3 Reasons to Sail Around Europe

3 Reasons to Sail Around Europe

Europe

It is without a doubt that Europe is one of the most beautiful continents in the world. The continent is a haven for sailing, from the beautiful scenery to its historical richness, Europe is a continent oozing of natural beauty. There are also many glamorous sailing destinations to choose from.

If sailing around your Europe is part of your bucket list, then check out SailingEurope.com for amazing deals and packages. We help to make the decision to cross it out from the list sooner rather than later. Here are some of the top three reasons why you should definitely look forward to sailing around Europe.

Europe

1. Beautiful Sailing Destinations

When deciding to sail around Europe, you will be spoilt for choice with the many beautiful destinations to choose from. Depending on your preference and budget, to mention but a few, here are a couple of destinations you can choose from.

I.            French Riviera, France – This is one of the most beautiful sailing destinations in the world. You will be treated to the Celebrity Haunt Saint-Tropez, Coastline stopping off the Cannes and the Millionaire Playground.

II.            Ionian Island, Greece – This would be a great place to begin with sceneries such as whitewashed beautiful villages, traditional taverns, and rugged mountains

III.            The Dalmatian Coast, Croatia – Offers beautiful sun-soaked beaches, rich cultures from the beautiful traditional way of life of the people and hidden coves

IV.            Sporades Islands, Greece – Located in the East Coast, you get to sail through the beautiful Islands with rich vegetation, maintained green-blue waters and experience the people’s traditional rich cultures.

V.            Bay of Naples, Capri and Amalfi Coast, Italy – If you are a lover of wine and great traditional food, this is the place to start. You will also experience beautiful sunny shores, towns, and Isles.

Europe2.   Multiple Destinations Immersion

Imagine hanging out in the Volcanic Island of Ischia in the morning, wine tasting in Montalcino, Mecca in the afternoon and an intimate setting to recharge from a long day of discovery in the evening as you sail through to the next destination. This is most definitely possible when sailing through Europe. You are exposed to multiple destinations and cultures to choose from and experience at your leisure.

Europe3. Exposure to Many Different Cultures

 

Europe is a fairly large continent with 50 countries and numerous ports. It is, however, small enough to sail around. Every destination you chose offers a different experience from the people and their way of life to the food and drinks. You get to learn and appreciate the different traditions set by the locals and passed from generation to generation. You will get to learn new expressions, experience foreign languages and visit some of the famous cultural places like Ireland. All these aspects will bring you one step closer to all the great and beautiful things in the world and also influence you positively to appreciate the different ways of life.

Well, there you have it. All that is left now is for you to get your traveling gear ready, choose your first sailing destination in Europe and you are good to go.

 

Getting Around from the Mykonos Cruise Port

Getting Around from the Mykonos Cruise Port

Mykonos Cruise PortYour on a dream Mediterranean Cruise aboard one of the megaships that sail the seas these days and your ship is headed for Mykonos; what now?

I know you’re ready to hit the beaches, shops, and restaurants on this wonderful Greek Island.  But first you have to get off the ship and actually get to where you want to go.  Before you can do that you need to determine exactly where your ship is docking or if it’s even docking at all.

Cruise ships will either dock at the new Mykonos Cruise Port (Tourlos Pier) or anchor off the coast.  If your ship is anchoring you will be tendered off the ship and straight into town.  Tenders  usually disembark passengers at the Old Port  by the Town Hall.  So if you’re tendered you don’t have to worry about getting into town to see the sights or catch local transportation to your preferred destination.

However if your ship is docking at the Mykonos Cruise Port read on, there’s a few things you need to know!

1.  The new Mykonos Cruise Port is located towards the North side of the island, not very close to the town of Chora which is where almost everything you’ll need for the day is located.  (Bars, restaurants, shops, car rentals, hotels, etc.)

Mykonos Cruise Port2.  Walking from the Mykonos Cruise Port to Chora is not recommended.  Yes, I’ve seen many people trek from ship to town, it’s about a half hour walk.

If you’re thinking of walking you need to be aware that there are no sidewalks once you get on the road to town, sort of hair raising in my opinion as you’ll be walking with traffic.[spacer height=”-20px”]

3.  There may be a few taxis right outside the gate of the Mykonos Cruise Port, specially in the morning when the ship arrives.  However as the day wears on there may not be taxis waiting at the port.  You can call them, they’re usually pretty good about picking up cruise passengers from the  port.  Taxi fare to and from Chora is about €5-7 per vehicle, confirm the price before getting in.  If the taxi is metered be sure the driver turns on the meter.

Mykonos Cruise Port4.  When there’s a ship docked at the Mykonos Cruise Port there’s  local shuttle service that will take you from ship to town.  The round trip fare is €10 per person and can be purchased just before you board the bus. (Be sure you keep the return ticket, otherwise you’ll have to purchase another one).  Shuttle buses run every 15-30 minutes.

These shuttle buses fill up fast, specially from the port in the morning and from town in the afternoons.  You may want to time your trip to town to avoid the long shuttle bus lines.

Shuttle buses drop off passengers at the Bus Terminal on the north end of town, it’s a short walk from there to the town center.  You can catch a return shuttle at the same place where you were dropped off.[spacer height=”-20px”]

 

Mykonos Cruise Port5.  The Sea Bus is the last option to get to and from the Mykonos Cruise Port.  The Sea Bus stop is located right outside the port gate.  You can’t miss it, look for the blue tent and white information booth.

mykonos cruise port

Tickets are purchased at the booth cost €2 per person each way.  You can buy roundtrip tickets for €4 per person or you can purchase the return at the ticket booth at the Old Port in town.  Sea Buses run every 15-30 minutes and will take you to the Old Port in Chora, from there you can walk to town or catch a ferry to Delos.

Once you get to town there are so many things to do.  You can rent a car or ATV and explore the rest of the island; take a cab or bus to one of the beautiful beaches; wander the charming alleys that wind around the little village; or simply grab a seat at one of the cafes and relax!

Ready to plan your dream vacation in Greece?  Call Savvy Nana Travel for all your travel needs!  We specialize in custom itineraries for couples, families, and groups.  If you can dream it we can plan it!

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Things to do in Katakolon

Things to do in Katakolon

KatakolonWhere the heck is Katakolon and what can I see there?  This was my first thought the first time Katakolon was a port of call on a cruise we were on.  That was almost 10 years ago!

First of all Katakolon is a small town with a port on Greece’s Peloponnese Peninsula.  It’s connected to the Greek mainland and is about 310 Km. from Athens.  It is a popular stop for cruise ships on the Greek Isles route.

Cruise ship brochures describe it as “a sleepy little seaside village overlooking the Ionian Sea”.  Such a quaint description of a village that pretty much consists of 2 streets and has a population of 601 according to the 2011 census.

Since we’re avid cruisers I can proudly say that I’ve been to Katakolon at least half a dozen times, I seriously stopped counting after the first time.

There really isn’t much to see or do in the village itself.  It merely serves as a gateway to the Olympic Archaeological Site and Museum which is about a 30 minute drive away.

Now don’t get me wrong, it’s not a bad port of call, but unless you’re on a cruise ship I doubt you’ll go out of your way to go there.  But if you’re stopping there anyway here are some ideas on how to spend your day.  I believe there are a few B&Bs in the village if you really have a burning desire to stay, but a day is more than enough to see everything this village and its surroundings have to offer.

KatakolonOlympic Archaeological Site & Museum

This is the site of Ancient Olympia and is home to the Temple of Hera and the Temple of Zeus.   It is where the ancient Olympic games were held from 776 BC to 393 AD.

The temples are long gone, mostly columns and stone foundations remain.  The Temple of Zeus once housed the 43 foot gold and ivory statue of the Greek god Zeus. It is one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World.  This statue was one of the most revered statues of the god in ancient times.

If you visit the Museum you will see some of the finest decorative sculpture on display; including the famed Nike Winged Victory which once stood by the Temple of Zeus.

katakolonAs you wander thru the site you’ll see the Stadium, basically a large open rectangular space.  But the marble starting blocks are still in position.

