submitted by Kytherian Ecology on 09.03.2015
4 Ways to Fall Madly in Love with Kythera
Posted by Abbie Synan
February 11, 2015
Activities, Greece, Vacation
Abbie Synan, originally from Pennsylvania, now calls the world her home. After years of working in medical administration, she took to a nomadic lifestyle and has spent the last two years exploring new cities, writing, volunteering and consulting. She is constantly searching for exciting experiences, taking photographs and writing stories to share on Speck On The Globe
The warm, buttery Oia sunsets in Santorini, the southern charm of Crete, and the mazes of whitewashed buildings in Mykonos are some of the main attractions luring travelers to Greece. While it’s true that these are some must-see sites on your Mediterranean vacation, for me the ultimate treasure is one many travelers miss. A defining trait of my slow travel experience is making the major tourist destinations supporting characters rather than the main focus of the trips. My love of slow travel tied in seamlessly with my visit to the stunning island of Kythera. Ready to fall in love? Here are the four activities that shouldn't be missed.
1. Experience a hiker’s paradise
The slow travel movement is connected with sustainability, and one of Kythera’s main activities highlights responsible tourism. The region’s hiking project began as a way to make old trails and paths more accessible, which evolved into an ecotourism and sustainability endeavor. The trails are all easily marked, providing a route to beautiful, untapped valleys and serene mountain views. If blazing eco-friendly trails aren't alluring enough, Kythera boasts some impressive caves beckoning to be explored, and its landscape rivals that of any other Grecian island.
2. Get a glimpse of local life
Plenty of places in Greece made me feel at home, but Kythera’s way of warmly revealing itself became the most welcoming. I spent my time there learning about the olive-picking season and how the olive groves affect the island’s inhabitants. My experiential trip to Xenonas Fos ke Choros enabled me to not only live in a more traditional small town but also brought me closer to a simpler, more relaxing way of life in Greece. All the residents were cordial and I found the best way to catch up on island gossip was to show up to the open market in Potamos in your Sunday best. Because slow travel allowed me to make more personal connections, I realized that each of the towns have something to offer beyond their quaint exterior. Even just sampling some delicious traditional food at a local taverna can prompt a deeper appreciation.
3. Live the sea lover’s dream
Mythology marks Kythera as the birthplace of Aphrodite, likely due to its beauty beyond compare. The intoxicating shorelines draw you down from the hilltops, revealing small, sandy beaches and unforgettably blue Mediterranean water. The benefit of spending time on such a small island is that there isn't much more to do than relax and take in the gorgeous scenery. One of the more memorable views I uncovered was a small church clinging to a cliff at the edge of the water. Legend is that this church, Agios Nikolaos o Krasas, was built by a ship captain after being saved at sea. It is a breathtaking homage.
4. Discover a historical haven
You can find the icon of Panagia Myrtidiotissa (the black Madonna), Byzantine historical sites, castles, and archeological remnants on this island, with dozens of interesting stories accompanying their presence. Of course, the quickest way to learn all about the folklore is to hear it from a local. My favorite part of uncovering the history was exploring the abandoned water mills and ancient fresco in the medieval villages of Kato Chora and Paleochora. Adding to the attraction of the island are dozens of small churches, cathedrals and monasteries for you to visit.
Very few places I've been have made it as hard for me to leave as Kythera. I came to know the island so well, and when I left, I felt like I was saying goodbye to a little bit of home. This is a feeling you can't get from hurriedly taking a tour bus through the historic sites. Slowing down and appreciating everything allowed me to open up a special place in my heart for Greece.
submitted by Sunday Telegraph on 09.03.2015
Sunday Telegraph (circulation 490,000)
FEBRUARY 22, 2015
Photograph: Aerial view of the Kapsali village from the castle.
View / download a copy of this article in English from the Kytherian Newsletter:
Halabi Article Kytherian Newsletter.pdf
View / download a copy of this article in Greek, as a .pdf:
Halabi article on Kythera.pdf
I have only been on Kythera two days when a local takes me aside to show me his tomatoes and sample his homemade ouzo. “Please don’t write anything about the island,” he pleads. “We don’t want people to know about it.”
