Posts tagged: Beach

Thymonia

By , 07/08/2014 20:47
Thymonia - Θυμωνιά

Thymonia – Θυμωνιά

The main beaches on Thassos – the likes of Aliki (Αλυκή) and Psili Ammos (Ψυλή Άμμος) are packed with people and sunbeds at this time of year.

So we gave gone “off the beaten track” a little bit in search of quieter beaches.

Thymonia (Θυμονιά), located on the South coast of the island, is one of those places. It’s only a short distance from the main road, with plenty of parking, but the lack of beach bars and tavernas makes it less attractive for families: and more attractive to us.

We stopped in Thymonia for a swim for a bit this evening. It’s a good beach – it does lose the Sun quite early though, as it dips behind the mountain shortly after 7.

Other beaches we’d like to try include Astris, and there’s one not too far from the ‘pool in the rocks’ at Giola.

Off out to dinner now though.

Bye for now.

FH.

Skala Marion

By , 05/08/2014 08:56
Skala Marion

Skala Marion – Σκάλα Μαριών

It’s Tuesday today… I have been in Greece now for 5 weeks, the rest of my family for 6 nights. 1 week from now we’ll all be flying back to the UK from Thessaloniki. It’ll be strange being back in the UK after so long.

Mum drove abroad for the first time yesterday. Dad normally does all the driving in Greece! We went yesterday to the beach at Skala Marion (Σκάλα Μαριών), a small fishing village the other side of Limenaria.

Skala Marion has a nice big beach, but it is without the tourists of the other beaches on the island. It is mainly Greeks who use the beach there, and it’s therefore quieter in the afternoon during the siesta time. As Nikos at the Makedonia Hotel said the other day, the siesta in Greece is like a national religion.

The sea has been calmer the last couple of days but there’s still lots of debris floating about, left over from the storm we had on Friday night. It’s still swimable though, you just can’t see your feet when you’re standing knee-deep in the sea.

One change from last time: There are now sunbeds on Skala Marion’s beach; but it’s still much quieter than the beach at Potos; the sunbeds when we were there were half empty. As seems to be common in much of Greece now, sunbeds are free if you order a drink from the café. We took three of the sunbeds, and ordered our drinks.

For our remaining days on Thassos, we’re planning to do a day trip to Kavala one day. Kavala is the capital of the county we’re in at the moment, over on the mainland. Back on the island, there is an Olive Oil Museum which we’d like to visit… and to keep Dad and Corrie happy there will be plenty of beaches we’ll go to as well.

Not quite sure where we’ll go today, but I’m getting hungry, so I think my first stop is the village bakery. Fresh bread and maybe bougatsa (cream filled pie) for breakfast: delicious!

Bye for now,

FH.

To the Cyclades

By , 22/07/2014 23:13

Ermoupoli

Part 3 of my Grand Tour of Greece takes me 144km (89m) to Syros: Capital of the Cyclades, and of the entire South Aegean region.

Getting here was very easy, but did need an early start. I checked out of my hotel in Athens at 6:50 this morning, and waited outside for my taxi. I had prebooked the taxi before leaving the UK – and it arrived right on time at 7. It took me straight down to Piraeus – the whole journey takes no more than 20 minutes, and costs €25. An advantage of taking a taxi was that I was driven right up to the ferry, so didn’t have to carry my cases too far.

220720142308For the journey out, I took the 08:05 Hellenic Seaways service, on the Nissos Mykonos boat. We left on time – and arrived on time in Ermoupoli, at 11:30 on the dot. My €30 ticket was an economy class ticket; I sat up on the sun deck, right at the top, and got breakfast from the café bar just below.

A tip for travellers with lots of luggage: You can leave your cases down below; there is storage space in the garages at the bottom – all marked according to destination. Alternatively, do what I did and take them on deck with you – but remember the escalators only go as far as reception…and they don’t go down!

Back to Galissas

For my brief stay in Syros, I am back in Galissas – the small village I stayed in last year. This time though I’m staying in a room at Peter & Tony Rooms. The ground floor is the village café bar, serving a range of drinks, snacks and ice creams. At a cost of €76 for two nights, this is the most expensive part of my trip, but definitely worth it.

Antonis met me at the port and took me to Galissas on his motorbike. He took my suitcase at the front, while I sat on the back, holding on to my hand luggage and bag of shopping in one hand and the motorbike with the other. I wore no helmet, of course – this is Greece: Health & Safety doesn’t really exist out here. Riding on a motorbike (even if just a small, not very powerful one) was slightly scary, but I survived – and secretly enjoyed it.