(I’m standing in the stadium where the games were held, the starting blocks are those thin slabs behind me.)[spacer height=”-20px”]

 

 

 

KatakolonYou’ll also see the ruins of the ancient Temple of Hera.  This is where the Olympic Torch is ignited several months before the start of the modern Olympic Games.

In ancient Greece fire held divine connotations.  The altar of the ancient Temple of Hera in Olympia maintained a continuous flame.  During the ancient Olympic games held in honor of the god Zeus more fires were lit at his temple.

This tradition was reintroduced to the modern Olympic games in 1928, the relay that takes the torch from Olympia to the host city began in 1936.  Since then the flame has traveled around the world and even to the International Space Station.  The torch has been carried by thousands of people using different modes of transportation including boats and airplanes.

Katakolon

That’s pretty much all there is to see at this site.  Then you can wander over the the nearby museum.  This should take about 3 or 4 hours leaving plenty of time to have a leisurely lunch or a slow stroll thru the streets of Katakolon.

Getting there:

From the village/port you can take a taxi to the site, it should cost about €25 each way.

Or you can join one of the excursion buses.  You can buy tickets from the parking lot just before you get into the village.  Tickets cost €10 each person round-trip.

You can also book a shore excursion from your cruise ship or a private tour online from one of the local tour companies.  That’s the easiest way to get there but it’s also the most expensive.  Shore excursions from the ship start at about $59 per person and private tours run about $100 per person.  These of course include admission tickets and is accompanied by a tour guide.

If you’re taking a taxi or the bus you will have to buy tickets.  Tickets are €12 per person and includes entrance to the archaeological site as well as the museum.  I believe you can rent audio guides for an additional fee.

Go to the Beach.

katakolonKourouta Beach is the most famous beach in the area.  It’s about a half hour drive from the port of Katakolon.  It’s an organized beach with a seafront lined with tavernas.  You can rent a lounge chair and umbrella from any of the bars.

The sandy beach stretches over 10 miles along the clear blue waters of the Ionian Sea.  [spacer height=”-20px”]

 

 

 

katakolonWinery Tour & Wine Tasting

Take a ride out to the Mercouri Estate Winery.  This family run winery is one of the oldest in the area, it’s been in business for over 150 years.

It’s known for it’s fine wine, olive oil, and raisins.

Admission to the winery is €1.00.  A 20 minute guided tour cost €4.  Wine tasting cost €1 for dry wines and €1.50 for sweet wines.

You can take a taxi if you want to go on your own or book a shore excursion that includes admission, tour, and wine tasting for about $60 per person.

katakolonHang out in the village

It’s a small village, it literally has 2 streets.  The street along the waterfront has cafes and restaurants.  The cafes are right off the parking area and the restaurants are further down.

The second street is lined with shops and some cafes.

At the far end of the street there’s a small park with some play equipment for kids and a newspaper stand that sells everything from bottled water to beach toys.

 

KatakolonWe usually spend a hour or so on the waterfront at one of the cafes.  It’s a nice place to have a cup of coffee or frappe.

At lunch time we head over to one of the waterfront restaurants for some tzatziki and seafood.

katakolon

Katakolon                                            katakolon

 

 

 

 

 

Dreaming about a next vacation?  Savvy Nana can help you plan your dream vacation.  Savvy Nana Travel is a featured travel specialist on theknot.com.  We specialize in custom itineraries destination weddings, family reunions, honeymoons, and more.  If you can dream it we can plan it!

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Inside Mykonos – Off the Beaten Track

Inside Mykonos – Off the Beaten Track

MykonosWhen you think of Mykonos narrow streets, clear blue waters, and rows of whitewashed buildings come to mind.

