The museums of Irakleion are veritable treasure chests of knowledge about the history, culture and traditions of Crete. What’s more, they have adopted new technologies to provide unique interactive experiences.
5,500 years of history brought to life
Treasures of world cultural heritage, including the Phaistos Disk, the Snake Goddess figurines, the bull-leaping frescoes from the Palace of Knossos, the gold bee pendant from Malia, and the colorful Kamares pottery, are all beautifully presented in the newly renovated Archaeological Museum of Irakleion. The tour begins on the ground floor dedicated to Neolithic Crete and the Minoan civilization, and continues onto the first floor in the room that features the Knossos frescos. Here, The Prince of the Lilies competes in the beauty stakes with La Parisienne, also known as The Minoan Lady. Returning downstairs, you can conclude your tour at the display of archaic sculptures, which includes some of the oldest in existence in Greece.
Meet El Greco
Irakleion was the birthplace of Domenikos Theotokopoulos, better known as El Greco, and here at the Historical Museum of Crete you can see two of the artist’s most important works – the View of Mount Sinai and the Monastery (1570) and the Baptism of Christ (1569). The museum is housed in 1903 mansion and covers the history of Crete from the early Byzantine period up to the World War II. Of particular interest is an impressive 15m2 scale model of the city of Irakleion, then called Chandakas. The hall devoted to Christian religious art is also a must-see. Browse through one of the applications designed especially for the museum and when you’re done, finish off your visit in the garden, sipping homemade lemonade while enjoying the sea views.
The life and times of an eminent Greek
The village of Myrtia, lies 15 kilometers outside Irakleion; it is “the soil where they (the ancestors of Nikos Kazantzakis) were caught and buried,” as the famous writer, poet and philosopher put it in his novel Report to El Greco. During renovations in 2009, the museum took the opportunity to modernize its tour methods, leveraging digital media to create a “living, breathing” space where you can open the drawers of the furniture, browse through the author’s work via touch screens and take an up-close look at the table where he sat and wrote most of his novels. You can also see his pipe, his glasses and his handwritten manuscripts. The room dedicated to Katzantzakis’ epic poem The Odyssey stands out, as does the space with the suspended suitcases that symbolize all his voyages.
Homage to Byzantine Iconography
With the low lighting, an atmosphere of solemnity and prayer chants, it’s easy to think that you’ve come to church instead of a museum dedicated to Christian art. Housed in the largest monastery of the city – St Catherine of Sinai, a 13th century Venetian building – this recently renovated space serves as a small museum while still operating as a church. Among the treasures housed here are 15th century icons attributed to the great icon painter Angelos, as well as six icons by Michael Damaskinos and the 1721 icon of the Virgin Kardiotissa. After the occupation of Irakleion by the Ottomans, the monastery was converted into a mosque known as the Zoulfikiar Ali Pasha. At the coin exhibit, press the button and look left: a section of the minaret which remains visible becomes illuminated.
A look back at everyday living in Crete
More than 3,000 objects, most of which were part of the lives of Cretans up until the middle of the last century, are on display at this museum, in operation since 1973 and located in Voroi, just a few kilometers from the archaeological site of Phaistos. A tour of the two-story 500m2 building is an initiation into popular Cretan culture and into the history of the island. The objects date from 1000 AD until the middle of the 20th century. Another space is dedicated to those crafts that have been lost as professions, such as basket-making.
Meet a Deinotherium!
The most striking exhibit at the museum is the model of the third largest mammal to have ever walked the Earth, Deinotherium giganteum. This creature, which lived in Crete 9 million years ago, has been modeled by the scientists at the Natural History Museum of Crete. Set in an industrial building on the coastal road, the Natural History Museum of Crete delivers a full sensory experience, with impressive representations of nature presented in actual scale, as well as a simulated earthquake. Children love the animated dinosaurs and the Discovery Center, where they can play in caves, look for fossils in the sand and watch a video projection.
*Originally published on Greeceis0 Read More
There is always something new to discover in a country like Italy — even for Italians. Thanks to a special person, I had the chance to visit Bologna and fell in love with it at once. Emilia Romagna’s main urban center is one of the most beautiful and ancient cities in the country, and a treasure trove of artistic riches. And that’s not all: Bologna’s food is delicious, there are a lot of secrets to discover and plenty of other things to do. Of course, there are also numerous sights to visit, but since the weekend only lasts a few hours, we picked the best ones according to G&I Custom Luxury Travel.
