Κυριακή 2 Δεκεμβρίου 2012

National Geographic Pays Tribute to Greece

For the past few years, most international media agencies have been focusing on the Greek debt crisis, the political instability, the social turmoil and the possible Euro exit that could doom the future of both Greece and the EuroZone.
National Geographic is, however, focusing its camera lens on the indisputable natural beauties of Greece and its true “hidden” face behind the unrest and financial breakdown.
Enjoy some of the best National Geographic shots of Greece:

(By Stella Tsolakidou greekreporter.com)

Δευτέρα 26 Νοεμβρίου 2012

Winter light in the Greek islands...

The light seems never to be full of Greek beauty. In winter, it is still there, bright as always but somewhat sweeter. It revives the winter colors, whilst the mild temperatures rejuvenate the desire for exploration of Greek beauty. If you believed that islands journey through the winter months in solitude, in the sea while reminiscing the lively summers, the time has come to be informed of the opposite.

Crete. Enchanting the soul.  

 (from:visit Greece)

Where: The most southern island of Greece!!

Why: The distinct variety of the geophysical scenery, the mild climate, as well as the innumerable cultures influencing the island, spanning from 6.000 B.C. when the first prehistoric settlements appeared, to 1913, when Crete annexed the rest of Greece, are the decisive factors that created Crete’s image today. Spectacular, beautiful and unique, Crete dominates the southern Aegean, full of pride and enchants, all who visit, with its irresistible charm
 Where to visit:
Chania: The county of Chania is the most western of the four on the island, characterized by the imposing “White Mountains” and the famous national park that takes up the largest part of the county. Chania is also the capital of the county and is not only one of the most beautiful cities of the island, but of the whole of Greece. The magnificent neoclassical estates, as well as the Venetian strongholds, compose a unique setting. In the harbor you will find some of the greatest attractions, including the famous Maritime Museum and the Turkish mosque, one of the oldest Ottoman buildings on the island. While travelling with children, visit the City Park, which dates back to the 19th century. There you will find a small zoo, as well as, a playground, where you can spend a few carefree moments. You will have the opportunity to enjoy the now world renowned Cretan cuisine, known for its beneficial properties and the longevity it offers. For the nature-lovers, the county’s trademark is the Samaria Gorge, which is an ideal destination, mainly in the summer season. Also for nature-lovers is Lake Kourna, the only natural freshwater lake in all of Crete, where you can enjoy a one-of-a-kind evening walk, as well as, a family picnic.
Rethymno: Surrounded by the White Mountains and Mount Psiloritis (Ida) is the county of Rethymno, which is a jewel on the island of the Crete, defined by beauty and history. The old district of Rethymno, also the name of the capital, stands out for its unique architecture and a combination of Venetian and Turkish mansions that bewitch visitors with their every step. Built in the 16th century in order to protect residents from pirate invasions, the famous fortress Fortezza adorns the city’s harbor. The archaeological museum’s doors are open, helping visitors journey through the city’s history. The well-known Monastery of Arkadi awaits you 24 kilometers southeast of Rethymno; a symbol of bravery of the Cretans against the Turkish occupiers. For those who love mountains, 79 kilometers southeast of Rethymno, above Mount Psiloritis, is the breathtaking Nida plateau with its trademark, stone-vaulted, pastoral residences, known as “mitata”. Winter escapades and winter sports can be enjoyed at the plateau’s ski resort. Built on a rocky edge, at an altitude of 730 meters, you will encounter the beautiful, graphic village of Anogia. Visitors come closer to Cretan tradition, through shops with handmade, colorful weavings and embroidery and for those who love authentic, local flavors; you can experience culinary traditions in the village’s taverns. Indulge yourself in the aroma of raki and the Cretan lyra’s melodies.
Chania © GNTO/Rozaki
Heraklion: This is the largest and most populated county on the island and has some of the greatest archaeological sites in Greece. The Palaces of Knossos and Phaistos is just one of many sites. Heraklion is also the birthplace of the Minoan civilization, the most ancient civilization of the European continent and one of the greatest civilizations of humanity. This was also the birthplace of one of the greatest artists of all time, El Greco, whose works became a symbol of Renaissance perfection.
In the center of the town, Venizelos Square awaits, surrounded by stores for your shopping sprees and cafes for your relaxation. Standing in command in the harbor is the Venetian castle, which is worth your while to visit. Nearby, in Eleftheria (Freedom) Square, the archaeological museum is a true revelation, as it houses the largest collection of Minoan civilization findings. Two of the most important Minoan palaces in all of Crete lie a few kilometers away from the city; archaeological site of Phaistos is approximately 5 kilometers south of the city, while 65 kilometers southwest of the city, is the impressive Palace of Knossos
Aside from history, outside of the city, one can also enjoy Heraklion’s amazing nature. Caves, canyons and green areas delineate the hinterland’s scenery and invite explorers to enjoy activities such as hiking and biking. At the same time, well-hidden, traditional settlements and villages, with centuries of history, are waiting to be discovered in vineyards and olive groves, valleys and mountain slopes.
Lasithi: Surrounded by the three seas, Cretan, Libyan and Carpathian, the eastern edge of Crete is characterized by unique natural diversity and intense contrasts that create a charming setting. Famous tourist resorts and luxurious tourist complexes combine perfectly with destinations full of Cretan authenticity, untouched by tourism
The picturesque area of Agios Nikolaos is the capital of the county and is one of the most cosmopolitan areas of the island. The harbor is in the center of the city, which is attached to Voulismeni, a small salt lake with a depth of only 64 meters. The archaeological and folk museums of the city are open to all and offer a journey through time. The city itself is a base for the exploration of interesting destinations, such as, Ierapetra, the most southern city of Europe, with the famous Venetian castle and the Turkish quarters, as well as, the fantastic palm forest of Vai. Located 94 kilometers northeast of the Agios Nikolaos, it is the only palm forest in Europe with over 5,000 palm trees, in an area of approximately 250 hectares. Last, don’t miss out on the opportunity to have fun in a traditional Cretan festival. where dancing to the accompaniment of the lyra and feasting on exquisite Lasithian cuisine take central stage. An example of such a festival is that of Agios Antonios on January 17, in the village of Zakros, on the eastside of the county.