And you’d be correct, all these are the trademarks of this small island that’s part of the Greek Cyclades Islands.  Mykonos is one of the best destinations for sun lovers and a popular stop for cruise ships on their Greek Isles route.

mykonosI think everyone whose been to Mykonos is familiar with the island’s main town Chora which many refer to as Mykonos Town.

mykonosI’m sure you’ve strolled the narrow streets of town and browsed thru the quaint shops along the way. Most of us have walked over to the windmills and snapped photos of Little Venice from there, after all tour books all taut these famous Mykonos landmarks.

mykonosmykonosSome folks may have even caught sight of the huge Pelican on his daily dip in the water in front of all the restaurants; that is when he’s not minding the bar with his owner.

 

mykonosAnd of course there’re the beaches.  Mykonos is known for its beautiful beaches.

Kalafatis, Platis Gialos, Paradise, Super Paradise, and the list goes on.  Mykonos is definitely not lacking in beautiful beaches, mostly organized with bars, nightclubs, restaurants, sun loungers and umbrellas, and kiosks tauting all kinds of water sports.

You’d think that all these things I’ve mentioned would be enough to keep a tourist busy, and they are![spacer height=”-20px”]

But really there is more to the island than the coastal town of Chora and gorgeous beaches.  If you’re looking for something a bit different and what to get off the beaten path here are a few ideas you might want to try next time you’re on Mykonos.

mykonosRent an ATV

Consider renting an ATV for half the day and go on a self guided tour of the island’s interior.  Our kids and grandkids do it every time we’re on Mykonos.

You can zip around the narrow streets and explore the northern coast and the quaint villages.[spacer height=”-20px”]

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

mykonosDid you know there’s a lighthouse on the north-western tip of the island?  The Armenistis Lighthouse was built in 1891.  This octogonal cyclindrical stone tower over looks the straight that separates Mykonos from the island of Tinos.  It’s definitely worth a stop if only to admire the fantastic views![spacer height=”-20px”]

 

 

 

 

myknonosGo on a 4×4 Jeep Safari

If a self-guided tour on an ATV is a bit too adventurous for you, consider taking the Jeep Safari Tour.

This tour gives you the option to drive your own jeep or just be a passenger in a jeep another tour member drives.  It takes the group of jeeps caravan style along the island’s rugged coast and interior villages.  You’ll make stops at the lighthouse, some of the beaches, and other scenic spots.

mykonos

MykonosYou’ll get a good feel of the island and a chance to stop for lunch or a snack in one of the small villages.

You’ll have plenty of time to explore the village.  Villages are pretty small and life centers around the main square where you’ll find a few taverns, restaurants, and shops.

You can walk around the narrow streets then relax on one of the tree shaded benches in the main square.[spacer height=”-20px”]

 

 

mykonosHop a boat to Delos

The uninhabited island of Delos is just a short ride from Mykonos.  It is one of most important mythological, historical, and  archaeological sites in Greece.  So extensive are its excavations and so vast are the number of artifacts found that the entire island has been declared a National Museum.

According to Greek mythology Delos is the birthplace of Apollo and Artemis.  Excavations show that the island had been inhabited since the 3rd. millennium BC.  It was sacred ground a millennium before mythology declared it the birth place of the twin deities.

Exploring the site you’ll find ruins of temples, houses, statues, and so much more.  There are also some very fine mosaics on the floors of some of the larger houses.

A few hours in Delos is definitely time well spent, but go early.  It gets pretty hot on the island and there isn’t much shade as you scamper along the ruins.

Ready for your Mykonos getaway?  Let Savvy Nana Travel help you plan your next vacation.  We specialize in custom itineraries for couples, families, and groups.  If you can dream it, we can plan it!

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Inside Santorini – Off the Beaten Path

Inside Santorini – Off the Beaten Path

SantoriniWhen we think of Santorini pictures of white washed houses with blue domes and pristine blue waters come to mind.

SantoriniI’m pretty sure everyone has seen pictures of the iconic churches located in the main town of Fira and the quaint village of Oia on the island of Santorini.

Fira and Oia are probably the most visited towns on the island.  They’re always bustling with tourists, specially when a cruise ship or two are anchored in the bay.

There’s no question they are beautiful towns and should be visited.  But they aren’t the only villages in Santorini.

If you want to experience Santorini like a local then you must get off the beaten path and take a trip to the interior villages.

