目前分類:希臘島嶼 Greek Islands (18)

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其實,淡季去希臘小島,有許多的好處:

1. 沒有夏天那麼的熱

2. 觀光客少一半,旅館價錢也便宜很多

3. 景點不必排隊,旅館不必預訂,船票不必先買

當然,淡季去也有很多缺點:

 

1. 一些單靠觀光錢生存的小島,包括亞洲觀光客的最愛 Santorini 與 Mykonos, 只要十月一到,船班立刻減半,有的甚至完全停駛,到隔年4,5月再復航.

2. 這些單靠觀光生存的小島,很多在島上經營餐廳與旅館的業者,其實並不是小島當地人,淡季時也不住在島上;10月底一到,他們就回雅典或其他的地方了,直到隔年4,5月再回來. 所以觀光小島如Santorini 與 Mykonos 等, 淡季時有一半的餐廳與旅館是關閉的.

3. 淡季天氣不像夏天那麼好,冬季日照時間也比較短,一些景點也比較早關。

其實,只要注意一些重點,淡季去希臘小島也可以玩的很有趣:

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By sheer coincidence, I came upon one of the most beautiful Greek Aegean villages I have ever visited - Molivos, located in the north of the island of Lesbos. The town is about an hour or so by public bus from Mytilini, and I fell in love with it at the first sight. It's strange to explain why I love Molivos so such: it's a pretty little village with a lively harbour and quaint cobblestone streets, but there is something about this little hillside village that captures my imagination. Instead of just spending a few hours there, I decided to rent a self-catering unit from one of the locals and stay there for one week.

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During the day, I would just visit one of the little cafes on the harbour front and enjoy a cup of coffee while admiring the picturesque view of the Aegean right in front of me. While some people might want to unwind themselves while on holidays, I found such views extremely enticing and made my brain cells work faster....

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Northern Aegean could get very windy anytime throughout the year, even in August....

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To those who are not familiar with Greece and the Greek islands, Santorini is the so-called 'Pearl of the Aegean'.

For me, the honour goes to Lesvos, a much bigger yet lesser known island in the Northern Aegean, close to the Turkish coast. Its unpretentious beauty immediately struck me the moment I disembarked at the island's capital town, Mytilini.


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Greece has hundreds of islands big and small, and many of these islands have a common feature: they are
a) home to some famous Greek gods, goddesses or heros with a demi-god status in Greek mythology;
b) home to key figures, thinkers and writers in the history of philosophy, arts, sciences and mathematics,
c) place of refuge for Christian Saints
 
For the time being, I can think of:
- Samos: the island of Pythagoras, the famous philosopher and mathematician that forumlated the Pythagorean Theorem
- Lesvos: the island on which Sappho, the Greek poetess, was born
- Kos: the founder of modern western medicine, Hippocrates, was born on the island of Kos and received his medical training at the Asklepieion of Kos (about 5km outside of present day Kos Town)
- Patmos: the island on which St. John the Apostole took refuge and wrote the last book of the Holy Bible, the Book of Revelation
- Chios: legend has it that Homer was born in the village of Volissos, Chios; some said that he had spent a considerable length of time on the island

Anyway, I was fortunate enough to visit Kos on several occasions in the past few years thanks to its proximity to the Bodrum Peninsula, Turkey and the island's strategic location as the transport hub of the Dodecaneses Islands means it is possible to travel from Kos to many different Greek islands by ferry or air.

The pretty little harbour of Kos Town. The island has some of Greece's best beaches (most of which are located on the eastern half of the island). Kos and Rhodes are the only two islands of the Dodecaneses islands on which Ottoman Turkish population were allowed to settle down during centuries of Ottoman Turkish rule.
Ottoman Turkish legacy could still be seen all over the place. Here, at Kos Town's main square, buildings with distinctively Ottoman architectural style have been converted into public buildings and elegant cafes.

