LETTER FROM OVERSEAS EDITOR

Greece

Playground of the gods, the topographical aesthetics of the Greek Islands are so breathtakingly beautiful they more aptly belong in the mythology which defines their history. With over 2,000 islands, April Getaway offers only a taste of the feast of Greek Islands – a small collection of our favourites from the well-traveled Cyclades of Santorini and Mykonos to less frequented Ionian Island hideaways off Greece’s west coast. This issue we toast to the Greek gods.

On virtually every Greek island exist the usual stereotypes – tanned and wrinkled fishermen attending their weathered boats tangled in gold netting, blisteringly white-domed chapels perched over a bright cobalt blue sea, packed taverns and shattered plates with jolly Greeks yelling ‘Opa!’ But each island has its own idiosyncrasies. And what actually characterizes these picture-perfect isles goes much deeper. The island Greeks have endured a history of foreign conquerors and occupations, determined pirates, political corruption, earthquakes, military dictatorships, revolts and insurrections. But ultimately each island found independence in a life ruled by their close proximity to the sea. Now the islanders live in peace, amongst other-worldly beauty, but always acknowledging their colourful history. Speak with any local Greek and you’ll find knowing eyes behind those friendly smiles.

Greeks have a long shipping tradition sailing between the islands for thousands of years. The giant shipping empires of legendary magnates Aristotle Onassis and Stavros Niarchos no longer exist but hundreds of smaller operators for the tourist trade have gathered in the ports of each island. In keeping with Greeks’ affinity for the sea, I recommend following in their wake. Sailing or ferrying between several islands via day trips or cruising the Aegean or Ionian Sea for a month is the best way to experience the islands. Speak with your Edge consultant for the latest cruises available.

Next issue coming out in early June don your strappy sandals as we are headed to the Cote d’Azur and the best of the French Riviera.

For now, let’s island hop….

Sincerely, Kimberly Rosbe
Editor at Large

EDITORIAL

Santorini Roof

Island Hopping

When island hopping in Greece, I’ll give you a little tip – travel light. When I first visited the Greek Islands in my 20s, I was on an around-the-world holiday. As a fashion conscious young woman I strictly adhered to the well-established Carrie Bradshaw mentality that every outfit must have its own matching shoes. Hence, two 70-pound massive suitcases accompanied my every move which required Herculean strength to lift or maneuver. Never fear, I thought! I’m in the Greek Islands. There will be burly Greek gods embodying brute power waiting at every port to heave my bags after a mere wave of the hand from me. Well, not on the ferries.

A ferry ride from Paros to Mykonos spelled luggage disaster. In the blistering July sun, I remember standing at the bottom of a 45% angle ramp which was so large cars were driving onto the ferry. With my gargantuan suitcases in each hand, I took a deep breath, slipped them into wheel mode, and headed up the ramp conjuring mental images of Mike Tyson for inspiration. Sweating bullets as I huffed and puffed my way slowly up the long ramp, scores of locals with dainty little day bags pushed past me. I grumbled and persevered. But as fate would have it, nearly at the top I lost my balance. I spun around and frantically dove for my suitcases but it was too late. The largest one went flying back down the steep incline like a runaway train accelerating with every roll. Where are those Hercules descendants when you need them?! The luggage barreled down the ramp at such speed and force it knocked over a child and a little old Greek lady on the way down. Then, with a final gasp from the locals, flipped over the side of the plank into the sea. With total disregard for the fallen bodies, I yelp pathetically, “My Manolos!”

FEATURE

Greek Islands

Santorini Roof

THE CYCLADES

Entering the bay of Santorini by boat is one of the great awe-inspiring travel experiences of a lifetime. The Cyclades archipelago is unquestionably the archetypal Greek Islands – the scenic highlight Santorini and the hedonistic jet-set Mykonos the most popular and busiest. For most The Cyclades ARE the Greek Islands and the ultimate destination for a bright blue summer in Greece. Of the 56 Cycladic islands, 24 are inhabited. These islands remain the original mecca and best place for island hopping. There are two basic ferry routes: the first arches to the east taking in elegant Andhros, religious Tinos, international Mykonos, party central Paros and Ios, back-packer Naxos and finally volcanic Santorini. The second route arches west to the lesser frequented islands of Kythnos, Serifos, Sifnos and Milos.

