GREEK TOURISM EXPO
WHAT’S YOUR NEXT GREEK ADVENTURE?
Athens, December 4th-6th 2015. Last week, Tiny Book was lucky enough to spend a few days in her beloved Greece to attend the Second International Tourism Fair Greek Expo. It was not an exhibition exclusively intended to receive bloggers or media representatives, but we still felt the traditional Greek ξενία, (xenía «guest-friendship») would never, ever deceive us.
The show took place in the Metropolitan Expo, near the airport, and it was a joy to talk with many new friends, see some old ones and, why not? make one or two toasts with excellent Cretan raki.
Our visit took us to the discovery of new proposals that might enhance the Greek panorama for tourism, without disregarding the traditional options of some of the most famous islands, we feel Greece still has so much more to offer, and it is only fair that we give her the opportunity to do so. I, for one, as a passionate Greek lover, can commit myself to devote part of this blog to promote Greek tourism.
Our Tiny kitchen is baking a new recipe which we hope to transform into a wonderful corner of Hellenic wonders. As from the beginning of next year, Tiny Book will have an “all-Greek” department, ready to showcase, propose and receive whatever this land has to give. Which is so much, I can guarantee you.
But let’s not ruin this surprise this early, let me give you a taste of what this show brought to me, as a travel blogger.
Cyclades – Dodecanese
The first thing you always see when you visit a Greek exhibition is the huge stand that hosts all the Cyclades. There is where your souls first gets lost. Just seeing the images of white and blue Santorini or the impressive windmills of Mykonos, might give you the thought you have seen it all. Don’t get stuck there! As wonderful as they are, they are just the marvellous opening gate to a universe of wonders which, in my humble opinion, can be everything but endless. Paros and Naxos, two other gems of the Aegean which have been closely looked by us for a while now where also present. Their touristic offer is immense and of great value for the traveler looking for the glamour of the Cyclades combined with the peace of a quiet place.
Naxos: The beauty the pictures of this island portrait has already conquered us. Not only Chora, its capital, but its valleys and little mountain villages can transform an afternoon walk into a spiritual experience. What’s more, the sea and its beaches will probably manage to give the best a family with children need: calm, clear waters, white sands and a close to perfect weather. Of course, as Greeks have accustomed us, lunch and dinner times will be great.
Paros: Presents itself as a place to be discovered, where the white walls of the villages can get lost in a green landscape of orchards and soft hills. Its museums and historical buildings will be able to walk you a path of history and emotions of the past, in an endless parade of mills, wells and cisterns. Its amazing beaches as well as the care for the environment are key ingredients to this land.
Kimolos: An island that came to our encounter and I must admit it was a pleasant surprise. We were given a lot of useful information about this colorful land. Clear seas and beautiful architecture, typical Cycladic characteristics that will attract visitors with unique and spectacular views. Kimolos proposes activities as hiking and exploring the coast through boat rides, relaxing and adventurous. We think Kimolos would definitely be great for the relaxed traveler, as they say, a great spot for an observer, fond of simple but tasty local cuisine, in need of flying away from traffic and modernity. This little spot has already conquered Tiny Book, and we are really eager to visit it soon.
Ios: A guide to Heaven, or so they proposed. This island appeared to our eyes as a paradisiac destination, with magnificent chapels and churches, one for each day of the year, as well as incredibly lonely beaches. With such crystal waters that water sports are easily practiced. Presenting an exotic landscape, Ios Could just offer that primitive sense of freedom any traveler seeks when wanting to get away from it all. Beaches like Koumpara or Valmas are a balm to the senses, even if sometimes access could be difficult. If you are also interested in archaeological sites and discovery, Ios gives an answer to your travel expectations.
Leros: A Paradise in the Aegean. The welcoming words of its mayor invite us to visit the island without hesitation, as Greek traditions blend with hospitality, outstanding Mediterranean weather and delicious food. A warmth and unforgettable destination with a rich nature and all the necessary infrastructure to enjoy wonderful days of joy. In his words we read the pride of a land that takes care of its visitors, without overwhelming them with crowded spots. Peace, relax and tranquility are the words that best suit this magnificent place, the island of goddess Artemis. A place of small hills, eucalyptus and pine trees, where history, sightseeing and tradition will undoubtedly welcome you home.
Samos and Ikaria – Region of North Aegean
Triangle of happiness, homeland of Pythagoras… as their motto says, Samos is an island that inspires you to explore different angles of yourselves.
It was nice to exchange a few words with the people from Samos. This land in the Eastern Aegean, where the East meets the West, promises to welcome travelers, and offer them the gift of countless secrets. Amazing coasts together with incredible natural landscapes of forests, vineyards and small villages.
*Note: Do yourself a favor and taste Samos wine!
Ikaria, and the sea around it, the Ikarian Sea, were named after the fallen Icarus, who drowned into the Aegean in his pursuit of eternal freedom. Ikaria takes pride in simplicity, without alarm clocks or stress. There are several hiking trails to explore the wild beauty of the land. Its vegetation, its magnificent beaches and traditional villages combine with mineral thermal springs, long known for their many therapeutic benefits.
Other proposals that caught our attention
Somewhere we know
This is a proposal that we liked indeed. It engaged us in an interesting conversation with Julia and some of the people representing this region and all the proposals they had to offer to travelers.
The idea behind Somewhere We Know is to create unique experiential travels and cultural tours, food & wine tours, hiking tours and family tours in the Peloponnese, in Epirus and other parts of Greece. What, of course, mostly attracted us, being our blog dedicated to traveling with the family, is the attention they specially pay to families and the trails and activities designed for children and for all the family to learn and have fun at the same time.