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After 3 days in Mytilini, I decided to look for a new hotel to stay. It was weekend when I first arrived at Mytilini and most hotels near the harbour were fully booked. Thus I had had no choice but to settle for any accommodation I could find.
After walking around the centre of Mytilini for a while, I came across a small hotel in a side street right behind the main harbour avenues. It is situated in a restored old Greek house and looks all right from the outside. I asked at the reception if they had any room available for next week, half expecting they would say 'sorry, we are full' but to my surprise, they still had vacanies and they accept credit card payments.
The room is sunny and I particularly like the stone wall and the homely feeling of this little hotel.
 
                                              

                                                     Main Entrance to the Hotel

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I stayed at Hotel La Vita during my 5-day visit to Rhodes, Greece, in May 2007. Thanks to some friends, I paid less than 20 euro per person for a single room with breakfast, private bathroom and decent facilities, I thought it is a good bargain. Nowadays it is difficult to find a decent hotel (note: real hotel, not private houses or family-run pensions) that charges less than 60 euro per night for a room anywhere in Greece, let along Europe.

                                             Hotel Bar/Cafe and Recpetion Area
Given that I paid less than 20 euro for my room, I was suitably impressed upon arrival that this hotel is a proper hotel with proper facilities, not some kind of make-shift budget accommodations.

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While I was still living in Bodrum, Turkey, I had to exit the country once every 30 days due to visa restrictions. The easiest and cheapest way of renewing your Turkish visa is to go to any Greek islands off the Turkish coast, and return on the same day - in the case of Bodrum, the nearest Greek island is Kos.
But after a few times going to Kos on a day trip (plus Schengen hopping visa excursion), I thought it was time to try out other nearby islands too. So I looked at the map and visit all of them one by one.
Chios caught my attention because of two things:
1. Legend has it that Homer was born in Volissos, Chios. Whether this is true or not, is still being disputed by historians, but at least it has been recognised by all authorities that Homer had indeed spent a long period of time residing on Chios.
2. Chios is home to a very unique plant species: Mastic gums (a.k.a. Mastiha, or pistachia lentiscus var. Chia). This is a funny plant: although it could be found in many places across the world, only those grown in the southern half of the island of Chios release resin that has a special armoatic flavour when cut. Those that are grown elsewhere - even on the northern half of Chios - do not release any aromatic resin when cut. Until now nobody can explain why this plant behaves in such a way. Some Japanese scientists had transplanted some mastic trees with soils from Chios to Japan and still the plant refuse to yield any resin as soon as it is out of the southern half of Chios.
As a result, Chios has the virtual monopoly over the highly lucrative mastic trade eversince the Roman times. Despite being ruled by different Empires (Romans, Ottomans etc.), Chios was always given preferrential treatments and semi-autonomous status, thanks to its monopoly of mastic production. Chios mastic is also one of the Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) products as well as a protected geographical indication (PGI) name.


A nice cafes in the fairly affluent Mastic village of Pirgi, southern Chios. The production of mastic on Chios has been controlled by cooperatives and 24 so-called 'Mastic villages' in the southern half of the island. Most of the mastic villages have a fairly well-preserved medieval village centre. Pirgi, for instance, is famous for its painted facades, frescos and walls that signify the mast amount of wealth accumulated from the mastic trade. Because the price of mastic has remained stable in the past decades, Chios is one of the few Greek islands that is not dependent upon tourism as its main source of income. As a result, there are neither big hotels nor well-developed tourist resorts on Chios. It was in fact fairly difficult to get any accommodation on the island which cost less than 40 euro per person per night.

Fresh tomatoes hanging on the balcony: this is a common sight at Chios mastic villages.

