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Top 10 guide to light your way to Nafplion

20 Jan

Check out my recommendations for Nafplion here

A friend once wisely said that if you want to form an objective opinion for a destination, you must visit it at least three times during different seasons. I totally agree, only I would add just one extra parameter; perception, that according to some psychologists changes every 7 years on average. So, 1 destination, 3 times, different season each time, with 7 years in between… I am already starting to feel tired by doing the math! So let’s go on to something much more intriguing than mere mathematical operations!

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Discover the 4 seasons of Kastoria (part 2): Winter

15 Dec

The second part of the post is meant to guide you around beautiful Kastoria during the season the city is mainly famous for: winter.

The hardest time of the year gives Kastoria a unique charm making it a very popular winter destination in Greece. The average temperature in the winter is +5ºC while it can be as low as -15ºC and so you will definitely need to pack your warmest clothes.

 The most famous phenomenon of the area is the frozen surface of Lake Orestiada (aka Kastoria Lake). In olden days the lake used to freeze almost every winter and the ice was so thick and hard that a large cart could easily traverse it.

Frozen Lake via vavelhaber.blogspot.com

Frozen Lake via vavelhaber.blogspot.com

If, however, during your stay in Kastoria you are not lucky enough to find the lake frozen, don’t worry; there is much more for you to do than just stand there and wait for the water to freeze! Here are my 3 best suggestions:

Koutouki

Choose one of the beautiful traditional “koutouki” taverns and try to get warm by drinking the local tsipouro spirit and tasting local meze. Tsipouro is a quite strong spirit, so it will help you stay warm during your stay in Kastoria (or keep you good company if you lack one!). For those that are not really fond of strong spirits, the area is also known for its red wine that makes a good match with local products like graviera cheese or the well-known Kastoria beans. My personal favourite tavernas are “Ouzo Therapy”, a modern, minimal restaurant with a wonderful view over the lake and “Tsipouradiko tou Thoma”, a traditional tavern whose menu can sometimes contain more than 120 different dishes!

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Ragoutzaria

If you are looking for an authentic festival to party the Kastorian way, then you need to visit Kastoria a few days after New Year’s.

Source pavlosdim.blogspot.com

Source pavlosdim.blogspot.com

From the 6th to the 8th of January the locals dress as Dionysus’ (the ancient Greek god of  winemaking and wine, ritual madness and ecstasy) followers or as members of the opposite sex, and celebrate “Ragoutzaria” in order to forget the hardship of life and especially of the year that just passed. Every group of people has its own band of brass instruments and live music is played loudly in every corner of the town from the morning until the evening that all groups meet in the town centre and celebrate together until dawn!

Σοθρψε live-avles.blogspot.com

Source live-avles.blogspot.com

Vitsi Ski Resort

Vitsi, just 22km from Kastoria, is one of the smallest ski resorts in Greece and although it is mainly used for training purposes, it is also open to the general public.

Source history-pages.blogspot.com

Source history-pages.blogspot.com

It is not well known (yet), so with a waiting time for the lifts of about 3-4 minutes you can enjoy skiing uninterrupted. So if you want to train for your favourite sport or play in the snow surrounded by a calm and majestic natural environment, then Vitsi is just the place for you! If the weather is nice you can also visit the nearby traditional village of Nymfaio (the road might sometimes be closed if the weather conditions are bad).

Labros Psomodotis

7 traditional villages you should visit when travelling in the Greek mainland

2 Dec

1. Nymfaio, Florina

Nimfaio Village via www.ethnos.gr

Nimfaio Village via http://www.ethnos.gr

Nymfaio has been often included in “The ten most beautiful villages of Europe” lists, and has claimed the UNESCO “Melina Mercouri International Prize” for the excellent management of the area’s cultural heritage and the surrounding natural environment.

Nimfaio via danezis.blogspot.com

Nimfaio via danezis.blogspot.com

Arcturos’s (NGO dedicated to the protection of brown bears and wolves) headquarters are situated just 1,5 km from Nymfaio and their sanctuary is open to visitors year round (depending on weather conditions).

Don’t miss the chance to visit the “Goldsmith, Folklore and History Museum”, with exhibits including authentic local furniture, traditional tools for jewellery making, and, of course, jewels. Before leaving the area dine at Thoma’s, a 5-star tavern in Amyntaio, a few kilometres away from Nymfaio.

