Monday, August 29, 2011

Living like a local in Greece by international travel news!

Best of Greece is the leading specialist for tailor made holidays to Greece and the Greek Islands!

We found this great article by Marvin Herman, Delavan in international travel news!
We are sure you will enjoy the read!

Rumors of strikes, riots in the streets and a collapsed economy did not deter us from planning our October ’10 journey to Greece. As my wife, Judy, and I had done several times before on trips abroad, we enjoyed meeting the challenges of independent travel and did our best to protect ourselves from the anticipated glitches that were bound to arise.

Making arrangements
We arranged for all of our accommodations online, opting for hotels with lower, noncancelable rates wherever available. Our credit card, a Chase Sapphire MasterCard ( 800/940-7592 ) with no annual fee, provides a decent trip-insurance policy that protects against forfeitures.

For the first time in our travels, we armed ourselves with a cell phone to use on our journey. .

For our stay in Athens, we rented an apartment for €75 ($107) per night, payable in cash on arrival. It was located in a quiet neighborhood south of the Plaka, within walking distance of the Acropolis and near the Syngrou-Fix Metro Station. It had two large bedrooms; a washer/dryer; TV (no English channels); all required kitchen appliances, dishes and utensils; free use of a computer, and a nice terrace.

Evangelos, the owner of the apartment, was very helpful, providing a map in advance so we could easily find the apartment from the Metro station. The Metro senior fare from the airport to our stop was €3 each.

The Athens Metro is the most modern system we have seen in Europe. The trains are clean, efficient and fast, and the signage is more than adequate for visitors. This infrastructure, like much in modern Athens, was improved for the 2004 Olympics.

Settling in

After settling in, we found a supermarket where we could stock up on olives, tomatoes, feta cheese, yogurt and coffee, and there was a bakery on the corner of our block where I would go to buy fresh bread each morning. We enjoyed being regular neighborhood people and, after the first day, we would be greeted by people whom we had previously encountered on the streets or in stores.

On our first morning in Athens, we walked over to Syngrou Avenue, a main thoroughfare, to find a travel agent who would sell us tickets for the ferries that we planned to take later in our journey. We didn’t book these online because we wanted to get a better idea of what the weather would be like. As it worked out, the weather was excellent and we were able to buy our ferry tickets in Athens.

That morning, on our way to the Parthenon, we also got a fix on the location of the Hertz car-rental office from which we would rent a car a few days hence on our departure from Athens. We had arranged, online, for an automatic-transmission vehicle through Auto Europe (Portland, ME; 888/223-5555 . The cost was about $330 for the week we had the car.

Around Athens
In Athens, we also visited the National Archaeological Museum (28 Octovriou [Patisslon] 44) and spent several hours following the early history of Greece, from about 3000 BC to AD 476, the end of the Western Roman Empire.

A five-euro taxi ride took us from the museum to the Central Market. We walked through wonderfully boisterous meat and fish markets complete with vendors shouting about their wares amid butchers wielding cleavers and knives that flashed as they sliced through tendon and muscle, scales and gills.

In the center of it all was a small restaurant, where we stopped for a meal of Greek meatballs and grilled lamb, all wonderfully fresh and served with roasted potatoes, garlicky bread and sautéed dandelion greens. Washed down with a half liter of cold rosé, it cost €24 for the two of us.

Returning to our apartment, we stopped to pick up dessert at “our” bakery and enjoyed the freshly baked baklava (a Greek phyllo-dough dessert with honey) with coffee on our terrace.

The next morning we set off for the Numismatic Museum, not because we are coin collectors but because it is the former home of Heinrich Schliemann, the German archaeologist who excavated Troy and, later, Mycenae. It is a large home, nicely restored and worth seeing if you, like Judy, are a fan of this man and the ruins he dug up.

We also visited the Jewish Museum. Before WWII there were more than 75,000 Jews in Athens. Today there are around 3,000. The museum endeavors to be a symbol of the struggle to establish a Jewish community in Athens.

Driving in Delphi

By 9 o’clock the next morning we were in the Hertz office to get our car. An officious woman filled out our paperwork and gave us instructions and some directions. We had purchased a good road map of Greece (Michelin Map Greece No. 737) from before we left home. We loaded up our luggage and headed for Delphi.

I have driven in many European countries and I found the roads in Greece to be above average. From my fraternity days I remembered the Greek alphabet, and it was of help in reading the directional signs and the names of towns that we passed.

Soon we arrived in Arachova, a small town near Delphi where we checked into Hotel Likoria, a charming, quiet and modern little place at the far end of town. It had a small parking lot across the street, and our room had a view of Mt. Parnassus.

Soon after settling into our room (€86 per night, including a mediocre breakfast), we were hungry for a late lunch. Walking through the little town, we smelled the smoke of a wood fire near a sign that read “Taverna Arachova — 30 meters,” with an arrow pointing down a long set of steep steps. I investigated and hailed Judy from below.

A mountain view and a crackling fire were the backdrop for another wonderful meal (€36 total). A liter of the house rosé and a baked eggplant appetizer started us off. Judy ordered her favorite, roasted lamb and potatoes, and I had roasted chicken in a savory sauce and the ubiquitous crusty bread.

After our shared dessert pastry, we noticed that our waitress, the wife of the chef, was being fêted with a cake for her 44th birthday. We joined with her family in wishing her well and she shared her cake with us.

We soon departed the taverna, but Judy forgot her purse. The birthday celebrant ran most of way up the steps to return it.

The next morning we drove about 15 minutes to the Delphi Archaeological Museum, which houses and identifies many of the objects found at the Delphi Sanctuary of Apollo. Afterward we went to explore the site where these objects were located in antiquity.

We found that Rick Steves’ “Athens and The Peloponnese” was a great guide for our exploration of the places on the Greek mainland.

We next visited the town of Delphi and did some souvenir shopping. It was the end of the tourist season and shops advertised large discounts. In fact, the prices were very high, we felt, so our purchases were minimal.