Book your trip with G&I Custom Luxury Travel, we are here with a list of activities for you!
Ristorantino Il Tinello (Via Dè Giudei, 1c)
You can’t be thinking of leaving town without trying tortellini, right? In this little place, just a few steps away from the Due Torri, the two towers that are a landmark of the city, you will eat the best tortellini in brodo (tortellini in a broth) in town. The place isn’t very touristy, but still, it is very small so we really recommend that you book. And if you really don’t like tortellini, don’t worry: tagliatelle al ragu — also known as bolognese to foreigners — are the wonderful fallback option here.
Trattoria Del Rosso (Via Augusto Righi, 30)
In case you hadn’t realized yet, we really are giving you insider tips today. This is a trattoria that is part of the city’s history and a point of reference for locals. Their fresh pasta is rigorously handmade by the women working here. From pappardelle to lasagne, everything has the genuine taste of bygone times. I tried their spezzatino di manzo (beef stew)… And I still remember its delicious taste!
Vasinikò (Via Santo Stefano, 40)
Trust us: the best pizza in town is here… And their primi are great, too. This is a rather new place that opened recently, and it is managed by a bunch of young, friendly guys from Naples. It is big and has a lot of tables, and to honor the restaurant’s name, which means basil in the Neapolitan dialect, basil green is everywhere in the decor. We couldn’t help suggesting a pizza place: this is Italy after all!
WHAT TO SEE
Basilica di San Petronio (Piazza Galvani, 5)
This church is the biggest in town and one of the largest in Italy, too. Its unusual facade will already entice you and make you want to explore the church — which is great! Inside, on top of lots of famous paintings and a statue by Michelangelo, there is a work of art that will leave you awestruck: the famous painting that shows Prophet Mohammed in hell — an artistic masterpiece that has caused lots of controversy over the years.
Torre degli Asinelli (Piazza di Porta Ravegnana)
Looking for the best view in town? Then you should head to the top of this tower, the most famous symbol of Bologna. Don’t worry about the fact that it is leaning, it is solid enough to hold your weight while you make your way up the 498 stairs. Take a deep breath, climb up and get ready for a beautiful view.
Finestrella di Via Piella (Window of via Piella)
Guys, this is a true gem, one of those secret tips we love to discover and share with you. At first sight, this alley will look pretty boring — but you will discover very soon why locals love it. The window of Via Piella facing the Moline Canal, that winds through the buildings of the city, is a very unusual site, and absolutely deserves a visit. It looks like a corner of Venice in another location. Canals were very important for the city in medieval times, and some of them were used as waterways. The Moline Canal, specifically, was used to produce the energy necessary to power the 15 water mills of the town — as the name says, since “Moline” means “mill” in Italian.
Complesso delle Sette Chiese (Via Santo Stefano)
This might be a bit of an obvious tip, but this cluster of seven churches in one complex is a must-visit, especially since you can access it for free. You will visit beautiful medieval courtyards, crypts and cathedrals — it’s hard to explain. Just go see for yourself, it’s wonderful and moving.
Everyone knows Bologna is the city where you can stroll underneath arched colonnades: these arches are in the city center, they’re in the outskirts and even on the way to San Luca sanctuary: and this specific sanctuary is a special one, because the way up to it is the longest colonnade in the world! It’s a wonderful way to get a break from the heat in summertime, and in winter, it’s very nice for a little hike. Start training, so it will be easier for you to walk up under the colonnade — the walk is 4km long. San Luca Sanctuary and a beautiful view on the city will be awaiting you on top.
Mercato della Piazzola (Piazza dell Otto Agosto)
Last but not least, a shopping tip for those who will be here at the weekend, this place couldn’t be missing from our list and it is one of the biggest markets of the region — only open on Friday and Saturday. People from faraway areas of Italy come look for all sorts of stuff in the 400 stalls of this market, whose products range from regular clothing to vintage clothes, or flower-print shoes. The good thing is, you can find all sorts of stuff here starting from just 2 euro!
