The resolute cultural dynamism of Greeks, despite a long-drawn-out debt crisis that their county has faced, has landed Athens on the New York Times list of “52 Places To Go in 2017.”
The NYT listing recognizes and celebrates what it describes as the Greek capital’s “thriving arts scene.” The paper’s recommendation singles out for mention Radio Athenes for its pop-up lectures and performances, the recently renovated National Museum of Contemporary Art, which houses some of the most exemplary artworks by Greece’s modern artists, the Nomadic Architecture Network, which runs events in urban and public spaces; and the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Center, which opened at the end of summer and will be home to the Greek National Opera and National Library. It also entices its readers to dive head first into the city’s cultural action, its “surge of galleries, collectives and nonprofit art organizations built for leaner times” and artistic events, such as the Documenta 14 art exhibition.
*Originally Published on greeceis.com0 Read More
Kasos is located to the east of Crete and is the southernmost of the Dodecanese island cluster. At first glance, its rugged landscape makes it appear somewhat savage and hostile. But this is an island of pleasant and welcoming people that is very rewarding for those who make the effort to visit.
Located near the main port of Fri, locals in the pre-Ottoman era poured all of their considerable skills into the construction of this 2,000-year-old port. At the Church of Aghios Spyridonas, with its ornate bell tower, the owner has an important collection of family photographs that illustrate life on the island in the past century.
Take a walk from Pounta to Emboreio to enjoy the sunset or a swim at its beach, which is particularly pleasant when there is no northerly wind. Next, head for Panaghia, a pretty village with a number of well-maintained stately homes that stand out for the imposing archaic-style columns at their entrance and their beautifully carved wooden doors. The same village is home to the Church of Pera Panaghia, which hosts one of the biggest fetes on the island on August 15, a national holiday marking the Dormition of the Virgin. The six small churches located in the village also constitute a fine example of Byzantine architecture.
This landmark is best visited off-season so that you can truly appreciate the synergy between the Byzantine architecture and the stunning Aegean seascape. September 2 is an important date for this church; locals gather for a major religious festival and stay at the monastery’s dormitories overnight.
Passing Fri and Bouka as you head west, you will come across a small church dedicated to Saint Constantine (Aghios Constantinos) that marks the turnoff to Ammouas beach. If you keep going for about 5k further along the road, you will reach Antiperatos beach, which consists of three small coves with excellent blue-green waters that can get a bit choppy in northerly winds. The beach at Helathros is also worth a visit, made up of massive rocks embracing a pretty bay with clear waters.
Set sail from the port and in 35-40 minutes heading west you will reach the islet of Armathia, where you can swim at one of the loveliest sandy beaches in the Mediterranean, known as Marmara (Marbles). Another amazing tour – though you will need a local guide – is along the eastern coast of the island, allowing you access to beautiful beaches that cannot be reached in any other way, such as Agali and Gialoui.
Kasos is renowned for its excellent cheeses and other dairy products. Near the entrance to the village of Aghia Marina when traveling from Antiperato, is the dairy of the Vonaparti family, the only large business on the island producing fine local cheeses and exporting all over Greece. Aghios Georgios in Hadia is about 15k further along the central road and along with Mytata, is where the people of Kasos have been producing cheeses for decades.
Nothing will make your visit to Kasos more worthwhile than attending one of the many traditional feasts that islanders are so fond of hosting, mostly to celebrate a marriage or baptism, or to mark some religious holiday or other. Local bands perform traditional tunes mainly on lyres and lutes, while songs have the narrative lilt of Cretan mandinades. There is also no shortage of theatrical flair, as the meaning of the lyrics is often illustrated with dramatic hand and facial gestures. As you sip your raki, you may find that you’ve lost track of time and the sun has already started to come up, but don’t worry, these are experiences you’re sure to remember for many years to come.
It was the first time I was attending Travel Expo 2016 and the first exhibition for G&I custom luxury travel. This 3 day exhibition was based in Athens and it was an international Greek Tourism meeting -3rd Exhibition taking place. This was a huge opportunity to be able to meet with over 2000 people from over the world and build relationships with them. Excitement was an understatement!