Santorini

Lost Continent of Atlantis, SANTORINI

A great caldera formed by cataclysmic volcanic eruption, Santorini’s beauty is legendary – whitewashed villages clinging to black cliffs spilling down the side of the caldera suspended over a rich azure blue sea. Santorini contains a mystique ripe for seduction. The most picturesque village is undoubtedly Oia at the northern tip. You’ll find a white jumble of stairways, domed churches, bridges, infinity pools and traditional cave houses with vertigo-inducing views and the best sunsets in the world. Wind your way down paths from Oia to the harbour of Ammoudi lined with fish tavernas like Katina’s serving up grilled red mullet and sea bass. Santorini’s trademark black-sand beaches, Perissa and Kamari, are alive with the buzz of water sports and bars, but to escape the crowds venture to Karamolegos with its beautiful bays and yellow cliffs. A must see – the 3,500 year old city and palaces of Akrotiri unearthed in 1967 and preserved under volcanic ash, one of the finest archaeological sites in Greece. One word to describe Santorini? Awe.

STAY: Ikies Traditional Houses (Oia), Katikies Hotel (Oia), Astra Apartments (Fira), Perivolas (Oia), Mystique (Oia), La Maltese (Imervigli), On the Rocks (Imervigli), Cosmopolitan Suites (Fira)

Ionian Islands

Glam Town, MYKONOS

Such is the drill in Monte Carlo and St. Tropez, if you really want to make an entrance in Mykonos, fly in on a helicopter. In Mykonos, however, the famous come to mingle with the anonymous. VIP rooms are absent at clubs and the locals are unimpressed by the celeb jet-set crowd that frequents the island. Here the only thing that will get you noticed is youth and beauty. The gay community is prevalent and the social scene emanates from their standards. Mykonos is famous, indeed notorious, for its all night bars and all day beach clubs. For beaches, Paradise is nude, Super Paradise is gay nude. The beaches on the north coast such as Agios Sostis are not as frenetic as the south. Come here for superb shopping amongst a labyrinth of cobblestone mazes, wild beaches, lobster-serving restaurants, glam hotels and sexy nightlife. Beyond the ‘scene’ find the artist area of Little Venice, the most photographed church Paraportiani, four picture-perfect windmills and a manicured town. Dance, party and enjoy until the sun comes up, then do it all again.

STAY: Santa Marina, Mykonos Grace, Mykonos View Studio & Apartments, Ostraco, Villa Agapanthus, Mykonos Grand Hotel, Mykonos Blue

Walker’s Paradise, NAXOS

The largest of the Cyclades, Naxos is known as the backbackers’ beat, shining with clean water and white sand. A green island with mountain hiking, ancient sites, Venetian watchtowers and long sandy beaches. Find the best beaches 30 minutes outside of town in a row: Vigla, Mikri, Kastraki and Glyfada. Naxos’ landmark, the immense stone gate of the Temple of Apollo (otherwise known as Portara) stands commemorating the glory of ancient Greece. Visit the Venetian castle in Chora Naxos where the well-known family Dellarokes still resides.

STAY: Castro Residence

Live bouzouki tunes, SYROS

Capital of the Cyclades, Syros remains a grand old port with possibly the best-preserved Neoclassical townscapes in Greece particularly in Ta Vaporia. The port is dominated by two hills, each capped by a church, one Orthodox, one Catholic. The Catholic hill of Ano Syros has one of the best views in the Aegean from the 16th century Cappuccin monastery. In the Church of the Assumption you’ll find a treasure – an original icon by El Greco. Outside Athens, Lili is the best place for authentic live bouzouki music otherwise known as Greek Blues.

STAY: Syrou Melathron

IONIAN ISLANDS

Ionian Islands

Seven isolated isles fringing the west mainland of Greece, the Ionian Islands are Captain Corelli country, retaining a passion for music and a strong flavour of Italy. This is the Greece of sculpted cliffs, shipwrecked beaches and aquamarine seas – the place where Onassis courted and married Jackie Kennedy on his private island of Skorpios.
Tip: A car is recommended to fully enjoy the grand, scenic nature of the Ionian Islands.

