Friday, 28 July 2017


Like most of the Greek Islands, Thassos is rich in history and mythology.  I love the story that the sirens in the tales of Ulysses hailed from Thassos and their beautiful singing voices attracted hapless men to them, before they met their untimely deaths at the hands of the murdering sirens!

However, more likely that the changes in culture on this wonderful island hailed from times when the inhabitants were either invaded by variously the Romans, Turks, Macedonians and Bulgarians, or when visiting prophets, apostles or missionaries visited.

One of the oldest religious sites is at Aliki - which boasts a beautiful beach and small cove, as well reputedly the oldest Christian church on the island, said to date back to the 5th Century.  The remains of the churchyard, sarcophagus and caves still remain, and you can wander through what would have been the church building.  Sitting atop a small hill, the original site has views over the sea and alongside an old marble quarry.

Ancient Thassos was rich in minerals and marble - interestingly the marble is still quarried today, producing a very pretty pale marble with delicate pink veins running through.  Sitting next to the harbour in Thassos town, there is many a large wagon rumbling past with huge slabs of marble strapped to the bed - presumably making its way to the mainland destined for a luxury hotel or villa!

The ancient graveyard at Aliki

Not too far away is the Archangel Michael Monastery, at the top of a huge cliff, housing a community of nuns, with the most spectacular views over the Agean Sea. Female visitors must cover their arms completely and wear long skirts (but not trousers!) to be allowed into the grounds. We were not allowed into the monastery itself, but wandered through the well kept gardens, past the living accommodation and into a small chapel and priest sitting room.  

The view from the Archangel Michael Monastery


The circular road around the island takes about one and a half hours to drive, and along the way there are more coves, harbours, and small beached than you can count.  The beautiful tranquil waters are a magnificent turquoise colour and are crystal clear - such a wonderful change from the British coastal resorts.

Beaches are clean and free from litter, and everywhere there are colourful flowers overflowing in pots, which is such a pleasure to see and smell - geraniums, honeysuckle and jasmine are in adbudance.

The island is very green, which is probably why we experienced rain during our first week there.  The mountains are lush with forests - home to wild mountain goats and apparently, plenty of snakes!

During our visit to Aliki and the tiny stunning village of Kazaviti, however, we were reminded that natural disasters are never far away.  Last year forest fires devastated swathes of the island around the village and Aliki - the sad blackened tree trunks a stark reminder of the devastation caused when dry thunderstorms and lightening caused huge fires.  Fortunately thanks to the efforts of residents, firefighters, the military and even tourists, there was no loss of life, and only minimal damage to property.

This  ancient tree in Kazatiti managed to avoid the devastating forest fires which swept the island last year

One of my favourite spots was Skala Marion - a stunning little spot with a small beach, next to a harbour.  It isn't a big resort, but a pretty village to stop and have lunch or a coffee and watch the world go by. With crystal clear azure waters, we watched some locals fishing from the rocks - pure bliss!

Hercules and Antigone (our Greek Hotel owners) also took us out along the coast for an evening meal at the fabulous little restaurant Glifoneri in a quiet cove just outside Thassos town - sorry the picture quality is not great, but it was such a perfect evening. There are several tavernas tucked away along the coastline just outside Thassos town, so plenty to choose from.

Another great spot we found was the Tarsanas resort, with accommodation, two fabulous restaurants, a wonderfully comfortable bar area and a private beach with sun-loungers. Owned by the larger-than-life George, the beachside bar offers romantic softly draped loungers, reminiscent of a luxury Caribbean hideaway.  You don't even need to be a resident to use the facilities, though you are expected to buy food and drink.

I hope I have given a flavour of the island - you can probably tell that we had a wonderful holiday and that we loved the place.  And guess what?  We will be returning next year! Such is the power of our blog that some more friends of ours have asked to come with us!

Friday, 21 July 2017


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)


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


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


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.

Friday, 14 July 2017


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.


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.

Friday, 7 July 2017


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!!!
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