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Photography Thessaly Travel

Thank you!!

June 19, 2019

Thank you friends, followers and my big Greek family without you, the place in the finals of Apollos contest for travel bloggers, would not be possible. The final vote was really exiting until the last minutes!
The winner of the contest is the blog New York – My Bite of the Big Apple congrats Anna!

So here I am in this photo captured by my daughter Kyriaki when we went to a photo trip to Meteora in the region of Thessaly. You will find my photos of this divine place here. I love to explore new places. My first trip abroad I already did as one year old, when I accompanied my father and aunt to Stockholm in the 60’s. Since my first trip by train to Stockholm, there were many trips and stays in Greece during my childhood. When I went to high school I dreamed of traveling to other countries. But in recent years, I dream of of places in Greece that I have not been to.

Living today in Stockholm with my hubby. My girls are the young ladies who encouraged me to develop the blog and I am now looking forward to write more stories as I want to inspire you to dream about places you have not been to in Greece. I hope to snap new photos real soon and publish them here together with my stories and traveltips.

Crete Photography Travel

To the final vote!

June 10, 2019
Old town Rethymnon

Stort tack till dig som röstat på mig och min blogg i första omgången i Apollo resors tävling. Oavsett hur resan och tävlingen om titeln Årets reseinspiratör slutar så är jag peppad att fortsätta fota och skriva om mina resor i Grekland. Tusen tack för ditt stöd!!

Nu har final röstningen startat och pågår till söndag den 16:e juni. De tre finalisterna i toppen i varje kategori har möjligheten att vinna tävlingen som Årets Reseinspiratör. Följ den spännande finalen och rösta på min blogg som Årets lokala expert här.

Many thanks to you who voted for me and my blog in the first round in Apollo travel agency competiton. Regardless of how the journey and the competition for the year’s Travel Inspo ends, I’m excited to continue to photograph and write about my travels in Greece. Thank you for your support!!

Now the final voting has started and goes on until Sunday the 16th of June. The three finalists in the top in each category have the opportunity to win the competition as the Travel Inspo of the year. Follow the exciting finale and vote for my blog as “lokal expert of the year” here.

Epirus Travel

11 photos of Ioannina

June 8, 2019

Welcome to Ioannina in the northwest of Greece, Epirus is the province. Here I have spent at least a few weeks every summer the last 30 years. Ioannina is our family’s home base in Greece. The city is visited by Greeks and foreigners who love nature experiences of all kinds. Here around the lake Pamvotida there are mountains, exciting landscapes, high mountain peaks, rapids, ravines and many trails to wander in. Its only 45 minutes drive to the 46 stone villages of Zagori from the city. Read about it in a separate blogpost here.

So finely last year the city got its first charter travellers from Sweden. You can now combine your trip with accommodation on the coast in Parga or Sivota and the mountains so you can get the best holiday experience ever in Greece. From here it is only one hour to Albania if you want to take your first day trip there.

 Every autumn, new students come from all over Greece and Cyprus and are looking for accommodation, Ioannina is a university city. Here, it is bursting with life in the city’s cafes, bars and restaurants.
The most famous family is probably Averoff, which has its roots in the village of Metsovo 15 minutes from the city by car. Evangelos in the Averoff family were Foreign Minister and Defense Minister in Greece. He founded Metsovo’s art museum, vineyard and other cultural activities for the area. More about him and his work at the Averoff museums website.
The most famous woman in the city is Kyra Frosini, a woman from the upper class of the city from the end of the 1700s. She was immersed in the lake Pamvotida along with 16 other women by Ali Pasha, Albanian ruler who ruled over the Ottoman region where Ioannina was the capital. If it was because of political reasons or because of jealousy there are different opinions about it. At the lake’s promenade there is a landmark over her.
The city’s most famous sport is the canoe. In the Pamvotida lake, new generations of canoeists are regularly trained. During the 2004 Olympics, the games were organized here.