On to Olympia

The next day, we left for Olympia and the popular archaeological site of the first Olympic Games. We visited the ruins, the athletic fields and the workshop of Pheidias, the sculptor of the famous statue of Zeus on his throne.

The Olympic site was crowded with tour groups, and we were pleased to be able to see the site on our own and at our own, slower pace. We also visited the small museum nearby that houses many of the wonderful treasures from the site.

We then drove to Bacchus Tavern, in Ancient Pissa, operated as a pension by Zapantis Costas and his sister Maria. Our room (€76, including an excellent breakfast) was small but had a wonderful view of the surrounding olive groves and hills.

When we went to pay the bill with a credit card the next morning, we were told that the card machine was broken and we would need to pay in cash. After I said that I didn’t have cash, my credit card was accepted and the charge went through the “broken” machine. A similar scenario played out many times during our travels in Greece.

At gas stations, always ask the attendant, before you fill up, if credit cards are accepted. Once the tank is full, the answer will likely be “No.”

Mycenae and Nafplio
We drove over scenic mountain switchbacks toward Tripoli and on to our rental apartment in the small town of Kiveri, about five miles from the larger city of Nafplio. We found the rental at (listing No. 413446). Located at the end of the town, it offered a view of the Argolic Gulf from its large terrace.

When we arrived, the rental agent, Socrates Grecos, in response to our earlier call, had arrived on his motorbike to help us settle in and we signed his lease form. The rent (€60) had been paid to the owner, a resident of Washington, DC, in dollars before we left the US.

Once Socrates left, we struggled with the washing machine, finally realizing that the water faucet needed to be turned on.

In Greece, it seems that many people leave appliances unplugged or turned off so they don’t further strain the fragile power grids. We were to notice that again later in our travels.

Our first full day in this area was spent visiting Mycenae and its acropolis. Excavated by Schliemann in the 1870s, it is a magnificent ruin.

The city of Nafplio was our main target for the next day, but first we headed about an hour away to Epidavros (Epidaurus) to see its famous theater, stopping to admire a Mycenaean bridge along the way. In Nafplio, we parked on the street and walked to the big Saturday market. We asked for and received directions to the Old Town and drove to the port, where it was easy to find parking in the big, free lot.

We toured the Old Town, sharing a coffee gelato at Antica Gelateria di Roma, operated by the affable Marcello, who saw that we were set up with a seat, a glass of water, some cookies and a chance to use the loo.

Many shops in Nafplio were a cut above the usual tourist traps, so we found it worthwhile to browse them. Rick Steves’ book has a great tour of the area.

The plan for the next day was to return to Nafplio and climb to the Palamidi Fortress, said to be the best-preserved Venetian fort in the Mediterranean. But we know what they say about plans, however well laid.

We did drive to Nafplio, which was crowded with Sunday shoppers, families enjoying the harbor, parks and beaches, and many tourists. Judy decided to go shopping while I planned to ascend to the fortress.

As I headed up Polyzoidou Street from the parking lot at the harbor, toward Arvanitia Beach, I reached another parking lot, turned left and found myself on the six-kilometer Nafplio-Arvanitia trail. With the gulf on my right and the mountains on my left, I decided to join the many locals on this wonderful scenic walk, which took me about two hours.

Mykonos and Delos
After dropping our rental car off in Piraeus, we took a cab (€7) to the port and eventually boarded a ferry to Mykonos. Our fare to Mykonos was €34.50 each. We had opted for the middle of the three classes of seats on all of our ferry trips.

I phoned our hotel in Mykonos from the ferry to confirm that we would be picked up. As we disembarked, we saw a young woman holding a sign with the name of our hotel, Alkyon

Sophia, who, along with her parents, runs Alkyon, was one of the most caring, hospitable hosts that we encountered in Greece. She spoke perfect English, amongst several other languages, and was congenial and helpful.

She showed us to our room with its beautiful view of the Aegean Sea and, in the distance, the island of Delos.

By morning, the previous day’s rainy weather had cleared and we were off to the island of Delos. Sofia had a moment to drive us down the hill and direct us along the waterfront to the kiosk that sells the tickets for the ferry going to the island (€5).

The ferry was loaded with a mix of tourists of various ages and nationalities. The trip took about a half hour, and we sat on the top deck open to the sun and breeze. Once on Delos, we waited in line to pay the five-euro entry fee.

Delos is a very extensive archaeological site with temples dedicated to dozens of gods. With the map given to us at the entrance, eventually we were able to locate the various sites of interest.

We stopped at the free museum, which displays some artifacts from the site, then covered much of the island, including an amphitheater, gymnasium and agora. Even for persons without any substantial interest in archaeological sites, Delos is a very worthwhile destination for its views of the Aegean Sea and for the island, itself.

Back on Mykonos, our late lunch at one of the pricey seaside restaurants frequented by fashionably dressed young women with small dogs led us to conclude that life is not cheap on Mykonos. If Greece was a country in financial crisis, it didn’t seem to have reached Mykonos.

It rained during the night and the temperature fell to the 50s.

We set off to explore the town of Mykonos in the morning, letting ourselves get lost in the winding streets. Before leaving our hotel, we called ahead to Krokos Villas, our hotel on Santorini, to confirm that we would be on the hydrofoil the next afternoon.

We were informed that we had been given an upgrade to a room at the Avaton Resort & Spa ), one of the sister properties of our originally booked accommodation, also located in the Imerovigli section of the island.

Checking the substituted resort on the Internet, we found comments on to be quite favorable, so I sent an e-mail confirming our acceptance.

After spending most of the morning transfixed by the beautiful view of the Aegean, it was time to move on. Sofia (what a treasure!) drove us down the hill to the hydrofoil, a double-hulled vessel much faster than a ferry, which took us to the island of Santorini for €41.50 each.

