Travel: Bruges, the stuff of fairytales

Today, I am thrilled to share my travel experience in the magical town of Bruges (Brugge) in Belgium a few years back, plus, I’m going to sprinkle some extra Hollywood fairy dust on it. If you have watched the movie In Bruges, then you are well acquainted with the hilarious camaraderie between Ken and Ray, two paid hitmen who arrive in this medieval town to await further instructions from their boss.  Bruges welcomes them shrouded in mist like a fairytale land of absolute magic. Yet, Colin Farrell who plays Ray, keeps moaning about everything from the moment he arrives. His constant winging is a brilliant act of comic relief to an otherwise thrilling tale of murder and violence. What makes his grumpiness so entertaining is the ridiculous idea that Bruges could ever be the cause of discontent.

Just an hour’s train ride away from central Brussels, Bruges greets you modestly as you exit the station, as if it were a place like any other. And then, you get to the market square (Markt) and as you raise your eyes to the misty top of the Belfort tower, you start to think that this place is perhaps not like the rest, after all.

Then you begin to look around properly, your eyes resting with admiration at the quaint buildings that line the square on the other side from the tower. Before you know it, you’re captured by the beauty of the scene, and you begin to smile as the timeless sound of horses’ hooves on cobblestones reaches your ears and carriages of a bygone era pass you by.

This is when it hits you and your eyes truly open. Everyone seems to wander around with a cheerful expression on their faces. Couples of all ages walk hand-in-hand and you decide to follow one of them, picking the one that seems to walk more confidently, guessing that they know where they’re going. Soon enough, you feel pleased with your choice because at the back of the Belfort tower where they’re headed, this is where the real magic awaits!

Every lane in that direction will sooner or later lead you to the most enchanting streets and canals. Houses are built on the very edge, walls are covered with moss or draped with ivy and every stone bridge is an invitation to cross to the other side. Andy, my husband, and I chuckled away as we visited this part as so many of these lanes and canals feature in the aforementioned movie!

In the early morning, the Belfort tower is often shrouded by mist while the rooftops below it glisten… The water is perfectly still and, as the first rays of sunshine emerge through the clouds, it begins to sparkle, the beauty of the scene taking your breath away.

It is no surprise that around Bruges, one can come across the most cheerful of tourists. Here, it is impossible not to find joy in one thing or another, such as the stunning vistas, the superb architecture, the lush greenery, or the many wonderful eateries, bars, and shops on offer.

The photos in this post were all taken during my last visit to Bruges years ago just after Christmas Day. I chose this time of year as I’d heard about the stalls and the ice rink that bring extra bustle and cheer to The Markt during the holiday season. I was well compensated for this choice!

A misty view of Bruges from the top of the Belfort tower

If you are fit enough to handle it, a visit to the Belfort (belfry) tower is a must. Beware: not for the faint-hearted or the claustrophobic.

The indoor spiral staircase seems to go up forever at no less than 366 steps. There are rooms at intermediate levels where visitors can stop to catch their breath before carrying on with their ascent. The view from the very top is spectacular and is definitely worth the trouble.

I personally never miss out on an opportunity to visit churches in historical towns and my findings in Bruges were most thrilling. First and foremost, there is The Basilica of The Holy Blood (Heilig Bloedbasiliek), a church that houses a precious holy relic: a phial that is said to contain drops of Christ’s blood. If you have watched the movie “In Bruges”, I bet you’re smirking right now! One of the most comical scenes in the movie involves Ray (Colin Farrell) begrudging Ken (Brendan Gleeson) for making him visit this church. The truth once again, is totally different. No one will fail to appreciate the beauty of this precious place of worship that was restored in Neo-Gothic style in the late 19th century. Before leaving the site, make sure to visit its hidden gem: St Basil’s chapel that is located underneath the Basilica. Although remarkably less ornate, it has a unique atmosphere and you’ll be rewarded for your time.

The Church of Our Lady (Onze-Lieve-Vrouwekerk) is also a must see. Its towering spire is a key landmark of the Bruges skyline. Although the exterior was built in an austere Gothic style, the interior is classically Gothic with touches of Baroque. This church is amazing in many ways but the most fascinating thing about it is that, surprisingly enough, it houses a unique treasure of Renaissance Italy: “Madonna and Child” (1504-1505) by the legendary Michelangelo.

Walking around Bruges is a real treat for the amateur photographer as you can see in the above pictures.