The idea of traveling with a purpose is also the idea of traveling Tiny Book has always had, specially being a fan of homeschooling and of travel as a primary form of learning. We can read from their website:
We welcome to our cultural tours like minded people who travel with a purpose: to learn about Greek history, philosophy and culture, to collect moments beyond the ordinary, to explore unknown paths, to live exceptional experiences, and to embrace the every day life of modern Greece.
This is our idea of tourism. This is why we travel. When people discuss if tourism and travel are the same, if one is better than the other, or what travel and tourism mean. This is the answer. You can name it the way you want. The important thing is to discover a place and take with you what that land has to give.
I truly hope to work with this Somewhere We Know in the near future. And I mostly hope for my children to take part in one of their activities. Please visit their website, they have endless possibilities, all of them so interesting it might be really hard to choose what to do.
Andros Routes is a proposal of sustainable tourism in the less explored island of Andros, it emphasizes an idea of tourism in which visitors are environmentally and culturally sensitive and behave accordingly to the destination area in which their interact. Tourism is also encouraged during off-peak months, as Spring and Autumn, with the island extending the touristic season. It also offers a great opportunity to revive the local primary sector and the deserted villages of Andros, a little spoiled environment, rich in biodiversity and wide footpaths networks.
The old walkways and footpaths of Andros constitute traces of the centuries of human presence on the island, a valuable resource for its society and a means for responsible tourism. Andro Routes Project relies on voluntary work, subscriptions and donations, operating as a non-profit organization trying to combine research with activities for the environment and the culture of the area.
Prefecture of Kastoria
We were warmly received by people from this area, in the region of West Macedonia, in the far north of the country.
Kastoria is a different face of Greece, it has a character of its own to offer, mountains, snow in Winter, bears, lakes and a wonderful traditional cuisine. Its wines and home-made sweets are wonderful as well. Mt. Gramos is the fourth tallest mountain in Greece. It is one of the most important protected mountain areas as it hosts a wide spectrum of rare habitats. Wuth a distant geological past, today revealed by fossils and shells found in the area of Nostimo. Lake Gistova is the highest alpine lake in Greece, right on the Albanian border. Old abandoned settlements, villages and monasteries populate the Gramos valley, while the local economy bases on farming, forestry and is just now opening to tourism.
Hiking trails among alpine meadows and abandoned villages. You can find the traditional well-known Greek hospitality joined with a landscape very different from the usual Aegean one we often fall in love with.
Cave of Alistrati
Rafting, trekking, climbing are some of the activities to enjoy in this out of the world scenario. Alistrati develops on a captivating group of hills at the edge of mountain Menikion. It receives the effect of sea-winds from the side of Thassos and Strymonikon bay and overlooks the whole plain of Drama. It is a small spot on the borders of the prefectures of Serres Drama. A dry climate makes it very attractive for its healthy environmental conditions.
The Cave of Alistrati is one of the most important natural monuments in Europe, placed in a stony area called Petroto. With a surface of about 25.000 square meters, it is about 3 kilometers long. The fossilized fauna enclosed in its sediments scattered all over its surface dates back to 3.000.000 years.
Last but not Least…
Being a fan of the island, when we see the word Crete we stop. This global touristic company was kind enough to offer us a moment of relax and friendship, a few rounds of Raki and a good conversation about the beauties of the island we really adore. If you ever decide not to make a “self-made” trip to Greece and need the help of a knowledgeable Greek agency, you can reach them, they will be there to offer you all their experience, ideas and proposals to make your Greek experience an unforgettable trip.
Athens One Day Tour
Olympic Cruises and Hydraiki Athens One Day Cruise. Unfortunately our time in Athens was so limited we were not able to try any of the two options though, we have to be honest, they both were so kind to invite us on board.
The offer, which of course varies in the type of services given to travelers, is basically a one-day tour departing from Athens early in the morning, taking you to visit three magic islands near the capital city of Greece.
Hydra: One of the Saronic islands of the Aegean, located between the Saronic gulf and the Argolic gulf, is separated from the Peloponnese by a narrow strip of water. Both companies describe it as the most beautiful of the three islands, with amazing landscapes, wild travel opportunities (cars are not allowed on the island) and a perfect spot for amateur photographers.
Poros: A small island in the southern part of the Saronic gulf, 31 nautical miles south from Piraeus and separated from the Peloponnese by a 200 m (656 ft) wide sea channel. Like other ports in the Saronic, it is a popular weekend destination for Athenian travelers.
Aegina: Located 17 nautical miles from Athens, during ancient times Aegina was a rival of Athens, the great sea power of the era. This island houses of the Temple of Aphaia, within a sanctuary complex dedicated to the goddess Aphaia, it is a great Doric temple standing on a 160 m peak on the eastern side of the island.
City Sightseeing official tours
Famous red city bus that is becoming more and more famous all over Europe. It offers visitors the possibility to see cities at their own pace when time is a limit. I received a generous invitation from this company. I am really touched by their service and thankful. Many times I was told Athenians do treasure their democracy, and I had the opportunity to see it by myself. And I saw it twice. I arrived during a general strike and I left in the middle of a massive demonstration that implied pure chaos in te city center. People from City Sightseeing official tours took great care of me, on the phone, by the radio, operators, drivers, representatives, looked after me, waited for me and helped me reach all my destinations on time and in safe conditions. Either a traditional bus ride, or a walk tour or even a photo guided tour, I can happily recommend you this company.
I hope to be writing about Athens soon, its landscape, its food, its people. Nostalgia is still too strong and painful. I stick to documents, brochures and information.
The exhibition signs read Come to meet the Greek. I did my homework… I came, I met the Greek and then I never wanted to get back home.