We were met at the boat dock by a taxi (€15) and taken to the Avaton Resort (€80 per night). At the walkway to the resort, Markos, whom we dubbed the “super porter,” helped with the luggage.

The nine-room resort is located on the edge of a cliff overlooking a caldera that is filled with water. Beyond its far rim lies the Aegean Sea.

Our smallish room, located near the outdoor pool, had a stunning view, a great shower and a complimentary bowl of fruit and bottle of wine.

The hotel did have a dining room, but it was located in the spa. Although guests don’t use the spa during dinner hours, we found it unappealing as a place to eat and took our meals elsewhere.

Using a map furnished by the hotel, we walked the seven minutes to the tiny town center of Imerovigli and ate at a nice taverna called Anestis (phone + 30 22860 25374 ). Choosing from the large selection of Greek dishes, we fell back on the familiar roasted lamb with potatoes and a large Greek salad (€22 with wine). After a stop at a bakery for some baklava, we walked back to the resort.

Unearthed in 1967, Akrotiri is a Minoan city on the southwest tip of Santorini. The site was later covered by a modern roof which, unfortunately, collapsed several years before our visit; the site was closed to visitors. We did see many of the frescoes of Akrotiri at a museum in Fira, Santorini’s capital city, as well as in Athens.

The next morning was cool and breezy, but the temperature warmed throughout the day, reaching the low 70s. Outside our room, I sat in the small alcove overlooking the edge of the caldera and, beyond a sprinkling of low buildings, the sea. The quiet of Avaton was soothing — no boisterous tour groups here.

Markos brought our breakfast, wonderfully fresh and complete with a pot of steaming coffee; yogurt and honey; tomatoes; olives; eggs; feta cheese, and coffee cake. After breakfast, we walked about 25 minutes to Fira to visit the Museum of Prehistoric Thira and the Archaeological Museum, both quite small but each holding many artifacts from Minoan culture.

Our best dinner on Santorini was at a restaurant called Nikolas (Erythrou Stavrou), in Fira, where we enjoyed sea bass and lamb in a comfortable atmosphere (€40 for both of us).

Paros and Piraeus
We boarded the Blue Star Naxos ferry for the ride to our next island, Paros. We stowed our luggage down in the garage so we didn’t have to drag our bags up and down the escalator to the passenger areas. Though the bags weren’t secured, passengers didn’t have access to the area during the sailing.

Sitting on the open back deck of the ferry, I phoned the Arian Hotel , our hotel in Paros, to get directions. It was a short walk from the ferry dock in Parikia, the principal town of the island.

After a good night’s sleep (our room cost €38, not including breakfast at €10), we headed into Parikia, a town of winding white passageways.

After about an hour of wandering, including a visit to a Byzantine church with an immense chandelier, we stopped at Symposium, a small restaurant with outside seating. For €7.50 each, we had one of our best breakfasts in Greece. I had eggs, bacon, fresh breads and jam and Judy had eggs Benedict with ham.

As we ate, a food peddler with a donkey cart came by to sell the restaurant fresh vegetables, and people opened shops nearby, greeting each other as friendly neighbors would in a small town.

At breakfast, we also got information on how to get the bus to Pounda, where we would take the ferry to Antiparos, a small island which has become a celebrity haunt since Tom Hanks and others have bought property there. Our round-trip bus tickets cost €3 each, and the ferry (leaving each half hour) cost €2 each way.

We walked to Antiparos’ center square and wandered the streets until we got lost. Then we returned to the main road, hopped the ferry and returned to Pounda, continuing by bus to Parikia.

The next morning, our last in the islands, we had breakfast at the port and watched as our ferry arrived for the 4½-hour ride to Piraeus (€19).

At Piraeus, we were besieged by taxi drivers but declined their services since we wanted to take the Metro to the Sofitel Athens Airport (phone +30 210 3544000 ), the hotel we had booked for our last night in Greece. Unfortunately, due to a strike, the Metro was not running out to the airport.

We must have looked as if we needed help because a young woman soon asked if she could assist us. We explained our predicament, and she walked two blocks with us to show us where to catch a bus to the airport (€3.10).

The bus was not crowded and made few stops. We, again, felt we were traveling not as tourists but as the locals do.

Back in Athens
The bus dropped us off at the airport, across from our hotel (€155 for the night). Shunning the expensive fare at the hotel, we decided to eat dinner at the airport (€19 for both of us).

Sitting in the boarding area the next morning, we were advised that there would be a delay because of an air traffic controllers’ strike in Paris. As a result, we missed our connection to Chicago.

Air France offered us overnight accommodations in Paris or a flight to New York with a connection to Chicago. Anxious to be home, we chose the New York option.

When we reached JFK, we found that our connecting flight to Chicago was canceled due to windy weather in the Midwest. Air France offered to put us up at a hotel at LaGuardia and gave us a coupon for dinner, since the missed connection in Paris was not weather related.

This was an unforgettable trip. We saw three different parts of Greece over 23 days, at our own pace and in our own way. We found our own way around on local transportation and, if we decided to sleep late or skip dinner, we were able to do so.

We always felt secure, though neither of us spoke a word of Greek beyond “Please” and “Thank you.”

If any reader would like detailed information on how to plan and execute an independent trip, please feel free to e-mail us c/o ITN.

Not all trips lend themselves to this form of travel, but in the instances that do we find it a most satisfying and fulfilling method of travel.

We hope you enjoyed this article! Since 1973 we have been offering holidays to Greece!
We look forward to help you take the road less traveled in Greece!

Thursday, August 25, 2011


This is a very nice article written on the Telegraph!
We are sure you will enjoy the read!

Greece's best small museums
From art to archaeology, Robin Gauldie offers his pick of the best smaller museums in Greece.

