Dodecanese Islands

June 10, 2010

Karpathos Island Dodecanese Greece

Some Greek property owners still have availability on their lovely island properties so if you’ve been waiting for things in Greece to calm down and haven’t booked yet, you might find it useful to read about some of the lesser known islands – I’m dedicating this week’s blog to the Dodecanese group of islands.

Whilst looking for our magical Greek get-away, I found some simply gorgeous villas for sale in Astypalea, the butterfly-shaped island which is 18km long by 13km wide.  This is a good one to start with if you like mythology as Astypalaia was named after a woman abducted by Poseidon in the form of a winged fish-tailed leopard (work that one out)!  The Astypalea coastline is  rocky with many small pebbly beaches and the most popular beach is Maltezana, from where you can take a boat to Moura and Parou. Ferries connect the island with Piraeus, Naxos, Paros, Kalymnos and other islands of the Dodecanese.

Astypalea Villas

The Dodecanese islands are made up of 12 large Rhodes Kos Patmos Astypalea, Kalymnos, Karpathos, Kasos, Leros, Nisyros, Symi, Tilos and Kastelorizo plus 150 smaller islands.


Rhodes is famous for the Colossus of Rhodes, one of the Seven Wonders of the World.  The Colossus of Rhodes was a statue of Helios, god of the sun which straddled the entrance to Rhodos Harbour between 292 and 280 BC. Before it was destroyed by an earthquake in 224BC, the statue stood over 100 feet high, which made it the tallest statue of ancient times.

PatmosGreek Cheese Pie
Famous for its religious past, the island is where Saint John wrote the Book of Revelation. Patmos is also reknowned for its cheese products (touloumotyri and mizithra) –  the delicious tyropita (cheesepie) is one of the island’s specialties!


Kalymnos GreeceWell known for it’s sponges Sponge Diving has been the livelihood of Kalymnos for many years and it is this rare skill which differentiates Kalymnos from the rest of the world. http://www.seasponges.com.au/information/sponge-diving/

Windsurfer_KarpathosIf you’re into windsurfing this could be the island for you.  During May and October the Meltemi (Aegean wind) blows between force 5-7 all day long


Greek Singer Mario FrangoulisThe world famous tenor Mario Frangoulis comes from Kasos – he gives a concert in August in the picturesque harbour of Mpoukas. The event attracts an audience from all over Greece.


Greek Church Leros IslandI fell in love with Leros in the 80s when I was travelling on my own for a familiarisation trip with Olympic Holidays – a quiet haven which has since become one of the more sought after upmarket destinations among the Greek islands.


Greek town on NysirosLike Santorini,  Nisyros is a volcanic islandwhich offers wonderful landscapes and walks, beautiful beaches and a clear sea, old churches and monasteries with a rich history and lovely Greek villages with nice restaurants and bars.

Symi Symi is an island with great religious tradition. It is not known for it’s sandy beaches but  is well known for it’s  monastery, built on the bay of Panormos and is dedicated to the Archangel Michael, protector of the island.

According to mythology this small, but very beautiful island gets its name from the young son of Alia and Helios. Tilos, who loved his mother dearly, visited the island in search of herbs to make her well. Later on, he returned to Tilos to build a temple in honor of Apollo and Poseidon.
Beach pic

Cave Greek Island KastellorizoThe Aqua-coloured Cave of Kastellorizo is one of the rarest geological phenomena on Earth and makes Kastellorizo well worth a visit. The cave is also known as “Fokiali” seals ( fokia ) which live inside – and it is the most phantasmagorical cave in the whole of the Med . It is 75m long (inside), 40m wide and 35m high.

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Time to think about remote Greek Islands

June 2, 2010

Time to think about remote Greek Islands

Elounda Fishing BoatAt last we had a sunny start to the day in London today but in a way it makes me yearn even more for the warmth of the Greek sun on my back as I remember how good it feels to sit on the harbour wall in Elounda with my toes in the water, sipping a nice cool frappe and watching the boats depart for the island of Spinalonga.

Elounda has grown in the 20 years or so since I lived there but somehow, although the buildings have spread, it really hasn’t changed that much.  I’ve since visited various destinations throughout Europe, none of which quite match up – except of course those cherised islands we’ve sailed to by boat – all of which are well worth a visit.  I’m concentrating on the Ionian for now with snippets of information I hope you’ll find useful when researching your Greek Island holiday.