We had the opportunity in having B2B appointments with agencies / tour operators from Europe, Balkans, Asia, Middle East, USA and Canada. The appointments were approximately 15 minutes in duration and that was enough time at first hand. If not no worries, as we had the privilege of inviting the agents to our amazing bar at our booth for after work drinks 🙂
Let me tell you more about the booth we had in the exhibition hall. The number was C54-56 (how can I forget) of which we shared with our colleagues, Luxury Concierge and Life Line, and what a booth it was! We had a great Seating area for our outside meetings to take place, a bar for coffee and drinks or even snacks. It was an amazing opportunity for G&I and we couldn’t have done it without our affiliates.
by Mairina Chrysopoulo
General Manager & Owner
One of the many reasons why travelling in Italy is so wonderful is that all 20 regions offer their own unique culinary delights. The list is long but bellow we have the Top 5 for you!
Literally translated as ‘white pizza’, this foccacia style pizza bread can be found in all bakeries in Rome. Be sure to head to one of our recommended favorites for pizza bianca that is light, fluffy, crispy and salty!
From baccala (salt cod) to fiori di zucca (zucchini flowers), to seafood in Rome fried foods reign supreme. You hear fried and you’re thinking of your heart immediately, but a little every now and then won’t kill you and when they taste oh so good, so just give in….remember you’re on holiday!
When Italians think of food in Rome without question the first thing that comes to mind is carbonara; it’s painful to imagine life without it.
Pizza in Rome has nothing to do with the kind you find in Naples just 2 hours down the road. In Rome, pizza is thin- really thin. There is no lip to the crust and if it’s done well it has a nice “char” to it.
Buon appetito!0 Read More
“The Temple of Poseidon at Cape Sounion at the Saronic Gulf is one of the most memorable sights of Greece thanks to its rich history and beauty”
On the peak of Cape Sounion, at the southernmost tip of Attica, stands thetemple of Poseidon, beside whose columns one has virtually a hang-glider’s view of the Saronic Gulf. The distinct promontory was also sacred to Athena, worshiped in a small sanctuary below the summit. A timeless navigational landmark, Sounion was vulnerable to the passing Persian fleet in 480 BC, which stopped long enough for the invaders to destroy the temples of both Poseidon (early 5th c. BC) and Athena (6th c. BC). The latter was rebuilt a decade later, while a new temple for Poseidon, designed by Athens’ “Theseion Architect”, arose ca. 444 BC. After Sounion was strengthened with a hilltop fortress in the late 5th c. BC, it became an important Attic borderpost and coast guard station, equipped with a rock-carved ship’s ramp for the drawing out and rapid launching of small naval craft.
As Philip II, Alexander and their successors rose to power in the 4th and 3rd c. BC, Sounion was occupied by Macedonian troops. Under the Roman empire, the stronghold lost much of its military significance, but still proved advantageous to a band of rebellious slaves (ca. 100 BC) temporarily on the lam from the silver/lead mines at nearby Lavrion. Sounion also became notorious as a pirate haven and later as a favorite stopover for early travelers and antiquarians—including Lord Byron, in the early 19th century, who left his name prominently carved into one of the Poseidon temple’s marble doorposts.
For today’s visitors, just as for Byron, ancient Sounion should not be missed. This is one of the most inspiring, memorable sights in Greece. From the moment one first spies the tall elegant columns, while approaching Sounion along the sinuous Attic coast, the ancient temple’s ruins elicit awe. On the sacred promontory’s summit, sea and sky stretch into the distance as far as the eye can see. Peace and quiet reign, the sound of the wind, even other visitors’ voices seem not to offend. This is the perfect place for streaky pink sunsets, evening calm, an ouzaki by the sea in a neighboring tavern.
The European Best Destinations platform asked travelers to vote for the best European beaches.