Most museums operated by the Ministry of Culture are closed on Mondays. Admission is normally free on the first and second Sunday in September and the last weekend in September, first Sunday in October and national holidays. A useful guide to opening times and admission charges can be found at but it’s not 100 per cent reliable as there is no longer the budget or staff to update it properly.
All museums are suffering from budget and staff cuts, so opening times may be curtailed without notice; many may also be affected by public-sector strikes.
Samos Archaeological Museum, Samos
All the archaeology, none of the crowds. Housed in a fine neoclassical building and a modern wing, this museum has a fine collection.

The centrepiece is the colossal marble kouros (statue of a youth), wearing a serene, Buddha-like smile and a hairdo that is irresistibly reminiscent of Rasta-style locks. Seek out other gems: the defaced but sensuous wooden figurine of a nude woman, dating from the seventh century BC, and the marvellously intact 18-inch tall ivory image of a kneeling youth.
Best of all, the place is often deserted (Iroon Polytechniou, Vathy; 0030 2730 27469;; €3/£2.65; under-18s and students free; over-65s €2/£1.75).
Vori Folklore Museum, Crete
Of all the islands, Crete is the place where tradition lingers longest. It’s only one generation since many of the household and farming implements on show here were in everyday use.
The museum brilliantly shows how life was for villagers within living memory: tough but not necessarily unhappy. Chaffing sleds, rakes and picks used to wrest a living from rocky soil, wooden looms, but also walls hung with graceful lyras and other musical instruments (Vori village; 28290 91392;; €3/£2.65; under-18s and students free).
Museum of Modern Greek Art, Rhodes
A reminder that Greek art isn’t all marbles, icons and traditional embroidery, this little museum has just six rooms hung with prints and paintings by 19th- and 20th-century artists.
The black-and-white engravings which make up around half the collection are the best part, and Second World War history buffs will enjoy the room incongruously packed with historic maps donated by the family of Noel Rees, commander of the clandestine MI9 operation in the Aegean and a forgotten hero of the war (Plateia Symis 2, Rhodes Old Town; 22410 23766;; €3/£2.65; over-65s €1/88p; under-18s, teachers and academics free. The ticket also gives entrance to the New Museum of Modern Art at Plateia G, Haritos, in the New Town, which opened last year and is dedicated to works by 20th-century Greek artists).
Aegean Maritime Museum, Mykonos
This museum celebrates the vessels and seafarers of Greece with charts, paintings, photographs and, best of all, a flotilla of models of ships, from the cockleshells of the archaic Cyclades and the Athenian battle triremes that saved democracy from Persian hegemony to the trehantiri, the broad-bottomed workhorse of the Aegean to this day. A classic full-size example, the Evangelistria, is moored in the Old Harbour, a five-minute walk away (Enoplon Dynameon 10, Tria Pigadhia, Chora; 22890 22700;; €3/£2.65; under-18s €2; £1.75).
Bouboulina Museum, Spetses
There’s a great, colourful painting of Greece’s own Pirate Jenny, the renowned female admiral of the War of Independence, hanging in the hall of her former home, a grand 17th-century mansion. Gesturing grandly – and displaying a considerable embonpoint – she is ordering the assault on the Turkish fortress at Navplion.
Born in 1771, the twice-widowed Laskarina Bouboulina, against the odds, became first a prosperous fleet-owner, then an admiral in the War of Independence. The struggle bankrupted her, and in 1825 she was murdered in a family feud.
The highlight is the grand salon, with its carved Florentine ceiling, Ottoman rugs and fine French and Italian furniture. Bouboulina’s gold-plated pistol hangs on the wall (Dapia, Spetses; 22980 72416;; €6/£5.30; under-18s €2/£1.75; over-65s €4/£3.50).
Archaeological Museum and Vouvalis Mansion Museum, Kalymnos
From cave-dwellers to millionaires, this great little museum covers a much greater span of Greece’s past than many bigger rivals.
Draped in bronze, the Lady of Kalymnos faces the entrance to the stylish new wing, which houses archaic finds from the island’s limestone caverns, as well as the usual bronzes, marbles and pottery.
But jump two millennia to the other wing, the Vouvalis Mansion, where the lifestyle of a 19th-century trading dynasty whose sponge-diving empire stretched from the Aegean to North Africa and the Caribbean and Florida, is preserved in all its maroon plush and gilt-mirrored glory (Enoria Aghias Triadas/Plateia Kyprou, Pothia; 22430 23113; €3/£2.65; under-18s €2/£1.75).
Theofilos Museum, Lesbos
The eccentric Theofilos Hatzimichail (1870-1934) wandered the hills of his native Lesbos (and of Pilion, on the mainland) dressed in the fustanella costume of a fighter of the War of Independence, paying his way by adorning the walls of local tavernas with his vivid murals of battles and island life. His naive genius was eventually recognised by a fellow-Lesbian, the remarkable Statis Eleftheriadis (aka Teriade).
The collection is an inspiration for all would-be artists to throw away the rule book and just do it (Varia, Mytilini; 22510 41644;; adults €2/£1.75; under-18s €1/88p).
Alonissons Museum, Alonissos
Lots of great piratical stuff in this husband-and-wife museum opened by Kostas and Angela Marikis in an old island mansion in 2000.
Cannon, cutlasses, maps and ship models abound, along with relics of Second World War resistance and traditional island life.
Bringing things up to date, there are also exhibitions of contemporary sculpture and photography (Patitiri; 24240 66250;; €4/£3.50; under-8s free; 8-18 €2/£1.75; over-65s €3/£2.65).
Cycladic Art Museum, Athens
Head straight for the first floor of this under-visited museum for a glimpse of a culture far more ancient (and less well known) than Athens or Sparta. Dating from 3000-2000BC, these small, highly stylised marble figures hint at an artistic mindset far distant from the Classical world. It is easy to see why they inspired Modigliani, Moore and Picasso (Neophytou Douka 4; 21072 28321;; €7/£6.15; free under-18s and students; over-65s €3.50/£3).
Jewish Museum, Thessaloniki
This is one of a few Greek museums that act as a reminder that Greece was once much more multicultural than it is today.
Go straight to the third floor to step back in time to one of the largest Jewish communities in Europe in its day, with displays of elaborate costumes and paraphernalia; then visit the fourth floor for the story of that community’s demise at the hands of the Nazis, when almost all Thessaloniki’s Jewish residents were deported and killed.
Moving, and grim (Agiou Mina 13; 23102 50406;; free admission).