Pilio is one of Greece’s most popular year-round destinations. Offering a perfect combination of the mountains and the sea and with natural beauty within easy reach of cosmopolitan comforts, this is a place where food lovers will find themselves spoilt for choice with the local cuisine.
The area benefits from a rich natural bounty; it’s most famous for its crisp red apples, but it also produces pears, quince, chestnuts and delicious wild mushrooms. You can find many of these food items available as confitures or spoon sweets, and while you’re picking them up, don’t forget to add a few jars of mountain honey to your basket as well.
Pilio’s local cuisine is based on rustic fare such as sausage, game, wild boar and spetzofai (a sausage, pepper and tomato dish), the kind of food that was meant to nourish farmers and workers. Humble but delicious, the region’s food has developed in interesting ways, especially now that a younger generation is at the culinary helm. Reservations are not usually needed during the week, but are a must on the weekend, when both day-trippers from Volos and locals enjoying their days off pack into the local tavernas and restaurants.
“Humble but delicious, the region’s food has developed in interesting ways, especially now that a younger generation is at the culinary helm.”
Niki, the owner and hostess of this simple taverna frequented today mainly by locals, was the first to introduce a grill-house to the area 25 years ago. Everything in this taverna is based on what’s available seasonally and is cooked according to traditional recipes. Try the beef in tomato sauce; the herb-and-vegetable fritters; the meatballs served with fried potatoes; or the goat, either slow-roasted in baking paper or cut up and cooked on a spit. On weekends and holidays, the grill is in full swing, with a selection of hearty meat dishes available. Every meal is topped off with a slice of halva or a spoon sweet made with fruit from Niki’s garden. • Tel. (+30) 24260.226.26
Located on the town’s main square (known as Taxiarchon), Agnanti is a modern taverna revamped in 2007 by owners Maria José from Spain and her husband Constantinos, who took over his parents’ business. The food is Mediterranean with a twist, such as the star anise added to a classic rabbit-and-tomato stew. The mushroom soup also comes highly recommended, as does the rooster in tomato sauce served with pasta, and the beef with smoked cheese and sun-dried tomatoes. A fireplace crackles in the winter, and wines from the region are served, too. • Tel. (+30) 24260.492.10
The inn here has been operating since 1965; the owner of the establishment’s restaurant, Constantinos Rigakis, serves traditional dishes in a rustic environment. In the evening, locals fill the room in order to enjoy tsipouro, the local spirit, and creamy galotyri, a soft cheese made in-house. The specialty here is wild greens cooked in tomato sauce and served with fried eggs, once a staple midday snack for farm workers. Try the spetzofai with a variety of sausages, peppers and tomatoes, or the hearty zucchini-and-cheese pie prepared by the owner’s mother, Eleni. Around 50 reasonably priced bottled wines are available. • Tel. (+30) 24260.311.21 & (+30) 6942.016.166
Inspired by what is believed to be the oldest cook-book in the world, the “Deipnosophistae,” a study on the art of eating from the early 3rd century AD, this elegant taverna/restaurant in a beautiful building with a garden has been around since 1992. The cuisine is Greek/Mediterranean and makes excellent use of fresh seasonal products found in the locality. Crab apples, for example, are used to make a wonderful syrup that finds its way into both sweet and savory dishes, and there are mushrooms and wild legumes picked from the nearby mountains, too. Order a meal of mushroom soup followed by slow-roasted pork knuckle with caramelized crab-apple syrup and, for dessert, the apple tarts served with vanilla ice cream. The wine list comprises about 20 labels, most Greek. • Tel. (+30) 24260.498.25 & (+30) 6977.975.082
This taverna takes its name from the nickname of its owner Yiannis, “the German”, who was given this moniker by his fellow villagers after he returned from a few years’ stay in Germany. Grilled meat is the specialty here, and there’s a great view to go with your meal; the taverna’s strategic location in the main square of Neochori, above the Church of Aghios Dimitrios, means that on a clear day you can see all the way to the Sporades. During the day, locals enjoy coffee, tsipouro and meze, while on weekends and during the holidays, the rotisserie spins constantly, producing delicious roast meat. Also try the rooster in wine sauce, the wild boar with quince and the pies made with wild greens and cheese. Organic wine from the local Patistis Vineyards is served in carafes, while there are also a few bottled labels. • Tel. (+30) 24230.553.90 & (+30) 6946.934.183