I was able to go straight in to my room – a double room with a private bathroom, there’s also a fridge, tea/coffee making facilities as well as a knife, fork and spoons – which is quite useful, because I can get lunch, or keep some juice and water in the fridge.

220720142298After getting settled in to my room I headed for the beach. Galissas Beach is probably the best beach on the island, but never too busy. It is a shame though that what last year was the quieter end now has a (small) beach bar and a some sunbeds. It’s not a massive amount of sunbeds, but it is enough to encourage a few more people to use that end of the beach, so it’s not as quiet as it was last year.

I also note that a couple of the local tavernas have closed since we were here last. It’s a shame to see places close like that in such a lovely little village, but I guess that is the effect of the financial crisis in Greece at the moment.

After lunch and a siesta in front of the afternoon’s news bulletin on NERIT TV, I got the bus in to Ermoupoli. Forget the €3,90 each way cost for the busses in Leivadia: here, it’s €1,60 each way. It was only a quick trip to Ermoupoli today, to go to the cashpoint and to get a top-up card for my Greek mobile (you can’t top up by debit card on the Greek networks).

For dinner tonight, I went to the mezepoleio Κάππαρη Σύρου, and had chicken fillet and chips – as well as bread and a dip, and a drink – cost €10,10.

Tomorrow, after breakfast I’ll have a morning swim; then I think I’ll head back in to Ermoupoli for a bit of shopping, and then back to Galissas for an evening swim. Tomorrow is effectively the “last day” on Syros I was meant to have last year, before the tour operator sent us back to Mykonos, 24 hours before out flight, with 12 hours notice.

I’m off to bed.

Good night.

FH.

Galissas Beach

By , 22/07/2014 14:24

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Almost Finished in Viotia

By , 18/07/2014 16:42

I have just two days left in Leivadia, before I return to Athens early on Monday morning. It will be strange to be back in Athens after 2 weeks in a very quiet town, but I am looking forward to returning to Syros on Tuesday, and seeing the rest of my family when they arrive in Greece in 12 days.

The weather this week has been cooler than my first two weeks – Tuesday was overcast, and wet with a short thunderstorm passing over in the morning, and a longer one lasting a couple of hours in the afternoon. Wednesday was just overcast. It made a nice change to be able to work in cooler weather.

The last couple of days, the weather has improved and the temperatures are heading up again, yesterday was sunny in Leivadia itself, but overcast when I went back to the beach at Antikyra. Today has been sunny in the morning, but it has clouded over now and we’ve had a (very light) rain shower.

This is probable the first time I’ve been in Greece and seen a prolonged spell of not-so-sunny weather – it is still warm though; I’m still only in t-shirt and shorts. I think from Sunday onwards the long, hot, sunny days I will look for when I go to the beaches of Syros next week will make a return. I think it is partly due to the area of Greece I am in that the weather is like this.

The Church On A Mountain

Leivadia Church

On Monday I decided to climb the mountain above the springs of Levadia, in order to visit the little church there is up there. It’s only small, but looks quite impressive built in to the rocks – especially at night when it’s all lit up. It’s quite a climb up there, but the views over the town from the top at the top are rather impressive.

Leivadia View from Church

Above: View of Leivadia from the church.

Below: Inside the Church.

Inside the Church

I even got the chance to take a video (below)…

Back to Antikyra

Ag. Isidoros

Yesterday afternoon, in need of another swim, I got the bus back to the coastal village of Antikyra (Αντίκυρα). The end of the bus line is at the beach of Ag. Isidoros (Αγ. Ισίδωρο). It was very busy on Saturday, so I left in in favour of Antikyra’s own beach, which is narrower – and therefore not as busy. Yesterday however, it not being a Saturday, it was quieter.

It was also overcast by the time got there, but that didn’t put me off: I found a nice spot at the end of the beach, under a tree, and went for my swim. It was my first “proper” swim of the holiday: I was in the water for a good 45 minutes.

It was the first beach quiet enough that I had plenty of space, with the added bonus that I didn’t need to worry about leaving my valuables unattended (when I was on the beaches near Athens, that was always a concern). I also enjoyed being able to swim quite far out and still be standing not more than waist deep in water. It’s also sandy underfoot once you get away from the water’s edge.

After enjoying my swim and drying off, I walked back in top the main village – about a 15 minute walk. With the sun setting, another hour until the bus, and another hour after that until I’d be back at the house in Leivadia, I went in search of something to eat. Though Antikyra has it’s tourists, they are mainly Greek, so the tavernas and restaurants were empty even at 8 in the evening. This turned out to be quite useful when I chose a cheap little gyro place to have a cheap bite to eat.

