Category Archives: Greek islands

Kos – Island of Hippocrates

 

When living in Altinkum/Turkey, I used to hop on a ferry from either Kusadasi or Bodrum to visit the Greek islands of Samos and Kos respectively.

A short ride across the water and I was in another country and culture. Being the history fan that I am, Kos provided me with plenty of that, plus pleasant walks along the water front and around the markets and a the biggest mixed fish and seafood platter in a restaurant in the port I have ever eaten. Once I made the journey just for that!!

Approaching the port you are greeted by a massive 14th century fortress, built in 1315 by the Knights Hospitaler. You can climb up and have a great overview of the sea and the island from the top.

Crossing the street you reach a promenade which runs all the length of the U shaped harbor and once, when I stayed longer, I went on a boat trip.

Although it’s not totally confirmed, Kos is considered the birth place of Hippocrates. I love the statue which shows him with disciples ad then there is the Plane Tree of Hippocrates, its branches supported by scaffolding. Wander around to look at all the remains of the many civilizations which have left their mark on the island, like the Asclepeion.

Monument to Hippocrates

 

Of course, there is a modern part too which shop after shop and stall after stall, selling quite pretty Greek garments. Plenty of duty free shops too.

On the opposite site, in Kalymnos there are plenty of beaches, hotels of all categories, cafes and restaurants and Kos even has a small airport which caters to flights between islands.

If you plan to stay for a few days, now you  have a first class hotel to enjoy your Kos adventure even more.

 

IKOS ARIA, KOS

 

Opening in May 2019, Ikos Aria is the latest addition to the luxurious Ikos Group’s portfolio. With existing properties in Halkidiki and Corfu, this latest chic outpost will take up residence on the Dodecanese island of Kos. Offering the group’s unique Infinite Lifestyle All Inclusiveconcept, incorporating extensive activities, premium drinks and cuisine and dine-out at authentic local restaurants within the price, the hotel will be ideal for families and couples alike looking for their every need to be taken care of, while immersing themselves in local island culture.

Sovereign Luxury Travel (01293 832 459, www.sovereign.com) has a seven night May Half Term holiday to the five star Ikos Aria on Kos, on an All Inclusive basis, from £3,799 per family of three. The price includes a 10% room discount, a free stay for one childprivate resort transfers, UK airport security fast passes and access to N°1 Lounges (where available), and return flights from London Gatwick with Thomas Cook. Based on departures 27 May 2019. Book via www.sovereign.com/holidays/greece/kos/kefalos/hotels/ikos-aria/

 

If you plan island hopping in the Dodecanese think of including Kos in your travel itinerary.

 

 

The Venetian Quarters of Naxos/Greece

 

The Greek island of Naxos is one of my favorites. Monuments from antiquity to Renaissance, beaches, vertiginous mountains and green valleys, music  festivals and wate rsports, cafes, octopus, ice cream, blue ceramics, a potent liquor and colorful markets, the comparatively small island has everything.

I had the pleasure of the company of my good friend and writing buddy  Ruth from www.travelthruhistory, a site I also love to write for. We share the same tastes and interests and together we went to explore the island. First stop was the capital , Naxos Town with the distinctive Venetian quarters perched on the top, a town within a town.

After the 4th crusade, the Venetians conquered the Cyclades and, among them, Naxos. Marco Sanudo, a member of the family of Enrico Dandolo, Doge of Venice, built a medieval castle on top of the hill which is known as Kastro. Around it and densely packed, many Venetian nobles followed and erected their private palazzo. A very fine example is Barozzi house which is still in the hands of the original family and serves as the Venetian museum, giving insight into the lives of  upper class Venetians with furniture, paintings and many artifacts.

The Kastro in Naxos

 

A peek towards the sea
One of many, many staircases

Climbing up steep stone stairs you find new aspects and outlooks at every twist and turn and the fascinating thing is, that the entire quarter is very much alive. It’s not a ‘historical site’ or an open air museum, but very much a part of modern Naxos. All the houses, often divided into apartments, are inhabited and many a shop, restaurant or café invite to a rest.

Old Market entrance

Access from the seafront is through the arches of the Old Market with  particularly interesting ceramics, clothes and other handcrafted items. It’s easy to meander around for hours and to spot distinctive adornments here and there on the facades of the houses.

Back on the seafront, we crossed the causeway to Naxo’s landmark: the  Portara, an impressive gate which is the only remains of an Apollo temple. And when finally our feet hurt, we treated ourselves to a dish of octopus and an ice cream of Olympic proportions. We were, after all, in Greece.

The causeway
The Portara
Octopus is hanging everywhere
Ice cream to finish it all off!!

Mamma Mia – Skiathos!

 

Are you a movie fan? If so, you will look forward to seeing the star studded musical film Mamma Mia! Here we go again! which is  released  this week. Set on a fictional Greek island, much was filmed on the picturesque Greek island of Skiathos. How would you like to visit and see the original? And whilst you are at it, you may as well follow your movie fascination and  stop at Captain Corelli’s island Kefalonia. Here is how best to do it.

