Chill Out at the Hippie Fish in Mykonos/Greece

 

This is the story of one of those journeys which start out terrible and then turn around, thanks to the kindness of strangers, and end up as a marvelous experience.

I was on my way from the Greek island of Samos to Athens by ferry. It’s a long trip and, although I didn’t want to, I had to leave in Mykonos, spend the night and continue on the next day. On the other hand, I thought, Mykonos is famous for its nightlife and if I didn’t find a place where to stay, I might as well dance the night away and resume my voyage with the connecting ferry which was due to leave at 8am the next morning.

The ferry approached Mykonos, I saw the famous windmills in the distance and the entrance to the port.

mühle

 

Mykonos and the old port

Mykonos and the old port

And then… it went PAST!! 15 minutes later, another, brand new port came into view where the ferry finally pulled in. I hadn’t realized that Mykonos has two terminals and this one was a considerable distance from Mykonos town.

No problem, I thought, I’ll just take a taxi to the center of things. People disembarked, dispersed and I was left standing all on my own on a vast, totally empty parking lot.

There was a small terminal building, but not a soul in sight. No taxi, no buses, three parked cars and nothing else. It seemed  that the only option was to walk what apeared like about 12km to Mykonos town, along a busy motorway in the blazing sun of a Greek early afternoon. Not an appealing prospect.

Then I remembeedr, that a fried had given me the number of a friend who supposedly owned a restaurant in Mykonos. Had I saved the number? Yes, I had. I called, he answered and, no questions asked, promised to come to my rescue. Never in my life have I seen a black Range Rover approach with such relief.

And that’s when the misery turned into utter bliss. This knight in a shining  black Range Rover was the owner of one of the most beautiful restaurants I have ever been to.

He took me across the island to Ai Yianni Beach and the Hippie Fish restaurant and treated me like royalty.

Ai Yanni Beach and the Hippie Fish

Ai Yanni Beach and the Hippie Fish

For hours I was happily ensconced on comfortable cushions on the terrace which gives out directly to a lovely beach. I chatted to the owner, the waiters and fellow diners, went for a swim in the sea and was treated to one delicious dish after another. Among them one of my favorites, sea urchin which I first had tasted and loved in a tiny restaurant in the port of Marseille.

food

 

Hippie Fish is one of the oldest restaurants of modern times on the island of Mykonos. Its signature is to combine an utterly relaxing and laid back atmosphere at the beach with outstanding food and it fully accomplishes its aim.

As night fell, I enjoyed the stunning view of a silver sunset against the mythical island of Delos just across the water.

delosa

The Hip Disco opened and so did the Mixology Bar.

dj

 

At midnight, the owner took me back to Mykonos town, found out that my connecting ferry did indeed leave from the old port, not the one where I was stranded and got me a room in a hotel nearby. At the time, it wasn’t open jet, but the Hippie Fish now also offers the ultimate in Hippie Chic at it own Hippie Chic Hotel.

How is that for a story about kindness from strangers?When we said good bye we weren’t strangers any more.

I later learned that taxis on Mykonos are, for some reason, a rarity. I heard from people who got stuck even at the airport and had to phone their hotel to send a car.

Everybody whizzes around on scooters, which, as there are next to no pavements and very narrow and winding streets, makes walking hazardous. Just so you know when visiting.

Enjoy the Island of Samos/Greece

With a certain nostalgia I look back at the years I was living near Kusadasi on Turkey’s Aegean Sea. One of the reasons is, that it was an ideal starting point for daytrips. The marvels of Ephesus and Selcuk are within easy reach and just a short ferry trip across the water lies one of my favorite Greek islands: Samos.

On my way to Samos

On my way to Samos

In ancient times, Samos was already famous for its wines and vineyards and that hasn’t changed over the centuries. Two large plains are covered with the lush green of vines.
The fertility of the soil seems to have expanded to the mind as well because the island is the birthplace of Pythagoras, Epicurus, Aristarchus and Aesop, all of them geniuses in their field.
Add mountains, lovely beaches, impressive historical monuments, museums and a colorful capital and you can see why I like Samos so much. Let’s look at things in more detail.
Vathy
When the ferry from Kusadasi approaches the port of Vathy, the capital of the island, I can already see the Hotel Samos greeting me from a distance.