After so many years coming to Greece for my holidays, I am more than comfortable ordering my own food & drink in a taverna, and asking for the bill, etc. Even when I’m not the one paying, as the Greek speaker in the family I’ve been the one asking for the bill probably for the last 10 years.

It was when we were on Thassos I learned how to ask for the bill in Greek, so that would have it at either 2004 or 2006. Usually I’d say «Ο πατέρας μου θέλει των λογαριασμό» (“My father would like the bill”). This year I’ve been doing it the more Greek way, saying simply: «Παρακαλώ…» (to get the waiter’s attention): «Να σας πληρώσω». This more colloquial expression I copied from a group of Greeks in a taverna in Delphi the other day.

Arriving in the little gyro place on the sea front in Antikyra, I ordered my food and started talking to the waiter there; he could tell I was not Greek bus wasn’t sure where I was from. For some reason, when I explained I was from England, he asked me «Ξέρεις Εδιμβούργο;» (Do you know Edinburgh?) Anyway… I used this as an opportunity to explain to him how I’ve learned Greek, and about my Grand Tour of Greece – where in the area I’m staying and about the work I’m doing in Leivadia.

I get a huge amount of satisfaction from being able to hold a long conversation entirely in Greek, especially when it ends with «Μιλάς πάρα πολύ καλά Ελληνικά, έχεις καλή προφορά». I now know that προφορά = accent or pronunciation.

After paying my bill (just €3), the waiter thanked me, wished me «καλό ταξίδι» (good travel) – and before I left I managed to get him to take a photo of me.

By popular request (repeated texts from Mum ever since I got here), here is a photo with me actually in it, taken by my friend in Antikyra, just next to the table where I sat for my meal.

Me in Antikyra

This is one of the reasons I love coming to Greece so much: the φιλοξενία (hospitality – the Greek word for which is made of the words “friend” and “foreigner/guest/stranger”): they welcome everyone to their country as friends, and they definitely appreciate any effort made by a foreigner to speak their language.

Right… I’m off for a short siesta now. I’ll try and write again once I get back to Athens.

Bye for now,

FH.

Antikyra and Delphi

By , 14/07/2014 18:58

Today sees the start of my second week in Leivadia. It is just 8 days now until I head to Syros – which I am really looking forward to.

This weekend saw me using the local bus services a couple of times. After work on Saturday, I decided I was in need of a beach: I took the 5pm bus to Antikyra (Αντίκυρα) – the small town just along the coast from where Dimitris took me a couple of days ago. I had a walk round, had something to drink, and had another swim.

I must say I am looking forward to next week where, barring my few days in Kalambaka and Thessaloniki, I will probably be on the beach at some point every day for the rest of my tour. It is still extremely hot here.

The bus journey to Antikyra takes about an hour from Leviadia; and about half way between, from the bus I could see a small wildfire burning on the mountainside – with helicopters and planes circling ahead, taking it in turns to come down to drop water on the fire. It was all out by the time I went past on the bus back a few hours later.

Photo below: Antikyra – Looking towards the beach.

Antikyra

Sunday was my day off, and Dimitris suggested I take the bus to Delphi (Δελφοί / τους Δελφούς) for the day: It’s just under 45km away, and the bus journey takes 45 minutes.

Delphi is, along with the Acropolis, one of those ‘must-see’ sights of Greece. There’s a museum there, and the archaeological site (I’ll put more photos up a bit later) – entry for EU students is free. On that note: Φοιτητικό εισιτήριο is one of the most useful phrases I have used since arriving here. I estimate it’s probably saved me €20 on entrance fees – maybe more!

Treasury of the Athenians

Photo above: Treasury of the Athenians (next to the Treasury of the Boetians – Boetoia/Viotia/Βοιωτία) being the county I am in now).

Just a few minutes walk from the archaeological site and museum lies the modern village of Delphi – it’s a nice little town, with the main road running through on two levels: one level for traffic coming one way, one level for the other. The roads are narrow and there are lots of tavernas, bars, restaurants and hotels there. I walked up to some of the back streets on the upper levels and found the church, opposite the police station.

Photo below: Narrow street in the modern village of Delphi.

Delphi

Delphi Church

Photo Above: The church in Delphi.

Photo below: There are excellent views from Delphi down towards Itea (Ιτέα), a coastal town where the bus between Athens, Leivadia and Delphi terminates.