Skiathos

 

Much of the original Mamma Mia! film was shot on this small secluded island nestled in the north-west Aegean. With stunning beaches, pine-forested scenery, pretty harbours and a cosmopolitan capital, Skiathos also offers an authentic escape with little-touched rugged coastline, private coves and local tavernas.

Image by dimitrisvetsikas pixabay

Sovereign Luxury Travel (01293 832 459, www.sovereign.com) has a seven night holiday toSkiathos, on a B&B basis, from £765 per person. Staying at the five star Skiathos Princess, the holiday includes one free lunch voucherprivate resort transfers, UK airport security fast passes and access to N°1 Lounges (where available), and return flights from London Gatwick with Thomas Cook. Based on departures 30 September 2018. Book viawww.sovereign.com/holidays/greece/skiathos/agia-paraskevi/hotels/skiathos-princess/

 

 

KEFALONIA

 

The largest of the Ionian Islands, Kefalonia is known as Captain Corelli’s Island and is a treasure chest of secret beacheshidden covesmajestic mountains and picturesque countryside with a laid-back charm. Enjoy a picnic in the poppy fields and sample the local specialty, Kefalonia Meat Pie, or head to Fiskardo to experience a quaint fishing village. From here, Ithaca, the home of Odysseus, is a short boat ride away, offering a sprinkling of local tavernas and shops.

 

Sovereign Luxury Travel (01293 832 459, www.sovereign.com) has a seven night holiday toKefalonia, on a Half Board basis, from £959 per person – saving up to £200 (17%) per person. Staying at the five star Villa Costa, the holiday includes a free upgrade to Half Board, a £150 Sovereign discountprivate resort transfers, UK airport security fast passes and access to N°1 Lounges (where available), and return flights from London Gatwick with Thomas Cook. Based on departures 25 September 2018. Book viawww.sovereign.com/holidays/greece/kefalonia/skala/hotels/villa-costa/

 

You are a bit too late to have become an extra in the movies but when watching the movies you can say: I was there.

 

Syros – a very different Greek island

 

For me, one of the best things about travel is to happen upon unexpected discoveries along the way. You have  mapped out your destination and created a schedule on how to get there, but the true traveler is  of course flexible and open to changes and deviations. One also depends on the routes and schedules of public transport.  Much as I would like to get from A to B in a direct way, I can’t if there is no direct way. Which, on the other hand, is often a blessing in disguise because it leads you to places you hadn’t even thought about.

A case in point is the island of Syros. In the summer I had embarked on a journey, visiting several Greek islands, among them Naxos, Samos, Mykonos and Crete. I was on my way from Naxos to Samos when I found out, that the only ferry available would stop over at Syros for about 10 hours. Oh well, I thought, there will be something to do to fill the time. In the worst of cases, I’ll just go for a walk, stuff my face and read a book until the connecting ferry leaves.

Standing on deck, approaching the harbor of Ermoupolis, the capital of Syros, I immediately noticed that I had arrived at a very different Greek island. Coming from the sea, you are mostly greeted by the same sight:  whitewashed houses with blue roofs, doors and shutters, climbing up steep hills bathed in brilliant sunshine. The sunshine was still there although it was late afternoon, but otherwise I thought for a moment I had landed on the French Riviera.

The houses lining the amphitheatre-like waterfront were majestic. Nothing white washed there, three and four story high neo classical buildings with elaborate stone carvings and solid mansions alternated with the neon signs of equally impressive hotel palaces. Interspersed with palm trees and an abundance of flowers in squares with marble slabs and cast iron benches.

Once the ferry docked I couldn’t get off fast enough to explore further. Luckily the ferry office was right across the road and a very helpful lady allowed me to store my bag so I could stroll  unencumbered.  Next stop was a book store where I bought a guide to Syros and then I sat down in a café on the waterfront to quickly familiarize myself with the place where I had so unexpectedly landed.

Although Anos Syros, Syros’  second biggest town, was founded by the Venetians in the 13th century, Ermoupolis only came into being as a city in 1821!!! This came about because many refugees from the upheavals and wars had found a safe haven on the island of Syros and settled in Ermoupolis. These people were by no means poor, they were merchants, artists, ship builders and traders and brought with them their wealth, skills and economic know how. In the short period of approx. 75 years, the capital of the Northern Cyclades became the most important commercial and cultural center of Greece outside Athens.  Syros sported the first Chamber of Commerce, the first ship yard, the first steam ship company, schools, colleges and the famous social club ‘Hellas’ as well as the Apollon Theatre which attracted famous performers not only from Greece but from the rest of the world.

Beginning of the waterfront Ermoupolis

The elegant buildings reflected the wealth and sophistication of the people of Ermoupolis, constructed by renowned architects like the German Ernst Ziller who designed the town hall. Whereas many of the other Greek islands are full of monuments from antiquity, Syros is a prime example of Greece’s most recent history which fact alone makes it a very different island indeed.