Captain Corelli’s Mandolin, CEPHALONIA

The island’s beauty was captured on film when Penelope Cruz and Nicholas Cage came here to recreate Louis de Bernieres’s novel. Once reduced to rubble by an 8.6 earthquake in 1953, Cephalonia is the Ionian’s most mountainous dominated by the towering Mount Enos. The island’s biggest draw are the two northern picture-postcard villages, Assos and Fiskardo which attract a yachting clientele. Find one of the finest beaches in Europe at nearby Myrtos Beach – white pebbles backed by tall white cliffs reflecting an ethereal blue glow onto the water. During the filming of Captain Corelli’s Mandolin, the cameramen couldn’t get people to believe the colour of the water hadn’t been faked.
STAY: Emelisse Art Hotel, Nicholas Taverna

Shipwreck Beach, ZAKYNTHOS

Zakynthos

The western flank of the larger Ionian Islands has exquisite white sand beaches, collectively the best in Greece. On Zakynthos, a stranded and abandoned smugglers’ wreck remains intact on St. George’s, the island’s most beautiful beach carved out of a wall of white stone cliffs and only reached by day boat. Celebrate the pirates’ life at famed tavernas Alivizos and Arekia. Every taxi driver will know the way. This island is also a nature-lovers paradise. Visit Marathonisi Islet where endangered but protected Mediterranean loggerhead sea turtles nest or head for the Strofadia Islets, a haven for migrating birds. Take a tour boat along Cape Skinari whose tip reveals a series of blue caves, grottoes popular for snorkeling.

STAY: Hotel Nobelos, Strada Marina, Liuba Apartments

Birthplace of Prince Philip, CORFU

Once the favourite escape of European royalty and still expat holiday home to the Rothschilds, Corfu is now a mass tourism and cruise line focal point. Gerald Durrell’s novels are partially to thank (or to blame) for the tourist invasion of Corfu town, Kerkyra, which remains the highlight of this island. Find elegant Venetian architectural influences mixed with fundamental English customs of playing cricket and drinking ginger beer. Avoid the development and all-inclusive resorts to the south, and instead stay in the exclusive villas amongst cypress-studded landscapes to the north. Explore the deserted hamlet of Perithea where locals fled when pirates came to raid.
STAY: Villa de Loulia

Odysseus Home, ITHAKI

Archeological evidence suggests Ithaki was the ancient home of Odysseus, the wandering hero from Homer’s fabled tale. The most rustic and chilled of the Ionian Islands, sailors dock in its sheltered harbours and drink at quaint waterfront tavernas in Frikes or Kioni. Hikers come to soak in Homer’s nostalgia. Three sites near Vathy are linked to Odysseus – Arethousa’s Spring, the Cave of the Nymphs and the ancient Alalkomene. The most worthwhile of the three is the arduous 1 1/2 hour walk from Vathy to Arethousa’s Spring with stunning views along the epic voyage.

STAY: Kandiliotika, Levendis Estate, Perantzada 1811 Art Hotel

CRETE

Crete

As Greece’s southernmost island, the summer sun lingers the longest in Crete so expect scorching hot temperatures in the height of summer. As the largest of the islands, Crete is considered a country within a country and perhaps the most authentic of the islands with its own history, folklore, traditions and proud independent people. Crete is stunningly scenic and historically rich. With the exception of Panormos and its fishing village charm, try to avoid the tacky overdeveloped north coast with its large-scale holiday resorts and busy towns of Malia and Chersonisos and opt instead to focus inland and south. Inland Crete offers soaring mountain ranges, hidden valleys with lush orange and lemon groves and remote hilltop villages ripe for exploration without the crowds. Hikers will revel in the interior’s three mountain ranges towering to 6,500 feet. The most interesting may be the White Mountains with its lunar summits, gorges and crumbling Byzantine chapels nestled in its foothills. The western and eastern tips of the island have idyllic beaches including the palm-shaded strand of Vai. Be sure to also check out the beachside ruins of Minoan Zakros. If you are after a mix of pampering and partying, the eastern town of Elounda is ideal. For Minoan lovers, don’t miss the island’s most famous attraction, the Palace of Knossos a mere 5 kms southwest of the city centre Iraklion. In the lively Venetian influenced north, visit Chania and Rethymnon for a mix of fishing harbours, cosmopolitan shopping, Turkish mosques and grand scale lux hotels. The best time of year to visit Crete is the springtime – the meadows are ablaze with flowers and the mountains still are snowcapped providing the most dramatic visual backdrop imaginable.

STAY: Elounda Gulf Villas (Elounda), Casa Delfino (Chania), Ammos Hotel (Chania), Elia Hotel & Spa (Kolymvari), The White Houses (Makrigialos), St. Nicolas Bay Resort (Aghios Nikolaos)

DODECANESE ISLANDS

Dodecanese Islands

This chain of twelve inhabited islands close to the Turkish coast in Greece’s southeast Aegean center around bustling Rhodes – an isle which claims more sunshine than anywhere else in Europe making it ideal for year-round travel. The island group contains something for everyone with big beach resorts for party-goers, miniature havens for solitude seekers visited by only one ferry a week, ancient temples and medieval castles for history buffs, and volcanic craters for hikers.