View towards Itea

Today I am having a quieter day – just sitting in my cafe in Leivadia having a drink an an ice cream. I think I might go back to Antikyra again later in the week, and maybe head back to Delphi or even to Itea again on Sunday.

Tonight: I must e-mail the hotels/apartments I’m staying in next week and let them know what time I’m arriving – particularly for Syros, where I will be able to get a free transfer from the port to the village.

Time to pay up and head back to the house.

Bye for now,

FH.

Living Like A Greek

By , 11/07/2014 20:54

Aspra Spitia

While I am in Leivadia (Λειβαδιά) I really am living like a true Greek. It is a very Greek town – no tourists (any that are here are Greek)… the kiosks don’t sell postcards, or, annoyingly, stamps. The post office closes before I finish work!

As in Athens, I am generally getting up around 7 in the morning – the difference here is that breakfast is almost straight away, not at 8. By 8 I am starting my day’s work: mostly work in the garden, such as collecting dead leaves, cutting the grass, cutting wood for the fire etc. I finish my day’s work at 1.

After 1 I have an hour to get ready for the main meal of the day – the food here is quite good, and always home cooked. It feels strange sitting round a dining room table eating lunch in Greece; I’m normally used to sitting in a taverna for these sorts of meals.

After lunch the family go for their siesta, and I go to explore: I’ve walked up in to the mountains overlooking Leivadia for some wonderful views, I’ve sat by the springs and read my book, each evening I’ve gone in to one of the cafes by the springs for a drink and an ice cream (the banana ice cream is particularly nice).

Yesterday was a good chance to get out of the town for a bit: Dimitris and his sister took me to the beach – we went to Aspra Spitia (Άσπρα Σπίτια) beach – pictured above. It is  just along the coast from the town of Antikyra (Αντίκυρα), which also has a nice beach. Next week I might take the bus and go to the beach on my own. There aren’t many busses to there, but there is one at around 5, and one back at about 8.

In the evenings, a light meal around 9: yoghurt, feta cheese, bread etc. Sometimes leftovers from the main meal if there are any.

Today’s big achievements: Having encountered a problem on my laptop leaving me unable to access my e-mails, I took my laptop today to a computer repair place in Leivadia, and (bearing in mind all my Greek tech-vocab is entirely self taught) I successfully explained in Greek what the problem was, and they were able to fix it for me: I was out of the shop after less than 5 minutes.

Also today I used a cashpoint in Greece for the first time. I’ve never been here long enough to need to use one before!  On the ‘select language’ screen I selected Greek. It’s quite fun using the cashpoints and Athens Metro ticket machines without needing to put it to English! The money I withdrew today is the money I’ll need in Levadia for the next week, and for my return to Athens in a couple of weeks: I don’t trust the cashpoints in Athens, there are all sorts of dodgy looking people lurking nearby!!

Normally at this point in my holidays in Greece – I’d be just 3 days away from flying home. Not this year! Tuesday is not the day I return to the UK: It marks instead one third of the way through my Grand Tour of Greece. By Wednesday, I will have been in Greece for 15 days: Longer than I have ever been in this country before.

Off downstairs in a minute for some dinner, and then I’ll head to bed.

Bye for now,

FH.

Acropolis and Glyfada

By , 05/07/2014 23:50

Parthenon

One of the great things about being in the city with an unlimited travel pass is that I can get almost anywhere I want to relatively quickly. I’m going almost everywhere on the underground, which is very reliable and convenient.

First thing this morning, I went to the Acropolis – 10 minutes away on the underground. Free entry for EU students with a valid university ID card. (Hooray! Mine’s valid until the end of the month). I enjoyed the views over the city, and down towards the coast at Piraeus.

Returning to my hotel, I spent a bit of time using the Internet downstairs; the owner had his grandchildren here and asked me to show them how to access games on the computer: The perfect test for my Greek, as they weren’t yet of school age and didn’t speak English (the owner, by the way, speaks to me in English).

After my daily siesta (which I took earlier than usual today) I headed to Syntagma on the underground, from where I could jump on the tram. The tram is covered by my travel pass – so no need to pay for new tickets. There are two lines: one line goes to Σ.Ε.Φ. (the Peace & Friendship Stadium), and I took the one heading to Voula.

Not far before you get to Voula lies the Athenian suburb of Glyfada – home to quite a few Greek celebrities (including two of my favourite Greek singers). There’s the main beach which has it’s own tram station; but I stayed on a little bit longer and jumped off at Palio Dimarcheo (‘Old Town Hall’) station after seeing a nice quiet beach with a taverna on it.