What to do & see

Pamvotida lake – walk down the main street Averoff towards the lake and enjoy. This is the meeting point in town with a lot of cafes, restaurants and bars. Take a walk around the lakeside or Molos as it called by the locals. A nice view of the lake and the island from above is shown in this video.

To Nisi – means the island in Greek, so here we have an island with no name. The boat trip from Molos takes less than 15 minutes. There are about hundreds of families living with fishing and tourism on the island. There are charming houses and alleys to stroll in, shops with handwork from the neighborhood and silver jewelry to watch as Ioannina is famous for its many silver smiths. Seven monasteries was built here and was once an excellent place to live as a monk. The island is most famous for the murder of the powerful ruler Ali Pasha. His home and house on the island is now a museum and attracts many visitors.

Old castle – Ioannina’s old castle is built during the Byzantine era, its the oldest Byzantine fortress in Greece. The old town has charming houses and alleys, the houses are culture-marked of course. The most popular area is called Its Kale where you find nicely preserved buildings from the time of the Ottoman Empire, the area used to be Ali Pasha’s palace. A minaret, a large kitchen that is now a charming café overlooking the lake that can be seen in the pictures below. The Byzantine Museum, and a Silversmiths museum are located in the park. Concerts and other cultural events are held here often and might be on the agenda while you strolling or sit at the café.
Another impressive building is Aslan Pasha Mosque building, which today houses the Ethnographic Museum of Ioannina. Here you’ll learn about the ways of life of the Christians, Jews, and Muslims who harmoniously lived in the city of Ioannina.

Where to eat

The most famous dish in Ioannina and Epirus is Pita, which is a large pie made in the pan in the oven. Pita is often made of filo dough but not necessarily because the women in the area here have been creative and the filling is varied from spinach and cheese to sweet varieties that contain cinnamon and sugar with other greens. Ioannina has a large selection of restaurants and here are a few restaurants I have visited more than once.

  • Seirioskouzina – Patriarhi Evangelidou 1. Located near the lakeside serves greek dishes with a meditarrenian touch.
  • Parko Naftikou Omilou – Kanari 10 Limnopoula . Trendy restaurant by the lake with greek food and a lot of vegetarian dishes.
  • Mpoukia Mpoukia – Akadimias 4. Cozy restaurant resided in a two-storied neoclassical house with a lovely garden.
  • Frontzu Politia – Agia Triados Hill. If you want to have the best view of Ioannina in a classy restaurant this is your choice.
  • Rakoumel – Kallari 30. Located just outside one of the entrances of the old castle. Here you will find mezedes in a cozy atmosphere, a meeting point for all ages.
One of the entrances of the old castle
Charming houses
Alleys in the old town
Fethiye Mosque – Its Kale
Old weapon storehouse
Pamvotida lake
Old Cook Shop

Do you have a question about Ioannina? Post a message in the comments below. Follow me on Instagram to get an update when I post a new blogpost.

Crete Photography Travel

Vote for my travel blog

May 25, 2019
Arkadi Monastery Crete

Where ever you go, go with all your heart…

Det är klart att du ska till Grekland och därför skriver jag i den här bloggen. Igår drog Apollo resor igång sin blogg tävling för att utse Årets reseinspiratör. Jag är nominerad till Årets lokala expert med min blogg om Grekland. Inspireras du av mina bilder och mina personliga berättelser om Grekland rösta på min blogg fram till den 9 juni. Din röst gör skillnad tack för att du röstar!

Rösta med ett klick (ingen avgift) här. Dem fem bloggar som får flest röster går vidare till finalen och kan så småningom bli Årets reseinspiratör.

You have already decided that your next trip will end up in Greece, but unsure of what treasures you may find here. Therefore, I write this blog. For you. Yesterday Apollo travel agency announced a blog competition about travel inspiration, and I am lucky to be a part of it. I am nominated for “local expert of the year”. If you feel inspired by my images and personal stories about Greece, please vote for my blog. I will forever be grateful for your support! 

Vote with one click (no fee) here. The five blogs that receive the most votes will move on to the final and may eventually become the Travel inspo of the year.