Blending medieval with modern, RHODES

The capital of the island chain, Rhodes is a well-rounded island where high-rise hotels and unspoiled villages coexist. Tour the medieval Old Town, climb to the Acropolis in early morning, windsurf the Prasonisi Islet, sample Sette Herbe liqueur in Filerimos Monastery hidden amongst cypress groves, soak in marble baths lit by vaulted skylights at Yeni Hamam and watch the sunset from the Castle of Monolithos perched 800 feet above sea level.

STAY: Melenos Lindos, Marco Polo Mansion, Lindos Memories, Rodes Park Suites

Olympos time warp, KARPATHOS

After a long sea crossing you’ll discover undeveloped, sparsely populated and mountainous Karpathos. Stunning Apella beach alone on the east coast makes the journey worthwhile. The islands’ main village attraction is Olympos. Take a step back in time and witness the older residents still dressing as they have for centuries. Karpathos offers hikers the finest walking trails in the Dodecanese through gentle valleys and vineyards in the south to breathtaking mountain landscapes in the north.

The new Capri, SYMI

Symi

Symi has one of the prettiest ports in all of Greece and fancies itself the new Capri with its tiers of manicured pastel painted houses. As you approach Symi on a day trip from Rhodes, flotillas of little boats flee the port of Yialos for one of the lovely remote beaches around the island. Symiots are famous boatbuilders and each year on November 8th, the Archangel Michael (patron of local sailors) brings seafaring pilgrims from all over the Aegean to the islands’ monastery Taxiarhis Mihail Panormitis for a great feast.
STAY: Aliki Hotel

Holy Land, PATMOS

Still today Patmos is proclaimed a holy island luring spiritual pilgrims with its plethora of over 50 churches, monasteries and chapels. The island is indelibly linked to the Bible’s Book of Revelations because of its author’s residence here, John the Evangelist. Fittingly, the island’s sacred claim to fame is the grand Monastery of St. John the Divine, around which the hilltop village of Chora is built. Art lovers will appreciate the exquisite mosaics and great sloping buttresses dating from the 16th century. Carry rosary beads, buy leather sandals made by the local cobbler Andonis Simatiris and walk amongst black-robed monks. Then light a candle and celebrate the religious magic.

STAY: Skala Hotel, Porto Scoutari, Petra Hotel

Argo-Saronic

ARGO-SARONIC ISLANDS

Within close proximity to Athens only an hour or two by hydrofoil from its port Piraeus, the five islands of the Saronic Gulf are considered by some commuter islands for city dwellers. Many affluent Athenians have weekend homes here and view these islands as an extension of the mainland. But the islands are closer to Greek idyll than Greece suburb. In fact, Salamina, Aegina, Poros, Hydra and Spetses contain many of the charms of the remotest Greek islands including a sea amongst the clearest in all of Greece. Aegina boasts one of the most important antiquities of all the Greek Islands, the site of the Temple of Afea. Henry Miller’s description of car-free Poros will be forever immortalized in his Collossus of Marousi. Glimpse in wonder as you sail through its tiny passage creating the illusion you are sailing through the streets of town. The most fashionable of the islands are Hydra and elegant Spetses with their whitewashed seafarers’ mansions housing trendy movie star guests and international celebrities. Chic boutiques, restaurants and nightclubs abound to entertain the well-heeled Athenians and holidaymakers.

continued on right hand side →

EDGE DEALS

Mykonos

Executive Edge Travel & Events continues to bring you the hottest available travel specials on the market today. Simply click on www.executiveedge.com.au/specials which links directly to the specials page updated daily on the Executive Edge Travel & Events website.

BOOK TODAY!

Please click on the links below for more details on our current specials:

The “Best of Greece” 13 days

“Peloponnese and Ionian Islands” 13 days

Fancy a Cruise from Croatia to Athens

On Tall Ships with Star Clipper

Crystal Cruises

Gulet sailing in Turkey

Hotel special rates

Special airfares to Athens or Istanbul

EDGE VIEW

Galapagos Islands

Galapagos Islands

Edge View will focus upon a breathtaking view somewhere in the world which commands a trip to see. This month we expose the aesthetic wonder and mythic wilderness of the Galapagos Islands – a nature lover’s archipelago 1000 km west of Ecuador near the equator. The draw is primal natural beauty untouched by human contamination in a protected, ecologically rich environment. Due to its geographic isolation, no large predators ever reached this land so the wildlife that reside here has no fear of humans. Tourists can literally observe animals from inches away. Any traveler dedicated to the study of natural history, Darwin or evolution will find a scientist’s fascination with the Galapagos Islands.

