With a deep-rooted passion for obscure international adventure, Victoria Yanakos is always looking for her next travel destination. Currently vacationing in Bolivia, Victoria has been kind enough to jot down her insider picks from Greece. When she’s not traversing the planet for Jaunt, she resides in New York City where she covers fashion and cosmetics for RR Donnelley.
It’s next to impossible to maintain a moderate attitude when faced with a trip to Greece.
By Victoria Yanakos
Whether it's clubbing all night in Athens or eating fish in the islands until you have to lie your head on the table (which serves a double purpose as you are now closer to your ouzo glass), being in Greece is one of the most decadent and necessary travel experiences in the world.
For first time visitors or long time enthusiasts, a logical and ideal place to start your Greek sojourn is in Athens, entrenched in thousands of years of history, the majestic city hums with the splendor of philosophy and ancient culture. Now a rushing metropolis, when deciding where to lay your hat, I say, bypass the opulent (if not a bit austere) Hotel Grande Bretagne and opt for something more original.
OCHRE AND BROWN
Located in the hip district of Psirri (Ψυρρή), is a boutique hotel packed with amenities and personal service. Each of the ten rooms swirl with an undercurrent of urban decadence and boast in-room massages, custom ordered bed linens, and direct dial phone numbers.
Price: 210 € and up
Ochre and Brown
7 Leokoriou st. Psiri,
105 54, Athens, Greece
+30 210 33 12 940, +30 210 33 12 950
+30 210 33 12 942
In Athens’ fashionable Kolonaki (Κολονάκι) district, this four-star hotel is surrounded by some of Athens’ best boutiques. Holding true to its name, it also offers a periscope on the rooftop for guests to survey the whole of Athens.
Price: 144€ to 180€
22 Charitos Street
10675 Athens, Greece
When dining in Athens (or anywhere else in Greece), you have an array of venues from which to choose. Just keep in step with the local feasting culture: fast, loud, and excessive.
Etiquette is as follows:
1. Reaching across the table, over your neighbor’s plate and mid-air forkful of spanakopita? Perfectly fine.
2. Say ‘papara’ and you have the green light to dip your bread into any unguarded dish on the table. Take caution, this word used in any other context means ‘testicles.’
3. Feel free to turn your used wine glass into an ashtray. Smoking is actually a course (or three) in any Greek meal.
4. If you have room for “seconds,” you’re not really trying.
Start with a plethora of μεζεδάκια (mezed-Α-kia) or small plates to sample the various traditional Greek dishes like moussaka and tsarmasalata, a dip made from caviar (and our EIC’s personal favorite). Add a generous portion of ouzo and a finale of baklava.
As for where to satisfy your culinary curiosity, we suggest:
Αγία Μαρίνα (Agia Marina) - a small beach between Varkiza and Lagonissi hosting a variety of seaside fish restaurants.
Mπιφτεκούπολη (phonetically it is Biftekoupoli and literally translates to mean “Burger City”)
A strip of tavernas in the neighboring town of Glifada, which specializes in meat - biftekia.
Roughly thirty minutes from city center, any cab driver will know both areas by name. Finally, check out the Acropolis and catch a concert at the Herodion Theater at the base. A good night out in Greece is always in order.
The district of Psirri and the area near Syntagma Square (in the center of the city) offer a great local selection of hip clubs and bars.
My personal favorite?
On Kolokotroni Street - an epically long-central table, handmade chandelier, and oh so unambiguous name.
57 Kolokotroni street
Best in summer, Island overlooks the Aegean Sea. More high maintenance than in Psirri, but with breathtaking views and pulsing energy it’s worth the drama of getting in.
Located at the 27th km of Athens
Sounio Av., 16672
Varkiza , Greece
P +30 220 8925000
F +30 210 895050
When leaving Athens to retreat to any number of Greece’s tastefully chic and rustic islands, I recommend stops in Santorini and Milos. Both islands are easily accessible by plane or ferry from the mainland.
Formed by a massive volcanic explosion, it’s arguably the most iconic and dramatically beautiful island in the Cyclades, if not one of the most visited. With sharp jagged cliffs overlooking the perfectly clear blue waters, Santorini is a haven for honeymooners and vacation connoisseurs alike. It is also home to hundreds of small intimate hotels perfect for a romantic getaway or relaxing retreat from daily life.
