Travelrific® Travel Journal

Picture postcards in prose.™ Check out the blogroll on the front page for official merchandise and other resources!

Archive for greece

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.

*************

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.

*************

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.

*************

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.

*************

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.

A Distinguished Cretan

By Linda Tancs

Born Domenikos Theotokopoulos in Crete (the largest and most populous of the Greek islands), the painter popularly known as El Greco was in a class by himself, marrying Byzantine and Western traditions in a way that exposed his personal faith and vision. One of his early works, “Mount Sinai,” is exhibited in a specially designed hall of Heraklion’s Historical Museum. Elsewhere, Crete’s distinguished son is memorialized in a bust at El Greco Park. Although his fame was firmly established in Toledo, Spain, he never ceased to mention his Cretan roots by signing all his works “Made by Domenikos Theotokopoulos the Cretan.”

Ouzo and Olive Oil

By Linda Tancs

Ouzo and olive oil.  Those are the two famous exports of the Greek island Lesvos.  Third largest in size behind Crete and Evia, the arguably lesser-known enclave near Turkey also boasts a petrified forest, one of the rarest natural monuments in the world.  Created 20 million years ago when volcanic materials covered and petrified the coniferous forests dominating the area at that time, the 37-acre preserve spans the Sigri-Eressos-Antissa area.  Take a break from the beach and enjoy a walk through the forest of silence.

%d bloggers like this: