Sensational Baby Boomers

Friday, 21 July 2017

AROUND THASSOS TOWN

The old harbour in Thassos town

Anne C here - and this is the second of my Thassos holiday blog.  Last week I gave an overview of this beautiful island, but there is much to see and do in Thassos town (officially called Limenas Thasou, which means Port of Thassos) which is where we stayed.

Our small friendly hotel, Antigone Hotel, owned by the lovely Antigone and Hercules, was just a few hundred yards from the main town, but very quiet (apart from the cock crowing in the morning), so was very convenient for bars, restaurants and shops. With cooking facilities on two rings and a full size fridge, the facilities were more than adequate, though I didn't plan to do any cooking while on holiday, but it would probably be useful for those holidaying with children.

We arrived by ferry from Keramoti in torrential rain on the late May Bank Holiday weekend, but miraculously on the 1st of June, the weather changed and the temperature soared.  The ferry port is right in the centre of the resort, and we spent many an hour in bars and cafes watching the boats dock and depart, while enjoying a refreshing frappe or a pastry.


As well as the port for the car and passenger ferries, there is also a small harbour for the fishing boats and tourist trips, with local bars and more sophisticated restaurants and hotels. We spent a wonderful evening with Antigone and Hercules and their two grown sons (Panos and Adonis, with Panos's beautiful wife Maria and new baby - little Antigone) at the local "dirty bar" on the harbour-side.  We sat outside so I have no idea if it was dirty, just that the company was exceptional, although the menu was apparently very limited - they prepared only what they had in the kitchen that day.  It was all washed down with ouzo and a lethal drink called Tsipouro (pronounced chiporo)  - which having tried just once, I gave a wide berth afterwards!


The slipway from the old boat yard

Taking a walk from one end of Thassos town to the other, (probably about two miles) we came across the remains of the old boat yard, complete with the original slipway.  There are no boats there now, just a small marble beach and a taverna. We walked through the woods behind the beach, which offers magnificent views, where we stumbled on a tiny church (of which the island has many), and then back into the main town.

Since marble is still quarried on the island, it was surprising to see that they use up all the small chips on the beach - not sure why, except that it's probably cheap and looks pretty - but plays havoc with your feet, so not great for sunbathing or walking on unless you have a sturdy sunbed and shoes! There is another beach called, not surprisingly, Marble Beach, with even more marble spread over the sand.

They also use the larger chunks in part against the harbour walls as a sea-barrier.  (Hubby pictured walking with our friend, but he hates being in photos!)

The marble coastal barrier near the near harbour - (hubby in the striped top)


ANCIENT THASSOS


There are ancient ruins dotted around the town, in fact all over the island, including the Gates of Zeus and Hades just near our hotel - basically a lot of stones in an overgrown garden. I have looked for the origins of this site, but apart from finding that the House of Hades was the gateway for the dead to enter the underworld, where they were met by the King and Queen - Hades and Persiphone - the stones were probably an ancient graveyard or mausoleum.

The ruins of the original centre of Thassos

The ancient agora (city centre) of Thassos, close to the old harbour, was discovered relatively recently by French archaeologists during excavations in the late 1940s/early 1950s and was the original city of Thassos, with its city gates, municipal buildings, commercial, political and religious centres.  Built between the fourth and second centuries BC, it is now the subject of a research programme to determine the architecture and topography of the site, funded by the architectural institute, the French School at Athens. Surprisingly, you can wander freely around the site - situated opposite the architectural museum - free of charge and without restriction.

The old harbour in Thassos town - you can see the live webcam here which swings from the old to the new harbours where the ferries dock


SHOPPING


I'm not going to lie - I did do rather a lot of shopping - and will probably save my Thassos purchases for another blog to show my holiday haul!  Thassos Town does have a lot of touristy shops selling everything from olive oil to toiletries containing donkey milk, and the usual sunhats and bikinis, but there were some little gems in there too.  I have previously mentioned Iris Gold for reasonably-priced jewellery, but there were a couple of nice boutiques selling costume jewellery, handbags and pretty summer clothing.

