Παρασκευή 28 Δεκεμβρίου 2018

Aristotelous Square, The Jewel of Thessaloniki

View of AristotelousSquare in Thessaloniki

Aristotelous Square is the main city square of Thessaloniki, which is Greece’s second largest city and the capital of Macedonia.
Located along Nikis avenue, near the city’s waterfront (the paralia), Aristotelous is right in the center of it all in Thessaloniki.
The famous square was designed by the French architect Ernest Hébrard in 1918, but most of it was built decades later, in the 1950’s, following debates and arguments between the local authorities, the people of the city and the government. Questions were continually raised about the funding and the size of the project.
Many of the buildings which surround Aristotelous Square today have been renovated, and its northern areas were largely restored in the 2000’s. But how does the modern look of the famous square compare to its original plans?

The original plans for Aristotelous Square included a massive statue of Alexander the Great — and a different name.

The history of Aristotelous Square began just after the immense destruction of the great fire of 1917, which ruined a great deal of the city.
Before the fire, Thessaloniki lacked much of what was considered to be essential and characteristic in European architecture, namely large squares and monumental buildings.
During the years of Ottoman occupation, the city grew without having a general plan of expansion, leading to most of the city becoming overcrowded, with very narrow streets.
Following the unexpected destruction of 1917, the Greek state decided to ask the famous French architect to completely re-plan the city center of Thessaloniki.
Hebrard’s original name for the plaza was ”Alexander the Great Square”, with a huge statue of the Macedonian leader being planned for the middle of the open space, something that unfortunately did not come to pass.
Hébrard decided to build imposing facades on buildings, something that had been missing from the pre-fire architecture of the city.
His well-thought plans actually incorporated a mixture of Byzantine and western European elements, which would give Thessaloniki its totally unique architectural style.

What is known today as Thessaloniki’s Roman Agora was planned to be the Civic Square, the administrative center of the city.

The French architect intended to create another monumental space, the Civic Square, where the administrative center of the city would be, but during its construction, ruins of the Roman Agorawas unearthed, which led to the architect’s plans remaining unfinished.
Despite the fact that Hébrard’s plans were never fully implemented, with Aristotelous Square being built to a more modest scale compared to its rather extravagant original ideas, it is still Greece’s most recognizable square. It is a striking symbol of the city and it plays an important role in the country’s cultural and political life.

Aristotelous Square at Christmastime

Massive political rallies during the decades of 1980’s and 1990’s, along with cultural events such as huge Christmas celebrations and other festivities continue to take place in Aristotelous Square, making it one of the most famous and beloved public spaces of Greece.
Already decided to go to Thessaloniki but don’t know where to stay? If you are looking for a modern, well-equipped and luxurious hotel with surprisingly affordable prices, the Capsis Hotel is the ideal place for you.
As the largest city hotel in northern Greece, the Capsis offers comfort, professionalism and a superb level of services. The modern and recently-renovated Capsis is one of the most famous and centrally-situated hotels in Thessaloniki.
It offers an ideal choice for business meetings, conference receptions, and tours around the city.
The Capsis Hotel’s central position makes it a perfect choice for those who wish to explore  Thessaloniki’s vast historic and cultural heritage, its renowned nightlife, and the everyday life of its citizens.
The best way to visit Thessaloniki and find the best offers is to book HERE  
SOURCE : Greek reporter 

Κυριακή 16 Δεκεμβρίου 2018

Why Greeks Traditionally Decorate a Boat Instead of a Christmas Tree

Thessaloniki cristmas ship 

Greece, a nation closely related to the sea since Ancient times
Naxos Beach.
To Karavaki

The most traditional symbol you will find in Greece during the holidays is a small boat decorated with lights, usually placed in the main square of a town and close to the more international Christmas tree.
The Christmas boat in the old Venetian port of Chania, Crete.
The Christmas boat in the old Venetian port of Chania, Crete.
To karavaki, or small boat is rooted in the traditions of a country with a symbiotic relationship with the sea. In fact on the many Greek islands the Christmas boats remain the most popular ornament of the holiday season.

Agios Nikolaos

Different legends explain the tradition of the Christmas Greek boat. One of them is related to Saint Nicholas (Agios Nikolaos), the Patron Saint of Sailors.
Greek Christmas traditions, the boat
Saint Nicholas.
This saint is celebrated on December 6, the day when many households start decorating their houses for Christmas. Some agree that this is why boats are decorated, in order to honor the saint.