Here a couple of interesting Santorini towns and attractions you might want to explore.  It’s a great way to escape the crowds in Fira and Oia, even for just a little while.  [spacer height=”-20px”]

 

 

SantoriniMegalochori

Megalochori  is one of the most picturesque villages on Santorini.  Its existence goes back to the 17th. Century and is home to many historical mansions, traditional homes, pirate hideaways, vineyards, and wineries.

The village has a long history of wealthy merchants and land barons who produced and exported Vinsanto, a sweet wine that is still produced today.

santoriniMany of the mansions are surrounded by high walls with solid wooden doors to guard against marauding pirates.

The local residents and business men have kept this village true to the original settlements.  Many of the old buildings have been restored to it’s former glory.

SantoriniThere are many churches in the village, many of which started out as private chapels built by wealthy landowners.

santorini

santoriniIn the center of the town there’s the main square that is the center of all village life.  The square has a few taverns and restaurants and shade tress, the perfect spot for a nice cup of coffee and watch the villagers play cards or backgammon.

Narrow winding streets branch out in all directions from the square, perfect for a quiet wander to see what surprises await!

Getting to Megalochori is easy.  You can take a taxi from the taxi station in Fira or whatever village you happen to be in.  Or take the bus from the station.

If you prefer to stay in Megalochori there are some very luxurious hotels in the area or you can rent a mansion or villa!  This is definitely a great option if you’re looking for a romantic get-away!

 

 

santoriniEmporio

Emporio is the largest village in Santorini.  According to the last census in 2011 there are 4000 residents in the village.

It’s a beautiful traditional village with lots of Venetian influence.

One of it’s main attractions is the Venetian fortress called the Kasteli, it’s one of the 5 fortified medieval castles of Santorini.

SantoriniInside the Kasteli you’ll find an old church that dates back to the 16th. Century or earlier.

Recently the local residents have been restoring the Kasteli and converting much of the space into artist workshops and boutiques.

 

santoriniYou’ll also find many churches in Emporio.  Some built with the iconic blue domed roofs and others in different styles.

santorini

santorini

 

 

 

 

 

santorini

 

There are also some shops and restaurants in the village.  But for me the main attraction were picturesque houses you find as you wander the narrow paths in the village.

 

 

 

You’ll even find some enterprising young residents who set up tables in front of their houses to sell locally made honey!

Santorini

Santorini

SantoriniPerissa

Perissa is a small seaside village on the base of Mesa Vuono mountain.  It is part of the Emporio settlement of Santorini.

One of the largest churches in Santorini, the Church of the Holy Cross is in the center of the village square.  You can also visit the Museum of The Minerals and Fossils of Thera and see a collection of minerals and fossils from all over the world.

Santorini

But the main reason visitors go to Perissa is the black sand beach with clear blue water.  The beach is very organized with a small waterpark, playground, sun loungers, umbrellas, water activities, bars, and restaurants.  It also connects to Perivolos which has lots of nightclubs, taverns, and restaurants.

santoriniAkrotiri

The ancient village of Akrotiri is actually an archaeological site.

It’s  Minoan Bronze Age settlement that was covered in volcanic ash during the Theran Eruption around 1627 B. C.  Because it was covered by ash it is very well preserved.

There is a modern village of Akrotiri but there’s not much to see.  You can however wander around and from the top of the modern village you can get a view of the volcano’s caldera and the island’s fields of grapes.

Looking for more things to do in Santorini?  Check out my post Santorini with Kids for more fun ideas!

Ready to plan your romantic Greek vacation?  Let Savvy Nana Travel help you plan your next vacation.  We specialize in custom itineraries for honeymoon couples, families, and groups.  If you can dream it, we can plan it!

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Things to Do on Corfu

Things to Do on Corfu

CorfuCorfu, the second largest of Greece’s Ionian Islands lies at at the entrance to the Adriatic Sea. The island enjoys a typical Mediterranean climate with hot dry summers and heavy rain fall during the short winters.  It is blessed with warm weather from March to October.