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Wednesday, August 24, 2011


Best of Greece has been offering exclusive tailor made holidays to Greece since 1973!
One of our favorite island is the Island of Spetses located in the Saronic Gulf very close to Athens

Located in the Saronic Gulf, Spetses is a wonderful little island that is only a few hours away form Athens. It has kept its traditional style, architecture and no cars are allowed! Despite the fact that it is small and has kept true to its history and culture, Spetses is a very cosmopolitan island. It boasts a number of modern bars and clubs and lovely restaurants.

Spetses is riddled with picturesque bays, stunning beaches, quaint villages and a varied landscape. The island is covered in pines trees, mountainous areas, sandy beaches and rocky sea sides.

Don’t let the lack of cars put you off, people on this island travel by foot, donkey, horse drawn carriage or local buses. The island is small and travelling around in this way, lets one soak in the surroundings.

This little gem of an island has lush green pine forests and crystal clear waters. It is a very popular destination all year round for weekends away and holidays.

Archaeologists have found signs that Spetses was first occupied in around 8000 BC. Further signs show that in 2300 BC Spetses 3 natural harbours acted as a refuge for ships carrying goods from the Argolis Gulf.

Spetses has a history of being used as a place of refuge, whether for ships or people. During invasions of neighbouring areas, many people took refuge in Spetses. The refugees on the island built most of the old village of Kastelli in the 18th Century.

The island has been occupied by a number of different people, as with most of Greece and its Islands. The Turks, the Russians, the Venetians have all past through.

At one stage the naval force of Spetses was one of magnitude and played a role in fighting off the Turks.

Spetses was the home to two well known heroes, Bouboulina from the war against the Turks in the mid 1800s and to the architect George Diamantopoulos who was killed by the communists in the late 1930s.


The Hadjiyannis Mexis Museum is located a short walk from the Harbour and houses a collection of items, from the 4,000 year old history of the Island. The Museum is an 18th Century home that belongs to the Hadjiyannis Family; it’s a beautiful setting for a lovely collection.

The Bouboulina Museum is privately owned and located within a 17th Century mansion. It boasts a collection of items from the period of the war in 1821.


Spetses has hardly any form of Transportation, so walk around and you will come across the most important things on the island.

One walk you should take is to the Old Harbour. The walk itself is a great one to do in the evening. The roads are closed to all vehicles in the evenings and you can enjoy the view of the sea from the coastal road, but also see the beautiful mansions that line the side of the road. You will also come across the Marina and its luxury yachts; don’t miss the Lighthouse, one of the first to be built in Greece and dates back to 1837. You can then have a nice walk up the Old Harbour, past all the cafes and restaurants.

You can also wander along up a steep dirt road to the tiny little church of Prophet Elia and enjoy the stunning views.

If you are on the island at the beginning of September, you may be able to witness a celebration that the island is famous for. The celebration of Panagia Armata is to put it very simply, the re-enactment of the battle against the Turkish Ships, with a wonderful display of fireworks.


The most popular beaches are: Agia Paraskevi and Agioi Anagyroi they are both accessible by bus. If you do decide to go to Agioi Anagyroi check out the Bekiris Cave which even has its own little sandy beach.

Zogeria Beach is the most picturesque on the island and has a lovely restaurant on it. You can jump on a water taxi to get there if you don’t want to walk. Other beaches that are only accessible by water taxi or private transport are, Ligoneri, Vrellos and Xylokeriza.

We wouldn’t suggest that you swim in the Town beach as it gets quite dirty. However, you can walk about 20 minutes along the island’s main road and swim off either Kaiki Beach or College Beach, where you will find a few facilities.


You will find a number of small boutique style shops in the Main Town. They have items such as sarongs, clothing, souvenirs, local specialties, hand made jewellery etc. As with most of the Greek islands it is best to wander around and have a look as there is also something new popping up.


With its cosmopolitan status and its close vicinity to Athens, Spetses has a very good Nightlife. Concentrated almost 100% in the Town and around the Old Harbour, there are a number of bars and clubs along the waterfront as well as in the little streets that run just behind the harbour.


With a variety of things on offer, you will be able to find fast food, haute cuisine, ouzeris and traditional tavernas. There is a lot on offer on this little island. You should ask the restaurant in which you choose to dine what their specialty is; it might be something you would like to try.

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Saturday, August 13, 2011


Best of Greece has been offering tailor made holidays to Greece since 1973

Lying on the western coast of Greece, Kefalonia also known as Cephalonia, is the largest of the Ionian Islands. This island provides its visitors with a traditional picture of a Greek Island. This is the island for you if you want to see a glimpse of Greece unspoilt by time.
The Ionian Islands are the greenest islands of the Greek Waters. Kefalonia is covered in hundreds of species of wild flowers, including a huge variety of orchids; it is also the home to a unique species of fir trees. Its scenery is rustic and dramatic, with towering mountains and drastic cliff sides. There are also caves all over the island, different types, sizes, all of which provide a different experience.
As with most of the Greek Islands, Kefalonia is covered in History and is an open air display of all the periods/cultures/wars/battles/civilizations that have visited/stayed/affected or have been imprinted on the island.
Cephalonia's coastline is breathtaking and there are a number of incredible beaches that lie along its shores. Some of the beaches have been voted to be some of the best of the Greek Islands.

