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Greece

Athens Coronavirus Travel After Covid-19 in Greece

Named after Athena, the Greek goddess of wisdom, Athens is the oldest, and maybe liveliest, capital in Europe. The urban city area features a bit more than 4 million residents, according to the latest census in 2011; however, every true Athenian will insist that the capital boasts half of Greece’s total population (which is about 11 million people).

Greece
2,952
Confirmed
15
Confirmed (24h)
180
Deaths
1
Deaths (24h)
6.1%
Deaths (%)
1,464
Recovered
0
Recovered (24h)
49.6%
Recovered (%)
1,308
Active
44.3%
Active (%)

Athens is often considered as an one-day stop-over, before starting island hopping; however, while summers in Athens can be a nightmare due to the combination of high temperatures, air pollution and severe lack of greenery, it is still worth a few days on its own. Balancing between European elegance and Balkan temperament, the Greek capital reveals its true self through lazy walks among ancient ruins, people watching during a typical Athenian half-day-long coffee and endless bar hopping until dawn.

The first pre-historic settlements were constructed in 3000 BC around the hill of Acropolis. According to legend the King of Athens, Theseus, unified the ten tribes of early Athens into one kingdom in around 1230 BC. This process of synoikismos – bringing together in one home – created the largest and wealthiest state on the Greek mainland, but it also created a larger class of people excluded from political life by the nobility.

By the 7th century BCE, social unrest had become widespread, and the Areopagus appointed Draco to draft a strict new law code (hence “draconian”). When this failed, they appointed Solon, with a mandate to create a new constitution (594). This was the great beginning of a new social revolution, which was the result of the democracy under Clisthenes (508).

In the 5th century BCE, Athens reached the peak of its fame. It was the most powerful Greek city-state, and the center of Greek cultural life, hosting perhaps the greatest cultural advances in all of human history. Fields of study like science, philosophy, history, and medicine were developed for the first time by Athenian scholars in this period, known as Athens’ “golden age”.

Later on, Athens became part of the Macedonian empire under Alexander, and still later part of the Roman empire. While it was no longer politically significant, its intellectual reputation gave it a special status until, in the year 529, Emperor Justinian ordered Athens’ academies to be closed, and the empire’s intellectual center moved to Constantinople.

Athens was thriving and prosperous during the Crusades, actually benefiting from the Italian trade during this period, however this fruitful period was short-lived, as Greece suffered badly under the Ottoman Empire, only to recover in the 19th century as the capital of independent Greece. In modern times, the Athens urban area has grown to a population of 3 million. Athens has turned into a large and bustling city, but as a result it also suffers from congestion, pollution, and poverty.

Modern Olympic Games

Athens hosted the 2004 Summer Olympic Games. While most of the sporting venues were outside of the city – in various locations throughout Attica- the entire urban area of Athens underwent major lasting changes that have improved the quality of life for visitors and residents alike. Aside from the excellent transportation infrastructure that was completed in time for the 2004 Olympics (from new freeways to light rail systems), the city’s historic center underwent serious renovation. Most notable among the city’s facelift projects are the Unification of Archaeological Sites (which connects the city’s classical-era ruins and monuments to each other through a network of friendly pedestrianized streets) and the restoration of the picturesque neoclassical Thissio and Pláka districts.

The ancient Olympic Games took place in Olympia from 776 BCE to 394 AD. It is a lengthy day trip from Athens to visit Olympia, but quite interesting.

Architecture

Athens was just a small provincial village when it was chosen in the 1830s to serve as the national capital of the modern Greek State. Although it had a prestigious past, the city’s political, economic and cultural importance had declined over the centuries, leaving behind only its classical ruins as a reminder of better times. With the decision to move the national capital from Nafplio to Athens, architects and city planners were hired to build a new city next to the classical ruins, with grand neoclassical homes and public buildings, large city squares, green spaces, and wide avenues, making a conscious, decisive turn from the city’s Ottoman past. The city regained its importance in Greek civilization, and by 1900 had evolved into a very attractive cosmopolitan city, with abundant neoclassical architecture harking to the nation’s past.

The 20th century however, marked the rapid development of Athens. The city suffered minor damage during WWII, and suffered extensive urban planning in the decades that followed, as the nation rapidly industrialized and urbanized. In the 1960s and 1970s, many 19th century neoclassical buildings, often small and private, were demolished to make way for office buildings, often designed by great Greek architects. The city also expanded outward through rash development, particularly towards the west, as its population grew by absorbing job-seekers from the provinces. With the onset of the automobile, public officials reduced the city’s public transportation services without foreseeing the traffic gridlock and smog that would menace the city by the 1980s.