The taverna named Stefanos, also known as Pappou’s (Grandpa’s) Taverna, is located on the beach of Lefokastro, which gets busy in the summer but is very peaceful off-season. The taverna’s decor is nothing special, but it’s the fresh fish you’re here for. Choose from a selection of simple, authentic dishes that include seafood appetizers and entrées and wild greens. The amazing fish stew is unmissable, but be sure to order it a day in advance so it’ll be ready for you. Wine by the carafe, ouzo and tsipouro are on offer to wash down your meal in a friendly atmosphere beloved by the locals. • Tel. (+30) 24230.335.51
The Vronti family taverna has been in the same spot since 1950. These days, it’s in the hands of the second and third generation, Nikos and his mother Dimitra. It serves classic Greek cuisine and a few local specialties that are very well prepared, such as the gioulbasi (lamb roasted with garlic and butter in baking paper), stuffed cabbage dolmades and, of course, bobari (a traditional sausage made with offal, herbs and rice). Beef tail is slowly baked until meltingly tender and then served with traditional pasta and tomato in a dish known as giouvetsi, while the tongue is turned into a hearty onion-based stew. Dessert is on the house and comes from a large jar of homemade spoon sweets or from a tray of cakes (milk, walnut and orange feature prominently) prepared by Dimitra. • Tel. (+30) 24280.994.24 & (+30) 6936.908.552
Sisters Niki and Eleni have run this restaurant without a single day off since 2000. A fireplace in the corner sets the tone for this spotless taverna, and the outstanding traditional food does the rest. Start with the pie, with handmade filo pastry stuffed with local ingredients, and move on to the spetzofai made with thin sausages, whole roasted peppers and grated tomato. The trahana ( a grain product) soup with sausage, the beef cooked in tomato sauce with wild mushrooms, and the wild legumes with fried eggs are also delicious. The milk, eggs and some of the meats come from the family’s Karaiskos Farm, located outside Portaria, while the wine list is an eclectic selection of reds and whites. • Tel. (+30) 24280.991.21 & Tel. (+30) 24280.900.06
This place, which was Portaria’s first grocery store, was later taken over by self-taught cook Antonis Tsolakoudis. The taverna retains some of the elements of the original store, such as the store shelves and a mural by the native folk artist Theofilos, while the rest of the décor (a blue wall decorated with birds, chairs dressed in red velvet, a large fireplace and soft lighting) create an attractive atmosphere. The food carries the creative signature of the chef and includes beef tongue served with pumpkin soup, French-style veal in a wine sauce, and chicken in a pepper sauce served with sweet potato, chicory and pumpkin. A good selection of wines is on offer. • Tel. (+30) 24280.999.19
*Originally published at Greeceis.com
Mama shaped them round. Grandma always made them crescent – shaped, following the recipe of legendary Greek chef and cookbook writer, Tselementes. Both versions were made with the best butter that had irresistible aroma and taste.
At this time of year when Christmas is all around, I close my eyes and I am transported back to the kitchen of my childhood home. It’s as if I can see the two different shapes on the kitchen counter, each baked with all the love and affection of Christmas poured into them.
This snowy confection is a piece of Greek Christmas tradition and has been a part of every child’s memories for hundreds of years. In Athens and Thessaloniki alone every November and December, around 10 tons of kourabiedes are sold just by the Konstantinidis patisserie chain, so you can imagine how many are sold around the country as every bakery starts producing them!
In Turkey, they are known as Kurabiye, in Azerbaijan, Qurabiya and in the Middle East, Ghraibeh. The name is the literal combination of two words, kuru – dry, and biye – biscuit. Looking into the etymology of these treats, we arrive at a word from the Middle Ages – biscuit, which meant baked twice. It was a way of baking bread that ensured easy preservation and a product that wouldn’t spoil quickly. In the book “Ottoman Cookery” by Turabi Efendi (1864), kourabiedes are made with equal amounts of sugar and butter and double the amount of flour. Old Greek recipe books spun the name with a French touch and dubbed them quourabier! “You can give them any shape you want, arrange them on a baking sheet and bake them in a medium-hot oven,” writes Nikolaos Vasilakis in his 1892 recipe book.