There are all types of Accommodation on the island anything from rooms to rent, small boutique hotels, big hotels and Villas and houses for rent.
This stunning island was added to the "must visit" list when it went under the Hollywood spotlight during the filming of Louis de Bernieres' "Captain Corelli's Mandolin".island
This island is definitely a must visit, not because it's the backdrop to a Hollywood film but because it is one of the most scenic islands in the Mediterranean and because it is so rich in culture and Tradition. If you do take the opportunity to rent a car or bike and explore all it has to offer.

Cephalonia is an extremely interesting from an archaeological point of view. Archaeologists have found items dating as far back as 40,000 BP.
The most important Era was the Mycenae Era 1500-1100 BC. Some of the most important findings of this Era were found on Kefalonia, including the very recently discovered Tholos Tomb which dates back to 1300 BC.
As most of the Greek Islands over the years/centuries a number of different people took over the island. The Venetians took over in 1185 after the Byzantine period and they were defeated in 1479 by the Ottoman Empire. The island was then taken over by the Spanish-Venetian army only a few decades after the Turks began their rule. After changing hands a number of times between the Italians, the French and the Spanish Cephalonia became a Greek State in 1864.
After finally returning to the Greeks, Cephalonia again was occupied by mainly Italians and Germans during World War II.

In Argostoli (the Main Town) you will find the Archaeological Museum which houses the most important collection of artefacts from the Mycenae Era, in the whole of Greece.
Other Museums on the island are:

Korgialeneios Museum in Argostoli (this is under the Korgialeneios Library)
Kosmetatos Foundation in Argostoli
Iakovatios-Library in Lixouri
Museum in Fiscardo

Things to do

Caves: Cephalonia is covered in caves. However you must go and see The Caves of Drogarati. They have kept cool for thousands of years (and is a great relief in the hot sun). The ceilings and floors of them are covered in stalagmites and stalactites of all sorts of colours and shapes.
The Lake of Melissani, is also a must see of the island and is located very close to the Caves of Drogarati. The lake is accessible by walking down a ramp, as it was an underground lake, discovered after the "roof" fell in. Once you are down the ramp you will clamber into a small boat and will be taken around this rare splendour.
The Village of Kourkoumelata, this is a picturesque village located on the south side of the island. This island was rebuilt by the Vergotis brothers after the 1953 earthquake. It is worth a visit and a little wander around.
Castles: You should go a take a look at the Assos Castle and St. George Castle.
The Village of Fiskardo, which is on the Northern most tip of the Island, is a stunning little seaside village that combines Venetian, Greek and Victorian architecture. It has a number of smart restaurants and boutique shops.
Visit the Village of Sami, where Captain Correlli's Mandolin was filmed.
Lixouri: this is the other side of the island. The islanders are an interesting bunch and those that live on this side consider Lixouri another island. The two sides of the island are quite different but one should take the time to see both.
Take a day boat tour of the island itself or of the neighbouring islands and swim off Skorpios Island which is privately owned by the Onassis Family.

Cephalonia is an island that has numerous beautiful beaches of all sorts, sizes. There are also a number of beaches that have been awarded blue flags.
One you must visit is Myrtos Bay. It is absolutely stunning, a true gem and an amazing experience. The sand and pebbles are pristine white and the water is crystal clear. When swimming in the water here and you look out towards the sea, there is a purple haze that lingers above the waterline, truly breathtaking.

Skala on the south side, a beautiful blue flagged beach that, provides sun beds and water sports.
Lassi, on the north side, has also been awarded a blue flag. This beach is long, wide and sandy.
Emblissi bay is also in the north, it is a secluded pebbly beach.
Lixouri, offers a dramatic coastline with beautiful long clean beaches.
Fiskardo's beaches are mainly accessible by rough tracks and others by boat.


Shopping in Cephalonia is like most of the islands. However, due to its size and substantial population there is a wide range of products and shops available. The main area to shop is Argostoli but most of the little villages have number of shops.
You can buy anything from local produce (wine, olive oil, olives are very good) to little trinkets to take home, clothes, beauty products, pottery, patisseries shops, etc.
Kefalonia, is not known for its nightlife, but that doesn't meant that there isn't one. Argostoli is the main area where the bars and clubs are found. With a lot of choice on offer one will not be disappointed. There are of course bars around other villages and areas of the islands, particularly around the Resorts of the Island i.e. Sami, Skala, Fiscardo and Poros.
There are also parties that are arranged on the beaches so keep your ears open.
Where to wine and dine
Kefalonia is very traditional and when it comes to eating out the islanders are very social. It is about spending time with family, friends and at the same time eating well. There is a wide range of Greek Tavernas, Mezedopoleia, Ouzeris, but also a number of other cuisines on offer, Chinese, Italian of course, Indian, etc.
You should try the pies. Pies are famous in Kefalonia, especially for their Meat Pie, which is made with three different types of meat. Of course there are also leek pies, cheese pies, spinach pies etc. A few other specialties of Kefalonia are Rabbit stew, a mixed bean soup, a potato and garlic dip and Strapatsado- eggs and tomato.

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Tuesday, August 9, 2011


We found this interesting article written by Barbara Taylor

When in Greece ...

If stunning views of communities clinging to cliffs and serene sunsets aren't enough to entice you to the Greek Isles, perhaps my companion's change of heart will.

He voiced it while feasting on stuffed olives and Greek bruschetta at a patio cafe carved into the Santorini cliffs. As the sun slowly set, we watched the Aegean Sea gently rock tiny cruise ships far below.

Pierre-Luc Cloutier confessed he'd never believed in Greek mythology -- until now. If not a lasting convert, the Canadian mused how natural it was for the powerful myths to take root thousands of years ago in such mystical surroundings.

Such is the other-worldly wonder of Santorini. One of 1,400 Greek islands, it's the most renowned for its beautiful blue-domed churches perched 300 metres above sea level and picture-perfect views of the cliffs, sea and surrounding volcanic islands.

