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


Friday, 8 April 2011

A day in Dresden – 5th Day

A white landscape

The first thing that comes into my mind, when I think of the 5th day of the tour is a white landscape, full with snow, with deer running free in the countryside. Where was that place? It was somewhere between Czech Republic and Saxony.  And what was our destination? It was the beautiful Dresden. 


The journey to Dresden was very relaxing, as we were listening to Vienna’s symphony orchestra. Nikos, our tour guide, was in a good mood and told us a lot of things about our new destination. According to Nikos, the best music instruments of classical music are manufactured in Saxony. Weaving and wood carving are also developed, while there are a lot of factories producing watches and porcelains. Speaking of porcelains, I remember a wall, in the center of Dresden, ornamented with tiles portraying a parade with horses and knights. I liked it, because it is well preserved.

Tiles Art

Speaking of sights, the most famous statue is the golden sculpture of August the Strong. Also, the most famous sight is the Palace in the center of Dresden. It is surrounded by museums, including the art museum, the one with porcelains and the armor museum. The Palace is built in Baroque style and it has a big garden, where celebrations and weddings of noble people and turneries were taken place some hundred years ago. It is said that during each feast, there were six lunches with so much food that people couldn’t stand it, so they vomit in some spots in the garden, designed for that purpose.

The Palace's Garden

To be honest, my memories from Dresden are a little bit “frozen”. The weather was so cold that during our free time as a group, I went to a nice restaurant and ate a nice hot soup. But the best part of that lunch was the dessert, a traditional, tasteful apple strudel!


Dresden is a city that I would like to visit again, but in a season with a better weather. I liked the style of this city and especially the view of the Elbe River. I think it is a place, where you should spend at least 3 days. Who knows,  I might visit it again…

Elbe River


Sunday, 3 April 2011

The Aristocratic Karlovy Vary – 4th day of the tour

Karlovy Vary
If someone would ask me to describe Karlovy Vary with three words, I would say that it is a picturesque, aristocratic, spa city in Czech Republic. The city is built on the base of a forest hill, while it is crossed by the Tepla River.  Beautiful buildings and luxurious hotels stand like ornaments next to the river, including spa centers and jeweler’s stores. It is no coincidence that the “Casino Royale” movie was filmed in a place like that!

Spring Museum

It is true that in Karlovy Vary there are a lot of springs and it is said that they have therapeutic abilities, each one treating a different disease (digestive problems, oncologic diseases, metabolism problems, obesity etc). Unfortunately, there is no welfare paying for a spa therapy in Karlovy Vary, the patient has to pay approximately 5.000 – 10.000 euro for a 6 week treatment. Nevertheless, there is a museum containing springs with water of 30 °C, 50 °C and 72 °C temperature, which is potable and curative. Although I didn’t taste it, because it had an egg smell, I got impressed by that museum and especially by the blower that discharges 2.000 liters of water every minute!


About the story of Karlovy Vary and how its springs were found, there is a sculptured paint showing Charles IV going for hunting on Karlovy Vary hills with his companion and hurting a deer. While the deer was running for its life, it fell into a pool with hot water. Charles IV got close to the injured animal and to his astonishment; he saw that there was no bleeding anymore. The deer left, while Charles IV went to the pool to check what had happened. He saw a spring with hot water and from that day he decided to take advantage of the springs.

Sculptured paint

Nowadays, Karlovy Vary is a very touristic area, where the visitor can do a lot of sports and get relaxed in one of the spa centers. Porcelains, Moser glassworks, the Becherovka liqueur, sweet wafers and the traditional water drinking cup are some of the souvenirs that a tourist can buy. I recommend you to taste the wafers, they are really nice.

Thursday, 24 March 2011

Prague – 3rd day of the trip

Prague Castle's View

The third day of the trip started with a 3 hour driving from Vienna to Prague. I admit that the road wasn’t very good in some spots, as it was a little bit bumpy. Nevertheless, we arrived at Prague. The tour started from the Prague Castle. Being at the top of a hill, the Prague Castle had an amazing, panoramic view of the city. Regarding this Castle, it isn’t just a simple castle, but it is a set of palaces, churches and museums representing the Gothic style of the city.