Παρασκευή 23 Νοεμβρίου 2012

International survey about the image of Greece launched...

A group of researchers from Greece and the United States have launched an international survey about the international image of Greece as a tourist destination.

The survey is part of a rebranding exercise of Greece in light of the country's present economic and social crisis. Hundreds of thousands of Greek families depend on tourism for their livelihood and it is of utmost importance for the country to remain competitive in the international tourism market.

The survey findings will help in formulating and proposing the proper branding strategy for Greece under the present extremely difficult conditions. The survey is aimed at non-Greeks as well as at Greeks living abroad.

The researchers, headed by Prof. Sotiris Hji-Avgoustis of Indiana University, are inviting people – and especially tourism professionals – from around the world to fill in the survey’s questionnaire. The completion of the questionnaire will require about 12 to 15 minutes.

Here is the link to the questionnaire: http://tinyurl.com/imageofgreece

Πέμπτη 22 Νοεμβρίου 2012

Planning Your Greatest Family Vacation!!!

   The tricky thing about family vacations is that they include your family. And with your family comes school and work schedules, video games and cookbooks, rock concerts and the big football game that can't be missed. With these conflicting schedules and widespread interests, you'll definitely need time to map it all out.
The goal is simple - make everyone happy with an unforgettable trip to the perfect destination. Achieving that goal can be daunting, especially when all the travel planning falls on you. But it is obtainable, as long as you know what your family enjoys and what travel options you have at your disposal. In the end, seeing your children's faces light up makes it all worth the effort.
Before planning your family's next vacation, check out this advice from ASTA (American Society of Travel Agents). Some of the most travel-wise people in the world, ASTA members know that planning the perfect vacation is easier with time and good advice on your side.
Great Family Vacations Start with Great Family Planning
At the heart of every good, stress-free vacation experience is the perfect plan. If you want a perfect plan that your entire family will love, then get them to help you make it. The more input you get from each family member, the better. Your children may surprise you with some of things they suggest to do on vacation. If the destination or activity is already set, have your kids research online or at the library for exciting things to do while you're all there.
Once the family plan is in place, keep your kids involved by putting them in charge of at least one aspect of the trip. If they're good with maps, make them the navigator. Do they have an eye for photos? Make them the official vacation photographer, in charge of not only taking photos during the trip, but also of compiling the album once you return. They will enjoy the responsibility of the project and the trust you give them to accomplish it.
Setting Your Sights - Where in the World Will You Go?
In The Empire Strikes Back, Yoda says, "Adventure, excitement…a Jedi craves not these things." Well, a Jedi might not crave them, but your kids do. The good news is that there are millions of exciting adventures in this world for you to choose from. The bad news is that there are millions of exciting adventures in this world for you to choose from.
Paring down the list is priority number one. Consider your budget, timeframe and expectations. Are beaches calling your name? How about something in the park variety, be it an amusement, theme, water or National one? Is international travel in your future? Family friendly cruise or resort? With all those in mind, check out these options below sent in by travel agents around the globe.
Glacier NPFollow Your Sense of Adventure at a National Park
America's 388 National Parks are not just the great outdoors, they're the greatest outdoors, and always a family favorite. From glaciers and geysers to canyons and deserts, there is something that will wow every age group. At the tip of your travel tongue may be Yellowstone or the Grand Canyon, but dig a little deeper and you will find many surprises.