View of Nidri Town in the IonianNidri is a fun place to be any time of day or night.  It’s great to sit outside at a cafe or taverna watching the yachts jostling for a berth on the quay.  If however you are an avid watersports fanatic and love windsurfing, then Vassiliki Beach is a must for you.

Meganisi – Abeliki Bay – A quiet picturesque idyll

If you relish peace, this is one of the quietest anchorages which still has a taverna within walking distance!  Lovely to arrive late afternoon for that long-awaited swim off the stern to the nearest olive tree with your shoreline coiled up around your shoulder!

Fiskardo, Kefalonia

Probably the Fiskardo Harbour on the Greek Island of Kefalonia most well known place in the the Ionian after Corfu!  Lots of tavernas to choose from and always something or someone to watch in this bustling harbour town.

Kalamos – Beautiful views

Kalamos Island in the IonianAccording to mythology, Karpos was the son of Zephyrus and Chloris. He sadly drowned in the Meander river while competing with his friend Kalamos in a swimming competition. In his grief, Kalamos also drowned and transformed into a water reed, whose rustling in the wind was interpreted as a sigh of lamentation.

Vathy (meaning deep water or harbour) Ithaka – real Greek atmosphere

Homer’s ItVathy Harbour Ithakahaka, the birthplace of Odysseus, whose delayed return to the island is the subject of the Odyssey.

If you’re not sailing, take a boat from Kefalonia to this wonderful lush island which is steeped in history and well worth spending time driving around to appreciate all the wonders it has to offer.  There are day boats with outboards you can hire to explore and swim in the cool caves just around the coast from the magical port of Vathy.

Sivota, Lefkas – popular with sailing flotillas

Sivota is built around a secluded harbour with traditional stone-built houses and provides perfect shelter for yachts.  There is a great choice of tavernas and bars but probably not the best location for those wanting to swim, although children (carefully watched over by their parents) love to fish here from the harbour wall and there is a small stoney beach on the opposite side of the bay.

Sivota Harbour on the Greek island of LefkadaRead more from The Greek House blog:





Should we feel sorry for the Greeks?

May 27, 2010

The Greek House Blog

It’s a few weeks since I wrote about our wonderful sailing holiday in the Ionian.  Since then the poor old Greeks have been having a tough time and the younger generation are going to suffer, thanks to the antics of their seniors.

Elafonissis Beach Crete

When I lived in Crete in the 80’s we were paid around £50 a week and, try as we might, my colleagues and I hardly ever managed to spend this as our Greek friends were so generous and giving.  Unlike the Brits, it is in the Greek nature to share and share they did – in fact if you have visited Greece you will know how offended these warm and hospitable people can become if you even hint at offering to pay your way.  This is just one of the many reasons why we should all visit their beautiful country.  There is nowhere else on earth like Greece.  Instead of shrugging and adopting the attitude that “they have brought on their troubles themselves,” we should instead admire the way they have held on like grim death to their traditions and not allowed anyone or anything to change the beliefs which have made Greece such a fascinating and wonderful country.  A pity we didn’t follow their lead or our public services wouldn’t now be bursting at the seams, nor would we be facing some of the tax hikes which are sure to be coming our way any minute now.

However, I suppose we shouldn’t feel too sorry for them – at least the Greeks will always have one of their stunning 1400 islands to choose from when wanting to escape the heat of the Athenian summer!  Here are some you may not have heard of :

Gavdos Island

Gavdos Island near Crete

Gavdos island lies 22 miles off the south west coast of Crete, in the Libyan Sea and is the most southerly point in Europe. The island is inhabited by only around 40 people!  You can take the boat from Sfakia on the mainland, but be aware that apart from beautiful beaches with occasional tavernas and scented pine forests, there is evidence of  little else.


Spinalonga Island Crete

In 1903 after Crete had become independent, all Turks were obliged to leave the island.  However, some of them living on the small island of Spinalonga just off the north-east coast of Crete declined to leave, as they were protected by the French navy, which had a base on Spinalonga.

The government therefore decided to scare them off by banishing all inhabitants who were sick with leprosy from the island of Crete to Spinalonga.  The lepers were known as “the untouchables,” because at that time their illness was incurable and contagious.  (Leprosy was thought to be a punishment from God).  Fearing contamination, the Turks fled from Spinalonga back to Turkey.  Spinalonga became a leper colony which existed until a cure was found  in 1950.  The colony closed down in 1957.  Since 1970 the island has been visited by tourists who take boats from nearby Plaka, Elounda and Agios Nikolaos.  A good read is The Island by Victoria Hislop.