Awe-inspiring views of the sea and a quaint spot to rest your sun-drenched and weary head
Price: low season (April to June and October, closed November and December) 95 € to 180 €
High season (June to September): 116€ to 195€
Malteza Sqare Imerovigli
Santorini 847 00 Greece
P: +30 22860 23258
F: + 30 22860 28862
Winter Contact, Athens:
P: + 30 210 801 2904
Views and an infinity pool on its lower level bring you one step closer to the magnificent surroundings
Price low season: 240€ and up, High season: 285€ and up
84 700 Greece
P (April – November): +30 22860 24661 –2 –3
P (November – March): +30 22860 25025
While Santorini is not widely revered for its beaches, there is still a great deal to experience while on the island. The two most populated areas:
THIRA – take your time combing the winding cobble stone streets of this town, perusing the various shops and novelty stands
OIA – check out a gallery or two here. In the evening Oia tends to be more subdued. A wonderful choice if you are looking for a more tranquil dining atmosphere.
Renting a car or moped is a great way to get between the two towns and explore the outskirts of the island. 99% of the cars available will be manual, so if you’re rusty on your shifting skills, go for the moped. As it turns out, explaining how you wrecked the rental car is infinitely more difficult in Greek.
One gem along the beach:
KATINA’S RESTAURANT - This small outdoor taverna is literally steps away from the water and hosts a menu of the freshest local catch and various Greek specialties. They don’t have a website, but if you follow the sunset down the hill to the base of the Amoudi Harbor, you’ll find this seaside treasure easily enough.
Via ferry from Santorini (with a connection in Sifnos) or direct flight from Athens, Milos should also be a stop on your Greek getaway. Off the beaten path for foreign tourists in the Cyclades, Milos has a quiet charm that sings along with the pristine surroundings. Distinctly less “touristy” - and by non-touristy we mean fewer Midwest fanny packs but more men in hot pant bathing suits - once arriving to port, it’s a good idea to rent a car or moped as the best beaches are spread out across the island.
In contrast to Santorini, Milos has a great number of spectacular beaches for you to explore. Two on the top of my list are Tsigrado and Paliochori.
Surrounded by dramatic rock formations and waters of rare clarity, these beaches rival some of the best in the world. One note about Tsigrado: for the less adventurous traveler this beach is most easily accessible by boat. If you’re up for the challenge, you can also reach the beach by descending the steep hill careening up from the water’s east bank. Depending on the time of year, this hill varies in its degree of severity. But don’t worry, there’s a rope (from the 1960s but it’s still good).
Another gem specific to Milos is:
Also commonly known - in our apartment - as the single most captivating stretch of land on the planet. This “moon beach” was formed by layers of white volcanic rock, which, in addition to its complete lack of vegetation really give you the feeling of being on the moon. The smooth curves of the lunar landscape underfoot are great for sunbathing or cliff-diving into the blue sea below.
After a day of beach hopping, there’s dinner:
ARAGOSTA - in the port, one of the few trendy spots on the islands. Slightly less grassroots, but the food and atmosphere are wonderful.
Adamas - Milos Island - Cyclades- Greece
Tel & Fax: +30 22870 22292
ERGINA - if you’re craving something more authentic, and in tune with the islanders, check out Ergina in Tripiti. Tucked away on a secluded hill, this taverna (named after the owner) has a great selection of family recipes and local flavor and her husband will walk you through the dishes in English, Italian, French, Greek, or other. Ask the locals for directions to Tripti - the restaurant is on the sea side going up the steep hill.
HALARA STUDIOS - located in Plaka, the charming capital of Milos, these studios, although basic, offer spectacular views and attentive service. Be wary of the throngs of hotel advertisers in the port when you arrive. Accommodations in this part of the island will be loud and overpriced for what you get. Instead, rent a car and head to Plaka for a more genuine and enjoyable stay.
Management: Mary Mathioudaki - Xydous
Plaka 84800, Milos island
Cyclades - Greece
Μilos Tel.: (+30) 22870 22092
Athens Τel. & Fax: (+30) 210 9917 823
Mobile: (+30) 6944 375 777
Now how’s that for handing our readers a hot Greek getaway? With the power to sweep you off your feet or submerge you into her blue waters, we say Greece is one country that promises to satisfy your sweet life cravings.