 

Yet, by far, my favorite part of Bruges is Minnewater, a tree-lined lake near Minnewaterpark. Truly, it’s like entering a fairytale land. The beauty of this place continues to haunt me today. Horse carriages stop there for a short sustenance break. This is a great chance to photograph beautiful horses and the forever smiling carriage drivers, as well as the multitude of swans and ducks on the canal.

Begijnhof

Catch two birds with one stone while you’re there and visit the Begijnhof as well with its eerie ancient walls and tree-lined expanses of greenery. This beautiful enclave almost feels haunted shrouded in the morning mist. Back in the 13th century, it used to house women (béguines) who were left single or widowed by the Crusades.

Are you an art lover?

There are two major museums in the area – The Groeninge and the Memling – both of late medieval art by various artists such as Jan Van Eyck and Hans Memling. There are several museums in Bruges and the truly insatiable for the arts can obtain a list at the tourist office located at The Burg (another central square close to The Markt).

 

Our fish meal in Singe D’Or (Golden Monkey) was a visual feast!

Bruges is a town of many delights and the local food and drink could not be an exception. There’s fresh seafood, traditional Belgian stews and delicious beers of many different types such as Trappist, Kriek or Lambic beer. I rather stuck happily with “Brugse Zot” which is brewed locally. The jester on its logo seems to welcome you on the menu at every bar and restaurant in town.

An order of mussels (clams) with fries is a must when in Belgium!

Staying in Bruges makes dinner time an absolute luxury. Among the local dishes I enjoyed Waterzoi (creamy fish in broth), Vlaamze Stoverij (beef stew cooked in Belgian beer), Moules Marinière e frites (steamed mussels in wine with celery and French fries) and the indispensable Chicons au Gratin (chicory leaves wrapped in ham and baked with a cheese sauce).

I highly recommend the following two restaurants:

Singe D’ Or (Golden Monkey)

I visited Singe D’ Or (Golden Monkey) in T. Zand Square for my New Year’s Eve dinner. It was reasonably priced, the ambiance was wonderful, and the seafood was fantastic!

Gran Kaffee De Passage in Dweersstraat 26 was difficult to find in the dark, but it was well worth the hassle, and you’ll do well to visit it at night too! The candlelit interior and the décor are enchanting, while the food and drink are as fantastic as can be.

 

If you have a sweet tooth, you’ll find it hard to resist temptation in Bruges! Delicious Belgian chocolates and a wide selection of waffles are available everywhere you look.

Since I mentioned my favorite eateries in Bruges, I might as well also recommend the fabulous hotel we stayed at!

Hotel Ter Brughe is situated on a quiet canal and is a five minute walk from The Markt – the quaint market square of the town, and the Belfort tower. Our room had a view to the canal and stands out in my memory for its quaintness – I must say, I loved everything about this hotel. The service was impeccable and it was beautiful everywhere you looked – including the stunning dark beams on the ceilings. 

Thinking about Bruges, one word comes predominantly to mind: Perfect. To be frank, there’s only one thing wrong with this town; the longer you stay there, the more your heart breaks when it’s time to leave it behind. It is truly difficult to adjust to this familiar, modern world afterwards. Still, as you slowly return to the rhythms and routines of your daily life, it is comforting to know that Bruges awaits you still. The fairy tale will begin again someday, the moment you return.

Have you been to Bruges? Did you travel there at a different time of year, for a specific annual event maybe? Have I missed any places of interest? Have you watched the film ‘In Bruges?’ Comment below and let us know, I’d love to hear your input 🙂

 

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Visiting Athens at Christmas

Last weekend I had a wonderful time visiting Athens. Returning to the city where I was raised is a treat throughout the year, but the Christmas lights made the travel experience truly magical. This time round I visited two different areas for the first time too, which was very exciting!

So, come! Take a walk with me around the busy streets of Athens, full of Christmas shoppers, and then join me at night too, when the Christmas lights turn the popular city corners into a magic wonderland!

After a quick check-in at our hotel, my husband and I relaxed with a coffee and a hot toast at a corner cafe in Athinas Street. It was by the town hall; Kotzia Square across the street was empty at that hour, but the strong gushes of water at its fountain and the multitude of wild pigeons around it made it a pleasure to gaze over at. Half an hour or so later, we were walking down Athinas, then round the corner at the central meat & fish market to take in the vibe of the pedestrian shopping area of Aiolou Street. This leads to Ermou Street, as you may know, which is every Athenian shopper’s paradise.

Ermou was packed, which was no surprise, especially at this time of year. Everyone seemed to be clutching shopping bags or browsing at the festive shop windows.