Hotel Samos greets you

Hotel Samos greets you

It said daytrip, but I prefer to spend the night because there is so much to see and do in Samos.
My home from home is always the Hotel Samos. It’s located just a few steps from the pier and an ideal base for excursions. The rooms are ample and comfortable, a roof terrace and small pool invite to rest between sightseeing and the bar/restaurant downstairs serves fabulous meals, to be enjoyed with a view of the port and the world going by.

A delicious Greek salad

A delicious Greek salad

Being a great fan of aniquity, my first stop is the outstanding archaeology museum which contains the statue of the biggest unbroken kouros in all of Greece. Just look at the size of it!

 

Kouros in Samos

Kouros in Samos

More modern history is reflected in a the small folklore museum. It gives you an insight into rural life, all displayed in separate ‘houses’. For wine lovers there is the wine museum, a bit outside the city. All can easily be reached on foot, just follow the promenade and walk on past the statue of the lion. And, whilst you are at it, this is also the area for some nice shopping.

folklore museum samos

folklore museum samos

lamps

lamps

Eupalinos aqueduct and Heraion
Right next door to the Hotel Samos are several agencies where you can buy the ferry tickets, book tours, hire a car, a bike or a bicycle. I prefer to go around the island by public transport and the friendly recptinists at the Hotel Samos will point you in the right direction.
My first excursion was to a masterpiece of ancient engineering, the Eupalinos tunnel. Samos experienced her times of greatest prosperity under the tyrant Polycrates (538-522 BC)and it was he who instructed the Greek architect and engineer Eupalinos to build a tunnel and water system which would bring water from the mountains to the coast.

entrance to eupalinos tunnel

entrance to eupalinos tunnel

The tunnel took 10 years to complete and countless laborers who slaved away under very hard conditions. The tunnel is only 1.80m high and of equal width but 1300m long. A visit of this historical site is quite an adventure.
I took the local bus from Vathi, to Pythagorion which is worth a visit by itself and from there a taxi to the tunnel.
Pay your dues of EUROS 10 and be disappointed, because all you see at first glance is a fenced in hole in the ground. Disappointment vanishes the moment you approach the hole. It’s the entrance to the tunnel and you descend very steep and narrow stone steps. At the bottom, the tunnel widens a bit but not very much. And you start walking, looking over the side at still intact ceramic waterpipes and being awed by the sheer genius of the construction of this tunnel and the enormous labor, with the means and tools of over 2000 years ago, which went into achieving this feat.

The ceramic pipes

The ceramic pipes

Be careful though because the ground is slippery and the lighting is dim, giving the entire venue a quite magical feeling. The tunnel is so narrow, that you have to take turns with people coming the other way. It’s an adventure which is not suitable for the claustrophobic and the obese. If you are overweight you can literally get stuck in the tunnel or rather, you won’t even make it down the initial stone steps.
Back in daylight from your visit to the netherworld, the nice chap at the ticket booth will call you a taxi to get you back to Pythagorion where you can walk around and look at particularly pretty shops, sit in one of the many cafes and then take the bus back to Vathi. That return trip was a pleasant surprise to me. I thought the bus would take the same route back, but not so. It went the long way and for all of EURO 1, I got a sightseeing tour of half of the island in the lively company of the locals.
Before boarding the bus I made a detour to Heraion, the remains of a once massive temple to Hera.
If you are more interested in beaches, visit Kokkari or Karlovassi on the other side of the island.
If you don’t return to Turkey you can also use Samos for some island hopping. There is a ferry which sails to Athens with several stops along the way, among them Mykonos. You can go off or stay on just as you please.