After that, we went downhill at the most famous bridge in Prague, the Charles Bridge. Nowadays, it is a very touristic, pedestrian zone, under which flows the Moldova River. A tower is standing on each end of the bridge and there are Baroque statues on its sides, including the famous statue of Saint John. It is said that if you make a wish and touch this statue, then your wish will come true. I didn’t touch the statue, but I made a wish while crossing the bridge.  I don’t know about yours, but mine acts out this period and I am very happy for that!

Saint John

Moldova River

The last sight that I visited that day was the Astronomical Clock. Don’t ask me to tell you what time it is using that clock, because only its creator probably can. The attraction of this sight is that every hour the clock clinks and the 12 Apostle come out of the clock, while trumpets sound. You shouldn’t miss that sight, but be careful of the pocket thieves while you are waiting for that clink.

Astronomical Clock

Generally speaking, Prague is like a city coming from a fairytale and this becomes even more noticeable during the night, when the light strikes its sights. 

Prague by night


Saturday, 12 February 2011

My 2nd Day in Vienna

Listening the “Blue Danube” my memory travels back to the second day spent in Vienna, when I had the chance to go to a classical music concert in the Auersperg Palais. The sound was excellent and the orchestra passionately played melodies of Mozart and Johann Strauss. There were opera singers and ballet dancers in historical costumes, who impressed me with their talent and performance. That was the day when I started listening to classic music and that is how the second day of my trip ended. But let’s start from the beginning …

The day started with a sightseeing tour in the famous Schonbrunn Palace, where Emperor Franz Joseph, Empress Sissy, Empress Maria Theresia and others rulers stayed during summer months. I visited that place in January and the landscape was snowy, but in spring and summer the endless garden of the Palace is planted with flowers. Also, there is a labyrinth, which is kept closed in winter, and a zoo with 3.500 animal species. I saw a lot of sculptures in the garden of the Palace, but what impressed me the most was Poseidon’s statue “emerging” from a lake, under the Gloriette. Nikos, our tour guide, told us that the Palace was planned to be built on the hill, where the Gloriette is, but this didn’t happen for financial and technical reasons.  The tour continued inside the palace, where we saw some of the 340 rooms of it. To be honest, the inside tour wasn’t very good and I got a little bit bored of seeing furniture all the time.

Schonbrunn Palace
Poseidon’s Statue

Garden of Schonbrunn Palace
That day I visited so many sights that are a little bit difficult to remember them.  One of them was the magnificent St. Stephen's Cathedral in the centre of Vienna, which is built in Gothic style, has a gigantic roof and beautiful works of art. Another sight was the Parliament, which is identical to the Greek one. But the sight that impressed me the most was the Danube Tower. It is ~350m high and it turns around itself in approximate 20 minutes. If you go there, I suggest you using the elevator.  The closest underground station is the  Alte Donau station and the Tower is a 10 minute walk from that station. I liked Danube Tower for its amazing view, as I had the opportunity to have a full picture of Vienna. Lefteris and I sat a couple of hours at the Tower’s cafe and enjoyed the traditional Viennese hot chocolate, while seeing the beautiful sunset. That was the most colorful moment of the second day in Vienna!

View from Danube Tower

Wednesday, 2 February 2011

Vienna - A city that I will always love

Viewing Vienna from the airplane, I saw that it is a flat land, containing wide roads, a lot of parks and outspread houses. I liked that there weren’t any skyscrapers, except from the place where the ~ 2.500 offices of UNESCO are.

Gigantic Wheel
After arriving at the airport and claiming our luggage, we had a short tour of the city, while reaching the Delta hotel. During that tour we saw a lot of buildings and sights, including the gigantic wheel in Prater. I wish I had the time to have a round in that wheel and admire the view. From what Nikos, our travel guide told us­­, each round lasts 15-20 minutes and costs 8.5 euro approximately.