Greek Identity

Greece, a nation closely related to the sea since Ancient times
Greece, a nation closely related to the sea since Ancient times.
It’s also true that Greece is proud os the large amount of sailors, fishermen and intrepid captains the country has, which makes them as a symbol of local identity. Men would often be away for months at a time, and those back home would be anxiously waiting for their return.
On the islands, the wives, mothers, and daughters of seaman used to spend the cold and dark winter months with their heart and mind at sea. There, their men were battling the stormy seas during the holiday season. These were months of expectation, hope, and prayer for their safe return.
The Christmas boat, greek tradition for Christmas
The joy of seeing the boats coming back, approaching the shores, made the women celebrate in relief. The boat is a symbol to honor those brave men coming back home.

Small wooden boats

Boats are part of the Christmas tradition in Greece
The tradition wanted the small wooden boats placed inside close to the fireplace and pointing towards the center of the house, never towards the door. They were also lovingly decorated to give a warm welcome to the men of the household.
Even kids prepared their own boats with paper and chips of wood, and on Christmas Eve, they used these little boats to collect the treats they had received when singing the carols (kalanda) from house to house.

Σάββατο 17 Νοεμβρίου 2018

Eleven Greek Apps for an Unforgettable Trip to Athens

Tourists pose for a photo at the Acropolis (file photo)
It’s finally here — your vacation in Athens has begun! But how can you be sure that you are getting the most out of your trip? You need to have information at your fingertips as you are out and about the city, roaming the streets in search of for the best restaurants and top tourists attractions. And first you need to figure out how to get around! Here are the top 10+1 Apps that will help you navigate the city of Athens:
#1 ATH Airport
This app will definitely make your trip in Athens go smoothly. Not only can you check your flight status, including arrival and departure times, the app is also a portal to loads of useful travel information. You can check out directions on getting to and from the airport and parking information, as well as the latest deals from the airport shopping mall for all of those last-minute souvenirs! Another great feature of this app is up-to-date weather information in English. The app is available for Apple, Android and Windows platforms and best of all, it’s free!
#2 Google Maps Greece
Google Maps is another free app available for use on Apple, Android and windows platforms and it functions quite well throughout Greece. It provides up to date information on all of the trendiest areas and tourist attractions in the country, and what to do once you’re there.  You can also use this app to find where the closest public transportation in located, and with a click be taken to the website to get more information. Athens is a complicated city with many small streets and, let’s face it, not all are clearly marked! Having a map to help you get from one destination to the next is extremely helpful.
#3 OASA Telematics
The next app of interest will definitely make your time in Greece easier. It enables you to track not only where the nearest bus stops are, but also gives you the timetables and routes. You can also track the buses location in real time! This is a handy app, free to use, and can be used on Apple, Android and Windows platforms.
#4 TfA Tickets
It’s great to know where the bus is, but once it arrives, you need to be sure that you already have a bus ticket, since you cannot buy them on buses in Athens. Using the TfA Tickets app, you can buy tickets for all of the different transportation systems in the city. The metro system is a fantastic way to travel around Athens. It is clean, and most cars are air-conditioned for those hot summer months. In addition, the Metro is usually on time and it’s easy to navigate. You can purchase all of your transportation ticket needs with this app, including trolley, train, bus, tram and Metro. The app is available for use by Apple and Android platforms and is free.
#5 Greek Gods Free
When in Greece you will see many references to mythology — after all, this is the home of theOlympian gods! So, to make the most of your trip and be sure you get your facts straight, bone up on essential mythology with this ‘cheat sheet’! This app helps explain Greek myths and where each famous battle or miracle took place. You can even search and learn about mythological creatures from ancient Greece! How cool is that? It is a free app that is available only on the Apple platform.
#6 Taxibeat
Another great way to see the city is by taxi. It is a convenient way to get from one point to another — especially if your destination is a little off the beaten path! The Taxibeat app is free and can be used on Apple, Android and Windows platforms. Taxibeat is a bit like Greece’s answer to Uber, as the app finds your location via GPS and then lets you call the nearest taxi based on customer reviews and other criteria such as language preferences, smoking/non-smoking, etc. Also, Taxibeat cabs have stickers displaying the company name and logo on the side of them, to ensure that you are getting into a legitimate taxi from the company.
#7 AthensBook
This great app is very much like the Yellow Pages of Athens. It has information on everything that you need to know, from shopping and transportation to the pharmacy, and the closest bars and bakeries. You can also rely on the app to let you know if Athens is in store for any transportation strikes — which comes in handy! It is a free app and Apple and Android users can use it.
#8 AirBnB
AirBnBs are super trendy in Athens at the moment. The only way to get an authentic experience of the city life is to rent from locals during your stay! This app lets you check out all that is available with each AirBnB, such as where it is located and what is included with your stay. You can use it on Apple, Android and Windows platforms, and it is free.
#9 Vodafone Explore Greece
This is like having a personal guide showing you all of the ins and outs of Athens! It’s a handy guide that has suggestions on the best things to do while visiting Greece all year round. You can even get information about tours available and see if there are any cultural or special events going on while you’re visiting. Apple, Android and Windows users can access this app for free.
#10 Foursquare
This app is gaining popularity among Greeks, but for tourists who visit Greece from other countries, it has been booming for some time! Foodies love to share all their great finds in Athens on this platform, so be sure to check out the referrals to find your perfect restaurant and dining experience! It’s a free app and can be used on Apple, Android and Windows platforms.
#11 Google Translate
It’s not an exact science, but this app will definitely help you navigate the streets and communicate a bit with the locals. You can even download the Greek language to your device before your trip and be able to access it without the internet! It’s an extremely convenient app that lets you make Greek-to-English and English-to-Greek translation, and it even has a voice feature which includes correct word pronunciation. It also translates from Greek into phonetically-spelled Latin letters, so you can better understand the pronunciation.