With the weather heating up, Brussels-based European Best Destinations(EBD) compiled its list of the most breathtaking beaches in Europe. Greece ‒ with its clear blue skies, crystal clear water and golden sand – could not be missing from the lineup. Beaches on the islands of Lefkada, Karpathos, Samos and Zakynthos were praised for their beauty, making the Top 12 which was topped by Stiniva Beach on Vis Island in Croatia.
The European beaches from a selection of 280 beaches shorlisted by the EBD jury were voted on by 10,218 travelers from 136 different countries. The beaches were assessed on a number of criteria, such as their suitability for relaxing, partying or simply walking.
•Stiniva Beach, Vis Island – Croatia
•Tossa de mar, Costa Brava – Spain
•The Concha, San Sebastian – Spain
•Berlanga Island – Portugal
•Cala Acciarino, Lavezzi Island – Corsica
•Kavalikefta Beach, Lefkada – Greece
•Armacao de Pera, Algarve – Portugal
•Apela Beach, Karpathos – Greece
•Santa Maria Dell’ Isola, Calabria – Italy
•Ksamil Beach, Ksamil Islands – Albania
•Kokkari Beach, Samos Island – Greece
•Zakynthos Islands – Greece
0 Read More
Greece’s seabed is known for its endless array of ancient treasures, so when some snorkelers swimming in Alikanas Bay in Zakynthos observed what looked like large circular colonnades, courtyards and paved floors – but mysteriously no pottery or other ruins indicating a former settlement – at a depth of around 2-5m, they were convinced they had discovered an ancient port city that had been lost to the sea.
The site was soon examined in situ by the Ephorate of Underwater Antiquities of Greece, with Archaeologist Magda Athanasoula and diver Petros Tsampourakis, together with Professor Michael Stamatakis from theDepartment of Geology and Geoenvironment at the University of Athens (UoA).
This took place in 2012, when the Greek authorities initiated a scientific cooperation to examine the phenomenon together with The University of East Anglia (UEA). The research team went on to investigate in detail the mineral content and texture of the underwater formations in minute detail, using microscopy, X-ray and stable isotope techniques.
Working on the joint project, the universities have now determined that despite its startling resemblance to a man-made ancient city, the site is in fact made up of formations that have occurred naturally over the course of thousands of years.
“Despite its startling resemblance to a man-made ancient city, the site is in fact made up of formations that have occurred naturally over the course of thousands of years. ”
“As geologists we are always excited to find out more about how the Earth works.” Professor Julian Andrews, from UEA’s School of Environmental Sciences, said. “I suppose a new archaeological discovery would have been seen as very, very exciting by everyone, but you can’t win them all!”
It has now been officially confirmed that the disk and doughnut morphology, which appeared like column bases, is typical of mineralization at hydrocarbon seeps. Professor Andrews said: “We found that the linear distribution of these doughnut-shaped concretions is likely the result of a subsurface fault which has not fully ruptured the surface of the sea bed.
“The fault allowed gases, particularly methane, to escape. Microbes in the sediment use the carbon in methane as fuel. Microbe-driven oxidation of the methane then changes the chemistry of the sediment, forming a kind ofnatural cement, known to geologists as concretion. In this case the cement was an unusual mineral called dolomite which rarely forms in seawater, but can be quite common in microbe-rich sediments. These concretions were then exhumed by erosion to be exposed on the seabed today.”
“This type of concretion is known all over the world from the Pacific to the North Sea and the Mediterranean,” Professor Andrews continued. “These ones are a bit unusual in that they are found in very shallow water. Most are found in hundreds or thousands of meters of water.”
“We found that the linear distribution of these doughnut-shaped concretions is likely the result of a subsurface fault which has not fully ruptured the surface of the sea bed”0 Read More
The first time I visited Santorini about a decade ago, I was 21 and fresh from university. The world felt like an undrawn map to be filled in – and this island, one I’d fantasized about ever since seeing photographs of it in a travel magazine, was one of the stops I was looking forward to most.
The island did not disappoint. As I pulled into the island by ferry, it felt like I’d fallen into a fairytale: with all the terraced houses and domed churches perching on the 300-meter high cliffs of the famous caldera, shimmering pastel in the dusk light, Santorini promised the kind of beauty most of us only get to see on postcards.