2. Palaios Panteleimon, Pieria

Located at the foothills of the most famous and mysterious mountain of antiquity, Mount Olympus, the village of Palaios Panteleimon is renowned for its hospitable people. The village, also named “the balcony of Olympus” is an ideal destination for every season. Nature lovers and adrenaline enthusiasts will have the opportunity to choose between hiking, mountain biking, climbing, paragliding and off-road driving. After a day full of exhausting activities, relax in one of the traditional cafes (or kafenia in Greek!) on the main square and enjoy authentic Greek coffee prepared on the coals and served in a copper pot, always accompanied by a locally produced spoon sweet!

3. Palaios Agios Athanasios, Pella

Situated within short distance from the border between Greece and FYROM, Palaios Agios Athanasios has become a trending destination in the last couple of years due to its proximity to the ski centre of Kaimaktsalan. For travellers seeking relaxation, I wouldn’t recommend visiting Palaios Agios Athanasios during the winter season, but if you are in pursuit of cosmopolitan ski holidays rush to book one of the charming guest houses; from traditional cafes and taverns to luxury restaurants and nightclubs, you will find everything you need in this small village.

4. Zagorochoria, Ioannina

I would need more than 20 pages if I wanted to fully describe this corner of Greece. Zagorochoria is a set of 46 villages that meet the needs of every kind of traveller. Here you can find cosmopolitan villages, quiet villages, or even secluded villages, only accessible on foot! Either on the peaks of Pindos mountain range or hidden in the woods, each and every one of them will take you back to older times.

The hiking trail of Vikos gorge, part of the E4 European path, and Drakolimni (or “Dragon Lake”) are two places of incomparable natural beauty totally worth your time.

Beautiful spot in Vikos gorge via http://www.pinterest.com/pin/186829084515616237/

Beautiful spot in Vikos gorge via http://www.pinterest.com/pin/186829084515616237/

The local cuisine is amazing, its cornerstones being the pies (or “pita” in Greek), several traditional recipes with meat and spoon sweets. Pair your meal with a nice red wine made in the area, and spend your evenings drinking tsipouro, a strong spirit made by local producers.

5. Pelion

There are 24 villages on Mount Pelion, some of them hidden in forests of beech and chestnut trees and other on the coastline. During your visit in Portaria village, which is probably the most picturesque one, and after you walk its cobbled alleys, follow the “trail of the Centaurs”, a circular path of 2,7 km (approximately 1 hour), to get inspired by the ancient Greek mythology.

Portaria via pilionterra, Flickr

Portaria via pilionterra, Flickr

Before leaving Portaria, have some coffee and cake at the Cafe “Aeriko” while enjoying the magnificent vista over Pagassitikos bay. The cosmopolitan village of Makrynitsa, known also as the “balcony of Pelion” is located just 4km away from Portaria. Once you get tired by strolling through its picturesque streets with the small shops, head to the restaurant “Gefsokratoras” to treat your sense of taste with a delicious meal.

Makrynitsa; the balcony of Pelion via http://www.pinterest.com/pin/336995984586522246/

Makrynitsa; the balcony of Pelion via http://www.pinterest.com/pin/336995984586522246/

What is more, from horse riding in the woods and skiing to scuba diving in the turquoise waters of the Aegean Sea, the area of Pelion can offer you numerous dreaming experiences!

6. Monemvasia

Perched on a rock thrown in the sea, Monemvasia gives the impression that the rock and the settlement were created together at once. Surrounded by walls and almost cut off from the mainland, the scenery will make you think that you just discovered a time travel machine! The entire old town looks like a museum, with narrow alleys and small squares while some buildings still retain their marble coats of arms, remnants of an era of wealth and glory.

At sunset, relax on the balcony of your hotel room, empty your mind and lose yourself among shades of red you’ve never imagined.

7. Vatheia, Laconia

Resembling an open-air museum of architecture in the heart of Mani, Vatheia remains untouched by time. A settlement positioned on a hilltop, Vatheia looks like an abandoned village since the permanent habitants are no more than a few dozen, living in tower-like mansions. The fairytale 2-3 -floor chateaus made of stone have very small windows, once used as ramparts during the war against the Turks or pirate invasions.