The famous landmark of Kapnikarea, an 11th-century Orthodox church, is situated right in the middle of Ermou Street. I loved the sight of it under the morning sunlight with a multitude of wild pigeons perching on its roof and the vibrant green bitter orange tree (neratzia) standing beside it.

As we walked up Ermou towards Syntagma (Constitution Square), we came along a rare sight – a ‘laterna’ (barrel piano). Only a handful still survive around Athens. The sight of this elegant gentleman operating it simply begged for my camera to go clicking frantically as he turned the crank and filled the crisp air with the nostalgic tones of a bygone era.

When we reached the lower part of Syntagma Square we realized our timing was off. Only a metal frame of the annual Christmas tree had been set up and the municipal workers were in the middle of putting it together. One of them, as you can see in this picture, was busy washing the covers of the street lanterns in the fountain 🙂

Note: The Christmas tree was lit up just two days after our visit. It’s very different and stylish this year and impressed the crowds that gathered to see it. You can take a look right here.

 

We felt disappointed that we weren’t going to see the Christmas tree during this visit to the city, but were compensated as soon as we went up the steps and walked over to Syntagma Square proper (and the Greek Parliament building). Just as we arrived, the guards at The Monument to the Unknown Soldier began to move. The sight of the evzones (also called tsoliades) is always a special treat!  Here’s a little taste of the perfect sync they displayed that morning:

Did you know? The foustanella (skirt of the evzon) has 400 pleats to symbolize the 400 years of slavery under the Othoman rule. Their red cap is a symbol of the blood shed by the Greeks in the Greek War of Independence in the 1820’s.

Hot tip: The evzones move around the monument like perfectly synchronized toy soldiers at half past every hour. They change over on the full hour and every Sunday at 11:00 a.m. the changing of the guards becomes a full-scale spectacle, so time your visit to Syntagma square right! The Evzones are not allowed to speak or move and can only blink to give their supervisor answers to his questions about a possible need – to ease an itch, to straighten their clothing or to wipe the sweat off their forehead, for instance. Tourists used to be allowed to stand beside them for a photo but now only children are allowed to do that. Adults stay strictly under the steps these days. The Evzones will not move from their post of their own accord, not even when their life depends on it! Back in 2001, a Molotov fell beside an evzon during a demonstration and his white-and-blue guardhouse caught fire. He didn’t bat an eyelid and only moved to save his life after receiving permission from his supervisor to do so! More info on the evzones, Greece’s pride and joy, here.

After the impressive display from the evzones (which never fails to lodge a knot in my throat!), we visited a nearby department store that sorted almost all of our Christmas shopping. By the time we finished we were ravenous so we took the Metro to our favorite area for chow 🙂 Where, I hear you say?

Well, Andy and I always wind up in Monastiraki for lunch. When it’s time for a special treat we tend to narrow our choices to either souvlaki, or fish and chips, and both are on offer there at exquisite establishments. For souvlaki we go to Bairaktaris or Savvas, for instance, but that day we both craved Guinness, mushy peas and tartar sauce 😛 So, off we went to our favorite haunt of The James Joyce Irish Pub.

We love this place, and the only thing wrong with it is it’s too far from home to enjoy more often! That’s what makes their delicious fish and chips and a pint of Guinness a memorable experience every time 😉 We didn’t go over the top, mind you, which meant we didn’t order the onion rings too, but boy, is it even better when we throw caution to the wind about our waistline! Well, next time maybe 😛

After a short rest and a shower back at the hotel, we barely had time for a cup of tea (courtesy of our generous hotel!) before heading back out, this time to enjoy the Christmas lights after nightfall.

We took the Metro to Kerameikos and made a beeline for Technopolis-Gazi. It used to be a coal gas factory back in the day, but nowadays it’s a cultural center that hosts events and exhibitions. No matter when you’re planning to visit Athens, I urge you to visit its site and see what’s on!