Additional travel resources:
Olympic Airlines http://www.olympicairlines.com/
Aegean Air http://www.aegeanair.com/aegeanen/home/index.asp
Milos Travel Agency
+30 22870 24024
Ask for Nikos Chronis
Santorini, Greece. Oia
Tel.: +30 22210 60056 / Fax: +30 22210 60057
Tuesday, March 25, 2008
Friday, March 14, 2008
Where are we going next?
No, we're not asking you a question. We're telling you where to go next. Go to:
Why? Because they're going to Montenegro! You know the place, don't you? It's that small independent country bordered by Bosnia-Herzegovina, Serbia, Kosovo, and Albania. Looks something like this...
What! Why you've never been? See! Maybe you should go then.
Yes, "Where We're Going Next?" is Jaunt's new favorite travel tip. Greg Siegel, host at the helm of this chic and adventurous new group says, "We're aimed at professionals who love to travel to cool new places with others who share a similar sense of style and fun - blending the amenities of high-end travel with the fun of discovering great, off-the-beaten-path destinations."
For years, he passionately traveled with friends, seeking out new, adventurous places that none of them had ever been before. Finding cool properties to stay, networking with interesting locals, and figuring out ways to meet other like-minded travelers who shared their combined sense of adventure, style, and enthusiasm, was all part of his general plan.
"And even though we always figured it out eventually," Siegel says, "It was inevitably a pain in the ass to plan and execute. We always wished there was someone who could help us put these trips together... someone who understood the kind of experience we wanted. Not going to Cabo surrounded by the spring break crowd, but also not going to some luxury resort where the other guests might be stiffs. Somewhere in between - combining a great sense of style without sacrificing fun. So I decided to create that kind of company."
Jaunt says Siegel deserves a two-kiss Mafioso salute and a high-five.
Think of the 'Where Are We Going Next' crew as your advance travel team. They go out, find those great new spots in the world for you, then find perfect place to stay - either a large villa for everyone or a great boutique hotel that you can take over entirely so there are no random guests to ruin the good time. They're also out there beforehand meeting the cool locals, often inviting them to join for dinners and cocktail parties so that you can immediately plug into what’s really going on. They'll be there for you, hosting a great time. Anything you need, they've got it covered.
Or, as Greg's friend, Elvin, just emailed to her friends: "Basically, he picks a cool up & coming location, gets a villa, scouts out the scene to find all the cool places, hires a chef for some awesome cuisine and then you and your friends go for a week of fun, parties, and inside local tips while he and his team host you at the villa. Seriously, why the hell didn't I ever think of doing something like this??"
Jaunt says ditto. We're glad somebody has.
Thursday, March 6, 2008
Need to work on your tintarella? Feeling a little self-indulgent? Every hard-working stiff deserves a hot-blooded vacation at least once, twice (hell, three times) before they die. Whether you’re a glamour loving jet-set cat walker or lady-loving lothario, Sardinia’s Costa Smeralda is the perfect summer jaunt for you.
Located south of Corsica off the Italian coast, Sardinia is the Mediterranean’s second largest island and one of the most exclusive vacation spots in the world. Heavy with the scent of macchia; a heady mix of rosemary, lavender and pine, the island’s north east coast, known as the Costa Smeralda, is a small piece of sexy Italian heaven on earth. Thank billionaire playboy Aga Khan for the Porto Cervo of it all. One day, while flying his private jet overhead, Khan witnessed the emerald green coast and imagined jade green coves packed with yachts, Missoni, Bvlgari, and Prada; a tastefully chic getaway for wealthy Europeans and stylish Milanese. With six hundred million dollars and a vision, he set about transforming the thirty five mile stretch of mosquito infested, rocky beach into the now swanky Costa Smeralda.
Long known as the summer playground for European royalty like Princess Margaret, King Juan Carlos, and Princess Caroline of Monaco (who enjoyed not one, but two honeymoons here), Sardinia has, for several years, been the au courant stomping grounds for Hollywood ingénues in heat for a fast fling or saucy love affair with a Real Madrid baller or Formula One race car driver. Mariah Carey even chose the island’s tranquil setting, dotted with stazzu style villas, as her undisclosed location to recover from emotional exhaustion a few years ago.
Billionaire, Porto Cervo Sardinia
So Jaunt did what we do best. We headed there with a bevy of beautiful, brainy New Yorkers. Aside for the trials and tribulations of traveling with three women, it was truly the time of our lives. Great food, sleek parties, gorgeous men from Milan, and plenty of opulent yachts. It was heaven... for about a week. Then, let's just say, you need a vacation from this jam-packed party of a vacation... so much excitement and activity around every gorgeous crag and corner.