Many mansions have been renovated and are now charming guest houses. Don’t miss the chance to swim in the turquoise waters at the nearby beaches of Kapi and Exo Kapi.

Labros Psomodotis

5 islands – winter destinations you haven’t thought of

17 Nov

The Greek islands are not “closed” during winter time, time does not stop there! Although some of you might think they disappear shortly after September, they still stand over the blue waters all year round. Apart from those with very small population even during summer, all the rest enjoy a relaxed rhythm of life and a mild winter, with a bit more wind but little rain.

For some, the off season period is perhaps the best period to visit a Greek island because:

  • Many cafes and restaurants might be closed but the ones that remain open usually offer services of quality above the average since they serve fewer people than in the summer and mostly locals.

  • Prices for all services could be lower.

  • Museums and archaeological sites are working properly and without the hundreds of visitors one can enjoy them better.

  • It is easier to meet the authentic culture of each island which is probably the most enchanting experience one could live.

  • Joining locals in their gatherings is almost certain to happen and true friendships are more than possible to happen!

1. Crete

Rethimno during Winter via www.pinterest.com , Barbie

Rethimno during Winter via http://www.pinterest.com , Barbie

The largest island of Greece is waiting for you to visit throughout the whole year. The vibrant atmosphere in the 4 major towns guarantees that you will live a full experience even during the coldest times of winter. Head to Heraklion and pay a visit to the two archaeological sites located nearby: Knossos and Phaistos are the remaining of one of the oldest civilizations in Europe, the Minoan.

Explore the White Mountains (the greek name is Lefka Ori or Madares) near the town of Chania, stay in a mountain refuge, play with the snow and taste the authentic Cretan cuisine in front of the fireplace.

Leuka Ori via forum.snowreport.gr

Leuka Ori via forum.snowreport.gr

Admire the Venetian architecture and the famous Fortezza fortress in the town of Rethymnon and then practice some winter sports in the ski resort of Psiloritis, located in the Nida plateau, 70 km away from Rethymnon.

Fortezza Rethimnon via Leuka Ori via forum.snowreport.gr

Fortezza Rethymnon via forum.snowreport.gr

Psiloreitis ski resort via forum.snowreport.gr

Psiloritis ski resort via forum.snowreport.gr

Finally, visit the town of St. Nikolas to enjoy stunning panoramic view of the lake and the sea from the town’s waterfront!

Agios Nikolaos, Crete via www.thomson.co.uk

Agios Nikolaos, Crete via http://www.thomson.co.uk

2. Evia

The second largest island of Greece is located just an hour away from Athens and you can reach it by crossing a bridge within seconds. The island offers you numerous experiences. In the north of the island you will find the village of Edipsos, with the most famous thermal spa in Greece, whose fame dates back to the ancient times.

Edipsos via travelphoto.gr

Edipsos via travelphoto.gr

Thermae Sylla Wellness & Spa Hotel, Edipsos via www.greece.com

Thermae Sylla Wellness & Spa Hotel, Edipsos via http://www.greece.com

Located also in the northern part of Evia, the beautiful village of Kimi offers an astonishing vista over the Aegean sea.The whole island is well known for its physical beauties turning it into an ideal destination for sports in the nature like hiking, mountain biking and horseback riding.

Dimosari’s Canyon, Evia via www.anastasiahotel.com.gr

Dimosari’s Canyon, Evia via http://www.anastasiahotel.com.gr

Visit the town of Chalkida and observe the strange movement of the waters beneath the old bridge, result of a rare tidal phenomenon.

Chalkis bridge via www.flickr.com

Chalkis bridge via http://www.flickr.com

3. Corfu

Corfu, one of the most cosmopolitan islands of Greece, has an amazingly stylish town, great example of Venetian architecture. Walk to its famous alleys, visit the museum of Asian art to find wonderful exhibits and try the local cuisine.

Corfu via melissokomos.gr

Corfu via melissokomos.gr

Do not miss the chance to pay a visit to Achillion, once being the palace of Empress of Austria-Hungary Elisabeth of Bavaria, better known as Sisi. Achillion that has served as a casino in the past and now as a museum offers a beautiful vista over the Ionian Sea.