By the late 1980s and early 1990s, the city’s reality led to a rude awakening among local and national officials and, coupled with the country’s new found remarkable prosperity, large scale projects began to slowly regenerate the city and undo some of the damage of recent decades. Over the course of the next 15 years, money was poured into new transportation infrastructure projects, the restoration of surviving neoclassical buildings, the gentrification of the city’s historical center and the renovation of many former industrial areas and the city’s coastline. The restoration of charming neoclassical buildings in the city’s historical center has been accompanied by the construction of attractive post-modern buildings in newer districts; both of which have begun to improve the aesthetic essence of the city. Athens today is ever evolving, forging a brand new identity for the 21st century.

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Reporting mainly on the Asia Pacific region and the global Coronavirus crises in countries such as the United States, Mainland China, Brazil, Mexico, Italy and Germany. Love to Travel and report daily on destinations reopening with a focus on Domestic travel within Europe, North America and the Caribbean. Fan of the English Premier League , the German Bundesliga,, the Spanish La Liga.

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Greece

Νaxos Coronavirus Travel After Covid-19 in Greece

Naxos island

The largest Cycladic Island, Naxos is known in Greek mythology as the place where ungracious Theseus abandoned Ariadne after she helped him escape from the Minoan Labyrinth. However, her story had a happy ending, as she came across Dionysos, the Greek God of Wine, who fell for her and took her to Mount Olymbus, where she became immortal.

Greece
2,952
Confirmed
15
Confirmed (24h)
180
Deaths
1
Deaths (24h)
6.1%
Deaths (%)
1,464
Recovered
0
Recovered (24h)
49.6%
Recovered (%)
1,308
Active
44.3%
Active (%)

More hilly and more fertile than the rest of the Cyclades, Naxos combines sandy beaches with mountainous traditional villages. More laid back than nearby Paros, it mostly draws families and well-placed crowds. Nightlife is not as feverish as in Paros, Ios and Myconos, but you still have a variety of options to enjoy yourself at night. Naxian wine is considered one of the best varieties in Greece.

Getting around

As in most Cycladic Islands, a number of buses connect Hora (the main parish) with other villages around the island. Depending to your destination, bus routes range from frequent to rare.

Since distances in Naxos are longer than in other islands, renting a car or scooter is advised. Car rentals are plenty on the island. Always remember to keep an eye for careless or drunk drivers.

Things to see and do in Naxos

Once you have enjoyed the sun and the sea, it is time to start exploring the hidden treasures of this island. Although Zeus was supposed to have been born on the island of Crete, Naxos is considered to be the place where he grew up, according to Greek mythology. Therefore, the island’s highest mountain was named after him. At the foot of Zeus Mountain, one will find Zeus Cave, a large natural cavern with fascinating clusters of stalactites and stalagmites.

Walk from Hora to Palatia Islet, which is today linked with the main island, to visit the ancient Temple of Apollo. Little of the temple is still standing, including a large marble gate known as Portara. Join the locals and tourists who flock to the site to watch the sunset.

A day trip to Apollonas Village, on the north coast, is a must for archaeology enthusiasts. In a marble pit near the village, you will come across a 10-meter long Kouros (male statue), which dates back to the 6th century BC and is estimated to represent the god Dionysos.

The Archaeologial Museum at Hora features a wide collection of figurines from early Cycladic, Hellenistic and Roman eras, along with other artefacts discovered on the island. The museum is housed in a former college, where the famous Greek novelist Nikos Kazantzakis studied for a brief period.

Bazeos Castle, near the village of Sangri, is a beautifully restored 17th-century monastery, which today serves as the island’s cultural center. Naxos Festival takes place in the castle during July and August, hosting art exhibitions, concerts and other cultural events.

The village of Halki is maybe the most picturesque parish on the island. Surrounded by olive groves, it features scenic alleys, restored old villas and Byzantine churches. Try the locally made pastries and traditional citron liqueur. Vallindras Distillery, at Halki’s main square, offers free tours, where visitors can watch the process of the liqueur production and taste some of the distillery’s finest aperitifs. Two kilometres out of the village stands Panagia Drosiani, a Byzantine church which boasts impressive frescos from the 7th century.

Apiranthos is an excellent mountainous village, with no less than three local museums. Walk down the village’s main street, where the Archaeology Museum, Geology Museum and Museum of Natural History are located. Apart from the museums, feel free to stroll among picturesque backstreets, old stone houses and charming backyards; wave to the friendly locals, who always welcome visitors with a warm smile.