If you see the way other Greek islands on the main route are overrun seasonally by hordes of tourists – think Mykonos, Santorini and Ios for starters – you'll know why Kytherians are keen to keep their little secret.
Unlike many other islands, Kythera has managed to preserve its village life and community traditions. You can still see donkeys and old ladies in black with headscarves. Religious festivals are held in caves and they make their own wine, ouzo and olive oil.
In many ways, Kythera is Greece’s best kept secret. Many Australians have never heard of it, but this is the island from which the majority of Greek Australians originated.
Kytherians set up Australia’s first cafes, milk bars, fish and chip shops, cinemas and pubs. They still consider the island “home” and are proud of their heritage. This archaeological treasure island is the site of the largest ancient shipwreck ever discovered, described as “the Titanic of the ancient world”. A tiny sister island off Kythera, known as Antikythera, is where the Antikythera mechanism – an ancient computing device described as the world’s first computer – was discovered.
Kythera will be the focus later this year of a part-Australian funded archaeological exploration dive to search the wreck of British brig Mentor, the ship carrying the stolen Elgin marbles from the Parthenon that sank just off the island’s coast. Part of the Ionian Islands in the region of Attica, far from cruise ship and tourist routes, Kythera sits at the foot of the Peloponnese at the crossroads of three seas – the Ionian, Aegean and Cretan.
At 280 sq km, it’s one of Greece’s largest islands. In mythology, Kythera (Kithira or Cythera) is known as the birthplace of Aphrodite, the goddess of love and beauty.
As I discover, Kythera is like every Greek island woven into one. At the southern end, the capital, Chora, is a stereotypically picturesque blue and white Greek cobblestone-paved town that fits my every Cycladian fantasy. I drive 10km out of Chora and feel like I'm in Tuscany with rolling green hills, green conifers and Tuscan-style ochre stone farmhouses. Then a little further north, I see deserted stone buildings and low beach scrub with rocky red beaches at the end of mountain goat tracks – I could be on Mars.
The starkly diverse natural beauty of this mountainous island, with its valleys, enchanting red and grey volcanic beaches and rugged trails make it popular with walkers, nature enthusiasts, divers, religious, archaeological and cultural tourists. Remnants of medieval times including crusader, Venetian and Byzantine castles, dot the landscape along with Roman- style aqueducts, traces of ancient Sparta and the Phoenicians and churches spanning centuries.
The chapel of St John (Agios Iannos), marked by its huge white cross painted on the cliff face, is built into the cliffside at Kapsali. White monasteries dot the top of tall mounts all around the island. The most spectacular, with panoramic views, is Agios Georgios tou Vouno (St George on the Mount) on the eastern coast, built on a Minoan Peak sanctuary.
Kythera has about 70 small villages and each has its own character. As my tour guide on another island, Paros, says: “Villages have disappeared on most islands replaced by rows of tourist hotels”.
Life on Kythera centres around family and community. Every Sunday, there’s a market in Potamos, a village in the centre of the island. People come from all around to either sell their goods or just to meet up in the square and sit to have a Greek coffee or Sunday mezze.
Only 3000 permanent residents live on the island. Sparsely inhabited and largely rural, it doesn’t in any way pander to tourists. There are no buses or trains, no big hotels, nightclubs or tourist shops. This is the real Greece.
I stayed a fortnight and came to know the locals, immersing myself in the local history and culture. I hired a car (you can choose a Vespa instead), ate in local tavernas, lingered under platanos trees in town squares drinking ouzo and eating octopus or mezze with the locals, stayed in a family owned house (you can choose from numerous B&Bs) and experienced the local life. Kytherians inundated me with figs from their trees and tomatoes from their gardens. Kytherian wine has a distinctive flavour and is made from “arikikas” grapes. Tess Mallos, author of Greek Cookbook, was from Karavas, and a photo of the ruined houses of Karavas is on the front of her cookbook.