Κυριακή 11 Νοεμβρίου 2018

Τhe Greek Video Competing for This Year’s CIFFT People’s Choice Award

The acclaimed Greek film “Greece 365-Day Destination,” directed by Antonis Kioukas, is among the nominees for the CIFFT (International Committee of Tourism Film Festivals) People’s Choice Award 2018.
The award is issued via an electronic voting contest that enables people from all over the world to select the best tourism film for 2018.
More than 29 films are participating in the contest this year. Kioukas’ film is considered one of the favorites, having won seven international awards since its August 2017 release.
Voting for the contest has begun and will continue through the end of today. Those who are interested, may vote on this page. The winning film is expected to be announced on November 12, when the 30th CIFFT Award ceremony will take place at the Austrian Chamber of Commerce in Vienna.
  • News from Greece

Σάββατο 27 Οκτωβρίου 2018

Thessaloniki, One of Greece’s Best Fall Destinations (Video)

Thessaloniki — Greece’s co-capital, also known as ”the lady of the North” and ”the bride of the Thermaic Gulf,” is known as one of the most vibrant alternative destinations in Greece.
For those who want to enjoy a relaxing experience full of history, beautiful nature, culture and countless options for entertainment and fun, Thessaloniki is the place to be this autumn.
October and November offer ideal conditions for anyone who is lucky enough to be visiting Thessaloniki during this time. The season’s cooler temperatures allow long strolls and sightseeing tours, while the weather is still mild enough to spend a day at a nearby beach or enjoy a coffee by the port.
Featuring a population of approximately one million, Greece’s “second city” is a metropolis featuring numerous options for its guests. These options include the city’s many museums, such as the Archaeological and Byzantine museums, in addition to city break-style tours of the city’s numerous historical monuments. These tours can be complemented by a relaxing stroll along Nikis Avenue and the city’s restored waterfront.
Autumn in Thessaloniki is also a time where one can fully experience the city’s rich cultural life.
For instance, at the 53rd Demetria festival, running for nearly a month from late September until late October, visitors have the chance to enjoy theatrical performances, concerts, visual arts, photography, and cinema.
With more than 42 main events and other side events composing the festival’s core lineup, this fall’s Demetria Festival is sure to please.
Already decided to go to Thessaloniki but don’t know where to stay? If you are looking for a modern, well-equipped and luxurious hotel with surprisingly affordable prices, the Capsis Hotel is the ideal place for you.
As the largest city hotel in Northern Greece, the Capsis offers comfort, professionalism and a superb level of services. The Modern and recently-renovated Capsis is one of the most famous and centrally-situated hotels in Thessaloniki, offering an ideal choice
for business meetings, conference receptions, and tours around the city. The Capsis Hotel’s key position makes it a perfect choice for those who wish to become acquainted with Thessaloniki’s vast historic and cultural heritage, its renowned nightlife, and the everyday life of its citizens.