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After spenting one week in the really really beautiful village of Molivos on the island of Lesbos, I decided to move on to the next island - Limnos (Lemnos), because I read it somewhere that the harbour of Myrina at Limnos is one of the prettiest harbours in Greece.
Because the cheapest hotel accommodation I could find online prior to my arrival on Limnos was more than 70 euro per night, I thought it would make sense to look for cheaper alternatives once I arrived. This turned out to be a grave strategic error, as I found out (after walking around the whole town for more than an hour) that all hotels on Limnos were booked out because it was a major holiday week in Greece: even the most expensive hotel on the island, where I had to pay 90 euro for a single room, was fully booked. Since I am not the kind of person to stay overnight on a bench near the harbour, I decided to take the night ferry to Thessaloniki one day earlier than planned and sleep on the Thessaloniki-bound ferry instead.
The overnight ferry from Mytilini arrived early in the morning at 0700 and I was a bit disappointed by the view of Myrina. The harbour is quite pretty but it is not as beautiful as I had imagined: it looks more Irish in terms of flaire than Aegean (if you know what I mean). The white washed houses, with outdoor cafes (still closed when I arrived) and little lanes remind me of some seaside villages in County Kerry, Ireland. Even the shopfronts and the way houses are laid out around the town are really Irish-like. There are a few taverns next to the little fishing harbour but it was so early in the morning, everything was quiet.
Once I came to the conclusion that no accommodation whatsoever was available on this island on that particular day, I decided to enjoy myself a bit before the overnight trip on a ferry for a second time in two days. I found a nice cafe on top of the hill overlooking the pretty bay near Myrina and spent at least 3 hours there sipping coffee and admiring the scenery:

Another side of the bay, with hotels and guesthouses (all of them fully booked!) - and nice cafes and taverns along the waterfront. It would have been lovely to spend a few days on this island.

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Most of Samos' vineyards are planted with Muscadet, the famous white varietal that makes a sweet, flowery, almost honey-like, white wine. The colour of this wine is golden and has a relatively high alcohol content for a white wine (more than 12%).
The vineyards of Samos are located on the hilly slopes facing the sea. During the day, long hours of sunshine make sure that grapes have sufficient natural sugar contents essential for the sweet Muscadet wine, while the cooling sea breeze that blows from the Aegean provides for ideal growing conditions during the hotter months of the year. As a result of hot sun and sea breeze, the natural sugar contents of Samos' white Muscat grapes is among the highest of all white varietals.

A typical wine village in Central Samos. Viticulture is one of the most important economic activities on Samos. A bottle of top-class white Muscadet from DOC Samos (Samos Wine of Origins) can fetch up to a hundred euro in luxury restaurants in Athens and other major cities in the world.

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Kokkari is a small fishing village on the northern shore of Samos island. It is very tacky to say this, but I sort of fell in love with Kokkari as soon as I saw the place

It is a very strange feeling: sometimes you look at a place, and you know immediately you are going to like it. There is some kind of strong emotional attachment, even though I had never been to Kokkari before.
The little village of Kokkari is now a popular seaside resort, full of little cafes, bars and seaside restaurants, obviously there must be a lot of people who also love Kokkari very much
The village is about 10km outside of Vathi, there are frequent bus connections to and from Vathi's central bus station, and you can also go by taxi (about 10 euro one way).

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Being a wine lover, I have always wanted to visit the Greek island of Samos, because it is home to one of the most well-known white varietals - Muscadet (Muscat) grapes - in the world. Viticulture on Samos dates back thousands of years and its famous golden sweet white wines are exported all over the world.
Because I arrived by hydrofoil 'Flying Dolphin Zeus' from Kos, the port of arrival was Pythagoria on the southern coast of Samos. The journey was about 4.5 hours.

The harbour town of Pythagoria in the twilight - not sure if the town is where Pythagoras was born, but Samos is indeed the home island of the great mathematician.


The view of the harbour during the day.

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The Medieval City of Rhodes is one of the best preserved Middle Ages citadels in the world. It was inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1988.

                                    Imposing View of the Citadel from the Sea
When the Order of St. John of Jerusalem occupied Rhodes in 1309, they set about fortifying the city. The whole Citadel consisted of the Upper Town and the Lower Town. Most famous buildings in the Upper Town include the Palace of the Grand Masters, the Street of the Knights, the Great Hospital, just to name a few.  Built in the Gothic style, these buildings radiate an alluring, mystic charm, especially in the evenings. 


                One of the original tower gates of the Old City, near the Commercial Harbour

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The ancient town of Lindos, with its Arcopolis perching above the hill, is one of the most popular tourist attractions on the island of Rhodes.
There are frequent buses (every 30 minutes) everyday in the summer from Rhodes Town to Lindos. The journey takes about 3 hours.