I’m not sure if anyone today goes to the trouble of making homemade kourabiedes. Thankfully, there are plenty of patisseries which produce them on a mass scale but with a homemade flavor. So place a big, snowy plate of them on your Christmas and New Year table and don’t be scared to let yourself get covered in icing sugar as you eat them. In Greece, that’s part of the joy of the holiday season!
Originally published in Kathimerini’s K magazine.
November is the month for distilling grape-based tsipouro and the villages of northern Greece are the best place to enjoy it.
It’s a Friday night, just hours after our arrival in the Pieria region. The weather is chilly and the darkness of the night is far more pleasing than the afternoon’s depressing twilight.
We are in the village Skotina in the Pieria prefecture, northern Greece, located in the southern part of the country’s Macedonian region, and have taken a seat in the yard of the Polyhros family home. We are nibbling on olives and bread dipped in green olive oil.
In no time at all, the housewife approaches and wipes away the table top in one move, not with a standard disinfectant, but instead with tsipouro.
The spirit’s high concentration of alcohol makes it an ideal natural cleaning alternative, highlighting how alive multiple applications of local products remain as a practice in Greece’s rural regions. This “disinfectant” used by Mrs. Polyhrou is precisely why we have made this autumn trip to the Pieria region.
Palaios Pantaleimonas village in Pieria.
So, then, what exactly is tsipouro, you may ask.
It is a strong distilled spirit, similar to Italy’s grappa or arak in the Middle East, which is produced in various Greek regions (Macedonia, Epirus, Thessalia, as well as Crete, where it is known as tsikoudia), usually between October and December.
The spirit is made with the pomace, or grape residue – peel, pips and must – from the wine press. It is produced in copper stills, locally known as “rakokazana“. The pomace, along with water, is placed inside these containers and boiled to produce this clear distilled spirit, drop by drop.
Depending on the custom of each regions as well as the patience and intent of each kazanari, the producer at the helm, the tsipouro is single, double or triple-distilled.
Tsipouro is wine’s smaller but stronger little sibling. It possesses a far more aggressive taste and greater alcohol content (between 36 and 45%), which is why it is drunk in shot glasses, accompanied by small and assorted meze dishes.
OLIVES, CHEESE AND GOOD COMPANY
Food was an integral part of the production ritual at all the rakokazana we visited in Pieria. There are many of these stills, as tsipouro is a way of life in the region. The various foods consumed included white goat milk cheese, olives (brown, black, small or big), pie with greens (hortopita filled with spinach, nettle and other wild greens), cheese pie (tyropita), lamb and goat dishes, as well as a fantastic firiki apple (small and sweet) preserve in syrup topped with a walnut.
The culinary delights we tried – seated next to the distillation tanks, alongside the local producers, who were complete strangers to us just days earlier – while waiting patiently for the tsipouro to drip, were incredible.
The essence of this experience is represented by the eating, drinking and the socializing with familiar and unfamiliar faces by the boiling tanks as we waited for the pulp of grape peel, pips and must to be transformed into a fine spirit that will keep us company throughout the winter.
SPICY OR AGED
As may be gathered, our trip involved lots of drinking. However, excesses aside, the thing I liked most about this excursion to the various distillation tanks around Pieria was the opportunity it provided me to become acquainted with the people, their homes and the unique details of their everyday lives.
There was the young son of Mr. Antonis Katsamagas at the village Rahi, who fed wood into the tank’s fire as his grandfather looked on.
The cats that wondered about the yard at the Hatzis winery close to the village Neos Pantaleimonas who looked completely at home alongside the men by the tanks; and the wild boar pelt hanging on the wall at the winery operated by Mr. Korovesis in the village of Ritini that gave the space the look of a Norwegian hunter’s shack.
The trip also included interesting discussions about other tsipouro varieties, such as a cranberry-based version –, a yellowish spicy tsipouro made with touches of Kozani saffron – and tsipouro aged in oak barrels, which initially causes a burning sensation to the throat, before gradually providing a soothing warmth to the entire body.
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The World Health Innovation Summit is not just a conference or a meeting. It is about communities coming together to work together to improve health care for all, to network on a continuous basis. By supporting our communities, sharing knowledge, inspiring and innovating we as individuals and as a community benefit.
Be one of us!!