I have a thing about Greek doorways - me pictured outside a lovely old wooden entryway

Eating and drinking


There are plenty of bars and restaurants to choose from, and because we visited with friends who have an apartment in Thassos, we tended to stick with their tried and tested favourites.

Mylos in the centre of the shopping area, just one road back from the old harbour was my favourite, serving wonderful warm fresh bread with tzatziki, tasty prawn saganaki and delicious chicken souvlaki - we probably ate there three or four times and were never disappointed.


Because we were there early in the season, as is the custom in Greece, even after you have paid for your meal, they bring out free wine, delicious honey-soaked cakes and refreshing watermelon - sometimes you just can't get away!


Another doorway - though this was for decoration only

Another favourite was Ambrosia owned by the wonderfully friendly George,  who served up his best tsipouro even after we had paid.  It isn't my favourite drink but you don't like to offend.....

Fish is a popular dish on all menus - mostly freshly caught that day as the fishermen come into port - with catches including octopus (calamari) to dogfish and gavros (anchovies). I didn't particularly eat much fish as they do tend to keep the bones in when they cook them, but it is an island speciality.

We had one fairly miserable experience eating out, but I won't go into that or mention them here - maybe we just caught them on a bad day as they get good reviews on Tripadvisor!

Photo a bit blurred - you couldn't keep up! Lovely Hercules with our friend Karen having a dance

GREEK DANCING 


However, we did have one absolutely fabulous night at Mouses - complete with a Greek band and dancing.  Gone are the plate-smashing days, banned by the government in 1969 apparently, but I remember it from Greek restaurants in the 80s and 90s, so they threw hundreds of paper napkins around instead as the tempo of the music increased! We were all exhausted but it was great fun, though I'm glad we didn't have to sweep up afterwards!

Another favourite restaurant was Pigi's, in the old square (more ruins!), which was closer to our accommodation, a lovely family run restaurant, where I developed a taste for courgettes thinly slices, mixed with cheese and herbs and dipped in flour, fried and served with a mayonnaise-like sauce.  Delicious, if rather fattening!


Next week I will finish off  my Thassos travels, with our various visits to churches, monasteries and beaches.
SHARE:

Friday, 14 July 2017

MY FIRST VISIT TO THE GREEK ISLAND OF THASSOS


Anne C here. I have been holidaying on the Greek Islands for more years than I care to remember, having visited Corfu, Crete, Rhodes, Zakynthos, Lesbos, settling on Santorini, where we have been holidaying for the past 16 years.  Friends of ours have an apartment in Thassos, and this year they invited us to travel with them - and if I'm honest, it is an island which did not have any immediate appeal.  How wrong I was!



It didn't bode well when we arrived in torrential rain during May Bank Holiday weekend, and for the first couple of days the weather was a little chilly and overcast.... so much so that I had to go out and buy a heavy fleecy to keep warm. But miraculously on the 1st of June, everything changed - the sun came out, the cafes put out their al-fresco dining chairs and the whole island was transformed!




The first few days saw us sightseeing - and what a beautiful island it is, matched only by the warmth and friendliness of the people.  Of course it helped that our friends had been several times and knew lots of locals, but they welcomed us all with open arms and that innate Greek charm and friendliness which makes us return each year.







TOURING THE ISLAND


On our first day we visited the pretty town of Panagia, high above sea level, where the spring waters are alleged to make you look younger - so of course I made sure I had a good drink of that!  The beautiful local church was being re-painted, all in lovely Wedgwood blue and white, both inside and out.  Typical of Greek houses, they often paint their homes in blue and white, dating back to various occupations when the Greek flag was banned.  They painted their houses in the colours of the flag to signal their defiance of the occupation.



Our next call was to Golden Beach at Skala Panagia - which was utterly deserted the first time we visited but was crowded just a few days later when the sun came out.  I loved this chocolate box hotel (pictured below) just off Golden Beach, though we didn't stay there. Instead, we enjoyed a coffee at Viglis Restaurant (terrible TripAdvisor reviews but coffee was perfect!) , with a fabulous view of the beach on one side and a beautiful small cove on the other.

*The beach resorts begin "Skala ...." with the name of the nearest village - though in reality they can be several miles away.