The best way to visit Thessaloniki HERE 

Κυριακή 23 Σεπτεμβρίου 2018

Skorpios Island: From Aristotle Onassis to Ekaterina Rybolovleva

Skorpios Island: From Aristotle Onassis to Ekaterina Rybolovleva

Skorpios is the Greek island that hosted some of the most intriguing moments of the global elites during the 20th century. Uninhabited and unknown until the start of the 1960’s, Skorpios lays right next to the island of Lefkas, in the Ionian Sea.
Aristotle Onassis, the world-known shipping tycoon, bought the island in 1963 and started its overall transformation.

Skorpios island in the Ionian Sea

Locals still recall the gigantic procedures to import sand from the island of Salamina so that Onassis could enjoy the Greek sun on his own private sandy beaches. But the Greek tycoon wanted more.
That’s why he planted more than 200 different varieties of trees, creating an idyllic scenery for his private moments. Onassis also built a family compound that included three luxurious residences, a helipad, and a small marina, before building a Cyclades-style residency after his marriage with the former First Lady of the United States of America, Jackie Kennedy.
The harbor facilities in the bay on the north side of the island were created to host his yacht named after his beloved daughter, Christina.
Skorpios hosted some of the most famous personalities of the century: Maria Kallas, for example, used to enjoy her time on the island with Onassis when they were together.
Jackie Kennedy was the next notorious female presence who enjoyed the exotic beauties of this private Greek island. Skorpios hosted many parties during the time too, making it a central meeting place of global celebrities.
After Onassis’ death in 1975, Skorpios passed down through his family.

Athina Onassis

Christina Onassis died of a heart attack at the age of 37, only 13 years later, at which time the property passed on to Athina Onassis Roussel, the only child of Aristotle’s beloved daughter.
But Athina showed no interest in keeping the island, so after many years, Skorpios was sold for more than €100 million to Ekaterina Rybolovleva, the daughter of the Russian super-rich businessman, Dmitry Rybolovlev.

Ekaterina Rybolovleva in Skorpios

Ekaterina’s plans for the island are remarkable.
A new complex of luxurious villas with a total capacity of 48 beds, courts of golf, basketball and tennis, as well as restaurants, spas and a brand-new marina are only some of the family’s plans for the island, at an investment that will probably cost more than €120 million.
Thus, Skorpios’ new chapter is yet to be written.


Τετάρτη 18 Ιουλίου 2018

A Greek Summer Dilemma: Ionian Islands or the Cyclades?

It is summertime in Greece and vacation dates are set. It is the time lucky Greeks and visitors have to face one of the most pleasant dilemmas: Which island or islands? In the Ionian Sea or the Aegean? Island hopping in the Ionian or in the Cyclades?
It is a hard choice, as both groups of islands are truly beautiful in all aspects. Both can cater to families and romantic couples or to party animals and flirts as well.

The Old Castle of Corfu

The Islands of the Ionian Sea
Their natural setting is the main factor that makes the islands of the Ionian completely different from the Cycladic ones. Here, the rich greenery blends harmoniously with the turquoise of the sea and the blue of the sky, creating beautiful natural paintings.
On the Ionian islands, visitors who have traveled extensively around the world would often say that the turquoise of the cool, crystal-clear waters beat those of the Caribbean. The colors are fantastic, their combinations even more so, and if instead of pine the trees surrounding the beautiful beaches were palm, then one would say that these are the ‘tropical islands’ of Greece. Zakynthos is also one of the nesting sites of the loggerhead sea turtles.

The Shipwreck Beach on Zakynthos

The Ionian Sea beaches are famous and well-photographed: The Shipwreck of Zakynthos, the impressive Egremni and the turquoise Porto Katsiki of Lefkas, Myrtos of Kefalonia are just some of the beaches that are themselves a reason for a holiday in the Ionian Islands.
Then there is more: The unbelievable “white” waters of Antipaxos, the all-green islet when entering Paxos port, the little-known beaches of Ithaca which are one of the best-kept secrets of the island of Homer’s Ulysses, Marathonissi in the bay of Laganas on Zakynthos…these are just a few.