Mykonos

Mykonos

Blue and White – Discover Greece this Summer

It’s interesting how certain countries are automatically associated with distinctive colors. For Spain, it’s red and yellow and for Greece, it’s blue and white. That’s not because those are the colors of the national flag, but because wherever you travel in Greece, be it, the many wonderful islands or the mainland, you are greeted by the sight of whitewashed houses and churches with blue roofs and shutters.

Santorini

Santorini

Majestic, historical sites, golden beaches, the crystalline waters of the Ionian and Aegean Sea or mountains and forests in the north, there is nothing the discerning traveler will not find in any part of Greece. Whether you decide to island hop (Greece has a total of some 6000 islands, of which 200 are inhabited), prefer a relaxing beach holiday, want to satisfy your archaeological interests or a combination of all three, all you have to do is make your choice.
It doesn’t matter if you travel on your own, as a couple or with kids, you are bound to find a suitable destination in Greece. In addition, the Greek are a very friendly and hospitable people and crazy about kids. They’ll be welcomed with open arms and spoil rotten.
To help you make your choice here are a few suggestions from my own Greece holiday experiences.
Crete

Knossos

Knossos

Crete is the largest island. The capital Heraklion is a popular cruise ship stop and has an airport. For beach lovers, there is Chania and for history enthusiasts the impressive Venetian Fortress and, of course, the Minoan Palace of Knossos. Inland you’ll find acres and acres of olive groves. The island is one of the world’s largest producers of olive oil, an essential ingredient of many of the tasty Greek dishes.
Santorini
Compared to Crete, Santorini is tiny, but it’s the picture perfect blue and white Greek island. It’s actually a group of several small islands, all of volcanic origin and the various deposits from ancient eruptions can be seen. Some beaches are to be found, but the biggest attraction is the sunset over the blue and white churches perched high up on cliffs.
Naxos

Village in Naxos

Village in Naxos

My personal favorite is the island of Naxos, where, according to legend, Ariadne was abandoned. Plenty of white beaches compete with ancient monuments and a medieval Venetian town on top of the port of the capital. The port itself is a foodies heaven with drying squid displayed in many restaurants, opulent Greek salads and ice creams of gigantic proportions.

Squid everywhere

Squid everywhere

Many tiny and picturesque villages dot the interior with some producing the famous Citron, a lemon liqueur.
Mainland Greece
For many travelers to Greece, Athens will be the first port of call. Apart from the obvious, a visit to the Acropolis and the Archaeological Museum, don’t miss on a night out in Plaka, the old town. Join in the dances and smash some dishes, it brings good luck!
See the sunset over picturesque Cap Sunion, gaze into the incredibly narrow gap of the Canal of Corinth and make your way to the massive complex of Mycenae.

Canal of Corinth

Canal of Corinth

Tomb of Agamemnon

Tomb of Agamemnon

For a truly extraordinary sight, travel to Kalambaka and visit the Meteora monastery. Perched on natural sandstone pillars, six monasteries have been constructed under incredibly difficult conditions which will leave you open mouthed with admiration.

Meteora monasteries

Meteora monasteries

For a very different Greece, you might want to visit Thessaloniki. The country’s second largest town is renowned for its many Byzantine monuments as well as for its cultural life with plenty of festivals. Not to mention a thriving port and the proximity of a majestic mountain range.
These suggestions have only scratched the surface. There is so much more to see and do in Greece, so take your pick, pack your bags and head for this wonderful country this summer

Enjoy all of Greece – in style!

Just the mere thought of Greece in the summer, brings up images of the endless blue sea, countless secluded coves and golden sandy beaches. But Greece can be much more than that, like an important cultural destination, a party place or a luxurious getaway by the sea!

Why not see all of it, in a long vacation, that will relieve you of anxiety, get to in touch with the history buff inside you, but also allow you to indulge with all your senses in a magical summer experience for a few relaxing days!

Start your journey from the capital of Greece. Athens is a delightful city, buzzing with people, traffic and antiquity. Book a hotel downtown, like the new AthensWas, that is not only luxurious, but also right under the Acropolis, and next to the latter’s museum.