Achillion Palace via travel-around-greece.blogspot.com

Achillion Palace via travel-around-greece.blogspot.com

4. Syros

Being one of the most beautiful islands of the Aegean Sea, Syros is at the same time the commercial, administrative and cultural centre of the Cyclades islands. The Catholic and Orthodox elements that coexist harmonically on the island form its particular character. Ermoupoli, Syros’ largest town and capital of the Cyclades, is amphitheatrically built and stands out for its beauty with impressive neoclassical style mansions and magnificent churches.

Syros via www.cycladia.com

Ermoupoli, Syros via http://www.cycladia.com

Wander around the narrow streets of the upper part of the town and admire the unique Miaoulis Square with the impressive Town Hall designed by the German architect Ernst Ziller in the lower part. Visit the archaeological museum of the island where you can find exhibits dating back to 3,000 BC and attend a theatrical play or a concert at the Apollo Theatre, a miniature of La Scala in Milan.

Miaouli square via www.syroumelathron.gr

The Town Hall at Miaoulis square via http://www.syroumelathron.gr

5. Rhodes

Rhodes via https://maps.google.co.uk/maps?q=rhodes+google+maps&ie=UTF-8&hq=&hnear=0x14950ae9895f8bfd:0x586d9037b4e902ad,Rhodes&gl=uk&ei=aLKIUuDwMIiJ4gTapYHoDg&ved=0CCwQ8gEwAA

Rhodes via rhodesmarket.blogspot.com

 The capital of Dodecanese islands is a famous destination year round. Rhodes, often called as the emerald island or the island of the sun, will welcome you warmly even the coldest days of the winter. You can find places of great interest all over the island: medieval and ancient castles, the valley of the butterflies and several museums. The medieval town of Rhodes, selected by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site, combines Late Gothic architecture with local Aegean features and Muslim elements added later by the Turks, thus creating a blend that makes this medieval town triple special.

Grasp the opportunity to visit the baths of Kallithea, hosted in a magnificent restored building – unique combination of nature, incomparable monumental architecture and history.

Kalithea baths via www.travel-rhodes.com

Kallithea baths via http://www.travel-rhodes.com

Labros Psomodotis

How to get an authentic taste of Karpenissi in 8 Steps

3 Nov

Karpenissi in Autumn via flickr user Robin Iversen Rönnlund

Karpenisi during Autumn via flickr user Robin Iversen Rönnlund

Karpenissi in winter via trekearth.com

Karpenisi during winter via trekearth.com

Karpenissi by night via nocomments.gr

Karpenisi by night via nocomments.gr

1. Try authentic flavours

A simple walk in the center of Karpenissi and the nearby villages will reveal the local (and gourmet!) cuisine of the region that every visitor has to try! Given the number of different products and recipes, it is worth devoting some time to discover as many as you can!

Don’t miss:

  • The traditional sweet preserves (or Greek spoon sweets) from chestnuts, walnuts or grapes.

Traditional Greek spoon sweet via foodjunkie.eu

Traditional Greek spoon sweet via foodjunkie.eu

  • The traditional dairy products and especially cheese. Among my favourites are feta cheese from Velouchi mountain, the local yellow cheese and “tsalafouti cheese” (a  delicious type of creamy cheese!).

Tsalafouti cheese via forum.beer.gr

Tsalafouti cheese via forum.beer.gr

  • The traditional local pies with cheese, leek or herbs

Traditional pie with herbs via Expat Foodie

Traditional pie with herbs via Expat Foodie

  • The local cured meats. Some of the most famous are the sausages with leek, the prosciutto and the salami

Sausages with leek via mmmeat.gr

Sausages with leek via mmmeat.gr

  • The home cooked, traditional dish of rooster with local noodles and various dishes with wild boar

Traditional rooster with noodles via mygreekdish.com

Traditional rooster with noodles via mygreekdish.com

2. Explore Velouchi Mountain…

Velouchi Mountain via skaikairos.gr

Velouchi Mountain via skaikairos.gr

The town of Karpenissi is situated at the foothills of the 2315-metre high mountain of Velouchi; on the top you will find the famous Velouchi ski resort, only 10km away from Karpenissi. During winter time, if you are a snow lover, you can spend your time doing various ski sports or you can just have a warm drink accompanied by the spectacular vista of the winter sunset.