From there it was just a short ride to Skala Potomia, a wonderful long beach with a small harbour and museum at the end, which was utterly transformed in just a few days, with sunloungers, paragliding, snorkling and jetskis available. 


There are plenty of bars and restaurants to choose from, but if you're looking for somewhere quiet and peaceful - this is probably not the place, although the local wildlife (below) didn't seem to mind!





Thassos is a very mountainous island, so fabulous if you enjoy hiking.  It also has wonderful beaches, lots of small intimate deserted coves - and even a nudist beach.

We visited the resort of Limenaria, which has a new harbour, like most of the new harbours on Thassos, paid for with EU funding,  overlooked by a ruined mansion, which our friends told us is really creepy - allegedly a former war-time German-owned property which housed workers to a nearby mine. Then it was onto Portos which is the liveliest resort on the island - much more of a party town and great for the youngsters, but perhaps a little too lively for us oldies.


No visit to Thassos would be complete without a visit to Iris Gold, where you can take a tour and watch jewellers creating beautiful pieces in gold and silver with precious gemstones, or simply browse in the shop and choose your pieces, which were very reasonable! (Yes of course I bought a couple of items!!)


There is one main road which goes right around the island and we came across a fabulous new hotel - the Blue Dream Palace Hotel in Tripiti, where an enthusiastic greeter offered to show us around.  And what a fabulous hotel in a lovely spot - though in truth, you could have been anywhere.



It was certainly lovely, with plenty to do - tennis, water sports, restaurants, two pools a private beach for swimming, and a gorgeous spa with a water bed which changes colour for treatments! Then there was a small museum on site, and specially themed evenings and cocktail nights. However, if you are looking for authentic Greece, then maybe this wouldn't be the best place.  However, I wouldn't say no to sampling the beauty treatments!







Look out for more information on Thassos, as we explore Thassos Town on next week's blog.
SHARE:

Friday, 7 July 2017

STYLING SUMMER WHITES



Anne C. here, and since this week is the start of Wimbledon, we thought we would show you our take on summer white dressing.

I absolutely love colour but there is something so cool and refreshing about wearing white when the weather is sunny!  Normally I mix and match, using a white base and then livening up an outfit with a coloured cardigan, light duster coat or linen jacket, but this time, because the weather is so warm, I just popped on a summer scarf.



My white trousers are basic wide legged white linen from Marks and Spencer and are a few years old, but they still have them on sale - I think they are a staple in just about every mature woman's wardrobe!

I have teamed them with some holiday purchases, bought on a recent trip to the lovely Greek island of Thassos (see travel blog next week!)  The white linen hooded cardigan is perfect for popping on as the sun goes down, but not suitable if it's really cold. (I also bought one in pale pink!)

The pretty scarf is from Matalan, and features my favourite shade of fuchsia, along with orange tassels, which will go perfectly with other pink and orange items in my wardrobe. I bought this just before my trip but it isn't on their website, though you may still be able to buy in store.


The crisp white blouse is another Thassos buy - I don't usually wear short shirts as I have rather large hips, but I fell in love with this little blouse which is plain at the front and has a cute bow on the back. In fact I liked it so much I also bought it in black!

The silver sandals were also bought in Thassos, as were the pretty blue-stoned silver earrings, ring and necklace, which were bought at Iris Gold - a lovely inexpensive jewellers, where we also visited the jewellery making factory, which was heaven!!! I am also wearing a gold bracelet bought there too. Unfortunately I have just discovered that they sell online too....oh dear!!


Anne H here with my take on summer whites.  I am not one to usually wear a lot of white having been told years ago by a colour consultant that it was not in my colour palette!  I should really go for a pink undertone - but maybe that will have changed now I am in my sixties.  Note to self, get the colour analysis done again.  It would definitely be interesting to see what has changed.

To lift the starkness of the white I have gone with my favoured, and colour approved, taupe tones.  I love this colour as it seems to go with pretty much anything and has a warmth to it that I think is flattering.  



The long line linen mix cardigan is from The White Company sale and is sadly no longer available. It is one that you definitely have to be tall to wear and you can see it just clears my ankles and I am 5ft 8".  I like this style of cardigan as it adds an elegance to the outfit and is really very figure forgiving.