EDGE CHECK IN

Qasr Al Sarab Resort & Spa,

United Arab Emirates

A sand castle oasis in the middle of the United Arab Emirates desert 90 minutes drive from Abu Dhabi, you’ll find the exquisite Anantara property of Qasr Al Sarab Resort & Spa. Located in the Liwa Desert, the property allows guests to explore the legendary Empty Quarter, the world’s largest sand desert. The area became world-renowned after Wilfred Thesiger traversed the 250,000 square mile dunes by camel and lived to write about it in Arabian Sands. You can experience your own Arabian sand adventure a la palace-style falconry, camel trekking and sand surfing. Luxury suites and villas overlook the dunes from private terraces and infinity pools. The lavish spa is a haven of calm with local treatments such as sand exfoliation. www.qasralsarab.anantara.com

EDGE WEB

Interactive Hotel Videos

Edge Web connects you to the world through interactive sites for world travelers and citizens of humanity. This month we spotlight Conde Nast Traveler’s interactive video library of worldwide hotels. They say a picture is worth a thousand words but a video truly tells the real story. Simply go to www.concierge.com/video and choose a continent, city and hotel then watch actual footage of the specific hotel from its restaurants, rooms and exteriors. Point and click through hundreds of the best properties in the world via an interactive database. Before you book, check out the video to get a better understanding in live action of your potential hotel selection – the decor, bathrooms, common areas, outdoor spaces, views, etc. – all from the comfort of your home computer. Conde Nast Traveler’s site also provides related links of the best places to eat and play in each city.

EDGE TRAVEL TIPS

Etiquette Abroad in Mexico

Every country has unspoken codes, cultural etiquette, subtle taboos and subjects that are safe to discuss and others that are not. Sometimes even with the best intentions abroad, you can land in a heap of trouble. In this addition of Edge Travel Tips, we bring you a traveler’s guide to smart talk in Mexico – the art of thinking before you speak.

In Mexico subjects to avoid or approach delicately:

  1. topics on crime and corruption
  2. advocating animal rights (bullfighting is a matter of cultural pride)
  3. United States’ policy on immigration (source of humiliation for Mexicans)
  4. religious questions (Mexico is strongly Catholic)
  5. business before meals or business talk before coffee is considered rude

Safe subjects include anything about marriage and family, Mexico’s cultural heritage and food. If you really want to impress, familiarize yourself with such family rites as the quinceanera.

EDGE PHOTO COMPETITION

Edge Around the World

Edge Around the World Photo Contest continues in 2010 as long as the entries keep coming. This month’s delightful photo winner which captured the judges’ heart was submitted by Dana Hamilton taken at a street market in Hoi An, Vietnam. Congrats Dana! Please see Yvonne Verstandig to accept your travel prize.

Our well-traveled clients, keep sending your entries. Next issue coming out beginning of June, our favourite client’s photo will be chosen and featured in GETAWAY and receive a gorgeous travel prize. For consideration in the June issue, entries must be received by May 10th. (details below)

Simply shoot and win! Executive Edge Travel & Events continues its all-client worldwide competition with exciting bi-monthly travel prizes. Everyone can participate and has a chance to win. Only three simple steps to enter:

  1. Book your trip with Executive Edge Travel.
  2. Take a photo in a fantastic unique location of you or your family which clearly displays the Executive Edge white travel wallet or other Edge promotional material. The better the background, the more spectacular the setting, the more likely you will be chosen.
  3. Email your photo, name and location to our Office Manager Athina Morfis at athinam@executiveedge.com.au

EDGE DIARIES

Langkawi Travel Diary
by Sue Sallmann

Once upon a time Langkawi was a haven for pirates and locals only but in the late 1980’s it became a duty free port which opened its doors to the outside world. Langkawi is in fact not one island but 99 islands that form the Langkawi group. Situated in the Andaman Sea, Langkawi’s main island (Palau Langkawi) lies off the northwest coast of Peninsula Malaysia. Sheltered by the mountains of the Malay Peninsula, Langkawi escapes the winter monsoon to enjoy sunny skies while eastern Malaysia is dealing with flooding rain. Adjacent to Thailand, which can be seen from various locations, Langkawi is a combination of thick jungles, postcard beaches of crystal clear water, deluxe resorts and eco-tourism.

