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Your Summer gateway to Greece – Part Two, Cyclades and Ionian Islands

Lesser known Cyclades and Ionian Islands

With Summer in a full swing, it’s time to bring the second part of our gateway to Greece, your guide to Cyclades and Ionian islands.

We hope, that the Part One of our blog, where we took you to Athens and Central Greece, inspired you to plan your next adventure to this beautiful country. If not, there is still time to do so, as you will get an amazing time in Greece until October. September is actually a much better month to travel and explore Greece, once the crowds returned home and the hot August weather has cooled off a little bit.

So, where do we go now? We will take you on a journey to the lesser known Cyclades and Ionian Islands, that you may or may not heard of.

 

Authentic Ionian Islands gateway

The Ionian Islands is a group of seven islands, which lie off the country’s west coast, in the Ionian Sea. The islands have centuries long Venetian influences, which is still visible in distinct architecture, much different to that of Cyclades.

Ionian Islands, Photo by Chris Karidis via Unsplash

Ionian Islands, Photo by Chris Karidis via Unsplash

Corfu, Zakynthos, Cephalonia, Lefkada, Ithaka, Paxos and Kythira are the seven Ionian Islands, even though Kythira, being closer to the southern tip of Peloponnese and further away from the other islands, is considered a part of Greek Attika region.

So, let’s forget about the most popular, but beautiful islands of Cephalonia, Zante or Corfu and venture off the beaten path to equally beautiful Ithaka, Paxos and Kythira in search for sun, sea, relaxation and adventure.

Ithaka

Mythical Ithaka, only a couple of kilometres away from Captain Corelli’s Cephalonia, is much smaller, less touristy and more rugged than its neighbour. And if you loved Cephalonia, you will fall even more in love with Ithaka’s tranquillity, peace and authenticity. This is more authentic traveller, than package holiday kind of place, which is why is on our list!

Small and sleepy little island will give you a perfect getaway from the crowds, with hiking, snorkelling, sun soaking and sailing opportunities. The picturesque capital of Ithaka – Vathy, with its architecture protected by law, to resemble its original style destroyed in earthquake in 1953, is the island’s main harbour since 16th century. The capital is also the liveliest place on the island, but far away from the noise of its bigger neighbours, Corfu or Zakynthos. Morning walks, hikes, sun soaking and exploring Greek villages, with hardly any tourists are the lazy summer activities of Ithaka. But the island is definitely worth visiting, it has been described by some, as the most beautiful Greek island.

Paxos

Not far from Corfu, lies the smallest Ionian island – Paxos. A perfect summer getaway for independent traveller, where you can enjoy freshly caught fish, olive groves and exploring the pebble bays and coves of the island. With only 2500 habitants, the three main towns of the island are Gaios, Lakka and Logos, but luckily, with plenty of tavernas serving Greek salad, tzatziki, saganaki and grilled octopus. If you are into yoga, meditation and escapism, the island, which is only 10km long and 3km wide, will offer you an opportunity, to find time and space to do just that and detach yourself from the rest of the world.

Kythira  

Another beautiful place in Greece to escape mass tourism and seek authenticity amongst medieval ruins, monasteries, Venetian architecture and secluded beaches. Exploring local villages and archaeological museums, enjoying empty and undeveloped beaches, visiting Mylopotamos waterfalls and taking a swim in the refreshing ponds, or eating authentic Greek food whilst drinking Mythos will be as far as you will go with your adventure here. And if you’d like Kythira and would like to own a piece of heaven, you can think of settling in nearby Antikythera and Greek government will even pay you to live there, to populate the island!

 

Off the beaten path Cyclades

The Cyclades are a group of islands in the Aegean Sea. The archipelago consists of 220 islands, although many are inhabited. And whilst you may be familiar with Mykonos, Paros, Naxos or Santorini, there is much more to explore in Cyclades, if you venture off the beaten path from the well-known and touristy islands. But, whilst we take you to less explored destinations, it is worth to keep the larger islands on your bucket list. Nothing beats Oia’s sunset in beautiful Santorini or drinking chilled wine in Scorpios, Mykonos seating on comfy cushions and staring at sea, at golden hour.