GlyfadaThis beach is West facing and the sea calmer than on Tuesday; there was no wind here. I had a longer time at the beach today and swam more than once as well. It’s strange to think that both Glyfada and Voula have beaches packed with foreign tourists; and in between, less than 5 minutes walk from Glyfada’s main beach, lies a very quiet spot full of mainly Greeks!

For dinner, I got the tube to Acropolis Station and wandered round the pedestrianised streets there; heading towards Theseio Station, which is on the other Metro line to mine. The route took me right through the heart of Athens’ tourist districts (the sort of places we’d probably stay if we were here on a package holiday). As nice as it was to walk through in the evening, I wasn’t to stay and eat here. I wanted something more Greek.

That Greek experience I found just round the corner from Acropolis Station – but outside the pedestrianised bit. I’d walked past it when I first arrived earlier in the evening and made a mental note to return if I couldn’t find anything else. So I returned.

DinnerThis was a restaurant with a few tables on the pavement outside, and a small number inside. There was no menu: the food was on display, and I simply was able to say to the lady (the owner I assume) which dish I wanted. For €8,50 I had moschari me rizi (beef with rice) and a Fanta orange. It was a lovely little place – not hidden away, but much quieter and much more relaxed simply because the tourists stick to the pedestrianised street just over the road.

It’s my last day in Athens tomorrow. Heading to the flea market at Monastiraki in the morning, then to see the changing of the guard at Parliament (they get the army band out on a Sunday), then I plan to walk Mt. Lykavittos.

Bye for now.

Glyfada

By , 05/07/2014 18:04

Believe it or not, this lovely quiet little beach lies just a minute or so from one of the stations of the Athens tram! It is just an hour from Syntagma Square. The main beach at Glyfada is packed, but this one, near the ‘Palio Dimarcheo’ station is really quite nice…and it has a taverna there too, where I sat for a bit and had a drink.

Glyfada

Glyfada

Glyfada

Above: The beach at the Southern end of Glyfada.

Below: The tram back to Syntagma Square.

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Below: The tram station in Glyfada.

Tram Station

Beach Day

By , 03/07/2014 22:58

Porto Rafti

The Attiki region of Greece is not known for having brilliant beaches – but that’s not to say there aren’t any.

After calling in at Syntagma Square to buy some postcards, I hopped back on the tube (I love my 7 day all-Athens travel pass!) and headed towards Victoria Station.

The KTEL bus station is less than 5 minutes walk from the tube station: and it is from here the busses to the likes of Sounio and Rafina leave.

Sitting waiting for the bus, I realised that I obviously look Greek when travelling alone. A Greek child who looked far too young to be smoking asked me if I had any τσιγάρα (cigarettes). «Όχι, δεν καπνίζω» was my reply. (“No, I don’t smoke”). A tourist from Cyprus asked me if I knew where to get a bus timetable from. It seems most of them don’t have a clue I’m a ‘foreigner’ and talk at full-speed Greek until they see the confused look on my face when they use a word I don’t understand.

I took the bus to Porto Rafti (Πόρτο Ράφτη), a seaside town in Eastern Attika. The journey costs €3,70 each way: What isn’t clear from the timetable is that you change busses shortly after Koropi. The ticket officer makes an announcement when it’s time to do so, but only in Greek (99% of the passengers were Greek). Usually the coach you’ve got to get on to is there waiting for you – or not more than 5 minutes away.

Porto Rafti itself isn’t a bad place; I took the coach right to the end of the route, so outside the village, in the hope of finding a quieter bit of beach (which I did). I stayed there for a couple of hours enjoying the sea breeze (the meltemi is up, but can’t be felt in Athens); I read my book; I did swim; read my book some more; and got lunch from the supermarket.

After returning to the hotel for a bit, dinner time arrived. Tonight a slight change: instead of fast food I opted for one of the tavernas just off Karaiskaki Square, which is the main square near my hotel, and it’s where the nearest tube station – Metaxourgeio – is.

The taverna was only a small one: 3 tables on the pavement outside, and 3 inside. I had spaghetti bolognese, baked bread (it was similar to, but not exactly, a focaccia), and a glass of cherry juice for a total of €8. I imagine the same would have been double in the tourist districts.

Looking forward to next week, and I sent an e-mail to my hosts in Levadia to let them know I was in Greece; on Monday I will take the train to Levadia and Dimitris will pick me up from the station when I arrive.

I’m off to bed now. Tomorrow, I’ve got postcards to send, and a concert to look forward to in the evening.

Bye for now.

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