The peep-toe satin mules are from H & M and I stole from my daughter's wardrobe!  In Khaki, they are now in the sale and are just £13.99 so worth a look on the link here.  They tone rather well with the cardigan and were really comfortable and not too high.  Gone are the days of tottering around on stilettos.


The T shirt is from COS and has a flattering round neck and decent body length to wear tucked in or loose.  You can't go wrong at the price either as only £12 and it is available in black and blue as well.  The white jeans are the Rozie design from 7forAll Mankind one of my favourite brands for jeans as they do a decent leg length. These are also on sale via their website. 


The necklace is one I have had for absolutely ages and the Cluse watch is another steal from my daughter.  It is their La Boheme mesh gold/silver design with an ultra thin case and modern  38mm diameter watch face.  I really like large watches and would struggle now to feel comfortable in a dainty ladylike style. 

As ever we have shown how we use colour in a very different way.  Anne C favouring brighter tones and Anne H a more muted earthy palette, which probably also reflects our individual personalities.  Interestingly Anne H is a pisces, and Anne C a leo - says it all!!!
SHARE:

Friday, 30 June 2017

A TRIP TO NORTH WALES

I have made a little promise to myself to see more of our beautiful island and head out to places I have not visited before.  Although it is always lovely to go back to somewhere that you have loved of old, as we did with Whitby, there is something really exciting about striking out to pastures new.  So off to North Wales I headed with my daughter in tow. 

Although only a few hours from our doorstep I had only been once before, having visited Llandudno for work, so there really was a lot for us to see

OUR COTTAGE AND CRICCIETH 

We started our adventure checking into our lovely little cottage Tyn Llech that I had booked via Homeaway who are one of my favourite house rental sites. It was a gorgeous two storey stone cottage with sea views, nestled amongst fields on the Wern Estate and had every amenity you could wish for.  We even treated ourselves to a meal cooked by Viv who looks after the property and it was the best meal we had while there.  
The view from our cottage 

Exterior of Tyn LLech cottage
We spent our first day exploring the pretty seaside town of Criccieth which was a few miles from the cottage.  The beach here is beautiful and goes on for miles and there are some lovely shops, cafes and pubs plus what remains of a pretty impressive castle built by the equally impressively named Llywelyn the Great. We enjoyed a tasty brunch in the Blue China Tea Rooms which overlooks the sea before walking along the sea wall/promenade. 


In the evening we ventured to Dylan's Restaurant which is housed in a retro 1950's art deco style building that fronts onto the sea.  The menu features hearty food and we both had steak.  My daughters was fine but mine was tough, but that is sometimes the luck of the draw when ordering steak.


The view of Criccieth Castle  from the beach 
Being on the Wern Estate meant we could walk out our front door and enjoy some beautiful countryside walks taking in views of the Snowdonia National Park.  We stumbled across some quaint little chapels down single track roads with graves dating back to the 1700's and one thing that particularly struck us was the longevity of folks in this part of the world, even centuries ago.  It must be the healthy air and lifestyle.  The first chapels we came across had a poster that declared they were 'Friends of Friendless Churches' - not something I had ever heard of before and rather a forlorn name but very apt.  On investigation it transpires this is a worthy charity who "rescue, repair and campaign for historic churches in England and Wales". They now own nearly 50 churches and preserve them as peaceful spaces for visitors and the local community which I think is wonderful and I will definitely support their endeavours. 


Views of Snowdonia National Park

 PORTHMADOG


The coastal town of Porthmadog was also within easy striking distance of our cottage, but I found it less charming than I expected and I favoured Criccieth.  The harbour area as seen here is very pretty and worth a visit and we did enjoy a snack at the Big Rock Cafe on the High Street but didn't particularly see any other restaurants that attracted us.  

Porthmadog Harbour

ABERSOCH

On our second day we visited the village of Abersoch on the breathtaking Llyn peninsula.  This captivating village combines a mix of old and new with stylish shops and a number of eateries and bars.  The never ending beach and surrounding scenery was stunning and this is somewhere I would definitely like to visit again to explore more. 