 

'Welcome to Amorgos. Nobody will find you here.'

It takes an effort to get there and not many people bother, hence Amorgos has been lucky to escape from the mass tourism. If you are flying to Greece, you can get to the island by ferry from Mykonos or Athens.

It is 1988 and the movie called ‘The Big Blue’ - “Le Grand Bleu”, by Luc Besson with Jean Reno is being filmed. It’s a tale of underwater adventure by two friends sharing the passion for free diving, filmed in a beautiful blue waters of Amorgos island. There aren’t that many adventures to do on the island, but free diving or scuba diving are certainly one of them. You can free dive or scuba dive, even do your PADI course in Amorgos Diving Center or just take a snorkelling trip.

Besides wild adventures, such as reading your book, meditating, enjoying Greek coffee in a local taverna; you can do hiking trips, explore the Monastery of Panagia Hozoviotissa build on a rocky mountain and cool off afterwards in Agia Anna, a secluded beach nearby, where the movie ‘Big Blue’ was filmed.

There is no vibrant nightlife on the island, for that you’d have to head to Naxos, Mykonos or Ios island. However, even though the island is not touristy, you will find enough bars and tavernas in the main towns, of Chora, Aegialis, and Katapola. By the way, Chora is usually the name of the main town in many Greek islands.

The best part of the island are translucent waters and beautiful beaches, plenty of which to explore. There was a reason why Luc Besson have chosen Amorgos for the movie location. And that reason is for you to explore!

Folegandros

Fall in love with this stunning and untouched island and enjoy peaceful holiday free of traffic and noise. There are three villages on the island: Karavostasi - the port the “Chora” – the capital and Ano Meria and traffic is not allowed in any of them. You can enjoy walking cobbled streets, amongst white houses with blue roofs, tavernas, bakeries and feel transported in time. The island, one hour by Ferry from Santorini or Paros, might feel isolated, the noise you are likely to hear at night will be that of the ocean, rather than coming from anywhere else, but that what’s makes it different from its bigger and more famous neighbour Santorini. Folegandros unspoiled and breath-taking beaches are part of the island’s charm and you can get to most of them by a local bus or a taxi boat. They will be so much different to the beaches of Mykonos, you won’t find many umbrellas here costing you your monthly mortgage, but instead you will get idyllic and peaceful surroundings with spectacular views and awe moment sunsets.

You will stay mainly in B&Bs in Folegandros, but since the word is out, there are more little boutique hotels coming into the island, giving you choice to immerse in a little luxury in this peace of heaven.

Ios island, more than just a party

Ios Island, photo by Matthew Waring via Unsplash

Ios Island, photo by Matthew Waring via Unsplash

In the last years, Ios has risen to the reputation of taking over from its famous party island – Mykonos. However, in both cases anyone who thinks Mykonos or Ios are just party islands is fundamentally wrong and is missing out by avoiding the islands. And since the majority of our ‘off the beaten path’ places in Cyclades and Ionian islands are also quiet and slightly isolated islands, we are throwing Ios into the mix. Good thing, when you visit Cyclades, you don’t usually limit yourself to one island alone. Most people choose island hopping and there are plenty of well - connected ferries to take you to the island of your choosing. So, you may want to combine your peaceful stay with heading to the livelier neighbour – Ios island. Bonus - is it not as expensive as Mykonos.

So, why visit Ios? Imagine Mykonos or Santorini beauty minus the crowds. Equally beautiful beaches to Mykonos, equally beautiful sunsets to Santorini, sans selfie-sticks. You get the same beauty, but more authenticity and you will be more spoiled for choice than Amorgos, Folegandros or other lesser known Cyclades islands, with bars, hotels, nightlife, tavernas. Immerse yourself in relaxing in one of many Ios beautiful beaches, with Mylopotas, Gialos, Agia Theodoti and Manganari being the most popular ones. Gather in Chora before the sunset, to watch the sun setting in one of many bars, before heading to dinner for souvlaki, fresh fish, tzatziki, washed with Greek wine (try the wine from Santorini).