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Christmas in Greece is not as religiously oriented as Easter, but it includes a two-week holiday, with children away from school, exchanging of presents between loved ones, sweets and various dishes of supreme taste enhancing the festive mood, and the decoration of Christmas trees, and carols (Kalanda) bring a note of happiness to the streets.
Below you will find the top 3 of the Greek tradiniotal Christmas desserts.
Melomakarona are the most popular cookies baked at Christmas,
a lovely cookie drizzled with an aromatic honey syrup and sprinkled with walnuts.
Vasilopita is a New Year’s Day cake in Greece
which contains a hidden coin or trinket which gives good luck to the receiver.
Celebrating Christmas and New Year’s Eve in Greece is like finding yourself in an expressionist work of art: decorated Christmas trees, shiny bright ornaments, and “karavákia” (small Christmas ships) decked with blue and white lights.
But these Christmas desserts are definitely good for your soul!!
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Gorges, rivers, dense forests, steep slopes, natural pools, rocky peaks, such as the seemingly sculpted Astraka peak, and the so-called “Dragon Lakes” (drakolimnes) – the dwelling places of dragons, according to local legend – await the more adventurous traveler.
It’s no wonder that in ancient times the Zagori region was known as Parorea, meaning “beyond the mountains”. In the 6th century, when the Slavs arrived, it was renamed Zagori, meaning “place behind the mountain.” This is an imposing place, challenging and untamed by the demands of modern civilization.
An exception to this are the friendly, warm guesthouses and luxury hotels of central and western Zagori. Especially in the autumn, when the colors change day by day, a visit to this magical place is a must for these reasons:
The renowned Vikos Gorge in Epirus is registered in the Guinness bookof records as the deepest gorge in the world in proportion to its width, with a depth of more than 900 meters, while its narrowest opening is just 1.1 meters.
For a panoramic view, head to the small Aghia Paraskevi church, located beyond Monodendri, and walk along the cliffs with caves. Alternatively, look for the two other natural terraces by heading towards Oxia or the Beloi viewpoint in Vradeto.
Listen to the silence of Zagori from this point and enjoy the clean air and the scent of herbs. It takes roughly six hours to trek the length of the gorge, to forget all your cares, your cell phone (which won’t have a signal here anyway) and to become well aware that in Zagori life follows the rhythms of nature.
At Monodendri, one of the most touristically developed villages, visit the Rizarios School of Handicrafts and their gift shop with elaborate embroidery and weaving, have a coffee under the huge plane trees and open out your map to plan your routes. Because of the intense weather conditions and the difficult landscape, the inhabitants of Zagori realized early on the importance of cooperating among themselves to survive, and build their villages in a way so that one village was in easy sight of the other, thus maintaining visual contact.
Pano Pedina see a little of Elati, while Kapesovo which is higher sees Dikorfo, Manesi, Elati, Monodenri, Vitsa and Dilofo. This last village, with only 10 inhabitants in the winter, its cobbled streets, stone houses, a huge plane tree in the square and semi-deserted square and stray cats everywhere has an almost cinematic charm and few guesthouses for those who want to stay here. Even more impressive than the architecture of the local houses are the stone bridges of the Zagori villages, such as the triple-arched Plakida-Kalogeriko structure at the entrance to the village of Kipoi.
A winding road leads to the western Zagori, and it’s necessary to drive slowly because of the many bends but also because of the herds of sheep, cows or individual wild horses which meander across the road. You’ll know you’ve reached west Zagori once the remarkable Astraka Towers come into view. The imposing cliff towers dominate the villages on this side of the region: Aristi, Megalo Papigo and Mikro Papigo. There is a bridge which the locals call either the Papigo bridge because it was built with donations from a Papigo villager, or the Aristi bridge because it’s close to Aristi village. Whatever you call it, when you reach here follow the sound of the babbling brooks and soon you’ll find yourself on the banks of the Voidomatis river.
Bronze plane tree leaves flutter in the air this time of year with even the gentlest of breezes, painting the shores of the riverbank a coppery red. White-throated dippers and wagtails flit about, while well-tended trails await anyone who feels like trekking along the river through the forest of pine, fir, oak and beech. The same trekking groups also organize horse riding, 4X4 and paragliding adventures.