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Lamia Coronavirus Travel After Covid-19 in Greece

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Capital of Fthiotida, Lamia stretches between the foot of Mount Orthys and Maliakos Bay. Featuring a population of 52,000 residents, it is not a major tourist destination; more like a laid-back Greek town, it is known for its delicious “kokoretsi” (impale delicacy made from lamp intestines), strong “tsipouro” (distilled local spirit) and many plane trees.

Greece
2,952
Confirmed
15
Confirmed (24h)
180
Deaths
1
Deaths (24h)
6.1%
Deaths (%)
1,464
Recovered
0
Recovered (24h)
49.6%
Recovered (%)
1,308
Active
44.3%
Active (%)

In the mid-distance between Meteora and the archaeological site of Delphi, the town can be used as a gateway for numerous fascinating excursions, including a visit to the Pass of Thermopylae.

Transportation

City buses run frequently within the City of Lamia. Four long-distance bus terminals offer routes to major cities, such as Athens and Thessaloniki, and popular destinations, such as Delphi. A main train station and airport are located a few kilometres away from the city center.

The town of Lamia

Located on the northern part of the town, Lamia’s Fortress has been standing on the town’s acropolis for thousands of years. With a perimeter of 600 meters, its older part dates back to the 5th century BC. Several additions had been made during Byzantine period and by foreign invaders over the years, including the French, the Catalans and the Turkish. Walk up to the fort to enjoy a bird’s eye view of Lamia and the surrounding areas.

Once up, also pay a visit to the town’s Archaeological Museum, which stands within the fort’s grounds and carries a collection of numerous artefacts from Neolithic period to Romans times, including some interesting dolls from the Hellenistic era.

On a sunny day take trip to St Loukas Hill, from where you will have some fascinating views of Maliakos Bay, surrounded by lush greenery. Enjoy coffee or lunch at the municipal café and visit the chapel of St Loukas at the top of the hill.

Around Lamia

Freshly opened in 2007, Fthiotida’s Byzantine Museum is located in Ypatia Village, west of Lamia. Occupying a former barrack, the museum features two floors. The ground floor is dedicated to palaeochristian mosaics from the 4th, 5th and 6th centuries, while the first floor exhibits numerous artefacts from Byzantine era.

Eight kilometres southwest of the town of Lamia, you will find Gorgopotamos Bridge. The modern bridge is located right next to the train station. This spot held a key role in modern Greek history, due to the blowing up of the former bridge on the 25th of November of 1942. The sabotage was performed by the Greek Resistance in order to suspend the advance of Nazi forces. Sadly a forgotten hidden bomb blew up during a celebration in 1964, costing the lives of 13 people.

From recent to ancient history, the Pass of Thermopylae is located 20 kilometers southeast of Lamia. Once more a foreign attack was intercepted, when Leonidas and 300 Spartan soldiers resisted Xerxes’ invasion on this spot, in 480 BC. Although the Spartans were betrayed by Ephialtis and the Persian army finally advanced towards the south, a bronze statue of Leonidas stands there today to honour their courage.

Hiking Mount Orthys is a nice option for those who are into outdoor activities. According to Greek mythology, Orthys was the mountain where Titans barricaded themselves to fight against the Greek Gods in Olympus. With its highest tip at 1,726 meters, it features thick woodlands of spruces and oaks.

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Greece

Paros Coronavirus Travel After Covid-19 in Greece

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Among the most popular Cycladic islands, Paros attracts local and foreign tourists of any age and background during the summer months. Avoid late June, when loud high school seniors overflow the island to celebrate the end of the school year.

Greece
2,952
Confirmed
15
Confirmed (24h)
180
Deaths
1
Deaths (24h)
6.1%
Deaths (%)
1,464
Recovered
0
Recovered (24h)
49.6%
Recovered (%)
1,308
Active
44.3%
Active (%)

Prospering thanks to its natural supplies of fine white marble in ancient times, nowadays Paros mostly focuses on tourism. Accommodation ranges from hip boutique hotels to basic room rentals, while it offers vast options in dining and lively nightlife. Of course the island’s routine changes totally during wintertime, when most facilities close down and bad weather conditions may keep the population isolated for up to a week.

Sandy beaches and clear blue waters, scenic whitewashed houses with blue doors, fresh seafood and dancing until sunlight will do the trick and make you fall in love with the island. Nearby Antiparos, Paros’ more laid-back baby sister, is easy to reach and is worth a day visit.

Getting around

Local buses connect the major villages to one another, but although public transport is usually trustworthy, the routes are not that frequent.