Entering the port of Paxos

Another great characteristic of Ionian islands is the Venetian presence in the architecture, the “singing” speech of many locals, the musical influences and the food. For centuries, the islands of the Ionian belonged to the Venetians and the western Mediterranean influence is still strong.
Foodwise, the Corfu pastitsa and sofrito are memorable dishes along with the island’s famous kumquat liqueur. Overall, all the Ionian islands have cuisines influenced by their Venetian ancestors.

The sun sets on Santorini

The famous Cyclades
When a foreigner speaks about Greece, chances are that the words Mykonos and Santorini will be included in the sentence. They are the two world-famous islands that every summer attract big names from the entertainment, business and sports worlds. Also, the pictures of the Mykonos windmills and the Santorini Caldera are on the cover of most tourist guides for Greece.
The “Spartan” beauty of the Cycladic islands is well known: Stone-paved alleys, whitewashed churches with deep blue domes, picturesque white houses and gorgeous sandy beaches where the blue of the sky reflects so majestically in the clear waters.

Party at Cavo Paradiso on Mykonos

The view of the sunset from Oia in Santorini, a dive in the deep waters of Amorgos where the movie The Big Blue was shot, the Red Sand Beach in Santorini that looks like a landscape on Mars, a wild party at Cavo Paradiso Club with a famous DJ on Mykonos, the ancient Temple of Apollo on Delos… these are some of the experiences that one person must have at least once in their lives.
The Cyclades are not only Mykonos and Santorini. There is Amorgos, Naxos, Syros and the picturesque “little ones” like Koufonissia, Irakleia or Donousa, with quiet, beautiful beaches for truly romantic settings.

The Livadi beach on Donousa invites you for a swim

The food in the Cyclades is also delicious. The San Mihali P.D.O. cheese of Syros or the naxos gruyere are world famous. The fava in Santorini is a unique local delicacy and so are the mouthwatering fried tomato balls. Mykonos has great sausages, while the xynotyri (sour cheese) of Ios is not to be missed.
Also, the great thing about the Cyclades group of islands is that there are 33 of them, all worth exploring. There is Paros, Milos, Sifnos, Serifos, Antiparos, Sikinos, Andros, Kythnos, Kea and the list goes up to double figures.
The choice between the Ionian and the Cycladic islands? It is a win-win situation. Both sets of islands are fantastic and why not visit one this summer and the other next summer? One wishes that all life’s dilemmas are like this.

Greek reporter Greece

Σάββατο 7 Ιουλίου 2018

Thomas Cook to Invest €150M in Greek Tourism in 2018

Thomas Cook, one of the world’s biggest tour operators, has pledged to invest around €150 million ($173 million) in the Greek tourism sector this year.
At a news conference held on the occasion of the official launch of Thomas Cook’s new own-brand hotel concept named Cook’s Club in Hersonissos on Crete, CEO Peter Fankhauser reaffirmed the tour operator’s commitment to Greece.
He said the group had opened up four new destinations and added more than 34 new routes in the last two years, making it the biggest holiday company operating in the country.
Speaking alongside Greek tourism minister Elena Kountoura, Fankhauser said the company hopes to operate between 10 and 15 Cook’s Club hotels by summer 2019.
He estimated that the company will send three million tourists to Greece this year, up more than one third on two years ago.
“I’m proud to say that we are the number-one holiday company operating out of Europe into Greece and by the end of this season we expect to bring about three million holidaymakers to this fantastic destination,” Fankhauser said.
“Since 2016, we have opened up new regions to our customers including northern Greece; added new airline routes into the country and its many beautiful islands; and innovated with the launch of our two new own-brand concepts, Casa Cook and Cook’s Club,” he added.

