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Archive for greece

Capitals of Culture in 2021

By Linda Tancs

In keeping with tradition, we begin the New Year with an announcement on the EU Capitals of Culture for 2021, or at least what would’ve been the capitals. Due to COVID-19, the cultural capitals program has been suspended. Timișoara (in Romania), Elefsina (in Greece) and Novi Sad (Serbia) have been shuffled around a bit. If three sounds like an odd number of capitals, that’s because the original plan was that, from 2021 and every three years thereafter, a third capital would be chosen from cities in countries that are candidates or potential candidates for membership in the European Union or in countries that are part of the European Economic Area. Romania and Greece have had their titles  postponed from 2021 to 2023. Novi Sad will now be the European Capital of Culture in 2022, together with Kaunas (Lithuania) and Esch (Luxembourg).

The Fabled Ruins of Parnassus

By Linda Tancs

Mount Parnassus is one of Greece’s mythological mountains. Named after the son of a nymph, Parnassus was the site of several adventures of the god Apollo. Delphi, an important ancient Greek religious sanctuary sacred to Apollo, was located on the mountain. The sanctuary was also home to the famous Oracle of Delphi, whose ruins draw tourists by the thousands. Just 60 miles by car from Athens, this limestone peak offers commanding views of the surrounding olive groves and countryside.

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To limit the spread of COVID-19, attractions may be closed or have partial closures. Please keep those affected by the virus in your thoughts and be sure to follow the safety practices advocated by the Centers for Disease Control. Stay safe, and be well.

Island Lore in Zakynthos

By Linda Tancs

Navagio Beach is an exposed cove on the coast of Zakynthos in the Ionian Islands of Greece. It’s popularly known as Shipwreck Beach because of the rusty wreck adorning its shoreline. The stories surrounding that wreck also give the place the moniker, “Smuggler’s Cove.” That’s because it’s been reported that the ship ran aground following a chase by authorities who determined it was transporting contraband cigarettes; other reports refute this tale. Whatever the case, the shipwreck lends to its charm, as do the towering limestone cliffs and turquoise waters only accessible via boat. Zakynthos Town port offers cruises of varying lengths, many of which only run now in the high season (through October). Try to get there early to avoid the hordes of tourists.

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To limit the spread of COVID-19, attractions may be closed or have partial closures. Please keep those affected by the virus in your thoughts and be sure to follow the safety practices advocated by the Centers for Disease Control. Stay safe, and be well.

Greece’s Rack Railway

By Linda Tancs

Odontotos rack railway connects the Greek seaside town of Diakopto with the mountain village of Kalavryta in the Peloponnese. The steepness of the ride requires rack rails—toothed racks that the rails lock into using a cog or pinion. The train chugs through tunnels and a gorge, offering spectacular views of mountains and waterfalls. Book a round-trip ticket and enjoy the downhill views.

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To limit the spread of COVID-19, attractions may be closed or have partial closures. Please keep those affected by the virus in your thoughts and be sure to follow the safety practices advocated by the Centers for Disease Control. Stay safe, and be well.

Hiking in Amorgos

By Linda Tancs

Scenic views, Cycladic houses and quaint alleys are pretty much expected in the Greek isles, so what distinguishes Amorgos is the part with considerable height above sea level, offering superb views out over the archipelago. What better way to enjoy those views than with a hike! And there are lots of options (signposted), ranging from a four-hour trek from Chora halfway across the island to a one-hour sprint along a cobblestone path connecting Chora with Katapola, the main harbor and one of the largest natural harbors in the Aegean Sea. No matter the route, you’ll discover rich cultural treasures like the ancient acropolis, temples and monasteries. Amorgos is accessible via ferry from Athens and nearby islands.

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As coronavirus proceeds, it is likely that the vast majority of us will be limited in our travels. But this, too, shall pass. Our love for travel remains, so Travelrific will continue offering travel inspiration in this medium. Please keep those affected by the virus in your thoughts and be sure to follow the safety practices advocated by the Centers for Disease Control. Stay safe, and be well.

A Place of Mythic Proportions

By Linda Tancs

According to Greek mythology, Thessaly is the birthplace of Achilles, the handsome hero of the Trojan War. In ancient times it was known as Aeolia and appears as such in Homer’s Odyssey. It’s likewise known as the region boasting the almost mythical Meteora, a complex of monasteries perched above towering sandstone peaks. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, it’s the biggest and most important group of monasteries in Greece after those in Mount Athos. Originally comprising 24 structures, six monasteries remain today, “suspended in air” as their name, Meteora, attests. The sites are variably accessible by paths, bridges and steps. Check opening times as they all have different visiting days and hours. Go now when the crowds are thinner.

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As coronavirus proceeds, it is likely that the vast majority of us will be limited in our travels. But this, too, shall pass. Our love for travel remains, so Travelrific will continue offering travel inspiration in this medium. Please keep those affected by the virus in your thoughts and be sure to follow the safety practices advocated by the Centers for Disease Control. Stay safe, and be well.

Greece’s Mountain Mystery

By Linda Tancs

From the looks of it, Penteli Mountain is just a lush, green overlook offering great views of Athens and Evoikos Gulf. And it just so happens to be the site where marble for the Parthenon was quarried. So far, so good. But there’s another side to its reputation as the locus for Davelis Cave, so-named for a 19th-century brigand, Davelis. Allegedly used by his gang as a hideout, the cave also has a history as a shrine, particularly for monks fleeing religious persecution during the Middle Ages. Two adjacent Byzantine chapels built directly into the cave’s entrance serve as a memorial to their plight. Perhaps it’s the grotto’s juxtaposition as a hideout and a holy place that causes mysterious events to occur as reported by tourists, phenomena like ghostly voices, glowing orbs and electromagnetic anomalies. Go if you dare, but you’ll need to rent a car to get there.

The Fountains of Heraklion

By Linda Tancs

The capital of Crete, Heraklion demonstrates the diversity resulting from Venetian and Ottoman rule. In particular, its Venetian and Turkish fountains are a focal point in this popular cruise port. Morosini Fountain (“the Lions”) is the most popular Venetian-style fountain, located in Lions Square, the nerve center of the city. When the Ottomans conquered Crete, they built several charitable fountains (sebil) for their subjects. Perhaps the best known is the sebil at Kornarou Square, a polygonal building with arched windows once containing a tap and a stone trough. It now houses a coffee shop.

The Flower of the Cyclades

By Linda Tancs

Situated between Mykonos and Santorini, the Greek island of Íos (or Niós, as the locals call it) is one of the most beautiful islands of the Cyclades, named for a Greek word alluding to flowers. It might be best known for its vibrant nightlife, but the hilly isle’s quieter reputation lies in its charming Cycladic architecture of whitewashed sugar houses and windmills, historic sites and, of course, beautiful beaches. Known as the resting place of the epic poet Homer, Homer’s Tomb is arguably the most well known historic site, located on the north side of the island. Other areas of note are Skárkos (a Bronze Age settlement) and Palaiókastro, an old fort from the Byzantine period. Be sure to check out the amazing view from Panayia Gremiótissa, a church built on the edge of a cliff. A ferry from Santorini takes under an hour.

An Oasis of Coolness

By Linda Tancs

Mingling with monks is one of several things you can do while hiking Lousios Gorge in the Peloponnese, a peninsula in southern Greece. In fact, mountaintop monasteries like the Philosophou Monastery hinge precariously along rock faces throughout the gorge. You can visit many of them on an easy, one-day hike. A private day tour from Athens will set you back around 400 euros.

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