We enjoyed a light lunch in Zinc Cafe Bar and Grill which did not disappoint before heading off towards Bangor, one of the smallest cities in the UK.   


HARLECH 

On our last full day in the area we headed to Harlech to see the magnificent castle which was originally built by Edward 1 in the 13th century as part of his 'iron ring' of fortresses.    It is an incredibly impressive edifice perched atop a rock overlooking the Irish Sea and much of the battlements remain which make it a really amazing place to walk and gaze out to sea while imagining the many pitch battles fought here. 

Patio at Cemlyn Tea Shop overlooking Harlech Castle 
We had a fabulous lunch at the Cemlyn Tea Shop which overlooks the castle and sea and wandered the steep streets of the town visiting antique and interior shops. 


Harlech 

 AND LAST, BUT NOT LEAST, PORTMEIRION

We had visited Portmeirion on our first day in Gwynedd and it was particularly relevant as our cottage had been designed by descendents of Sir Clough Williams-Ellis who had designed and built Portmeirion.


Like a lot of people of my generation I knew it from the iconic TV programme The Prisoner and I was pleased to see a number of things that I remembered from that including the chess board and of course the stunning beach where Patrick McGoohan was chased by giant inflatables, which sounds really strange now.

The setting for the village is spectacular with incredible views of mountains, coast and country and the village itself bears testament to Clough Williams-Ellis and his vision to create a development that does not defile a site of natural beauty.



We both felt it was a little surreal with its Italianate architecture and was reminiscent of  Disneyland although it predates that by over 20 years.  None the less it was worth the visit and it must be lovely to stay there either in the Hotel or one of the rental cottages and enjoy the surroundings when all the tourists have gone home for the day.  



There are a number of cafes, restaurants and shops in the village and we enjoyed a drink on the terrace of the Town Hall Cafe which is a lovely setting to admire the village and watch the world go by.


We didn't have time to wander round the woodland and wider gardens and that is definitely something worth taking in on another visit.  There is even a little 'train' that will take you round but really it looked easily walkable. 

We seemed to run out of time to see as much of North Wales as we would have liked and didn't even manage to take the train on Snowdon, long at least walk it.  So a return visit is definitely not the cards and we can add a day trip to Angelsey to our plans.  
SHARE:

Friday, 23 June 2017

A DAY OUT IN WHITBY




WHITBY - THE OLD TOWN 


The coastal resort of Whitby on the East Coast has long been a favourite destination of ours.  Every year we would spend a week there with our girls and family members, usually around the first week of the school holidays, so that the girls could spend time playing together and we could start winding down.

Famous for the setting of Bram Stoker's novel "Dracula" and the place from where explorer Captain Cook set sail on his adventures, there is plenty to do for a week, but when we recently returned for a nostalgic visit, it was just for the day.

The story of Count Dracula has enjoyed notoriety in the media of film and ballet, telling the story of how the vampire ran aground in Whitby aboard the Russian ship Demeter.  Fans of this ghoulish tale can hear all about the story and its legend at the Dracula Experience on Marine Parade - but do be aware this is definitely for the tourists.

The town itself is dissected by a single carriageway bridge which rises when larger vessels sail into the harbour.  Whitby is still a live fishing port, but there are many tourist boats which take visitors through the harbour and out to sea - including on board the former Lifeboat. Serious anglers can also take fishing trips out into the North Sea, though children tend to do their fishing from the promenade wall, where we saw a young man catching crabs with no more than a hook and line.

Because of its fishing heritage, there is an abundance of lovely old fisherman's cottages, many of which are now converted to holiday accommodation, and which line the harbour, though parking cars may be something of a problem as access is down tiny picturesque alleyways - built in the days before cars.

The Captain Cook Museum sits almost next to the bridge, in Grape Place, and details the explorer's amazing adventures.  As a museum there are also a number of visiting exhibitions, lectures and activities for children - so a great place to go if it's raining.


We have a couple of favourite restaurants in Whitby, so headed to the White Horse and Griffin for lunch on this occasion - a traditional old inn, and former meeting place of Captain Cook.  They also do accommodation, though we have never stayed there - but we can recommend the restaurant - the food is superb!