Chrissi Island

Clear Sea at Chrissi IslandAlso known as Gaidouronisi, ‘Donkey Island’, lies 8 miles  to the south east of Crete.  This uninhabited island is 5km long, and only about 1 km wide.  It’s known for its sandy beaches and unspoilt beauty.  It takes around 50 minutes by boat from Ierapetra on the south coast of Crete. There is no accommodation – just one taverna, at Vougiou Mati where the boat comes in.


Balos to Gramvoussa Island

Tigani to Balos is the tip of the westernmost peninsula of Crete, is a paradise of turquoise lagoons and pure white sandy beaches.
It is accessible by boat or Jeep but be  aware the road leading to the beach is what you might describe as rough going!

See The Greek House website for more on Greece and the islands

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Sailing in the Ionian

April 2, 2010

If you are thinking of sailing this summer, the Ionian is a paradise for those with young children who are not wanting the challenges of the full blown meltemi winds of the Dodecanese and Cyclades islands.


Sailing boats moored at Spartahori

We're the one stern to the end of the pontoon

If instead you are after some shelter and are looking for routes easily covered during daylight sailing hours, the Ionian might just be for you.  Flights from the UK tend to leave from Gatwick and land at Preveza from where it is a short taxi ride to the marina at Lefkada  (Lefkas island is connected to the mainland by a bridge).  Having sailed from here a couple of times, it is easy to be put off by the initial relatively narrow waterway which carries you out into the wider deep blue Ionian Sea.  Don’t be put off by first impressions!  Lefkas town, although not specifically pretty in the usual Greek way, is perfect for vittling up your yacht – there are also a couple of supermarkets closer to the marina if you can’t wait to get going and just need the essentials. We found some great restaurants in the back streets serving delicious Giros Pitta (soft pitta bread spread with tzatziki, spit-roasted chicken or pork, succulent sliced tomatoes and a few chips thrown in then wrapped up like an ice-cream cone).  http://www.explorecrete.com/cuisine/gyros.html

Once out in open water, one of the islands I would recommend for fun nights  in tavernas is Ithaka where there are several restaurants lining the port of Vathy which is where, in mid summer, you can watch the Greek jetset arrive in their superyachts – well, maybe one or two if you’re lucky.

Unless your yacht is very large, you need to moor up on one of the pontoons on your left as you enter Vathy harbour and it is a good walk to the main town from here.

The other fun harbour is Sivota on Lefkas island where you can sit in your cock-pit or in a taverna and watch the jostling for position and goings on of those who have left it late to secure a berth for the night.  Sunsail have a habit of rafting several boats together in the bay here so be warned!

One of the quieter islands is Meganisi where we have stayed and sailed to.  I must admit I became a bit bored during our week at the hotel but there is a wonderful taverna on the beach at Spartahori.  This beach is great for kids who can row safely ashore and feed the fish right from a table next to the water.  The ferry from the main port of Meganisi comes in and out of Spartahori a couple of times a day which you need to watch out for.  It is possible to anchor in the bay but you would be better off stern to on one of the pontoons if you arrive early enough.  For me this is a magical place and somewhere I will never forget.

Check back soon for more on sailing holiday tips in Greece and to read more about Greece and her magical islands go to The Greek House


Greece & her captivating islands

March 30, 2010

This is a new blog about Greece and the beautiful Greek islands. A passion for me and many others, Greece has inspired artists, writers, historians, archeologists as well as tourists and the recent economic issues facing Greece as a country seem to be having little or no effect on the property market there.

sunrise_IthakiThis blog is intended to provide useful information for anyone thinking of moving to Greece on a permanent basis or for novice travellers to Greece – they are in for a very special treat for there is nowhere like it.

I have lived and worked in Athens, Corfu, Crete, and Rhodes, have enjoyed holidays in Kos, Kalymnos and Leros, Santorini and Mykonos, have sailed the Ionian islands including Lefkada, Kefanlonia and Ithaka.

Based on my experiences, this blog will feature articles on Greek property, the islands, Greek food and language, tips for holidays and sailing trips so sign up for future news and information and be prepared to become captivated. Don’t miss out on all that Greece has to offer.
For more on Greek Property for sale and to rent, visit http://www.thegreekhouse.co.uk


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March 30, 2010

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