You can also do water sports in Ios, such as windsurfing, scuba diving or enjoy trekking routes, for example the 4hrs walk from Chora to the monastery of Agios Ioannis, during which you can enjoy beautiful island views.

Weather it is mainland or island Greece; this beautiful country will not leave you disappointed and if you were ever told to watch more sunsets than Netflix, Greece is the place to be for that.

If you would like to meet other people whilst travelling, download Tribd on iOS. Tribd helps you to find travel buddies and connect with other solo travellers who have similar travel plans. 

Follow @tribdapp on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook for stories and travel inspiration and join our group of solo travellers on Facebook!

https://www.facebook.com/Tribdapp/ 

#findyourtribe

Cyclades Islands, lunch with a view. Photo, author’s own.

How travelling helps us to rediscover ourselves

This post is a little bit more philosophical in nature, but comes from the experiences of our guest blogger Mirka, who left the comfort of the London life and her career, to travel the world. After months of travelling around South East Asia, she came back to London, but only lasted a year in her old ways of living. She and her boyfriend caught the travel bug, so they decided to leave for good. Their life is split between India, Indonesia, Thailand, other South East Asian countries and occasionally Europe. Read How travelling helps us to rediscover ourselves by Mirka Duchnovic.

Annapurna Trek, Nepal

Annapurna Trek, Nepal

What drives us to leave the comfort of our life and go travelling?

People have been travelling since their existence on this planet. Some have been doing it out of necessity, others out of curiosity.

Since I adopted the travelling lifestyle, I have been thinking about what drives us to leave the comfort of a modern life and take on travelling. Through my travels, personal experiences and exchanging views with fellow travellers, I have come to see how travel changes us and possible reasons why.

It usually starts this way…

At certain point of their life, some people feel that the space in which they live, becomes too small and shallow for their needs and dreams.

When the opportunity arises, they take a chance to travel, explore the world and rediscover themselves. It might require some courage to decide and stick to it. But once it’s done, it seems to be quite a natural process and one of the easiest things to do.

By jumping into the unknown, people thrive to discover new possibilities. Some of us find new ways, others come back to the old ways and the life they had. However, the time taken for discovering new avenues is never wasted. Because through travelling experience, something else happens - the expansion of mind.

There are many people, who managed to redirect their lives completely through travel, especially solo travel. Every place I have been to, I have met at least few people who have taken the journey to the unknown. Those who came back home, are not the same anymore, a new view of the world and expansion of mindset has changed them.

Do we need to prepare for our travels?

Logically thinking, yes. We should at least have an idea where and why we are going. But it is not necessary to plan it any further.

If we leave our page blank and venture into an unknown, we experience more and give the opportunity for expansion to occur. No matter how well prepared we are for our travels, there is no way to anticipate everything. Thus, the less prepared we are, the more flexible we become. Things which usually have annoyed us, suddenly become “no problem”.

By doing so, we are stepping out of our comfort zone. But why would we put ourselves through an uncomfortable situation? The answer is quite simple. Whatever our internal reason for travel is; subconsciously we do so to expand our mind. For that expansion to take place, we must first experience the unknown, which is often associated with discomfort. That doesn’t mean putting ourselves in a horrible situation, but the situation we haven’t experienced before. Diving into unknown, with no fixed plan or schedule might feel uncomfortable at first.

By being in uncomfortable situations, we learn to exist in them, often experiencing new thoughts and emotions, leading to a new space opening within us. Suddenly we have new ideas or have better understanding of ourselves.

The change we experience through travel

The process of change we experience through traveling is gradual and happens silently, without our mind permission. As we digest new experiences, meet new people, experience new cultures, we transform our mindset into a new space. Often, only realizing that we have changed, once the process of change has occurred.

Why people subconsciously or consciously look for that expansion to take place?