Close to Stephan’s Plaza
When we arrived at the hotel the sun had set and we had some free time to get some rest. Some people stayed at the hotel, but my boyfriend (Lefteris) and I wanted to explore the center of Vienna, so we took the underground and went to the Schwedenpl station. Using the underground was very easy and I had the feeling that I had been there before and knew exactly where I wanted to go. So, we started walking towards the Stephan’s Plaza. The weather was quite cold, but we were in excellent mood - so, we made a stop at a patisserie called ZANONI & ZANONI. We ordered a profiterole and an apple strudel. They were the most tasteful sweets I had ever eaten in my life. It is true what it is said about Vienna’s sweets, they are delicious, without having much sugar. Regarding their price, if we were ordering these sweets in Greece we would easily pay ~15 euro, but in Vienna they only cost 6 euro.

The day before we arrived to Vienna, was New Year’s Day and we expected its center to be ornate festive. That was exactly how it was. There were happy faces everywhere, tourists wandered in the streets, the lights brightened the night and Lefteris and I were walking in this beautiful city, holding each others hand. A picture I will always remember!

Time past and we returned to the hotel. Speaking of that, Delta hotel is a clean and very good hotel. The view we had, wasn’t anything special, but we had everything we needed. After getting ready for the dinner, we met the others from the group. The dinner was at a beer house and we tasted the traditional Vienna’s schnitzel. Also, the water I had was tap water, coming straight from the Alps and was very refreshing. Our first night in Vienna ended smoothly, with a nice nap.


Tuesday, 11 January 2011

Vienna, Prague and Budapest - my first tour in 2011

This year started with a fascinating, eight days tour in three wonderful cities of Europe – Vienna, Prague and Budapest. I departed from Athens on 02/01/2011. The flight to Vienna was pretty good and the view from the airplane was unique. I was lucky to sit close to the window and take a photo of the blue/white skyline.

Thinking of the two days that I stayed in Vienna, two things come into my mind the panoramic view of the city from the Danube Tower and the concert of classical music that I had the chance to watch. Although I will keep my impression of that city for a later post, I would like to admit that I could easily leave Greece and stay in Vienna for a couple of years.

I forgot to mention that this was my first time I traveled with a group. Generally I had a great time, but there were times that I was annoyed by the behavior of some people and especially in Prague, where the hotel’s service wasn’t very good and there was a lot of whining from the group. Nevertheless, Prague is a fairytale city and with a good company you can have wonderful moments. You will find out why I am saying that in another post.

The last city of the tour was Budapest. I have never been in such a romantic place before in my life. The cruise at Danube was marvelous and the feast with the Hungarian gypsy dancers was unforgettable. I wish I had stayed longer in that city, because two nights is a very short time.

Vienna, Prague and Budapest, a trip that I will always remember!

Saturday, 1 January 2011

Attica Park – A place that I visit every year

I have visited the Attica Park in Spata, Greece at least 3 times.  For me, it is the perfect place to spend a sunny day in Attica.  It is a huge area containing hundreds of animal species coming from all over the world. Each time I go there, I not only have a lot of fun, but I also learn new things about these species.  

Most of the animals live in fenced areas, suitable formed to be like their nature environment. Birds live in cages, which contain rich vegetation varying from specie to specie. Normally the visitor isn’t allowed to enter into these cages, but there are four enormous cages, where he/she can. Each of these cages contains birds coming from Europe, Asia, Africa and America respectively and it is an excellent place for taking photos without being disturbed from the cage-wires. Also, there is a “cage” with trees where lemurs sleep/play. If you visit that place, I suggest you not to touch any of these animals, because they aren’t domesticated and they might bite you. What’s more, there are a lot of mammals, like lions, tigers, wolves, camels, hippos and giraffes. But the most amazing spectacle in Attica Park is the attraction with the dolphins and the sea lions. It is surely something that worth seeing it.

Attica Park isn’t just a simple zoo, it is a place where you can relax while sitting on a bench, go for a picnic, enjoy the nature or play with your children/nephews.  Each time I visit it, I bring food from my home and I go for a picnic, but I never try to feed any of the park animals and I always pick up my garbage.  For those that don’t like to carry food with them, don’t worry there is a canteen inside the park, which also organizes children birthday parties.