This month it houses The Christmas Factory, a magical wonderland for kids. Emphasis on the ‘kids’. And here, I have to do something I never do, and share a little rant. The rather pricey ticket of 5.50 euros (for Greek standards) makes sense when you’re accompanying children as they can enjoy a plethora of things. For instance, they can meet Santa, make crafts, and even go through some kind of magic tests to get a ‘wizard certificate’. So yeah, I recommend this without any qualms if you have kids in tow. If you don’t, I’d give it a miss because as an adult, you’re getting nothing for your money. Unless, of course, walking around and browsing at stalls is worth 5.50 euros for you, but I really doubt it 😉

The rides may look like fun but they are not included in the ticket – something they meticulously omit to mention on their website. Furthermore, the stages of the music shows promised on the same site were empty, and the draws on The Tree of Wishes where they’re supposed to give out presents all day long had not started yet this season according to the nearest ‘elf’ I asked. So yeah, that was a blatant rip-off, and hubby and I were very bemused. I hate negativity, but when I feel taken in as a consumer, I feel compelled to share. But perhaps you have kids and still want to check it out. Great choice in this case, and that’s why I decided to include it in this post. Here’s the site of The Christmas Factory and I suggest you book online to avoid any long queues outside the venue.

Thankfully, our good spirits were restored, and our Christmas spirit especially, when I suggested to visit Psirri. Now, I know this is silly, but I admit to have never visited Psirri before that day. In my defense, this place only became popular in the last ten years or so. Before, it was one of those shabby and grey, if not iffy, quarters of Athens not worth giving a second look. But, somehow, everyone kept banging on about it in the recent years, increasingly if I may add, so I thought it would be high time to see for myself what the fuss was all about.

Psirri is a minute away from Monastiraki square. Literally, you leave the square behind you with Ermou to your right, and enter the first lane you see in front of you across the street (like Agias Theklas or Pittaki). In under a minute you are in the vibrant heart of Psirri. The best time to visit is at nighttime as it’s bustling and magically transforms into something super-cool.

When we got there we were immediately dazzled by the lights, and overwhelmed by the nostalgic bouzouki music emanating from traditional tavernas such as the quaint ‘Orea Penteli’.

By the way, other highly recommended eateries in Psirri (from what I hear) include 21and ‘O Mavros Gatos’.

Quaint tavernas, cafes and bars greeted us from every corner as we explored Psirri. Tiny lanes under strings of Christmas lights beckoned to us to take a closer look and we felt compelled to do it. One specific little street – Pittaki – simply took our breath away, for that is where I saw the most beautiful Christmas display of my whole life.

I read the sign and the writings on the glass window and realized to my shame I didn’t have a clue. Now, I am one of those people that never goes anywhere without preparation. To find something so awesome in my own city that had dared to go under my radar all this time seemed preposterous. What on earth is Little Kook? I asked myself. I had never heard of this place! A quick google search told me all about it. Two Greek entrepreneurs had teamed up together to make Little Kook, its strange name owed to the imaginary friend one of these cool dudes had as a child.

Little Kook serves fantastic sweets and cupcakes with a large selection of teas and coffees, but that’s not the reason why it’s hot. Those devilishly clever chaps made it infamous by decorating the hell out of it both inside and outside.

The outside of the building stood before me like Christmas incarnate, capable to charm the pants off the Christmas Grinch himself!

Only recently, the facade had been decorated in a Halloween theme, and earlier in the year it also had a circus theme according to the photos I saw on Trip Advisor. They all looked equally stunning. On the inside, there are a series of themed rooms where punters can enjoy their hot beverages and cakes. There is a ‘knights room’ and an ‘Alice in Wonderland’ room too, for instance. Among the pictures of cakes that I have seen on Trip Advisor, the Villa Hazelnut has already begun to haunt me as I am such a huge fan of praline and Ferrero Rocher.

Sadly, we were there at a popular hour and decided against joining the long queue to get in, but I’m definitely going back to venture inside and grab a piece of cake as soon as I can. Warning: Little Kook is pricey, very pricey. Something like 7 euro for a piece of cake and around 5 euro for a coffee. But if, like me, you think visiting a fairy tale wonderland is worth it, I am sure that won’t stop you 🙂

We left Psirri at around 8:00 p.m. to grab a quick bite in Monastiraki and found the square swimming with people, the odd firework shooting up to the sky every now and then. The Acropolis looked magnificent all lit up above it all. This spectacle concluded our magical, whimsical evening with sheer perfection. It made our falafel-filled arabic pittas and creamy praline croissants from Gregorys all the more divine.

The next morning we were back in Monastiraki, this time to browse through its tiny second-hand bookshops. After picking up a few gems for mere peanuts, we made a short stop in Athinas Street to buy spices from a stall outside the city’s meat & fish market. I picked up sachets of ginger, turmeric, and black caraway for 1 euro each.