Another wonderful hiking area is Kolymbithres, 500 m from Mikro Papigo. Forget about your phone once again and lose yourself in the rich natural landscape. This is basically a small canyon cut by the river Rogovo. The flow of the water with the passage of time has carved the rocky sides of the canyon, creating a beautiful landscape. Some of the water pools are deep enough to dive into. It is said that Ali Pasha of Ioannina used to enjoy summer swims here.
The bravest, most experienced and adventurous hikers, well informed about the weather conditions, follow the trail that leads to the “dragon lakes”. Alpine newts inhabit the waters of the lake located in Tymfi at an altitude of 2,050 m in a location of exceptional beauty. It is approximately one hour from Diaselo and about five hours’ hiking from Mikro Papigo.
Even further north, with its own alpine newts (th dragons) is theDakolimni of Smolikas. The autumn and spring are the best times to visit, since in the winter, the snow and strong winds make it inaccessible.
Beyond the stunning landscape and bountiful fresh air, you’ll find cozy guesthouses with a unique atmosphere of warmth and luxury hotels with minimalist aesthetics and all modern conveniences enclosed within their thick stone walls. The food is excellent, not only the famous Epirus pies, but for everything else in outstanding restaurants such as Sta Riza in Elati, sophisticated hotel restaurants like Salvia of the Aristi Mountain Resort, themed restaurants such as Kanela kai Garyfalo in Vitsa focusing on Pindos mushroom, both farmed and wild. Sterna in Kapesovo sells delicious sweets and marmalades, local raki, liqueur wine and mountain herbs. With these, you’ll be able to keep the memories of the genuine taste of Zagori alive long after you go home.
Also consider visiting eastern Zagori, which is far less developed in a touristic sense but just as impressive.
The 5 best reasons to spend a day – or week – on Antiparos, Paros’ little sister.
Antiparos, a small, anti-mainstream island, has stood its ground as an alternative offshoot to neighboring Paros, tourism-oriented and cosmopolitan with a vibrant, fancy and high-decibel nightlife. By contrast, the mild tourism development on Antiparos has not taken away the purity of the island, a focal point for the rock-punk community since the pre-digital 80s. Those unconventional camping-ground types our parents advised us to keep away from have since grown old, lives were influenced by the considerable time spent at La Luna, the little island’s legendary outdoor club, as well as at the rock-oriented Doors club, dedicated to the late rocker Jim Morrison, while the “official nudist beach” – as defined by its frequenters – behind the camping ground, was a carefree spot. The Cycladic island’s hippy spirit has not really changed over the years. Five reasons to visit the island follow:
The island’s devotees widely believe that Antiparos is its camping facility, launched in 1978. It has carved out its own history on the island as an alternative-scene focal point and, even today, stands as the reason why many visitors choose to holiday on Antiparos. The restaurant operating at this 300-tent capacity camping facility is its pivotal spot. Groups of friends gather here to play cards and backgammon in the afternoons and enjoy their first warm-up drinks for the night. Most campsite dwellers usually don’t take off for the main town, a ten minute walk away, until well after midnight. Shots and cocktails are had at Camping Antiparos before they head to La Luna for late-night partying.
The bars at the town’s square close at around 3 to 3.30am to avoid disturbing neighbors. As a result, revelers relocate to either the late-night La Luna disco or Mylos, a dance club.
The former, an open-air, down-to-earth nightlife oasis that enjoys cult status, is said to have once been the location of a poultry enclosure. Since opening in 1979, its owner has hardly touched a thing. Any signs of wear or tear have been left unattended, which has added to the spot’s accumulating vintage charm. La Luna is located deep amid fields. The moonlight serves as a useful guiding light to locate the spot, it is said. Everybody dances a lot here. The music is dominated by old classic tunes from the 70s and 80s. Revelers know when it is time to leave when Nina Simone’s “My Baby Just Cares For Me”, the club’s signature closing-time song, comes on. Strictly order beer here.
Extremely different, Mylos plays mainstream dance music. It is housed at an old mill with a view of the sky. At daybreak, the sunrays enter from the glass roof and revelers party on donning their sunglasses. Should you lose track of your friends in the crowd, you may climb the mill’s outdoor staircase to the top and try and spot them from there. Otherwise, the climb is ideal for the breeze and sunrise experience. Without a doubt, the two clubs represent two entirely different camps. You either belong to Mylos or La Luna. There is no between.