According to archaeological findings the island has been inhabited since the Paleolithic Age (70,000 to 40,000 B.C.) From about 300 B.C. Corfu was successively attacked and conquered by Spartans, Illyrians, and Romans.

It was part of the Byzantine Empire in the 6th. Century A.D.   With the fall of the Empire in the 13th. Century Corfu ended up under Venetian rule in the 14th. Century.  The Venetians made major changes to the town of Corfu particularly in the Old Fortress where the Venetian influence is most evident.

Corfu briefly fell under British rule when it became a British protectorate in the Treaty of Paris in November 1815.  In 1864 the island was reunited with Greece when the Treaty of London was ratified.

Today the island of Corfu is a popular tourist destination and is one of the stops for cruise ships plying the Greek Isles route.  The capital city of Corfu is a UNESCO World Heritage Site filled with elegant buildings, mansions, palaces, and monuments.

There are many things to do on the island of Corfu, that is if you’re looking for something a bit more active than a relaxing vacation at one of the island’s sun kissed beaches.

Here are a few things you can enjoy on Corfu!

CorfuExplore the narrow paved streets in the capital city of Corfu.

The narrow cobblestone streets are lined with unique shops, French designed squares filled with trees and flowers, majestic Venetian castles, and Byzantine churches.

CorfuStop by a fish spa for an interesting experience.

Special fish suck off dry skin as you soak your feet in their tub.  I know it sort of sounds gross, but you’ll walk away with smooth feet that’s for sure.

CorfuStroll the tree lined streets of the Spianada.

The Spianada was constructed by the French to resembe the gardens of Versailles it is the largest square in the Balkans  and one of the largest in Europe.

You can grab a table at one of the outdoor restaurants along the Spianada for a traditional Greek meal or a slice of Kumquat Cake, a Corfu specialty.

The Spianada is also a great place to people watch while you savor a glass of wine or a cup of coffee.

CorfuTake a drive out to Paleokastrista.

Stop at the view point for a magnificent view of this side of the island.  Olive, lemon, and cypress groves line the coves nestled in the rugged coastline of this seaside village. [spacer height=”-20px”]

CorfuThen head down to the small port and take a short trip around the coast where you’ll see some caves and interesting rock formations.

Corfu

CorfuVisit the Monastery of the Virgin Mary

Located above the small seaside village of Paleokastrista is this ancient cloister.  This majestic monastery is home to 8 Orthodox Greek monks who offer tours of the grounds and museum housed within.

They also grow amazing flowers and grape vines, and provide a home to dozens of cats whom you’ll find lazing around the grounds oblivious to the tourists snapping photos.

Corfu

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

CorfuHead over to Kanoni for striking views of Mouse Island and Vladherna Monastery.

This monastery is probably the most well know corfiot landmark and one of the most photographed landscapes in Greece.

Built in the 17th. Century the monastery sits at the southern end of the Kanoni Peninsula and Mouse Island is just beyond.  It was actually a nunnery.

Nowadays it’s quiet destination with a small chapel.  It was also used as a film location for the James Bond movie For Your Eyes Only.    The monastery is open year round.

corfuTake a trip to Achilleion Palace.

Located about 12 Kilometers south of the city of Corfu this neo-classical palace was built by Empress Elizabeth of Austria in 1890 as her summer retreat.

The design was intended to represent an ancient mythical palace.  The gardens are filled with flowers, trees, and statues and the palace location provides panoramic views of the whole of Corfu town on the north and the entire southern part of the island.

corfuVisit Mon Repos Estate

Sitting just above Corfu town is the Mon Repos Villa.  It was built between 1828-1831 as a summer residence for the  British Lord High Commissioner of the United States of the Ionian IslandsFrederick Adam, and his second wife (a Corfiot), Diamantina ‘Nina’ Palatino,

It has seen several royal births most notably the birth of Prince Philip the Duke of Edinburgh.

 

Ready to plan your dream Corfu vacation?  Let Savvy Nana Travel help you plan the perfect vacation.  We specialize in custom intineraries for couples, families, and groups.  If you can dream it, we can plan it!

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