Beautiful luxury resorts can be found at different ends of the island. The Datai offers a jungle atmosphere with luxury accommodation and beautiful beaches, ideal for couples. There are lots of steps down to the beach but for the faint-hearted there are golf buggies for those not wishing to walk or for the times when it does rain. The Andaman located 10 minutes down a windy road or 5 minutes walk along the beach is a much larger resort than the Datai and caters more for families. If you are staying at either The Datai or The Andaman you are able to dine at either of the resorts’ restaurants.

At the other end of the island you find the Four Seasons for those who cannot live without the top level of luxury. Close by Tanjung Rhu offers a more relaxed level of luxury which is a larger resort accommodating families. This resort also offers a full board option which is great value.

If you are not into the luxury element but want to truly experience a Malay village, Bon Ton is the place. Malay village houses have been rebuilt as accommodation. Bon Ton is not on the beach but was opened originally as a restaurant and has grown into a rustic resort. The restaurant has wonderful food and has a great reputation, frequented not only by guests of the resort. Bon Ton also has an animal shelter for rescued cats and dogs. If you aren’t a cat person, this would not be an option as cats wander freely around the resort at all times. Once at the resort you can either immerse yourself into ‘holiday mode’ and do nothing or you can go exploring the virtues of Langkawi by car or tour.

Irshad Mobarak’s (Wild Malaysia tours) profound passion for the environment and the islands’ natural heritage draws you into the surroundings on his mangrove and limestone tour at Kilim Geo Forrest Park. Wildlife is abundant- soaring eagles, lizards, monkeys, snakes and countless varieties of birds. Irshard’s banter is not only extremely informative but very entertaining.

For the most amazing view of Langhawi the cable car is a must but not if heights are an issue! On a beautiful clear day the view is wonderful. From the top station of the cable car you can also include a jungle track walk to Telaga Tujuh (Seven Wells Waterfall).

Greek Islands (cont’d)

THE SPORADES

Sporades

Once exclusive resorts for the rich and famous, The Sporades now attract mainlanders taking their annual pilgrimage to the best beaches in the Aegean or foreign vacationers seeking the nightlife of Skiathos or the quieter charm of Alonissos. A scattered group of four islands in the northwest Aegean, hopping on a hydrofoil from the mainland is quick and easy to escape to The Sporades or Evvia. Evvia, south of The Sporades, is Greece’s second largest island after Crete and remains unspoiled by tourism and a secret to outsiders.

Beach Haven, SKIATHOS

Is this the Caribbean or the Greek Islands? Beaches on this island are of such high calibre that postcards of Koukounaries tout Caribbean parallels. Some 60 beaches in total are always sheltered by the wind by the island’s position. Drive the twisting 18 km coast road from town to find your own favourite stretch of sand. Famed ‘Banana Beach’ or Krassi caters to nudists, if you dare.

Nazis destroyed most of the pretty pre-war town, but what Skiathos lacks in architectural merit, it makes up for in its lively nightlife in the port village. Whether you fancy beer and blues or champagne and Beethoven or tequila and rock and roll, Skiathos attracts a diverse crowd of foodies, revelers and intellects. Expect bright lights and loud scenes along Papadhiamantis and quieter choices around the cobblestone alleys above the port around Polytehniou.

Alonissos

Cyclops myth, ALONISSOS

Alonissos’ atmosphere is cheerful, the locals relaxed and unpretentious. The least developed, quietest, and most remote and sparsely populated of the Sporades, Alonissos’s main centre and harbour is Patitiri. Most of the coast is lined with steep cliffs best seen by boat. Wildlife is a draw – endangered monk seals and rare fauna are found on the uninhabited north islets. Yioura is home to a strange breed of wild goat. Fishing is superb here with the swordfish considered the best in The Sporades. The deserted island of Gioura, north of Alonissos, is fabled to be the home of the cannibalistic one-eyed giant Cyclops in Greek mythology.

Parthenon horses, SKYROS

Independent spirited Skyros and largest of The Sporades exhibits a deeply entrenched local culture and remains one of the few islands where the older residents still wear distinctive traditional costumes. Unique to Skyros is a vanishing breed of miniature pony, native to the island since the 8th century, which may be the same breed of horses portrayed on the Parthenon frieze. Wander the side streets from Skyros town to the Kastro, the old Byzantine castle which offers fine sunset views over the western hills. According to legend, the Greek mythological king Theseus was thrown to his demise from the castle.