Thessaly Travel

Meteora in 24 hours

April 10, 2019
St. Nikolaos Anapafsas Monastery

When faith and nature do miracles… Meteora is a rock formation in central Greece hosting one of the largest built complexes of Eastern Orthodox monasteries. Meteora, after Athos, is Greece’s largest and most important monastery complex and consisted of 24 monasteries during its heyday, six of which are still active Greek Orthodox monasteries. In a region of almost inaccessible sandstone peaks, monks settled on these ‘columns of the sky’ from the 11th century onwards. Meteora is one of the cultural Unesco world heritage sites in Greece.

The first time I visited Meteora was in the middle of the 80’s. Our Greek neighbours at Bastugatan in Stockholm came from Trikala and then it was not far to Kalampaka and Meteora. I visited them one summer and had the opportunity to walk up to the monasteries. At that time, there were most cars on the road and believers who wanted to visit the monasteries. The town Kalampaka was much smaller and the big tourist buses were rare. The monasteries became more famous outside Greece after the James Bond movie For Your Eyes Only was premiered. Some scenes in the movie were recorded at the monastery of Holy Trinity, despite the monks’ protests. Today, the number of monks has declined considerably and moved to the monasteries of Athos to get their call in peace and quiet. Although the tourists have increased significantly, I think that the sunset in the area is wonderfully beautiful and soothing, one must not miss when visiting the area.

How to get here

Meteora is located in the region of Thessaly in the middle of Greece. The nearest town is Kalampaka and the nearest village is Kastraki. I recommend you to get to Meteora by train, buss or car. By train with trainose.gr from Athens or Thessaloniki. By bus with KTEL from every town in Greece, the bus arrives to Trikala which is the nearest city to Kalampaka. Or by car towards Trikala, easiest with GPS of course.

The Monasteries

The Great Meteoron Monastery is the biggest and oldest one of all. It was called the monastery that was “suspended in the air” (meteoro), because of the formation of the gigantic rock on top of which it was built. The Great Meteoro Monastery was founded by Saint Athanasios the Meteorite who was the first founder of the monastery. For this reason, the foundation of this monastery is considered to be the beginning of the organized monasticism in Holy Meteora.

The Holy Monastery of Varlaam is the second biggest monastery. It resides at the opposite of the Great Meteoro Monastery and it was founded in the mid 14th century by the exercitant Hosios Varlaam. The elegant monastery Catholicon was built in the honour of Agioi Pantes in 1541-42, by two brothers and priests from Ioannina.

St. Stephen’s Monastery is the most accessible monastery, where instead of steps you simply cross a small bridge to reach the entrance. It is ideal for visitors who cannot use the steps and yet they wish to have a real experience of a Meteora monastery. The beginning of monastic life on the rock of Agios Stephanos dates back to early in the 12th century.

The Holy Monastery of Saint Nicholas of Anapafsas is the first monastery that we encounter on the way to the Holy Meteora and was founded at the 14th century. There are different stories about how the name came to be Anapafsas. The first one is that the name Anapafsas was attributed by one of the monastery’s founder, while the second explanation has to do with the monastery’s position being the first to be encountered on the way up and probably served to the pilgrims as a resting place before continuing on. Resting translates into Greek anapafsis, literally means Saint Nicholas the one who rests you.

The Holy Monastery of Roussanou has received the name of the first probable hermit who settled on the rock. The main cathedral was founded at the end of the 16th century and was decorated thirty years later. The monastery was initially founded by monks and it suffered severe damage during World War II. It became a convent in 1988.

The Holy Trinity Monastery (Agia Triada) is the most difficult to reach, but once you get to the top the you have a panoramic view. It has been a monastery since 1362. Visitors have to follow a pathway that directs them initially to the foot of the rock, before they start walking up about 140 steps. Part of the Monastery was used as the setting for the final scenes of the James Bond film For Your Eyes Only.


Opening hours

SUMMER TIME     April 1st – October 31st
Great Meteoron Monastery 9-17
Closed on Tuesdays.