Sadly, it was Sunday, otherwise I would have gone down Evripidou street  like a shot from there to buy pastourma (pastirma) from Arapian or Miran (both are historical establishments founded by Armenian refugees in the early 1020-30s), but maybe another time… Walking down Evripidou street is a unique experience on a week day, by the way. The fragrant aromas of spices are rich in the air as you browse through the merchandise on display that spills out from every facade.

Soon, it was time to head home, and we were back in our little town in under an hour. The visit to the city was short and sweet but, somehow, it was such a change from the norm that we felt really rejuvenated. When we got home, it felt like we’d been gone for days on end – a sign that we had had a good time, and that our minds were overwhelmed by beautiful new memories 🙂

Before I go, to say we loved our hotel, the Athinas Street Inn! It is a stone’s throw away from Omonia square on Athinas street and is housed in a stunning neoclassical building. I have never visited a more generous hotel! Not only were we met with open smiles and were made to feel welcome at once, but were also offered fruit as a welcome treat. Furthermore, tea/coffee making facilities plus bottled water were available to us around the clock. The breakfast was also very generous. I particularly enjoyed the cheese omelet! The room and bathroom were squeaky clean and everything smelled fresh. The room, although rather small, had many commodities including a flat TV and free wifi. They also provided disposable slippers, toiletries, and even toothbrushes. Truly, I cannot recommend this hotel highly enough 🙂

Actually, I have a suggestion to make which you may find interesting: If you make your hotel booking (in any destination/hotel and at any time!) with Booking.com like I did, they will give you a discount of $15 for your next trip, and they’ll give me the same too! How awesome is that? Just make sure to get to the site via this link so you can be eligible for this discount. You’ll need to create a Booking.com account too, but it’s free and takes mere seconds to do.

I hope this post brought back fond memories from Athens if you have visited my city before. If not, I hope I have whetted your appetite for it 😉 My city, despite its many problems, retains its original charm. It was wonderful to walk along its avenues again that are lined with imposing neoclassical buildings, and to sample anew the bustle of its pedestrian shopping streets.

If you have a fond memory to share from Athens, or for any questions, I’d love to receive your comments! Wishing you and yours, a wonderful holiday season 🙂

 

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Greek travel: Sifnos, the sparkling gem of the Aegean

Kastro, Sifnos

Pure white like a sundrenched pebble, and full of delights waiting to be found in every corner, the Cycladic island of Sifnos has the power to capture your heart and keep it forever. Then, you simply have no choice but to return again and again, retracing your steps to the same magnificent vistas, alluring beaches of fine sand, and the quaint white-washed yards that are bound to enchant you wherever you go. The same happened to me the first time I visited this island in my early twenties, and today, even though I’ve returned there several times over the years, its pull on me remains simply irresistible.

But don’t just take my word for it: walk with me today and see the beauty of Sifnos through my eyes: I promise you will be amazed, but make no mistake:  Sifnos is neither Mykonos nor Santorini. If Greek islands were women, Sifnos wouldn’t be a cosmopolitan chick, and not much of a socialite either. Sifnos would be shy and demure, yet drop dead gorgeous, an excellent cook, highly religious, and would dabble with pottery as a hobby. Hooked? Righ-y-o! Let the journey begin!

Kamares, Sifnos

As soon as the ferry docks, you’re already in love. Kamares has a ragged beauty that renders you breathless from the ferry’s deck, before you even set foot on the island. White-washed buildings perch on dark rocky soil on the side of the hill, a quaint seafront is lined with tavernas, a golden beach of fine sand stretches beyond and, above all that, an imposing mountain with a church on its very top completes the magnificent vista. The idyllic sight makes you feel small, like you have just shrunk to nothing, which is why I can never arrive at Sifnos and escape that familiar sense of awe that always catches in my throat.

For me, Kamares is the ideal place to stay on Sifnos. You can swim straight after breakfast, then have a leisurely walk around the shops. Shops, tavernas and bars will be just a stone’s throw away from your room. And even a beautiful pottery lab or two to browse through. Don’t miss the chance to visit at least one of many pottery workshops all over the island – seeing it’s an old tradition here and the artifacts are exquisite.

Rent a car or scooter, or take a bus or taxi, and explore the rest of the island from Kamares.

The island capital, Apollonia, takes its name from God Apollo and I find it suitable seeing that Apollo is the God of light and this town is simply dazzling! Apollonia is a pleasure to lose yourself in. Its whitewashed lanes and quaint edifices shine in the sunlight. The splashes of vibrant color, mainly from window shutters and flowers in the yards will find you using your camera fervently.