Κυριακή 24 Ιουνίου 2018

Athens Day Trip: How to Spend Your Day on the Greek Island of Tinos

While visiting Athens this summer you are probably looking to figure out which of the nearby islands you should visit in an excursion from the mainland.
One island that is seeped in history and beauty is the island of Tinos. The island is laced with sacred religious and historic sites, history museums, and art museums – and dotted with charming authentic Greek villages. Let’s look at how you can spend your day visiting this island and what sites you want to be sure to put on your itinerary.
First off, one piece of advice when visiting this island is to rent a car. There is so much to see on this island and in order to set your own pace, driving from each destination point is the way to really enjoy yourself.
Start off in the town of Tinos, also called Chora, at the Church of the Virgin Mary, (the Panayia Evanyelistria Cathedral). This is the most popular attraction on this island. Even many Greeks visit this Church regularly and pray or give thanks to the icon, as it is known to be a source of numerous miracles.
Next stop on the itinerary – Pyrgos village, located just northwest of Chora. This quaint village transports you to another time with its traditional Cycladic architecture. Here you will find yourself strolling the whitewashed narrow alleys, visiting small churches and taking an endless amount of photos of the white-washed cubic houses with brightly painted doors and windows.
Here you will also find Museum of Marble Crafts – a must see on your trip. Afterall, marble has been a big part of the island’s history and its architecture. Tinos is the birthplace of many modern Greek sculptors; the best known is Giannoulis Halepas, from Pyrgos.
You can also enjoy a traditional meal in one of the town squares at a local taverna. The atmosphere and food are sure to be unforgettable!
Close to Pyrgos village is a great beach called Rohari Beach. Although it is an organized beach complete with a beach bar, you can also opt to chill out under the trees and relax on the sandy beach.
On your drive back to Chora you do not want to miss Kardiani village, which is located in one of the greenest parts of the island. The village is like a painting and it gracefully lies on the slopes of Mount Pateles. It’s only 16 kilometers northwest of Chora, so there is no reason to miss out on seeing this hidden gem!
The historic ruins on the island at the site of the ancient capital of Tinos at Xomburgo are a magnificant site. Also from here you will have great panaromic veiws of the Aegean Sea. You can stop here on your way to Chora to enjoy the views and snap some unforgettable photos.
Tinos is known for its amazing sunsets, so before returning to the mainland, why not have a Greek coffee at a cafeteria in Chora and enjoy watching the sun set and the night sky lighting up in an array of blazing oranges and reds – the perfect ending to an amazing day.

Κυριακή 27 Μαΐου 2018

National Tourism Organization Invites 587 Bloggers to Promote the Beauty of Greece

For the third year, the Greek National Tourism Organization (GNTO) is organizing a program of familiarization trips which intend to make a global touristic promotion of the country. The project intends to bring 587 foreign bloggers, journalists, and representatives of international travel agencies from 27 different countries in 167 familiarization trips scheduled until July to get to know and promote the 13 different regions of Greece, promoting Greek tourism abroad.
Athens, World Book Capital 2018
The guidelines of the program are included within the framework of the National and Regional Tourism Policy of the country presenting Greece as a year-round destination. A project that is being implemented with enormous success and that sees the participation of the different regions and municipalities as well as actors from the touristic private sector.
The first part of the Familiarization Travel Program, approved by the Greek National Tourism Organization aims to promote less known Greek destinations to the global travel community, but it also includes a targeted promotion of different thematic touristic proposals which intend to attract visitors throughout the year.
Portara, Naxos (Courtesy of Gabi Ancarola).
Portara, Naxos (Courtesy of Gabi Ancarola).
Some of the important news outlets participating in the project include journalists from Great Britain (Travel Chanel, BBC, The Daily Telegraph, Sunday Times, Walk Magazine and Evening Standard), France (France 2, France 5), the German publishing group Tagesspiegel, the Austrian newspapers Krone Zeitung & Die Presse, the Belgian magazine Exclusief, the Romanian National Geographic Traveler, Romania’s state TV channel TVR. Private channels such as Antenna 1, Antenna 2, Canal D, Prima TV have also been invited to attend the trips. Bloggers from England, Germany, and Denmark, as well as leading travel agencies from Frace, Japan, China, Poland, The Netherland, Israel, and Romania, will also be part of the planned visits.
Patmos travel guide (digital format)
Patmos (photo courtesy Gabi Ancarola).
Different Chinese travel agents, a Chinese travel magazine Travel Agent Magazine as well as a blogger with over 4 million followers on the social media will be taking part in the first Thematic Aegean cruise. Finally, CNN Travel will be hosted on the islands of Chios and Patmos so as to work on the promotion of both destinations as gastronomic and cultural places to visit in Greece.