Throughout the next few days, whether climbing through the black rocks around the volcanic crater at Nea Kameni or breathing in the incense of theByzantine church in Oia, examining 3,600-year-old frescoes in theMuseum of Prehistoric Thera or paddling through the volcanic hot springs at Palia Kameni, I kept thinking how lucky I was to be here. How extraordinary life could be.
“As I pulled into the island by ferry, it felt like I’d fallen into a fairytale.”
“Even as you’re hiking its steps, sipping its wines, chatting with locals, part of it still remains, indelibly, a dream.”
It wasn’t just me. The island is so striking, pinning down its reality is almost impossible: you can’t experience it and not make it something more than a place in your mind. Even as you’re hiking its steps, sipping its wines, chatting with locals, part of it still remains, indelibly, a dream. A fantasy. A myth.
No surprise that the legends entwined around the island are many: it’s said the island was given by Triton to the son of Poseidon and – more famously – that Santorini is the real Atlantis.
I visited the island again two years later. I’d crammed enough traveling into those 24 months to become vaguely jaded: now, Santorini seemed almost too perfect. A kind of theme park where everything, from the lushly coated cats that sat on impossibly pristine stoops to the world-famous sunsets that lit up the sky in orange and pink, seemed designed just for our consumption.
The beauty can almost be too intense. Craig Walzer, a native of Memphis, has been running Santorini’s only English-language bookstore – Atlantis Books, modeled after Shakespeare and Company in Paris – for 12 years. In that time, he’s watched a lot of people come and go. All of them, he said, share one thing in common: “Intelligent adults come here and turn into infants,” he told me. All the beauty proves too much to absorb, so they become distracted by each small piece of it – a cat or a church dome or a sunset – and flit from one to the next, camera in hand, as overwhelmed as children.
It can take a couple of trips to see past that beauty, to start to understand what really makes the island tick. And on my third visit – a trip taken alone – that’s what happened.
“The more I saw, the more one thing became clear: Santorini’s beauty was far more than what you saw on the surface.”
For the first time in Santorini, I rented a car. Criss-crossing desolate hills and dramatic coastline, I saw the island in a way I hadn’t been able to before. Away from the Oia–Fira tourist circuit, I tasted crisp Assyrtiko wine while looking over a bright sea; I listened to the waves while nibbling on tzatziki and snapper at Amoudi Bay.
The more I saw, the more one thing became clear: Santorini’s beauty was far more than what you saw on the surface. It was in the island’s sounds, tastes, history and people.
And much of it came from a surprisingly unbeautiful, and violent, event. In 1600 BC, the island was huge, round and home to the flourishing Minoan city of Akrotiri. And then Santorini’s volcano erupted with such force that it spewed out a 30-kilometer-high column of ash and rock. It collapsed huge sections of the island into the sea and devastated Crete, located just 140 kilometers away, with a tsunami up to 150 meters tall. Some archaeologists argue that the eruption helped end the Minoan civilization.
Out of the devastation came life. That eruption is why Santorini’s farmers and winemakers swear by the soil: its high mineral content makes it ideal for the island’s crisp, acidic Assyrtiko, which you can taste at any variety of vineyards – Gavalas Wines in Megalochori, Antonis Argyros’ Art Space Winery or Domaine Sigalas outside Oia.
That eruption is also, of course, what made the island so extraordinarily beautiful. It created the dramatic caldera, the sheer cliffs striped with the lava’s reds and browns and blacks. It painted the island’s beaches with a rainbow of sand: there is a black beach, a white beach and a beach colored blood-red. And it froze the town of Akrotiri, preserving the vibrant frescoes and exquisite figurines now in the Museum of Prehistoric Thera.
This was the missing piece: this beauty didn’t come easy. It took a devastating catastrophe.