AthensWas

What better place to start your exploration of the city’s plethora of cafes, bars and clubs. Where would you be a stonethrow away from all the major archaeological sites, but also where else could you find a hyper stylish hotel that is perfectly located downtown? Allow at least 2 days in Athens for sightseeing, shopping and dining out!

Next stop a private tour to Meteora for a day. Be amazed by the beauty of nature and the mesmerizing monasteries, built on top of vertical rock formations, dozens of meters above ground level. Meteora is an Unesco World Heritage Site and a private guide will help you learn more about its history. Instead of going back to Athens, head for the remaining day to Thermae Sylla Spa & Wellness Hotel.

ThermaeSyllaSpa2-218810V.Paterakis_2

Enjoy a relaxing spa session in the afternoon or some Aqua fitness, and book tomorrow’s all-day spa experience. Leave all your troubles behind and rejuvenate, so you can have the best time of your lives in Greece.

Now that you’ve let go of all the problems and also seen some of the most important sites in Greece, it’s time to explore its most precious assets: the islands! First stop Santorini!The iconic and volcanic island is a couple’s paradise and a true wonder of nature. Book your stay at a hotel by the Caldera, like Art Maisons and enjoy the breath-taking view, especially during the sunset.

ArtMaisons

Take a boat tour and explore Santorini’s colourful beaches and the small volcanic islets, taking some of your most memorable photos ever. Before leaving this amazing island don’t forget to visit its archaeological site in Akrotiri and the Fira museum, that hosts some of the most famous frescos of the ancient times!

Just 9 minutes away from Santorini on a helicopter lies the unspoiled island of Folegandros, with an authentic Cycladic lifestyle. White-washed houses, built on steep cliffs, using only local materials will transport your senses to a completely different time. Design hotel Anemi will cater to all your needs while maintaining a unique luxurious, yet authentic design.

AnemiHotel

Folegandros, with its few visitors is perfect to let go, stroll around its narrow streets and get a taste of Greek meze at its plethora of picturesque taverns and little shops, without anyone noticing your presence.

To round off Greece, in style, a visit to Crete and Elounda is necessary. The country’s most exclusive region of resorts and luxury villas has an amazing view of the Mirabello gulf, sandy beaches and warm waters, making it ideal for dives even in late September! Elounda Gulf Villas is one of those family owned boutique hotels that are fit for the biggest celebrities of Hollywood, check around, someone must be there incognito, ordering fresh fish at one of the hotel’s restaurants or lazing away by their private pool, exactly as you can also do!

sl 03

sl 03

Although there are countless things to see and do in Crete, the best thing to do in nothing! Stay in, maybe visit the spa or ask for a private massage therapy and spend the rest of your evenings dining, dancing and enjoying Greece in Style.

A botched masterpiece in Naxos/Greece

Don’t we all admire the fabulous Greek statues, some of immense size as the kouros to be found in the Historical Museum of the Greek island of Samos.

However, masters as the stone masons and artists of antiquity were, they were only human which means that sometimes they botched a job. Scarcely will we see anything less than perfect and if bits and pieces are missing it’s due to the passing of thousands of years, not to a lack of skill. A curious and interesting exception is the famous kouros, much visited on the Cycladic island of Naxos.

Near the town of Apollonas in the far north of the island are several marble quarries where some of the enormous statues were hewn out of the rock. And so was this ten meter long kouros, believed to have been designed as a statue of either Apollo or Poseidon. But, somehow the old masters got it wrong and the piece broke at the neck. What to do? Well, obviously, it couldn’t be moved anywhere, so it was just abandoned and left lying unfinished on its back for 2500 years.

For some reason I found this unfinished masterpiece even more interesting than the perfect statues and , standing at its feet, could just visualize the ancient stone masters, scratching their head when they heard  the almighty ‘crack’.  Couldn’t you? Have you seen a botched masterpiece anywhere in the world?