The bus stops at a small square at the entrance to the Old Town. There are stairways and paths that lead to the beach and the seaside taverns.

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自從幾年前在 Crete 住了幾個星期之後,就迷上了希臘的島嶼,因為希臘有許多我喜歡的東西: 漂亮的海, 漂亮的港口,幾千年的老石頭, 令人入迷的小村莊,數不清的橄欖樹, 友善的人們,好喝的咖啡, ...等等等, 當然,幾乎每天都是萬里晴空的氣候也是吸引我的主要原因 (我最討厭整天下雨的地方了 )

因為 Rhodes 海洋公約與 Ancient Seven Wonders of the World : Rhodes 港口巨像的關係,一直以來 Rhodes 就名列我的 Top 10 必去希臘島嶼一.
本來只有五天的時間,擔心不夠好好逛 Rhodes, 所以遲遲無法決定.到了最後的時刻,心一橫  - 我決定去了 ~

             Rhodes 的吉祥物與市徽: 一對鹿 (這隻是母鹿) The Doe....

                               
公鹿在這裡         ........... and the Stag

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Kalymnos is much more beautiful than I thought. The visit to this island took place under unusual circumstances. I was on a catamaran from Rhodes to Patmos and was supposed to get off at Kos. However, about 10 minutes prior to arrival at Kos Town, suddenly I did not feel like getting off the boat. There was an urge to stay on and travel to another island, just to see how it was like. So I found the First Officer and ask him how much it would be if I continue my journey onwards till Kalymnos. All I need to pay was the fare difference - it was much cheaper than buying a new ticket at Kos.


A Traditional Boat full of Day-trippers from Kos entering the Colourful Harbour of Kalymnos

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                             土耳其到希臘:歐亞之間只隔了區區的公里

Where on earth is the island of Kastelorizo? Most people have never heard of this place before. It is about 100km northeast of Rhodes and is part of the Greek Dodecanese Islands. In addition, Kastelorizo is also credited with being the eastern-most island in the whole of Greece.

Given its far-flung location (sometimes it does not even feature in some maps of Greece because it is just too far away) there are only 2 or 3 regular ferry services every week from Rhodes Town to the tiny rocky island. The journey takes about 2.5 hours and they bring essential supplies to the some 200-400 inhabitants who live all year round on Kastelorizo. In the summer months, several excursion boats offer daily trips from Rhodes Town to Kastelorizo.

Although politically part of Greece and the European Union, Kastelorizo is just 2km off the southern coast of Turkey. From Kas, the boat ride across the Aegean to Kastelorizo takes barely 30 minutes on a traditional gulet or caique. Every Friday, most of the inhabitants of Kastelorizo would travel by boat over to Kas and do their shoppings in Turkey. On the return journey the small boat is filled with all kinds of merchandise, even furnitures. Given the distance between Kastelorizo and Rhodes, it is much cheaper for the locals to purchase consumer goods and foodstuffs in Kas then going all the way to Rhodes.


                                                   Kastelorizo - Harbour   Kastelorizo 港口景色

Until recently, Kastelorizo was not an official point of entry into Greece, which means visitors from Kas were not allowed to travel onward to Rhodes and other parts of Greece from Kastelorizo. However, when we visited the island in February 2008, to our surprise, the Greek immigration officials actually stamped our passports – proper Schengen entry and exit stamps – and this means that technically speaking, it is now not against Greek or EU immigration laws if visitors choose to proceed onward by ferry or flight to Rhodes.

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Symi, a small Greek island off the coast of Turkey, is relatively unknown outside Greece. About half an hour away from the more famous and tourist-oriented island of Rhodes, Symi has one of the most picturesque harbours among all Greek islands.




It is easy to get to Symi - in the summer, numerous private companies run daily excursion boats which depart from Rhodes Town's ancient harbour in the morning. The boats will take you right up to some secluded coves around Symi Island where you can swim and enjoy the crystal clear blue waters of the Aegean.

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