direction so the walk back was going to be quite tough.  

We decided to phone for a taxi and luckily we had the business card from the taxi driver that had picked us up at the port.  As soon as Peter mentioned where we were he said no and hung up even before we had chance to negotiate a price as I think I would have paid anything at this stage.  I had got a bit of sunburn from our walk to the lighthouse on Kea and was still suffering a bit.  At this stage I was quite prepared to sleep on the beach rather than climb the hill back up to the Chora - from here on the beach the hill looked quite imposing but I'm sure was more psychological than anything.  I switched on my data roaming to see if I could find the telephone number for another taxi but it wasn't having any of it - not one bar of a signal.

Apart from a couple of fishermen coming into shore there wasn't another soul in sight.  Even the builders had now left for the day.  We had no choice but to begin the walk back.

We had recorded the journey there with Map My Walk and it had measured 5kms to Apokrousi and a further 2kms to the top of the hill above Kolona beach.  Each kilometre ticked off on Map My Walk was a kilometre closer to the Chora and a nice shower and a drink. 

As we approached the Chora we could hear gun shots. Local people were sitting in the square dressed upin the square dressed up and we could see that there was going to be a wedding.  The church bells range out. Became clear was a wedding. Church bells rang out and from our balcony we could see a stream of people making their way to the church.  A young man arrived at the house next door where he dropped off his baby and left with bazouki.

Later on we head out for a meal.  There area number of great tavernas in the Chora but several didn't open until later in the evening  There was one taverna set back off the street and as soon as the lady saw us she switched on the outside lights of the restaurant.  We didn't need any more invitation to eat than that!

We are invited into the kitchen to see what is on offer.  I have the meatballs and Peter has rabbit washed down with a local wine.
The courtyard is so pretty all lit up. We are the only people eating at the restaurant but it isn't long before we are joined by a group of local visitors

It was like watching a scene from West Side Story.  The cats were very territorial and would stake their places close to our table based on their size and bravado.  One cat with a funny eye and another with their head permanently cocked to one side square up to each other until one relents. 

To end the meal we are brought complimentary preserved cherries - a local speciality.  Delicious!

That's more than enough activity for one day!