From James Bond to Wertmuller, Sardinia's rugged blue coastline has simply been the perfect cinema setting for unrestrained passion (see Swept Away). Remember the photos of Princess Di and Dodi Fayed floating on a yacht amid turquoise blue waters? One word: Sardegna. Di certainly knew how to live. She was shopping at the finest boutiques and lounging on a chartered yacht moored off Sardinia's sandy crescents before that fateful Parisian accident.
Flavio Briatore, Benetton Formula One team boss (and Heidi Klum’s ex-baby's daddy), owns Billionaire, the timeless Porto Cervo nightclub shown above, which might possibly contain the highest concentration of good looking people in the world. We'd be lying if we said it wasn't a bit daunting... being faced with leggy models and dark sultry men (all wearing crisp white button-downs with initials on the sleeve, of course). Still, we do recommend finding a yacht or (be-friending one). We were lucky enough to meet some young Milanese men (bless their tanned shiny little hearts) who sailed us around Sardinia's stunning Maddelena islands, not to be missed if you have a boat. We lounged on the deck laughing, drinking Vermentino, and eating handmade pasta with that perfectly salted Italian addition, bottarga. Imagine yourself there too... dripping in diamonds and champagne. It's lovely, isn't it? if only to realize two weeks later that it's also rather silly and self-indulgent. Bottom line: it's still the best place to meet and greet your inner Diva. At least once (or twice) in your life, right?
The breathtaking beaches may not be as lengthy as our favorite Caribbean brothers, but the water, along with the sunbathers, flickers with the sparkling blues and various shades of light and dark. There are also enough babes to earn yourself a neck brace. Long Beach, like its name, is likely the best/longest beach around, but there’s also some fun to be had at the more sheltered Petra Manna Beach, Piccolo Pevero, and Capriccioli. At Spiaggia della Rosa, rose colored sand falls between your toes and Cala Granu, La Dolce Sposa, Romazzino, Del Principe and Liscia Ruia, are a bit further from the Porto Cervo center, but worth a quick trip if you’re staying more than a week.
Even if you’re Daddy Warbucks, keep in mind that during the summer months, a ten-minute cab ride can run roughly $100. That is, of course, unless you speak Italian or have a loud mouth that cries out... 'What? I refuse!" while your girlfriends call you crazy and pull you from the car screaming. A rental car and a cell phone is a must and the only way to see the island’s spectacular coves and beaches. Expect to pay at least $50-$55 a day for an economy car, but remember that the Milanese who take over the island also take over the roads. You better be handy with a stick with good reflexes. Another popular way to discover the beaches, particularly the Costa Smeralda, is by boat. If you’re women traveling alone, you can likely make some Italian friends who will take you out. Otherwise, local charter operators like Mala Kebir (www.malakebir.com) offer sailing trips with or without crew.
If you want to take a break from Porto Cervo’s gliterrati, head inland where the remnants of over seven thousand bronze age nuraghi (stone towers) dot the landscape, a reminder of the local resistance to their numerous invaders. The walled port city of Alghero is filled with medieval towers, narrow cobblestone streets, and shops selling jewelry made from local coral.
If the expenses on the island start to get you down, drown your worries with the superlative wines Sardinia has to offer. For under $5.00 at the local grocery, you’ll find some of the best wines you’ve had in years. Wild, independent, and exotic, the coastal dry plains and hills of Sardinia offer an idyllic climate for the likes of the vine. Sardinia produces some of the smoothest well-structured reds and aromatic, high-acid whites. Occupied by both the Spanish and the ancient Phoenicians, they brought over some of the best varieties around, including dry white Vermentinos, soft floral Torbato, the flavor rich Grenache called Cannonau, and traditional Moscatos from the western part of the island. An unspoken gem of vivid blue-green waters, Sardegna also has over sixty wineries on the island.
Jim Perry, owner of Sardinia Vacations has spent the last few years living on the island learning about the culture, the wine, and the lifestyle of the locals. His recommendation, “The Cannonau. It's a nice hearty red that’s fantastic paired with the local specialty, suckling pig, or lamb, goat, beef, and cinghiale (otherwise known as wild boar).”