Varlaam Monastery 9-16
Closed on Fridays.

St. Stephens Monastery 9-13.30, 15.30-17.30
Closed on Mondays.

St. Nicholas of Anapafsas 8-17
Closed on Fridays.

Monastery of Roussanou 9-17
Closed on Wednesdays.

Holy Trinity 9-17
Closed on Thursdays.

WINTER TIME  November 1st – March 31st
Great Meteoron Monastery 9-14
Closed on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays.

Varlaam Monastery 9-15
Closed on Thursdays, Fridays.

St. Stephens Monastery 9.30-13 15-17
Closed on Mondays.

St. Nicholas of Anapafsas 8-16, Sundays 9.30-16
Closed on Fridays.

Monastery of Roussanou 9-14
Closed on Wednesdays.

Holy Trinity 9-16
Closed on Thursdays.

Note the dresscode for monasteries. For men long pants and for women skirt or dress below the knee.

Activities

There are many things to explore in this area, besides visiting the monasteries. We choosed the sunset tour with a taxi and a tour in the monasteries with Meteora Thrones the following day. Both was booked with the help from our hotel staff where we stayed in Kalampaka. Other things you can do to explore the area is hiking, biking, climbing at the rocks among others. More inspiration can be found here.

Did you like this post? Share your tips in the comment below. Or follow me on Instagram and get an update when I post a new blogpost.

Kalampaka
Kastraki village
Roussanou Monastery
Varlaam Monastery
Holy Trinity Monastery
Crete Food Travel

Culinary trips around Chania

February 23, 2019

Do you love greek food? Which is your favourite dish?
A Swedish travel agency listed the list of ten popular Greek meze in their last campaign about Greek holiday dreams. And yes there are many options to choose when you are at the Greek restaurant….

  1. Manouri med koukounari Greek cream cheese with pine nuts.
  2. Fasolakia Cutting beans braised in tomato, onion and olive oil.
  3. Saganaki In short, a piece of deep-fried cheese. Measuring!
  4. Midia Green mussels on a rice bed. Grilled with garlic butter.
  5. Dolmathakia Wine dolm filled with rice, nuts and various spices. Also works to eat hot and cold.
  6. Feta med meli Filo dough filled with feta cheese, topped with honey and sesame seeds.
  7. Taramosalata A spread made of fish rum, olive oil, lemon and potatoes or bread. Perfect to put on a piece of bread.
  8. Pantzaria Citrus marinated beetroot with feta cheese and roasted sesame seeds.
  9. Gigantes Beans in tomato and olive oil.
  10. Saligaria White wine Sautéed snails filled with garlic butter.

Did you know that Cretan cuisine differs from the rest of Greece? If you plan to visit Chania this year and love greek food do not miss to do some nice food trips while you are there.

Many of my friends and neighbours in Sweden rent their own car and travel around Crete, often they ask about my culinary trips. So here are my best food trips around the area of Chania. Don’t miss the opportunity to explore the area if you are fond of the gastronomic culture. Cretans love their soil and produce everything from wine to honey…

Chania town

Leave your hotel or accommodation and walk in the old town and the port of Chania. Old town with its charming Venetian style. Here you will find a good offer with restaurants with a lot of Greek food. My husband and I were delighted with a small fish restaurant at the harbor. At Stelios Psarotaverna, Akti Enoseos, you will find fish and seafood on the menu.

Visit a winery

Manousakis Winery, Vatolakkos Chania. In the village of Vatolakkos you will find the wonderful vineyard Manousakis. It is the story of Theodore Manousakis who leaves his village as 11-year-old for America and returns 50 years later to plant the first vineyard in his former home town. Book a tour to learn and taste the vines and enjoy the food in the restaurant.

Milia

Milia restaurant, Vlatos, Chania. The story of the medieval village Milia which once was abandoned and now refurbished to a mountain retreat. Here they cultivate and harvest organic products. The restaurant serves Cretan dishes such as organic vegetables, baby goat and lamb dishes. The village is located near the village Topolia.

