Saturday, 18 June 2011

Skopelos - A green Greek island

Chora of Skopelos

Have you ever wondered how many Greek islands exist? I think they are innumerous and probably a life’s time isn’t enough to visit them. Nevertheless, some of these islands are so close to each other and so small that they can be explored in a few days. This is exactly what I did the previous August; I visited two islands of Sporades in a period of five days, by staying in Skopelos and having a cruise to the Sea Park of Sporades and Alonissos.

Skopelos is an island with green landscapes and beautiful, sunny beaches, which is exactly how it was filmed in the “Mama Mia” movie in 2008. Although three years have passed since that filming, there are still photos from that movie outside the town hall. It is true that there are places in Skopelos where you can have real fun and places where you can completely relax. I tried to combine both of them, by staying in the Chora of Skopelos, where the main port is. The architecture there is unique, as there are small, white houses built amphitheatrically in a hill, while restaurants, taverns, bars and coffee shops exist around the port. It is magical to have a walk around that port during a night with full moon, watching its mirror on the water and getting hypnotized by the sea melodies. And for those that are fans of traditional Greek music (rebetika), I suggest them to go to “Anatoli” tavern, which has live music. The food there is delicious and the view is fantastic.
View from Anatoli  Tavern

Speaking of beautiful sceneries, visiting Skopelos is a good opportunity to take photos of “green” and “blue” places. The green forest of firs is endless and it is amazing that the trees meet the beach, offering their shadow to the holidaymakers. But, if you are allergic to bee stings, be very careful because a lot of swarms fly inside the trees. Also, the sea is very warm and its blue water is so clear, that you can see the sea bed without any snorkeling mask. May be it is a good opportunity to get a water resistant camera and capture the marine life in this island. Who knows, you might be lucky and see some of the dolphins that swim close to the shore.
Green - blue scenery in Skopelos

But let’s be more specific about Skopelos beaches. The most popular beach is Milia, which is a sandy one and it is well organized. If you like swimming long distances, you can go to the islet opposite to the shore. Also, you can explore the small caves at the end of the beach, but you will have to swim up to there. Close to Milia, is Panormos beach and although the landscape there is almost the same as in Milia, the sea is very deep and when the weather is windy there are waves. Stafylos and Limnonari are two other nice beaches. Stafylos is the closest nice beach to the Chora of Skopelos and Limnonari isn’t far from Stafylos. Nevertheless, I wouldn’t suggest to elderly people visit Limnomari, because there is a big, flat, rock which is really slippery. Lastly, for those that like beaches with pebbles, Xovolo and Neraki wait with their caves to be explored.
Beautiful beaches, tasteful food, friendly people and everything in a good price, these are my arguments why should someone visit this island. I wouldn’t lie if I told you that I spent only 25 euro / night for two persons in a two-star studio apartment, with A/C, TV and a small kitchen. The breakfast was not included, but I didn’t care about that as the big bakery next to the port had any kind of delicatessen. The only thing that I found a little expensive was the cruise to the Sea Park of Sporades and Alonissos, but this is another story that I will soon post.

Stafylos Beach

Milia Beach
The islet opposite Milia
Limnonari Beach


Sunday, 15 May 2011

Last destination – The romantic Budapest

     We arrived at Budapest in the evening, having time to get some rest. Instead of that, Lefteris and I went a nice walk to have a city-by-night view. What I will always remember from that walk is the Parliament. Situated next to Danube, the Parliament created magic scenery with the way it was lighted.  For me, Budapest was the most romantic city of that trip and the cruise at Danube that we had that night was amazing. Holding each other’s hand, Lefteris and I enjoyed every minute of that cruise!

The next morning started with a nice city trip. We visited Heroes’ Square, close to which the Museum of Fine Arts and the Art Gallery wait to be visited. What I remember from that sightseeing tour is the story of man, who wanted to become a bishop. Instead of that, he became a king, who forbidden the Inquisition to entry Hungary and was against any witch hunt. Also, he believed that people should get educated, that is why his statue leans on a heap of books.

Heroes' square 
Statue in Heroes' Square

The famous zoo of Budapest is situated close to the Heroes’ Square, but unfortunately we didn’t have the time to visit the elephants and the other animal species. Instead of that, we visited the Fishermen's Bastion with the 7 towers, one for each of the 7 chieftains of Hungary. Built in neo-Gothic style at a top of a hill, it offers a breathtaking view of Pest.

Fishermen's Bastion

The last sight that we visited was the largest Catholic Church in Budapest, Saint Stephen’s Basilica. After that we had some free time and Lefteris and I went to see the famous market place in Vaci Utca. 

St Stephen Basilica

Having one day for sightseeing in Budapest wasn’t enough. I hope next time that I will visit that place, I will have the time to see more sights. Nevertheless, the holidays ended with an amazing folkloric party in Citadel. The environment there was very atmospheric, as we feast inside the Castle, with Gypsy dancers and traditional Hungarian rhythms.  That is how our trip ended, a trip full with happy moments!  

Budapest by night

A quick stop in Bratislava – 6th Day

Our visit in the capital city of Slovakia, Bratislava, contained a nice walk in the center of the city. The weather was sunny and we saw a lot of sights starting from the Castle, at the top of a hill next to the Danube River. The National Museum is accommodated in that Castle and the view from there is amazing.

Heading to the Main Square, we saw St. Michael’s Gate with its tower, through which the visitor can go to the old city. In the Main Square there is the Archbishop's Palace, the official residence of the Mayor. Next to this building there is the Old City Hall, which is painted with many colors and close to the Main Square there is the famous National Theater of Bratislava.

Although Bratislava is not a famous destination for travelers, I believe that it is a very interesting city. What I liked most was the paved, small streets with the beautiful, metallic, unique statues. Some of these artifacts include Napoleon’s statue and the statues of Beautiful Ignaz and the Watcher.

St. Michael’s Gate
Archbishop's Palace
Main Square 


Beautiful Ignaz
The Watcher