Velouchi ski resort via https://lh6.googleusercontent.com

Velouchi ski resort via https://lh6.googleusercontent.com

During the rest of the year, cross the mountain through the tunnel located on the top of it and find yourself on the other side surrounded by a moon-like landscape.

3. Enjoy a sport that suits you!

Besides skiing, the area has to offer a great number of alternative activities such as horse-riding in the middle of a platanus forest, rafting in one of the 3 rivers of the area (offering various degrees of difficulty), canyoning and trekking in stunning landscapes.

Horse-riding in Karpenissi via http://www.margit.gr

Horse-riding in Karpenisi via http://www.margit.gr

Rafting in Karpenissi via http://www.valeladi.gr

Rafting in Karpenisi via http://www.valeladi.gr

4. Trek to Pantavrechi and the Black cave (Via Ferrata).

Pantavrechi

Panta Vrehei via canyoning-caving.blogspot.com

Panta Vrehei via canyoning-caving.blogspot.com

The actual translation of Pantavrechi is “always raining”. It owes its name to the fact that the water coming down from the peaks of the Canyon of Krikelioti River doesn’t have a predetermined way out, leading to a continuous flow of small and large drops and creating a continuous artificial rain. Pantavrechi is accessible only from early June to late September as during the rest of the period it is not possible to walk the river upstream. It will take you 1.5h hiking to get there or 2.3h by a 4X4 vehicle followed by 30 minutes of walking.

The Black Cave and Via Ferrata.

The Black cave via http://2.bp.blogspot.com

The Black cave via http://2.bp.blogspot.com

A natural pool with shimmering waters is formed by a waterfall falling from 10 meters above. The path to get there starts at some point of the road between Proussos and Kastania villages and you will reach your destination after 20min walking in the footpath along Proussiotis River.

The path continues uphill in an idyllic landscape of platanus, firs and small streams. At the point where the canyon becomes narrower and the landscape becomes more wild  with little caves and small waterfalls, you will see on your right, an abandoned refugee house and the starting point of the famous “Via Ferrata” (road of steel); the path that allows you to climb to the inaccessible gorge of the Black Cave. It will take you around 2.30h to reach your destination!

5. Take a picture of the amazing vista over Lake Kremasta from Fidakia village.

Fidakia Village via http://content-mcdn.ethnos.gr

Fidakia Village via http://content-mcdn.ethnos.gr

Fidakia village, (the actual translation of the name is “snakes”), is among the most beautiful and traditional villages of Central Greece for me, built in an altitude of 1000 meters. Even though, it is located only 25km away from Karpenissi, due to the curvy road, it will take you around 40 minutes to get there. The route is amazing and the view over Lake Kremasta is spectacular so I strongly recommend visiting it!

Fidakia Village by Thanos Psichalas

Fidakia Village by Thanos Psichalas

View of Lake Kremasta from Fidakia Village by Thanos Psichalas

View of Lake Kremasta from Fidakia Village by Thanos Psichalas

6. Pick a picturesque village to visit!

Apart from the beautiful Fidakia village, visit another village of your choice in the area. All of them are traditional and worth a visit if you have the time! So pick one, wander through the narrow alleys, visit the small stores with the local products and enjoy authentic Greek coffee at the typical coffee place that every village has at its square! In no time you will become friends with the locals, they will buy you a tsipouro and surely they will share their stories with you! The villages I suggest are Koryschades, Klafsio, Kastania, Chelidona and Krikello.

Cental Square of Korischades Village via http://fe-mail.gr

Cental Square of Korischades Village by Thanos Psichalas

7. Drive in an off-road route!

If you are lucky enough to have a 4X4 vehicle, pick one of the many off-road roads and enjoy the wild landscape. Drive through dense forests of pins and chestnuts, cross small streams of water or whole rivers, reach the tops of the mountains and feel free! The best time to drive through these routes is from the end of spring until early autumn. Needless to say that an experienced driver is absolutely necessary.

These are the two routes I recommend:

  • The Easy route.

Starting from Dipotama cross, just a few Kilometers before you reach Proussos from Karpenissi town, turn right, heading towards Chelidona village. Then follow the signs to Agia Vlacherna and end up at Fidakia village. The way back can be much easier since you have the choice to head directly towards Karpenissi using a paved road.

  • The Difficult route.

Starting from Proussos, follow signs towards the villages of Tornos and Kastania. After passing Kastania, continue to the dirt road at its end. There is a good chance that the villages you will see (Prodromos, Roska, Skopia, Domnitsa) have no residents during the year, excluding the summer period.

8. Celebrate the new “Tsipouro & Winemaking”!

Tsipouro via pinterest user Eri Tfg

Tsipouro via pinterest user Eri Tfg

The whole region is well-known for the production of tsipouro (similar to raki) and wine. Special events are being organized in many villages starting at the end of October until the first days of November to celebrate the new production of the year and drink the remaining of the previous year! So be ready to drink a lot! Cheers or “Stin igia mas” as Greeks say!!!

Labros Psomodotis

6 reasons why driving along the main Greek highway is not boring

20 Oct

The highway connecting the two largest Greek cities, Athens and Thessaloniki, is one of the most common routes in Greece. It is 500km (or 5 hours) long so you could probably use a pit stop or two.

Acropolis via www.seemous.eu, Thessaloniki via http://www.gtp.gr/

Acropolis via http://www.seemous.eu, Thessaloniki via http://www.gtp.gr/

This is why I have decided to write a post on the places where it is worth stopping on your way from Athens to Thessaloniki!

1. Kamena Vourla

Kamena Vurla via www.panoramio.com

Kamena Vourla via http://www.panoramio.com

The exact meaning in Greek may sound a bit funny, but this town is certainly worth paying a visit. 177 km from Athens and after a small diversion following the signs to Kamena Vurla, you will arrive to one of the most renowned Greek thermal bath sites. Here, the water is naturally high in Radon and other salts and minerals, making the thermal baths one of the most important in Europe. In the town centre you will find the Ippokrates and Asklipio health spas, while if you go a bit outside the centre towards the Knimi Mountain you will find a variety of thermal baths (Koniavati, Kallintika, Aphroditi). My personal suggestion would be the Aphroditi thermal baths: apart from the natural baths they also have a wonderful outdoor pool.

Extra tip: Don’t forget to stop at Thermopylae (just before Kamena Vourla) to see the famous battle site and the statue of Leonidas.

2. Karavomilos

This little village just next to the highway is famous for its tavernas and especially for the delicious, supersized burgers they serve! Choose the Gklatzounis taverna and make sure you order the beef liver apart from burger, they are both irresistible (and so are the prices!). If you are not a huge meat fan though, skip Gklatzounis and head towards the beach were you will find the Antonopoulos fish tavern, offering fresh and delicious fish and seafood.

3. Farsala

30 km from the highway, Farsala may be more a diversion than a pit-stop but it is worth making. Here they make a unique type of halva, named Halva Farsalon after the town’s name. Halva Farsalon can be found in different shapes and tastes in almost every dessert shop or bakery in the city center. Enjoy!

4. Ambelakia

Ambelakia village via http://www.lastoffertravel.gr

Ambelakia village via http://www.lastoffertravel.gr

In order to reach Ambelakia village you just need to take the left exit at the Tembi junction and continue straight for 5 kilometers. This village is known for the luxurious traditional buildings constructed during a very wealthy era during which the main professional occupation was fabric production and dying with a red pigment derived from the processing of parts of a plant called rizari (Rubia tinctorum). It also worth mentioning that the first ever professional cooperative was formed here in Ambelakia. Stroll around the picturesque paved streets of the village, surrounded by mansions and head to towards the Georgios Mavros mansion that is open to the public. The Saint George church and Folklore Museum are also worth visiting.

5. Rapsani

The wine and a local spirit called tsipouro from Rapsani are famous all over Greece. Some of the wineries are open to the public and I would totally recommend visiting one! The route through the vineyards may be adventurous, going uphill through narrow dirt roads, but it is a unique experience: the sensation of freedom and inner strength you feel admiring the breathtaking view is one you will never forget. Inside the winery one can see the local architecture and the traditional oak barrels.