If you hold a driver’s licence consider renting a car or scooter. If you are driving yourself, keep in mind that the roads are winding and you might come across careless Greek drivers or drunk tourists.

You can explore each village on foot but walking from one village to another is not an option. Taxis serve the island, but you might have to hire on call, by some local company, if you find yourself in more remote areas.

Paros by area

Parikia

Parikia is Paros’ largest village and the port where the ferries from Piraeus and the other islands arrive. The waterfront is crammed with seafood restaurants, taverns and cafes, along with a few souvenir shops. Around the port spreads the old town, a maze of tiny alleys with picturesque white buildings in Cycladean architecture. Lose yourself in the backstreets and come across the 13th-century Venetian fort.

Although Paros bears great ancient history, the island’s Archaeological Museum only houses a handful of the findings on the island. The most important discoveries are exhibited in European museums; however, a fragment of Parian Chronicle, which still remains in the museum in Parikia, is well-worth viewing.

Meaning “Virgin Mary of the 100 Gates”, Panagia Ekatondapiliani is a church complex which dates back to 3rd century. Including three different churches, it is supposed to feature 100 doors. Dozens of doors are a fact, but they don’t actually sum to one hundred.

Naousa

Naousa is still in the process of evolving from a small fishing village to a hot-spot which can compete with Myconos. Hip boutiques, cocktail bars and notorious clubs overlook fishing boats still in use, around the village’s port. Here you will find the finest dining choices and options for restless entertainment.

Lefkes

Lefkes is Paros’ larger mountainous village. Nestled among the hills, it is the best spot for experiencing the island’s traditional lifestyle; men playing backgammon at the local coffee house, women chatting in the backyards, children running around the church. Capital of Paros in the Middle Ages, it has a bird’s eye view over the island and the clear blue seas, while old windmills surround the main parish.

Beaches around the island

Pounda is the trendiest beach around the island, where girls come to show off their new bikinis and boys play volleyball covered in oil. Loud music comes from the beach bars, where shots keep coming and dancing at noon is considered appropriate. For more chilled out options, try Piso Livadi, where people lay under the sun over reggae tunes. Kolimbithres feature bizarre rock formations, which build up small privet pools.

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Ioannina Coronavirus Travel After Covid-19 in Greece

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Capital of Epirus, Ioannina has a population of a bit more than 100,000 people, including 20,000 college students. Spread around the eastern bank of Pamvotis Lake, the city faces snow-capped mountains and is often surrounded by thick morning mist. Ioannina’s history is strongly attached to the period of the Turkish Rule; Kastro, the city’s historic center, still boasts several samples of superb Ottoman architecture, hidden in its cobblestoned backstreets and alleys.

Greece
2,952
Confirmed
15
Confirmed (24h)
180
Deaths
1
Deaths (24h)
6.1%
Deaths (%)
1,464
Recovered
0
Recovered (24h)
49.6%
Recovered (%)
1,308
Active
44.3%
Active (%)

Due to the large student population, a wide variety of  dining and entertainment options is available throughout the year, including local “tsipouradika”, shops which serve local distilled spirits over light savories. Dare to try the city’s most famous “meze” (Greek for delicacy), frog legs!

Accommodation varies from 5-star international hotels to inexpensive B&Bs, but the best way to experience the city is a traditional guest house, where you can enjoy lake views by the fireplace and try homemade local recipes. Traditional guest houses come in a luxury version too! Heavy climate and rainy winters make the summertime the best period to visit Ioannina.

Getting around

Expect to mostly walk around the city, as distances are quite short and don’t require much use of public transport. A city-bus network is also available.

Things to see and do in Ioannina

Ioannina is a small city with limited attractions; therefore, a visit can be easily combined with an excursion to the nearby Vikos National Park or a picturesque mountain village.

The Byzantine Museum is unquestionably the city’s most interesting sight. Standing over the ruins of Ali Pasha’s former palace, it is a part of Its Kale Castle, which also includes a mosque and Ali Pasha’s tomb. The museum’s collections cover the Paleochristian, Byzantine and Post-Byzantine periods. A series of artefacts, manuscripts, religious images and jewellery from all around Epirus are exhibited here.

Exhibits related to folklore art can be found in both the Municipal Ethnographic Museum and Folklore Museum. Traditional costumes, tapestries, cooking utensils, and jewelery are on display. The Municipal Ethnographic Museum is housed in Ashlan Pasha Mosque, which was constructed in 1618. Divided into three sections, each is devoted to the Greek, Jewish and Muslim population of the city respectively. Ashlan Pasha’s tomb is included into the museum’s grounds.