Your children will actually enjoy learning at a National Park. They'll become minor geologists in the dark depths of Kentucky's Mammoth Cave. Watch their eyes erupt with wonder at Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. History comes alive by tracing footprints at Antietam National Battlefield or watching oil droplets bubble to the surface of Pearl Harbor above the USS Arizona Memorial. Experience white water action over class V rapids through magnificent gorges and valleys at Gauley River National Recreation Area. Or, conquer the ice age as a family by hiking along Glacier National.
National Parks are perfect for kids. Most of the larger parks run Junior Ranger Programs, allowing kids to participate in fun activities while learning about the area's natural habitat and historic significance. Other parks offer nature walks and wildlife talks specifically geared toward children to show them that nature has more to offer than video games.
All Aboard! Cruising Family Style
Cruise ships are a family vacation planner's best friends. Picture a floating, mega-resort with tons to do for everyone in a confined space where you know your kids are supervised and safe. Many cruise lines offer voyages designed specifically for families, with expanded activity programs and shore excursions for all age groups and waterslides, ice rinks and climbing walls that keep kids and parents happy for days.
Some cruises have even developed onboard programs that not only feature family together time, but also arrange crucial alone time for parents. Together, parents and kids can participate in mock game shows, story hours, treasure hunts and other activities. Later, adults can schedule a massage or spend time on the sun deck knowing their kids are enjoying a host of supervised games and activities. To find a family cruise line to your liking, talk to a travel agent who specializes in cruises.
Lions and BuffaloSomething Wild This Way Comes - African Safaris
For something a bit out of the ordinary, many travel agents rave about African safaris. There's a long list of wilderness adventures available in every degree of comfort, adventure and budget. Safaris range from luxury holidays, where elegant lodges and fine wines share time with tracking giraffes from a sturdy, open-roof vehicle, to mobile camping safaris where you follow predators or stake out the great wildebeest migration, sleeping in tents at a different locale each night.
Just mention the word "safari" to your kids and watch their eyes grow as large as a lion's as they roar with approval. Each safari is judged by the thrilling wildlife it encounters, and many come through with high marks as they safely bring your family into the playgrounds of zebras, lions, elephants, hippos, rhinos, gorillas, cheetahs and a whole ark-full of other animals. So many beasts roam these lands that the ground itself feels alive.
Travel Agents - Your New Favorite Aunt
When you're ready to make the most of your next vacation, open your arms to a new member of the family - your neighborhood travel agent. Your travel agent can save you so much time and money while relieving stress that you may want to invite him or her over for next Thanksgiving.
Money is a big part of any travel experience, and the more value you feel you're getting, the more you'll enjoy yourself. Travel agents understand this principle more than anyone, which is why they work within your schedule, budget and expectations to produce an incomparable vacation experience.
Doesn't a family as great as your own deserve an equally great vacation? Contact a trusted travel agent and start planning your great family vacation today.(from:Travel sense)
  Recommended Travel Agency: Loggia travel

The best beach on the southwest of Crete!!

Crete, Greece....

Plakias is 35 kilometres south of Rethymno, on the southern coast of Crete on the Libyan Sea and is a popular tourist resort well-known for its award-winning Blue Flag sandy beach stretching for 1400 metres.
    The eastern part of the long beach is called Paligremnos. The beach is sandy and very well organized, next to hotels and restaurants. Characteristic of Paligremnos are nearby huge vertical cliffs that rise to a great height. There are caves, dug by Wehrmacht during the German Occupation. Moreover, this place is called Gonates (i.e. knees), because according to tradition, the epic hero Digenis kneeled there to drink water from a local spring.
  Lastly, in Paligremnos a strange phenomenon takes place on every full moon, from September to January. The moonlight is reflected in the mirror-like towering cliffs. Thus, many big squids approach the beach and locals gather them with big sticks.(MAP)
 PHOTOS FLICKR                                                                            PHOTOS PANORAMIO