Sifneiko beach, named as such because it looks towards Sifnos, also known as Iliovasilema, meaning sunset, is a lovely beach offering an uninterrupted sunset view. As the “golden hour” draws nearer, scores of people, especially couples, rush through the alleys to make it to the beach on time for the experience. Two laid back café-bars also operate here if you feel like treating yourself to a drink. The route to Sifneiko runs by a mid-15th century Venetian castle located within the town. It was built by Giovanni Loredano, a Venetian nobleman, to protect the island from pirate invasions. Twenty-four houses were later built in the surrounding area. Many of these are still inhabited today.
Soros beach is one of the most renowned and essential places to visit. Its Megalos beach is more cosmopolitan and offers a good beach bar. The Mikros beach, which is not organized and covered with fine pebble, offers greater privacy. From this point on, the shoreline features numerous delightful coves with turquoise waters and clean water.
Besides the beach by the island’s camping facility, part of which has been defined as “nudist” by frequenters, Faneromeni and Aghios Sostis, are the island’s other leading swimming spots. Located on the west side of the island, they are challenging to reach but well worth the effort. On the east side, Monastiria and Livadia are great spots for windsurfing and kite surfing.
One of the world’s most significant caves, located in the centre of the island, may be reached by descending 411 steps or 85 metres. Its entrance is located at the top of the Ai-Giannis Mountain, also the name of the charming small church perched on the rock. Fragments of ancient vases, as well as carvings and inscriptions on stalactites and stalagmites by a number of historic figures, have been discovered inside the cave. The descent to the cave’s bottom is safe and reached by a concrete staircase. The heart of the cave is divided into three sections. The first features stalagmites and stalactites, resembling waterfalls. The second is renowned for having hosted a Christmas Day mass in 1673, during Ottoman rule. The third section is known as Vassilikos (Royal) as a result of a visit to the cave by King Otto, the first monarch of modern Greece, and his wife, Queen Amalia. Their inscriptions still exist.
Significant findings from ancient times have been made on Despotiko, an uninhabited island west of Antiparos, as well as at two other neighboring virgin islands, Tsimintiri and Stroggylo. The oldest Cycladic settlement was discovered on Saliagos, an islet off Antiparos. However, the archaeological interest is focused on Despotiko, identified as the location of Ancient Prepesinthos, where proto-Cycladic tombs and cemeteries were discovered a century ago. Two constructions were also discovered a few decades later. One of these, a superb sanctuary dedicated to the god Apollo, is estimated to have been used from the 7th century BC until the Roman era. The people of Paros built this place of worship as they were determined to consolidate their dominance in the Aegean. Numerous parts of sculptures, six kouros heads and over 500 architectural pieces are some of the discoveries that have been made over the years, shedding intensifying light on ancient Greek history. Despotiko may be easily reached by boat from the small Ai-Giorgis port at Antiparos. Once there, do not miss out on the opportunity to swim in this little island’s superb turquoise waters, whose beaches are covered with fine golden sand.
G&I Team recently visited the New Hotel Athens (Yes!Hotels Group).
We started our day at New Hotel by strolling around the hotel admiring their amazing taste in Art. Every floor has something different to show you and if you are an “art lover” you will love staying in New Hotel. Don’t forget to spend some time and read about their history…
New Art Lounge at the rooftop (7th Floor) with a panoramic view to Athens.
**Plus Tip:The New Art Lounge features a unique art library with more than 2000 art book tytles.
The New Taste Restaurant (*‘Favela ‘ columns are covered with intricately connected cut pieces of wooden furniture
taken from the original hotel.)
Pumpkin soup with greek yogurt
Linguine with eggplant and apaki*( salted and smoked lean pork, which is very popular in Crete.)
New Taste features a Mediterranean menu focusing on simple dishes, all cooked using the finest, local organic produce and offers fresh, high quality food, made on site in front of guests. Menus are dynamic and change frequently according to the season.
What you should know…?
… about The New Taste Restaurant is that, you don’t have to stay in New Hotel in order to taste their amazing Breakfast , Brunch , Lunch or Dinner.
For Reservations: +30 210 3273170
Web Site : http://www.yeshotels.gr/el/hotel/new-hotel
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