Extra tip: On your way back to the highway don’t forget to stop at the canteen right on the junction to try authentic souvlaki and traditional sausages.

6. Palaios Panteleimon (Old Panteleimon)

Palaios Panteleimon is my favourite traditional settlement in Greece. It is situated at the foothills of Mount Olympus, 5km away from the new settlement and the highway. A walk around its picturesque streets is totally worth it, as you can find small shops with traditional local goods, while the wonderful sea view and paved central square will surely seduce you! Choose your favourite traditional cafeteria on the square and sip on Greek coffee served with a traditional Greek dessert called “glyko tou koutaliou” or “spoon dessert”!

Extra tip: On your way back to the highway visit Platamonas Castle, and if the weather is nice, head towards the beach and enjoy the wonderful blue-green waters!

Have a nice trip!

Labros Psomodotis

5 Sunset experiences you shouldn´t miss!

6 Oct

The first image that comes to anyone´s mind when they hear the word “Greece” is one of its most beautiful islands: Santorini! And there is a good reason for that; according to many, the unique view from Caldera offers the best sunset one could possibly imagine. Well, I am afraid I have to disagree. In my opinion Santorini’s sunset complements the infinite beauty of the island, but without the rest of the scenery it wouldn’t be that unique. And that is because Santorini is not the only Greek island offering impressive sunset experiences! To justify that I went through my electronic and mental photo albums and I present my findings to you… So turn the lights off, set your screen at the highest possible resolution and travel to all the shades of red:

1. Kalamitsi beach, Lefkada, Ionian Sea

Note that the official name of this beach is Aivali but it is widely known as Kalamitsi. Upon arriving in the village of Kalamitsi, turn left and descend through the olive groves. After 4km you will see a junction; take the road on the left and you will reach the beach within five minutes. You can enjoy the sunset either lying on the beach or from the exotic canteen that is amphitheatrically built above the coast. Reggae music, banana trees and the sound of waves on the rocks will offer you one of the most beautiful sunsets of your life!

 P1040910 P1040904  P1040902   P1040898  P1040891

2. Anafi, Aegean – Cretan sea

First of all, you need to get some rakomelo (an authentic Greek spirit) or chestnut ice cream by “Ta plagia”, the first shop you meet on your left hand as you enter Chora. Then, take the road that passes by the village and leads to the west of the island. There is no chance of getting lost since the island has only two paved roads! Pick a spot with a nice view and enjoy the sun setting over Santorini!

P1030289  P1030892 P1030886  P1030290

3 Ikaria, Aegean – Ikarian sea

After a swim in the stunning beach of Na in the western part of the island, pay a visit to the tavern of Na located just above the beach. Don’t miss the chance to taste their pasta with braised veal and a glass of local Ikarian red wine as you watch the sun setting between rocks!

Camera ikaria Camera Camera

4. Balos, Aegean – Cretan Sea

Balos is a mind-blowing (yet quite hard to reach) beach with wonderful blue-green waters. You can get there by boats departing from Gramvoussa but unfortunately they head back before sunset, so I suggest you drive the 8km dirt road to get to the beach. The road ends 3km before the cape but the perfectly preserved footpath is not difficult at all to follow. After 8 pm the colours of the sky will carry you away… Following the nightfall you will be accompanied by the crabs that come out of the lagoon’s shores. Do not forget a flashlight to help you find your way back to the car!

P103094

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5. Gaidouronissi or Chrissi, Libyan Sea

Quite a few travellers each year visit this tiny island south of Crete, home to a cedars’ forest since the ancient times. There is neither a settlement nor electricity on the islet, just a canteen on its south coast. You can take a boat from Ierapetra and return with the same one the next day. All you need for spending a night there is your sleeping bag; the rest can be found on the spot (like food, water, even friends!) since Chrissi is a popular free camping place not only for travellers but for local Cretans as well, and they are fully organized and charmingly hospitable! So after enjoying the blue waters go to the north beach (if you’re not already there) and wait for the sunset. Do not be surprised to see a group of people practicing yoga during sunset; classes are offered by a yoga teacher for free and of course you will be more than welcome to join! An experience not to be missed!

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I am waiting for your own sunset photos, and do not forget to share the story behind them! Stories are what make the colours more vivid! 😉

Labros Psomodotis

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