PS. Cinghiale is also a fantastic insult. Just make sure you pronounce it correctly.
That said, the food in Sardinia is as tasty as the wine and ranges from rustic pane carasau (literally meaning 'music paper'), a thin unleavened flat bread brushed with oil, soaked in broth and topped with tomato, a poached egg, and grated pecorino to the more refined malloredus (shell shaped dumplings) and gnocchi with grated pecorino, saffron, fresh ricotta and mentuccia, a mint-like Mediterranean herb.
Mama Orsa (Tel: 078-999-462), Pepero (Tel: 078-994-434)
Sotto Vento and Sopra Vento (Tel: 078-992-443) all serve delicious fare, but don’t expect to start eating until ten at night.
After you’ve worked up an appetite, sip some Limoncello, start planning, and get ready to party until seven am. While heavily researching her own trip to Sardinia, Editor-in-Chief, Layla Revis, discovered that the best deal and more comfortable accommodations could be found renting a villa. Keep in mind, you need a car and a decent proximity to the nightspots listed below. For your handy reference, we've also included a rundown on the fancy schmancy hotels, most of them run by Starwood (just in case you, or your lover, is a real bonafide baller).
Who doesn’t want to do it like an Italian? Rent a spacious villa along the coast, perfect for families and a group of friends traveling together. Igluvillas.com offers holidays to over 30, 000 villas in Europe with four hundred properties on Sardinia alone. Their selection of properties includes both villas and apartments, ranging from simple accommodation to luxurious villas with private pools. Holiday bookings are for 7 or 14 nights and all departures and arrivals are on Saturdays.
Residence Porto Piccolo
Porto Piccolo, ten minute drive from the Porto Cervo center is bright and peaceful village. In traditional Gallura style, granite rocks and wood are joined to form balconies facing the sea that overlook La Maddalena and Caprera islands. Two restaurants are available on the property with both terraces facing the blue green sea, 3 tennis courts, and a swimming pool.
Residence Chrysalis Bay (Piccolo Pevero)
Nestled next to the Pevero Golf Course, this spot is ideal for meeting other young, traveling, jet set single Milanese.
Residence Capriccioli (Capriccioli)
Cala di Volpe Hotel
This 125-room Starwood hotel has rooms for up to $960 per person, per day during July and August where you can stay in Aga Khan’s own signature tower for a few clams more. It’s a quiet, lazy get-away with an Olympic sea-water swimming pool, trompe l'oeil wall paintings, romantic piano bars with wood beamed ceilings, and endless Bvlgari cosmetics in your room. The presidential suite occupies the entire third floor and contains an open-air swimming pool and pool-side cabana for the exclusive use of the suite's guests. From $536 per person, per day, including meals. It's nice, but again, we likey the villas. www.starwoodhotels.com
Tel: (39)(0789) 976111
With its’ elegant whitewashed walls and simple, delicate rooms with private terraces, the 90 room hotel’s many arches and pergolas surround the property with flowers and a green lawn that folds to the sea. The most family friendly of the hotel’s in Porto Cervo, the Beach Club at Romazzino Beach is a great stop for lunch. www.starwoodhotels.com
Tel: (39)(0789) 977111
Hotel Le Ginestre
A warm four star pink Mediterranean granite facade, this property is nestled into the mountainside and cozyyyyyy.
Smack dab in the center of Porto Cervo village, you couldn’t find a better location to be in the mix. Expect to spend the bucks.
www.starwoodhotels.com Tel: (39)(0789) 931111
Hotel Pitrizza (Liscia di Vacca)
North of Costa Smeralda, The Hotel Pitrizza's 51 rooms and suites consist of several stone bungalows on a slope sweeping down to the sea with views of the Mediterranean and islands below. The hotel’s saltwater pool is carved out of the rocks and blends into the sea for the perfect afternoon swim.
Su Gologone Hotel (Oliena)
Madonna stayed here. With limestone peaks and a hundred year old fireplace, it’s far from the nightlife and more for the yoga traveler. A solid favorite of Italian and European travelers who come to this bucolic country inn for the tranquil surroundings and a menu of roasted meats and sharp Cannonau wines.
Restaurants and Clubs
Porto Cervo Yacht Club
Country In (Porto Rotondo)
Spago (Baja Sardinia)
Tana dell' orso (hostera dell' orso) Poltu quatu