The famous 99 steps lead up to the ruined Gothic abbey (circa AD657) which features in the Dracula stories. There is also a wonderful abbey museum detailing Whitby's sea-faring history, with lots of summer activities, all housed in a beautiful old mansion, which is the former home of the Cholmley family, landowners and a prominent local family.

There are of course, lots of tourist shops, but look out for jewellers selling highly polished Whitby jet jewellery - made from fossilised wood, compressed over millions of years. Jet is mainly found in north east England, and particularly from an area between Robin Hood's Bay and Boulby.  It became fashionable in Victorian England after the death of Queen Victoria's beloved husband Albert, since she wore the jet black jewellery in his honour.






WHITBY WEST CLIFF & THE NEW TOWN



The new town leading to West Cliff is what you might expect from a British seaside resort. With amusement arcades, ice cream parlours, clairvoyants and fish and chips galore, the road leads directly down to the beach.



The wide expanse of sand is perfect for the children with their buckets and spades, and you can hire a wind break and a deck chair for less than £5 - perfect for a hot afternoon after a quick dip or a paddle.

The West Cliff is also home to some of the larger Victorian hotels, and B&B accommodation. Most of these are situated around the Royal Crescent (where Bram Stoker stayed in the late 1890s).  There are a couple of landmarks in the form of a striking statue memorial to Captain Cook, presented in 1978 to the town by the people of Canada to mark the 250th anniversary of his birth. The nearby 20 foot whalebone arch commemorates those seamen who sailed off Greenland in search of these magnificent creatures to hunt for whale oil - which would have guaranteed prosperity and riches to those who returned - but many did not as the inhospitable seas claimed many lives and ships.


Having lunched at the White Horse and Griffin, it is worth mentioning another of our favourite restaurants, which is Trenchers - a modern fish and chip restaurant serving locally caught fish, but with some modern variations - including gluten free batter on the fish! When we visited all those years ago, we pushed the boat out and ate our traditional fish and chips with a bottle of champagne, as we were usually celebrating a summer birthday.

Another famous Whitby fish restaurant, The Magpie, is currently closed as two fires in early May destroyed the roof.  The original building dates back to 1750 and was a merchant's house, before being used as a shipping office and by whaling crews.  It wasn't used as a restaurant until 1939, and has since won many international awards. 


ROBIN HOOD'S BAY 

We didn't usually stay in Whitby, but in a village just outside Robin Hood's Bay called Fylingthorpe.  This is a small village with a butchers, a post office and a pub, from which it was a short stroll through woods into Robin Hood Bay.  However, if you drive to the Bay, be aware that you cannot take a car down to the sea, which must be left in the car park, and the hill is very very steep (since my accident last year I'm not sure I could walk up it now!).


In fact Robin Hood's Bay was initially a much more important town than Whitby itself, appearing on ancient charts dating back to the 16th Century.  It had a thriving fishing industry, largely because it was relatively safe from piracy, and the topography meant sailors could walk into the village straight from their boats. It later became much more famous as a smugglers cove, due in part to its isolation, and the marshy land which surrounded it on three sides.

Robin Hood's Bay is also noted for its fossils - many of which can still be found today at low tide - something the children loved to hunt out when they were younger.  Beware the tides though - it is easy to find yourself cut off as the sea comes in very quickly.



It is also worth mentioning Sandsend - just a few miles along the coast, with a beautiful beach on which our girls spent hours playing in the sea, which had a small inlet and was great for paddling and sailing in a blow up boat!  The lovely Estbek Hotel served yummy toasted sandwiches and scones, though having just looked at their website, it is now boasts a posh restaurant!

And our girls always loved to hire a rowing boat at Ruswarp, just outside Whitby, which was also next to a small Crazy Golf with a cafe.  We enjoyed such simple pleasures before they both grew up, and yet they both look back on these holidays with such happy memories!

A final note from Anne C - Whitby is such a great base for a traditional English seaside family holiday.  I once asked my own daughter, who was aged about nine at the time which type of holiday she preferred - our annual trip to Greece, or our week in Whitby.  She chose Whitby!
SHARE:
© Sensational Baby Boomers

This site uses cookies from Google to deliver its services - Click here for information.

Blogger Template Created by pipdig