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.

Hotel reviews in Greece – Civitel hotels

During my latest visit to Greece, I stayed at four different Civitel Hotels, enabling me to make the most of my time in Athens and also to explore the island of Crete. The idea of hotel hopping is not new, but lately it’s becoming a new trend that helps people get the most out of their time on vacation. Same thing applies in Greece, with hotel chains such like Civitel. At the same time I was able to write a thorough review of the Greek Hotel chain that aims at couples, families and businessmen alike. It is a good thing that all hotels are at around the same price range, giving a good understanding of their differences as well as the needs of tourists in Greece.

Civitel Olympic
Only a couple of minutes away from downtown Athens, in the heart of the business district, at the suburb of Marousi. The hotel is right across from the grand Olympic Stadium Complex and in a way it represents the new and vibrant vibe of the Greek capital.

Olympic stadium

Olympic stadium

It also is just a few meters away from Golden Hall a shopping mall notorious for its quality and luxurious brands. All rooms come with excellent room service, ample breakfast, electronic safe deposit, free high-speed wireless internet access, soundproof windows, interactive television, auto thermostat, Jacuzzi baths, daily maid service, wake-up call service plus whatever you can think of!

OlympicHotel

Although smoking isn’t allowed, there are smoking rooms available. What seemed weird at first, was the existence of an inner door between the bedroom and the room hallway, but it provided me with a more quiet and private sleeping area.
What I didn’t like: It’s at the busiest place in Greece. Not downtown. No gardens.
What I liked: It’s right in the middle of the busy business area of Athens, on Kifissias Ave. It’s really quite and no noise from the traffic jammed avenue passes the soundproof windows.

Civitel Attik
The new sister hotel to Olympic, Civitel Attik, is located in Maroussi, just like its older sister, but in a very different surrounding. This families-first hotel, comes with lovely gardens and pool at a quiet suburb of the Greek capital. Just a 20 minute ride from downtown Athens, the hotel is a short walk from the Olympic Stadium Complex and Athens most popular shopping mall, simply called “The Mall”.

The Mall

The Mall

Attik’s natural color palette is the perfect escape from the Athenian urban landscape and the hotel caters to all the needs of its travelers, in the best possible way.

AttikRoom
All rooms come with excellent room service, ample breakfast, electronic safe deposit box, Wi-Fi Internet access (free), soundproof windows, Flat Screen TV, central heating & a/c, daily maid service, wake-up call service plus whatever you’ll need! Furthermore, rooms for smokers are also available.

AttikRestaurant
What I don’t like: Not Downtown. Not a short walk away from most businesses. The Conference room attracts many corporations and groups, that sometimes prefer to skip conference and stay at the pool!

Pool and gardens

Pool and gardens

What I liked: The pool and the gardens. The tranquility of the neighborhood, while next to mainstream interest points. The hotel caters to families and businessmen alike, respecting what they need.

Creta Beach
Next stop the biggest island of Greece: Crete. This is definitely the place to visit in Greece. Not only is the island full of surprisingly beautiful beaches, it also has many archaeological and historic sights. The hotel is an absolute summer paradise; it comprises three small, separate buildings which contain the normal rooms, and a number of bungalows scattered around the premises.

CreataBeachGarden

This unique form gives everyone much more privacy than you would expect. The pool and facilities, including tennis, mini-golf, volleyball courts and ping pong are excellent and all rooms are equipped with a spacious balcony or terrace, that is perfect for lazy siestas. Finally all rooms come with amenities such as hair dryer, beach towels, flat-screen satellite television, toiletries, safe box, individually controlled air-conditioning, mini fridge and more.

What I liked: The pool and the grounds! The hotel is right next to a sandy beach making it an ideal holiday spot. It also offers all-inclusive packages which make it even more appealing to young couples and larger families!

CretaBeach
What I didn’t like: There are never enough sunbeds by the pool during summer, you’ll need to wake up early to find the perfect one. The beach has some rocks that are visible but still they are rocks.

Akali
At Chania, hotel Akali doubles as a city hotel, accommodating business visitors and city travelers, as well as a holiday destination for everyone. The building is really impressive as it’s right at the center of the town, making any point of interest a short walk away.

AkaliInterior-3

It also offers a pool to cool off during those hot days of the Greek summer. All rooms are spacious and equipped with one double bed or two singles, depending on your needs. Amenities include flat screen TV, safety deposit box, minibar, hairdryer, air-conditioning, toiletries and free high-speed wireless internet.

AkaliRoom

The hotel looks modern and contemporary due to its recent renovation, as we were told.

Knossos/Crete

Knossos/Crete

What I liked: Its position. The hotel is ideal to explore the beautiful town of Chania all year round. Rooms are soundproof, helping you get a good night’s sleep.
What I don’t like: The pool. Ok, it has a pool and that alone is marvelous, being a downtown hotel, but again its pool is more to chill-out and cool-off than do some proper swimming.

Disclaimer: I have not received any kind of financial benefit from the hotels.