Olive oil tour

You see olive trees everywhere in Crete. And a lot of olive oil is produced here. We visited TerraCreta’s facility in the Kolymbari area. Here you can book a tour and learn about olive oil and taste the different varieties, for just olive oil I didn’t know much about until we visited the facility.

Elos village

Elos village, located 60km from Chania, on the way to Elafonissi. The village is known for their chestnut trees. In October you can buy nuts at the village stores and they make tasty dishes with chestnuts as well. I have been there twice at different restaurants and always equally satisfied.

Did you like this post? Share your tips in the comment below. Or follow me on Instagram and get an update when I post a new blogpost.

Crete Travel

A day trip to Spinalonga

February 17, 2019

The first time I heard about Spinalonga was when the Greek channel Mega sent the first episode of the series “To Nisi”, meaning The Island in Greek. It`s the captivating story of the Greek family from Plaka, which achieved record ratings for Greek television. Plaka is a small fishing village in Elounda bay in Crete, opposite of the the small island of Spinalonga. The Greek history books did not cover the history of the leper colony Spinalonga, the island was unknown and forgotten until then.

It´s the fictional story is about leprosy patiens who lived and survived in Spinalonga and their relationship with the inhabitants of the little village Plaka. Giorgos Petrakis and his wife Eleni are the main characters in the story, they live in Plaka with their two daughters. He is a fisherman who trasports supplies to the lepra colony. One day he is forced to transport his wife to the island and later on his daughter. Its a story about fear, passion, love of three generations and the best tv serie Greek television ever produced I dare to say.

Plaka

The history

The island´s fortress was built in the end of the 16th century by the Venetians, who wanted to protect themselves from the Ottoman Empire that had invaded other islands in the Medeterranean. The islands name originates from this time, Spina Longa means Long Thorn. Two hundred years later the Turks invaded Spinalonga and in the late of 1800s as many as two hundred families lived on the island with two-story houses and a mosque. Around the turn of the century there are troubled times in Greece, French rule over the island and the Muslim population decides to abandon the island.

In 1903 the greek government decides that the abandoned island will become a leprosy colony as many, with Dr Hansen´s disease as it called, live in caves to avoid to infect others. In the beginning there was no treatment and many lepers died. But as time went by doctors came to the island and a hospital, shops and school was established. The lepers lived in the houses that the turks abandoned. People fell in love and married at the island, they had children, some of them who grow up at the island never get infected. When the cure of the disease was found the numbers of lepers fell and the leper hospital closed 1957 and the island was abandoned.


Spinalonga or Kalydon which is the official name of the island is reached by boat from Plaka, Elounda or from Agios Nikolaos in Crete. Visit the site early in the morning or late in the afternoon, its very hot temperatures during the middle of the day due to the little amount of vegetation at the island. The island is uninhabited, but there is a coffe shop and restrooms at the entrance. The island is open for tourists from April to October, more practical information at the official website for Spinalonga

There are a number of books written about Spinalonga.
“The island” is the name of the novel that made Spinalonga known to the public.
Victoria Hislop British writer and journalist made her debut 2005 with the novel. The book became a bestseller in UK and is sold over two million copies worldwide in more than 17 countries.

The Greek tv channel Mega broadcasted the series of 26 episodes in 2010.
Shot in Crete and in Spinalonga over two years. Watch the trailer in English version here. The story begins with Alexis who wants to learn everything about her mother’s past. To her surprise, she finds out that her family is connected with the isolated island of Spinalonga, the former settlement of lepers.

Victoria Hislop about Crete and Spinalonga
“Visiting Spinalonga for the first time was a very strong experience and I knew even in the first minute that I arrived there that I had to write about it.  It was very compelling and very emotional.  And I admit that this visit made a profound change to my life”. Read the article at Athensinsider.com .

Did you like this post? Share your tips in the comment below. Or follow me on Instagram and get an update when I post a new blogpost.

Saint George church
The entrance
The view from Elounda