A short visit to the beautiful, whitewashed Monastery of Panayia Chrysopigi is a must as you drive from the capital towards the beach of Platis Yalos. Legend has it that when the Saracen pirates attempted to invade it, the Virgin Mary made a massive chunk of rock under their feet break away and plummet into the sea, taking them down with it.

A word of warning: Wandering around here in beachwear/shorts is fine but if you plan to go indoors to see the miraculous, ancient icon of the Virgin Mary, have a long skirt handy (for women) or long trousers (for men) as well as a shirt/top that covers your shoulders, otherwise you won’t be allowed entry. This is a strict rule observed in monasteries all over Greece, sometimes in churches too.

If you drive to Platis Yalos afterwards, it will start to reward you for your preference before you even get there – the stunning vista of the bay as you approach will take your breath away. Take your time to enjoy the beach. It has everything you need. Sparkling waters, fine sand, a good selection of tavernas and even more pottery on display if you feel up to it. Regarding the food: the meals you will sample in Sifnos will be exquisite no matter where you go. This is no surprise seeing that the very first famous Greek chef came from this island. His name was Tselemendes and his book, the first comprehensive cookery book that was ever published in Greece, became such a hit when it came out in the 1930s that, to this day, the word ‘tselemendes’ remains a synonym in Greek for ‘cookery book’.

Make sure to visit Kastro in the late afternoon and stay till the sunset as this can be a stunning spectacle from here. Besides, the light at this hour is ideal for taking photographs and, believe me, when you get there you’ll want to use a camera!

Kastro is a fortified cluster of ancient houses that takes you back in time and enchants you with every step you take. It was built high above the sea with walls and archways so the locals could fight off the Saracen pirates back in the day (9th century A.D.)

Make sure to scroll down to the bottom to watch a short video of me showing you around Kastro!

 

Below Kastro, at sea level, the whitewashed church of The Seven Martyrs (Epta Martyron) with its sky-blue dome is perched on the dark rock, a jewel to behold from above. A quaint stone stairway winds itself down to it, the view from the top so enchanting it always makes my heart stop.

 

Sea view from Artemonas, Sifnos at the old windmill (the site is now a tourist resort)

At a close distance From Kastro, you will find the village of Artemonas. Drive uphill to the old windmill (O Mylos tou Spitha). The view from up here is just as spectacular.

If you have several days to explore, other beautiful beaches worth visiting beside Platis Yalos are Faros and Heronissos and the one at Kastro.

I’ve already mentioned the pottery, which is a traditional profession on the island. If you visit any pottery workshops you’ll probably feel compelled to get a little souvenir. Go for a tiny quaint vase with a lid, or a proper cooking pot, if only for making the fabulous chickpea soup the Sifnos way (Revithada). It is a notorious dish in Greece, not just for being extremely tasty, but also for the unusual way in which it is cooked: The people of Sifnos make it in wood ovens, cooking the meal overnight in a ceramic pot that’s been sealed with dough around its lid. Of course, urban housewives all over Greece make it in their ovens in a similar way, baking it for about 3-4 hours only – and it does get the consistency right. Get the recipe HERE

Other than pottery, there are many other types of local produce you can buy, such as: local cheeses, sweets & pastries, organic thyme honey, capers, wine, herbs, handmade jewellery, and hand-woven blankets and rugs that are made on traditional looms. 

Sifnos is a small island, which means a stay of 3-4 days is enough to adequately explore all the places of interest mentioned here. Wander around, as far and wide as you wish, and you will be rewarded with enchanting beauty in every corner. For one, everywhere you look, the hedges glint under the sunlight thanks to a stone from the local quarries used heavily for building purposes here. It is this endearing sight of the sparkling stone that has caused me to pick the name ‘Asimi’ (silver) for the fictitious Sifnos village where I set my romance, The Amulet.

Another endearing sight around the island involves the traditional pigeon houses that are stunning to behold and can be found everywhere, sometimes standing on their own in the middle of fields. See here for more info:

http://www.wondergreece.gr/v1/en/Regions/Sifnos/Culture/Monuments_sights/2872-Pigeon_Houses

Before you go: Watch the below short video and let my hubby, Andy, and me show you around Kastro (well, down one lane mostly, but it’s a super-pretty one!)

Excuse the evident sunburn on my back – it’s owed to the long bike rides I had on the island that time sans suntan lotion! Yeah, I know. Live and learn 😛

For further travel info & hotel bookings on Sifnos, visit:

http://www.greektravel.com/sifnos/

 

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