Ancient times: Indeed Delos -- a 30-minute ferry ride from Mykonos -- is one of Greece's most important mythological, historical and archaeological sites. You can walk among the ruins depicting ancient civilization and be assured none are reconstructions. Ancient stone huts suggest Delos was first inhabited in the third millennium BC. It is considered a sacred sanctuary, the birthplace of twin gods Apollo and Artemis. Today no births or deaths are allowed on the island. (Delos excursion, 48 euros.)

Made in Greece: It was hard to resist all things made in Greece. Charming crafts, unique jewelry, carefree clothing, original artwork, fine linen and leather goods, greeted passers-by in tempting open-air displays -- day and night. And guilt-free, too, because any purchase is a boost to the suffering local economy.

Likewise the food and wine. From the mainstay Greek yogurt at the buffet breakfasts to the fresh lunches of Greek salad with shrimp, cherry tomatoes and cider vinegar sauce with capers and mustard, to the appetizers of zucchini and tomato balls served with oregano and feta cheese dip to delicious dinner options of seafood and traditional moussaka baked in individual clay pots.

I resisted the omnipresent Ouzo -- served to dinner guests in a bottle with a bucket of ice -- until the last night on Santorini. Lulled by a wonderful week of fine dining, it seemed fitting to give the Greek aperitif a second chance. Alas, it was just as vile as I remembered from my Greek back-packing excursion decades ago. But, perhaps the only temptation I wouldn't recommend while in Greece.

Mad dogs and tourists: So rife is Santorini's village of Fira, with outdoor eateries, colourful, creative shops set in cobblestone alleyways and gleaming white-washed structures that the afternoon heat is no deterrent. I shunned the gleaming hotel swimming pool to stroll and photograph for hours. Fellow shutterbugs were also out in droves.

Here comes the sunset: The legendary Oia sunset off the north tip of Santorini is a huge draw attracting tourists to the best perches and patio seats in the ancient village hours before the big orange ball drops into the sea. It was inspiring to embrace the nightly natural wonder among so many kindred spirits. And the golden set was gorgeous, too.

Let's get married: I met the first bride's godmother, not far from Agios Ioannis beach on Mykonos where the movie Shirley Valentine was filmed. The British woman and a girlfriend treated themselves to an islands holiday following a spectacular wedding on Syros at the summer residence of the groom's dad. The save-the-date invitation was accepted by 150 guests from as far away as Singapore and Australia. Popular couple -- and destination. Mama Mia!

Parents of the second bride described a beautiful Santorini wedding a few days before attended by 20 Americans and 20 Canadians. Nancy and John Bilheimer of Baltimore said their daughter Jennifer and groom Paul Marando, a native of Fonthill, near St. Catharines, enjoyed an early honeymoon in Turkey so they could spend time with their guests after the wedding.

I spotted another honeymoon couple, atop the volcanic island of Nea Kameni. Americans Yelene Reinstein and William Scott Owen, with five guests, made history when they were married June 1 at the Temple of Apollo, in the Turkish province of Antalya. It's where Antony met Cleopatra, so the couple donned robes of the ancient greats as well as the white dress and tux. (This fun wedding is posted on Facebook. Google: Yelene Reinstein.)

Hot stuff: Sunscreen, a swimsuit and comfortable closed-toed shoes are required to enjoy a fun boat cruise to the volcanic islands off Santorini (55 euros). I can still hear the crunch of footsteps as we trudged to the top of Nea Kameni. An avid rock collector, I gripped a lava rock for the journey but superstition, or respect, got the better of me and I tossed it back ashore before we pushed off.

A quick swim from the boat to the thermal waters of Palaia Kameni was a refreshing treat. (I don't recommend giving yourself a foot massage with the gritty brown mud though. I needed a pedicure back at the hotel, and a good Canadian-water wash to restore my pink swimsuit.) A visit to the tempting eateries of Thirassia was the final stop of the voyage with time for a 5-euro donkey ride to the cliff top for the adventurous.

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Thursday, August 4, 2011


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We have been offering Greece holidays since 1973