Surprisingly, many Kytherians speak good English, thanks largely to the Australian connection – relatives are coming and going all the time. Every second house in Kythera has a kangaroo emblazoned on a wall signifying that someone from the family has gone to Australia.
Former NSW minister for tourism, George Souris, film director George Miller and the owners of Andronicus (coffee) all hail from Kythera.
Emirates, Qantas, Virgin Australia and Lufthansa are among the carriers flying from Australia to Athens. From Athens connect to Kythera with Olympic Air, or by car ferry departing from the Athenian ports of Piraeus (13E) or from Neapolis (11E).
Xenónas Fos kè Chóros is a small traditional guesthouse with four luxury guest rooms from 55 euros per night. Contact Anita or Albert firstname.lastname@example.org; agreekisland.com.
Hotel Xorokampos overlooks a volcanic bay and Paleopolis beach. Contact Lampros Friligkos, email@example.com; www.kythiracampus.gr
submitted by Stephen Trifyllis on 21.01.2015
the bridge to kato livadi
submitted by Stephen Trifyllis on 20.01.2015
one of the oldest cafeneos on the island.. livaditis cafeneo , im sure that our greatgrandfathers, grandfathers and fathers have at some time been ...stou livaditi ...
submitted by Stephen Trifyllis on 18.01.2015
December means school is still in , while here in Australia the school holiday' are in full swing .... the school children of potamos are on their way to another day of learning ..... my father who is 91 years of age attended the potamo school , so it has been educating little kytherian children for some years now ...
submitted by Stephen Trifyllis on 14.01.2015
it doesnt matter what season it is , the karava region is always very pretty !
submitted by Stephen Trifyllis on 13.01.2015
the picturesque village of diakofti -
the karava area with its breathless views
a differant beach in the winter .. no one on the beach, the little bar is closed , no one playing raquet tennis ... bit sad actually .. but summer will come around before you know it !!!
the village of fatsathika with the old english school in the background ....
sitting in the sun on a lovely december morming at the markets
submitted by Stephen Trifyllis on 12.01.2015
central livathi on a december chilly day , not much movement , i took this photo in the middle road a feat i couldmt do in august !!
nice and warm inside the top end cafeneo of potamo , these are regulars at salinas cafeneo all year round !
submitted by Stephen Trifyllis on 11.01.2015
good to see the occasional produce stall at the Sunday markets at potamo , especially in the winter , on a cold and windy December Sunday morning its a tough day at the office , so when in kythera try to support the few remaining local produce seller
produce sellers that come from mainland Greece to kythera for a few days , they drive to each village trying to sell in this case potatoes and garlic !!
submitted by Stephen Trifyllis on 10.01.2015
one of the great characters of the island agia pelagia fisherman Dionysius kondolon with a early morning catch and then straight up to the Sunday markets at potamo
its like a pub with no beer , no shop with no strato .. potamo will never be the same now .. and how sad to see the shop closed ...
every morning a highlight for me was early in the morning to see which type of sunrise greeted the island over the mountains of agia moni ...it was a cold December chill but to look at some amazing sunrises warmed me up ...
another glorious December sunrise is greeting .. ' ta vouna tis agia moni ' ...
submitted by Archaeology On Kythera on 21.09.2014
A project of the Hellenic Ministry of culture and Sports, with the support of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute
Here's the link for daily updates re: the Antikythera shipwreck excavation during fieldwork.
The Underwater robot:
Is currently employed over the Antikythera shipwreck, with the underwater robot (AUV) making the first high resolution digital map of the area using multi-beam sonar.
The photographic shows the robot, minutes before diving to 15 metres above the bottom of the seabed to create a sonar map of the Antikythera shipwreck.
It will do various missions, next taking stereo photographs to create a detailed 3D model of the site.
This update was provided live from the support vessel POSEIDON, at sea, over the top of the Antikythera shipwreck using Cosmote 4G technology.
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