`Tiffanys`in Moraira Costa Blanca

No, it´s not that the world famous jewelers have opened a branch in a tiny beach resort on Spain´s Costa Blanca… I´m talking about a little jewel of a very different kind.
Tiffanys is a bar and restaurant which my friend Charles and his wife Rachel have just opened in Moraira. Moraira is a coastal town 30 km north of Benidorm and has only recently become something of a holiday resort. Formally a fishing village, the fisherman still go out at night, returning in the morning and vociferously auctioning off their catch to everyone who wants it a the lonja, as the auction hall is called.
Like many towns and villages all along Spain´s Costa Blanca, Moraira has her fair share of beaches and mountains further inland. Salt lakes and lagunas are the home of protected wildlife among them a rare turtle with a yellow belly.
Great care has been taken to avoid turning Moraira into a noisy, overcrowded tourist trap as is the case with Benidorm. This lovely beach town attracts older and more affluent people, which means no highrises but smaller apartment blocks and pretty villas instead.
A castle stands on the beach and there is even a little bit of and Old Town but mostly Moreira is for enjoying the quiet life and great beaches in a more sedate holiday or on a permanent basis.

Moraira castle photo from wikipwdia common in the public domain

Moraira castle photo from wikipwdia common in the public domain

In tune with the up market ambience, Tiffanys caters to locals and holiday makers alike with a more sophisticated menu in a modern and gleaming bar/restaurant. Take a look at the menu and more pictures if you like at www.facebook.com/tiffanysmoraira.

Tiffanys interior

Tiffanys interior

Ah, and before I forget… should you have any computer trouble, you are at the right address too. Charles is a genius, he is in fact the webmaster of my website and there is nothing he can´t sort out whilst you sit and have a coffee, a drink or one of Rachel´s delicious meals.
Disclaimer: this is not a sponsored post. I have received no free service or money from Tiffanys or the owner.

 

Slightly flawed authenticity – Yoran Bar/Didim

A couple of nights ago, my friends and I went out for a meal to a restaurant nearby.’ Nearby ‘ means right opposite the fabulous remains of the Apollo and Artemis oracle and temple in Didim on Turkey’s Aegean Sea.

Apollo temple/ Didim

The place is called Yoran Bar which to me is a slight misnomer, because it’s a restaurant, not  what I would call a ‘bar’ or nightspot. They do serve alcoholic drinks but there is not a bar proper where you balance on stools and knock back your whiskeys, or, this being  Turkey, your rakis.

The area around the historical site is and old village with many ancient stone houses, some of them in ruins. Yoran is one of them, but certainly not as far as the ‘ruin’ bit is concerned. The place is absolutely beautifully turned out with a lot of attention to detail. Very mature gardens and plants not only surround it but also from part of the dining area. The roof is open to the stars, trees are growing next to you, birds are twittering above your head, the odd leaf is even dropping in your soup.

 

There is also the main house with a big chimney for warmth in winter and a staircase leading up to a roof terrace which affords a wonderful view over the Apollo temple just across the road.

The décor and building are picture perfect Turkish. So, why do I call this blog post slightly flawed authenticity? Because it’s a prime example of how the clever Turkish businessmen cater to the tourists who fill their coffers. It starts with the greeting. Every customer who enters is greeted warmly… in English. The menu, such as is, is written on a chalk board, in English only! Not a Turkish word in sight.

The food itself is fabulous. Huge portions, great quality and very reasonable prices. But, you’ll look in vain for Ottoman cuisine. Apart from the mezze which at least features some aubergine puree, it’s steak with different sauces, chicken with different sauces, an, admittedly huge and succulent fish, meatballs or liver with onions. All very tasty and well prepared, but just eating the food you wouldn’t know which country you are in. They even know what a ‘shandy’ is.

One has to bear in mind that the vast majority of  foreign tourists who visit this area are from the UK and so are many permanent residents. Naturally, the Turks adapt, but there is a fine line between adapting and losing the national identity. Many, many Turks from other parts of the  country also spend the summer here and I just wonder what they would think of a place where they can’t find the menu in their own language.  It therefore didn’t come as a surprise that no Turkish guest was in sight. Maybe it was just a coincidence and had something to do with the fact that we are in the first weeks of Ramazan, the Muslim month of fasting.

I liked the restaurant which I find truly romantic, I enjoyed the food,  but still, the visit has left me with a very slight feeling of unease. Or maybe nostalgia.

A great time was had by all

 

Why inspiring others is fun

This is the story of my friend and neighbor, who is the latest convert to the joys of travel blogging. And yes, if I say so myself, I have had a hand in it.

The two of us live part of the year in the same complex in Didim on Turkey’s Aegean coast.

The apartment complex where we live

Like me, my friend loves to travel and we went on lovely trips to the Greek island of Samos, the Turkish mountain village of Sirinci and, most recently, on a four day trip to Istanbul. She has traveled the world with her first husband who sadly passed away.

Underground adventures in Samos

Cheers! Wine tasting in Sirinci

My friend next to the 'Sultana'

Since two years she is married to a guy who hails from India. Although he grew up in the UK, his heart is in his country of origin and now my friend spends the other half of the year in Goa.

They even got married there, an adventure you absolutely have to read about in her blog.

Ah yes, the blog. How did this happen?  It all started trying to advertise an apartment. They own two, one to live in and one to rent to visitors. This took off nicely, but then my friend saw and read my blog and simply caught the bug. ‘Do you think I could do something like this? She asked. “You know just to make my site a bit more attractive?”

 

Said, done. What started as an ad became a website and, lo and behold, with a link to blog on travelblog. It has to said, that my friend is a keen and very talented photographer and I encouraged her to share her beautiful pictures, funny stories and adventures whilst traveling in India with others for them to enjoy and get inspired.

What can I tell you?? There is no stopping her now and I am so pleased she got started. “Will I be able to write something?” she doubted. Of course she can. If you like India and want to read some really funny stories, go visit the Goagirl. She will be thrilled if you even leave a comment.

And I am having a ton of fun too, seeing that I could encourage her and that she really gets the hang of it. Way to go, babe!!!