In my humble and not scientific opinion, it happens because people are creative creatures. The life patterns we nowadays follow, greatly suppresses our natural ability to express ourselves with ease. That new space within us helps connect to that creativity, eventually giving us a feeling of contentment, because it allows us to be ourselves. Eventually, the creativity helps us to rediscover and understand our unique nature. But we need to undergo the transformation, first. Once we connect to our creative force it will never leave us. It’s like a tattoo, letting us to experience much more than mundane routine, in which we are all caught.

Above thoughts have been taken from personal travelling experiences. There is no scientific proof of any kind. I am just sharing and hoping to encourage people to discover themselves through travelling. If you feel, that the space around you is too shallow to satisfy your inner needs, allow yourself to step out of the comfort zone and bring new ways to your life.

I would be happy to hear your stories of how travelling has changed or changing yourself. Please share them in the comments.

If you would like to meet other people whilst travelling, download Tribd on iOS. Tribd helps you to find travel buddies and connect with other solo travellers who have similar travel plans. 

Follow @tribdapp on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook for stories and travel inspiration and join our group of solo travellers on Facebook!

https://www.facebook.com/Tribdapp/ 

#findyourtribe

Mirka and her partner in Indian Himalayas

Mirka and her partner in Indian Himalayas

 

Let’s talk about solo travellers' tribes…

“The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only one page.”

– Saint Augustine

It’s been five months since the launch of Tribd and it’s time to get to know each other better.

Did you know that by 2020 there will be 148 million of people travelling solo? That’s quite a crowd to choose from! In fact, most recent studies say, that 1 in 4 people travel solo. But, as you already know, finding a travel buddy is not as easy as it sounds. Until now…

Tribd community has over 2000 people and we are on the way to much more. For all of you who have joined Tribd and those who may read it and decide to join, we would like to tell you more about the solo traveller tribes on Tribd. You all have one thing in common, want to experience independence and authenticity and explore the world, but don’t want to do it alone. For many, travel is a way to break free from daily routine, or escape to pursue favourite activities, explore new places and engage with local cultures.

Many solo travellers on Tribd, love adventure activities and our community have almost 900 surfers, over 600 backpackers searching for someone to travel with, over 400 people who love hiking and trekking and would like a travel buddy to conquer the off the beaten path routes. As the winter season approaches many people are looking for a skiing buddy and we have currently almost 300 people planning skiing or snowboarding trip. Because it’s not fun to hit the slopes all by yourself.

These are currently the most popular activities, aside choosing ‘adventure holiday,’ which most of solo travellers on Tribd are planning for. But, if you are looking for someone to learn a new language, take a yoga trip, go sailing, scuba diving, canoeing, kayaking, or even plan an extreme adventure, these are people you will meet on Tribd too.

Majority of our adventure seeking community are currently flexible on dates of travel, but some people are already planning ahead their 2019 trips. Where to? As we have been giving you insights on the most popular destinations, Australia and Bali consistently fight for top spot, since the launch of Tribd. Europe is right behind, followed by Portugal, Thailand and Spain. London, Lisbon and Barcelona are top three cities, where those looking for a travel companion on Tribd are heading.

But with Tribd, you can explore much more, as you can choose a place or a specific region, such as Yosemite or Australia’s Gold Coast and find people whose travel plans are more specific and aligned with yours. As we love to travel ourselves, we worked hard to make possible to also connect people who are looking to explore more specific areas, besides countries or cities. Which may become a trend, when our community is much bigger!

Our tribe have made almost 1000 matches since launch and the majority of our users come from United Kingdom, Germany, United States, Australia, Canada, Switzerland, Spain, Italy and Portugal.

55% of our users are male and 45% female, but gender demographic tend to change from month to month.

Thank you for joining this journey with us and we hope that you will find many adventure travel buddies with Tribd and make memorable memories from your trips. If you already have, we’d love to hear from you and feature your story in our blog and through social media! Please get in touch via ‘Feedback’ within the app, social media @tribdapp or e-mail us.

We’d also love to hear what topics you would be interested in reading about in our blogs, so do get in touch for that too!

Follow @tribdapp on social media for travel stories and travel inspiration and join our group of solo travellers on Facebook!

https://www.facebook.com/Tribdapp/ 

#findyourtribe