Not that it’s all high-stakes drama here. Head beyond the bustle of Fira or Oia, or even visit the island outside of high season, and the peace is palpable. In Imerovigli, the only person I ran into was an elderly woman, picking her way up the path in red shoes and a cane, who said “Kalimera!” to me with a big smile. On Red Beach, I picked my way up the rust-colored lava boulders and was startled to see one other person, a man draped across one of the rocks, eyes closed, relaxing in the sun. On the road that wound up Profitis Ilias mountain, I pulled over to take photographs of the terraced vineyards that spread before me into the sea, dotted with yellow flowers: the only sound I could hear was the breeze.
You’d think that mastic from the northern Aegean island of Chios would be an acquired taste. Its pine-scented, cedar-like essence, bitter and brittle at first, before being softened with the release of herbal resin isn’t quite for all palates. And yet, mastic liqueur is successfully making its way into British pub culture thanks to the efforts of George Economides, an Oxford chemistry graduate from Chios.
For him, it’s all a matter of chemistry and he’s asking Londoners to join in by using Mastiha World liqueur as a base for cocktails and win a trip to Chios in the process where they can witness mastic production first-hand.
The mastic harvest is a laborious process that involves cleaning and soil leveling so that the resin can be easily gathered from the ground. As a child, Athens-based Economides would visit the rolling hills surrounding the charming geometrically-decorated Mastihohoria villages every summer to help out his “giagia” (grandmother) obtain the mastiha teardrop resin. It was a hard process, a “family affair”.
They would cut the trunk in specific places to allow the resin to flow. The locals refer to these mastic drops as “tears that please, perfume, relieve and heal”. Intrigued by their properties, Economides received his while discovering the aromatic and therapeutic qualities of the Chios Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) product.
‘The locals refer to these mastic drops as “tears that please, perfume, relieve and heal”’
“I guess mastic was always at the back of my mind due to my deep love for Chios, even while I was studying chemistry,” he says. During his annual summer pilgrimage to his family’s island, he’d bring his new-found Oxford friends along to experience for themselves the deep-rooted tradition in the cultivation of the unique product that only grows on the southern part of Chios. “Awestruck by the process, they would pack their luggage with mastic products. Entire suitcases!” he says, adding that even after the thrill of the vacation had faded, they would place orders for more.
Leaving Teddy Hall, Oxford, with a first-class degree in Chemistry, a doctorate in quantum mechanics and a full Oxford Blue in Dancesport, Economides was offered a well-paid consultancy job as the first rung on the ladder of what could have been a promising career. The offer coincided with astag party on Chios at a time when Greece was still suffering from a crippling economic crisis.
Between slugs of mastic-based drinks and jovial conversation making light of the gravity of Greece’s shortcomings, the young scientist had an epiphany. “I knew Greece was suffering and I wanted to contribute to the Greek economy,” he says. “I wanted to improve the perception of Greek product.”
“The sky’s the limit with mastic that can be enjoyed as gum, food additive, cosmetic, sweet and therapeutic medicine used since antiquity to cure all manner of ailments.”
The rest is history, Mastiha World Ltd, was established as a startup of young Greek expats to the UK and graduate students in August 2014 through the import of Kentos (20% proof) and Enosis (30% proof) mastiha liqueurs. “We wanted to promote mastic by scouting out the premium authentic spirits of the Chios Mastiha Growers’ Association,” he says.
The risk of turning down a lucrative job offer for the chance of endorsing a product he knows well and believes in has paid off. Mastiha World is going from strength to strength, having won five awards in its first year and taking England by storm as it appears in a growing number of top cocktail bars and restaurants around the country. It is already featured on the cocktail list at London’s prestigious The Ivy while it’s become a firm favorite at Raoul’s and the Lighthouse in Oxford. From your average Londoner to chef Gordon Ramsey, mastic liqueur has become the talk of the town.
Having passed its first tests with flying colors, versatile mastic will come back with more products for Brits to sample. The sky’s the limit with mastic that can be enjoyed as gum, food additive, cosmetic, sweet and therapeutic medicine used since antiquity to cure all manner of ailments.
On his part, Economides is reaping the rewards of his labor while sitting at his oak Oxford desk at Little Clarendon Street, cloudy skies outside, made sweeter with the taste of mastic – and home!
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