Those interested in ancient Greek history may want to pay a visit to the Archaeological Museum. The museum displays discoveries from several parts of Epirus, including Dodoni. However, the collection is a bit poor and there have been discussions about moving some of the findings to other Epirot cities.

If the weather permits it, don’t hesitate to take a boat to Lake Pamvotis’ tiny island, known as Ioannina Isla. It hosts a well preserved parish of traditional houses, with less than 500 residents. The island was initially inhabited by monks, who built the first monastery in the 13th century. Today, scenic monasteries are one of Ioannina Isla’s major attractions, along with the Museum of Ali Pasha, who found tragic death on the island during a battle in 19th century.

While strolling around the city’s old quarters, don’t forget to pass by Stoa Louli. Stoa Louli is an arcade, which dates back to 18th century and has been a meeting spot for locals for over a century. One of Ioannina’s most picturesque corners, it features restored buildings in typical Epirot architecture, which mostly house “tsipouradika” and taverns.

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Komotini Coronavirus Travel After Covid-19 in Greece

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Capital of Thrace, Komotini is located at the north-eastern part of Greece and close to the border with Turkey. Featuring a population of around 56,000 people, it is Greece’s most cosmopolitan town, with a mix of Greek, Romani, Turkic and Slavic residents. Sharing the faculties of the University of Thrace with nearby Xanthi, it has a considerable student population, who lights the sparkle in the town’s nightlife all year long.

Greece
2,952
Confirmed
15
Confirmed (24h)
180
Deaths
1
Deaths (24h)
6.1%
Deaths (%)
1,464
Recovered
0
Recovered (24h)
49.6%
Recovered (%)
1,308
Active
44.3%
Active (%)

Getting around

Most points of interest are inside Komotini’s historic center and within walking distance from one another. A city bus network and plenty of taxis are also available. Long-distance buses (KTEL) and train routes connect Komotini with major cities, such as Thessaloniki and Alexandroupolis.

Town of Komotini

The most interesting quarter of Komotini is the town’s historic center. Lacking in greenery, it is, however, crowded with most of the town’s important sights, as well as some excellent examples of neo-classical and traditional local architecture.

The town’s four museums cover Komotini’s history from Neolithic Era up to the 19th century. Starting with the Archaeological Museum, the visitor can see exhibits and artefacts from Neolithic Era to Byzantine period, under the roof of one of the town’s most modern buildings. For a better look at Komotini’s Byzantine treasures, visit the Byzantine Museum, where a series of religious artefacts, jewellery, books and coins are on display.

For a pick at the life of a typical family of the 19th century, go to the Municipal Museum, which is housed in the neo-classical former villa of one of Komotini’s noblest families. Finally, occupying an excellent example of local architecture, the town’s Folk Museum features some interesting costumes and pieces of folklore art.

Dating back to the 4th century, the Byzantine Fort seems neglected, but is still one of the town’s main attractions. During its prime, the fort featured 16 towers; however, none has survived the Ottoman and Bulgarian invasions. Today the visitor can see only some parts of the defensive walls, as well as a church from the early 19th century, which is located inside the fort. Built over the remains of a Byzantine temple, the church houses an interesting 15th-century image of Virgin Mary.

Walk down Ermou Shopping Pedestrian, one of Komotini’s most picturesque streets, to come across Yeni Mosque and the Clock Tower. Dating back to early 17th century, Yeni Mosque is still in use and open to the public. Beside the mosque, lay Komotini’s traditional tinplate shops. East of Yeni Mosque stands the complex of Eski Mosque and former Imaret (workhouse). Erected in 17th century, Imaret featured some fascinating Turkish baths, which were unfortunately demolished in the 60s.

If traveling with kids, consider spending some time at the Municipal Gardens. Covering a 21-acre area, the gardens feature dozens of different flower and plant species, along with some fountains, a playground and a small zoo, where children can see and feed some local animal species. Relax over a cup of coffee, or a glass of cold beer, at the gardens’ kiosk.

Around Komotini

Four kilometres north of Komotini, spread Nymphea Woods. Bring some food and have a nice pick-nick at one of the wooden tables under the pine trees. Follow one of the many slated paths to discover small fountains and springs hidden in lush greenery. Sports facilities, such as tennis and basketball courts, are scattered around the hillside. Walk up to the Municipal Tourist Kiosk, which is located over the remains of a Byzantine fortress, to enjoy coffee and snacks over a bird’s eye view of the town and its surroundings.

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