Athens, the capital city of Greece, is an ideal place for city tourism. Visitors are struck by the so called 'Attica light', which is a combination of the dry and mild climate and the reflection of the sun on the stone of the surrounding mountains, giving the sky its unique light.
With a long and fascinating history with its highpoint around the 5th century BC, Athens has acquired a universal significance, and become the historical capital of Europe. Thousands of people flock to admire it's unique and splendid monuments, which are very well preserved. Athens is one city where the past blends harmoniously with the contemporary.
Today it is a modern , vibrant metropolis with unrivalled charm. A large part of the city's centre has been converted into 3 kilometre pedestrian zone, the largest in Europe, leading to the major historical sites.
Athens also boasts a lively and cosmopolitan lifestyle, with a variety of museums and interesting exhibitions; theatres, festivals and concerts. For relaxation, numerous hotels, some great beaches, the popular café culture, plus a variety of restaurants and tavernas to suit all tastes and pockets. For those who enjoy clubbing: nightlife carries on to the early hours of the morning, and if you like a bit of shopping therapy, there is a huge choice of stylish shopping areas, both in the centre and the suburbs
Thanks to its rich morphology, Athens has plenty of places from which you can admire stunning panoramic views of the city and beyond to the Aegean sea.
Within easy reach of the city centre is the town of Piraeus, Greece's main port and gateway to the beautiful islands of the Aegean, or the southern suburbs, located on the coast of the Saronic Gulf, where the locals like to stroll beside the seaside. Many long weekenders opt for a one day 3 islands cruise, as a wonderful contrast to the hustle and bustle of this fascinating city'
No other city has contributed more to the civilization of mankind than Athens. It is the place where Socrates was born, Plato, Aeschylus, Sophocles, Euripides and many others. It is the place that humanism and democracy were born. The intellectual light that Athens created will always be alive. It is one of the oldest named cities in the world, having been continuously inhabited for at least 7000 years.
Over the years, a multitude of conquerors occupied Athens but after a long period of decline, it became the capital city again in 1834, as a result of the Greek War of Independence and the creation of an independent Greek Kingdom. Since then Athens has never looked back and in 2004 the Olympic games finally returned to their birthplace and Athens underwent massive redevelopment and modernization.
There's no end of monuments and attractions in Athens, but these are the best of the best that you won't want to miss.
The jewel of Athens, the Acropolis and the Parthenon, dominate the city. Even if there were no Parthenon, the Acropolis is worth the visit just for the magnificent view of Athens and the surrounding temples below. And now the aclaimed New Acropolis Museum nearby.
Just below the Acropolis is the theatre of Herod Atticus built by the Romans in 161 AD and still used today for classical concerts, ballet, and performances of high cultural value. Further on is the Theater of Dionysious the first stone theatre and home to Sophocles, Aeschylus, Eripides and Aristophanes. It was rebuilt around 342 BC by Lykourgos and then enlarged by the Romans to be used for gladiator fights. From here a short away is Hadrian's Arch, a monumental gateway resembling a Roman triumphal.
The heart of modern Athens beats in Syntagma Square. Next to Syntagma Square you will find the Greek Parliament building and in front of it the Monument of the Unknown Soldier, guarded by the Evzones in traditional costume. From this square starts the beautiful National Garden (40 acres), south of which stands the impressive Zappeion Mansion (1874-1888). From there you can continue towards the Presidential Mansion (1897) and thence to the Panathenaikon (Kallimarmaro) Stadium, where the first Olympic Games in modern history were held (1896).
The Plaka is the oldest section of Athens. Most of the streets have been closed to automobile traffic, and is now an area of restaurants, tourist shops, and cafes. Though it is quite commercialized it is still a neighborhood and arguably the nicest neighborhood in central Athens. There are a few galleries like the Moraitis and there are several museums in the Plaka of special note the Children's Museum, the Music Museum, the Greek Folk Art Museum and the Jewish Museum. The Monastiraki flea market is the place to be on Sunday's when it seems every Athenian is here either buying or selling.
A few kilometers from Athens centre you can take the coast road, also known as the Athens Riviera, from Faliro until Cape Sounion where you will find the temple of Poseidon built in 5th B.C. which offers one of the nicest sunsets one could ever imagine. On the way to Cape Sounion you will find many sandy beaches, yacht marinas, hotels and nightclubs.
Athens is one of the most bustling cities in the world, especially in the summer season the nightlife is truly amazing. One can find excellent restaurants and night clubs in nearly all major areas of Athens. We suggest you drive along the Corniche of the Athenean Riviera, with perhaps a candlelight dinner in one of the sea front restaurants which can range from the quiet and traditional to the ultra sophisticated and even lively Bar- Restaurants bars where one can see the sea on the one side and people chatting or dancing on the bar , on the other.
Whatever you want from a city break, you will find it in Athens, the ultimate city of contrasts.

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Monday, August 1, 2011


The Ionian Islands are truly one of the most known island complexes in the world. With world renown islands such as Corfu, Kefalonia, Zakynthos/ Zante, Lefkada/ Lefkas, Ithaka, Paxi!
Come explore this amazing area with the Greek Island holiday specialist since 1973

This article is from

Ionian islands
The temperate climate; the deep and cool sea waters; the mountains; the lush vegetation; the cultural heritage; and the cheerfulness of the inhabitants, make the Ionian Islands the ideal place for a holiday as well as rest and relaxation.
What is more, the traits of the Ionian Islands are perfectly combined with a flawless tourism infrastructure, excellent hotel accommodations, restaurants, diving centers, sea sports, cultural events, and a multitude of sights, historic monuments and museums worth visiting.
Scattered along the western coastline of Central Greece, the Ionian Islands as they are known, are an island cluster comprising twelve small and large islands whose total surface area comes to 2,200 square kilometers. Zakynthos, Ithaki, Kerkyra (Corfu) , Kefalonia , Lefkada , and Paxoi are the six, large Ionian Islands. Antipaxi, Erikousa, Mathraki, Othoni, Meganisi and the deserted islets of Strofades south of Zakynthos are the smaller Ionian Islands.
Together with the island of Kythira and the neighboring Antikythira the islands form the island cluster of Eptanisa. Nevertheless it should be noted that Kythira and Antikythira are completely cut off from the rest of the Ionian islands situated as they are across southern Peloponnese and the coast of Laconia.

Once, the Ionian Islands were part of Central Greece but were torn apart when the terrain sank due to the seismic activity along the great coastline fault of the Ionian Sea. This accounts not only for the ragged shores and hauntingly beautiful beaches but it also accounts for the islands’ tall mountains, once part of the Pindos mountain range which crosses Central Greece. It also accounts for the great depth of the waters in the area which, at 4,406 meters, is the greatest in the Mediterranean.
The Ionian islands have a mild and temperate climate which makes them the ideal location for vacation or residence. In winter, the mountains of Central Greece stop the cold northern winds from reaching the islands while, in summer, the heat is tempered by the meltemia, the soft, northwestern winds, and the sea breezes. Due to the air currents prevalent on the Ionian islands, many of the island beaches have developed into internationally acclaimed windsurfing centers.

The Ionian Islands have been inhabited since Paleolithic times, have been through many invasions, and have received the influence of a variety of cultures.
The Ionian Islands were part of the Byzantine Empire until1204 when the Franks took over Constantinople and the Ionian Islands were eventually ceded to the Venetians. Under Venetian rule, the Ionian Islands formed their own local nobility whose register survived as late as the 19th century.
From the time of Frankish rule until 1864 when they were joined with Greece, the Ionian Islands were also ruled by a number of foreign conquerors. The presence of the Europeans on the Ionian Islands at a time when Greece was still under Ottoman rule gave rise to significant intellectual activity something that is still visible today both in the islands’ architectural tradition as well as their charming cultural traits.

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