I was also interested in reading that in the early 20th century, the ladies of Syros were considered the most fashionable in all of Greece. As the evening progressed, I had the opportunity to experience at close quarters, that the spirit of fashion and the love of culture and the arts is alive and well in Ermoupolis.

Darkness had fallen by now, I closed my book, paid for my coffee and started to walk along the waterfront which  was bathed in hundreds of colored lights. It was the hour of the ‘promenade’. The road had been closed to traffic and the Greeks came out in doves, all beautifully turned out, to enjoy the evening, meet their friends in one of the many overflowing restaurants or listen to live music which had been set up on the pavement in several bars and cafes. Shops were open until the wee hours, selling thyme honey and lokum, two of the local specialties among other things. The Apollon theatre was  lighted and although a bit the worse  for wear it’s currently undergoing  restoration to be returned to its former glory. I turned left and walked up Eleftheriou Venezelou which leads to Miaouli Square another lively center of the city of Ermoupolis. Best of all, I had the chance to experience a typical Greek evening and to participate in local culture. Not many tourists come here so all the entertainment is for the Greeks themselves.

Advert of a museum on a boat
Granny invites to her shop
Apollon theatre at night

I didn’t have the time to make my way to Anos Syros, leave alone to climb the 900 steps leading up the hill and around the place but there will be another day to come back and stay for longer. The 10 hours passed quickly and I left for Samos with the gratifying knowledge to have made a great discovery thanks to the Greek ferry schedule.

Carpe Diem/Santorini – the Ultimate Luxury Stay

 

If you think you can find ultimate luxury only in the fabled resorts of the Middle East, think again. Butler service, individual Jacuzzis and pampering no end await on the beautiful Greek island of Santorini. All you have to do, is pack a bag, get on a flight and Carpe Diem will take care of the rest. Oh, yes, you also need a healthy bank balance.If this isn’t for you, you might consider a stay there as an unforgettable wedding gift for the honeymoon of a lifetime.

Carpe Diem is so much more than a stunning hotel in Santorini. It is a luxury experience like no other. Ultimate exclusivity, unparalleled privacy of Carpe Diem’s 10 suites and its unique location in Pyrgos are what set it apart. Its butler service is designed for a true VIP experience and exemplifies the meaning of superior luxury.Discover how the ultra-luxe boutique spa resort ensures maximum privacy and exclusivity.

A Sanctuary in Santorini

Away from Santorini’s hustle and bustle but close to all the renowned sights, Carpe Diem is ideally located in the island’s highest village, Pyrgos. Perched on the edge of Pyrgos Hill, the hotel features incredible views. Each suite boasts stunning 270-degree views, with sunset and sunrise visibility from its private pool and terrace.

This exclusive boutique resort won “World’s Best Honeymoon Hideaway” and “Europe’s Best Honeymoon Hideaway” in the 2017 Boutique Hotel Awards. It’s easy to see why since the hotel was created with true passion, care and expertise. Carpe Diem is also a member of the Small Luxury Hotels of the World since its opening.

George Kopatsaris, Santorini’s most renowned engineer, brought over 30 years of engineering and design expertise in the luxury boutique hotel industry to Carpe Diem, which is his legacy. The hotel continues to be run by the Kopatsaris family to ensure high levels of quality.

Exclusivity and Privacy

The resort’s secluded location ensures you get the most privacy in all of Santorini. The ideal location of each suite’s pool also ensures maximum privacy.

Carpe Diem’s signature exclusivity doesn’t end there. The hotel’s fine dining restaurant, Gaia, serves fresh, local and authentic cuisine crafted by Santorini’s most influential chef, Vasilis Zaharakis. It is completely exclusive to hotel guests! Meanwhile,

the beautiful Althea boutique spa, has been specifically designed for couples seeking seclusion and romantic relaxation.

Above and Beyond Luxury

Carpe Diem’s butler service, where guests don’t lift a finger, takes luxury to the next level. Even the manager is called Head Butler. With a staff-to-guest ratio of 1-1, the hotel will make you feel like royalty.

As well as having just ten uniquely crafted suites, Carpe Diem also has the largest suites in Santorini. This outstanding luxury and unparalleled privacy is what makes it a top destination for CEOs, famous politicians, honeymooners and even royal families.

Visit carpediemsantorini.com for more information.

About Carpe Diem

An ultra-private complex, with only ten lavish suites complete with individual plunge pools, Carpe Diem is Santorini’s most original and exclusive hotel. As well as being the most private property, the suites are also the largest on the island. Nestled in Santorini’s highest village, Pyrgos, Carpe Diem boasts incredible 270-degree panoramic views.

Carpe Diem offers a truly one-of-a-kind experience with unique amenities such as a champagne bar, Bang and Olufsen sound systems, butler service, a staff-to-guest ratio of 1-1 and high levels of privacy in all aspects of your stay.

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